Friday, February 1, 2013

Hot Mix 2012: #20 to 11

Almost done...

Hot Mix 2012 on Spotify

| #100 - 91 | #90 - 81 | #80 - 71 | #70 - 61 | #60 - 51 |
| #50 - 41 | #40 - 31 | #30 - 21 | #20 - 11 | #10 - 1 |

20. Frank Ocean featuring Earl Sweatshirt “Super Rich Kids”
Rich Kids don't give a fuck. Daddy buys them more xany for gnashin and more jaguars for joyrides. They don't know who their real friends are, and they don't care. Until one day they realize they want dat "real love." And suddenly their life doesn't seem all that super rich anymore. The piano chords emulate the second-hand on a giant grandfather clock while the rich kids fill their time with “white lies and white lines” and “bottles of wine they can’t pronounce.” And yet despite the incredibly slow BPM, "Super Rich Kids" is still somehow the most fun-sounding song on Channel Orange. Unlike Earl Sweatshirt, Frank Ocean never had an “immature” era prior to his initial 2011 breakthrough. An important part of Odd Future’s marketing seemed built around the excitement of youthfulness. Two years later, Frank and Earl’s levels of wisdom seem decently matched; they’re confused about the future and contemplative, desperate for answers but not receiving any.
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19. Ringo Deathstarr “Slack”
Does RDS build their own pedals? Some of the guitar tones on Mauve seem specific to this album, especially the crunch in the bass tones. We also couldn't help but notice how this aggressiveness came at a price, as we've been missing their spacey ballads, like the ones we loved so much from 2011's Colour Trip. Although this sudden brutality hasn’t removed their knack for strong vocal hooks, especially in “Slack” with “do you feel how I feel inside?” as the adolescent singalong. We normally associate “slack” with the ’93-era trifecta of “Creep,” “Loser” and “Undone - The Sweater Song,” but the "Slack" mentioned by RDS may suggest some double entendre. It's way too exciting to notice any application of true “slack” aesthetic. This frenzy also helped them earn a few weeks of shows with Smashing Pumpkins, meeting a whole new audience of young people for feeding their adrenaline injections. Team Ringo 4ever.
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18. Cloud Nothings “Cut You”
“Cut You” seems to have been unfortunately shadowed by Japandroids “The House that Heaven Built” as the most popular recent song to follow the lineage that peaked with Foo Fighters’ “Everlong” and albums from The Promise Ring and Jimmy Eat World. We’re happy as fuck that great songs like this could exist in 2012 without the presence of the dreaded emo-whine. Dylan Baldi's vocal delivery is exactly what the song needed to give it a modern context, ascending far above any recent singles from those who still can receive top-billing at Warped Tour or Bamboozle. Also keep in mind that “Cut You” is not as good of a one-song representation of Attack On Memory as “No Future No Past” or “Stay Useless” or “Wasted Days.” But from where we stand, it's the most crucial album track.
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17. JEFF The Brotherhood “Dark Energy”
Passing through Nashville two or three weeks ago for a house show, we noticed a difference in the air. It felt so germy and dirty. We got into a conversation with one of the bands who played that night (Nameless Cults) who informed us that JEFF were essentially the reason why the city’s DIY-scene currently exists, set in place over the past 10 years. More importantly, Nashville is also the city that spawned Gummo, a connection that has given JEFF’s music and the brothers themselves an unexpectedly deep contextual layer. Prior to January 2013, we were under the impression that JEFF the Brotherhood were simply humorless bastards, whereas now, we’ve grown to understand their environment. The murkiness in songs like “Dark Energy” makes more sense than ever. Forgive us for this explanation, but “sludge dildo up the ass” was written in our notes regarding the dissonance of the Sleep-influenced (stoner metal) guitar-riff. And while we’d love to ignore this dirty, sexual description, we’re having trouble thinking of a better one. Lyrically, the chorus may be alluding to a few different things: Swallowing a pill just before realizing you may not be able to handle the effects; Predicting that a devouring and debilitating type of depression may be in your near future; That guy from Gummo who says “Suicide’s the only way out.”
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16. Nicki Minaj featuring 2 Chainz and God “Beez In The Trap”
Yes, that’s correct, God Himself (uncredited at special request) supplies the finger-snaps on this song, recorded from the center of the Grand Canyon. He was only able to snap that one time, and then they just looped it, because you know, He’s God. He’s got a busy schedule. We’ve heard speculation on the meaning of the song’s title from several different sources:
- #1 “I be’s in the trap,” meaning she is physically in the trap, with the “trap” referring to the spot where crazy drug deals take place, often goin’ ham.
- #2 “I’m ‘bees in the trap’.” She is mentally going crazy inside of her own brain. Her head is her own trap, and her brain is buzzing like crazy bees. Possibly because she’s naturally just like that, or possibly she’s having a rough day, or possibly she’s playing a character who’s on coke. (We know she doesn’t use coke, so “playing a character” is the best we can do here.)
- #3 According to the website rap genius, “’Bees in the trap’ is also an old saying that means getting or to have everything (money or otherwise) and then some.”
- #4 All of the above.
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15. Now, Now “Prehistoric”
The best non-Japandroids rock ballad of 2012, "Prehistoric" includes all the same power jangle and spaciousness as a few debut singles we loved in the early 2000's: "Run" from Snow Patrol, and "Yellow" from Coldplay - great songs, but guilty pleasures nonetheless. "Prehistoric" sounds similarly influenced by The Bends, Jeff Buckley and The Verve, but with a bottom layer of synthesizers evoking moonlit scenarios and adolescent tension. It's not just simply nostalgic-sounding (literally pre-historic), but also very much digging at the present moment. They've strangely become an "Alternative Press" type of rock band, but we could see this easily crossing over for those who enjoy Top 40, underground pop and indie flavors.
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14. Japandroids “Continuous Thunder”
With apologies to Now, Now, we've made it to "2012's hugest rock ballad." Those fireworks sound like they’re isolated in the distance, similar to "Prehistoric" in summoning the celebration of life through nostalgia. We grew accustomed to the range of celebrations Japandroids presented throughout their 2008-2010 output, so we were surprised hearing the enormity of Celebration Rock. Japandroids may have outdone themselves in department of “grandiose,” leaving themselves with a few options:
- #1 They might continue along this path for LP3, undertaking more of the Springsteen/Arcadefire singed avenues that sparked from 2010’s “Younger Us.” This would not surprise anyone, since it earned them pretty high acclaim over the past year.
- Or #2 A return to the anthemic-punk-rock they only vaguely touched within “Young Hearts Spark Fire," “Heart Sweats” and “Art Czars.”
- Or even better, #3 a full exploration of the expansive and spacy drones from “I Quit Girls” and “Heavenward Grand Prix.” If the big huge finale of “Continuous Thunder” presents nothing else, it’s open-endedness.

