just like a mini-mall

Monday, January 26, 2009

Darlene Love - All Alone on Christmas

This song/video is the combination of my two favorite things in the world (Bruce Springsteen and Home Alone 2):

Macaulay Culkin dancing on Clarence Clemons' shoulders. holy shit

But this song is seriously awesome. Darlene Love (who looked like a cross between the two Aunt Viv's) just belts this shit so beautifully. The song (written by Steven Van Zandt) is even parts Springsteen and Spector and Little Steven's lyrics do a great Bruce impression. Macaulay Culkin dancing on Clarence Clemons.

This has unironically become one of my favorite Xmas songs.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Still Great in 2008: Part VII

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

Part VI

7. Portishead – Machine Gun

This is the one song that everyone (and I mean everyone) had on their Top 5 Songs of '08 list, so naturally, being the contrarian I am, I wanted this to suck. Of course, it didn’t. Sounding more like Low had they been produced by Trent Reznor than the trip-hoppy Portishead everyone (read: me) thinks of, Machine Gun is pretty much the definition of the word “tense.” Like really, when I hear this song, my muscles clench and I get cold shivers and stuff. It’s like that. This is the kind of song that you can’t listen to when it gets dark or else you won’t sleep for the rest of the night. Thank god the next song I’m reviewing is by TI or else I would probably be in a funk all day. Damn.

*** It should be noted that I went this entire paragraph without once mentioning the “industrial” “grime/dubstep” “machine gun” drum beat. H8 u p4k.

6. TI feat. Akon – Hero


I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m a sucker for TI. I think he’s great. I think he makes great songs. I think he produces great albums. I think he should be able to have as many machine guns as he wants. I think it kinda sucks that the first google result for his name is Texas Instruments. In a perfect world etc etc etc.

Anyway, I’ll also admit that “Hero” is not TI’s best song. His rapping seems a bit uninspired, and the lyrics are kind of ridiculous (“I’m the man it’s apparent/Even when I’m running errands/Got to beat a Mclaren on what I’m wearing/ Got ‘em starin’/Bitches I share ‘em/If they in my harem” etc.), amongst other complaints. Thankfully, though, where TI falters, Akon really steps up to the plate. The hook to this song is just sick - there’s no two ways about it. He really sells it. Akon can get a bit annoying at times, or be a downright dick at others, but for what it’s worth, he saves this song. I guess there’s hope for him after all?

5. Weezer – Pork and Beans


4. Young Jeezy feat. Kanye West – Put On

Reasons This Song Rules:
1. Jeezy’s intro. Hooooly shit. Hits you like a ton of bricks.
2. Food rap. (“Big wheels, big straps, you know I like it super sized/Passenger's a redbone, her weave look like some curly fries/Inside fish sticks, outside tartar sauce/Pocket full of celery, imagine what she tellin me/Blowin on asparagus, the realest shit I ever smoked”)
3. The theremin. Yeaaaaaaaaaah.
4. “Call me Jeezy Hamilton”
5. Kanye wearing that Palestinian scarf in the video
6. The heaviness of the beat. Seriously, this single probably weighs like 100 lbs.
7. The fact that Kanye feels that there are women out there that “owe him sex.” LOL take that feminists!

The Very Best/Those Dancing Days

The Very Best (Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit) – Boyz
The Very Best - Boyz

The Very Best released one of the very few albums that I listened to in its entirety in 2k8, because I just don't listen to full albums anymore. So I can say without prejudice that it's absolutely one of the best albums I've heard in 2k8. I admittedly only listened to it because it's available for free on myspace, and after hearing one song how can you not wanna listen to the whole thing? The gimmick involves production team Radioclit joining up with Malawian bro Esau Mwamwaya to remix popular songs that blogs like. What resulted is a bunch of songs that are so purely enjoyable and danceable that you'll never want to hear the boring originals again.

