Tuesday, December 9, 2014
61. Going Down (The Men): I’ll give The Men their due: they know how to keep working at a sound until it finally hits the sweet spot. Going Down is theatrical yet full on wonder and thunder.
62. Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything (Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra): for all the sorrow couched in Menuck’s trembling tenor, there is a sign of life amid the Grande Ballroom rubble. But amid this sound of confusion, Menuck leads the band in a group chant that’s almost nursery-rhyme-like in its simplicity; that album title may seem like a mouthful to read, but it’s surprisingly easy to sing.
63. The Bureau (Gerard Way): built around descending chords that find Way's new backing band The Hormones all dressed up in Suede: Way's most obvious touchstone here is Brett Anderson's damaged theatrical glamour. (NME)
64. Pyramids (Jenny Wilson): Beneath those lyrics and understated beats is a far underestimated power that’s always been there, but that’s been masked by a mercurial mind and miserable motif of a life mixing to mass destruction levels. And that thunder, much like the arrangement’s steady immutable beats in the beginning of the track beats her in veins like a constant war siren, lightning blitkrieg never far off. (The Sights & Sounds)
65. Mesmerise (Temples): all new Brit bands love to rummage through old sounds but no one is doing it quite as well as Temples, and here is the proof, streaking through heavy psychedelic make-up.
66. Ice Princess (Azealia Banks): Here, Banks slips into the costume of a mainstream rapper, spitting knotty rhymes about her diamonds—"Winter wonderland body so frosty in that Bugatti," she says at one point, cribbing imagery from two decades worth of flossed-out rap. The beat, supplied by AraabMuzik, further drives the point: though Banks loves to recycle house songs wholesale, the production on Ice Princess hollows out Morgan Page's In the Air until it has the unmistakable rattle of Chicago drill, America’s purest form of street rap. (Pitchfork)
67. Nude Beach A Go-Go (Azealia Banks): let’s hope Ariel Pink doesn’t get too upset that Azealia has revamped her version of the song they recorded together and made it some of the most inspiring pop lines of the year.
68. Talk Is Cheap (Chet Faker): another example of Faker’s smooth and soulful style, with his swooning voice exposed over intricate instrumentals. The production includes a strong sax component that winds subtly underneath trademark electric keys. This latest taste has some really strong vocal harmonies that add oomph to his performance and help fuel the melodies. (TheRipeTV)
69. Shake It Off (Taylor Swift): Swift’s got her fair share of haters. She just learned to stop thinking about them. As if to taunt the naysayers for even daring to laugh behind her back, she went ahead and landed her new maxim with one of the strongest hooks she’s penned to date. Maybe you’re still pop-skeptical, but just listen to the way she smiles with her voice when she rounds out each chorus. Listen to how she sings, “I never miss a beat/ I’m lightning on my feet/ And that’s what they don’t see.” She’s one of the most recognizable faces in the country, but there are still sides to her you’ve never seen. (Consequence Of Sound)
70. Could I Be (Sylvan Esso): puts them on a revolving turntable, allowing a prized 360-degree view. It’s earnest and picks at the desire to keep things moving along, questioning how well they work together, and breaking them down without really even trying. (Consequence Of Sound)
71. Grid (Perfume Genius): another sneeringly dynamic track looking to banish the songwriter's innermost struggles head-on. Darkness has given way to one of Perfume Genius' most starkly energetic songs to date. With his voice distorted into a shrieking, unearthly descendant of Suicide’s Alan Vega, Grid finds Hadreas applying heavy bass, stuttering synths, garbled back-up cheers, and a lone drum for a rousing, repetitive core. (Pitchfork)
72. Black And White (Parquet Courts): In a time when your average indie band strives to incorporate every disco, R&B or electronic influence they can, here is Parquet Courts acting like that prized homegrown DIY formula born out of punk like it still carries through the generation X era of grunge and college rock. (The Quietus)
73. Ashes (The Belle Brigade): the ominous, primitive drumming leads into their unmistakable voices weaving around one another, it becomes obvious that you’re just in for some different than what you imagined. “You light the fire, but you don’t keep it alive / It cools down, you get tired / And the red turns to white / All the ashes in the air can be collected and confined and to the shape we used to make / But the weight is gone,” it begins, opening a new chapter for the Belle Brigade. (Popmatters)
74. Rocking Chair (The Districts): Atop a tightly woven foundation of blues, indie, and not-quite-garage rock, singer-songwriter Rob Grote’s vocals are gravelly and raw. Expressing pain, anguish, and self-destructive alcoholism (“If I drink some more, well I think I might drown”), he strains to be heard about the loud, distorted instrumental barrage of guitarist Mark Larson, drummer Braden Lawrence, and bassist Conor Jacobus. (Consequence Of Sound)
75. The Suburbs (Mr. Little Jeans): yes, it’s a remake of the popular Arcade Fire song but the point of a cover is to explore different angles of a song and here The Suburbs is given a haunting refrain that works wonderfully.
76. Psychic Trauma (Cloud Nothings): opens with a gentle, slack-wristed two-guitar strum that puts you in a mellow place. Then, drummer Jayson Gerycz inserts a fish hook into the song's mouth and pulls backwards; the song drops into minor-key, and the song begins, steadily, to speed up. "I can't believe what you're telling me is true/ My mind is always racing listening to you," Baldi sings, and the band surges in sympathy, pressing its foot heavier on the odometer until the needle floats and the scenery begins flashing by too quickly. (Pitchfork)
77. Transgender Dysphoria Blues (Against Me!): No song carried the same emotional weight as Laura Jane Grace’s personal rallying call. It’s frank (“They just see a faggot“), it’s venomous (“You’ve got no cunt in your strut”), it’s tragic (“But we can’t choose how we’re made“), and it’s honest (“You want them to notice“). As the opening track of Against Me!’s sixth studio album of the same name, the track works as a rousing thesis for everything that follows: an ambitious portrait of self-discovery that’s scathing, tumultuous, and ultimately relieving. (Consequence Of Sound)
78. Crown (Angel Haze): Haze takes this as the place from which she speaks, turns the “vanishing into air” of meaning back on itself to recreate significance, in a work that uses both of these paradigms as a leaping board to perform a reverse backflip into a much-needed existentialism. In a cruel, absurd, and meaningless world, where suicide is always an option, the self is and must be the only source of one’s own meaning and of the decision to live and to create. (TinyMixTapes)
79. Rockets & Jets (Hospitality): takes a different direction from what was heard on the debut, embracing dark, dour synths and vocalist Amber Papini's slightly growling lower register. (Pitchfork)
80. Down On My Luck (Vic Mensa): a pulsating hip house production with whirlwind raps delivered furiously in singsong. Mensa has always been a great technical rapper, one who understands structure and rap as craft, but Down on My Luck marked a key moment in his evolution as an artist and found him pairing his technique with true artistry. (Consequence Of Sound)