Thursday, March 05, 2009

Top Ten Songs on Reviewed in 50 Words or Less:

1. Phoenix - "1901"

Download: Phoenix - "1901"

The direct cause of Phoenix's recent rise, "1901" makes like a kinder, gentler version New York's dirty millennial noveau-new-wave (The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, etc). The elegant, ascending synth-sounds call back to Phoenix's Versilles-based brethren, but the offbeat guitar jabs and chiming chorus assert the band's own identity. Overhyped, sure, but "1901" gradually reveals its relaxed, yet upbeat, pleasures.

Grade: B

2. Cursive - "From the Hips"

Download: Cursive - "From the Hips"

Like the tortoise before them, this slowly building barn-burner from the emo veterans lyrically examines the dichotomous, paradoxical notions of a difficult personality. Ultimately, the dramatics of both the words and the music get to be a bit much, but there's still a decent amount of visceral, cathartic appeal in rapid-fire guitar-strokes and yelpy vocals.

Grade: B-

3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Zero"

Download: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Zero"

After the tenuous, unsure step forward with the jock-jams* of Show Your Bones, the New York trio assuredly regain their footing by re-embracing singer Karen O's theatricality, and by crafting explosively violent brand of synth-pop. By the admittedly short-attention span of the blogosphere, this is a stunning comeback.

Grade: A-

4. Pree - "In The Parlor"

Download: Pree - "In The Parlor"

"Well, Jesus Christ was an only chi--." Er, never mind, wrong song. In all fairness, this country-and-Appalachian-flavored ditty does have a modicum of charm. But being cute does not a good song make.

Grade: C

5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Heads Will Roll"

Download: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Heads Will Roll"

"Heads Will Roll" may sound threatening, but really, it sounds like Karen O and company are just talking about the world's most apocalyptic dance party. Looks like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are finally taking the "dance" of "dance-punk" to heart (with healthy dollops of synth for texture).

Grade: A-

6. Pomegranates - "Corriander"

Download: Pomegranates - "Corriander"

The dual, mumbly boy-girl vocals recall very specifically a certain MPLS-based label (maybe the name will come to me later this Afternoon), nonetheless, the quartet's penchant for dream-like indie-pop are favorably redolent of similarly-minded acts like Wye Oak and Headlights. For anyone who really likes reverb in their guitars and keyboards

Grade: B

7. Harlem Shakes - "Strictly Game"

Download: Harlem Shakes - "Strictly Game"

"Make a little money/take a lot of shit/feel real bad/then get over it." For that lyric alone, this song gets a B. Certainly helping the Harlem Shakes cause are insouciant, Flansburgh-esque vocals, and the percussive touches of afro-pop that line the band's melodies. Could Harlem Shakes be the name of musical delirium tremens?

Grade: A-

8. Swan Lake - "Spanish Gold, 2044"

Download: Swan Lake - "Spanish Gold, 2044"

The indie-rock supergroup bands together again. One of three released MP3s from their upcoming April release, this Carey Mercer-lead song suffers a bit from its own theatricality, but that characteristic is also responsible for the discovery of "Spanish Gold"'s big melodies.

Grade: B+

9. Laura Gibson - "Spirited"

Download: Laura Gibson - "Spirited"

I might enjoy this rambling, easy-going bit of country-folk if it didn't suffer in comparison to Alela Diane's superior take on this particular brand of music. All the same, listeners can't wholly resist a relaxed atmosphere and hoots. Just mostly.

Grade: C+

10. Crystal Antlers - "Andrew"

Download: Crystal Antlers - "Andrew"

Oh, good, more white guys playing soul music (albeit one with a considerably indie sensibility). For a better revisionist take on soul music, go here.

Grade: C
*"Gold Lion" is such a jock-jams beat.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's nothing more unnerving than watching people try to use big words and then doing so incorrectly.

The word 'modicum' is a noun, not an adjective. It means 'a small quantity of a particular thing'. To say a 'modicum amount' of something makes no sense.

Your reviews, on the whole are helpful and entertaining, but please refrain from trying to sound more intelligent than you are.

2:28 PM  
Blogger MPLSFR said...

Hey Anon-

Thanks for the correction, and I do know the definition of modicum. Just added the "amount" as an honest typo. Sort of how people say "ATM Machine." It has been known to happen on occasion. I am nothing if not mortal.

But I'll make you a deal. I'll supposedly refrain from being more intelligent, if you refrain from being a cowardly, anonymous dick.

Shall we shake digital hands?


3:03 PM  
Anonymous Ian said...

ahhhhh shit!

3:06 PM  
Anonymous PopLibrarian said...

Yeah, that was no big deal...I mean I found myself really enjoying your writing and actually envying you your style throughout, so I'd hate to hear what that dude would think of me. It's all good.

That said, I'm totally ripping off some of your ideas here, like just straight-up reviewing the top tracks, and also listening good radio stations. That cool? Thanks for a good read.


3:34 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

Hey Steve -

Thanks for the kind words. The thing that was strange about Anon's comment, other than the fact that s/he's a complete hoser for not replying yet, is that the reader actually missed a HUGE typo on my part (I've gone back and fixed it).

Not only that, but don't I get any credit for using insouciant correctly?

Furthermore, I'd think Anon being complimentary in a completely passive-aggressive way is way more unnerving than someone admittedly misusing a word.

Now what do you mean by "ripping off..."


4:23 PM  
Anonymous Steve said...

Oh, just blog ideas. I mean, this is still art, isn't it? I'm just gonna put up some radio links. Don't worry, I'll come up with my own, I won't just steal yours. I'm not 100% klepto.

I didn't even see the typo. Geez, every time I come by I feel worse about myself!

10:41 AM  
Blogger harrison said...

Spanish Gold, 2044 is led by Carey Mercer, not Spencer Krug.

3:12 PM  

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