Sunday, December 14, 2008

Favorite Tracks of 2008: #30-21

Despite my best intentions, I spent my day playing video games, shopping, drinking hot chocolate and baileys, listening to live music, and watching dexter.  Why not conclude my not-productive-in-the-way-it-should-have-been day with part three of my list?

30. a) Girl Talk - Play Your Part (Pt. 1) (mp3)
       b) Girl Talk - Don't Stop (savefile)

Girl Talk at Smith Spring 2008
How could I choose just one?  These are my two favorite tracks off of Girl Talk's smashing Feed the Animals, which I'd say topped his seemingly untoppable debut.  You guys know Gregg Gillis' style so I won't bore you with basic definitions.  Let me just tell you my favorite moments of each song... I love the way Girl Talk does buildups, and there's a minor example in Don't Stop, though it never really climaxes, when he uses the instrumentals from Born Slippy as a base and adds a new sample on top of the others every couple of seconds, until it sort of fades into Usher's Love In This Club.  Opening track Play Your Part (Pt. 1), offers another prime example of Gillis' genius as he mashes T.I.'s What You Know with Gettin' Some by Shawnna and Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O'Connor, feeding right into a sample from Big Pimpin'.  Beautiful work, Gregg.

29. Blitzen Trapper - Furr (mp3)
The first 10 seconds of this track offer testament as to why it's my pick for 29.  As soon as the Dylan-inspired, doubled vocals come in over the simple acoustic guitar, I'm sold on this track.  A minute later, a harmonica, drums, and a tambourine kick in to signal a chorus whose lyrics I still don't understand.  The song, overall, tells the most interestingly illustrated story of growing up (and out of adolescence) that I've ever heard, and compliment the music perfectly.

28. a) Cut Copy - Far Away (mp3)
      b) Cut Copy - Hearts on Fire (mp3)

Okay, seriously... just pretend I put the whole album In Ghost Colours here, because good fucking lord, I love it so much... and I've listened to it so many times that it's hard to rank the songs individually.  Here's what Pitchfork had to say about the album:
Sure, as you might expect, there are still blushes of French house and electro scattered liberally all over the show, but they're always deployed in ways that serve-- rather than overshadow-- the song. And while Cut Copy's principle and founding member Dan Whitford may come from a DJ background, the band-led songs come across every bit as muscular and as noteworthy as the dancefloor crossovers. To that end, this is one of the best bridges between electro and rock in a long time; the joins are so seamless that you don't even think of the songs on those terms.
These songs are definitely on the more electro end of the record, with Hearts on Fire actually actually being pretty housey, but even within these songs, you can see what Pitchfork is talking about.  It's not generic electro in any sense and every single element of each song seems perfectly appropriate and in place.  Ah, musical perfection.  And you can dance to it!

27. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down - Bag of Hammers (mp3)
First of all, youtube Thao right now.  She's soooo cute.  She's a women's studies major and is signed to Kill Rock Stars.  Loving it.  That said, she could be an anti-woman, Palin-loving loonie, and this song would still be GREAT.  One of the catchiest tunes on my list, this song will literally make you bob from side to side as you sing along.  As a lyricist, Thao is honest and raw.  As a musician, she successfully makes indie folk fun and cute again, without being annoying.  This song could charm its way into the heart of anyone and will probably dance its way onto many a best-of list this year.  Oh, and to make it easy for you, I went ahead and youtubed her:

26. Ra Ra Riot - Can You Tell (mp3)
Ra Ra Riot is a stupid name.  There, I said it.  I thought they'd sound like Arctic Monkeys or that band that did the cool music video on treadmills.  I was pleasantly surprised to have my ears/brain graced with well-written (and not overly simplified) indie pop melodies and appropriately simple lyrics we can all relate to.  In fact, if I had an aim profile, I'd probably put them in my profile as soon as I had an unrequited love:
When I look into your eyes
I tend to lose my thoughts
Don't forget your stare
Oh what was that you said
Would you let me know
'Cause I can't read your mind
Oh can you tell
I can't even explain

Oh baby I can't even explain
What am I supposed to do
It's hard to stay cool
When you smile at me
And I get nervous every time you speak

My bed's too big for just me 
Yeah, pretty fucking cute.  Their 80s-ish sound will sound familiar if you've heard Vampire Weekend, but the music itself is way more interesting than those Harvard boys.

25. Laura Marling - Cross Your Fingers (
She's younger than me... 18 or 19, and this is her second time she's appearing on my list (which obviously means she's made it!).  She was a guest on Young Love by The Mystery Jets.  This song is even better, probably because she wrote it.  She's got a knack for songwriting, adding just enough poplove to turn a basic folk song into something splendid without watering it down.  And the production on this track is outstanding.

24. Cloud Cult - The Ghost Inside Our House (mp3)
I really like Cloud Cult, but I can see how they aren't for everyone.  Some of their tracks get the "weird" response from a non-adventurous audience, and that's understandable.  It's too bad, though, because it's really beautiful music and their lyrics are actually interesting.  I really like this song, because it is pretty palatable to any music-lover.  While many of their songs tend to throw electronic elements into the mix, this track is purely acoustic guitar and simple (but powerful) orchestration under frontman Craig Minowa's boyish voice.  There's no backbeat to distract from the music and words (which by the way are probably my favorite lyrics on the list).

23. The Dodos - Winter (mp3)

Off of one the best albums of the year, Winter is the most accurately/appropriately-titled song on my list.  The music is wintery, opening with rumbling subtle drums, a lulling melody, and some treble-y guitar strumming that legit sounds like snowflakes.  This gives way to a bigger sound, as some horns come in over a bigger (though still not overpowering) beat.  And the story of the song is about the "winter" phase of a relationship, as the afterflow wears off and the love slowly fades, but the couple stays together.  It even gets bitter at the end, just like the cold winter wind.  I'm serious, The Dodos, hit the nail on the head (pardon the cliche) with this one.

22. Lil' Wayne - Lollipop (mp3)
Okay, I feel pretty dumb putting this song this far up, after writing such glowing reviews of the musical perfection and lyrical complexity of my other picks.  But, fuck it - I love this.  It would be an understatement to say it was produced well, and it'd be a lie to say the beat wasn't dope as shit.  Also, I love the lyrics, despite their profound lack of, well.. profoundness.  If I felt comfortable saying certain words in public, I'd sing this part all the time and make it my anthem:
Shawty said the nigga that she with ain't shit
Shawty said the nigga that she with ain't this
Shawty said the nigga that she with cant hit
Well shawty imma hit it(hit it) like I cant miss
Thank you, Mr. Carter, for putting my feelings in such poetic and perfect words.  PS -- think we look alike?


21. Bon Iver - Skinny Love (mp3)
So my radiowife (aka co-disc-jockey, DJ Hype) doesn't like this song.  I've listened to it over and over trying to figure out what she could possibly dislike... and I've got nothing.  Unless she just really can't stand falsettos and acoustic guitars or strong-but-slightly-whiny choruses... cause this song has a lot of that.  But don't let that discourage you - it sounds great. It's this high up on the list because it's anything-but-complex, and yet doesn't sacrifice any quality to maintain that simplicity.  Just pure musical goodness.

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