A Rap fan’s 10 favorite Indie-Pop songs of the year so far
Sach again, on the guest post tip. I don’t get much time to write about the other music I listen to at Ohword because well…we specialize in running this rap shit. No boom-bap dinosaur wants to be reading a Cam’ron parody or an essay about why rap sucks and suddenly be confronted with a list of Colin Meloy songs. So obviously I had to use one of these guest posts to get out my quarterly Indie rock venting/fawning. Let’s keep it positive with a list of songs that have owned my downtime since January. You probably already have these, but I’ll even throw up some audio for shits and giggles... some in alternate/live versions.
Of Montreal – Heimdalsgate like a Promethean Curse
I didn’t have to check the spelling on that track title and Itunes says I’ve played this 45 times since January on my I Pod alone. If that’s not proof that I listen to this band (and this song) way too much I dunno what is. For years the band name “Of Montreal” made no sense to me since sunny Georgian psych pop had nothing to do with my home town. No more: Kevin Barnes’ move to the Northern side of our hemisphere has turned his sunny pop melodies into the perfect soundtrack for the local winter. Count me among those patiently waiting for the man’s upcoming concept ADDance album about a Black-shemale.
Amy Winehouse – Valerie/Lily Allen – Oh My God
Mark Ronson’s Version comp is spotty at best, but his two prized chanteuses both deliver the goods. Winehouse is arguably a mainstream soul singer at this point considering she went gold off what was essentially an R&B record, but she does the Zutons proud with her sexually ambiguous cover of Valerie. From the opening adlib where she appologises for having “Too Much Fun” to her grandiosely giddy vocal, this is a good sign that Winehouse can deliver sunshine just as well as she can heartbreak. Allen meanwhile continues to be every middle class white dude’s fantasy on wax. The Kaiser Chiefs’ Oh My God isn’t the most inspired song choice in the world, but she does good with what she’s given all things considered. If anything, hearing her sing is a welcome distraction from her tabloid antics which I think we could all do without. Unless those tabloid antics involve going out with yours truly.
Lucky Soul – Ain’t Never Been Cool
You’d think there’d only be enough room in England for one group of band-led girl-group revivalists but Lucky Soul proved conventional wisdom wrong by becoming the anti-Pipettes on their debut The Great Unwanted. More specifically, they played it completely straight with a collection of utterly earnest love songs for the nerd set. Now you have to be pretty geeky to appreciate this stuff in the first place, so it was a stroke of genius to play up the underdog qualities in the music rather than go for the angry vindictive snark inherent in Allen/Winehouse/The Pipettes’ stuff. With this in mind, I Ain’t Never Been Cool is practically a mission statement saying y’all can go dance to Cassie, we’ll be over here pretending its 1962 via protools.
Art Brut – Nag Nag Nag
If Lucky Soul unearthed the underlying geekiness of the girl-group revival, Eddie Argos sarcastically (?) bigs up the more obvious nerd-qualities of internet-sponsored indie rock. There’s something unbearably funny yet deadly serious about an art-rock group making music about teenage drama explicitely aimed at 20-something hipsters. Arrested Development indeed. Oh it's also pretty cool that the guy can make loud guitars sound cool without having to throw crazy time signatures or other pretentious BS into the mix.
The Noisettes – The Count of Monte Cristo
Truthfully, I could have chosen any of the first 4 songs off the Noisettes’ album for this list since they’re all unfuckwitable examples of garage-folk that should be getting the kind of press that The White Stripes will receive for Icky Thump. The Count of Monte Cristo just happens to be my favorite of the bunch. A wanderers’ blues at heart, the tune highlights singer Shingai Shoniwa’s sultry vocals and tones down their roaring guitar attack in favor of layered acoustics.
The Rosebuds – Night of the Furies
I don’t like the latest Rosebuds album all that much. It seems like a classic example of a band adding pointlessly “modern” production in the hopes of expanding their audience and falling flat doing so. It’s not that the dance-drums are particularly bad, but they seem to be covering up a startling lack of good tunes. The title track is the exception to the rule though, delivering a 6 minute plus dancefloor odyssey of reserved pain. I’m not exactly sure what the lead singer is talking about but I’m pretty sure it’d sound really good over ending credits as Chow Yun Phat drives his benz off into the distance after having slaughtered a few hundred people. Mr. Woo take note.
Pop Levi – Skip Ghetto (Echo Park Version)
I have no idea why Pop Levi is signed to Ninjatune but ever since I wandered onto their website and heard his stuff I’ve been hooked. The Echo Park version of skip ghetto isn’t featured on his solo debut but instead got relegated to his Blue Honey EP and that’s a damn shame. A lazy balad for a drunk Sunday afternoon, it’s by far superior to the dubbed out version on the main album draping the balad in shimmering guitars and finger snaps.
Dunjen – C Visar Vagen
Dunjen is Hip Hop as fuck. Forget the interviews where he bigs up Madlib and talks about his skills on the 1200’s, just listen to the guys music. C Visar Vagen sounds like the kind of stuff RJD2 would sell his left nut to be able to create. A breezy 4/4 folk instrumental perfect for a long car ride or a long bong rip, C Visar Vagen is proof that this world fusion shit CAN work given the right ingredients. Can we get a break heavy Stairway to Heaven next?
The Klaxons – Golden Scans
Are the Klaxons supposed to be this year’s Arctic Monkeys or something? I have the sneaking suspicion that it’s not very cool to like these guys but I don’t really hang around a social circle that would know this stuff. Either way, while their Blade-soundtrack ready techno-rock thing is moderately cool, the straight up guitar pop of Golden Scans is what does it for me. Maybe if the British Press didn’t try to name a genre after their shit…