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  • Initial Reactions 1/31/12 - Cloud Nothings, Porcelain Raft, Hospitality, Wiley

    2 fév. 2012, 17h21m

    http://theanthemanthem.blogspot.com

    Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory (Noise Rock/Punk)

    Thank you 2012. Seriously, it's about time. If post-punk, punk, noise rock, or really any form of harder indie rock is in your wheelhouse, it's probably as good as you're going to get this year. "No Future/No Past" builds fantastically, basically on one line throughout the song (until the end). "Stay Useless" should sound good to just about anyone's ears; it serves as the most pop-like song on the album and resembles late-80's-to-early-90's punk. "Wasted Days" comes in at an epic nine minutes and doesn't waste a second.

    Way Too Quick Verdict: The first album of 2012 that I can comfortably say is going to make my Top 20 for albums of the year. Probably the first I can say will comfortably make my top 50. "No Future/No Past" and "Stay Useless" will probably easily make my 'Top x-amount Songs of the Year".


    Porcelain Raft - Strange Weekend (Electro-Pop)

    If stupid stuff bothers you, let me get this out of the way: the dude sorta sounds like a chick. Now that this is out of the way, let me say that this definitely has its good moments. "Unless You Speak From Your Heart" is dense in electronic production, featuring wails and effects (and tambourine). It's a legitimate indie hit that I'm sure I'll be hearing over and over in Turntable.fm's indie and electronic rooms. Much of the rest of the album is probably closer to the lo-fi end of the spectrum, sometimes sounding fantastic, sometimes a bit forgettable.

    Way Too Quick Verdict: Probably a little too soon for me to say whether this is a list contender, but there is definitely a lot to like here.


    Hospitality - Hospitality (Indie Pop)

    This is quite nice. I think that's the best way to explain this. The majority of Hospitality is light, airy, female-sung pop that occasionally throws in some pretty surprising moments. Musically, if you delve far enough into it, it is quite fantastic. The drumming is technically sound and adds some interesting moments to even their most standard songs. "Eighth Avenue" and "Friends Of Friends" are wonderful ways to start the album, and "Sleepover" is just about the best song to wake up from a slumber to (ask me, because that's exactly what I woke up to this morning).

    Way Too Quick Verdict: Scratch that, there's probably two Top 50 albums in this bunch. This is one that I'll definitely keep listening to throughout the year, and you will too if you enjoy indie pop in the vein of Camera Obscura or the lighter moments of Rilo Kiley.


    Wiley- Evolve or Be Extinct (British Rap)


    Wiley is Wiley here. Many uptempo beats, solid production all around, and English dudes always sound cool when they rap. Not a whole lot for me to delve into yet, besides the fact that it does contain a solid contender for worst lyrics of the year ("Immigration"; it is laughable).

    Way Too Quick Verdict: Standard Wiley here. If you like him or later Dizzee Raz stuff, you'll probably enjoy this.
  • 1/24 Initial Reactions - Matthew Dear, Machinedrum, Anthony Green

    26 jan. 2012, 17h04m

    From http://theanthemanthem.blogspot.com

    Yes, I've already complained to an exhausting extent about the lack of new music so far in 2012. And yes, I already knew that it was going to be like this. Essentially, I just enjoy complaining.

    Luckily, late January has provided some glimpses of great music trickling through the borders of the musicsphere. Unfortunately, the two albums that stand as the best examples of this are a combined nine songs long. I'll take what I can get.


    Matthew Dear - Headcage EP

    The undisputed best release (IMO) of 2012's limited catalog is Matthew Dear's new four song EP titled Headcage. Though it assumably only exists as a brief 16-minute view into the future of what's to come with Matthew Dear, all four songs could be considered standouts. "In The Middle (I Met You There)" is currently my favorite new track, featuring a fun electronic drumbeat, delicious organ blares, and a looped background sample. Vocally it sounds similar to MGMT or Empire of the Sun/The Sleepy Jackson, but probably not outright poppy to be considered an indie hit. But it's close. The EP's closer "Around The Fountain" is also excellent, featuring emotional and distorted drums that could easily be a Justin Vernon side-project.

    Way Too Quick Verdict: It's certainly not for everyone, but if you enjoy just about anything in the indie electronic (not dance) genre, it's a must-try.


    Machinedrum - SXLND EP

    Machinedrum's five-song set is a little less immediate than Headcage (although it exists in roughly the same vein), except "SXLND", which serves as the centerpiece of the EP. And frankly, it's fun as hell. It centers around a single loop, and surrounds itself with electronic drum music resembling Baths, Teebs, or Gold Panda. The three songs following it are also sample-driven, but have a dancier tone to it.

    Way Too Quick Verdict: Same advice as Headcage, really. I like it a lot, and I'm not normally one to promote EPs.



