Thursday, December 30, 2010

Culture Shock's 50 Favorite Songs of 2010 (20 - 1)

Back here to finish out the list. Unfortunately, I still have the same lame picture to be my heading though.. To everyone who designed a 2010 logo this year, you guys really dropped the ball. Seriously, you better pick it up in 2011.

20) Tennis - South Carolina

If there's one group I'm banking on next year, it's the husband-wife duo of Tennis. They make music quite similar to that of Best Coast, but they also write happier lyrics too. Everything I've heard from them this year was great, so I anticipate a great start to 2011 when their debut LP drop next month.

19) Twin Shadow - At My Heels

80s inspired indie pop produced by Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear is probably all I need to say to get you to listen to this track.

18) Twin Sister - Lady Daydream

This song kinda draws you in with its slow-wave pace, a feeling that will linger through the crazy echos in this girl's voice.

17) Sleigh Bells - Rill Rill

Sleigh Bells are usually making the maximum amount of noise possible with two instruments, but they slow it down a bit and use a few production tricks for overdubs to really own this style.

16) Kanye West - Runaway (ft. Pusha T)

Kanye does the unthinkable on this track: Sound apologetic. His nine minute plea is accompanied by a haunting key in the back, making this your not-so-typical hip-hop song. It's really quite incredible what an artist/producer can do with an open range.

15) The Chicharones - Hi Hey Hello

I still know next to nothing about this group, and I'm pretty sure the album art I put up isn't even from the right record. I can neither tell you the exact genre of song this is, but the best description I can give you would be if Chromeo were making hip-hop beats.

14) Kate Nash - Kiss That Grrrl

Most of Kate Nash's songs off her first album were about her bitterness of not being in the relationship she wanted to. Well a few years later now, it seems she's fixed that problem allowing her to fully embrace her sound while dealing with the new issues her relationship brings.

13) The Radio Dept. A Token of Gratitude

There's something terribly endearing about the way this song is innocently sung, which is probably why he had to write this track to begin with.

12) The National - Sorrow

After a few listens to this one you'll begin to wonder if the guy who wrote it actually wants to be happy. It's an incredibly honest track, compounded by the singer's long baritone.

11) Deerhunter - He Would Have Laughed

There's no doubt that Deerhunter's tribute to fallen rocker Jay Reatard is the prefect musical memory to their good friend. Those intricately woven acoustics match the tone of every word throughout the song, a great reflective track.

10) Vampire Weekend - Giving Up The Gun

Now the only thing that could possibly make this track more awesome, would be a music video with
maybe Lil Jon, Joe Jonas, and Jake Gyllenhaal playing tennis...

9) Local Natives - World News

This is quite a grown up track for such a young band, musically, and lyrically. They really do a great job making the same usual instruments sound interesting by implementing a few arrangement shifts.

8) Freelance Whales - Kilojoules

From the Death Cab like beginning, to the Sigur Rós ending, this song proves to be just as infectious as indie pop can possibly be.

7) Gorillaz - On Melancholy Hill

This track almost went under the radar on a record full of big name guests, though it quickly shows how brilliant the group can still be even when it's just Gorillaz.

6) Band of Horses - On My Way Back Home

I'll be the first to admit that I was quite disappointed with this album, most likely because of how great their first two are. This track though kinda stood out by not really matching the pace and tone of the others, feeling more like a worthy heir to "The Funeral."

5) Big Boi - Hustle Blood (ft. Jamie Fox)

Jamie Fox's vocals and Big Boi's rhymes show off a lethal combination that in my mind is the hip-hop song of the year. He's able to boast a smoother flow coupled with street cred that Kanye's just not able to swag yet.

4) The Morning Benders - Excuses

It's quite rare that an artist can achieve the style they were actually going for while not sounding like complete plagiarist. But The Morning Benders take the "wall-of-sound" concept and make it into something their own, perfect homage to the doo-wap they love.

3) Girls - Heartbreaker

This band seems to be stuck in a perpetual state of melancholy, yet in this track, they almost make the feeling sound fun and upbeat. Just don't listen to the lyrics too hard.

