Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Top 100 Tunes Of 2007 (20-11)

20. Grinderman - No Pussy Blues (Mute)

Proving that impotent fury can be the most potent kind of fury, Grinderman's 'No Pussy Blues', a hilarious account of the trials and travails concerned with getting someone in the sack when they "just never wanted to" is both Grinderman's most immediate and unrestrained moment. For a four-minute scuzz-rocker, it's got immense repeat play value too, with Cave's wooing attempts getting more uproarious and desperate with each listen. When everything drops down to just Cave and that insistent fuzz-bassline, before kicking back up with a gigantic squall of feedback and hollering, you can almost see the curmudgeonly antipodean kicking out at nearby inanimate objects like a petulant child. And all for a spot of how's-your-father. The lengths people go to...

Grinderman - No Pussy Blues (mp3)

Bonus: 'No Pussy Blues' live on Later...

19. Kanye West - Flashing Lights (feat. Dwele) (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)

West has a knack, when he chooses to use it, for making the simple sound complex, such is the case with 'Flashing Lights'. Staccato synth swooshes (like a hip-hop Daft Punk, unsurprisingly) share airspace with a boom-clap beat and John Barry-esque strings to create this affectingly melancholy, fiendishly addictive standout from Graduation. As it is for most of that album, West dials back the grandeur to smaller-scale, more off-kilter thrills, a bit like Steven Spielberg when he stopped being all about dinosaurs and aliens and started rocking the millennial angst via stories about Mossad agents and wartime horrors. That might be the most overstretched analogy to ever grace these pages, but, y'know, just think about it a while. It'll make sense.

Kanye West - Flashing Lights (feat. Dwele) (mp3)

Bonus: Clipse - Flashing Lights (Remix) (mp3)

18. King Khan & The Shrines - Welfare Bread (Hazelwood)

Ever the gentlemen, King Khan gives the object of his affections the first word on 'Welfare Bread' (actually it's just Khan affecting a falsetto but you get the drift), before going on to recount the oft-told adage that you don't need money in this world, only love. It's a time-worn sentiment with time-worn trimmings, as the redlining mix, blaring saxophones, tickly hammond and doleful tambourine are all beamed in from another time, one more innocent than the one we're in right now. Sometimes re-treading old styles in such a perfectly accented manner can be as refreshing as taking something wholly new for a test-drive. Thank the lord for King Khan and his Sensational Shrines for keeping the flame alive.

King Khan & The Shrines - Welfare Bread (mp3)

Bonus: Well, there isn't much in the way of decent YouTube-age when it comes to the Shrines, so why don't you go over to their MySpace, where you can watch some weird videos and listen to some kickarse tunes? There're worse things you could do.

17. Shit Robot - Chasm (DFA/EMI)

What a year for the DFA. This is the first DFA release from 2007 to make the list, but it sure as hell ain't the last, which should give you some idea as to what the rest of the list looks like. When I say that Shit Robot's 'Chasm' is a dirty, malevolent little builder, I don't mean it's a scruffy, height-disadvantaged brickie carrying a knife (good lord, I'm bringing the wit tonight!). I mean that it grows from the smallest elements into a huge, funky slab of grimy acid-tech (think Carl Craig, only punkier and harbouring more dirt under his fingernails) that mutates and shifts in such an insidious way it's almost frightening. Marcus Lambkin is one hell of a crowdpleasing producer, one only wishes he was more prolific, as this makes him two-for-two on making my top 20 of the year now.

Shit Robot - Chasm (mp3)

Bonus: Do yourselves a favour and head over to Beats In Space to download Shit Robot's excellent guest mix from June 26th.

16. Glass Candy - Miss Broadway (Italians Do It Better)

It's perhaps fitting that an outfit as retro as Glass Candy should make the list with a cover version, but GC put in more work than most to make this their own. When measured up against La Belle Epoque's camp classic, the first thing you notice is that Glass Candy's is the classier take. Ida No vamps and sashays where Evelyn Lenton stomped and growled, the original's perky, skanking guitar line is transformed into something more downcast, but the whole feel of the track is no less decadent than its predecessor and while its pulsations and shimmers hark back to disco's golden age, in looking back, Glass Candy have crafted something very now, very fresh. Watch them shine even brighter in 2008.

Glass Candy - Miss Broadway (mp3)

Bonus: La Belle Epoque - Miss Broadway (mp3)

15. Spoon - You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb (Anti-)

Spoon have always been as much about what lurks - or what doesn't lurk - in the corners of their songs, as what's front-and-centre and '...Cherry Bomb' is no exception, even if at first it strikes you as a brightly coloured, ersatz Motown swinger. On further inspection, it's the little details that start to bloom, like the eerie falsetto backing vocal or the way the hitherto-underplayed piano riff strikes a minor chord that looms up in technicolour, or the fact that it seems the band are having a conversation at points in the background, as if to demistify the magic, but only ending up making it all the more intriguing. That said, treated as a joyous piece of no-frills soul-pop, 'You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb' still stands head-and-shoulders above most other indie-rock dancefloor shakers this past year.