    Anthony Green - Beautiful Things

    This is why I hate giving the Way Too Quick Verdict. I love Anthony Green. I've been a fan for many, many years, starting with his numbered days in Saosin, going to his three albums with Circa Survive, and then his beautiful solo album Avalon. His debut solo album offered several delectably tender songs, including "She Loves Me So" and "Babygirl", both of which truly show off his voice in a previously unheard acoustic setting. But when I heard the new album for the first time I thought "Wow, I really think Avalon should have been the one titled Beautiful Things". It was kind of underwhelming. But after a few more listens, it has definitely grown on me. It features more of a full band sound than the previous album, delving into sounds that you'd likely hear on a Circa Survive cut. But there's definitely something here. "Can't Have It All At Once" is classic AG, which is a good thing. I have a feeling I'll come out of this album with a complete positive feeling after a few more listens. It also looks like "Right Outside", which features Deftones frontman Chino Moreno, is already gaining some buzz.

    Way Too Quick Verdict: If you enjoy the work of Anthony Green, well, you've probably already heard this.

    CAW!
  • Top Albums of 2010 #4 7/06/10

    7 jui. 2010, 2h03m

    The list so far (only albums I've listened to a considerable amount are included). I've decided that I've listened to enough albums now that I don't really need to include the ones that either didn't leave any sort of impact on me or just plain-out sucked.

    New entrants in italics. (Obviously) the list can change at any time.

    1. Beach House - Teen Dream
    2. Avi Buffalo - Avi Buffalo
    3. Circa Survive - Blue Sky Noise
    4. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
    5. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today
    6. Husky Rescue - Ship of Light

    7. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
    8. Phantogram - Eyelid Movies
    9. The-Dream - Love King
    10. Nas & Damian Marley - Distant Relatives

    11. Local Natives - Gorilla Manor
    12. Drake - Thank Me Later
    13. Future Islands - In Evening Air
    14. Crime In Stereo - I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone
    15. The Black Keys - Brothers
    16. The Radio Dept. - Clinging to a Scheme

    17. Two Door Cinema Club - Tourist History
    18. Sleigh Bells - Treats
    19. Hot Chip - One Life Stand
    20. Yeasayer - Odd Blood
    21. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor
    22. Male Bonding - Nothing Hurts
    23. Delphic - Acolyte
    24. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles
    25. Vampire Weekend - Contra


    Lots and lots of new additions since my last update. Finally a few significant hip-hop/rap/r&b releases. Big Boi's newest album is as good as advertised. Somebody please shoot me if "Shine Blockas" isn't in my top five songs of the year (yes, I realize that it was leaked in late 2009... don't care). Drake's Thank Me Later is about as good of an effort as I think he could've put out. I'm extremely surprised that he decided to stick with the style that made So Far Gone an excellent mixtape effort.

    Avi Buffalo's debut (I think?) album will probably end up in my top five albums at the end of the year no matter what. They have a great acoustic sound puts you in a happy, drifty mood, and high-pitched vocals that make their sound unique.

    I'm probably gonna cut this one short as I have very little motivation to expand at the moment... I have the rest of the year to sing praises for the rest of the albums on here. There are plenty of albums I've heard that I assume will make the next list, including those from Flying Lotus, Foals, The National, and Tame Impala. There are also those that I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt (because of good past work) and listen to a few more times, as they haven't left any lasting impression on me yet. Those include albums from Stars, Los Campesinos!, Broken Social Scene, and B.o.B.

    Cheers,

    Jay
  • Top Albums of 2010 #3 4/30/10

    30 avr. 2010, 6h36m

    This is my list so far (only albums I've listened to a considerable amount are included). I've decided that I've listened to enough albums now that I don't really need to include the ones that either didn't leave any sort of impact on me or just plain-out sucked.

    New entrants in italics. (Obviously) the list can change at any time.

    1. Beach House - Teen Dream
    2. Circa Survive - Blue Sky Noise
    3. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
    4. Local Natives - Gorilla Manor

    5. Phantogram - Eyelid Movies
    6. Two Door Cinema Club - Tourist History
    7. Hot Chip - One Life Stand
    8. Yeasayer - Odd Blood
    9. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor
    10. Delphic - Acolyte
    11. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles

    12. Vampire Weekend - Contra
    13. Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
    14. Strong Arm Steady - In Search Of Stoney Jackson
    15. The Morning Benders - Big Echo

    Beach House stays on top and I'm going to assume it's going to be there the rest of the year. However, Circa Survive's album is just flat-out awesome. I'm a pretty big fan of theirs, so I may have a slightly biased view of the album. But they really managed to out-do themselves here. The songs on Blue Sky Noise are more traditionally structured than those they've made in the past (I've seen the dreaded "sell-out" thrown around by some people; I'm not buying it), and yet they really didn't lose any of the elements that defined them and made me like them in the first place. "Frozen Creek" is definitely one of my favorite songs of the year; I thought Anthony Green was capable of making a ballad like this, but I didn't think it'd end up on a Circa Survive album.

    Gorillaz are great... they (he) continue to make albums that sound completely new but still manage to sound like a Gorillaz record (if that makes any sense). Two Door Cinema Club's Tourist History hasn't really gotten well-reviewed by most (that I've seen), but I'm a sucker for anything that sounds remotely close to Bloc Party. Phantogram's Eyelid Movies was a grower for me, it got a lot better with every listen. Crystal Castles' (second?) self-titled album was good, but I didn't think it matched the first one. Regardless, I enjoy them enough that the album still makes the list regardless.

