Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hot Mix 2013: #60 to 51

| 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 |

60. Big Sean ft. Nicki Minaj & Juicy J “MILF”
Instead of approaching "MILF" as a sequel to "Dance(A$$)(Remix)," Sean and Nicki sorta took the route of Tommy Boy & Black Sheep, casting the same chemistry partners in a different scenario. The result is probably the weirdest love song of the year, describing the complexities of falling for a MILF. We thought the kids were singing "Man on my mama," but Rap Genius reveals it's "Man, not my mama." When the kids aren't looking, Big Sean eats their snacks. When Seany's not looking, they're peeping through the keyhole. It's implied that Nicki Minaj plays the part of the 50-something MILF on welfare with fake teeth, an interesting twist that would fit more typically in a bizarre Sundance Festival film than within modern hiphop.

59. Ariana Grande featuring Mac Miller “The Way”
For some reason, "the song on the summer" seemed to have been emphasized through internet and radio marketing more so than in previous summers, and "The Way" def wins for top 5 summer 2013 jams, beating out "Blurred Lines" by a long shot. Thicke's and Pharrell's interpolation of "Got To Give It Up" didn't add as much sweetness (and dopeness, frankly) as Ariana's triple-thick frosting spread over the "Still Not A Playa" cupcake. By the time April showers turned to July thundershowers, "The Way" became inescapable and familiar enough to remove her Mariah similarities from the equation, embodying the jam entirely, and significantly upping the ante from Thalia and Fat Joe's interpolation ten years prior.

58. Krill “Never a Joke”
Apart from having one of the catchiest earworm-basslines of the year, "Never a Joke" derives from the LP that spawned this historic blurb from our staff writers: When your path crosses Krill getting wasted in the gutter, they won't shout expletives at you or ask for change. They might not even want your attention. But if you give them 3 minutes, you'll be in on the joke. Despite its endearing wit, this record's enormity never quits. Bummer slack. Stay in bed for a week. Some of those caterwauls might be hiccups. - Staff writers.

57. Cultes des Ghoules “The Passion of a Sorcereess”
The song title suggests witchcraft, but we're hearing Satanic stews a-brewin'. Right when “Sorceress” hits the throttle within its first minute, the rhythm section and guitars quickly lose any sense of synchronicity, suggesting stumblingly drunk raw power. Halfway through, Fred Phelps (or someone) condemns the heathens just before a monstrously thrashy riff brings it home for 4 or 5 minutes, only occasionally joined by Cultes' vocalist, scream-laughing while shoveling the non-believer souls into the eternal incinerator.

56. Jay-Z featuring Rick Ross “Fuckwithmeyouknowigotit”

We're happy to announce this as the first Hot Mix since 2009 with no Drake. Praise the Lord. (Unless you wanna count the cliched Drake-influenced bassline in this surprisingly chill banger.)

55. Vanessa Paradis “Love Song”
Yeah, we simply dug the song and assumed she was a more recent breaking artist, but it turns out she's been releasing shit since the late 80s and is famous enough to have dated Johnny Depp for something like 12 years (and bore his child). But whether or not she's an officially certified celeb makes little difference to Hot Mix 2013. The reason "Love Song" made the cut has everything to do with the boner-generating bouncy bass line and faux-untrained whispery vocal delivery, falling somewhere between two French vocalists who we can't completely pin down at the moment, so let's just go with Serge Gainsborg and France Gall. Sure, why not...

54. Action Bronson & Party Supplies “Contemporary Man”
A less adventurous pairing of DJ & Rapper might have split this into 5 or 6 separate jams. Leave it to Party Supplies to make good on his chosen DJ name, serving up mostly familiar samples from more unexpectedly uncovered areas of 80s MTV than Puff Daddy's first solo record...
- “Sledgehammer”: Officially certified monster sample. Who knew?
- “Sussudio”: Always reliable as one of the all time so-bad-it's-good ironic bangers, but sounding way more enormous in this context, only slightly chopped & screwed. (Sounds like he lowered the turntable speed a bit.)
- “Jack & Diane”: Sampled tastefully enough to make up for Jessica Simpson's abysmal “I Think I'm In Love” almost entirely. Almost.
- “Another Day in Paradise”: The biggest surprise of all, since we've never liked this song, but now we sneak it onto our Spotify playlists when no one's looking. That's the positive power of Party Supplies. Guilty pleasures don't exist? Pshh.
- The fifth sample: Not sure what song this is, but Bronson's double-tracked once-sung refrain sets up the pins nicely for the mini-verse of dopeness that follows.
- The last sample: A weird finale, but sometimes serious ragers come to strange conclusions. Hey, that's party life.

