Thursday, December 20, 2007
Favorite Songs of 2007, Part Two
Jonny McGovern- “Somethin For The Fellas That Like The Fellas/Don’t Fall in Love With a Homo”
Jonny McGovern is awesome. My familiarity with him as an entity goes back to this short lived Alan Cummings-hosted gay variety show (I forget the name) on Comedy Central. It was canceled after 3 episodes, but I got to see Jonny as well as lesbian rock band Betty, who would go on to a degree of fame through "The L Word". Anyway, I saw this video late 2006/early 2007, near New Year's Eve on LOGO, actually, as he was hosting a special, and the video premiered, and I was blown away. What sold me was Linda James (Champagne Sparkle Magic Aviance)'s verse and the accompanying beat change. I quickly had my roommate exclaiming (or ejaculating, HOHOHO), "My mussy's on fire!".
On a lark, I eventually downloaded and subscribed to his podcast in May and it is seriously the best podcast on the internet. It manages to be hilarious, layered, relevant, and actually feel like a real radio show. Plus, as a homophile, it's a real boon to learn about the ball houses and just great subcultural shit in general. The latter video is his second single off his album Gays Gone Wild as well as "Somethin' For The Fellas" and the podcast's theme song. I can be seen in the second or third row, with a short Caesar, throwing up devil horns at the end of the set. If only more on LOGO was half as good as "Gay Pimpin' With Jonny McGovern".
Interpol- “The Heinrich Maneuver”
I couldn't have been more disappointed with the last album. I love the first two albums, so it's not a big loss to me when bands I know to be great and consistent (Interpol, Mastodon, etc) falter. This song grew on me after a couple of listens, but I felt it wasn't anywhere as strong as any of their other songs, and usually bands I like make shitty third albums (again, Mastodon, Kings of Leon, Islam, etc), so I saw this coming. My only regret is never having seen them live. But, anyway, this is Interpol-by-numbers, but it's still catchy, shitty video and all.
The Horrors-“Sheena Is A Parasite/Count In 5’s”
These songs are from last year, but the album came out in 2007 and British albums come out there first anyway, so fuck it. Like everything in Britain, this band was overhyped and fapped over for no real reason. Although, if I heard this song on a demo, I'd probably subscribe to deluded hyperbole, too. Turns out the Horrors aren't anything to care about, but like most NME bands they do have one or two legitimately amazing songs. 2 minutes long, with good riffs, organs, snarling vocals, and bursts of noise all from guys who are modded out "Village of the Damned" clones with a boner for the Cramps and Nuggets. Plus the video is great.
Electric Six- “Down at McDonnellz/Infected Girls”
Electric Six are getting crappier with each album,, which is disheartening considering they were one of many things from 2003 that I thought would become huge. Once again, I shouldn't be in charge of marketing or A&R for anything, since I tend to be wrong about what people will like. There were some good songs on Switzerland, like "Infected Girls", and "Chocolate Pope" but at this point their insistence on releasing an album a year will just bring my hopes up just to be gumfucked by Dick Valentine's inability to replicate the greatness or Fire, or even Senor Smoke. I should also note that these songs aren't really that good. Haha.
Dizzee Rascal- “Pussole (Old Skool)/Sirens”
Maths + English was maaaaaaaad decent. Dizzee's records are weird, because there's no sonic or lyrical depth to them, but he's still really consistent. I was surprised at how much better this album was than I'd thought it'd be when I checked it out over the fall. The trend he rode died over here long ago, and Mike Skinner has put out horrible overhyped pieces of shit ever since Original Pirate Material, which was fucking flawless. Consistency is all Dizzee really needs, and he pulled it off. "Pussyole" is ill and it's fascinating in the way regional approaches always are. "Sirens" even manages to sneak in a nu-metal/KoRn bridge at the end and get away with it. I just wonder if he has the ability to actually experiment lyrically. (Shame the album was download only in the States)
Despised Icon- “In The Arms of Perdition”
I really really dislike this band. I think Canadian tech-death/deathcore sucks, despite being as interesting as it is as shrapnel-like bombasts of modern metal. They are bar none probably the worst live act I've ever seen, even considering shitty open mics at my school. Awful. But I dig this song for managing to exists in stages. The song switches from Canadian tech/modern death metal (a la Cryptopsy) to metalcore, to tough-guy hardcore, to deathcore. To untrained ears or people who have interesting enough lives to not care about these sort of distinctions, it's all the same thing, but this one song is an interesting picture of the current state of metal and hardcore and basically encompasses everything in the last 5 or so years into one song.
