the important and the not-so-important, horribly conflated.

20/10 Best Songs, 10-6

In music on December 3, 2010 at 8:51 pm

I’m counting down my personal favorite 20 songs and 10 albums of 2010. If they’re not your cup of tea, that’s completely okay—actually it’s a good thing: it means you’re not an insufferable music snob like me. But give them a spin. Today: songs 10-6, Tomorrow: 5-1, Monday/Tues: Best Albums.

10. Women / “Eyesore” – Something is off—the guitars ring a little too sharp and bright, the vocals drown under twin telecasters’ clangs—and then, around the 4 minute mark, it’s not: the formula doesn’t change in “Eyesore”, it just seems, suddenly, that the brashness and fuck-it confidence that Women display here (they play the same riff for the last 3 minutes of this album closer) is the perfect antidote for the timidity of other acts (Wavves, etc) that hide their weak-sauce licks behind lo-fi production. “Eyesore” isn’t “retro,”  it’s Classic, and Women know it.

9. Vampire Weekend / “Diplomat’s Son” – Critics do VW a disservice by giving them the label of a “Love ’em or Hate ’em” band—it suggests that their records are a homogenous collection of pretty, preppy pop, when there are more genre experiments unfolding across an album (or, in the case of “Diplomat’s Son,” a single track) like Contra than a month’s worth of other top 40 bands. When this song shifts into it’s slow-as-molasses midsection, tiny flourishes of synth strings and bouncing reggae bass and plucked piano chords fill every gap of the speaker channels. Ezra Koenig & co. don’t do “space” or “silence”: that would be too easy. Instead, layer after layer of sounds and samples are laid down on top of one another (the story the lyrics tell, in which a memory repeats itself with each iteration adding new embellishments, reflects this structure) until the riff that VW started with is forgotten, and the tucked away patterns of “Diplomat’s Son” continue to unfurl even as the song stops.

8. A Sunny Day In Glasgow / “100/0 (Snowdays Forever)” –  I would ruin this beauty with analysis. I don’t think I care that I can’t make out a word they sing either.

7. Spoon / “Who Makes your Money” –  This is the magic Spoon pulls off on track after track: each individual part maintains uniform tempo, dynamics, etc.—but when other instruments drop out of the mix, the guitars or bass or kit seem completely changed, even when they’ve kept the same pace and rhythm. (Tah-Dah!) But “Who Makes Your Money” is more than a seminar on framing a melody or giving a beat context; the song, signaled by Britt Daniel’s clipped and cryptic vocals, is a devastating example of what happens when something beautiful ends too soon. When the snare breaks the trance of “Money”‘s superb middle section, it’s an expected return to reality (like the conclusion of a magician’s trick), but you still hurt and wish that what you saw/heard in between was truly magic.

6.  Kanye West / “Monster” (ft. every Hip-Hop star alive plus the Bon Iver Dude) – Our president could learn something about audacity from Mr. West. Who else would’ve used the phrase “have you ever had sex with a pharaoh? / put the pussy in the sarcophagus,” over this ridiculously weird (but deliriously funky) beat, while piping in an indie star’s silky vocals on the coda? So what if Jay-Z’s verse is a bit lame—it’s more than made up for by Nicki Minaj’s schizo lines about “eating brains” and “dick-ass whiplash” (did I actually hear that!?!) Hip Hop lost its shock factor a long time ago—but this is the sound of ‘Ye trying to bring it back.

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  1. Monster is batshit insane…..and I can’t listen to anything else right now, it’s soooo good!!

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