They took a fantastic MIA song and made it so I never want to listen to it again. It's amazing what a giant bass drum can do to a song. Esau's Akonbro vocals are beautiful, and the song just SOARS. I try listening to the original but it just sounds dead and flaccid by comparison. SHIT MAKES U DANCE + PRETEND UR FROM MALAWI (is that a real place)

Those Dancing Days – Run Run
Those Dancing Days – Run Run

1. Those Dancing Days are from Sweden.
2. They sound like they're from Portland.
3. Lead singer Linnea Jönsson sounds way too much like Fiona Apple for me not to have originally thought this was a Fiona Apple song.
4. Fiona is great!
6. I have no idea what is IN the chorus. I don't know what those sounds are or how they're made. It sounds like there's a million synth melodies piled on top of each other and for the life of me I cannot figure out what any of them would sound like separated. The threads are all so intertwined with each other that it's just this beautiful mess of sound.
7. I love a band that knows its strengths. They repeat the boring verse twice, and at the 2:00 mark they just kind of give up trying find something else to stand up to the chorus. So there's a dinky, lazy, completely ignorable diddling guitar solo that separates the choruses. Because that's the cheapest thing they can stick in there.
8. The lead singer has much better hair than Fiona Apple.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I am not going to be verbose about two songs that are this short

The Death Set – Impossible
The Death Set – Impossible


Vampire Weekend – I Stand Corrected
Vampire Weekend – I Stand Corrected

I stand corrected about you, Vampire Weekend!

Sike I got sick of this song after a week but that was a good week for this song. Enjoy it when it's still interesting!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Still Great in 2008: Part VI

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

10. M83 – Kim & Jesse

I tried to avoid this album for the longest time. Even though I really liked Dead Cities, Red Seas, and Lost Ghosts (best night bike riding album EVER. Really. Try it), I was kinda wary of M83’s new image (ie. hipsters in suburbia) and the oft-used music critic claim that M83 was “bringing back new wave,” was, as I'm sure I don't need to tell you, really lame. Well, if there’s any one theme in my posts here at LYM, it’s that I’m almost always wrong (about everything). This time was certainly no exception.

“Kim & Jesse,” one of the two singles off of Saturdays = Youth (an album I’ve come to love over the last couple months) sums up perfectly the overall feel of the work. Existing as a fond memory of a time when things were simpler, cleaner, and more meaningful, Kim & Jesse describes young love in all its heart-racing, sweaty palmed glory. And maybe it’s just me here, but the music really seems to fit. In his review of the Mystery Jets song, Zach mentioned that he felt M83 was parodying the 80’s. I’m inclined to disagree. If anything, Kim & Jesse exists as a celebration of what many of us would otherwise dismiss as “cheesy” or “plastic.” There’s nothing ingenuine about the Flock of Seagulls synth line or the cavernous drums – on the contrary, each element has been carefully added in order to more accurately induce a feeling of nostalgia for those times in the listener. M83 never purported to be an 80’s band (the critics took care of that), and as a result, there’s a modern edge to the record that may be interpreted as “snobbish.” That said, there’s nothing snobbish about what M83 was trying to convey – a feeling of tender reminiscence for a time when everything seemed just a little bit more magical. What a great song.

9. Britney Spears – Womanizer

Oh jeez. What can I say about this that hasn’t already been said? While SOME people hate the chorus for its monotone delivery and uninspired subject matter (all of which I can’t really argue with), I love it for its stutter, slip, and syncopation (lol alliteration). The proto-industrial beat and alarm in the background really seem to work too, for some inexplicable reason. And yes, the bridge sucks. I know. But who the hell listens to a Britney Spears song for the bridge, anyway? This is as good a comeback as she could’ve hoped for, and how dare you try to take that away from her?

