Sunday, December 14, 2008

Favorite Tracks of 2008: #20-11

Another day, another part of my list.  And this one has a clip from Gossip Girl!  Ooh!

21. Lykke Li - Little Bit

Youth Novels was another one of my favorite albums of the year. Lykke Li is Swedish and 22. And amazing. Her debut album is full of gems, but Little Bit is one of its best. Definitely the best 22-year-old love song I've ever heard. I guess I lied earlier when I said that Cloud Cult had written my favorite lyrics of the year. I'd say for relatability and accuracy, Lykke Li takes the prize on that. Czech this out and tell me you haven't felt this way exactly:
hands down
i'm too proud for love
but with eyes shut
it's you i'm thinking of
and for you i keep my legs apart
and forget about my tainted heart
and i will never ever be the first
to say it
but still I,
yes you know I..I..I..
i would do it,
push a button
pull a trigger,
climb a mountain
jump off a cliff,
'cause you know baby
i love you love you a little bit
i think i'm a little bit, a little bit
a little bit in love with you
but only if you're a little bit, a little bit
a little bit in love with me
Oh also, the music is amazing and fresh. Really, I have nothing to compare it to. It's so great.

19. Passion Pit - Sleepyhead
I can't begin to explain how amazing this song is.  I've never heard anything like it, though Pitchfork draws comparisons to the dreamy work of A Sunny Day In Glasgow and Air France.  This is what electronic indie rock is supposed to sound like.  So much of that genre (read Metro Station) sounds like unoriginal crap you could make yourself, but after listening to the first 30 seconds of Sleepyhead, you'll know it's something special.
...there's really not much sleepy about "Sleepyhead", a genre-crossing jolt of euphoric energy set to appear as a bonus track on Boston five-piece Passion Pit's debut Chunk of Change EP. "Everything is going to the beat," a man mutters at the outset (the sped-up voice is Jack Kerouac's, from one of his spoken word albums), and a steady, wooden thump soon falls in beneath synthetic handclaps, gliding bass, and strobing, keyboard-like sounds.    -Pitchfork [who else?]
18. Santogold - Shove It (ft. Spank Rock)
Santogold is Santi White, the former frontwoman of ska punk band Stiffed, and fellow Stiffed member John Hill.  Their musical roots shine through on the group's self-titled debut, as they find a happy intersection of reggae, dub, M.I.A.-style tribal music, hip-hop, indie rock, and electro.  While Creator already made the list, I put Shove It in the top 20, because it's got this grimy hip-hop sound complimented by some nice dub elementz.  Plus, I fucking love Spank Rock, and the chorus - "We think you're a joke // Shove yr hope where it don't shut" - is hella catchy and spunky.  PS - this is the track that Kanye samples in Jay-Z's Brooklyn We Go Hard.  Sounds better in its original state, I think.

17. MGMT - Electric Feel
Overplayed?  Yes, maybe even to the point of annoying.  When a song starts making frequent appearances on The CW, I start to lose interest.  When I hear it in class on a regular basis, because it has become the most popular ring tone among Smith College's JAPS (look it up - it's not a racial slur), I really start to lose interest.  And when 17 year olds approach me at parties and go on and on about how much they love Electric Feel by "MGMT" (who I at that time still called "The Management" in a sort of bitter musical elitism), I am done with the track. But, there's a reason this song got so popular - it's really great.  I think I heard it first in March, when MGMT started to hit the bogs, and I probably played it on every radio show I had after that.  So when I started to roll my eyes about the song I had to say "fuck you" to myself and get over it, because god damnit, it's a good song, and it deserves top 20.  I can't actually verbalize why I like this track more than Kids or Time To Pretend... except that its groove is unbeatable and the lyrics are fun.  Ooh girl.

16. Kanye West vs. Yelle - A Cause De Kanye
This mashup of Love Lockdown and A Cause De Garcons is the work of Nashville Nights' Jeff Olson.  It's a great example of why the often looked-down-upon genre of "bloghouse" is actually great.  It's a blogger who wanted to spice up Love Lockdown and did so beautifully, then posted it on his blog and let the world discover it.  It's one of the best mashups of the year, and it's definitely the best party mashup.  I actually heard it for the first time on WOZQ (props to Kayden), so that's pretty cool for 91.9.  So good.

