Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Summer 2011 Playlist
***Each title is a clickable link to its respective song on Youtube***
1. Excuses---The Morning Benders
One of my top songs of all of 2010, Excuses is a big, warm hug of a song that makes One feel nostalgic and young at the same time. A beach-set ballad set afloat by Christopher Chu's miraculous croon, it's a big band tune with a wicked ability to put a smile on your face every time.
Age of Consent---New Order*
An oldie but a goodie, New Order's bright and brilliant take on youthful defiance has aged better than just about anything from else the entire 80's. From its insanely catchy main guitar riff, to Bernard Sumner's sublimely juvenile vocal performance, to the fiery guitar solos that somehow still sound badass today, this is a Summer number for the ages.
3. Ffunny Ffrends---Unknown Mortal Orchestra
From an established classic to a young upstart (with a painfully bad band name), Portland's own Unknown Mortal Orchestra has crafted One of this year's best songs in Ffunny Ffrends. A throw-back rendered as a low-fi stomp, the tune is an ear-worm if ever there was One, its laid-back, old-school vibe simply impossible to resist.
4. East Harlem---Beirut
The lead single from Beirut's latest may not be as upbeat or energetic as the majority of this mix, but it's perfectly suited for the lazy days of Summer. Built on an flawless pairing of Zach Condon's incomparable voice and the musical backing's casual rumble, its an ideal tune for a mid-afternoon, laying-in-the-grass session.
5. Kids---Sleigh Bells
From relaxing to riotous, there's little doubt that all those put blissfully to sleep by East Harlem will be blasted awake by Kids. Through use in movie trailers and MTV ads, Kids has become sneakily become the favorite song off of SB's incredible debut album, Treats, driven by a tenacious desire to blow out speakers and get the children dancing.
Fake Blues---Real Estate*
Another foolproof song to chill out and drink a beer to, Fake Blues recalls the yesteryear, beach-hopping allusions of Excuses, but in a far less grand manner. It's central riff, echoing in an ever-inviting way, blends deliciously with its bellowing percussion, audible bliss resounding.
7. Gone---Kanye West featuring Consequence & Cam'ron
Don't get me wrong: I'm pretty into Kanye's current stadium-rocking incarnation, but Gone might just still stand as my favorite song of his. Set to a soulful, slowly evolving beat built out of pianos and strings, the song runs for a solid Six minutes, all Three MCs delivering absolutely killer verses (Kanye with Two). Smaller than Ye's current fare, but no less addictive.
8. You Still Believe in Me---M. Ward
In the same way that an album can greatly benefit from a well-placed instrumental track, it's my belief that most good playlists have at least One or Two wordless numbers. You Still Believe in Me fills the slot with nothing more than a subtle, gorgeous acoustic guitar, peacefully glowing through its contented, soothing Two and a half minutes of existence.
The lead single from an album widely viewed as under-whelming, I've been completely in love with 12:51 since the first time that I heard it in mid-High School. It's not the ass-kicker that just about any song off of Is This It? proves to be, but the main guitar part absolutely screams Summer, as confident and warm as any riff in the band's catalogue, bolstered by a euphoric climactic Fifteen seconds.
10. Crazy For You---Best Coast
A gloriously throwback to young, confused, stupid love, Crazy For You sounds like a tune from another time, ridiculously catchy without the smallest hint of complexity. A straight-forward blast of the clear-weather good times, the track gets in and out in under Two minutes, but it might just get stuck in your head for much longer.
11. Surfer's Hymn---Panda Bear
Swirling, enveloping, and doused in sunlight: Yup, it's Panda Bear, alright. Tomboy's widest-smiling track Twice over, you can almost see the glittering ocean in Noah Lennox's bizarre electronic backing, his ever-delightful voice massaging eager eardrums.
12. Hysteric---Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Despite their primary interest in the more punk-y side of rock, Yeah Yeah Yeahs' most iconic song remains Maps, and this little number, released Six years later, strikes me as a perfect revisitation. Smaller in scale than many of their songs, Hysteric is the musical equivalent of a lengthy, contented sigh, Karen O's voice gliding along through the song's gorgeous, shimmering instrumentals.
New Theory---Washed Out*
Ever since I truly discovered Washed Out's much ballyhooed debut EP (which happened embarrassingly recently), I haven't been able to put the thing down, and New Theory is a big reason why. Ernest Greene's voice echoes indecipherably from every corner of the thing, the fuzzy (see washed out) electronica wrapping its comforting arms tightly around you for Three minutes of pure mirth.
14. All I Want---LCD Soundsystem
One of my very favorite songs by One of my very favorite bands, All I Want loops a David Bowie guitar riff into jubilant infinity. James Murphy's self-depriciating lyrics run dazzlingly against the grain of the tunes shining instrumentals, somehow managing to provoke and comfort at the exact same time, the golden hues of mid-August lofting off of it at every turn.
Killa may be the most immediate number on w h o k i l l's bizarro track list, but to call it conventional would be a fool's mistake. A delightful ditty of a guitar part leads us into Merrill Garbus' ridiculously singular voice, which seems to dart around through the song's many instrumental twists in turns in a way that is equal parts impressive and fun.
Laughing Gas---Neon Indian*
The other instrumental tune on this playlist, Laughing Gas is a gleefully blurry take on mid-Summer mania, stuffed to the brim with strange effects and a head-bobbing pulse.
17. Start of Something---Voxtrot
A largely forgotten indie outfit from a few years ago, Voxtrot may not have made the biggest impression on the world of music, but this song sure makes a big impression on me. Sounding like a forgotten Belle and Sebastian hit, Start of Something's smooth, playful sound harkens back to a distant era, somehow managing to sound immediate at the same time.
18. You Oughta Know---Das Racist*
Another taste of good-times hip-hop, You Oughta Know's infectious beat has no problems setting bodies in motion, but it doesn't rest on its laurels there. MCs Heems and Kool A.D. are as clever and free-flowing as always, a number of lines rolling off of their tongues in ways both laugh-out-loud funny, and effortlessly smooth.
19. Jealous of Roses---Bibio
A miniature number with Summer block party written all over it, Jealous of Roses is a masterfully scaled dose of old-school funky, at first glued to Stephen Wilkinson's heavily effected voice, eventually giving the song over to an jaw-dropping duel of guitar and bass solos.
20. Else---Built to Spill
Else is what the end of a lively Summer day should sound like, custom designed to conjure contentment out of all those who listen to it. As if the wiggling guitar part of the chorus weren't enough, the thing wraps up with a small, precious bit of rocking out, drifting away into the warm evening air immediately thereafter.
21. Don't Stop---The Dodos*
This article marks the Third time that I've gone out of my way to sing this song's praises since its mid-March release, and you shouldn't expect me to stop anytime soon. As with the best Dodos songs, Don't Stop allows Logan Kroeber's percussion to share center-stage with vocalist/guitarist Meric Long, and the result is a sonically full-bodied blast of Summer-time merriment, complete with Long's irresponsible, irresistible chorus shout of, "Don't Stop! Don't let your boss catch you!"