53. Nelly featuring Nicki Minaj & Pharrell “Get Like Me”
Throwing some Minaj into the mixture was a nice touch, but not enough to launch “Get Like Me” into its well deserved placement within the Top 40 stratosphere. Most fans of Pharrell who've been awaiting some sort of Neptunes resurgence probably expected it to sound like this song, as opposed to his two genuine summer 2013 megahits. Under normal circumstances (if Top 40 radio hadn't completely turned to shit over the past 2-3 years), “Get Like Me” could have easily fit into heavy rotation. Unfortunately, Nelly and Pharrell shot for an era of nostalgia that wasn't marketable in 2013, with a beat that was dope as hell, albeit less than immediate. There's always next summer.

52. My Bloody Valentine “If I Am”
The past few years have been rough times for the most mysterious rock stars. Since Loveless, Kevin Shields remained elusive as his records grew more legendary, only intensified as the years progressed without a follow up. By the time it was finally released, MBV arrived long after legend-debunking trolls began fueling an age of anti-mystique, discouraging mystery and legend, suddenly placing every article and interview piece very close by to anyone with access to Google searches. The intensely layered guitar jings and effects pedal filtering transcends past the debunkers, preserving the mystique required for their sparkly brand of spacewarp. We're also guessing the last 15 seconds of this song are everything that precedes played backwards.

51. Daft Punk featuring Pharrell “Get Lucky (Radio Edit)”
Ten years on, the phenomenon of the unclassifiable indie/R&B/hiphop crossover continues, following a decent lineage of songs that typically place at #1 on Spin Magazine's favorite singles of the year: “Hey Ya,” “Feel Good Inc,” “Crazy,” “Paper Planes,” and “Fuck You.” This time around, it only makes sense for EDM to fall somewhere into this crossover equation, nicely laying down the red carpet just in time for “Get Lucky” to take the world by storm. After quickly getting suckered into its brilliant marketing campaign, many of us assumed throughout May and June that “Get Lucky” was the bees knees of summer jams. While this assumption failed to hold water, it's still dope enough to qualify as “essential summer 2013” (far more so than “Blurred Lines” or “Applause”) and the best song from a slightly disappointing albeit decent record. (LP version is about 2 minutes too long. Radio edit wins.) P.S. “Song of the summer” seems to have turned into an annoying internet marketing phrase. Expect an attempt to repeat of this next year with similar-sounding dancey stuff.

| 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 |

Monday, January 13, 2014

Hot Mix 2013: #70 to 61

Our frequency of Hot Mix posts are not as hot as in recent years... Not surprising since Taste My Kids is kinda slow at the moment. School and Speedy Ortiz have been taking up most of our time. It was kinda easier to get this done when we all worked office jobs and could write things down in between emails and phone calls. But we're doing what we can to keep things moving. Another 10 jams, ready to roll...

| 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 |

70. Jai Paul “Track 8” (a.k.a. "Good Time")
“Track 8” begins with an intro (apparently) sampled from one of the Harry Potter movies (where one character transforms into a werewolf or something) juxtaposed immediately afterward by the most joyous and frustratingly brief passage to appear on any record in the past year: “Just wanna have a good tiiiiiiime...” 26 seconds later, the song has ended. Fade to black.

Seriously though, what the fuck? Jai Paul, you little tease... Where do you get off tossing around such a dope little song fragment at least 2 minutes and 25 seconds shorter than has any right to be? Considering the theory that Jai Paul himself was the mastermind behind his own leaked demo collection, it's entirely possible that he knew exactly what he was doing with this preview (or whatever it is), since we've been prone to several occasions where our brains become shackled within an extended 4-hour remix of this 26-second passage looping itself itself over and over.