15. Department of Eagles - No One Does It Like You
Okay, you want to hear the best roommate story ever?  Daniel Rossen (you know him from Grizzly Bear) went to NYU and was randomly assigned to roommate Fred Nicolaus.  They self-recorded some demos for kicks while they were in school.  They went their separate musical ways, coming together in 5 years later to make a couple of EPs... and in 2008 they reunite and release their full-length debut, which will be on most bloggers' top 10 albums of the year.  So, the moral of the story is... start making music with yr roommate.  The other moral of the story is In Ear Park is a damn good record.  All Music Guide explains:
In Ear Park was inspired by [Rossen's] childhood, dedicated to his late father, and named after what he called one of his favorite places to go as a boy. The band frames these very personal observations in experimental, symphonic/acoustic/ electronic pop, using its grandiosity to convey the power of memories. Its rippling guitars conjure up a far-off, sun-dappled yesterday, and the way its backing vocals and waltz rhythms swell capture the way a memory can completely immerse someone.
No One Does It Like You is my favorite off the album, a less experimental and wandering track that All Music describes as a "bounce, wistful homage to '60s pop."  It's still haunting in its own right, and per usual, Rossen's vocals compliment the song perfectly.

14. Estelle ft. Kanye West - American Boy
Oh, what do I say?  It's a great song.  My favorite R&B/hip-hop track of 2008.  Estelle's voice is powerful but soothing and goes well with Kanye's laidback sound.  It's arranged and produced brilliantly.  Do I need to go on?

13. Bloc Party - Signs
So, I have taken quite a liking to Gossip Girl.  It may mostly be that everyone on that show (Well most everyone) is gorgeous, or it may just be that I am very susceptible to slightly predictable melodrama amongst wealthy elite.  But, whatever the reason, I watch it every week and one thing I've noticed that the show does amazingly is pairing the perfect music with each scene.  Signs was already on my list when I watched the most recent episode of Gossip Girl, but hearing it over the progression of scenes that started with Blair's mom's wedding and ended with Chuck in Blair's arms may have inspired me to move it higher on the list.  I admit it.  It provided some sort of emotional context for the persistent synth pulse, glossy bells and chimes, and melodic vocals of frontman Kele Okereke.

12. Cut Copy - Out There On The Ice
Remember how I said you should just pretend I put the whole Cut Copy album on here?  Well, I basically did.  Here's the third song from the group gracing my top 50 countdown.  Like the two that came before it, it's more of an electro dancefloor jam than the band-led more rocky anthems Pitchfork mentioned.  If you just heard the incredibly housey backbeat, you probably wouldn't expect much from the song.  But that's what I love about it.  Cut Copy has taken a synth riff and club rhythm that you could probably find automated on a cheap keyboard, and layered it actual drums, airy synth orchestrations, bouncy melodies, jock jam-esque samples, and solid vocals, turning an otherwise generic house song into one of the best electro tracks of the year.

11. Kleerup - With Every Heartbeat (ft. Robyn)
Let me divulge a little personal information here... I got dumped this summer.  Ouch, I know. One of the good things that came out of this was my ability to actually understand all of these heartbreak songs I'd heard so many times.  Cheesey, maybe, but I now had a legit connection to them, which transformed already beautiful songs like this into "the best song I've ever heard."  Some tracks, like Eamon's Fuck It, perhaps were not deserving of such praise, but Kleerup's #11 song on my list without a doubt deserves all the praise I'm about to lay out.  Like Robyn's song that hit earlier in the list, this song has been around since 2006.  And being a Robyn fan, I've loved it since it dropped as a single two years ago.  But this year, it was released under Kleerup's name on his self-titled debut of synth love and production genius.  And it came out just in time for my heartache, with all sort of new meaning and layers.  Musically, its production is seamless, from the echoing synth-strings opener to the steady synthesized beat, to the crispness of Robyn's knockout vocals... to the pre-chorus synth-heavy build up... to the minimalistic climax under Robyn's "so I don't look back," which fades into a lovely strings instrumental section, which in turn fades into a spacey sounding subtle backdrop to Robyn's repeated "and it hurts with every heartbeat" that eventually gives way to its opening dancefloor beat.

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