Top Ten Tracks on Elbo.ws Reviewed in 50 Words or Less: 7/01/8--7/15/08
1. Mogwai - "The Sun Smells Too Loud"
One of the most conventional tracks in the Scottish post-rockers career. In fact, "Sun" smells like a Cars demo, but with no joyous hook. The reverb-drenched guitars are still there, as is the open-ended structure. But, as with Mr. Beast, song length is shorter too. For a band known for ebbing-and-flowing, "Sun" is not bad; but its not great either.
2. Bloc Party - "Mercury"
After trying to become the millennial generation's U2 on their sophomore effort, Bloc Party careen into a less convention direction; a sonic assault that practically screams "EXPERIMENTAL THIRD ALBUM." The bombs-and-whistles production and band ambition on "Mercury" should be impressive. Instead, it serves as a reminder about what happens when bands try way, way too hard.
3. The Dutchess and the Duke - "Reservoir Park"
Wait a minute, these aren't the people from The Late Greats. What kind of fuckery is that? Apparently, Dylan-esque fuckery. He might have "barely woke up...by the cold ground by the sea", but he sounds like he did so on "Maggie's Farm." But instead of sneering political allegory, The Dutchess and The Duke opt for mildly pleasant, slightly lo-fi folk-pop.
4. Lackthereof - "Last November"
An offshoot of art-rock trio Menomena, drummer Danny Seim's latest project treds a similar musical ground to his day job. Aside from an inspiring key change, there seems to be nothing going on other than competent, artistically inclined indie-rock. Hopefully, this will hold up better live (like Menomena's material).
5. Beck - "Gamma Ray"
By marrying a dark subject matter ("I could hold out for now/with these icecaps melting down") with danceable rhythms, sing-along melodies and surf-guitar tone, Beck's latest attempt to split the difference between his two personae (sad-sack and hip-hop happy) gets by on brevity and a catchy melody.
6. Dr. Dog - "The Ark"
This 60s-flavored track recycles the guitar-tones and multi-part harmonies of that decade (think CSNY) with more modern conceits (the piano-driven loneliness and art-rock of TVOTR). The combination of Otis Redding's vocal howl, and Beatles-esque songwriting make for an incredibly uplifting song that's both modern and classic.
7. Takka Takka - "Everybody Say"
A shuffling, oscillating bass-and-guitar riff anchors sweet, shimmering, VU-indebted guitar chords, with a focus on syncopated rhythms (both in auxiliary percussion and in vocal delivery) instruments, dreamy synth lines. Absolutely beautiful, and I doubt that there's a better track on this list.*
8. Pnau - "Embrace" (feat. Ladyhawke, Fred Falke Miami Horror Remix)"
Euro-pop remix that should get the dance floor pumping. And I, for one, welcome our new synth overlords.
9. Albert Hammond Jr. - "GFC"
The Strokes sideman steps out to the front while his main gig is on hold, with journeyman indie-rock with soulful, falsetto-driven vocals being focal point. Too bad the song is average; from someone who could be excellent.
10. The Presets - "Talk Like That" (Miami Horror Remix)
Another remix, with shades of Daft Punk, Chic, and a little Talking Heads in the vocals. Miami Horror seems to be the cat to go to these days for remixes, and he does more than an adequate job with this pop tune.
*adorable fact of the day: Takka Takka made my dog drift to sleep.