Kultur Klatch / Favorite Best Songs of 2010, Part 4 of 4

“Song” / Artist / Album

England” / The National / High Violet
“One of the most stunning pieces on `High Violet’ is `England,’ which opens with steadily mounting orchestration — rippling piano chords, the low thunder of drums, some pining strings and lofty horns. At its blustery peak, it threatens to topple from its own melodrama. The pleasure is in listening to how often the National scrapes up close to maudlin, only to retreat in the nick of time.”  (Margaret Wappler, LA Times)

Little Lovin’” / Lissie / Catching a Tiger
“The featured track here, `Little Lovin’,’ is a great indication of what you’ll hear… a little bit of folk, blues, soul, and a whole lot of wow-what-a-voice! She possesses one of those `can sing the phone book and make it sound great’ voices.”  (Swapmeet Louie, TheFrontloader.com)

Record Collector” / Lissie / Catching a Tiger
“`I’m tired of saying that I won’t get lost ever again/ Who knows? Maybe I will…’  These are the first two lines from `Record Collector,’ track one off Lissie’s debut album, Catching a Tiger…. I think there’s a massive amount to be said about her opening statement, her cool confidence that immediately deflates the idea that one must have her head about her at all times. Lissie is quick to say, `Hey, I might eff up! To be expected!’ I like that.”  (Katie Guymon, Speakers in Code)

Beat and the Pulse” / Austra / Feel It Break
“Are we in a new golden age of goth? It seems like electronic art-pop artist Austra (Toronto based musician Katie Stelmanis) started taking the same sonic acid as Siouxsie. This song definitely has a strong giallo vibe, but its wheelhouse is much more Nine Inch Nails than witch house. Austra’s approach is fairly maximalist, with Stelmanis’s strong and sinewy vocals high in the mix, organ stabs, and tumbling industrial drums. This is the song that plays in the last act when the poltergeists finally figure out how to get to you through a social networking site.”  (Molly Lambert, Pitchfork)

You” / Gold Panda / You
“The You EP, Gold Panda’s debut release on Ghostly International, is the stuff dreams are made of. Walking on the sunny side of the instrumental hip-hop street, the UK producer drapes the title track’s deep, crunching beat with slyly sliced-up vocal samples, a hint of nostalgia, and just a touch of shoegaze ambience—the results are both head-pleasing and emotionally stirring. What really sets `You’ apart, though, is its musicality—Gold Panda knows well enough to situate his rhythms adrift in a pool of honest-to-god melody, making the track’s anthemic chord changes sound positively world-changing. And if not world-changing, then certainly summer-defining.”  (Ghostly International)

Dog Days Are Over” (reissued) / Florence and the Machine / Lungs
“Beginning in lovely, viola-led fashion, it builds into a heart-quickening hymn to happiness as hand-claps, backing vocals, drums and piano collect around Welch’s mighty wail. So stirring is the climax, in fact, that it could even rouse your dad from his easy chair after a boozy Sunday lunch. Well, possibly.”  (Nick Levine, Digital Spy)

Every Breath” / Paul White / Paul White and The Purple Brain
“British disciple of Dilla who has truly arrived with this album. It’s a dreamy blend of hip hop beats and eastern psychedelia. Beautiful double vinyl put together by the Stones Throw imprint Now Again. This is the kind of hip hop you can never fully unravel or understand.”  (Connor Bell, The Decibel Tolls)

Good Intentions Paving Company” / Joanna Newsom / Have One On Me
“Good Intentions Paving Company is nothing if not generous. As with any number of songs by Newsom, there is a surfeit of details to explore. There’s the way that her description of a road trip doubles as metaphor for the relationship that sours as the road gets rough. Joanna may protest that she can drive, even if her heart can’t, but by song’s end, they both struggle to stay in the right lane. Or the way that both stories dovetail with the gradual musical shift from rolling pianos to tinges of bluegrass (carried over from the lovely stop-gap Ys Street Band EP) and finally the well-earned wordless coda. But none of those are why ‘Good Intentions’ is the song that forced me to finally pay attention to one of my now-favourite artists. This is: her voice. Joanna’s voice, so often decried as twee or precious, rebuts every critique thrown at her. Expressive and varied, she effortlessly runs the emotional gamut from apprehensive to excited to wistful, sometimes all at once. Listen to the way she wraps herself around the word ‘duration.’ Every layer of this has contours to delve into – Joanna twists and winds her way around the instruments, around your ears and your brain and your heart. At seven minutes in length, I’ve probably spent a couple of hours of my life in 2010 listening to this, and I pick up on more nuances every single time.”  (Alex Ostroff, The Singles Jukebox)

