Monday, March 31, 2008

Top Ten Tracks on Elbo.Ws Reviewed in 50 Words or Less: 3/16/08--3/31/08

Bi-monthly, MFR reviews the Top Ten tracks on music-blog aggregator Elbo.WS in 50 words or less. For the weeks of March 16st through March 31st, here are the ten most popular songs:

1. She and Him - "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?"

Download: She and Him - "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?"

Over a piano vamp reminiscent of the chromatic line in Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air”, Zooey Deschanel comely tries to get a fella to take off his jacket and stay a while (wink). There’s a one-to-one correlation between the instrumental arrangements and the song’s charm: both become exponentially greater over time.

Grade: A-

2. The Dodos – “Fools”

Download: The Dodos - "Fools"

I’m not entirely sure how many times I can call this one of the best songs of the year, but here I go. The first single from The Dodos’s superb album Visiter contains galloping rhythms, sing-songy melodies, world-beat breakdowns, a propulsive rhythm guitar and impeccable songcraft. What more could music fans possibly want?

Grade: A

3. Bridges and Powerlines – “Uncaliberated”

Download: Bridges and Powerlines - "Uncalibrated"

This song’s not bad by any means, but this track by the New York-based group makes one actively wonder if all it takes to impress the blogosphere is having vaguely self-pitying vocals and shit-ton of synthesizer.

Grade: C+

4. Death Cab For Cutie – “I Will Possess Your Heart”

Download: Death Cab for Cutie - "I Will Possess Your Heart"

Death Cab can be an interesting band on occasion, insofar as whenever they try to stretch their musical boundaries, they do so in the most boring fashion as possible. With this eight-minute epic, it’s as if they’ve written a four-minute instrumental introduction for it’s own sake. However, the melody and vocals are compelling nonetheless.


5. The Sounds of Arrows - "Danger"

Download: The Sound of Arrows - "Danger"

“The world is a dangerous place/but you won’t admit it.” This track from the Swedish duo makes a compelling juxtaposition between the child-like nature of the music—filled with ebullient keyboard lines, gorgeous electronic flourishes and elegant melodies—and the paranoid warnings of the lyrics. Perhaps the blogosphere isn’t so wrong about synthesizers after all.

Grade: B+

6. Justice - "DVNO" (Justice Remix)

Download: Justice - "DVNO" (Justice Remix)

I’m sorry, I just can’t type and dance at the same time.

Grade: A

7. Ladytron - "Black Cat"

Download: Ladytron - "Black Cat"

Now that I'm back at the computer, Ladytron's solemn Eastern-Euro dance-pop seems to want to punish me for leaving in the first place. The booming drums and minor-key synth line are intriguing, (redolent of Depeche Mode) and the spoken lyrics help create an air of mystery. That said, why is this anything special, music-wise?

Grade: B-

8. Mystery Jets - "Young Love" (Shoes Mix)

Download: Mystery Jets - "Young Love" (Shoes Mix)

Another godforsaken dance track?. If Michael Ian Black invented a time machine for the sole purpose of going back to the 80s in order to write a song that he could make fun of 25 years later on one of VH1's "I Love Useless Nostalgic Crap from Previous Decades", it would sound like this.

Grade: D

9. Annuals - "Sore"

Download: Annuals - "Sore"

"Sore", the latest track from the North Carolina-based septet is a gorgeous, country-influenced lullaby that, like most of Annuals's previous work, starts out in unassuming fashion (this time, it's an acoustic guitar and a voice) before wonderfully building to glorious cacophony and a shuffling, infectiously easy-going groove. "Sore" is simply stellar.

Grade: A-

10. Langhorne Slim - "Rebel Side of Heaven"

Download: Langhorne Slim - "Rebel Side of Heaven"

There's absolutely something to be said for not reinventing the wheel, so much as keeping it rolling in a totally competent fashion. "Rebel Side of Heaven" sounds like it was influenced by soul and rock music made before 1980. Considering how many sub-and-micro-genres are in existence, a pure pop song like this is completely alright with me.

Grade: B

(Jonathan Graef)

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