    MGMT's new album just wasn't good. I gave it plenty of chances, and it just didn't do it for me. And it's not even like I only liked the three singles from the first album. The whole thing just seemed like a lazy effort, and the result was an entire album that sounds like the theme song for the fuckin' Muensters.

    I'm still waiting to put some hip-hop/rap albums up here, since if you looked at this list you'd figure I take all of my albums off of the Pitchfork playlist. But most of those normally come out in the summer, so I'll wait for it then.
  • Top Albums of 2010 #2 2/17/10

    18 fév. 2010, 3h27m

    This is my list so far (only albums I've listened to a considerable amount are included). Albums before the break will probably make my year-end list (top 30 or so), below the break probably will not. New entrants in italics. The list can change at any time.

    1. Beach House - Teen Dream
    2. Hot Chip - One Life Stand
    3. Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
    4. Yeasayer - Odd Blood
    5. Phantogram - Eyelid Movies
    6. Strong Arm Steady - In Search Of Stoney Jackson
    7. Vampire Weekend - Contra
    8. Motion City Soundtrack - My Dinosaur Life

    9. Spoon - Transference
    10. Pantha Du Prince - Black Noise
    11. Good Shoes - No Hope, No Future
    12. Editors - In This Light And On This Evening
    13. Robin Thicke - Sex Therapy

    Just days after I said I hadn't heard my number one album yet, I definitely have now. Teen Dream is beautiful.. pop perfection. I haven't liked an album this much in a few years. Hopefully, though, I can find an album I enjoy even more than it, since I love being surprised by new music. Either way, Teen Dream is making it difficult for me to even listen to any other albums right now. "Norway", "Walk In the Park", "Lover of Mine" and "10 Mile Stereo" are some of my favorites on it.

    I'm not a huge fan of Motion City Soundtrack, but it's a very good album for the kind of music they make. For Black Noise, it takes me a while to get into the minimal electronic stuff, so that's an album that might grow on me after a while.

    Albums from Freeway & Jake One, Allison Moorer, Los Campesinos!, plus more to come. I'm waiting a while to review Lil Wayne's god awful Rebirth, I don't think I'm ready for it yet.
  • Top Albums of 2010 2/11/10

    11 fév. 2010, 23h16m

    I'm gonna try to keep track of my top albums of 2010 every so often, so it's easier for me to make a list at the end of the year. Only included are the albums I've listened to a fair share (enough to make an opinion on).

    1. Hot Chip - One Life Stand
    2. Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
    3. Yeasayer - Odd Blood
    4. Vampire Weekend - Contra
    5. Spoon - Transference

    6. Good Shoes - No Hope, No Future
    7. Editors - In This Light And On This Evening
    8. Robin Thicke - Sex Therapy

    Albums before the break are ones I predict will probably make my end of the year list (probably a top 30 or so), the ones below it I suspect will not. I'm positive I haven't heard my number one album yet, probably not even a top 5. The first three on the list probably have a decent chance to make the top 10 after a few more listens. Obviously there are a lot of albums I haven't heard yet, and even more than that which haven't come out yet, so I have a lot of listening to do.
  • Good Shoes - Think Before You Speak Review

    21 jui. 2009, 1h04m

    Some more stuff I wrote a while ago. Making the journal entries a little less lonely.

    Good Shoes - Think Before You Speak (2007)

    DOWNLOAD: http://www.[spam] sounds like: Arctic Monkeys, The Kooks, The Cribs, anything British with a 'The' in front of it (no, The Cure and The Smiths don't count)

    I decided that I'm going to jump around with this blog a little bit. I'm going to do album reviews of new stuff, old stuff, but most of all, stuff I like. Some of the albums being reviewed are going to be a complete mystery to you, and some of them you may have heard over and over on the radio. The point is, I'm reviewing them because I want you to listen to what I listen to. I don't think I'm weird or different for enjoying such a wide variety of music, I just think I spend way too much time looking for new music. Regardless, I will move on. Enjoy.

    Good Shoes are a four-piece British pop-rock band. They're fun to listen to and have a great sense for creating a catchy pop song. Think Before You Speak was released in early 2007, but I didn't stumble upon it until later on in 2008. I don't even really have a style for writing these yet, so I'm going to go through it song-by-song with a nifty little download link at the end.

