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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cross-published on CIMI
Labels: Top Ten on Elbo.ws