Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hot Mix 2014: #30 - 21

Updated: | 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 |

30. Aphex Twin “180db_[130]”
Insane David Lynch Posse. Flat Eric probably loves this song. If you don't know who Flat Eric is, then just imagine a room full of sock puppets and hand puppets headbanging as hard as the human wrist will allow. If you've seen Wrong Cops, it sounds like some song they would dig. Guess that means it sounds like Mr. Oizo. But wait - no, what we really mean is that it's a bizarro-reality version of pop music from some decade (one that wasn't the '90s) that never actually happened. Or the next '90s - the one that will take place post-apocalypse after we rebuild the internet and everything progresses almost the same way as over the past 100 years. Also hugely disorienting if you're not careful. Just headbang. It's fun.
[Couldn't find this song or really anything else from Syro on Youtube, but here's a live version of one of them:]

29. Usher "Good Kisser"

Usher reclaims the "MJ with classiness" throne back from J-Timb - not like it was hard after the ball-drop that was 20/20 Experience. Usher is def beloved, although few stars are as beloved as JT who can get away with releasing subpar fluff like "SexyBack" and "Suit and Tie" even though they're not nearly as good as "Good Kisser" or "She Came to Give It to You." Or "Climax" or "Love in this Club" - did everyone already forget these? That said, Usher's earned some underdog appeal. He's still the man and current champion of the post-MJ game.

28. Palberta “Store” / Palberta “All the Way”
Palberta has lots of songs about going to the store. Two of these are tied here. This makes us wonder, what exactly is going on at this special "store" that keeps them coming back for more? Is it a product or a person? Is it neither? Is it both? It's all very cryptic and mysterious. One might notice the triangle in their live presentation suspiciously resembling the Illuminati symbol. The looseness in their musicianship seems to drastically counter-balance and mask meticulous craftsmanship. We refused to believe all those minor-2nds and diminished triads just miraculously ended up in their songs by accident, as if mom dropped them off at daycare that morning and within seconds they all looked at each other and decided "let's do a band" and all at once they ran into the kitchen pulled out some pots and pans and Marshall halfstacks and started screaming "I WENT TO THE STORE" in unison. They won't even crack a smile within their live setting - not unless it's been written into whatever song they're playing. And they have choreography! We usually hate choreography in rock music, but Palberta is the exception. Go team dissonance.

27. Two Inch Astronaut “Black Fridge Area”
Breaking news: We got the final word from Sam Rosenberg, Matt Gatwood and Andy Chervenak about "Black Fridge Area." What we learned may shock you.

Matt: "I got really drunk at a party on St. Patrick's Day 2013, and their refrigerator was black."
TMK: Whose refrigerator?
Matt: "Her name was Rachel, I think. And I don't really know how it came about, but Sam started videotaping me, and he asked me a question, and I didn't really answer his question, but I said something about being lost inside of the black fridge area. And then Sam and Daniel and this guy Aaron made an 8-minute video involving this. So I was shown the video later, and the video based on that video, but I didn't remember any of it."
TMK: Are you guys gonna make an official video for this song? Because it sounds like it's already done.
Matt: "Well, there's a video without the song."
Andy: "'Black Fridge Area' makes me really hungry for black forest ham."
Sam: "It's about NyQuil."
Andy: "And black forest ham in my tummy."
Sam: "It's when you go to Subway and you get the BMT. What is a BMT again?"
Andy: "Bacon, meat and tomato? Is that what it is?"
TMK: Okay, anything else?
Sam: "Uh. Colesville. Free Adnan. Trumbull."
TMK: Cool. Thank you.

26. Geromimo! “Spitting in the Ocean”
We're bummed that it took us until this far down the road to realize that the title of Geromimo!'s demo cassette series Buzz Yr Girlfriend refers to a quote from Home Alone. Little did we know that we figured this out past the point when we might ever get to see them play again, since last October when they broke the news: The seven year itch is a real thing. They've already completed their final US tour. They have one more EP, a split 7-inch with Ovlov, and a final few shows in Chicago planned for 2015 before calling it quits. Even with one more fresh batch of music on the horizon, the recent news gave Cheap Trick the feel of a swan song, with their announcement aligning with the bittersweet atmosphere of "Spitting in the Ocean," the jam that seemed to resonate with more than a few fans as one of the true rock anthems of Summer 2014. Kelly and Ben from Geronimo! lent a quick word:

Kelly: "'Spitting' is about a falling out with a friend that you had a close relationship with. Missing that person but knowing the feeling is for naught. Not knowing if things will change but ultimately reconciling those feelings."
Ben: "I think we were sort of going for an Archers of Loaf vibe. Especially with the gang vocals towards the end. It came together pretty quick."
TMK: I love how it has those stabbing harmonics in the intro, almost like a Jimmy Eat World song.
Ben: "Haha, man, I never listened to them, but I know Kelly was into them back in high school. I was into way cooler stuff like, um, *cough* Less Than Jake."

