Top Ten Songs On Elbo.Ws Reviewed In 50 Words or Less: 01/15/09--01/31/09
1. Black Lips - "Short Fuse"
Download: Black Lips - "Short Fuse"
When not escaping the authorities of developing countries, this Atlanta quarter, self-described as "flower punk," manages to create compelling bits retro-rock throwing back to the days of one Charles Hardin Holley. “Short Fuse” is no exception, though it’s doubtful that Buddy wrote anything this explosive, and hints of psychedelia further cement that impression.
2. Suburban Kids with Biblical Names - "1999"
Download: Suburban Kids with Biblical Names - "1999"
Speaking as a suburban kid with a biblical name, I feel like I can officially say that this song sucks. But feel free to disagree, Malachai.
3. Animal Collective - "My Girls"
Download: Animal Collective - "My Girls"
The multi-layered harmonies of the brothers Wilson get a widescreen, technicolor synth update via one of music's most adventurously experimental--while remaining transcendentally melodious. Let’s hope Animal Collective have room for at least a keyboard in their minimalist utopia. We'd all be at a loss if they truly ditched the material things--or even non-material things, like social status.
4. The Whitest Boy Alive - "Islands"
Download: The Whitest Boy Alive - "Islands"
Again with the inadvertently autobiographical band names! Whether or not Erlend Øye has the most translucent pigment amongst the world's living is one thing, but "Islands" has just the right amount of bass, synths and clean guitar tones to suggest a hybrid minimalism between krautrock, funk, and reggae. Less is more, once again.
5. Heartless Bastards - "The Mountain"
Download: Heartless Bastards - "The Mountain"
The feelings remain the same as last time, so I will summarize: Though HB are ostensibly a blues-revival band, they sound more like a slowed down Dinosaur Jr. (think "Sludgefest"). The pedal-steel guitar helps add poignant texture, and the song early on settles into a mid-tempo groove that eventually ingratiates itself with the listener.
6. Peter, Bjorn and John - "Lay it Down" (The Golden Filter Remix)
Download: Peter Bjorn & John - "Lay It Down" (The Golden Filter Remix)
The slinky, sensual late 80s new-wave/disco groove masks a considerable amount of hostility in the refrain (but as you'll no doubt discover, the hostility is warranted). Another minimalist dance track and, like WBA, it's one that rewards the patience of listeners by slowly adding layer after engaging layer of pretty solid dance music.
7. Marissa Nadler - "River of Dirt"
Download: Marissa Nadler - "River of Dirt"
An alt-country chanteuse from Massachusetts, Nadler creates comes off like a dreamier, more shoegaze-influenced Neko Case. In terms of songcraft, Nadler can't help but pale in comparison to the likes of "Deep Red Bells" or "Star Witness," but "River of Dirt" makes a good case that Nadler will establish her own voice soon.
8. Bon Iver - "Blood Bank"
Download: Bon Iver - "Blood Bank"
For the second time, the thoughts remain the same: "Blood Bank" shows that Bon Iver's post-folk debut was no fluke, and this new batch of material showcases a warmer side of the group.
9. Handsome Furs - "I'm Confused"
Download: Handsome Furs - "I'm Confused"
One of the many offshoots of Wolf Parade, the duo consisting of Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry, this new song from Handsome Furs' upcoming second record is a good replication of early 80s new wave. Granted, it's that and nothing more, but a propulsive beat and a strong melody become insistent and inescapable, if derivative.
10. Dirty Projectors and David Byrne - "Knotty Pine"
While this collaboration isn't as mind-warping as one would hope, the Dirty Projectors come together with one of their influences to put together a song that sounds a lot like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Figure the meta-implications of that one on your own.
Cross-published on CIMI