    1. Nazanin - Perfect way to begin the album. A lot of times I enjoy these sort of songs that are seemingly nonsense at first listen. It gives you a perfect taste of what the rest of the album will be like. It starts out with a catchy riff that continues throughout the song, which is continually added on throughout the song. The lyrics are basically repeated as "All of my insecurities, are summed up when you walk into my...", with the sentence being finished at the end as the payoff. It's weird that one little line can mean so much, but I think it flows right into the rest of the album. There's nothing complex about this song or this album. Just near-perfect Brit-pop. 4 stars ****

    2. The Photos on My Wall - The pace of the previous song is carried into this one, which is another great one. The song is an admittance of arrogance and personal fault, literally saying "I don't think before I speak/I-I-I-I break your heart/I think I could do better/So-so-so-so arrogant". The pacing of the song creates a seamless transition between the song preceding it and the song following. 3 stars ***

    3. Morden - One of my personal favorites on the album. It's strange because the lyrics completely contradict the feel of the song musically. Ignoring all of the lyrics, the song sounds fairly upbeat, keeping my foot tapping throughout while I listen to it. Suddenly you get stopped in your tracks when you hear "I read the news today/a youth killed himself in a horrible way/he hung himself". WTF? The song is a juxtaposition that sounds a lot better than I just described. This will probably remain throughout. 5 stars *****

    4. All In My Head - This song remains constant with the ones I described before. Incredibly catchy, incredibly self-lamenting. "I'm a talented artist but my hearts not in it/I'm a good shag but I find nobody fit/I play in a band but I've got no talent/I spit and I drawl but I just don't change a thing". It's a paranoid take on life and a man's personal dispositions. Again, this all sounds very negative, and yet Good Shoes have spun it into a catchy tune that is thoroughly enjoyable to listen to. 3 stars ***

    5. Never Meant to Hurt You - The first song on the album that I don't really enjoy. Kind of boring in a sense that the chorus does nothing to catch my attention. I try not to waste too much time describing songs that I don't really think are worth my attention. 0 stars

    6. Blue Eyes - Back to the songs I actually enjoy, Blue Eyes is a pretty dandy one. It speaks about the beauty of a woman who won't give you their full attention or time. The album is about seeing and recognizing flaws, whether it's something you enjoy or not. The riff is catchy, the singing is sweet and sincere. It certainly has my attention. 3 stars ***

    7. Sophia - Another one of my favorites. Maybe the catchiest song on the album. The chorus is another touch of disappointment and regret, stating "if you go back to where we first met, it will only break your heart". At the same time, it's a wonderful reflective story of youth and better times. I love this song, it was the first I heard off of the album and it is one I will be listening to for a long time to come. In fact, if you have to listen to one song off the album, this is it. 5 stars *****

    8. We Are Not the Same - The album becomes slightly less interesting at this point forward. Not every album can be perfect. This song starts of interesting, with a riff that can be described as frantic and inherently interesting. Actually, overall the song the song isn't too bad, but the chorus doesn't contain the sort of pop sensibility that makes the first half of the album practically golden. It sounds more like a mediocre Maximo Park song, if you know who they are, that is. 2 stars **

    9. Small Town Girl - More mediocrity, in my humble opinion of course. It feels like it was either rushed, or that different several ideas were thrown together to create a song. It doesn't feel cohesive or terribly interesting. The song also lasts incredibly too long, which is saying a lot for a song that is only 3 and a half minutes long. 1 star-ish *

    10. In the City - A little too downbeat for my liking. I do like the storytelling though, as I do in general with many British pop bands (like Arctic Monkeys and Bloc Party). As an American there is something introspective about hearing songs about everyday life in the U.K. 1 star *

    11. Things to Make and Do - It just feels like a college freshman talking about how bad the government is. I may have completely misread this. Read it for yourself "Private education makes me sick/Whatever happened to equality/And i, got a tan from my TV/Do you, believe, everything your told?/I don't!/Do you?". 0 stars

    12. Everybody's Talking - God I wish this were an 8-song album. 0 stars

    13. Ice Age - See the last two songs. The song picks up near the end with some interesting instrumentation and chanted lyrics. 1 star *

    14. Wait - Decently catchy song, but it just doesn't feel like there was enough material here to make a solid album. It's extremely front-loaded, that's really all I can do to describe it. 2 stars **

    Overall, as I've stated earlier, it's way too front-loaded of an album. But the songs, the feel, the catchy-ness, that's all there. Just Listen.

    -Jay
  • Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires Review

    21 jui. 2009, 1h02m

    Some shit I wrote a while ago that I figure I'd put up here. I just thought my journal entries looked kind of lonely.


    Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires (2008)

    Friendly Fires is a band/artist who I remarkably discovered through MTV (MTVAM, basically when they actually show videos at 4 in the morning when I can't sleep). I haven't stopped listening to them. Review begins... now...

    1. Jump in the Pool - What a perfect beginning song. First off, I'd describe their sound as some sort of mix between M83, MGMT, and any British new wave-type band that doesn't suck. The intro is very M83-esque, very atmospheric, sounding like a large group of beautiful electronic angels singing in unison. The song proceeds in a very catchy manner, displaying that lead vocalist Ed MacFarlane is both a very skilled singer and entertaining one. It displays the same sort of pop sensibility found in the best songs in my previous review of Good Shoes, but with far more interesting musicianship. 4 Stars ****

    2. In The Hospital - Possibly my least favorite song on the album. It has a laid-back feel, but the sound of some of the lamer new-wave bands in the 80's. Not feeling it. 1 star *

    3. Paris - Back to the good stuff. Starts kind of slow... on first listen I actually was expecting it to be another dud. But it contains a very dancable groove that only halts during the first chorus, which is sublimely sung between guest female vocals and the lead singer. I can see why this was one of their singles. 4 stars ****

