Friday, January 30, 2015

Hot Mix 2014: #20 - 11

Hello everyone. Welcome to our Top 20. Nice of you to join us. This is gonna be fun.

| Hot Mix 2014 on Spotify |

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

20. PC Worship “Baby in the Backroom”
"We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold." Sometimes it's better to just release control and just let everything happen around you. And perhaps the anti-solo in "Baby in the Backroom" is where you'll be led, into a kaleidoscope of multiplying soda cans leaning into single guitar strings suspended in the air, getting plucked by twenty different hands that are now possibly surrounding all 360 degrees around you. It's strangely the moment of zen within PC Worship's Social Rust - the center of that album's see-saw. The off-pitch vocals on either side of this solo represent the human element, so flawed and mesmerizing and genuine. Dean from No Age lamenting over One Foot In The Grave's crustiest moments.

19. Palberta "Susan"
Rare breed: An experimental rock band with three vocalist-songwriters who not only all switch off guitar, bass, and drums (in addition to whatever other odd sounds they might be throwing into their records) but who also present themselves as a true singular unit. Granted, thousands of high school bands can say the same. But there's 2 key differences: #1, Palberta is deliberate and self-aware - lofi, but NOT outsider-music. And #2, most importantly, they fucking slay. As noted earlier, they also insert recurring themes into their songs, like when the first minute-and-change of "Susan" reprises "When I Come" (off their 2013 cassette My Pal Berta). By the time it's done, "Susan" may have revealed itself as arguably the most disorienting rock jam of 2014.

18. Ariana Grande featuring The Weeknd “Love Me Harder”
Bieber, Tay Sway, 1D, Selena G. They've recently been joined by Ariana in that special millennial category of "perpetual teens." When "The Way" debuted back in Summer 2013, she was playin' up that "wholesome kid next door" thing. And not even a year later, she's already flashin' the vag. Kind of an absurdly quick turnaround. "Love Me Harder" seems like her official "sexualized" rite-of-passage moment into "maturity," which really wouldn't matter to us at all if the song wasn't jam-packed with hooks galore. We never expected to hear this much Max Martin on the radio so far into the game. Whenever it seems like Max and his boys are about to fall off, they're right back at it, pumping out more hits than ever, to the point where he was recently crowned The 3rd Most Successful Songwriter of All Time (after John Lennon and Paul McCartney). We think Max and Ariana really got something here. More jams plz.

17. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib "Thuggin'"
"Swiftly 'bout to stick a sweet dick in your sweetheart / Then get some groceries off my geeker EBT card." Okay, so we're actually confused by this one line because the only dinner groceries Gibbs could buy with a junkie's stolen EBT card would be like a box of Mac & Cheese, or something that can be cooked on the stove, unless the girlfriend just wants like some Reece's Eggs and Pringles, in which case he's all set. "And it feels so good, and it feels so right." We thought he might be expressing sarcasm here, as if he's been in the game so long and knows thug-life backwards but also "getting too old for this shit" like Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon. Either way, Gibbs remains on-point all throughout Piñata, rivaling the finest cash flow generators in the trap game. The same goes for Madlib, still the best producer within soulful sample-based hiphop - still just as fresh as he sounded a decade prior on Madvilliany and equally as relevant as hitmakers like Mike Will Made It or DJ Mustard. Anyone calling this album "outdated" needs to wake the fuck up. No other 2014 rap LP's came close to sounding as thoroughly fresh.

16. Charli XCX “Doing It”
A recent track review on Pitchfork boldly groups "Tik Tok," "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" and "Party in the U.S.A." as the megahits that "Doing It" aspires to keep in its company. Can the powers that be please allow this to happen? Honestly, we don't expect this song to achieve world domination, although weirder things have happened. But it's a stretch, which sucks because Top 40 so desperately NEEDS a song like "Doing It" right now, way WAY more than it needed Meghan Trainor. Charli XCX needs it to counter-balance her image as the "Boom Clap" girl - a great song that superficially could be perceived as a civil-war-wave derivative. Charli needs her "Say You'll Be There." She's a punky Spice Girl at heart. In the new "radio" edit, Rita Ora re-sang the 2nd verse. She's apparently very famous in Europe and sings like Shakira, which doesn't really fit the atmosphere of the song, but whatever. At least they get to high-five in the video. Girl power n stuff.

