Top 100 Tunes Of 2007 (40-31)
A song of two halves, 'Take Pills' starts off on some bucolic, heavy-psych Brian Wilson tip before segueing into a submerged, Buddy Holly-like, sock-hopping bop with all the sonic detritus that coloured Person Pitch so brilliantly. Noah Lennox's greatest strength is filtering all his influences through a kaleidoscope of his own making and 'Take Pills' is his most immediate moment. It's most certainly not pop music but it's born of it.
Panda Bear - Take Pills (mp3)
Bonus: Live footage of Panda Bear playing 'Take Pills'.
Maybe it's "the London bias of the music media" that's to blame but it kind of saddens me that Elektrons didn't get more coverage this year than they did. Especially so when you hear 'Get Up', a song that surely would have been a massive party hit had it been given a chance. Close to Basement Jaxx and The Go! Team in spirit but more soulful and classier than either of them, 'Get Up' is the most fun call-to-arms of the year, it's just a shame that not more people heard it.
Elektrons - Get Up (mp3)
Bonus: Watch the video for 'Get Up'.
I'm of the opinion that R. Kelly is, most of the time, a stupid arse. He's ridiculously self-involved, often overbearingly mawkish and, as his legal problems in recent years are anything to go off, a very bad person indeed. BUT, every now and then, he just comes out with something just so exceedingly larger-than-life and massively colourful that it's hard not to believe even his most self-aggrandising statements. File 'I'm A Flirt (Remix)' alongside other triumphs such as 'Ignition (Remix)', 'Feelin' On Yo Booty' and, naturally, Trapped In The Closet, as its irresistible bounce just burrows its way into your cerebellum, takes up residence and convinces you of the man's genius. That in itself is vindication of Kells' abilities.
R. Kelly feat. T.I. & T-Pain - I'm A Flirt (Remix) (mp3)
Bonus: "Let me remind you that I am the king of r'n'b". Watch the video over at YouTube and while you're there, do yourself a favour and check out as many episodes of Trapped In The Closet as you can.
Lindstrom takes a more Italo-disco tack with his new side-project, a collaboration with Swedish chanteuse, Solale (aka Christabelle, with whom Hans-Peter released 'Music' a few years back). Yes, it's still very kosmische, but it's more in the vein of Moroder or Vangelis than the soft-pop touches of his work with Prins Thomas or the more club-wise stuff he releases by himself. It's a slo-mo groove that insidiously does its stuff almost without you noticing, before it explodes in a morass of colour and flourish around the eight minute mark. Truly brilliant and if it's a precursor for next year's album then we're in for something very special indeed.
Lindstrom & Solale - Let's Practise (mp3)
Bonus: L&S do Vangelis: Lindstrom & Solale - Let It Happen (mp3)
Busdriver's almost nauseatingly 'indie'. A backpacker rapper signed to Epitaph, who tours with Deerhoof and rhymes about Noam Chomsky and Lou Reed should be nigh-on unbearable. The fact that Busdriver manages to be likeable and relatable (almost) is down to the frequent humanist touches on his latest record, Roadkillovercoat, of which this track is the one most likely to receive repeat plays. A world-weary treatise on the futility of hip-hop elitism, with a steady-thumping, downtempo house beat and downcast guitar, it's witty, insightful and infectious. Great stuff from an artist on the grow.
Busdriver - Sun Showers (mp3)
Bonus: Watch the eye-fucking video for 'Sun Showers'.
Between them, Animal Collective (Panda Bear included), Battles and Deerhoof have injected a fair bit of fun into cerebral indie art-rock this year. 'Peacebone' is a brain-damaged pop song which marks AC's move into more immediate, less challenging fare. That's not to say that they've lost any of the feverish imagination and innovation that made them such a good band in the first place, just that they've learnt how to channel that into something more palatable to people who aren't used to music like this. Some might comment that this is exactly the kind of thing bands like Animal Collective should be shying away from, but under those junky electronic burbles and crazed screams lies the beating heart of progress and that's something to be admired and revered.
Animal Collective - Peacebone (mp3)
Bonus: 'Peacebone' live in Malta video.
Finally, the Girls put their name behind something that can stand up to 'Biology'. The ersatz, electro-Motown swing of 'Can't Speak French' is arguably the classiest moment of a very classy bunch on Tangled Up, with all the girls putting in noteworthy performances. It's classic GA really, with Nadine, Kimberley and Nicola going tag-team on the opening verse, before Cheryl and Sarah raunch it up on the second. Who really cares who sings what though? This, like all the best Girls Aloud songs, sees them form into a perv-pop Voltron with consummate ease. They know that when any of them hogs the limelight for too long, they begin to crumble under the weight of it all, but the sum of all their magnificent parts (oo-er!) always adds up to nothing short of brilliant. Textbook girl-pop from the best proponents we have.
Girls Aloud - Can't Speak French (mp3)
Bonus: Watch Nadine having a seriously off night on The Friday Night Project.
When this turned up unnanounced earlier in the year, not much was known about Manchester's Trus'me and now, two more 12s and an album down the line, he's still leaving us very little to go off. What I do know however, is that 'Nard's' is probably the best Moodymann track that KDJ never produced. He'll probably despise the Moodymanc title by now, but he's going to find it hard to escape it. To be honest though, there are some of his own personality in 'Nard's' that's for sure. KDJ would have definitely stretched the ominous first half out even longer, but Trus'me can't resist going all out for the dancefloor and he does it with considerable aplomb. Not bad for a shadowy 20-something from the rainy city.
Trus'me - Nard's (mp3)
Bonus: Download an exclusive Trus'me live mix from Cosmic Disco. Also, while you're at it, you could try to work out a little more about the guy from the interview he did for Another Night On Earth.
Critics have spent the best part of 2007 trying to get a handle on Battles' Mirrored and in particular its lead-off single, 'Atlas'. Some have even gone so far as to call it hip-hop. It ain't that, but it's refreshing to hear something that has the capacity to sound so familiar and alien at the same time. In a gloriously clumsy, yet confident manner, Battles apply math-rock to glam, disco, pop and, yes, even at a push, hip-hop to make one of the year's most surprisingly engaging leftfield delights. Bravo, you eggheads!
Battles - Atlas (mp3)
Bonus: 'Atlas' live on Jools Holland.
The augur that Kompakt was going to have a decent year was 'Trauermusik', released by Partial Arts (Al Usher and Ewan Pearson) back in January. A chiming, ultimately uplifting slab of electro melancholy, replete with warm synths, cellos and drums that Pearson himself as described as sounding like "cannons going off", it laid the foundation for the likes of Justus Kohncke, Supermayer, The Field and Gui Boratto to build on, making it the best twelve months the label has had since about 2003. It was the first warning shot and still the best 12 to come from Cologne in the past year.
Partial Arts - Trauermusik (mp3)
Bonus: Partial Arts - Trauermusik (Alter Ego Mix) (mp3)
Labels: top 100 tunes of 2007