25. Miguel “nwa” / Miguel “Coffee”

We're a little scared including these, since they don't seem to be the complete versions that will ultimately be included on some forthcoming Miguel full length. Especially "Coffee" which just kinda ends abruptly. We're scared because the future versions of these songs will probably surpass their already dope freshness. Although "Gravity" was dope as hell and wasn't included on Kaleidoscope Dream, so maybe they're intended as stray jams, in which case we're off the hook. Who really knows, but in either case we're pumped as hell for more of Miguel's 3-song mini-mixtapes in 2015.
Might as well just post the entire mixtape here:

24. Migos featuring Young Thug "YRN"

These guys are having the greatest time pretty much ever, playin' around with rhyme games in some metaphorical yacht party drinking metaphorically extravagant beverages in fancy glasses. The band they'll be rapping over at the lounge party only does Chuck Mangione and Herb Alpert covers. No problems here. Just fugger/thugger. Favorite scream-along lyric: "I'm in love with Benjamin Frank-a-lins!"

23. Ex Hex “Don't Wanna Lose”
After Mary Timony spent decades dabbling in ass-kicking renaissance-influenced math rock, who knew she had it in her to dream up so many flawless power-pop gems? Did Mary even know? We sometimes get the impression that she doesn't know her own strength. Her latest batch rivals all the giants of late '70s garage and power-pop: The Undertones, Blondie, Joan Jett and Buzzcocks. It's been years since THIS kind of album has sounded THIS good. Track 1, Side 1. Start with the big hit. "Like Motown used to do." (Wasn't that in the liner-notes for Something/Anything?) We spoke with Mary and Betsy Wright from Ex Hex who were kind enough to offer some insight:

Betsy: "It's a pretty simple song. Mary wrote it before I met her, and I feel like she was trying something fun that had some punch to it, like with the reverb-y hits at the beginning."
Mary: "Yeah, I think I wrote it before the band formed. The pedal that I used sounds big and crazy, but it's actually a really shitty VOX delay pedal, and I was kinda like 'I can't believe we actually used that.'" The verses are very garage-rock, kinda like 13th Floor Elevators or something."
TMK: Is there a key-change in the chorus, or does it just sound that way without modulating?
Betsy: "No, it doesn't really modulate technically. The only song of ours with a proper modulation is 'Hot and Cold.' But I want to try more of those - a song with 2 or 3 modulations, when you have really simple chords but then you bring it up a half-step and then again and again. It takes you into another universe."

22. Charli XCX “Boom Clap”
"What's that one that's like 'Bang Clang Pow?'" "Boom Clap" initially felt lost in the haze of faceless summer hits not long after it got linked into the promotion for that terminal-illness related teen romcom thing. Sucker changed all that, drastically refreshing its appeal thanks to the rejuvenating energy of its sister jams. Even that one she co-wrote with Rivers Cuomo is kinda sorta decent, and that's saying a lot. In this context, "Boom Clap" is Charli's "Karma Police" - the ubiquitous hit that always sounds great on the radio because you know it's representing a great album. X-Mas shopping at Dollar Magic and Family Dollar was actually not so bad this year, partially because of how much "Boom Clap" kept getting spun on the muzak. Thank you Charli.

Also, a quick special message to those jerks who are all like "does everything really have to be a Radiohead comparison?" Thanks to your efforts, Hot Mix 2014 now has more unnecessary Radiohead references than ever before. We're new and improved.

21. Pile “Special Snowflakes”
It might not be fair to tag "Special Snowflakes" as Pile's "Stairway to Heaven." We'll instead reserve that honor for "Prom Song" - the Side A closer from 2012's Dripping with the closest thing to "the Jesus of guitar solos" anyone's pulled off in the 2010s so far (by a long shot). "Special Snowflakes" seems comparatively obscured and mysterious. In the quiet parts, the upright piano reveals some psychedelic tendencies. For a minute, we thought it might be their "No Quarter," but the entirety of Houses of the Holy might make more sense, since the song breezes through nearly an entire album's worth of ideas in just over 7 minutes. But its most impressive feature is the honing of its structure. It's not easy to effortlessly craft that many ideas into one song without resorting to Mr. Bungle levels of chaos. Try closer to Faith No More, Black Sabbath, Meat Puppets, Mudhoney. But a version of these that sounds both crude and graceful.

| 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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