    4. White Diamonds - I have a feeling this is one of those songs that I love, but very few people will understand why. The song builds up nicely to the chorus. The chorus just rocks out and makes the entire song. I love songs that finish strong, and this is a great example of one that does just that. The song comes to an almost stop, then has their version of a breakdown, then continues to rock out for the remainder of the song. I guess I was expecting this to be more of an electronic album, but the sum of it appeals to fans of many different genres. This is one of the four songs from the album that I've had on constant repeat. 5 stars *****

    5. Strobe - This is another one that I'd have a hard time explaining to people. Or at least why I love it. The chorus is "After all this time, who would've thought I need you here". I guess it taps into my more emotional side, being a nostalgic take on love, or at the very least, attraction. The music flows just beautifully through the chorus. It's probably one of the few songs on the album that I'd say the production is flawless. 5 stars *****

    6. On Board - I can't exactly think on who I'd expect this song out of... but it sounds like someone I don't like. I'm not feeling it at all. 0 stars

    7. Lovesick - Another danceable tune that really kicks it back to the 80's. The first verse comes in like a soundtrack to a bad skiing or karate movie. But luckily the chorus saves it and suddenly everything makes sense. It's strange how a part of the song can seem to suck to me, and then suddenly it sounds much better as part of a cohesive whole. I think this song might the best at displaying the lead singer's vocal range. 3 stars ***

    8. Skeleton Boy - What can I say? I'm absolutely obsessed with this song. It's absolutely my song of the year so far, a perfect mixture of everything that makes this band an exciting one. I really don't need to say much more. 6 stars ****** (yes, six stars, for those who aren't aware it means it's fucking awesome)

    9. Photobooth - Not feeling it either. Unfortunately one of the album's duds. 0 stars

    10. Ex Lover - Some interesting sounds to begin the song, mixing in a little learned from My Bloody Valentine's billion dollar sessions (not the movie, stupid). I really want to like this song, but I feel like it never quite comes together the way I'd like it to. 1 stars *


    Overall: Great new album. 4 Stars ****/6
  • Best Songs of 2007 - Created Feb. 2008

    24 mars 2008, 7h15m

    Posted on my web site about a month ago...

    1) “Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You)” UGK ft. Outkast
    Overall, this is the year’s perfect hip-hop jam. Or at least mine. Andre 3000 begins the song poetically with all sorts of mind-blowingly good play-on-word and metaphoric lines (examples include “And I apologize if this message gets you down/Then I CC’d every girl that I’d see see around town” and “I’m so like a pip, I’m glad it’s night”… Gladys Knight and the Pips, get it?). If it was just ‘Dre on the whole song, I’d probably still give it a 5. Almost one-upping him on the second verse is Pimp C who bumps the shit out of the song, almost immediately reversing the polarity of poetic flow into a Southern Rap Barbeque Jam. In verse three, Bun B continues where his late partner leaves off… possibly not on par with the intelligent lyrics of Andre 3000, but UGK’s flow is simply impeccable. It’s almost impossible to not bounce up-and-down to the “anthem”. The only slight misfire on the song is Big Boi’s verse, partially because I’ve never really been a fan of him, partially because it half-kills the momentum/vibe of the song. It’s delivered too slowly and the sublime beat almost completely cuts out until the end. But I haven’t even touched the beat yet. It’s absolutely wonderful, soulful, gospel, beautiful, whatever. My goal in this review isn’t to completely and totally analyze the song and beat the shit out of it; it’s for you to listen to it. It’s great. It was a pretty clear choice for me that this song was number one.

    2) “Dancing in the Rain” Blu & Exile
    You like hip-hop? Eh? Okay go listen to Blu & Exile. Right now they are the best underground hip-hop group out there and it’s truly a shame that nobody’s heard of them. This is the highest-rated song out of the three I included (in the top 11) from their debut album “Below the Heavens”, which I believe is the Album of the Year, regardless of the genre. Blu is a relatively unknown (okay, completely unknown) 24-year old MC from Southern California and his partner Exile is a fairly well-known underground hip-hop producer from Los Angeles. Blu wrote this song when he was 19, and it shows with the youthful feeling to it. Exile produces by far the most chill beat of the year, mixing in a guitar with an old-school drums-n-bass line. Blu speaks of the struggles of being a young urban teenager, being a writer, being an artist, being a person in this crazy, hectic world of ours. He explains that all of this pain can at least be temporarily relieved by just letting loose: “Don’t nobody wanna dance slow in the rain/So just move your ass, Just move your ass/Don’t nobody wanna liberate the weight of the pain/So just move your ass”. No offense to my idol Common, but if he had released this song, it probably would’ve been labeled a classic. It’s an idealistic song in the wake of pain and pressure. And it reminds me of what hip-hop should be all about.