13. Grass Is Green “Panera”
Over their three LP’s and various non-album tracks, Grass Is Green has only occasionally played with standard verse-chorus structure, with “Panera” now standing as the most impressive example. We hear its meticulous arrangement and songwriting as Ronson’s would-be hit single, easily as catchy as similarly abrasive jam-outs from At The Drive In or Jimmy Eat World while packing just as much pummel. But the performance itself is really what makes this one special. The highway-speed-chase blasts through multiple brick walls in the song’s second half, especially those 2 or 3 moments when rhythm section bros Mike and Jesse start banging the fuck out of their instruments over some delicately placed sustained guitar feedback and squeaky pitch-pedal screams. Oh yeah, also the Panera/Pantera jokes were old back in like 2004. Get with it.

12. Beak> “The Gaol”
Not sure what to make of this one... Imagining all the most claustrophobic and paranoid scenarios still don’t match up to the synthetic eeriness of “The Gaol” (also known as “The Gaul” for Spotify listeners). Creeping spirits manifesting to a new host? Dinosaur porno? Some sort of musical note is discovered that turns everything into Claymation? Tell ‘em Large Marge sent ya? Travelling through a black hole, witnessing a first-hand account of the fourth dimension? “The Gaol” is an otherworldly jam that sets the tone for everything else on Beak>’s second LP. We’re pumped as hell that music publications like SPIN have been praising it among this year’s most kickass.

11. Miguel “Adorn”
When Barry and Levon's reunion tour happens, "Adorn" is the only other jam that could possibly fit in their repertoire. It's kind of impossible to describe this song without the inevitable “Sexual Healing” comparison, but who can deny Miguel's palpable excitement for showing his lady friend what’s up? (Like, literally up.) 20 seconds in when he sings “Can’t wait to taste your skin,” he's not talking about Season 3 of Walking Dead. (See what we did there?) The original version of “Adorn” appeared in February 2012 on a 3-song mini-mixtape called Art Dealer Chic Vol. 1 clocking in at 2:18. The version that kicks off Kaleidoscope Dream adds an additional minute, including a hugely understated bridge section. Both versions sound equally complete. It didn’t need the additional minute, but the option is available for those unable to deny that extra layer of glaze. (We're so filthy today.) P.S. Nom’d for a “Record Of The Year” Grammy that it most definitely will not win, and just recently spent week 20 atop Billboard’s R&B chart.

Hot Mix 2012 on Spotify

| #100 - 91 | #90 - 81 | #80 - 71 | #70 - 61 | #60 - 51 |
| #50 - 41 | #40 - 31 | #30 - 21 | #20 - 11 | #10 - 1 |

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