2) Arcade Fire - Modern Man

This is without a doubt the most existential track out of the 50 on my list. Arcade Fire explores what it means to be living at this moment in tim, between our uncertainty, our vulnerability, and our apprehension of the future. And in less than five minutes too.

1) Crystal Castles - Not In Love (ft. Robert Smith)

When Crystal Castles dug this song out of the 80s archives for their second album the results were good, but not great. Then Robert Smith shows up, and as usual, makes it really awesome. Sound like the result of The Cure playing with garage band 25 years ago, which can probably only end well.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Culture Shock's 50 Favorite Songs of 2010 (50 - 21)

With a new year only a little over a week away, it's time to review the best songs 2010 had to offer. Please excuse the overly cheesy 2010 logo I stole from some very unsuspecting site.

50) Lupe Fiasco - The Show Goes On

We finally got a taste of what to expect from Lupe Fiasco's upcoming release, Lasers. Sampling a speeding Float On by Modest Mouse, Lupe dazzles as he always does, and gives a reason to expect a huge 2011.

49) Deep Ella - Summer Love

Deep Ella may never receive the respect they deserve, which is a shame since there is a lot of talent here. Summer Love is a fun track, so take a listen and see if you can figure out how this has not ended up on a CW show yet. (Talking to you One Tree Hill)

48) Memoryhouse - Lately (Deuxième)

Another lo-fi bedroom project with much more somber result than the others. Featuring a quite haunting production value, resulting in a music box feel topped with thee usual chillwave vocal distortion, making an all in all lovely song.

47) Frightened Rabbit - Swim Until You Can't See Land

Even though I was a little disappointed with their latest release, it was still a quality album with a few great tracks. This was obviously one of them, a skillfully crafted piece of Scottish indie rock.

46) Two Door Cinema Club - Something Good Can Work

I honestly don't know why this band wasn't bigger in 2010, but it's quite possible that I'm the only dork who enjoyed them so much. Simple, catchy, British indie rock is all this is, but it was done so well it may be the best in years.

45) Los Campesinos! - In Media Res

The title track from Romance Is Boring continues the great pace Los Campesinos! love to start on every record. Let's start off slow, acoustic guitars, maybe a glockenspiel, then pick it up quick, as we angrily vent about some evil woman, continue to pepper the song with that darn charming glockenspiel, then bring them back down slow while chanting something intended to produce an overwhelming nostalgia. Sounds weird on paper, but works beautifully every time.

44) Codeine Velvet Club - Reste Avec Moi

The newest venture from The Fratellis frontman Jon Fratelli was in my opinion, a success, though a short-lived one. With the dissolution of the band we only have 11 tracks to go on, so check out this noir inspired, 60's alternative rock thing. Something like that...

43) Chromeo - Night By Night

Definitely one of the most fun, and most funky groups around, Chromeo continued their electronic storm with this tune that will more than likely make you want to dance like a moron.

42) Kid Cudi - Erase Me (featuring Kanye West)

I'm not sure I enjoy Kid Cudi's newest record as much as everyone else seems to, but I do love his latest single with the always awesome Kanye, whose outspokenness seems to match the tone of this broken man's confusion.

41) Surfer Blood - Floating Vibes

Surfer Blood came out of Florida with some of the best west coast indie rock this year. As with most of the new indie rock, it takes cues from doo-wap sounds while intertwining it with a more modern and rhythmic guitar and bass.

40) Small Black - Despicable Dogs

A great emerging chillwave band from Brooklyn who released a pretty darn good album only a few months ago. Their best song though appeared on their self-titled debut EP featuring their very noteworthy lo-fi sound.

39) Twin Sister - All Around And Away We Go

Indie pop at its finest here, featuring a slow steady beat with vocals so quiet it's almost ingenious with they way it makes you pay attention. Watch out for Twin Sister in 2011 when they'll presumably release a debut album.

38) Girls - Substance

The first Girls song on our list is quite a personal one of theirs, which I'm sure you've deduced is about drugs. His personal struggles are highlighted here, fighting between the decision of choosing what's right, and what helps him function well enough to keep going. Deep stuff to such happy, doo-wap music.

37) Wild Nothing - Chinatown

Wild Nothing perfectly capture a summer love nostalgia here with such a simple innocence. And of course, it's lo-fi indie pop. (Ten points if you can guess what the most popular sound of the year was.)

