Like last year, these are some of the tracks I added to iTunes in 2010 and listened to the most, edited for clarity and minor historical whitewashing.
(Here are the MP3s below as an .m3u playlist)
1. Spoon: Got Nuffin
“Got nuffin’ to lose but darkness and shadows.” Most-played track of the year, from the only normal rock band I consistently spend any time with.
2. Jay-Z: Kingdom Come
I didn’t bump into this until August or so reading back into Ta-Nehisi Coates’s archives, but Kingdom Come might be one my favorite songs this year.
It didn’t take long going down the list before I remembered THE best use of Rick James’ “Superfreak”. Nope, not Hammer. The prize goes to my studio neighbor at Stadium Red, Just Blaze. Really, he flipped the fuck out of that sample for Jay Z’s “Kingdom Come”. I had to hear the song a few times in a row just to figure out, as best I could, the arrangement of it all. … Something he nails really well is giving the song a sort of staccato energy that doesn’t exist at all on the original. I love how the bass line goes from being the focus on the original, to being the fill.
I love this idea of taking pieces of music and dressing them up as something entirely different. It’s old-hat to talk about “sampling” like it’s novel but really Kingdom Come just underscores how hard it is to do well, and how frustrating more obviously sample-driven musicians like Girl Talk can be. You listen to All Day, and you might like it, but in end what you’re left with is a dumb bag of samples dressed in their factory uniforms jostling for your attention, strung one after the other. Ten years on, Z-Trip is still a wedding DJ dusting off the Eurythmics for your amusement, while Kingom Come is closer friends to Orbital’s recombination of Tool or Skinny Puppy’s song-length misappropriation of Roman Polanksi vampire movies (mp3).
Anyway, the other thing I enjoy about Kingdom Come is the use of the studio as a social instrument. Watch Jay-Z and Kanye West working in the studio together, or read about Kanye’s “Hawaii rap-nerd nirvana” for a sense of how art is produced socially both among its producers and between the record and the listener.
3. Venetian Snares: Szamár Madár
Found via David O’Reilly’s Vimeo page and his gorgeous, spooky video for this track.
4. La Roux: Bulletproof
Another song found via the video, this time watched rather than heard on a phone in a restaurant. I love the clarity of La Roux’s voice, and the clinky/jangly pop production on the track.
5. Jamie Woon: Wayfaring Stranger
6. Netsky: Young And Foolish
7. Hot Chip: I Feel Better
Hot Chip were one of the few live shows I saw this year, at Oakland’s amazing Fox Theater. The video was directed by Peter Serafinowicz (of Look Around You), who says:
I like the idea of taking something we’re all used to seeing—like a boy band music video—and totally destroying it. So I wrote this proposal and included reference images I found on Google—to illustrate the bald guy in the video played by Ross Lee, I used pictures of Mr. Burns from the “X-Files” episode of “The Simpsons”.
I learned there is a boy band tradition—or possibly an actual physical manual—that says you have to have the tough guy, the cute one, the suave one, the one who takes his top off.
8. Vapour Space: Gravitational Arch Of 10
37.752467, -122.418699, 1996-11-17 07:00:00 is the point in spacetime whenwhere I first heard Gravitational Arch Of 10. The sun was already up, and it was one of those things where you think the music is over and then it all rushes back.
9. Miike Snow: Black And Blue (Savage Skulls Remix)
10. Star Eyes: Ruffage (Side A)
This isn’t really a track so much as a 45-minute long mix of drum n’ bass. The MP3 version finally found me this year (thanks Jeremy) after I burned through or lost three separate copies of the cassette over the past fourteen years.