I don’t know if you can handle this. We’re going to sneak the sh*t up on Mitchum’s Twitter. Ian Cohen will be blindsided. Breihan will be speechless. Nate Patrin will look like Team Jacob (wtf?)- sad. Sherburne, better left unmentioned, before he works in LeBron James’ imminent decision into a review of a Boris/Chundernozzle split white label 12 inch.
Pitchfork listo here. Our previous 100-81 here. 80-61 here. 60-41 here. 40-21 here. Somebody should graph our output over the year. Diminishing returns? I think not. UC delivers! Suck it, All Music Guide!
20. Japandroids “Young Hearts Spark Fire”
PP says: The murky production here leaves me cold. If this song were just this side of the line, say Titus Andronicus I would be fine. If you play the lo-fi game of a certain level of retro stylings you have an equal chance of me loving you track or feeling like the heart is belied by a certain cynicisim or is an academic creation. I need to put on a sweater.
UC adds: Music only a 17-year old could love. Is this the new face of emo? Didn’t I warn you all that this would happen? Blech. I can’t find a single redeeming thing about this track – certainly not the production, singing, lyrics, or instrumental ability. Truly battle of the bands material only. [PP adds: Mendacious D is crestfallen]
19. Joker “Digidesign”
PP says: Everybody brace yourself quick- the big state-of-dubstep hard-sell is coming right now! Video game closing credits blarp. Not even up for the cut scenes. Alternatively, Japanese planetarium music. If I were buzzed and reclined, looking at swirling infinite galaxies this would be OK.
UC adds: I’m afraid I’ve heard this music before. I’m ashamed to say, it was on a very low-quality porno soundtrack. To the most soul-sucking robotic unerotic sex ever. That is what this music evokes. Bravo Joker. You are in line for a big paycheck!
18. The Big Pink “Dominos”
PP says: Second track on list from The Big Pink. Kind of annoying in that they pull the punches on the giant drums. Like someone is playing a monstrous pseudo epic but they play it constantly like the dude in the dorm with “Boys of Summer” on repeat so you really are just hearing it through the pillow with which you try to cover your ears. Also, I’d love to know what a “crunchy slab” is. Is Patrick Sisson taking lessons from the Mustache? If so, he will be familiar with the phrase “suck on this.” Listenable MSG-coated rice cake that would struggle to be the Sly Fox of its day.
UC adds: I have to give credit to the music structure, which is a throw-back to have a chorus and exposition. In that way being like 99.5% of all songs out there distinguishes this track from its neighbours on the P-fork list. Also, a nice overtone of misogyny makes the track very topical. Also, sucking ass puts it in this elite company. Very paint-by-the-numbers lame-o.
17. Fuck Buttons “Surf Solar”
PP says: Firing up the spaceship. We slowly work towards a better than average techno cheese epic. It borders just this side of being a prelude to some Muse atrocity. Passable, but not as fun as it could be.
UC adds: This is smarter than your average techno. The production is glossier, the bleeps are beepier, and the samples are samplier. Awesome on ecstasy I’m sure, but listening to it in a static environment makes me feel on edge and antsy. Kool Ade please!
16. The xx “Crystalised”
PP says: Second xx track on our journey and I hope it has more going for it that immaculate sound. I have to give in here because this is pretty much quality. Rhythm track thumps a little like a heartbeat, and while not quite as sexy as Amy Granzin makes it out to be, it’s getting there.
UC adds: Yeah, this is good. Interesting lead-in with atypical vocal combinations and structure that builds to a very good chorus. I am beginning to understand why so many of my friends like this CD. If this were maybe the 5th best song, I could feel compelled to listen to more. But if this is the best track, it is probably a pass. The ending is good with its little slow-down.
15. Girls “Hellhole Ratrace”
PP says: Sounds like Daniel Lanois and Nigel Godrich producing Elvis Costello. The math shouldn’t be this easy to dial up a hit and I think it really isn’t. I’d guess I’d call this a non-moron’s zucchini-free 501s “Use Somebody.” Easy to see why this adds up to an indie attention-grabber. I’ll bow my defeated head here because I can’t bring myself to love or hate this creation of artificial intelligence.
UC adds: Girls appear to be yearning to be Spiritualized with a little less heroin, a lot less instruments, and with the flashy production of The xx. There are artists out there that feel genuine because they express emotions and sentimentality in an honest and personal way. Then there are artists out there that want you to feel they are genuine by writing about things they think others feel are emotional and sentimental, but since they are hollowed-out shells of a non-person and can only follow a finite set of boolean constrictions, they feel disingenuous. I’m not saying this is the worst song in the world by the shallowest group in history. But I don’t think it’s all that much better either. Now excuse me as I try to wash down the puke.
