I am just so embarrassed by my last post that I must do what I can to make it move down the blog roll. But no, I will not delete the post, that would be a shame in a way; it felt so true while I was writing it.
So, I’m going to tell you what some of my favorite songs from 2010 are so far:
1. “Lover of Mine,” Beach House
This song is secretly a 50’s R&B number; I sweeear. The organ riffage gives it away. Just imagine some Motown babes wailing Victoria’s chorus: “In a wide open field/ we know what we feel.” Oh, god. This song hit me in the heart the first time I heard it. Like many songs on Teen Dream, this one is a vestige of a melodic truth we used to know; see, it’s like Plato’s concept of knowledge. Learning is just remembering. Listening to “Lover of Mine” is just remembering an essential melody.
2. “Love King,” The-Dream
I am a little afraid that The-Dream’s synth-heavy, homies-saying-“oh!” production style is reaching its apex; we are so familiar with him by now that his signature stuff might soon grow tired. BUT this song is still pretty awesome, and at least I love listening to it. It’s objective greatness, however, could be argued. The-Dream is most admired for the epic narrative arch of last year’s Love vs Money concept album, but few people have noted the awesomeness of his idiosyncratic lyrics. This song is a good-old fashioned “I can get all the girls,” jam, nothin novel bout that. But people always love lists of different kinds of women, and love revving up imperial aims to conquest us all. My favorite/least favorite line from this song includes: “Got a girl up in Target/a girl up in college/sorry ladies but there ain’t nuthin like a smart bitch.” Thanks.
3. “Night,” Zola Jesus
I first heard Zola Jesus in a friend’s humid living room one cloudy fall morning. The wood-paneled walls of this room prevent it from ever entirely dispelling the gloom; the windows are so old that the glass is thicker on the bottom, and leafless vines partially obscure your view to the drab yard outside. The smells of smoke and damp wood cling to the air. It is in this environment that Zola Jesus thrives. Honestly, the room I have described can’t be all that different than a room in Sadchester, aka Manchester, birthplace of much early 80s sad goth and post-punk musics: Joy Division, Echo & The Bunnymen, all that. And it is the damp, reverby sadness of early Joy Division that “Night” conjures, along with a good dose of Siouxsie Sioux. This is affected, consciously anachronistic stuff, but I think it’s so effective because I don’t know of anyone else so convincingly emulating the early goths.
4. “Love Me Girl,” Yeasayer
The Guardian assigned this song an eclectic Balearic House beat. But to me, the song’s wonky keyboard, clickety-clack drum machine, and hand claps/finger snaps are more evocative of a Zac Efron song in High School Musical 3, and not really of the Ibiza club. I know that makes the song sound lame, but it is the very high school musicalness of it that makes me really love it. What unbridled, unashamed, silly energy! This same energy pervades most of Odd Blood, which shows Yeasayer’s influences include not only Disney movies but also Brian Eno, 80’s New Romantics, Peter Fucking Gabriel, Afropop, etc. One thing: I can’t tell if the girl at the center of the song is supposed to be a lying, deceiving, slippery wench, or if the speaker of the song is acknowledging the distance between he and his gf at the dour end of their relationship. I sincerely hope it’s the latter, because I have heard, from a friend of a friend of a Yeasayer, that these dudes are bunch of dicks. But oh well, they’ve got marvelously diverse ears, robust singing voices, and you know? I think they really go for it, even if they sometimes fail.
5. “Empire Ants,” Gorillaz + Little Dragon
Woah, I know, Gorillaz. I was kind of too embarrassed to listen to this immediately when it came out the other day, but then I decided to get over myself since the guest list featured a bunch of surprise presents. Surprise present number 1: MARK E SMITH ?!?! on the track “Glitter Freeze.” He spits: “Where’s norf from here??” then drawls over scratchy, arrhythmic electro; it’s not so different from his 2007 project Von Sudenfed, but it’s the first I’d heard of him since then. Surprise present number 2: LOU REED??!?! on the track “Some Kind of Nature.” Lou sounds perfectly blasé; it’s like he and Mark are competing for the title “Most Disdainfullest of Earthly Life.” The tinkling ivories and lilty, drunken meandering of this song would not sound out of place on Transformer, except for the Gorillaz flourishes and Damon’s voice which appears somewhere later in the song. Anyway, the point is, “Empire Ants.” This song is pretty straight forward; Damon’s unadorned crooning recalls Blur’s ballady-type songs; for once, he and his voice aren’t hiding behind a cartoon mask. At 2 minutes, the song turns from beach island reverie to ice-cold Kraut/Daft disco with the ghostly voice of Little Dragon (?).
6. “I’m Back,” T.I.
T.I. will be out of the ATL halfway house on March 26th! And thank goodness. Everybody seems to be in jail, and I will be happy to have my favorite radio rapper back in action. Wayne and Gucci Mane are obviously incarcerated, while, as if you cared, DMX might soon go back since he keeps violating his probation. The assonance goin’ on in this song is absolutely outta control, the cutting long ‘i’s further sharpened by his dipthongless Southern twang: “I never let you down/Imma shine on sight/Keep your mind on your grind and offa minez, alright, right right?” Alright, I will.
I hope you, too, will enjoy some of these tracks. All of them, with the exception of Love King (which is from an as-yet unreleased 2010 LP) and I’m Back (which may just be a one-off, as it is a glorious come-back track), come from a recently released LP or EP that is definitely worth some of your time and consideration.