Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hot Mix 2013: #20 to 11

| Hot Mix 2013 on Spotify |

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

20. Ciara “Overdose”
Perhaps we've overdosed as well. We seem to be strung out on this website, leading to one of those unfortunate instances where it looks like we're on the verge of another extended break, similar to the one that took place between 2008 and 2009. We really should be finishing this up before officially declaring a hiatus. Between 2011 and 2012, “doing drugs” turned into a prevalent theme on hiphop and R&B stations, far surpassing themes regarding “selling drugs” that had ruled during the days of “C.R.E.A.M.” and “10 Crack Commandments” - a paradigm shift which may be partially attributed to the popularity of molly, but mostly thanks to Frank Ocean. As far as pop structure goes, “Overdose” surpasses anything throughout the past 10 years of releases from either Britney Spears or Kylie Minogue.

19. Surface to Air Missive “Surfacing”
Technical virtuosity is not typically our thing, although the occasional fresh blast of prog-influenced brilliance never hurt anyone. "Surfacing" combines these cues with Elephant 6 flavored lo-fidelity, serving their brand as far more inspired than wanky. Dense with hooks, it's just as heavy as a few similarly packed mid-2000s mini-epics from their former tourmates Of Montreal, specifically "Requiem for OMM2" or "Voltaic Crusher." A curious recent signing to Stones Throw, Surface have already announced near-completion of LP2. Air-guitars in position.

18. Deerhunter “Back to the Middle”
The middle doesn't sound like such a great place. The middle is where all the eyes point: the center of attention. It's the easiest place to get lost. Once upon a time, Jimmy Eat World sang about "The Middle," and claimed it was not the best spot, but that eventually everything would be alright. Gerry Rafferty sang about getting "stuck in the middle with you," surrounded by stuff that didn't make no sense at all. It must be pretty shitty to return BACK to the middle, to that nasty uncomfortable place. "It's an endless cycle." The light at the end of the tunnel only acts to taunt and fuck with the head. This shit's getting old. Sick and tired of being sick and tired.

17. Kanye West “Black Skinhead”
We can think of three quick and easy reasons why we love "Black Skinhead." #1 Monster riffs aren't as frequent these days, which may have assisted in this song's easy shoe-in as "Immigrant Song" or "Smoke on the Water" of 2013. RIFF OF THE YEAR. Let's be honest here. #2 Kanye supplies what is now probably the 19th major resurrection of the drums from "Rock n' Roll Part 2," also famously borrowed for Marilyn Manson in 1996 and also Rihanna in 2006, ushering a 2- or 3-year period when that particular drum pattern was ALL over Top 40 stations. Last but not least, #3: The yelp. Kanye's yelp on SNL contained a raw urgency that hadn't maintained its shape on the recording but was strong enough to resonate on all subsequent listens.
SNL Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuhl6Ji5zHM

16. Swearin’ “Watered Down”
{EDIT 12:57PM APRIL 13} A paraphrased brief conversation with Sadie "The Jesus of Indie-Rock" Dupuis in response to our initial review of this song:
SD: "Hey, I saw you wrote that Allison sings 'Watered Down' but it was actually Kyle."
TMK: "I don't think that's true. That's definitely a girl singer."
SD: "No Mike, I told you this before."
TMK: "Well that's very embarrassing and also frustrating because I kinda don't feel like rewriting what I wrote."
SD: "Would you rather have remained blissfully ignorant?"
TMK: "Yes."
We still maintain that the vocals fall somewhere in between this song by Babes In Toyland and this song by The Muffs despite that "Watered Down" is sung by Kyle Gilbride and not Allison Crutchfield. Thank you Sadie "Fact Checking Cuz" Dupuis for putting us in our place. Two things we stick to our guns about: #1 Kyle sings like Daria, with lazily snotty, nonchalant coolness, despite that he's a male vocalist, while Daria is obviously a fictional high school chick. #2 "Watered Down" still reigns among our choices for the very best loud-guitar rock jams of the modern era.

15. Kurt Vile “KV Crimes”

We're at the beginning of the movie when the page is blank. Show some landscapes. Set the scenery. Establish a timestamp if necessary. Music may or may not be necessary, but "KV Crimes" sounds like the type of song that could accompany 100 types of movies. Reflections of crimes may lead in the direction of a fresh slate. Kurt Vile reflects within more stoned wisdom, tearing in the essence of his LP.

14. Pity Sex “Drown Me Out”
The most frequent critique of “Drown Me Out” that we've heard regards familiarity. “I've heard something that sounds like 'Drown Me Out' before,” but no one seems to be able to pin down exactly what. This supposed familiarity might best be attributed to the effortless simplicity of its craft. Songs like these are often created as a consequence of some magical accident, but in this case it appears far more purposely lethargic than lazy. Somewhere, pissed teens will always be understanding the power of barre chords played through Muff pedals. It's a combination as old as garage rock itself and not exclusive to any specific decade. “Drown Me Out” specifically descends from The Pixies just as much as a pair of 2011's sonically closest cousins, Yuck's “Get Away” and Ovlov's “The Valley,” albeit less busy-sounding, probably angrier and more isolated. Burn a notebook. Smash some icicles. Snap a pencil in half. The angst in those teens.

13. Dornik “Something About You”

Trancy dream sequence blurriness and stars accompany Dornik's grand entrance, like when Wayne sees Cassandra for the first time and "Dream Weaver" starts playing out of nowhere. His swag isn't quite rivaling the charms of Prince or Michael Jackson, but if you squint and turn on the fog machine no one will notice. Dornik perfected his first impression with such conviction that he may be misrepresenting himself. We really hope we're proven wrong here, but this may be one of those cases where a debut single eclipses the rest of an artist's career. In either case, some of the grandest statements in the past 3 years of pop music have resulted from the vague nostalgia that accompanies chillwave makin' dat sweet love to smooth R&B textures.

12. Two Inch Astronaut “Sternum”
We love Two Inch Astronaut so much that we want to squeeze the daylights out of them. The intro of "Sternum" always reminds us of Trail of Dead's "How Near How Far," in a way that's hugely complimentary to both bands. Then after the story fades, "Sternum" utilizes probably its least heralded motif: A gradual rallentando leading into the final ominously unresolved chord. We don't hear songwriters busting out these classic moves as frequently in 2013, and why the fuck not? If it worked on "Lovefool," why not go for it? We're not sure if we've heard any recent claims along the lines of "What the fuck ever happened to Monster Ballads?" but "Sternum" comes fully loaded with a helpfully earwormy chorus, strong enough to push out whatever abysmal Staind knockoff got stuck in your head the day prior. For a slow-burner, its energy surpasses almost anything else on Bad Brother, impressively blending not only within the context of the album's running order, but also among the rest of Exploding In Sound's 2013 roster.

11. Earl Sweatshirt featuring RZA “Molasses”
Everyone seems to be ready and hopeful for the next era of Odd Future, one in which Tyler no longer reigns as the loudmouth rebel without a cause, opting instead for its new leaders - Frank and Earl - to usher in a new dawn, lyrically closer to the teachings of JD Salinger. While introspection and right of passage have been accompanying OFWGKTA's best music since 2012, the lopsided and off-kilter loop in "Molasses" (accompanied by its subject matter) seems closer to what would have happened if Earl had followed along the path of his 2010 self-titled mixtape. RZA's cameo suggests a passing the torch to his disciples while remaining just as curious as the rest of us to discover what becomes of the former wild kids.

| Hot Mix 2013 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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