14. Joy Orbison “Hyph Mngo”
PP says: I look forward to reading the extensive Wikipedia page on this instant classic five years from now. It will wear its Christgau B- like a badge of honor. Rappers will namecheck this song more than Obama got dropped in the summer of ’09. It will give all the other songs an Aaron Sorkin penned tongue-lashing. Blech.
UC adds: According to Pitchfork, I am a one-of-a-kind freak of nature because this track doesn’t compel me to the dance floor. I don’t claim to have the academic cred to say whether this is truly a novel dance track. Unfortunately when I went to the dance track archives, it needed a password and 123456 didn’t work. Apparently, I am anatomically deficient to understand the greatness of this song, because I didn’t feel the reverb of bass hits in my chest. As such, I disqualify my opinion that this is a boring and useless song that belongs in the top 50 as much as the bottom 50 of dance tracks of 2010.
13. Neon Indian “Deadbeat Summer”
PP says: Average track from Psychic Chasms but perhaps the most nostalgia drenched or derivative. It’s OK, but not the right choice here. “Acid” is better, and of course “6669.” This one will begin to grate pretty quickly.
UC adds: I gave this song some extra time just out of respect for Pinko, but it just doesn’t gel for me. There are moments that I think I like, but then it gets ruined by excess blipping and bleeping. I think this is a case of more being less. Somewhere in there is a really fun song, but it is obscured by the clouds.
12. Grizzly Bear “While You Wait for the Others”
PP says: Baroque indie-pop perfectionists leave some at a distance because their intricate constructions feel a little too perfect to consume. I think it just takes a while to appreciate something that doesn’t obviously or directly provide you a dot-to-dot or color-by-numbers for how you are supposed to feel. Or maybe they’re just boring. Those are the two sides to this coin. I’m on the positive side. Very good.
UC adds: FINALLY!!!!! I lurve this track to death. It reminds me more of Department of Eagles than the other tracks on Veckatimest, which makes me appreciate it so much more. I think this track works much better within the context of the whole album, where it sounds more transitionary, but it is a great single. I hate to seem to like a baroquen record, but the composition of this track is staggeringly well crafted. From the cannon to the a capella, every bar is beautiful and every transition is seamless. It is perilously close to perfection.
11. Animal Collective “What Would I Want? Sky”
PP says: There was dissension in the P-fork ranks whether to chart a non-existent AC track whose genesis has not yet been born in the form of a oddly grilled quesadilla Avey Tare will consume sometime next February. Why not just go all in and put this at number 1? Great great track, but “Summertime Clothes” should have been recognized here, but I guess we’re just so sick of that one because we first heard it at Coachella 2008 and then the album leaked and we were sick of it before we even heard it because we’d been hearing it since we predicted its existence. Ian Cohen makes it through a review without tossing an F-bomb [ed note: the phrase ‘totally f*cking obscure Grateful Dead sample’ was viewed not to be an F-bomb but rather a [UC trails off, PP adds: douchey attempt at faux-my-God “like totally obscure, I mean I, Ian Cohen, got it, but only because I’m so f*cking awesome and know the Dead catalog as kind of a lazy Sunday trivia game, not as some smelly hippie”] . We don’t. F*ck Ian Cohen. Just f*cking kidding.
UC adds: Clever, witty, sophisticated, and sadly kind of boring until the chorus, almost four minutes in the song. From that point, the track goes from a yawn to a yay. I totally see the awesomeness of what is going on here, but honestly I don’t really want to listen to this more than once a year. This is my general feeling about all AC songs, so nothing personal.
10. Washed Out “Feel It All Around”
PP says: I’m still shaken by the scandal rocking the Italo disco community about the sample here, wait, what? A little too slow to be memorable for me.
UC adds: Perfectly acceptable lounge/upscale restaurant music. While listening to this, I can imagine drinking my caipirinha and having a bite of miso glazed Japanese black cod. The restaurant is lovely. The music is perfectly acceptable. I’m looking forward to dessert. That is all.
9. Girls “Lust for Life”
PP says: Something tells me that if Julian Casblancas rerecorded the Girls’ album I would seriously dig it. This event sadly remains a private fantasy. I’m immune to its charms but it’s not exactly a forgettable mediocrity.
UC adds: Ugh, they really are the Exploding Hearts all over again. Complete sophomoric failure. Hope they survive their bus crash…
8. Phoenix “Lisztomania”
PP says: Technology has perfected the faultless French sensitive indie popper robot. Prepare for your painless death at the hands of a smiling automaton you want nothing more than to give a hug and root for him in the battle of robot bands. Excellent.
UC adds: Wow, just a complete tour de force of awesomeness. I did think of a way this song could improved, though: use that strange upright piano from The Walkmen for the chorus. Otherwise, this song never dips below a 9.5. I could probably listen to this on constant repeat all day long and not get bored of it. If anybody doesn’t think this song is awesome, I would be happy to enroll them for genetic testing.
