Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Top Ten Songs On Elbo.Ws Reviewed In 50 Words or Less: 03/15/09--03/31/09

My concession to April fools is that this list consists of 11 tracks, and not ten. That's how awesome I've become in my late 20s. With that, have at!

1. Grizzly Bear - "Cheerleader"

Download: Grizzly Bear - "Cheerleader"

After a rhythmical, bluesy beginning, Grizzly Bear forge the baroque elements of their musical persona (mellotron, youth choir, torrents of harmonies) into a mash of modern psychedelia and soul. The pleasure lies more in discovering the creatively arranged harmonic layers rather than in the ultimate song destination (fancy talk for an anti-climatic end).

Grade: B+

2. Bill Callahan - "Eid Ma Clack Shaw"

Download: Bill Callahan - "Eid Ma Clack Shaw"

"Love is the king of the beasts/and when it gets hungry/it must kill to eat." Wow. Lyrically, If Callahan = Richard Thompson as a troubled, sing-speaky troubadour with a Beatles-esque sense of melody and Newsom = Linda, then fans of everywhere can rejoice. Wait a minute, that's kind of sick.

Grade: B

3. Harlem Shakes - "Strictly Game"

Download: Harlem Shakes - "Strictly Game"

It's been said before, and it'll be said it again: "Strictly Game" is the track that Gen Y will listen to after they lose their jobs, and it will be this song's exhilarating, but subtle, blend of pops electro, afro and indie that will lift their spirits throughout the recession.

Grade: A

4. Voxtrot - "Trepanation Party"

Download: Voxtrot - "Trepanation Party"

The Austin-based blog-poppers add some synth-goth minimalism and new wave doom-and-gloom to their effervescent brand of melodic rock. If Death Cab for Cutie wrote a rap song (or at least a song with a more rhythmic vocal), it might sound like this. Nothing to drill a hole into your head about, but a solid change in direction all the same.

Grade: B

5. Passion Pit - "The Reeling"

*MP3: Passion Pit - "The Reeling"

Suitable for a laptop discotheque, the dormroom-born electro-pop quintet throws a bevy of post-pro tricks (synths, The Go! Team-style chants, airy vocals and snare-hi-hat hits) up the flagpole of dance and disco to see who salutes. Upbeat, but strangely inert.

Grade: C

6. The Felice Brothers - "Run Chicken Run"

Download: The Felice Brothers - "Run Chicken Run"

The first and probably only hoedown to appear on the charts. The sub-Dylan/Westerberg-isms (smoky, throaty vocals, ramshackle rock tempo and arrangements) are catchy, but commonplace. "Chickens don't get no life after death." So true. But hey, chickens are good people. At least they don't beat the shit out of their hens.

Grade: C

7. CFCF - "You Hear Colours"

Download: CFCF - "You Hear Colours"

Booming drum sounds give way to a keyboard line somewhere between Mark Snow and Harold Faltermeyer, along with a clear, ringing splash of guitar for texture, make for a cool, but somewhat detached, instrumental track.

Grade: B-

8. The Virgins - "Rich Girls (Le Castle Vania's Spring Break No Parents Remix)"

Download: The Virgins - "Rich Girls (Le Castle Vania's Spring Break No Parents Remix)"

The new wave of neo-post-punk arrived with the original, but this remix brings out the funk and rollerdisco inherent in the song, with solid, head-bopping results

Grade: B

9. The Prodigy - "Take Me To The Hospital (Hostage Remix)"

Download: The Prodigy - "Take Me To The Hospital (Hostage Remix)"

Techno remix of the 90s breakbeaters song straightens things out a bit beat-wise while retaining some of the original's nasty loops. The Prodigy's more syncopated rhythms are more intriguing on the whole, the remix as a simple, visceral appeal set to get movers on the dancefloor.

Grade: B-

10. The Decemberists - "The Rake's Song"

Download: The Decemberists - "The Rake's Song"

A macabre tale of familial murder, The Decemberists take a menacing two-chord vamp, and spin it into a darkly funny dirge with an unrepentant narrator. The shift from prog-rock majesty to hard-rock muscle doesn't quite suit the band's past strengths, but "Rake" is good for a wry laugh.

Grade: B

11. The Mary Onettes - "Dare"

Download: The Mary Onettes - "Dare"

I have absolutely no problem with this C86/Smiths revivalism that's going on right now, just as long as it keeps producing songs as singularly great as this one. The pains of being pure of heart have once again been transformed into beautiful pop catharsis.

Grade: A

Cross-published on CIMI

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

the #1 deserves to be. Harlem Shakes is god awful whiney lyrics and vocals. Emo with an afro pop flair.

10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We started a drinking game.... everytime you mention a "genre" we do a shot. No one made it past the Grizzly Bear track review.


3:25 PM  
Blogger MPLSFR said...

Anon 3:25 -

Baroque. Blues. Modern psychedelia. Soul.

Really? 4 shots, and you were out? What were you drinking, everclear?

All the same, I'm highly amused by this drinking game. I'm just gonna start plugging in genres for the hell of it.


6:19 PM  

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