Top Ten Songs on Elbo.ws 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
*"Gold Lion" is such a jock-jams beat.