Zebra” / Beach House / Teen Dream
Take Care” / Beach House / Teen Dream
“`Zebra’’s soothing reassurance that `you don’t gotta worry now’ along with ‘Take Care’, bookends the record with what seem like promises to her younger self, and the listener: `I’ll take care of you’ she sings, nightingale-like.”  (Laura Snapes, NME)

Pumped Up Kicks” / Foster the People / Foster the People
“Foster the People turn in the greatest summer tune of quite possibly all time (you heard me, surviving Beach Boys), chock full of kids who want to grow up to be urban cowboys and draw down on all the fancy kids with their shiny new footwear. Nothing makes you feel more invincible than being transported back to your adolescent days of indestructible shit-talking. Never mind that being a teen also meant an endless amount of shit-taking. As soon as the tormentors backs are turned, you’ll start singing under your breath: `All the other kids with their pumped-up kicks / You better run, better run / Outrun my gun’. Adopt these adorable Foster kids!”  (Capitalist Lion Tamer)

Rill Rill” / Sleigh Bells / Treats
“`Rill Rill’ is at once the centerpiece of Treats and completely unlike anything else by Sleigh Bells. The band’s poppiest track to date, `Rill Rill’ floats like a butterfly, but still stings like a hive of bees. Built on a sample from Funkadelic’s `Can You Get to That’, the track is a proper homage that turns funk into dancepunk, with its shimmery riffs floating over shuffling rhythms and some bottom-heavy beats. In other words, `Rill Rill’ is the sound of getting knocked off your feet by a feather.”  (Arnold Pan, PopMatters)

The High Road” / Broken Bells / Broken Bells
“When asked about the songwriting process, Mercer admitted `Everything is written together’, even down to each’s strict self-assessments of their own and the other’s work, to the point where last minute re-arrangements have been a common occurrence throughout the process. What this means is that seemingly personal vignettes such as `Come and get your overdose’ and `It’s too late to change your mind’ on the opening ‘The High Road’ or the paranoid cry of `Watch your back…’ on ‘Trap Doors’ take on extra significance, in that rather than being a continuous airing about one specific theme or subject, they’re actually a collusion between two overworked minds, leaving each song open to interpretation while raising the bar of ambiguity at the same time.”  (Dom Gourlay, Drowned In Sound)

The Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” / Arcade Fire / The Suburbs
“Sadness is dispelled by this disco-tinged, Abba-esque ’70s radio pop number.”  (NME)

The Wilderness Downtown” (the interactive short film interpretation of Arcade Fire’s “We Used to Wait”) / Chris Milk and Arcade Fire
“Yea, IF you can call it a video… The concept of The Wilderness Downtown is simply amazing. The short, interactive film by Chris Milk, written as an example of the power of HTML5 and a Google Chrome experiment, lets you plug in your address, or any other (I used 1600 Pennsylvania Ave) and take part in the elements unfolding around you. (It’s better on a huge monitor)” (Matthew C. Miller, Rock & Review)

On ‘We Used to Wait’: “Needling, nagging piano chords backed by drums and slashes of muted guitar as Win frets that `I used to write letters, I used to sign my name/I used to sleep at night/By the time we met the times had already changed’. Jeremy Gara (drums): `It’s almost Elton John, it’s a piano rock song, like ‘Bennie And The Jets’!'”  (NME)

Colouring of Pigeons” / The Knife featuring Mt. Sims and Planningtorock / Tomorrow, In a Year
“Returning to her day job after indulging in Fever Ray perhaps logically demands a ridiculously grandiose concept to hold Karin Dreijer Andersson’s attention. An opera soundtrack based on Charles Darwin’s On The Origin Of Species should nail it. Judging by this superlative 11-minute teaser, the performance itself might actually dissolve Creationist brains.”  (NME)

U Smile” (Shamantis 800% slower mix) / Justin Bieber
“Just because Shamantis didn’t spend days or weeks crafting this track doesn’t make it any less impressive. It’s a minor miracle that it works this well, especially considering the source material. It sounds like This Mortal Coil, Dead Can Dance, Sigur Ros, Slowdive, Brian Eno, Richard D. James, the Cocteau Twins — basically any artist who regularly gets termed `ethereal’ and `transcendent’ on a regular basis. It would seem to be a chore at 35 minutes, but I swear to god, every time you think you’re going to shut it off, something shifts and you find yourself allowing another wave of sound to wash over you. It’s like a supernova trapped in a glacier during a slow thaw. Time slows, freezes, warms, expands, contracts and pulses. How many other tracks would you give 30 minutes of your day away to?”  (Capitalist Lion Tamer)


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