Thursday, August 2

Catching Up On 2007: Songs

September and October are shaping to be amazing months for live music in Los Angeles. Check out the concert section in the right-hand column for a selection of the best. I recommend seeing Acid Mothers Guru Guru (because they don’t come to the U.S. that often) and Boris with Michio Kurihara (because they probably won’t tour together again) above all else. This is also because I'm really into Japanese psychedelic music right now.

So here’s where I tell you about songs by artists that didn’t quite make it on the “Catching Up On 2007: Albums” post. That’s not to say any of these albums are bad—quite the opposite, many of them are good, even great (especially the Boris and Parson Red Heads albums)—but they all have songs that are particularly amazing, amazing enough to merit individual attention. As always, you can download a selection of the songs at the bottom of this post.

The Arcade Fire – “My Body Is A Cage”
I’m not a huge fan of the new Arcade Fire album, but I do love this song. The vocal melody is strong enough to hold up the entire time, and the suddenness with which they add volume and instruments to the song is epic and avoids the sloppiness that comes with that kind of movement. And come on: “I’m living in an age / that calls darkness light / though my language is dead / still the shapes fill my head”? That’s great stuff.

Battles – “Atlas”
Mirrored is too long and drawn-out of an album to be taken in as a whole, but in little bits it’s great, and “Atlas” is the best little bit of them all. It’s like chipmunks guitar dueling in space, which is probably the coolest description I’ve ever given anything.

Boris with Michio Kurihara – “Sweet No. 1”
This track, hands down, gets the award for gnarliest guitar work of 2007 and that’s not going to change in the next five months, I can guarantee it. Don’t talk to me about face-melting solos or innovative guitar playing until you’ve heard this song and been given a third-degree burn by Kurihara’s fretwork. Holy shit.

Dungen – “Familj”
Trippy, psychedelic magic. The recording and production of this song is amazing. The music sounds like its coming down from the sky, like it’s in the air and you’re breathing it in. The treble-boosted, slightly-feedbacking Rhodes is especially great. Whatever Dungen may lack in songwriting chops, they more than make up for it in atmosphere and aesthetic.

Menomena – “Wet and Rusting”
Boy, did I burn out on this album. Naturally, the albums you really like are the ones you think you won’t get tired of, but of course that’s not always true. “Wet and Rusting”, however, still sounds fresh and exciting, a song that scrapes the potential of Menomena’s particular brand of songwriting. In my opinion, Brent Knopf’s unique voice (with that “scared little boy” sort of feel) provides for a lot of Menomena’s best moments, and this is definitely one of them (for another, see “The Monkey’s Back”, the ridiculously amazing closing track of their first album).

The National – “Slow Show”
The National hasn’t won me over yet, no sir. Matt Beringer’s foot-in-the-mouth vocals annoy me more often that not and am I the only one that thinks “Mistaken For Strangers” sounds absurdly like an Interpol song? But this one is great, mostly because of the incredible minute-and-a-half ending. A piano and tom riff take over as Beringer sings “You know I dreamed about you / for twenty-nine years / before I saw you” and suddenly all is forgiven. Plus, this song sounds really great when you turn it up really loud.

Odawas – “Alleluia”
I can’t exactly explain why I like this song. It sounds like the soundtrack of an modern western movie if it was recorded in a cathedral with really high ceilings. The whistling riff followed by the piano riff provides quite a one-two punch (more like a one-two dramatic embrace, am I right?) and the synth work is just so heavy. Quite the surreal listen.

Of Montreal – “The Past Is A Grotesque Animal”
I burned out on the new Of Montreal pretty quickly, but this song sticks with me. It’s probably not the best song on the album, but I would argue that it’s the most important. “The Past Is A Grotesque Animal” is the soundtrack to the breakdown of Kevin Barnes, all desperate guitars and alien sounds. There’s no synth-pop bullshit or cute metaphor here, just a man letting the music take control. It kicks off with the hard-hitting “The past is a grotesque animal / and in its eyes you see / how completely wrong you can be,” and never slows down. The most devastatingly honest song of this year.

The Parson Red Heads – “Punctual As Usual”
This year the Parsons delivered a great album of sunny psychedelia in King Giraffe, but this song stands out above the others. The remarkable thing about “Punctual Usual” is how damn good it feels. Everything is in its right place—the guitar lick Sam plays over the second half of the verses, the phenomenal hand-clap breakdown, Brette Marie’s rim-click verse beat, the guitar-bass interplay, Erin’s simple organ runs, Evan’s honest and catchy vocals—it’s all there. In my mind, no other track this year sounds so natural, making this song an absolute breeze of a listen, a sublime collective effort that never gets old.

Sea Wolf – “The Garden That You Planted”
In “The Garden That You Planted”, my L.A. homies Sea Wolf deliver a monster of a track—at least by quiet, acoustic folk standards. Sensitive without being melodramatic, simple without being boring, honest without being trite, catchy without being poppy… Sea Wolf has a bright future ahead of them, and I sure hope it includes songs as gorgeous as this one.

Boris w/ Michio Kurihara - Sweet No. 1 [mp3]
Dungen - Familj [mp3]
Odawas - Alleluia [mp3]
The Parson Red Heads - Punctual As Usual [mp3]
Sea Wolf - The Garden That You Planted [mp3]

- Dominick Duhamel -


At 3:23 PM , Blogger apocryphaic_creations said...

hey, is there anyway that you could send the garden that you planted by sea wolf to my email? i've been looking for this song forever.



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