There is one thing I love about deathcore, the breakdowns are NASTY. You haven't lived until you've seen a girl spin-kicked without remorse by some fat 6'3 hardcore kid.
Deerhoof- "The Perfect Me”
This album was seriously overhyped (but what isn't within the marketing term known as "indie"? Fair and informed objective assessment is unheard of when there's sweaters involved), and The Runners Four was actually their first completely solid record, as opposed to all of their other albums which have a bunch of great songs and then some not-so-good ones. Friend Opportunity was the worst album they've ever put out, consistency-wise, but this song is great. It's hard to absorb and recognize new sounds when you're constantly listening to current and past music and downloading 20 or so GB a year, but there's always a weird tension in Deerhoof songs, it's noisy and experimental and shambly and lo-fi while still maintaining it's poppiness. And they somehow have riffs. What a concept for a modern rock band.
Devin The Dude- “She Want That Money”
Devin's record tested me, because the rhymes were all clever and funny and memorable, but the music is everything I hate to hear in rap or otherwise. Beatwise, it's the sort of third-rate shit you'd hear white college students who dig Wu-Tang, Pharcyde, and jam bands to come up with if you asked them to make something. Still, you get used to it because the reward is Devin as a rapper and this song is one of the few on the album to actually not sound really pedestrian or way too subdued. Plus, I ended up quoting this shit for a week.
"I'm the only nigga that can make her left thigh shake...Oooooooooooooooh"
Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah- “Satan Said Dance”
Their only good song. My friend Miller used to say that it's hard enough to write one great song, and that's all it takes,and I've taken that into my belief system. It's still weird to run into bands with one gem and nothing but crap, like CYHSH. It never makes sense, there's so much great shit going on here, yet it's absent from their other songs. Still, the Thom Yorke-meets-David Byrne vocals, sense of space and arrangement, post-punk gang vocals, and catchiness of it all made this one of few songs this years I listened to on repeat. Plus, it makes me bemoan the death of dance-punk and legitimate 00's post-punk, as opposed the rampant misappropriation of disco drums and jangly Telecaster cliches every band parrots now, regardless if they sound like REM or the Smiths.
Cephalic Carnage- “Endless Cycle of Violence”
I don't like Cephalic as much as I thought I did. But still, I like them a lot. This song is a concept often-ignored by critics or fans: The catchy death metal/grind song. There's a lot of them, but the idea I guess is that "extreme" metal can't be as catchy as say, Twisted Sister. This track, off the unfortunately crappy Xenosapien shits all over that concept. Still, I'm going to sit through Emmure and Darkest Hour to see them next spring.
Artic Monkeys- “Brianstorm”
Another example of both a standout song on a crappy album and an overhyped band. But, as opposed to CYHSY and The Horrors, I like the Artic Monkeys as a band and as people. And I find it interesting that no one discusses how every riff they have sounds like it should be in a Bond flick. Seriously, all spy movie shit. This song, and the video, is ridiculous and reeks of "we found our formula and therefore have decided to throw in a lot of clever musical tricks for this record". Sad how soon they've been pushed to the side for hipster-electonica.
The Almost- “Say This Sooner”
I don't make personal attacks on people I don't know very often, but I can't help but point out how much of a twat this guy and everything associated with Solidstate/Tooth and Nail/Christian music/00's post-hardcore and metalcore is. He's a dog-faced ginger who is colorblind in one eye and legally blind in the other, I guess an unrelenting faith that Jehova will heal his uselessness comes with that.
I kid the Christians. Because Muslims won't let me. Har har.
Regardless, from personal experience, all these suburban crackers doing emo, pop-punk, post-hardcore, and metalcore these days are remarkably solid musicians and are very professional. They all suck, but that's beside the point. They all seem to be multi-instrumentalists with good work ethicc (although, isn't that what Throwdown is always yelling about? The importance of your 401k in relation to your family? [Forever!]), and understanding of composition and a weird fetish for overblown Christmas-y instrumentation and arrangements, Sufjan Stevens style. This song is maybe the fourth catchiest of the year and haunted me until it finally left my head a few months ago. Now that I've watched the video again just now, I'll have to wait another couple of months to get my mind back.
