Category Archives: Playlists

Best Music of 2011: Best Electro (Part II)

Best Electro of 2011 Part II

art by Javier Medellin Puyou

Image by Javier Medellin Puyou

Kids Of 88 – My House (3:58)

Hey dudes: if you’re looking for a song to sing at your woman while you jump around the dancefloor–this is the one.Try dancing like a maniac while mouthing “I’m gonna take you back to my house! I love the feeling when you touch me baby!” and surely you will get laid.

M83 – Midnight City (4:03)

This sounds like it should have been the lead single on the Tron soundtrack. After releasing countless albums, M83 is finally starting to get radio play with this song. No wonder, as the beat makes it a little less dreamwave than most of their other stuff. It’s hard to tell where the vocals end and the synth begins. And the passioned cry, “The city is my church!” never gets old.

Mr. Little Jeans – The Suburbs (Arcade Fire Cover) (5:12)

Remember when Arcade Fire won that grammy and everyone was all, “Who’s Arcade Fire?” Strange times we live in. They wouldn’t let me on their selection committee, but I suspect one of the reasons they won was for the lyrics that explore suburban angst. Arguably the best of these is this song, “The Suburbs,” a song I can’t seem to get tired of.This cover slows it down for a sexy groove that makes the beauitful lyrics easier to understand.

Neon Hitch – Gucci Gucci (Kreayshawn Cover) (2:40)

Another fun cover that’s a bit easier to sing along with than the original. If you haven’t heard of Kreayshawn yet, just-you-wait. She’s an up-and-coming Oakland rapper, who courts controversy by being not only white, but having a uniquely Oakland-hipster style. Far as I can tell, she doesn’t seem to give a fuck, which is the best way to be. The original “Gucci Gucci” is in my collection, but I recognize that it can be a bit too…boldly obnoxious for many. 2011 was a year for sexy slow-downs, and this one contrasts nicely with Kreayshawn’s brazen and clever lyrics.

Neon Indian – Polish Girl (4:24)

There’s a lot of weird, delightful little sounds in “Polish Girl.” It’s easy to get lost in wondering what toys he’s using to create this-or-that sound. Then I remember the lyrics, and get pulled back into the story of the song, until I hear that sound that’s like Mario just won a green 1-up shroom, and I’m pulled back into the swirly goodness. When there’s too much greatness to concentrate on at one time, you know it’s a song that’s going to stay on the heavy rotation for many months.

Polarsets – Morning (3:43)

Pure, perfect electro.So happy, it almost sounds like calypso. Yet it manages to avoid sounding too sacharine. Maybe it’s because of the emotion in his voice, but it all just works. If you like this song, get this album. One of the year’s best.

Polarsets – Sunshine Eyes (3:40)

No really, you should get their album. Listen to “Sunshine Eyes” and get a lesson in how a perfect new wave song is built. Pure delight from beginning to end. Sounds like: the montage music for your summer romance.

Teams – Stunts (5:26)

The heavy beat on “Stunts” would have made this a good fit for the “Best Dance Music of 2011” list, but the lack of vocals takes some of the energy out of it, so I put it here instead. If you’re a fan of Ratatat and Caribou this may be the fix you need.

The Knocks – Make It Better (3:53)

You love whistling, right? You love a head-bopping, disco beat with a melody that’s easy to sing along with right? Well then give this a listen.

The Rapture – How Deep Is Your Love? (6:27)

I was very excited to hear the new Rapture album, and while I can’t recommend the whole thing, this song is a winner. Part of what makes the Rapture so great is Luke Jenner’s emotive vocals, and this one is no exception. Four cocktails down, you will have trouble not singing “How deep is your love!” not as a question, but as an exclamation to be shouted to the fullest.

Yacht – Paradise Engineering (3:46)

At the beginning of the year, I was obsessing over their new song “Dystopia (the Earth is On Fire).” Well, I overplayed it and now I’m sick of it. But then I discovered that “Paradise Engineering” is even better. Both songs give a nod to the catastrophic state of the world channeling it all into blissed out disco denial. It’s a soundtrack for oblivious consumerism in a broken world, which makes it more than good pop: it’s the zeitgeist of the 21st century.


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Best Music of 2011: Best Indie Rock

Best Indie Rock of 2011 PART I

So begins at last my list of the finest songs of 2011. Last year I was all upset about the whole idea that one could even begin to honestly determine the very best songs put out in a year. Not because tastes differ too greatly, but because there’s just too much good music.

