Archive for January, 2010

The Best Music of 2009: Singles

January 21, 2010

It’s my birthday today which means I can do whatever I want. Look it up, it’s the Law. Keeping within the rules of law, I’ve decided to extend my look back at the year that was, 2009 if you don’t remember. Since we’ve already focused on the best albums, let’s focus on single tracks, specifically those not on the best albums. That would be redundant.

Song of the Year: “Gangsta Luv” by Snoop Dogg featuring The-Dream

The-Dream’s hook and chorus on this track is straight butter. I want to build a house there for parties and get togethers. This song isn’t really gangsta at all, except for when Snoop comments on “the butt”. Another impressive addition to the Tricky Stewart/The-Dream production resume (“Single Ladies”, “Umbrella”), “Gangsta Luv” is the sort of party anthem I live for. For additional party jamming, see The-Dream’s “Rocking That Shit“.

Bait and Switch of the Year: “Die Slow” by HEALTH

“Die Slow” was the first single of Get Color, HEALTH’s second record. The band had just come off a stint opening for Nine Inch Nails and the tease before release was that HEALTH were getting ready to go big. “Die Slow” appeared to make these rumors truth with a wicked riff that was almost catchy. Also, it was fucking awesome. It still thrashed like HEALTH is known to, but it sounded like a Song. Cut to the release of Get Color last September, and we’re greeted by the accompanying tracks of noise and thrashing, but not much in the area of songs. While the rest of the record sank, “Die Slow” still rocked faces.

Dance Track to Make Your Floor Ignite: “Beep My Beep” by Addeboy vs Cliff

The stylistic decision to use intentional censoring to make something dirtier is nothing new. Addeboy and Cliff use the bleeps at the chorus to make the song as sick as you want it to be, while also providing the most energetic dance beats of the year. As a stunt it works perfectly and it can never be done again, but at least someone did it right.

Too Catchy to Deny: “I Could Break Your Heart Any Day of the Week” by Mandy Moore

I listened to this song over and over again. For a few weeks I couldn’t get enough of it. The simple keyboard line, Moore’s sorta angry delivery, it hit all my sweet spots. I also like how it sounds like a weird unplugged version of your standard pop song, but not overproduced to hell. Sorry Lady Gaga.

Shoulda Been a Hit: “Why R U” by Amerie

Amerie’s last record, Because I Love It never received a stateside release, unfortunate for a such a good album. “Why R U” signaled Amerie’s proper return to U.S. store shelves and had all the gusto and sass that made her last record such a favorite. That it didn’t catch on with the larger listening public is both a mystery and a shame.

Dude Can Write A Hook: “Ready For The Weekend” by Calvin Harris

Calvin Harris is a better producer than he is a singer and performer. His hazy line readings never appear very sincere, and when he does try to emote it can be pretty embarrassing. But this guy and beats? Gedouttahere. “Ready For The Weekend” starts with a plinky piano line and the expected Harris lumpy lyrics before exploding in its chorus. Really, it reminds me of that really good Freemason’s album from a few years back that was just gay anthems for 12 songs in a row. Calvin’s song isn’t that “to the windows/to the walls” but maybe in a couple years. I just read on Twitter he wrote a song with Kylie and Jake Shears. Kid is on the right track.

Forever The Kings: “Raindrops” by Basement Jaxx

So Scars wasn’t exactly a return to form, we still got “Raindrops” out of the deal. Basement Jaxx are responsible for some of the most jawdropping dance tracks of my lifetime(“Good Luck”, “Romeo”, “Lucky Star”, “Plug It In”) and “Raindrops” is another worthy addition to the canon. All of Basement Jaxx’s best tracks contain some sort of flip your wig moment, usually at the chorus, but with these guys you never know. “Raindrops” goes euphoric for its big moment and never comes back down.

Real Talk: “Echo” by R. Kelly, “Pregnant” by R.Kelly

Michelangelo Matos recently penned a list of Ten Unfortunate Developments of the ’00s. One of those developments was white R. Kelly fans who found Mr. Kelly as more of a source for ironic amusement than actually liking him for his music. I guess I’m one of those people, but looking over his discography I’m not really sure there is any other way to listen to him. Dude is crazy and it is hilarious. I’ve heard “regular” contemporary r&b. Boring. But I’ll listen to anything R. Kelly does at least once, because it might be a song that also doubles as voicemail message. Or a song about doing two chicks at the same time. In the case of “Echo”,  Kells yodels and makes it sound like the most natural thing in the world, while on “Pregnant” he opens the song with the line “Girl you make me wanna get you pregnant”. Love it. That Kelly then invites a couple other crooners on to also opine on getting someone pregnant just ups the crazy hilarity. If liking crazy R. Kelly is a crime then send me to jail.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: “Kiss of Life” by Friendly Fires

Friendly Fires had the best album of 2008. True story, you can look it up. This track just proves that album was no fluke, and that not only will Friendly Fires continue to bring it, but they’ll bring it while doing something new.

Anthem of a Generation: “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” by Das Racist & Wallpaper

Stupid catchy. Catchy and stupid. I think someone somewhere described this song as the Sideshow Bob Rake Sequence but in song form. Perfect.

Two Great Tastes Taste Great Together: “Anyway” by Duck Sauce

Armand Van Helden and A-Trak got together to make some tracks. This was the first one out the gate. These guys need to hang out all the time. Which according to A-Trak’s Twitter account they actually do. When my friends and I hang out we just bullshit and watch movies.

Comeback of the Year: “I Know I’m A King” – Lo Fidelity Allstars

Nobody really noticed but Lo Fidelity Allstars came back with a really good album last year. “I Know I’m A King” is Lo Fi at their funky best and it would be a shame if I were the only one who heard it.