Perhaps this is just what he wanted. Perhaps he's knows damn well he's got an earworm on his hands, and perhaps he's aware of the psychology behind short songs. Did you ever notice how jingles, commercials, TV themesongs, and other quickies (between 5 and 40 seconds) often attack our vulnerability greater than 3-minute pop singles of average-length? When the Sealab 2021 theme gets stuck in your head, sometimes it just feels good to let it keep playing another 6 or 7 times before allowing your brain to move onto something else.

It's like those goddamn Snyder's pretzel bites. You can't eat just one. Name your poison: Whether they're Honey Mustard & Onion, Peanut Butter, Jalapeno or Buffalo Wing flavored, they are among the most addicting “crack” junk-foods that currently exist. And oddly enough, the amount of time they last in one's mouth while experiencing the entire process of chewing and swallowing is roughly 26 seconds, the same amount of time it takes to listen through the actual “song” portion of “Track 8.” Stop us if we're giving Jai Paul too much credit, but the current demo version of “Track 8” may be purposely calculated to arouse the same brain chemicals of fleeting joy that addict us to our instinctive pleasures. We're animals. We love to get high. *shrug* “Just wanna have a good tiiiiiiime...” nowhere to find for streaming individually... this links to the full album on youtube

69. Yuck “Rebirth”
“Chew” - the swansong of Yuck 1.0 - marks the final point before their fork in the road. The Hebronix dude commendably avoided turning into Axl Rose and shouting “fuck these guys, I'm taking the band name with me,” helping fans to more closely examine the separation of Yuck 1.0. Hebronix and Yuck 2.0 aren't exactly the perfectly matched puzzle pieces that were revealed when STP briefly split into Talk Show and solo Scott Weiland. Yuck 1.0 have instead split into perpetually evolving units. Both halves issued music of approximately equal quality, although we unexpectedly preferred the highlights on Yuck 2.0 Glow and Behold, especially the dreamy jams like "Rebirth." Perhaps they'll regroup at some point, but at least the bitter split hasn't stifled either half.

68. Of Montreal “She Ain't Speakin' Now”
Kevin Barnes ditches his long-cherished quadruple-track layered falsetto and bouncy intertwining upper-fret walking bass lines in favor of a return to Of Montreal's 90s production values fused with 70s classic rock cues. The songwriting is still sprawling, but the playful and strangely effortless hooks are as memorable as anything on Satanic Panic or Sunlandic Twins, especially on “She Ain't Speakin' Now,” the tune that currently stands tallest as an early highlight of what may become Of Montreal's freshly launched third era.

67. Two Inch Astronaut “Spank Jail”
Earlier in 2013, Lars Gotrich heard a similarly frantic influence from Dismemberment Plan. We hear a head-first plunge into the muck at 1000MPH. "Spank Jail" seems to concern punishment, whether wildly inflicted from the outside or a prolonged blast of internal berating. Shit can get hectic, and Bad Brother harnesses those moments into a sequence of explosions - chaotic breakneck riffage effortlessly breezing at a pace that demands repeated plays. As they continue to improve, we're predicting Two Inch's cult-status may receive copious upgrades in 2014.

66. Ciara featuring Nicki Minaj “Livin’ It Up”

The original 2012 version without the Nicki Minaj verse is our preference. The Minaj addition takes the lame Mary J Blige route, mostly heeding the “girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do” section, as opposed to its more subtle lyrical inflections. Beyond this slight blemish, it's still one of the year's strongest pop melodies, strangely avoiding any Top 40 airplay.

65. Kim Deal “Hot Shot”
A big year for Kim: After helping with new songs during a particularly frustrating Pixies session in England, she pulls the rage-quit card and immediately flies back to Ohio for planning the LSXX tour and possibly the best series of 7-inches from any artist this year. Inside sources have informed us that “Walking With a Killer” may get re-recorded for a prospective fifth Breeders LP. We chose stomper-chomper “Hot Shot” as our favorite a-side, arriving with the brightest Kim Deal smile out of her six 2013 jams, all of which surpassed Nu-Pixies recent misguided clunkers. Kim's tireless perfectionism wouldn't allow for anything less.