7. Big Boi [ft. Gucci Mane] “Shine Blockas”
PP says: Like an overstuffed hotel pillow it feels soft but you can’t sink your head into it. The thin almost bass-less track makes this track sorely miss the cut for banging in my Civic. Maybe Big Boi should try the Yaris set. Boring.
UC adds: I think I like this. The only problem is that I can’t get out the imagery of an episode of Entourage when I listen to this. I don’t belong in this world, and I can’t relate to this world. Reasonably catchy and competently done.
6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Zero”
PP says: Partially just OK but with some great bits I’d say the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were very solid here for a pancake breakfast. Kind of yummy but you wonder if it will stick. Now UC wants pancakes.
UC adds: I give the YYYs credit for believing and acting as if they were the biggest rock stars in the world. Personally, I would be happy to see them usurp U2 from music they probably do better themselves. But any notion that this music is special or particularly good is a joke. The YYYs are like a freshly made Eggo waffle. It tastes pretty good once you add syrup and while it’s still hot, but if you compare it to a homemade waffle, you realize that it tastes like cardboard. Hmmm, wonder why that analogy came to mind.
5. Grizzly Bear “Two Weeks”
PP says: I’d love for someone to mash this up with the space station docking scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s that effortless, precise and elegant for something a hater could characterize as barbershop chopsticks. Not sure where Solange Knowles comes in but the song is undeniable.
UC adds: I honestly thought this would be the #1 track of the year. I think from the first listen of this track, I held this belief to be true. It is almost an aberration it is so good. I think if there were more songs as good as this and While You Wait for the Others on Veckatimest, it would have turned out to be my favourite CD of the year. The fact that nothing else sounds even remotely like this makes me appreciate it for the unlikely awesomeness it possesses. I have to admit to liking Matthew Solarski’s description of the track. He’s right – there is something intangible that connects in this song. Special.
4. Bat For Lashes “Daniel”
PP says: Sinead O’Connor is namechecked here but as far as I know she never collab-ed with Vangelis or Berlin on downers. Feels musically cheap and emotionally dear diary. Also, the Karate Kid thing is too much even for me. I do not like Bat for Lashes, and I have Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love on LP.
UC adds: Nothing about this track sounds organic in any way. Perhaps Natasha Khan is less a video star than a video game star. Her voice sounds processed a million times over, and the production reeks top 40. I thought I paid Pitchfork the big bucks to keep this crap away from me.
3. Phoenix “1901”
PP says: Even if Phoenix’s SNL perf were to be found the result of massive payola shenanigans, nothing could take away the charge a few million viewers plus Stereogum readers the next few days would get from the ever so easy yet tightropey performance of this total pop gem. The Caddy commercial hurts it a little bit because the intro is the weakest part and really needs to go hand in hand with the chorus and bridges to gain that Champagne-like bubbly. Also, Mitchum writing this: “When “1901” debuted on the Phoenix website with animated pink shards slashing across a black backing, it looked like the track’s error-message synthesizers were clawing a neon marquee out from underneath the sooty abyss” can’t even shake my faith in this track. Stellar.
UC adds: It doesn’t quite resonate for me like Lisztomania, but it is still unimpeachably excellent. The strict yet deceptive rhythm reminds me a little of old Strokes, and it is the same kind of home run in the end. The fact that they trot around the bases while waving to the crowd just speaks to swagger rather than boastfulness.
2. Dirty Projectors “Stillness Is the Move”
PP says: Part of what makes me a horrible person is that I’ve yet to make any time in my life for Dirty Projectors. I was actually going to namecheck Aaliyah here, but that wasn’t so leftfield because the Forker mentions it here. Sample a squeaky baby and we’ll call it “Are You That Somebody.” Not my cup of tea, but well produced and I think they’ve made the song they wanted.
UC adds: I have no idea whatsoever what Douglas Wolk is talking about. I think this is probably a very good song for somebody that is into R&B and something a little different. I can see Bjork-heads being all over this. I don’t really care for it, but I don’t feel like ripping on it either.
1. Animal Collective “My Girls”
PP says: I love this song, but the vaguely cheesy washy synths and the Blue Man Group video kind of hold me back from calling this Animal Collective’s “Cabinessence.” Lyrically incredibly accessible and straight-forward, and kills with the gear-shift cartwheel into adobe slabs. I don’t mean to seem like I care about material things but I wish that Pitchfork tried to connect with their readers more and not their social status. I just want the Top 100 tracks to have 40 good ones so I can make cool mix tapes for my girls.
UC adds: Here’s how much I like this track relative to the typical AC track: It would actually make my list of the top 100 tracks of 2009, maybe even top 20. I think that Amanda Petrusich goes a little far in her emotional connection to the song, but whatever floats your boat I guess. The video makes me really want to puke, though. I do really like how the song keeps morphing into new forms as it goes on, each a little better than the last.