8. Erykah Badu – Honey

Yeeeeeeeow. Awesome, awesome, awesome production by 9th Wonder reminiscent of (dare I say it?) the late god J Dilla. But that’s only scratching the surface. What really makes this song is Badu’s characteristic clothes-pin-on-the-nose singing. The lazy summer afternoon vocalization, the nasal syncopations (“Sugar got a long way to catch you…”), the crooning backup singers – everything comes together until you can almost see the golden-brown honey oozing through your speakers. This is a perfect example of a song that is greater than the sum of its parts. I’m in love with this woman.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Still Great in 2008: Part V

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

13. Mates of State – The Re-Arranger

For the longest time I thought that the Mates of State were an 80’s band. I have no idea why - it just seemed right. Men at Work, Mates of State, Men Without Hats, Mystery Jets, Megadeth, etc. 80's = M, right? Wrong! Hoo boy have I got a lot to learn.

Ever since "The Re-Arranger" showed up on my hypemachine a few months ago I've been in love. Light and breezy male/female vox, a keyboard intro that sounds like it was taken straight from Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone, and a bridge that is a serious contender for best sing along of the year – I mean really, what more could you possibly want? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the part between 2:30 – 2:45 stuck in my head.

And if you really wanna shake it off
You're gonna re-arrange re-arrange us.

Just stop and shake it off
You're gonna re-arrange re-arrange us.

There’s just something about that chorus that makes it too damn catchy for words. Luv this song.


12. Ida Maria – Oh My God

I saw the music video to this before I actually listened to the song and now I always think of whatsherface’s twitching whenever this comes on. Ugh. Despite Ida Maria’s overall creepiness, though, I’ve gotta admit that this song is just all around awesome. And it turns out I’m not the only one to think so (take that, Zach).

I think what really makes this for me is the overall sense of horror movie claustrophobia that builds throughout the verse, culminating in the chanted “Oh my god/Oh you think I’m in control?/Oh my god/Oh you think it’s all for fun?” of the chorus. Although Ms. Ida wasn’t exactly “stable” at the song’s beginning, by the end she’s unrecognizable, having been reduced to a nervous wreck screaming, shouting, and, er, twitching her way into yr brain. As she becomes progressively more agitated, so do you, until you’re practically rolling on the floor by the 2 minute mark rockin yr head clean OFF. Take note, indie rockers – this is how it's done.

11. The Chromatics – Running Up That Hill

I love Kate Bush. I really, really do. Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) is seriously one of the creepiest, heaviest, most intense songs I’ve ever heard, and it takes a lot to make a cover that accurately captures the spirit of the original. Thankfully, where many have failed, the Chromatics have succeeded. Off of their criminally underappreciated electro debut Night Drive, the Italians Do It Better darlings seem perfectly suited to sing Kate, with a seriously beautiful lead singer capable of making flowers wilt and old women cry using the power of her voice alone, and two dudes that play some pretty scary synth washes/basslines and try not to get in her way. Man, I get chills every time I listen to this song. They may not have improved on the original (which, of course, would in itself be complete blasphemy), but who cares - this is basically an excuse for me to talk about Kate Bush on a 2008 list. Thanks guys.

Also, according to last.fm (the authority on all things music) the Chromatics used to be a no-wave band? wtffffffff

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Still Great in 2008: Part IV

Part I
Part II
Part III

16. Alphabeat – 10,000 Nights (Of Thunder)

Alphabeat is the Disney Channel. Family friendly sing-alongs with male/female duets about true love and a made-for-TV image that just screams teen musical. Although on the surface “10,000 Nights” might seem to be the most risqué song in Alphabeat’s catalogue, the title is pretty deceiving – this song is about as squeaky clean as it gets. Even the refrain (“You give me 10,000 nights of thunder/But I would give them all back to you/Cause you’re oh/So ah/So cool”) sounds more like it’s referring to a fulfilling game of Scrabble than it is to anything remotely sexual. The lead singers, both pale 20-something Danes with about as much sex appeal as your parents, are perfect too, singing things like:

I was not looking for arty farty love
I wanted someone to love completely
More than weekly

with genuine sincerity. I guess that’s just the way they make ‘em in Denmark.