15. Grass Is Green “Big Dog Tee Shirt Birthday Weekend”
You know when the fuse on a stick of dynamite is long enough that you can watch the sparks as they make their way up to the explosive kaboom? That's basically the first 15 seconds of this song. Dope vocal effects and nicely toned distorted bass ride out the verses as they lead in and out of the noisefuck choruses. We spoke briefly with Devin and Andy from "The GIG" to discuss arguably the most immediate moment on Vacation Vinny.

Devin: "That one's a good one. It's got the baritone. It's a little more gruff. It's good. Big Dog tee shirts are where it's at, ya know, where they're like 'Be Tough Or Go Home.'"
TMK: Or sometimes it's like The Rock, or a basketball player.
Devin: "Yeah, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson."
Andy: "It's just like an overall mood."
TMK: We were told the title originally had your name in it.
Andy: "Yeah, it was originally called 'Andy's Birthday.' We played a show with a comedian dude [Ethan Marsh], and it was that guy's joke. The Big Dog tee shirt. The title was based off his joke."

14. Warpaint “Love Is To Die”
Face the portal. An entry into the unknown. Step inside. Stand still if you'd like; the conveyor belt will do the walking for you. As chain smoking Sam-Well Jackson in Jurassic Park would say, "hold onto your butts." If the walls start moving around, stare at them longer. Shit gets darker and darker until it's pitch black, and then the chorus hits. Suddenly, the surrounding tunnel turns neon dark-green with pink and yellow flying everywhere. Don't go in too deep though. It's possible that this whole time you were driving in the summer rain at 3AM. Or maybe that's the only part of this that ISN'T real. Whatever you do, don't wake up.

13. D'Angelo “Really Love” / D'Angelo “The Charade”
Remembering the first time we saw the album cover of Al Green's Greatest Hits (reissued on CD, over 20 years after its release date). We couldn't help but ask outloud, "What the fuck ever happened to guys like this?" D'Angelo seems to have agreed with this sentiment. It wouldn't be untrue to call Black Messiah a handbook of soul music history written by D'Angelo himself, taking each of those giants and expanding on their sounds - sometimes combining two giants into one song, but also presented in a fresh light that's entirely starring D'Angelo. "The Charade" and "Really Love" are the calm after the storm closing Side A (along with "Sugah Daddy"). It's the section of the album that feels most similar to Marvin Gaye's What's Going On or Al Green's Call Me. "Charade's" closing harmonies are the second coming of Prince and the Revolution. (Or it's the closest we've come ever since.) After years of floating around online, the final version of "Really Love" came out gorgeous enough that it was completely worth all the wait, without a single wasted moment in its 2-minute solo-guitar intro.
Really Love:
The Charade:

12. Disco Doom "Rice & Bones"
The car's facing the edge of the cliff. Does he shift to drive? Does he hit the gas? "Rice and Bones" is Disco Doom's finest exercise in restraint, slowly and painfully building into a Mogwai-style wall of blazing chaos. It's a 5-minute structural palindrome of sorts. Starting quietly pensive, it slowly builds without revealing too much, with appropriately few lyrics sung quietly from Gabriele De Mario, until it reaches the inevitable devastatingly crushing center. There's some more lyrics here also, but the blaze is so high that his voice is lost among the wreckage. It grows, it peaks, and then it fades again, returning to normalcy, never deviating from its 5-bar chord structure. It's so strange how simplicity can sometimes transmit universal emotion so effectively. The picture speaks a thousand words.

11. Future featuring Pusha T, Pharrell & Casino “Move That Dope”
In case there was any doubt, Skateboard P wins this contest. "Frequency high, like a spaceship." Pharrell, don't you dare ever hold back on those references to aliens and outer space. His verse is so good that it's almost unfair, making the surrounding verses seem comparatively embarrassing. Casino takes a distant 2nd place, closing out the song with some amusing hype-man insanity. Future's verse is basically all feeling and rhythm. It might take the average listener MANY attempts before deciphering what mush-mouth might be attempting to articulate. Pusha T enunciates well enough, but by the time he's done it starts to feel phoned-in. (No worries though. Pharrell steers us back on course mere seconds later.) Had it not been for the glaringly uneven vocal performances, "Move That Dope" would have been a safe bet for our Top 3, despite that it's very easy to overlook this flaw thanks to Mike Will Made It's ferocious beat (possibly the sickest of 2014) and that brilliantly contagious hook. Shit's unstoppable.


| Hot Mix 2014 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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