Wednesday, December 10, 2014

THE BEST 100 SONGS OF 2014: PART III (#41--60)


41. Ectomorphic Love (Gem Jones); In this track we have a band working their own take on a Prince vibe. It is shambling. It is messy, spilling its love clear across the designated dance floor that no one is using because everyone is crowded in around GEM JONES (and they are just not playing that close to the dance floor really). And it is spiritual. Tongue is somewhere around the cheek, but maybe not in there fully (I’d have to actually get out to Iowa city for a personal look if I were ever to know for sure). And as you will plainly hear if you listen, GEM JONES’ falsetto is hanging all the way out. A five and a half minute ride through the tunnel of love that I, and perhaps many of us, wish we could have had, but instead we were eating Bugles, or pressing our sweaty palms against the window (or both). (Boston Hassle)

42. Partition (Beyonce): easily the most explicit music of the singer’s career, but it’s obvious that it’s not designed to shock or pander. It’s just incredibly frank, and when she sings in detail about getting head or messing around with Jay Z in the back of a limo, it’s genuinely sexy. BeyoncĂ© has always presented herself as a sexualized person, but these songs are her first to step away from over-the-top romantic glamour in favor of giving listeners a sense of the specifics of her sex life. (Buzzfeed)

43. Break The Bank (Schoolboy Q): rappers rarely face the truth of time on record but School Boy Q clamours for as much as he can get now because he realizes that time is short, over layers of vocal bliss.

44. Shapeshifter (Elephant): When Amelia Rivas and Christian Pinchbeck, aka Elephant, first started releasing music in 2011, the pair were happily together and loving life. Then they broke up, things got messy and the band looked like it would obviously have to go the way of the relationship. Miraculously the pair reconciled at this brilliant track is a way of easing themselves back into it all. (The Guardian)

45. Half A Day (Joanna Newsom): just out of the blue, Newsom popped out of the silence that’s enveloped her these past 4 years to unfurl just a taste of new music and what a stunning, simple track.

46. Helena Bonham Carter (Liam Finn): for those hooked on Sam Smith’s textbook vocal delivery, they should listen to this smooth, silky delivery from Finn—a sorta tribute to the famed British actress—and see how real white soul is executed.

47. Kingdom Come (Vertical Scratchers): rock‘n’roll rendered on Etch A Sketch: imperfect and monochromatic to be sure, but infectiously playful, and liable to spin off into any direction at any moment. And, occasionally, you find yourself marveling at it all. (Pitchfork)

48. Smokin’ and Drinkin’ (Danny Brown): though Old featured some sobering grown-up tracks, this one proves that there’s a kid still somewhat left in Brown, a high-loving kid/thug.

49. Manchild (Tune-Yards): with its percussion sounding picked from a range of kitchen-ware, woodblocks, and wind chimes.“I’ve got something to say…” she chants, again, her own voice multi-tracked, as the song winds down. Say that to yourself five times. “Left right, right left/ It’s time to meet it head on.”Dance this way, dance that way. No, stop. Focus. Meet it head on, whatever it is. If it’s been bothering you the last few days, then make this the day that you face it and find a new way. (Tiny Mix Tapes)

50. Face Down (White Lung): culminates in White Lung torching scarecrows and that might also be a serendipitous cue, one that brings us right back to its present-day, modernist disturbance—the setting fire to metaphorical strawmen, the faux-academic faux-outrage, concern trolling, and straight-up shit talking that constitutes the kind of internet discourse to which Face Down might be alluding. It might not; Mish Way's lyrics are pointed, yet open-ended and the band's blazing performance gives weight to otherwise stock phrases.

51. On With The Business (The Hold Steady): Finn, on On With the Business, dubs "that American sadness." These are people who've been seriously rocked by life, but they're mostly past that now; they're taking it one day at a time, with a friendly assist from the "salted rims and frosted mugs." (Pitchfork)

52. Goshen 97 (Strand Of Oaks): Strand of Oaks have evolved into a raw and reckless rock band here, ripping away the shame and humiliation of Showalter's teenage years. He looks back with more honesty than nostalgia, the chorus admitting, "I was lonely, but I was having fun." But the song doesn't need to be overt about what it's actually celebrating, which is Showalter actually living his own dream. (Pitchfork)

53. Bad Self Portraits (Lake Street Drive): the title track from their album, it perfectly finds the mix between pop and feminine intuition. It’s an insight on how mistakes keep on getting made and how one should intend to get out of them.

54. Chartjunk (Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks): As the Jicks trim their improvisations, they retain a mischievous spirit -- witness the cheery horn stabs of Chartjunk, which swaggers like prime crossover Spoon and thereby raises the question of whether the song is a piss-take. (All Music)

55. The Man (Aloe Blacc): finds Blacc splitting the difference between proper poise and brazen bravado. Right out of the gate, we get Blacc's iteration of a line from Elton John's first big hit, 1970's Your Song. We hear Blacc croon, "Well, you can tell everybody/Yeah, you can tell everybody/Go ahead and tell everybody." But instead of Elton John's next line, "This is your song," Blacc changes it up: "I'm the man, I'm the man, I'm the man." (Plugged In)

56. Reach You On The Phone (Blank Realm): A full throttle garage rock song with chunky melodic guitar and buzzing synth behind the slightly out-of-kilter sibling vocals of Daniel and Sarah Spencer (half of the quartet with their brother Luke Spencer on bass and Luke Walsh on guitar). This has the grime-edge of proper pop about it; utterly catchy and played with energy and enthusiasm. (Louder Than War)

57. Warning (Cymbals Eat Guitars): maintains every development from last time out and gets rid of the unnecessary complexities that might cause an audience to check out. This time, the band's operating within an instantly knowable song structure where the chorus actually repeats; they hit the crescendo at the end, resulting in quintessential indie rock that's quickly identifiable. (Pitchfork)

58. Busy Earnin’ (Jungle): The electro-heavy number is a bit of a deviation from the jazzier dub-friendly vibes Jungle’s fans may be used to. The bass in this track is primed to smash windows as the crew works to make their presence felt. (Ok Player)

59. Bottle Demon (Divino Nino): last year’s album champ finally released a track from it and though even indie media and blogs still haven’t picked up on them, here was another cool reminder of their retro greatness.

60. Archie, Marry Me (Alvvays): As if this song weren’t already impossibly catchy, it’s also a marvel of structure. While singer Molly Rankin addresses her wary paramour in wistful tones, the roiling fuzzed-over guitars suggest there are more chaotic impulses lurking just below the surface of her rational, rather modest and drily hilarious requests for commitment. (Paste)