Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Playlist, 60 Most Excellent Songs of 2011, 41-60

Welcome to the conclusion of the annual music list, just in time for the New Year.  It's a dreadful holiday, made slightly better by summarizing and compiling.  Today I thought about it as I ran through my morning routine and realized, however, that as much as I despise New Year's Eve...I may loathe St. Patrick's Day more: no glitter, but a lot of dyed products and shitty beer... is there a holiday more abrasively fratty?  I don't think so.  Anyhow, the last 20-songs are scattered a bit here and there, and unfortunately the playlist functions are scattered as well.  You'll only find the Charli XCX song, for instance, on the Youtube playlist.  Similarly, you should ignore the John Maus live clip on the Youtube playlist and only listen to it via 8tracks.  That's the way it goes.  Youtube just doesn't have everything, guys.  Happy New Year, and look for the movie list to be appearing on Love & Squalor sometime this next week.

Oh, and yeah, you're not missing anything...I've completely omitted Bon Iver.  Deal with it.  "Beth/Rest" almost got on there, but every time I listened to it I wanted a nap like halfway through.

41. UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA / "FFUNNY FFRIENDS"  Lightweight pop rock with a dense, gritty middle and vocals that sound like they should come from a petite Japanese rock queen instead of the dude (Ruban Nielson) pictured above.

 42. JOHN MAUS / "QUANTUM LEAP" I've heard John Maus is a performance art hot mess in his live acts, but on recordings, he comes across more like some reincarnation of Ian Curtis.  "Quantum Leap" sounds like a lost Joy Division recording and there's no way that's a bad thing...

43. DANNY! FEAT. DANNY BROWN / "THEME MUSIC TO A KILLING SPREE"  I feel like that title is deceptive...

44. JAY-Z AND KANYE WEST FT. FRANK OCEAN / "NO CHURCH IN THE WILD"  The beats.  Check them.  The beats: they stalk and prowl.

45. GRIMES / "VANESSA"  Grimes (Claire Boucher) calls herself a "post-internet" artist.  I have no idea what that means, but I'm intrigued by the sweet sparseness of the sound.

46. CHARLI XCX / "STAY AWAY"  She's been thrown around as everything from next year's La Roux to a slightly more poptimistic Zola Jesus.  Either way, the UK 19-year old has a dark, vaguely 80's gothic sound that I like quite a bit.

47. GIRLS / "VOMIT"  Oh, Girls.  One of the hardest band names to run a Google search on.  "Vomit" is a pit of Floydian despair that cracks open into a lovelorn revelation of guitars, big vocals, and distortion.
48. YUCK / "GET AWAY"  Hey like Pavement? Built to Spill? Dinosaur Jr.?  The Pixies?  Here is the Yuck album.  It is the brand new sound of twenty years ago.  If you're not a teenager anymore, don't worry...your inner 15 year old will be pleased.

49. REAL ESTATE / "IT'S REAL"  This is an exceptionally pleasant song by a pleasant band.  I like it quite a bit.

50. NICKI MINAJ / "SUPER BASS"  I don't want to hear this song all the time, but when I do wind up hearing  it, I'm amazed by how completely it captures all the instrumental noises I associate with pure bubblegum pop.  This song is a bag of Valentine's Day candy hearts, a meal made up of pop rocks and Cherry Coke, an afternoon of glitter nail polish and lip gloss, and all of that business. It's a just a huge sound made up of little tiny happy things.
51. COLD CAVE / "UNDERWORLD USA"  Cold Cave's Cherish the Light is even more 80's Brit Goth rock than the John Maus sound.  I would not be surprised if the band got together because they all had matching Sisters of Mercy posters in their childhood bedrooms.  WE HAVE INSIGHTS AND EMOTIONS, BUT THEY NEED MORE BEATS.

52. JULIO BASHMORE / "BATTLE FOR MIDDLE YOU"  You get why I like this, right?  Do I need to keep explaining it to you?  Did I not just post the RuPaul Christmas special last week?

53. TUNE-YARDS / "POWA"  For real...I am not as in love with Merrill Garbus as everyone else on the planet is.  She's one of those acts people seem to insist has a joyful exuberance where I just here clattering with a voice like a brass instrument.  So, I can't listen to too much at once, and like huge parts of some songs while flinching through others.  "Powa" though, has real swagger.

54. METRONOMY / "THE BAY"  Everything about Metronomy seems a little smug in the retelling.  A little too polished, a little too carefully orchestrated, and just too neat for their own good.  Still, "The Bay" is cut from a lightweight fabric that allows for a summer breeze.
55. DUM DUM GIRLS / "COMING DOWN"  The Dum Dum Girls are a 60's girl group with a wall of sound that's been reinforced with shoegaze guitars.  Here, they slow things down with shimmering guitars and lilting vocals that feel borrowed from a comfortably worn in Mazzy Star track.

56. CULTS / "WALK AT NIGHT"  The Cults album is essentially a series of 45 singles in compact 2-and-3 minute bursts of echo-chamber pop and radio tinny vocals.  Listen to them all at once, and they don't do much.  Individually, they have a jukebox power.

57. AUSTRA / "THE NOISE" Austra had a strong debut earlier in the year and seemed to sort of evaporate into the ether.  What we have left are ghost stories like "The Noise".

58. SHABAZZ PALACES / "SWERVE...THE REEPING OF ALL THAT IS WORTHWHILE (NOIR NOT WITHSTANDING)  "Swerve" is sneaky.  It will make you want to choreograph things.  You're not good at that, though, so you shouldn't.

59. PURITY RING / "LOFTICRIES" Exactly the right kind of sound.

60. VERONICA FALLS / "BEACHY HEAD"  Bratty, driven rock with a Victorian surfer sensibility that seems to snarl at you and tell you to back the hell off even as it bops merrily along.

Honorable Mention: 
CUT COPY / "NEED YOU NOW"  What I've noticed is that you're either a Cut Copy fan, or you're not. When you are a Cut Copy fan, their music has the power to make you insanely, dizzyingly happy.  "Need You Now" is a slightly more lackadaisical track with warm, gooey vocals that reassure you like a lullaby with a high BPM rate.


  1. Aziza's picks sent me here. Nice list of songs. Metronomy was in my top 5 albums of 2011. If you like Cut Copy,try the song Sun God. Loved the John Maus album, so many highlights. REAL ESTATE was pretty good too, my fav was Wonder Years. Can't want for the new Grimes LP this February!

  2. Yeah, the Grimes LP has me intrigued. Oh, and don't worry, I'm definitely familiar with Cut Copy's other songs/albums :)



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