BEATS BEATS BEATS: Every LMFAO remix- “Paranoid”, “Let’s Get Crazy”, “Love Lockdown”, “Shooting Star”

Speechless.

The Best Music of 2009

January 19, 2010

I’m sorry for not posting anything since October. The blame lays on a brutal combination of working retail and being lazy and just reading Videogum when I got home. But it’s 2010, a new decade, a new beginning. So let’s do this right and begin the first Bad Guys Win post of 2010 talking about stuff from last year. Perfect.

When I told my friend Lauren that my best albums list had only ten albums on it she remarked that 2009 had been “a slow year”. She was being too kind. 2009 was disappointing for plenty of reasons, as most of the big records sucked and the bands that got buzz either were or sound like Animal Collective. A list of ten great albums is damn miraculous.

10. Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures

Josh Homme is a goddamn rock god. This is just front to back badass riffs, backed by Dave Grohl and a very spry John Paul Jones. I can hear the Jones influence, but the Homme sound is undeniable. More than just a record to tide me over until the next Queens album.

9. Japandroids – Post-nothing

Canadian duo with a singing drummer. Where have I heard that one before? An obvious avenue for success, Japandroids make sweaty sounding music with tons and tons of passion. “Young Hearts Spark Fire” is one of those singles that makes you want to run out and buy the band’s album right away. When the guys talk about taking time to “french kiss some french girls”, you smile and realize they’re a band with their priorities straight.

8. Raekwon – Only Built For Cuban Linx Pt. II

What are we calling this? The Godfather Pt. 2 of rap albums? Not to blaspheme, but I think it blows the original out of the water. Now if Rae could only make an album that’s any good that doesn’t reference his debut. Props to Ghostface, because he’s Ghostface and he kills it all over this record.

7. LMFAO – Party Rock

The beats on this record are sick. The raps are dumb, no, I take that back. The raps are amazingly dumb. That’s why they’re so great. When artists describe their album as a “party album” it is always a lie because the album will inevitably feature one of the following: a ballad, a hard street track, or worse, an ode to a fallen friend or loved one. Those can be great, but not for a P-A-R-T-Y! LMFAO go 14 tracks of party time music. This might not be your thing. I can respect that. But be aware that if you want to have a party, the word “party” is in the damn title. Truth in advertising, rarely done so well. “I’m In Miami, Bitch” is already classic status while “I Don’t Wanna Be” rides the sickest damn beat on the record. Well, that’s debate-able. Seriously, these beats.

6. Mastodon – Crack the Skye

A kid at work told me he’d heard Mastodon had sold out. The 13 minutes of “The Last Baron” say otherwise. Brendan O’Brien is no hack producer and any slickness on the production is overshadowed by the killer riffs and intricate playing that Mastodon is known for. If you don’t like Crack The Skye you’re just trying to be a dick. Quit it.

5. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix has three of the best Phoenix songs right up front. “Lisztomania”, “1901″, and “Fences” are Phoenix at their best. Man, those are great fucking songs. And the rest of the album is really good. Really good. But those first three songs are almost too good. Like, you listen to the rest of the album and think “Hey, these are good songs, don’t get me wrong. But ’1901′? Getdufuckouttahere!” Am I making any sense?

4. DJ Quik and Kurupt – BlaQKout

Sick. Nasty. Fuckin’ ‘ell. Any and all of these words apply when talking about BlaQKout. DJ Quik and Kurupt rap about hoes, bitches, being awesome and all those other rap cliches from the 90′s, over the smoothest and sharpest throwback production I’ve ever heard. This is the kind of rap album you can play front to back, no bullshit just hilarious ignorant rhymes on top of the type of beats Jay-Z should have had on the Blueprint 3.

3. The Bloody Beetroots – Romborama

My friend Lauren described this as “horror movie dance music”. Apt. The last of the class of ’06 to drop an album, I figured after MSTRKRFT, Justice and Simian Mobile Disco, The Bloody Beetroots would sound past their sell date when Romborama finally saw the light of day. Instead, they delivered 20 straight bangers. And this shit is hard, son. Distorted screaming vocals, blown speaker beats; basically my dream album. Romborama could be categorized as a party record, but you’d have to leave early on account of the house burning down. Real talk.

2. MSTRKRFT – Fist of God

No lie, before Fist of God, MSTRKRFT seemed like a second rate Justice. They had the skills, but not the tunes. Fist of God is, to steal from Jimmy Cameron, a game changer. Al and Jesse go hard and fierce right from the start, sear your face off and then things get interesting. “Heartbreaker” feels less and less like a breather and more like a new direction every time I hear it, and that it’s followed by the title track is just great sequencing. No shit, sometimes “Fist Of God” literally takes my breath away. It’s perfect. That Lauren and I got to meet Jesse and Al and they turned out to be awesome people just made cosmic sense. An asshole could never make a song like “It Ain’t Love”.(Editor’s Note: Meeting Jesse and Al had no baring on the placement of this album)

1. Passion Pit – Manners

I don’t know why the cover art is so boring for this album because Manners sounds like the creation of an exuberant young man with boundless energy, access to a children’s choir and lots and lots of ideas. He might be a little sad sometimes (hey, who isn’t?); the music is how we can all feel better. Songs like “The Reeling” are melancholy in subject but joyous in execution. I’ve read that some people hate this album. To them I ask, what is it like to be cold inside? Kick any puppies today? Aww, hell. I can’t stay mad, this album is too fun. Is it possible to be too fun? Ask Passion Pit.


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