64. Selena Gomez “Birthday”
After throwing back a few shots, Selena ignores the “Do Not Enter” sign and busts down the doors to crash Ke$ha's secret spectacular birthday party. After successful undetected entry, it turns out that Ke$ha is absent from her own affair as a consequence of selling her soul to the reality TV devil. Selena takes advantage of the situation, covering her head with a blonde wig and impersonating Ke$ha so convincingly that no one notices.

63. Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats “Desert Ceremony”
In 1971, Z-Man throws yet another happening and makes an effort to invite the same band from 1 year prior. Unfortunately, lead guitarist Jimi Hendrix is no longer with us, leaving the 3 remaining members - Burt Ward, Geezer Butler and Wings-era Paul McCartney wearing black cloaks and surrounded by a shrine of candles - ready to jam on some sludgier “Album 3” darkness. Higher quality production suggests they've become one of the most revered sludge-pop bands of the moment, although their blusier approach includes subtle undercurrents of sadness seeping into the performances, perhaps a consequence of their mission to rediscover an initial fleeting high. BBC session version is available for stream on youtube

62. Cloud Control “Dojo Rising”
Our bias against Post-Phantom Limb indie-pop is never strong enough to push away an irresistibly tasty handful of jams year after year. After bands like Hooray For Earth, The Morning Benders and Stars found their way into our last few Hot Mixes (usually placing somewhere around #45), Cloud Control similarly beat the odds in 2013. Elsewhere on their LP, the lead singer dude belts some soulful croons that reach a little too far over the top for our tastes (i.e. their single “Promises”). We prefer the stuff that sounds more like “Dojo Rising,” wisely holding back from these instincts.

61. Neon Indian “Change of Coast”
Neon Indian converts from VHS to LaserDisc for his Vice City contribution. Just kidding, it was GTA:V - not Vice City, but it almost feels like no one bothered telling him. "Summery, smiley and vaguely nostalgic" is typically a good combination for murdering hookers with a forklift. It should also suit just fine for whatever Neon Indian has in store for 2014.

| 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 |

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hot Mix 2013: #80 to 71

| 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 |

80. Daniel Johnston “Space Ducks Theme Song”

We're assuming Daniel's comic book (also called Space Ducks) includes some contextual explanation for the war in Austin, Texas. Robot quack noises suggest a childlike sci-fi universe starring anamorphic ducks (confirmed by the cover art for the comic itself). His most memorable jam since 1996's “Dream Scream.”

79. Body/Head “Abstract”
Yes, we know the picture is of Sonic Youth on The Simpsons and not of Body/Head, the band Kim Gordon formed with Bill Nace in 2012. (It was tough for us to find interesting Kim Gordon-related memes.) Our video treatment for "Abstract" would show Kim Gordon and Bill Nace confined in adjacent holding cells, belting out the demons of their respective loneliness. The warden doesn't seem to notice or care that pedal boards and amps are keeping them company before all hell breaks loose. "Abstract" appears to be unavailable to stream from soundcloud, hype machine or bandcamp. we tried.

78. Jay-Z “Tom Ford”
Is this Jay-Z's lame “Don't do drugs” jam? Magna Carta officially kicks off the era of “Dad-Rap,” stuff that sounds decently modern but mostly appeals to the baser impulses of hiphop fans who are old enough to run for president.* The chorus alludes to hiphop's recent incredibly lame obsession with fashion designers, essentially stating “I'm too dope and important to associate with the same recreational activity as common college freshmen.” And while the 8-bit beat took as much shit as the lyrical hook, the song musically still impresses us enough to place as “essential 2013.” Call it a guilty pleasure if you'd like.

(*As opposed to nostalgia-rap. Joey Badass loves dem 90s-nostalgia beats, but he's only 18 and raps about fantasy crack-deals. Def not Dad-Rap.)