    3) “Paper Planes” M.I.A.
    2007 has been weird. Straight up. Somehow a Sri Lankan girl named Mathangi Arulpragasm mixed The Clash’s “Straight to Hell” and the chorus of the 2 Live Crew song “Rump Shaker” and created the gangster-est song of the year. Really, some rapper should’ve come up with this song before she got to it. The sample of “Straight to Hell” creates a reggae-like backing (fitting for The Clash, a punk band who was heavily influenced by reggae) that sets the stage for M.I.A.’s boasting of “bonafide hustler making my name”. The chorus is basically gun shots and a cash register ka-ching dispersed around a couple words. Somehow it comes out like genius. It’s official: Sri Lankans can be gangsta. And they will “take your money”.

    4) “Sleeping Lessons” The Shins
    This is the highest ranked song that is actually… a band. That’s probably a little late I’d say, even for me. But in my mind this was a year that hip-hop trumped rock, indie rock, electronic, techno, reggae, everything really. Anyways, this song starts out beautifully, with an intro that sounds very much like a harp or something of the sort. In a dreamlike state singer James Mercer sings “And glow/glow/Melt and flow/Eviscerate your fragile frame/And spill it out in the ragged floor/A thousand different versions of yourself”. In my mind, the song is about open-mindedness and having the ability to believe in whatever the hell you want to. This is reiterated in the repeated line “Jump from the hook/You’re not obliged to swallow anything that you despise”. Two-and-a-half-ish minutes into the song the guitar and drums finally kick in and you get a song closer to their Chutes Too Narrow opener “Kissing the Lipless”. Never a bad thing.

    5) “Throw Some D’s” Rich Boy
    I heard this song roughly two months, maybe four months before his album dropped. I was expecting huge things from him, for reasons I am about to list. Then the album dropped. And after listening to Rich Boy’s self-titled debut album, I realized that he wasn’t huge. He wasn’t even big. He was barely above passable. He simply doesn’t have it. And even despite this huge disappointment, I’m still amazed how he pulled it all together for at least one song, that being “Throw Some D’s”. Butta and Polow Da Don’s masterful production probably has a bit to do with it, as the mixture between soul, bass, and video game sounds somehow makes love to my auditory senses. I’ll mark that down for the future. But even in competition with the beat, Rich Boy’s rhymes about rims, selling dope, and gettin’ hos blow just about every other mainstream rap song this year out of the water.

    6) “Blu Collar Workers” Blu & Exile
    I almost wish that they had released this song on a later album, because at least it would’ve had a chance of hitting the radio. And it really belongs on the radio. The sung chorus makes it an enjoyable one, as he pleads “Please don’t take it personal/But I gotta go and work some more/And I know deep down it hurts your soul/But I’m a blu collar worker, girl”. And this isn’t Eminem singing to his daughter or 50 singing to… bitches?. It’s actually pretty good. Even the subject matter fits on the radio, as he raps about the way the ladies perceive his rap career. It’s a downright fun jam.

    7) “Stronger” Kanye West
    I’m half-putting this on here because it’s a great rap song, half-because it’s a mainstream tribute to French electronic magicians Daft Punk, half-because I’m so surprised that this song was so widely embraced. And those 1.5 reasons are why it chills in this year top ten. The analysis probably isn’t necessary because everyone and the mother-in-law have heard this song. This song is just redeeming for me. It put electronic music on mainstream radio. It serves as legit contender for Pump-Up Song of the year (it’s going to be a couple years before you stop hearing “Stronger” at sporting events, and a couple decades before CBS stops using it for interludes to pre-game NFL pieces). And most of all, it made black teenagers figure out who the hell Kate Moss was, and even better, made them curious to how the hell she’s a famous model.

    8) “Archangel” Burial
    It’s hard for me to explain some songs. Partially because I’m overwhelmed by emotions… mostly because I’m not educated in enough musical technicalities to explain shit. Any who, this is my first electronic song in the list, created by an anonymous London artist who goes simply by the name of Burial. The song starts off with an industrial drum beat that sounds like it was created in the basement boiler room of abandoned warehouse in Eastern Europe. Don’t ask me how I came up with that. But I swear that’s the sound. Almost immediately after the music starts, a few barely audible lyrics are sung over it. And repeated. And a few more come in. And repeated. And I am overwhelmed by emotions… and am wondering how exactly I could explain this song to somebody. And it’s haunting and beautiful.

    9) “A Paw in My Face” The Field
    Swedish electronic artist Axel Willner, also known as The Field (I’ll let the “the” name slide this time because the song is so good, but I’m not letting The Edge or The Dream off easy on this one) creates the best minimalist song of the year. Again, it’s repeated electronic music, but it almost seems to have words, creating verses and hooks and choruses, albeit long ones. The song is perfect from start to end, but the full payoff doesn’t come until the end of the song, which includes a short jazzy outro that satisfies the song and ties it up as a whole. You really just have to have to listen it and draw your own conclusions.

    10) “All My Friends” LCD Soundsystem
    LCD Soundsystem is normally known for making innovative, somewhat offbeat electronic music. This song would probably be considered a change of pace for them, but in my opinion it is undoubtedly the best song on their critically acclaimed album Sound of Silver. The quickly-paced keyboard intro sets the pace for an eight minute marathon of living life without regret. The song does a great job of picking up steam throughout, almost like the stakes are getting higher and higher as the song goes on. I consider that quite the amazing task to complete, given the length of the song and all. This is a song that I had much lower at the start of the list-making process, but it continued to move up with every listen.