Adam Joseph- “Faggoty Attention”
More Jonny McGovern-related music. Adam Joseph is another LOGO artist, and he co-produces all of Jonny's recent musical output. He's also a huge fucking twink, or as he's lovingly referred to, "a soul hummingbird". There's some snarky politically relevant stuff hidden in the song, particularly the line "And I won't ask, won't tell/Promise you won't go to hell". It's a solid pop-dance track in a Daniel Bedingfield way, and the guy has good pipes (lolz), and I'm a sucker for him referencing taking his straight trade "back to Brooklyn", as my borough is now a haven for well-to-do hipsters and unchecked gentrification in general.
50 Cent- “I Get Money/Amusement Park”
The two best songs made all year are this and "Int'l Players Anthem". If you disagree, you're fucking wrong.
INDEFATIGABLE. Gotdamn. And 50 actually does two solid, memorable verses! Hell froze over! If only his albums weren't dull as shit.
In regards to "Amusement Part", I think the beat is better than people realize, and that's really the only reason I included it on the list. If 50 would stop rapping and just do interviews, I'd be really happy.
The White Stripes- “Rag and Bone”
Icky Thump, despite the great title, wasn't good. It had it's moments, but it was all to shallow and spare to care about. Then again, the band has 4 great records, so at this point, Jack could shit on a CD-R and I would still count them among my favorite bands and proselytize about how great they are. This song is just fucking fun. It's nice to hear them wind down, and to hear Jack mention modern technology on a record (Turntables!)
Cam’Ron- “Child of the Ghetto/Glitter”
Alright, "Child of the Ghetto" is the third best rap song of the year. I didn't pay it much mind when this diss video came out in the spring, but it slowly sunk into my brain and I ended up downloading the Hot 97 clean rip off Limewire. Then I found out that he was rapping over the title track to G. Dep's double wood 2001/2002 album. Which, like "Int'l Player's Anthem", shows that if a hot beat fails with the original artist, someone should definitely come through and revive the shit. Not only is it archetypal overblown string-based NY rap, but the dude did 3 flawless verses. The fact that I can recite most of the song by memory and listen to the track every day attests to that.
Oh, and "Glitter" is just weird. For once, I agree with Breihan on the track. Actually, fuck that, I agree with Brandon.
CMB. WE ALL WE GOT.
Also, fuck everyone, the Cam'Ron diss videos were hilarious.
Diddy- “Last Night”
I sort of hate and love this at the same time because it's half-brilliant and half-crap. But my boner for good 80's R&B wins in the end. Seriously, if Puffy's producers and songwriters can replicate Purple Rain-era Prince this well, why can't Prince stop making THE WORST MUSIC EVER? If "Guitar" isn't a sign that religious reform is a necessity, I don't know what is. Jim Henson? I guess.
LOL blood transfusions.
Snoop- “Sensual Seduction”
"If you don't know by now/Doggy dogg is a freak, freak, freeeeeeeeak"
Video of the year. And the fourth best song of the year. The levels of awesome in this song are unparalleled. I might be biased that Snoop tried to resuscitate 80's R&B in a song and video (not the first time, his Doggy All Stars shit from 2002 was like this but not as good) and not only succeeded perfectly, but showed simulacrum 80's-jocking 20 year-olds how retarded and useless they are. Now watch the album be terrible.
Boys Noize- “Oh!/Superfresh”
To be perfectly geeky, there are tonal colors and textures I, and most people, respond to that are interpreted as being "pretty" or "jazzy" or etc. My favorite elctronica manages to evoke that "prettiness" in vocal hooks on in the chord sequences, all while maintaining dance-ability and a maybe some really good riffs. I stumbled onto Boys Noize in a 25th hour scramble through iTunes to see if I missed anything for my Best Albums of 2007 list for next week. This album had three or so tracks that I really like, despite being touted by the reactionary set as being the answer to or better than Justice's Long T album. On further listen, it ain't, and the sound of electro revival is already anathema to my ears, but that may change when I turn 21 and become a raving party-hopping, well-dressed barslut. Until then, I'm just trying to bring back house music.
