Monday, August 22, 2011

Songs from 2011 - Part 3 - Believer

A friend recommended John Maus's Heaven is Real to me years ago on the strength of the song "Do Your Best." I loved that record then, but it took Maus four years to follow it up and I forgot about him.

"Believer" is Maus's best song yet. Like "Do Your Best," "Believer" relies on bass drum on the 2s and 4s and a plodding bass line keep the pulsing, antiquated synths in check, and when he sings they call me the believer! I must take his word for it. "Believer" is a song from another time and place---maybe space, maybe the future, or maybe the past. It's just about the finest thing I've heard this year. I'm especially fond of the bridge and final choruses. You'll see this one on year-end lists, believe me.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Songs from 2011 - Part 2 - Out of the Eye

In 2009, Woods damaged the flow of their new LP Songs of Shame by slotting "September With Pete" fourth. Normally I approve of risky decisions like this, but the song is bad. And long. I skip it, and you probably do too. Check the play count on iTunes.
And it's a shame because Woods can create memorable experimental sounds. When they performed at Pitchfork Fest 2011, their jams weren't the best part, but they weren't bad either, not like "September" is.

The new album Sun and Shade is good. "Pushing Onlys" and "Who Do I Think I Am?" probably should be my songs of 2011, but here's "Out of the Eye," in which Woods uses their homemade sonics to write a Neu! song. Motorik drumming, psych guitar, and that distant echo-y noise thing that only Woods' weirdo with the headset can make. It's like we're back in '77. Not as thrilling as "Negativland" but what is? Sun and Shade has one other long song, and while not as memorable, it also doesn't point so obviously to one genre or musical movement like "Out of the Eye". This might appeal to you, oh dear listener. Woods in 2k11: writing the complete LP.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Songs from 2011 - Part 1 - If You Leave...

Last year, I started talking about my favorite songs in September, but mostly in December when everyone else was talking about them. I denied my readers access to great music because of it, and I apologize---oh my god---I'm sorry. You could have been downloading instead of carrying on with your lives.

Anyway, it's useful to talk about these things now, so here goes.

The Men nearly de-mapped you last year with songs like "Lazarus" from their lp Immaculada. This year, they're back with Leave Home, a ripper on Sacred Bones (check out their offerings). As with "Lazarus," "If You Leave..." opens with noise/ feedback/ fuzz/ a preview of the noisy music to come, and then launches into a delayed, reverb-y shoegaze jam. The rest of the record is mean.

I only mention it because they're playing in Chicago next Friday. How come Googling "The Men Show Chicago" didn't turn up what I wanted? (Got weirder when I included "hardcore").