    11) “In Remembrance of Me” Blu & Exile
    Well if you haven’t figured out by now, I feel pretty strongly about Blu & Exile’s debut album. Lyrically, this might be Blu’s most perfect work. This song contains by far the best storytelling out of anything created this year, possibly in a very long time. There are no lyrics sites online that have this song, so to get the lyrics I literally had to listen and come up with what I heard. I’ll just give it to you:

    “It seemed like yesterday we was chasing the ice cream truck/Now we hopin’ that our eyes blink/Plus its kinda crazy, right?/One minute you a baby/and the next you sexin without protection and you holding the baby/Like damn, I was just in your shoes/Now you the papa that was just in their shoes/Teachin them to walk straight/Cuz honestly they got a long way to go/And now what you tell them is all that they know/See I remember when my folks said you’ll know I mean when you get older/I was only a teen, thinking that I was a grown-up/Please, I had so much to see/Thinking that the little I saw is all that the world had to offer to me/At eighteen I headed off in the streets without guidance/Just the eyes of God watching over me as time went/I spent hours working nine to fives to survive/Me and Jack up in the shack started hustling sacks/just to eat chips and soda/We thinking we’re gonna blow up once this demo gets done/We gonna be stretched out riding limos and such/Boy I was just a dreamer/Rockin’ shows like I win gold/you shoulda seen us/We was full of youth/Not yet abused by time/I saw the whole world through my rhymes/It’s kinda crazy, right?

    This reminds me of Junior High/You and I first met/’96 was a year that I could never forget/Sunsets, dance, kisses, chickenheads/Spreadin’ rumors ‘Blu’s cheatin on Shamika with Anika’/We was bad ditchin’ class/grass had us all gassed/I never smoked/Played ball/Thought it’d make me choke/By the way, we lost the championship game by one/Slow fucker hit three at the buzzer/My heart sunk/I was trying to be a pro baller/My first fuck was that year/still I don’t call her/My own father brought me over to her house that weekend/He was cheating so I lost my big V while he was beaten/In the other room/Not yet abused by time/I saw the whole world through that girl’s eyes/It’s kinda crazy, though/How time flies/How it flies/My grandpa died the same year/My mom thought I was to young to make this song/Because I’m only twenty-two/But y’all boy has a long path behind him/I’m walkin in the shoes of giant/And I was a fan of Jordan before I knew Bryant/Lost my great gray suit/But I was done tryin/I hid tears behind my suit attire/Now you can find through my rhyming/Cuz my time has come/and you’ll know my whole story by the time I get done/Rising like the shinin sun/Reminding you how we came/We rich now/We used to be slaves/We pushing whips now/We used to be whipped/Rockin chains/when we used to be in them/Still complaining that we victims in the system/Shit is twisted for shit/We came a long ass way/Yet it just feels like one long day/Shit amazes me/How time flies”

    12) “Girls Like Mystery” The Cribs
    The Cribs are always good for at least one fun, singable piece of pop perfection per album (though their last album contained four of them). Regardless, the English trio strikes gold again with this song. It’s a very simple song about the fact that… girls like mystery? Yes, apparently they do, and The Cribs know it. This song may be their best song yet. And yes, I’m making this review short because of the “In Remembrance of Me” marathon right before it. But really, there isn’t much to analyze. The song is just awesome.

    13) “The Glory” Kanye West
    Kanye’s just having fun here. He pulls out everything here. “The Glory” contains probably his best rhymes on the entire underrated album Graduation. His flow continues to add to the song with every line. The sample he uses is top 3 on the album (along with the Daft Punk on “Stronger” and Labi Siffre on “I Wonder”). And he didn’t forget get to use a gospel chorus backing led by oft-used, rarely misused John Legend. By time you get “I know, I know/I look better in real life”, you know this is one of ‘Ye’s standouts. I really don’t understand how Graduation was Kanye’s worst-reviewed album. He got rid of the bullshit skits that plagued his previous albums. His choices of samples were extremely eclectic at worst; it’s obvious that he has branched out even further in his musical tastes. Most of all, the amount of standout tracks (“Champion”, “Stronger”, “I Wonder”, “The Glory”, “Big Brother”, “Flashing Lights”) far outweighs the clunkers (“Barry Bonds”, arguably “Drunk and Hot Girls”, though I’ve grown to enjoy it for what it is).

    14) “A Strange Education” The Cinematics
    The Cinematics (first Scottish Band tally of the night) debut album, also titled A Strange Education, contains a lot of diverse sounds and styles. Not saying that I was a huge fan of it, because I wasn’t. But the song “A Strange Education” is a totally different story. In remarkably enough, it’s probably the most straight-ahead rocker on the album. And I hate straight-ahead. Anyways, the song starts and continues almost in a dreamer manner, using guitars that sound like they belong in a post-rock band. Lead singer Scott Rinner’s voice is perfect in capturing this Scottish love-rock-ballad-like-thing (okay, the only thing that makes it Scottish-ish is the fact that they’re Scottish).