Wu-Tang Clan- "Wolves"
I was meaning to do a quick final non-list post for the year on the Wu/Ghost records, and might just blurb it later, but one thing I wanted to touch on was how oddly dated 8 Diagrams is. In terms of atmosphere and sound, it just sound like RZA made a weirder The W. Now, half of the album is crap just because the bad tracks are boring and never go anywhere or some of the Wu are noticeably listless (Looking at you Shallah Raekwon), but this track is a 2000-era club banger. A shame this doesn't have a video or didn't come out 6 years ago, it might've done the Wu some good. The failure of 8 Diagrams, besides inconsistency and the members of the Wu themselves (again, RAEKWON) is that though there are welcome experiments, no concession to any sound post-2002 was made. Pimp C and Kanye changed with the times for their records this year, adopting synths and glitz usually absent from their output, while some of 8 Diagrams could've fit right in with Wu-Tang Forever. Although, as with Jedi Mind Tricks and every non-Ghost Wu solo record of underground NY rap this decade, that have more to do with the indisputably huge influence that Wu-Tang Forever has. In terms of success and record sales, this is an awful decision. But I doubt much could actually bring the group back to prominence in an era of awful hip-hop and low sales, anyway.
Lupe Fiasco- "Paris, Tokyo"
He's either a lying bastard or a secretive douchebag. Regardless, he captured the vibe perfectly on this song.
Prodigy- "Mac 10 Handle/ABC"
Mobb Deep sucks. They have for a long time. I love The Infamous, and it's one of a handful of brilliant project-rap albums, but they were never interesting lyrically and really just lucked out with beats from time to time, last time being "Quiet Storm" where they got bodied by Lil' Kim, which is never a good look.
But these two Prodigy songs from this year are surprisingly great. Mobb Deep's entire existence is to be menacing over menacing beats, and "ABC" and "Mac 10 Handle" do that great. I didn't care much about return of the Mac, and I care less about HNIC 2, but the shit is affecting. The guy is going on an up north trip (hahahahaha) for a mandatory 3 1/2 illegal gun sentence. Of all people to be caught by my city's new draconian gun laws (Yeah, guns are dangerous, but a mandatory 3 1/2? What the fuck.), I never considered Prodigy would get sent up. Hell, even T.I. is on house arrest. Then again, T.I. has been more successful than Prodigy since I'm Serious, which speaks on the sad failure of Queensbridge rappers and Mobb Deep. Plus, the guy gets his career essentially ended, and starts writing illiterate blog entries and filming videos where he kills a cop (played by Zed from Pulp Fiction/the villain from the Mask!). And I'll probably end up not caring about these songs in a few months, anyway.
Saul Williams- "Scared Money"
...Niggy Tardust was essentially, musically, a good NIN record. It wasn't as good as Saul Williams, but few things are, and 2004/2005 just happened to be a great release period. I like the album, but by far my favorite track is the one Saul produced himself, an awesome sweltering track that emanates his Hatian background, only pausing for an ill break straight from the previous album, sort of reminiscent of "Grippo".
Obituary- "Face Your God"
An awesome, sludgy return to form. Although Ralph Santolla should chill on those flashy guitar solos.
Jay-Z- "Ignorant Shit"
I talked about this already in my review of American Ganster, but I have to add a fun fact: Did you know Pimp C rocked this sample before both BIG and Jay on Too Hard to Swallow? It was on "Crampin My Style".
Ghostface Killah- "SupaGFK/Killa Lipstick"
I gotta add that Meth is killing the Wu record this year. I never much liked him lyrically, and he's gotten better at that now. Weird that he's having a resurrection as Ghost is, arguably, faltering a little. RZA was right, he should've waited until February to release Big Doe Rehab, especially considering the record is a consistent and less weird version ofMore Fish. But still, haunting samples and really well done, but there's a crispness and cleanness to the record that, like American Gangster, bothers the shit out of me. Crust up the EQ a little, man.
Calle 13- "Tango Del Pecado"
Not nearly as catchy as their other stuff, but still quotable and great.
Britney Spears- "Heaven On Earth"
YES!!! Competent 00's dance pop. Weird to say a Britney Spears album was overrated, but Blackout, no matter how much of a slave I am to good pop, was not good at all, even with the blatantly phoned in performance and legion of producers. But, this track and it's overwhelming bubblegumness are perfect. I'm just glad there's no bad flavor-of-the-month guest rap verse or attempt at bad pop-rock. Britney, there's already someone who had defined a workable career path for you: Her name is Kylie Minogue. In times of desperation, think "What would Kylie do?"
Chromeo- "Bonafied Lovin'"
Chromeo>Justice. Fuck I look like trying to put Justice on at a party?
Still ridiculously amazing. I'm obsessed with this song. It's this paranoid electro/breakdance...thing that has ruined my life. Only danceable track on the record, also. Bus' it.