15. Al Green feat. Anthony Hamilton – Lay It Down

I got a lot of flack (read: two people emailed me) about the fact that I didn’t include Lay It Down in my top albums of the year post. And trust me, if the rest of the album had been like the title track, I would have. “Lay It Down” stands as a testament to the fact that the Reverend, despite some missteps in the past, has still got everything that made him the greatest southern soul singer of the 70s. Sure, he’s aged, and the fire that used to be there has cooled to a smolder, but the song is that much more meaningful for it. After some 40 odd years of wild parties and high-living, “Lay It Down” seems to be both an acknowledgment and a celebration of the fact that Green is no longer the 20-something sex symbol he once was – a dignified entry into middle age without sacrificing the sensuality that made him who he was in the first place.

I think “eamongllman” on youtube said it best:
“I am a 21 year old, heterosexual male. I can honestly say that if Al Green came to my house and sang that song.....?”

14. The Magnetic Fields – Drive On, Driver

Drive on, driver
There's no one home

You've waited hours

She didn't come
It's such a pretty little end

But it doesn't mean anything
Drive on

After listening to this song on repeat for about 3 months, I’ve decided that Stephen Merritt is probably the only dude I would want around me when I have my heart broken. “Drive On, Driver” exists as a window into the mind of Randy, a guy who’s just been stood up by the girl he loves. An internal dialogue goes on between the “driver” (the part of Randy still aching to stay just a bit longer in the hopes that his girl might show up) and his common sense, urging him to cut his losses and run. Add to the struggle some muddy guitars and a drum beat that sounds like it came straight from a Tears For Fears song and you've got what I'm pretty sure is the definition of melancholia. For anyone out there who’s ever been in Randy’s position, this song will cut right to your core.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A song they missed

Hey y'all. It's me, the rarely seen or heard from Fuzzy Slippers. 2008 was a fun year wasn't it? As I'm last minuting a few "best of 2008" lists I noticed that my friends here at LYM missed a very important song/video on the best song lists. This song deals with perhaps the most important issue of 2008 and perhaps my entire lifetime. The Election. Also, the video stretches the limits of science at about the 1:40 mark. Please enjoy.

Mkay, so now that that's out of the way... here is what you have to look forward to from me.

Top 3 Future Entries by Me.
1. Best Albums of 2008
2. Best Movies of 2008
3. The 1st Annual Fuzzy Slipper Awards

Monday, January 5, 2009

Songs I Missed: Mystery Jets/Wild Beasts

So, every year around Christmastime, I go on a binge and read as many "best songs of the year" lists as I can. Honestly, this is where the majority of my musical discoveries come from in a given year. It's like waiting for Oscar season, right? Because of this, I find a lot of songs that I would've included in my own list, had I heard them a long time ago. Here are some of those songs.

Also, yes, we will spend the rest of 2k9 discussing the best songs of 2k8. 2k9 songs will come in 2k10.

Mystery Jets – Two Doors Down
Mystery Jets – Two Doors Down

I'll never get your name wrong again, Mystery Jets. Granted, it's a horrible name and "Flaming Jets" sounds much better… and while their cover of "Bleeding Love" got the 60-spot on my favorite songs list only because I was so sick of the original… this is the song that earns them my respect. Which I'm sure they've been aching for.

So the 80s were pretty big in 2008. And by that, I mostly mean "M83 released an album that sounds like the 80s this year." The thing is, I didn't really like the M83 album too much. It took me until I listened to "Two Doors Down" to figure out just why: the album was kind of condescending. It's like M83 looked at John Hughes soundtracks for inspiration and filtered it all through the past twenty years of development, as if to say "the 80s had some great music, but I can do better!" That's a bit jerkish, I think. The 80s, thanks to Rubik's Cubes and stuff like that, will always be the comedy decade that people recall for irony's sake or party themes. The fact that there really was some unironically fantastic music from the 80s is hidden underneath Michael Ian Black.