This year I realized I could have thrown together a list in late December, which is what everyone wants. No one gives a damn about 2011 in February, right? But for some reason I couldn’t stop myself from pouring through everything I’d played on my radio stream, in search of something I’d missed. Some time in January, I realized that I don’t do this for you (sorry, readers). I do it for me, so I can be sure nothing gets lost in the music world’s relentless drive toward newer-better-bolder. So these songs of 2011 may be five minutes ago, but they’re worth looking over twice.


The Best Indie Rock of 2011 PART I

There’s just too much goodness to fit in one post. In no particular order… image thanks to <a href=

Image thanks to

Continue reading Best Music of 2011: Best Indie Rock

Best Music of 2011: Best Electro

Best Electro of 2011 – PART I

Electro Boner

Image via LaughterKey

At last, the best electro of 2011. I’m not ranking these, they’re in alphabetical order. Forthcoming is the second half of this list, as well as the Best Indie Rock and the best Dance and the Best Chill Music. It’s about time, eh?


Continue reading Best Music of 2011: Best Electro

Great indie lyricists #1: Cloud Cult

This is a playlist for Kat. The subject is great indie lyricists.

Cloud Cult – Ghost Inside our House


Image via Western Sun

The couple that fronts Cloud Cult released a ton of albums while working through the grief of the death of their young son. But the songs aren’t a diary of torment. There is real pain here, but just as often there is an appreciation for the beauty of life. Cloud Cult’s songs are drowning in duende. There’s so much love in this music. So many beautiful images and ideas.

We’ll start a little family
And call it our religion
Hunt for ghosts inside our house
‘Cause we’ll never give up wishing

Their lyrics give you the sense that life is tender and precious.

It helps that the music is interesting and every song is unique. This one is a slow guitar number but many of their songs feature strange interludes or booming orchestrations or meandering violin. It also helps that they’re amazing live. They’re one of those bands that make it impossible to pick a favorite. I believe you’ll especially like this one, but there are so many other Cloud Cult songs to fall in love with. Do it.

Unexpected Songs for Your Rapture, End of the World Party Playlist

Fun with Jesus

I’m DJing an end-of-the-world party on Friday, so I’ve been looking for songs about the Rapture. I won’t use most of them, but I thought I’d share a bunch with you for your own playlists, mostly because I don’t want your set to consist of nothing but tired old Metallica, Black Sabbath and Dio (proudly, this site remains 100% Metallica free!).

Best of 2010: Best Dance songs of 2010

I moved these songs around quite a bit but the songs that ended up in the top ten stayed pretty consistent (for the rest, see Best of 2010 Dance Songs Top 25). Last year I focused strictly on remixes but this year I mixed it up, presenting my favorite dance tracks, regardless of whether they were remixes, mashups or original songs. I did this because there were some exceptional dance songs which didn’t fit the traditional “remix” that just had to make the list, starting with number one.
1. Fake Blood vs Richard Vission – I Think I Like That (Coda Collins Smash Up) (5:38)Reasons This is the best remix of 2010:

  • The opening line “My body rocks a rhythm. You beat my drum hard.”
  • At exactly one minute there’s this insanely awesome beat drop that chomps down on my body, chews my brain and spits me out as a dancing maniac
  • At exactly one minute and thirty seconds Fake Blood brings out synthesized violins that will make whatever is left of my sanity joyfully explode
  • Fake Blood’s song sounds like a the shattered glass of a disco ball. So disco, so modern.
  • The lyrics sound like a Japanese anime trying to do James Bond “You want a kiss now baby? Oh fucky-fucky you! You’re dressed to kill me-kill-me. And if I die tonight, at least you thrill me-thrill-me.Oooooh!”

