Monday, November 03, 2008

Top Ten Tracks on Elbo.ws Reviewed in 50 Words or Less: 10/15/08--10/31/08



This is a couple of days late, due to the first of the month being on a weekend. So what you see below may not necessarily match what's on Elbo.ws right now. Otherwise, have at it.

1. Pallers - "Humdrum"

Download: Pallers - "Humdrum"

The newest addition to Sweden's purveyor of pop, Labrador Records, Pallers, a duo, lay the listener down in a blanket of cool, minimalist, electronic beats and crisp synth sounds ideally suited for bedroom listening. And not much else.

Grade: C

2. Plus Minus - "Snowblind"

Download: Plus Minus - "Snowblind"

The derivative innovation in this song is this: "Snowblind" bridges the gap between the electronic-pop of Death Cab frontman's Ben Gibbard's side gig to an upbeat variety of chiming indie-pop that his day job was perfecting in the beginning of the decade. I have the facts, and I'm voting eh.

Grade: C

3. Kanye West - "Robocop"

Download: Kanye West - "Robocop"

The thematic flip of the Chicago rapper's first person obsession ode "Love Lockdown", "Robocop" finds West at the receiving end of a jealous lover's unwanted attention. Moving forward in a synth-and-string focused R&B direction, "Robocop" finds West maturing musically. A compelling song, but past braggadocio also lead to more thrilling material.

Grade: B

4. Designer Drugs - "Zombies"

Download: Designer Drugs - "ZOMBIES!"

No need for BRAINS! when listening to this song. This isn't to say that it's stupid. Far from it. But the Daft Punk-isms of this instrumental dance track should be familiar to most listeners. Perhaps it could have been more distinctive had there been an air of spookiness added.

Grade: B-

5. Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains - "American Names"

Download: Sebastien Grainger and the Mountains - "American Names"

Former dance-punker trades in his fuzzy, dingy synth sounds for more lush, expansive synth sounds, swooning vocals, and anthemic guitar-pop. There's an infectious sense of romanticism in the songcraft, but also a strong lack of musical identity to differentiate "American Names" from the numerous other college rock band rehearsing right now.

Grade: B-

6. Of Montreal - "Id Engager"

Download: Of Montreal - "Id Engager"

Kevin Barnes' alter-ego may be screaming at us all from a phallocentric tyranny, but his disco and funk sonic libations provide all the liberation that one could possibly hope for.

Grade: B+

7. Kanye West - "Coldest Winter"

Download: Kanye West - "Coldest Winter"

West's new found affinity for proper singing leads to another dark, keyboard-driven exercise in booming percussion and vocoded vocals (or is it Autotune?). Another worthwhile experiment, though one that suffers from an anti-climatic brevity.

Grade: B-

8. Parts and Labor - "Nowheres Nigh"

Download: Parts and Labor - "Nowheres Nigh"

The wonders that context can do for a song. At first listen, "Nowheres Nigh" sounded like a turn toward the boring conventional for a formerly forwardthinking band. In the context of the ambitious Receivers, this track sounds like the exhilarating anthem that band undoubtedly meant it to be. Mea culpa, Parts and Labor.

Grade: A-

9. Mos Def - "Life in Marvelous Times"

Download: Mos Def - "Life In Marvelous Times"

Stabbing synth lines, a militant beat, and group back-up vocals help propel this socio-economic commentary by one of hip-hop's most versatile emcees. "Bright moments always come back vivid" goes one line, and there's plenty that's vivid here, from a sonic perspective. But the dense production also gives a kitchen-sink feel that's a bit distracting.

Grade: C+

10. Lily Allen - "Everyone's at It"

Download: Lily Allen - "Everyone's at It"

Allen's "state-of the world" song, targeting everyone from politicians to young adolescents, shows everyone's favorite mouth runner ditching the ska-pop and moving toward a more 80s synth-pop sound. She's spunkier, and more distinctive when addressing personal problems, but the shift toward others doesn't detract too much from her ability to write a catchy tune.

Grade: B-

(Jon Graef)
jon@minneapolisfuckingrocks.com

Cross-published on CIMI

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3 Comments:

Anonymous geoff said...

This is probably my favorite on-going post of MFR. Your short reviews are excellent, and often say things that I couldn't articulate myself.

9:06 AM  
Blogger MPLSFR said...

Geoff -
Thank you so much for the kind words! Any feedback is greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,
Jon Graef

11:54 AM  
Blogger DuncanG said...

Yeah dude, you really nailed that. Brevity is king.

7:28 PM  

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