    15) “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” Radiohead
    I like it when Radiohead makes songs with guitars and stuff. Y’know, not completely made on a computer. Sometimes that’s mad cool, though (see “Idioteque”). But “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” is not made completely on a computer. And that’s a good thing. The acoustic guitar sounds pretty good, especially the intro. And Thom Yorke’s voice continually and gradually gets more and more desperate and intense sounding, exuding an emotion that, as a listener, places you inside-looking-out, rather than the reverse. The best song on a pretty incredible album.

    The Best of the Rest

    16) “Flashing Lights” Kanye West
    17) “The Greater Times” Electrelane
    18)“Australia” The Shins
    19) “Reckoner” Radiohead
    20) “The Past Is a Grotesque Animal” of Montreal
    21) “Fluorescent Adolescent” Arctic Monkeys
    22) “Roc Boys” Jay-Z
    23) “Littlest Things” Lily Allen
    24) “Champion” Kanye West
    25) “Vampire” Hot Rod Circuit
    26) “I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You” Black Kids
    27) “Us Placers” Child Rebel Soldiers
    28) “Coffee” Aesop Rock
    29) “Bonafied Lovin’ (Tough Guys)” Chromeo
    30) “Young Folks” Peter Bjorn and John
    31) “Black Mags” The Cool Kids
    32) “69” T-Pain
    33) “Longing For” Jah Cure
    34) “In Transit” Albert Hammond, Jr.
    35) “Me & Mr. Jones” Amy Winehouse
    36) “Mistaken For Strangers” The National
    37) “Play Your Cards Right” Common
    38) “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” Radiohead
    39) “Bartender” T-Pain
    40) “Crank That” Soulja Boy
    41) “Because of You” Ne-Yo
    42) “Same Girl” R. Kelly and Usher
    43) “Go Getta” Young Jeezy
    44) “People in Love” Art Brut
    45) “The People” Common
    46) “Pussyole (Oldskool)” Dizzee Rascal
    47) “The Way I Are” Timbaland
    48) “Smile” Lily Allen
    49) “Ali in the Jungle” The Hours
    50) “Men’s Needs” The Cribs



    Other Notes

    Overall, this year was just awful for albums. I was going to come up with an album list, but I literally could only come up with a handful. Blu & Exile’s “Below the Heavens” was my undoubted number one, though. If I were to make a list, I’d include Radiohead’s “In Rainbows”, Jah Cure’s excellent reggae comeback “True Reflections… A New Beginning”, and “Graduation” somewhere in the top 5.

    Albums I was looking forward to the most this year: Thrice, Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys, Dizzee Rascal, Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, and Jay-Z. Thrice, Bloc Party and Lupe Fiasco all massively disappointed me (they couldn’t even fit a song into my top 50). Dizzee’s album wasn’t even remotely close to his remarkable debut… I’m afraid he’s listened to too many execs and he’s getting further and further away from his old sound. Arctic Monkeys’ album grew on me a lot, but the first half of the album is still nearly unlistenable. Kanye threw it down, though.

    I’m not including “Hey There Delilah” because they recorded the song in like 1972 (or 2004-ish). They whored the song out for like 4 years praying that it would catch on, and somehow it actually worked in 2007 (“Cupid’s Chokehold” did it in 2006). Believe it or not it would actually be somewhere on this list if the circumstances were otherwise. Now I’m just expecting Something Corporate’s “Konstantine” to be a number one single in 2008.

    Best music video of the year was also the number one song on my list. The video just adds to the fun. Scariest video of the year… BY FAR “Coffee” by Aesop Rock. Try watching that shit alone at 5am when you’re wasted. I had me some nightmares.

    Most annoying song time extension due to hidden track at the end: “Coffee”. I have like zero ITunes plays for it because there’s no way I’m ever waiting around for four minutes of silence in between the real song and the hidden song.

    Songs on the list that you probably haven’t heard yet that I didn’t make full write-ups about (aka just listen to them): “Black Mags” The Cool Kids, “Bonafied Lovin’” Chromeo, “Longing For” Jah Cure (watch the live YouTube clips for the full effect), “Ali in the Jungle” The Hours.

    Song I couldn’t decide whether it was good or bad of the year: “Pro Nails” Kid Sister ft. Kanye West

    Song completely ruined by radio editing of the year: “Throw Some D’s” Rich Boy

    Prediction on how many songs from 2007 I’ll hear in 2008 and realize that they should’ve made the 2007 List, making me regretful and sad: 14

    Amount of songs I had to reconsider the rank of so that I could knock “Ayo Technology” out of the Top 50, solely on the basis that I didn’t feel comfortable having 50 Cent on my list: 4

    Amount of times I reconsidered putting “Ayo Technology” back in the Top 50, solely on the basis that it is almost entirely about internet porn: 3

    Although it’s very early in the year, the only song I’ve heard in 2008 that I’m positive will make next year’s list is “We’re Looking for a Lot of Love” by Hot Chip. I’m guessing that it’s going to stay in the top 10.