Yer Mam!'s Top 100 Tunes Of 2008: 100-91
Has it really been a year? I, for one, have been enjoying myself far too much to notice a whole twelve months passing before my eyes, I don't know about you. This year's ton of tunes was hell of difficult to whittle down. In fact, I think I could have easily stretched it to 200. Maybe next year. Anyway, 2008 has been characterised by a lot of cracking one-off singles, great songs from not-so-great albums and fantastic songs from fantastic albums. I suppose you could say that about any year really, but you know what I mean. Right, on with the show. Enjoy!
Pure ruffneck business from the Steel City's new darling. Is it niche? Bassline? Grime? Bashment? Or just pure soundsystem-wrecking greatness? It's the last one, obviously, as music this fun just laughs at pigeonholes. Serocee gives it some ragga-chat over squishy bass drops and a skippy house-y beat, and a gospel vocal bit chips in for added value towards the end. It's become something of a regular fixture at mine and jonthebeef's night, Dig For Victory!, partly because it winds Jon up no end when I leave him to mix out of it, but mostly because it never fails to put a smile on people's faces. Good times.
Toddla T - Soundtape Killin' (feat. Serocee) (mp3)
Bonus: Watch the cheap and cheerful video on youtube.
Let's have it right, Untitled, Nas' 'controversial' 2008 full-length is an almost irredeemable dog. Nasir Jones has been better served by guest spots on other people's records and the DJ Green Lantern hook-up mixtape, The Nigger Tape this past 12 months than his own album. For someone with so much political ire and fire in his belly, most of Untitled felt colourless and phoned-in, coupled with some pretty shit production jobs from the likes of Stargate, Mark Ronson and DJ Toomp. There was one bright, shining beacon amidst the dreck and that was the cacophonous, ridiculously raging midrange of single, 'Hero'. Producer du jour, Polow Da Don is the man behind the desk and his superbly massive backing eggs Nas on to be as in-your-face as he can be. The result is nigh-on spectacular and the only real flash we had this year of Jones being a force to be reckoned with once again.
Nas - Hero (feat. Keri Hilson) (mp3)
Bonus: Watch the video on youtube.
A luxurious, slow-burning cosmic disco vamp, 'You Are Amen' takes a listen or two before it really gets under your skin. It's almost minimal in design but full-bodied (mainly thanks to the harsh thwack of the live snare) in texture and gets ever more forceful as it creeps towards its deliciously malevolent denouement. Polly's stern, eurotrashy vocals may put some more lily-livered listeners off but underneath the harsh exterior lies an innate warmth that really comes through as 'You Are Amen' builds more and more with each bar. Exquisite stuff.
POLLYester - You Are Amen (mp3)
Bonus: Watch Polly and some other dude covering '24 Hour Party People'. This is how they have fun in Dusseldorf.
It's been a bit of a quiet year for Italians Do It Better. Mike Simonetti's label haven't exactly capitalised on the success of 2007 in the way most people would have expected (although something tells me that was never the plan in the first place), but they have unearthed a little gem in Invisible Conga People. The duo of Justin Simon and Eric Tsai make music as hushed as their name suggests, but 'Cable Dazed' is anything but unassuming. A poised, delicately-crafted slice of wintry kraut-disco, 'Cable Dazed' pulses and throbs gently for six minutes but it's only once you reach for the repeat button that you realise how damned addictive it is. ICP are future masters of insidious icy electronics.
Invisible Conga People - Cable Dazed (mp3)
Bonus: Learn more about ICP over at Dusted.
When a band is made up of hipster fucks like the ones pictured above I have a hard time warming to them. I mean, look at the cunts. Read any Telepathe interview too and it's all "Yeah, we love avant-garde shit and everything, but we also love Mannie Fresh and Three Six Mafia, so we wanted to combine them both" (not an actual quote), so even before I'd heard one second of Telepathe's music I wanted to punch them both in the face. Not a great first impression. That these two insufferable muso pricks make music as glorious and fulfilling as 'Chrome's On It', makes me feel all dirty inside, as if I'm masturbating to something I, y'know, shouldn't be cracking one off to. Not that I do that a lot, you understand. I'm basically a monk. So yeah, 'Chrome's On It'; a bit like wanking.
95. Thriller - BBQ (Thriller)
Every year, you get the odd 12" that comes out of nowhere, gets a bunch of hype from the right people and then you find out that it's the work of someone already established under a pseudonym. Then, the internet seekers simply must find out who really is behind said 12". 'BBQ' is one of those. It's clear from the outset that it's the work of someone in the blooming wonky subgenre, seeing as it's an awkwardly funky disco cut-up lollop, with bass for days. Turns out it's the work of Luke Blair aka Lukid of Werk Discs. Makes sense as Lukid's 2007 album, Onandon is full of stuff like this. It'd have been nice if it had kept its mystery, but now we know who did it, maybe we can pester him to put out some more shadowy one-offs.
Bonus: Lukid - The Now (mp3)
94. The Long Blondes - Here Comes The Serious Bit (Rough Trade)
The Long Blondes' premature break-up was one of the downers of the year. I don't think we've heard the last from Kate Jackson and the gang and on the evidence of this highlight from this year's sophomore effort, "Couples", hopefully it'll be sooner rather than later. Producer, Erol Alkan is the secret weapon here, as he adds a dance-pop dynamic to their spiky new wave. All the other elements sound so full; rubber band bass, burbling synths and jacknifing lead guitar, plus Jackson sounds as alluring and tart as ever. They'll be missed.
93. Tiedye - Nothing Else Matters (Italians Do It Better)
The words 'balearic cover of the Metallica power ballad' shouldn't, by rights, go together. Indeed they don't really, as Tiedye don't so much cover the song as reinterpret its bare rhythmic bones and stretch it out over 7 minutes or so. It's vocal-free, so no-one gets to growl like Hetfield over slo-mo disco (that would not work at all), but there's a bassline that Jason Newsted would be proud of and guitar work that The Het himself would probably proclaim "decidedly un-faggotty" or something. The end result is a sunkissed, scorching discoid groover, the kind of thing maybe Lars Ulrich plays when he's out on his yacht. Probably.
92. Ikonika - Please (Hyperdub)
It's been a pretty monumental year for dubstep. It's as though every mover and shaker in the genre just decided to take a massive step forward this past twelve months. Dubstep has finally pulled its head out of its collective arse and become the thrillingly inventive, fun genre everyone knew it could be. Most of this maturation has come as a product of cross-pollination with numerous like-minded subgenres. We had The Bug crossing dubstep with dancehall, whilst the likes of Quarta 330 melded dark bass with garish 8-bit and Martyn fusing the sound with Detroit techno. Hyperdub's rising star Ikonika looked to the wonky side of things by pushing up the synths and throwing in the odd hip-hop ref. 'Please' was her first shot across the boughs and signalled her as a talent to watch. I, for one, can't wait for a full album of this stuff.
91. Schwarz, Ame, Dixon - D.p.o.m.b. Part 1 (Innervisions)
Dad-house is such a horrible term, often bandied about when referring to slick, retro house music from scene veterans. Schwarz, Ame and Dixon have been around long enough to land them this tag, but there's nothing pipe-and-slippers about this raw slab of conga-driven, funky diva-sampling insanity. It's a tough, sprightly number that keeps you grooving for its full ten minutes and while some might complain that it doesn't live up to most of what the three principals are capable of, it still beat most other younger house artists' output in '08 into a cocked hat.
Back soon with the first lot of albums,