36) The Walkmen -Stranded

As I enter this song into my list, I'm seriously contemplating if there are 35 others better than this one. Simply put, it's just brilliant rock music, that is drenched emotionally in every guitar stroke, drum beat, and word sung.

35) Local Natives - Airplanes

Local Natives we're receiving buzz long before their debut album dropped this February, namely for this song which is a lovely tribute to one of the members grandfather. It's a perfect balance of emotion, harmony, and percussion that may stick with you for a while.

34) Jens Lekman - The End of the World Is Bigger Than Love

It's great to hear something new from Jens, though it's quite strange this song received little to no buzz. Just by reading the title, you know this one borders a little on the dramatic, yet in his classic style, he'll have charmed you into belting out the chorus halfway through the track. And as always, his attention to detail is impressive along with a little clever wordplay to make this one a favorite.

33) Janelle Monáe - Dance Or Die (Feat. Saul Williams)

Saul Williams joins Ms. Monáe on this intriguing funky R&B track that really sets a precedent for the record. Like most the songs on the album, it's a little ambitious, but she has the skills to make it seem so effortless.

32) Vampire Weekend - White Sky

Vampire Weekend continue their awesome streak with this fun song that shows off a very clever arrangement and production value by band member, and producer, Rostam Batmanglij. That's also a really awesome name, I mean seriously, it has Batman in it.

31) Girls - Carolina

To me, this song really shows Girls growth as a band with this 7 and a half minute experiment. A very trippy intro leads to a great instrumental piece before completely changing course into something more their style for the last few minutes. They pull this track off perfectly, so we'll see if there's more of this style on their next LP.

30) LCD Soundsystem - All I Want

This track i a lot more Rock Band than DJ Hero, which is probably frustrating to every band without a drum machine. I mean they already dominate the electronic world, so it's totally not cool of them to take on indie rock, but god dangit, or course they do it incredibly well. Freaking James Murphy.

29) Cee Lo Green - F@*k You!

Absolutely, without a doubt the catchiest song of them year. It manages to walk to fine line between ridiculously catchy and overly annoying so well in my opinion, which you probably can't say for most the crap you hear on the radio. Plus, not many people seem to notice the great style of this song which is carried out throughout the whole record, though with a little less anger.

28) How To Dress Well - You Won't Need Me Where I'm Goin'

More bedroom music project here, rocking the falsetto distortion, a faded guitar hook, and a soft beat throughout.

27) Freelance Whales - Generator ^ First Floor

Having one of my favorite records of the year, it was really tough to pick just a couple of the best off the album. So I went with the first track which is a great preview of what to expect from the album. As soon as the banjo kicks in to coincide with the four piece harmony, you'll most likely find yourself loudly belting "bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bah."

26) Yeasayer - Ambling Alp

A very electronic anthem coming from pretty hyped album. The first half of the record was actually pretty awesome, but around tack eight they start to lose it and don't have enough time to get back in line. But just ignore that and listen to this crazy track.

25) Foals - Blue Blood

The songs starts off kinda droll like most of the indie rock coming from Europe these days, but in a surprising turn it's pick up quite nicely while maintaining a slightly folky twang.

24) Arcade Fire - Wasted Hours

This is arguably the most striking track on the record as it summarizes one of the main themes in only 3 and a half minutes. It probably wouldn't be so poignant if this was just a story and not an actual life description. Arcade Fire at some of their best.

23) Das Racist - hahahaha jk?

Despite every indiction, and there are many, this track is not a joke. It may be a little unorthodox, but it's really just a dope beat with many pop culture references and about half of my grocery list. And they manage to drop the line "Call me Dwight Schrute the way that I eat beats." It really doesn't get more gangsta.

22) Best Coast - Goodbye

This is most likely the happiest sounding breakup song you'll ever hear while still holding onto the original lyrical intentions. Very Beach Boys meet Regina Spektor in LA around '64.

21) Baths - Aminals

I'm not entirely sure why the track is a misspell of "animals," because I don't believe that word is mentioned once in the song. In fact, there's not many words at all in this mostly electronic song, but there is an adorable british child speaking followed by children giggling so that adds up for something