Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Top Ten Tracks On Elbo.Ws Reviewed In 50 Words Or Less (1/16/07)

This feature took a little bit of a vacation, due to the fact that blogs were posting their best-of lists, which meant that the top ten consisted of previously released songs. But now that we're in the middle of January, new stuff has been cropping up. And so, another edition of the top ten tracks on Elbo.Ws reviewed in 50 words or less, this time for the
weeks of January 1st through January 16th.

The Mountain Goats

The Mountain Goats - "Sax Rohmer #1"

"Sax Rohmer #1" is defined by by propulsive, determined playing of John Darnielle and Peter Hughes. But there's no angst here, despite the similarity to "Boys Don't Cry" during the transitional sections. We doubt anyone would swoon over the song's refrain, but Danielle gets points for passion. Perhaps all this Get Company?

Grade: B

Download: The Mountain Goats - "Sax Rohmer #1"

The Mountain Goats MySpace Page


Headlights - "Cherry Tulips"

Ian wrote this up earlier
. I don't share all of his enthusiasm, just most of it. The song begins with a mock-organ sound, like every cheesy church hymn does. Thankfully, "Cherry Tulips" blossoms into gorgeously with an slide guitar line that echoes like a starry night. Take notes, "Sunny Skies".

Grade: B+

Download: Headlights - "Cherry Tulips"

Headlights MySpace Page

Hello Blue Roses

Hello Blue Roses - "Sunny Skies"

I have finished listening to this song and will fail to capture the fragile beauty of Sydney Vermont's voice in less than 50 words. That said, the song itself is rather unremarkable and old-fashioned piano-pop. "Sunny Skies" is like setting up to watch a sunset only to find that it's dark already.

Grade: C+

Download: Hello, Blue Roses - "Sunny Skies"

Hello, Blue Roses MySpace Page

British Sea Power

British Sea Power - "Waving Flags"

Pretty Much Amazing.

Grade: A

Download: British Sea Power - "Waving Flags"

British Sea Power MySpace Page

Wye Oak

Wye Oak - "Warning"

The Music Slut described this as "Rilo Kiley's shoegazed obsessed cousins" and the description couldn't be more apt. Singer Jenn Wenner recalls that other Jen, but instead of an alt-country canvas, she coos under walls of tremolo-heavy Dinosaur Jr.-style feedback. If only If Children were being released next week.

Grade: B+

Download: Wye Oak - "Warning"

Wye Oak MySpace Page

Hello Blue Roses

Hello, Blue Roses - "Shadow Falls"

Download: Hello, Blue Roses - "Shadow Falls"

Looks like I have another shot at recapturing beauty. I'll have an easier go of it this time, because both Dan Bejar and Sydney Vermont have created an gorgeous tapestry of synthesized sounds and ethereal vocals that's poignantly juxtaposed against the plaintive chorus. After multiple listens, "Shadow Falls" is still a stunner.

Grade: A-

Hello, Blue Roses MySpace Page

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - "Baltimore"

Who knows if hipsters are to the aughts as what hippies were to the 60s but, if both sides ever came to blows, "Baltimore" could be used as a peace offering between the two. The hipsters get the tottering opening and lackadaisical charm; the hippies, the instrumental dexterity. Everybody wins, for once.

Grade: B+

Download: Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks - "Baltimore"

Stephen Malkmus MySpace Page

Sunny Day Sets Fire

Sunny Day Sets Fire - "Stranger"

UK-based pop quintet Sunny Day Sets Fire prove that the international language is not love but rather The Beatles. There are enough incandescent melodies, ringing guitars and space-bound synths to please the most strict of anglophiles (and Granddaddy fans), while the insistent rhythm section helps grounds the lovestruck narrator. Sunny Day Sets Fire to my soul.

Grade: A-

Download: Sunny Day Sets Fire - "Stranger"

Sunny Day Sets Fire


Yeasayer - "2080"

Still going strong since last fall's release of All Hour Cymbals, Yeasayer tastefully experiment with folk-rock's soothing melodicism and the intelligent anxiety of David Byrne by updating it for 2008 via Animal Collective. "It's a new year/I'm glad to be here". Right back at ya. Stick around, yes?

Grade: B

Download: Yeasayer - "2080"

Yeasayer on MySpace


Evangelicals - "Skeleton Man"

Comparisons between Evangelicals and The Flaming Lips are inevitable, since both bands are from Oklahoma and play psychedelic music. Both groups have also their fair share of whimsy, but Evangelicals take a more patient route to their surreal imaginations. The only mystics Evangelicals are waging war against are themselves. And it sounds pretty good.

Grade: B+

Download: Evangelicals - "Skeleton Man"

Evangelicals MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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