Thursday, December 14, 2006

Top 50 Songs of 2006 (35-31)

35. Lavender Diamond - You Broke My Heart (Self-released)

There are very few people in the music sphere who can belt a song out like Becky Sharp and that's why Lavender Diamond aren't going to remain unsigned for much longer (even though they've been in this position for about eighteen months now). 'You Broke My Heart' is a rousing battle hymn to the bruised that sees Sharp rise from a Chan Marshall-esque hush to a Kate Bush bellow in less than four minutes.
It's all heavy piano chords and muscular, strongly-strummed acoustic, with a militaristic backbeat. You can almost picture hordes of heartbroken indie-boys and girls marching behind Sharp down a.n. other main street in a.n. other American suburb, while her band hurl rose petals in the shape of an ever-increasing crescendo in front of her. 'You Broke My Heart' is probably one of the most visual songs of the year and it's all the better for it.
34. Ost & Kjex - Milano Model (Dialect Recordings)

While, musically, it doesn't get much more Detroit than this, the bonkers vocals come from an entirely different place. While all the techno lovers in 2006 were getting all po-faced and reverential about Carl Craig's remixes, Ost & Kjex (pronounced Shex) were doing pretty much the same but chatting shit about biscuits and cheese in the meantime.

Ost & Kjex are exactly what the techno scene needs so desperately these days, and has needed for quite a while now, a twisted personality. I guess that comes from being Scandinavian. They've already mastered pop, indie, house, jazz, etc., so now it's techno's turn and the hella fun, mighty jackin', 'Milano Model' shows that the erstwhile vikings are just as adept at that.

Ost & Kjex - Milano Model (mp3)

33. The Hold Steady - Chillout Tent (Vagrant)

Some people love The Hold Steady for the giddy, classic rock thrills they serve up, others love them for Craig Finn's epic way with narrative, whilst others just hate them. I'd like to say that 'Chillout Tent' is the song where all three factions unite, in a hazy glow of drink, drugs and cheap nostalgia, but it's not. The lyrics are corny, the musical peaks are too easy, borderline contrived even and if you don't like them before you've heard this, you're unlikely to change your mind.

So why's it on the list? Well, like I said, the lyrics are corny, but then again, I'm extremely corny too. I'm a hopeless romantic that seeks to find himself in the kind of situation presented here (girl gets fucked up at festival, boy gets fucked up at festival, girl meets boy in the chillout tent, they talk, they kiss, they never see each other again), but very rarely does. Living vicariously doesn't get much better than this, plus Franz Nicolay's keyboard riff makes the hairs on the back of my neck dance.

The Hold Steady - Chillout Tent (mp3)

32. Parts And Labor - A Great Divide (Jagjaguwar)

The meeting point between coruscating noise-rock and fist-pumping anthemics, 'A Great Divide' is a strange beast. Coming from a musical place where the fans tend to want to rub their beard and appreciate the beauty within chaos, even when there's no beauty to be found, the injection of melody from BJ Warshaw and Dan Friel sounds thrillingly new, while octopus-limbed drummer, Christopher Weingarten hammers away in the background, revelling in the anticipation that comes before the big crashing pay-offs (you can almost imagine him holding his sticks above his head in an 'X', while giving the ominous kick a beating).

Lyrically, it's a call-to-arms to the downtrodden that again leans towards arena-rocking. The synth squall of 'A Great Divide' is just an avant smokescreen for the Springsteen-isms that lie at its heart. Looks like the chin-strokers have found their 'Glory Days'.

Parts And Labor - A Great Divide (mp3)

31. Grizzly Bear - Knife (Warp)

Imagine Brian Wilson, lost at sea and seasick, recording a doo-wop song and you have some idea of what 'Knife' sounds like. In fact, that sounds horrible. Let's get really reductive! Imagine Animal Collective, produced by Phil Spector, while floating around in a pirate ship. Now you have a little idea of what 'Knife' sounds like.

Then actually listen to it and all expectations and signifiers that people have given you, when you asked, so what do Grizzly Bear actually sound like, fly out of the window, and you just wind up enraptured by 'Knife''s spectral harmonies and just the general vibe you get that this would be what aliens would play if they landed on Malibu beach. Dreamy, floaty and absolutely fucking gorgeous. Can't you feel the knife?

Grizzly Bear - Knife (mp3)


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