77. Deerhunter “Monomania”

Let's paraphrase Bradford Cox's rant from Deerhunter's appearance at Governor's Ball NYC: "Oil is made from our dead ancestors, and it's being used to provide power for all of the bands that are playing today, so if you think about it, all the bands playing today are being brought to you by our dead ancestors." Seems logical.

76. Fake Shark Real Zombie “Get Weird”
A guilty pleasure discovery from ILX's “Worst songs of the year” thread. Yes, the song title is literal; “Get Weird” achieves a series of consistently bizarre moments for 3 solid minutes. If the listener doesn't immediately run away in terror (possibly after screaming something to the affect of “this sucks”), repeated listens might eventually reveal a pop song that's probably best described as “inventively dumb” or “creatively stupid.” We hear Fake Shark falling somewhere within the realm of “Juggalo-approved rock bands who we probably should hate, but they're actually not that bad at songwriting,” i.e. The Bloodhound Gang, Brokencyde and CKY, but with a warped undercurrent reminiscent of Ween and Butthole Surfers. Fellow Ween-fan Henry Rollins approves of Fake Shark enough to supply cameos on their records. WEIRD.

75. Grass Is Green “Vacation 2.0”

Andy Chevernak says, "It's a dystopia." Jesse Weiss says, "It's a journey." Devin McKnight says, "Don't take your vacation time too seriously. Relax bud." And that concludes our exclusive interview with Grass Is Green on the modern classic "Vacation 2.0," the preview track from their hotly anticipated LP Vacation Vinny set for release on January 14, 2014. "2.0" includes what we like to call "The ol' 1-2 switch 'em," in which interim bassist Mike Thomas trades spots with Devin for some tasty guttural baritone guitar with a fat Thee Oh Sees delay pedal. The video is set to debut any day now. Video director Darl Ferm says: "I wrote it, I edited it, I directed it, and I also did cinematography." Let's leave the final word for Grass Is Green fanatic, Sadie Dupuis: It's hard for me to listen to the bridge of this hot new Grass is Green jawn without hearing the verse melody of Self's "Dog You Are." According to Darl, Andy improvises the lyrics to that part live, so my 2014 resolution is to get him to sing "We all know you're leaving this town." for some reason the bandcamp embed won't work until the whole album is available

74. Polvo “Light, Raking” / Polvo "Some Songs"
Keanu Reeves and Dennis Hopper negotiate through mind games in the live action Hollywood version of Grand Theft Auto. "Light Raking" pumps loudly during the intense bus chase, while "Some Songs" is reserved for the pensive feelings montage. For Polvo, Siberia secures their slot reigning among the best reformed 90s indie-bands.
"Light, Raking" VIDEO:
"Some Songs"

73. Queens of the Stone Age “I Sat By The Ocean”
...Like Clockwork turned out to be the first Queens album with no re-recordings of previously released non-album tracks. (Last year, we incorrectly predicted it would include “Nobody to Love,” Josh Homme's one-off solo jam from a movie soundtrack.) This new era for QOTSA def doesn't skimp on the guest cameos and features stoner anthems like "I Sat By The Ocean," just as large in scope as the biggest jams of their classic 1997-2007 lineage, but with an additional layer of perspective and wisdom that can only be acquired from a well deserved 6-year hiatus.

72. Ariana Grande featuring Big Sean “Right There”
Actual blatant 90s nostalgia: The direct descendents of Mariah Carey playing Lil Kim to Big Sean's Puff Daddy. Raise the roof.

71. Beyonce “XO”
Katy Perry is the presence that signals over-saturation of any hot radio trend. We accurately predicted early in 2013 that Katy's album would certainly arrive with a civil-war-wave influenced radio hit. And it didn't take long before “Roar” finally arrived, just in time to cash-in on dismal washboard/stomping/banjo vomit from the likes of The Lumineers and Imagine Dragons. However, no one could have predicted such an immense ray of light from the most unlikely of places: Appearing as an early highlight on Beyonce's self-titled, “XO” acts as the antithesis of “Roar,” essentially justifying the entire civil-war-wave subgenre while supplying the world with its artistic and commercial pinnacle all within the same breath. Fuck em up.

| 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 |