And that's kind of why I'm so against Saturdays=Youth. M83 could fight the VH1ism, but not all the way. He would be… only post-post-post-80s, in which post-80s is the 90s (of course), post-post-80s is Michael Ian Black's commentary on snap bracelets, and post-post-post-80s is M83 going "hey guys, maybe it wasn't that bad."

Which makes "Two Doors Down" post-post-post-post-80s, or the Mystery Jets saying "M83 doesn't have any balls, the 80s were awesome." They literally went back in time, forgot everything they've listened to over the past twenty years, and wrote a song that would've been a huge hit in 1985, without a hint of irony. And it's amazing.

(Maybe there's a little bit of irony, but only in the lyrics, which would've also been ironic enough in 1985.)

That chorus. Holy shit, that chorus. I can't even describe it. If I had listened to it in time, that chorus would've gotten this song into my top ten, Q-Tip be damned. I don't even wanna talk about it anymore, it's something so pure and holy I shouldn't be allowed to even think about it.

And that sax solo sounds enough like Clarence Clemons for me to already love it unconditionally. God damn.

I think this post is technically post-post-post-post-post-80s, right?

Wild Beasts – Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants
Wild Beasts – Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants

I came for the video:

I stayed for Hayden Thorpe's voice. From what I've heard on their myspace, he tends to spend a lot more of his time in falsetto, which is a real shame. The best part about "Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants" is the moments in which he digs below the clouds and goes into that growl. It exists somewhere between Isaac Brock and Antony. did I just say that

Unfortunately the song is about a minute too long.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Still Great in 2008: Part III

Still Great in 2008: 25 Songs We Missed on the First Rundown
Part I
Part II

19. Hot Chip – Ready For the Floor

Hot Chip is a perfect example of a band that I’ve hated for the longest time without knowing a thing about their music. Their entire image (Amy Winehouse remixes, ‘zany’ glasses, Heath Ledger, etc.) just really rubbed me the wrong way. Didn’t really help their case that dudes have almost as many remixes on hypey as they do songs. H8 that. Anyway, imagine my surprise when I actually heard their music!! “Ready for the Floor” is decidedly not the refried electro banger I was expecting, having both an actual melody (this is key), and a real bonafide hook. What’s cool about this song is that despite the fact that it was clearly intended for the dance floors, the chorus is smooth enough to make it completely tolerable (dare I say even catchy) outside of that context. Plus, I gotta admit, I’m kinda partial to whatshisface’s dancing in the video. Shit.

18. Beyoncé – Diva

There are rare instances in which the beat for a song can completely overcome any other imperfections associated with the track itself.
The beat for “Diva” is one of those beats.

Things that make the beat to Diva good:
1. BASS BASS BASS BASS. Unrelenting heart thumping license plate rattling bass
2. Those horror movie violin jabs. V. scary
3. The claps. I don’t know. The claps just seem to hold everything together for me. Go figure.

Things that almost ruin Diva:
1. Beyoncé (because let’s be honest – Beyoncé is just not capable of delivering a convincing rap about sticking someone up for their “paper”)
2. That annoying troll sample

Also the video to this song is one of my favorites ever. Beyonce’s “glasses” (this term is used very loosely) are some of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen, and the dancing in it makes me want to become a choreographer.

17. Kardinal Offishall feat. Akon – Dangerous

Heard this song over the summer and fell in love. The chorus pretty much makes the song, esp. the “Watch out I’ve seen her type before/That girl is so dangerous/Dangerous” part where the synths kick in and Akon really starts to belt it out. Also Kardinal’s delivery is really weird but it'll grow on you if you listen to the track 5 times a day for 3 weeks (trust me).

Happy New Years from LYM

I’ll be back soon to post the next installment of Still Great in '08, but until then, yall can relive the greatest moments of 2008 with VA rapper Skillz. Enjoy!

Wayne sold a milli in a week
Within 7 days I got sick of the A Milli beat