Top Ten Tracks on Elbo.ws Reviewed in 50 Words or Less: March 1st-March 15th
Note: This is a few days late, so what you see here may not reflect entirely what's currently on the charts.
1. St. Vincent - "The Strangers"
Download: St. Vincent - "The Strangers"
After an elegaic harmonies from a chorus of haunting singers, St. Vincent parlays the melodic beauty into a ticking-clock beat and sturdy orch-pop. But "The Strangers" becomes much more intriguing when it ventures into borderline post-rock territory. The end result is both pleasingly familiar and promising.
2. Phoenix - "1901"
*MP3: Phoenix - "1901"
It's really the pre-chorus and refrain, that lifts up this track from the French alt-rock band from decent new millennial garage-rock reminiscent of the "The" bands to swooning, romantic power-pop. Kind of amazing how buoyant Moog synth-sounds and clean guitar tones can be.
3. Cursive - "From The Hips"
Download: Cursive - "From The Hips"
A propulsive, guitar-driven song from the Omaha-based veterans gets bogged down by lyrical melodrama (in Emo? Whaaaaa?) and pseudo-clever dichotomy. But those guitars could puncture an artery.
4. Say Hi - "Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh"
Download: Say Hi - "Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh"
The title of prolific rockers Say Hi's latest suggests an uber-enthusiastic pep rally, and the horn at the beginning doesn't entirely dismiss that impression. As the arrangement materializes, acoustic guitar and synth conveys a more subdued, mature sense of songcraft. Not as memorable as "Northwestern Girls," but still a reasonably listenable song.
5. Handsome Furs - "I'm Confused"
*MP3: Handsome Furs - "I'm Confused"
Though I'm not quite as kookoo for Alexei Perry and Dan Boeckner electro-pop cocoa puffs as others are, the new-wave-esque energy and arena-rock sized chorus ultimately ingratiate themselves to the listener. Let the duo's love open the door to your ears at least, if not necessarily your heart.
6. Crystal Antlers - "Andrew"
Download: Crystal Antlers - "Andrew"
The fact that "Andrew" comes from Touch and Go's last new release ever is enough to warrant a passing grade, but the fact that this amiably shuffling song wins over the listener with adept instrumental interplay doesn't hurt either.
7. The National - "So Far Around The Bend"
Download: The National - "So Far Around The Bend"
A little more honky-tonk than anything found on their last two records, but with "So Far Around The Bend," The National continue to mine their expert combination of world-weary heartbreak and bleary-eyed optimism to disconcertingly great effect.
8. Crystal Stilts - "Love is a Wave"
Download: Crystal Stilts - "Love is a Wave"
Like The Pains of Being Pure of Heart, "Love is a Wave" arrives like one, with a wind sea of a driving bass line, keyboards, and guitar setting down the foundation of a melodic tsunami. Like "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" without the punk.
9. Camera Obscura - "My Maudlin Career"
Download: Camera Obscura - "My Maudlin Career"
If Camera Obscura write songs that expertly combine Phil Spector's wall-of-sound production approach with preciously cute melancholy, they they'll be easily able to make it a career that's more than maudlin. Utterly irresistible.
10. Elvis Perkins in Dearland - "Shampoo"
Download: Elvis Perkins in Dearland - "Shampoo"
No matter how many times I hear this, I still have the same reaction: Thinking man's Jack Johnson. My sincerest apologies, awesome Dylan-esque Hammond organ sound.