Spoon - You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb (mp3)

Bonus: '...Cherry Bomb' live footage. Warning, it's very amateur.

14. Metro Area - Read My Mind (feat. Phillip Owusu) (Environ)

Oh good lord, you would not believe how happy I was when I heard that Metro Area were going to release a new EP! New stuff from one of the acts of the century! I could hardly contain my glee. Then I heard 'Read My Mind' and was, initially, a little disappointed. What was this new sound? Is this pop? Where's the downbeat disco I know and love? Vocals?! Shit a brick!! Then I listened again and a light went off; it was just the vocal that threw me. This is essentially 'Caught Up' with singing. And what singing! Phillip Owusu (Denmark's answer to Michael Jackson) drips honeyed come-ons all over Morgan and Darshan's fabulously crisp production, to make this one of the year's best underground disco-pop tunes. Meet the new Metro Area, same as the old Metro Area, only with bells on.

Metro Area - Read My Mind (feat. Phillip Owusu) (mp3)

Bonus: Metro Area - Read My Mind (RMM Special Dub) (mp3)

13. Justice - D.A.N.C.E. (Ed Banger/Because Music)

Although the sight of the words Ed and Banger so high up this list can't help but elicit a shudder from me, you just can't deny the brilliance of 'D.A.N.C.E.'. Every shit group/label/producer is allowed at least one moment in the sun and, even though I'll admit that Justice do what they do a lot better than anyone else right now, I just can't listen to without coughing up blood and having some sort of seizure. Call me old, but I much prefer this less noisy, more refined, danceable, poppy side to them. 'D.A.N.C.E.' distils the best bits of The Go! Team, Daft Punk circa Discovery and late-70s NY disco into one easy-to-swallow, floor-slaying chunk. Okay, that's enough love, can I go back to hating Ed Banger again now? Alright, let's "Do the dance" just once more and then I'm banning the phrase 'new French touch' from this blog forever.

Justice - D.A.N.C.E. (mp3)

Bonus: Watch the still-mesmerising video for about the 1,379th time, if you must.

12. Hercules & Love Affair - Classique #2 (DFA/EMI)

'Classique #2' is a delicious red herring, all Chicago sheen, jackin' drum kicks and orgasmic vocal snippets to throw you off the scent before Andy Butler (aka Hercules & Love Affair) unleashes some seriously extravagant disco on our arses with his full-length. As diversion tactics go though, it's a beauty. In fact, it's a damn shame he isn't going to release a separate album of acid house-referencing old school workouts alongside the main attraction (due in February), as 'Classique #2' shows a producer with a flair for updating and freshening up bygone styles in such an exciting way. Watch out Murphy, DFA have a new uber-talented retro-filtering genius in their ranks.

Hercules & Love Affair - Classique #2 (mp3)

Bonus: Take another little trip over to Beats In Space and download Butler's natty mix from September 11th.

11. Lee Douglas - New York Story (Rong)

Falling just outside our top ten is another New York-based producer with retro-leanings. Lee Douglas doesn't put out anywhere near enough releases (this is one of only three 12"s in as many years), but everything he does put out is gold, Jerry, gold! 'New York Story' is a conflicted epic, in that it lands somewhere between Paradise Garage hedonism and Balearic chill. It's a song at odds with itself, not knowing when to give it some and when to hold back. Douglas plays this up and when it goes for the jugular, it really goes, but it's just as relaxed during its troughs. This makes for remarkable tension and interplay and what you're left with is a cast-iron, multi-faceted modern classic for the ages. Nice work.

Lee Douglas - New York Story (mp3)

Bonus: La Belle Epoque - Bamalama (Lee Douglas Edit) (mp3)



Anonymous chicken said...

Hi james! I dissapeared for a while, and I am still disapeared for a while but happy new year to you!

I justr skimmed through som of the top 100's..ace to see many faves in there and Many Mathew dear posts too, lovely! but R KELLY? did I really see that :D:D

Have a good one j catch up next time

6:42 pm  
Blogger James said...

Good to hear from you, Rach. Been too long.

You should check the R. Kelly out before you snigger. It's a corker.

Catch up soon.

6:45 pm  
Anonymous chicken said...

I cant get to grips with the R kelly James but hey I tried ! I tried !lol

Catch you soon

10:23 pm  

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