Ok, so it’s a little unfair to put a mashup at number one, but it really was my favorite of the year. I suppose if you must, you could put the emphasis on the Fake Blood song. But it’s a fine mash! This mashup combines these two songs seamlessly, producing something much better than either work alone. The beats for the original Richard Vission song are not bad, but they’re no match for Fake Blood. And Fake Blood’s beats, tight as they are, have a cold, clinical quality without any lyrics. Luciana’s vocal styling are as motivational as a Jane Fonda workout video. Finally, it’s a perfect mashup in that there’s such an overlap of themes other DJs must say, “I wish I’d thought of that!” Here’s the two songs separately, to decide for yourself:

Fake Blood – I think I Like It

Richard Vission & Static Revenger Starring Luciana – I Like That

2. Uffie feat. Pharrel Williams – Add Suv (Armand Van Helden Club Remix) (4:44)

I’ve been waiting for a great Uffie remix since I first heard Uffie. When Ke$ha first came on the scene, the blogosphere spat that she was just a copy of Uffie. The problem with this assessment is that though Uffie’s rhymes are solid, her beats are lacking. And along comes Armand Van Helden with what sounds to me like the second best remix of 2010.
If there’s one thing Armand Van Helden knows how to do, it’s a build up. The problem with a long build up is you need something at the end to justify all that fuss. You can always tell the kids on drugs at the club when the relish the build up more than the base drop. For everyone else, the build-up is just a sweet misery that makes the bass hit you that much harder. When those sirens rise, they better have a hell of a beat to land on. There’s bravado in such a buildup. A long tease is only satisfying if the DJ puts out. It’s a ballsy move that Helden makes even ballsier by having the word “banger” announced in that rest before he gives it to you. And he hits it hard.

3. Lemâitre – The Friendly Sound (3:54)

You’re going to think this is the new Royksopp single, but it’s better than any of what Royksopp has put out recently…at least from what I’ve heard. I’m not a huge Royksopp fan. Anyway, it’s a very new group from Oslo, Norway. They don’t even have a Myspace or recording contract yet. “The Friendly Sound” begins with beach noise in the background, then that “Eple”-like melody, then the beat. It’s glitchy with sounds of breaking glass and bleeps and bloops, like 16-bit Mario dropping a deuce. Lovely harmonies round out this oh-so friendly sound. It gets even better around 2:36.
4. Lost Valentinos – “Nightmoves” (Aston Shuffle Remix) (5:54)I like the vocal stylings on the original track. He has a deep booming voice that pitches high in the refrain. But the original track sounds too much like something you might have heard on Sprockets. It’s not bad, but the Aston Shuffle remix keeps what’s great about it and takes it to the level of ultra sickdom. When “Nightmoves” starts with the deep voice and low build up you think it’s going to be a deeply sexy slow jam. Just when you’re pondering how that deep-voiced singer can hit such a high note there’s that same long build up and righteous harmonies, now thick with the Aston Shuffle ambiance. It’s beautiful but not so beautiful that you fail to realize how wrong you were: Aw fuuuck it’s a stomper. There’s always a late addition to the list and this one crept up and up, stomping it’s way past many a fine remix to land at number four. Still not sure if it shouldn’t have been higher on the list.

I heard this in a shop in Japantown and new tracking it down would be a top priority when I got home. I was pleased that Black Eyed Peas had taken the time to rerecord the vocals from the original Dirty Dancing hit, rather then just sampling them. But to my surprise the version I’d heard in Japantown wasn’t the original but a remix. Such a shame because now is as good a time as any to get a retro treatment of everyone’s favorite Swayze flick. Unfortunately, the original Black Eyed Peas version is, well, awful. Guetta’s mix is scratchy and glitchy in all the right places: the echo on her voice before that sweet beat drop, the occasional sick vocal distortion of her voice—you can just see this blowing up the greatest summer beach party of your life.

6. Katy B – Louder (4:36)

Rumor has it Katy B is going to be the one to bring dubstep to the mainstream. Let’s hope so, as dubstep is a genre that is delivering way too many trite remixes lately. Here layered vocals and 8-bit inspired trills open up the song til a subtle loop of her British accent saying “louder” teases the beat drop. What’s unusual to me about this one is the way the the deepest, bassiest part of the song is the melody. It’s as if the bass taking over what the melody usually does, driving the song forward. It’s a fresh take on an overplayed style that has me turning the nob to the max.

7. Kid Cudi – Pursuit Of Happiness – Steve Aoki Dance Remix Intro – Dirty (6:14)

This Cudi mix doesn’t start out too exciting but at around the one minute mark you get a taste of the beast Aoki has birthed: Fuzzy rising sirens that introduce fuzzy heavy beats. The vocal sections are lovely and melodic, a nice respite from the assault of Aoki’s monster beats. It’s an onslaught of sick banging bass tempered by Cudi’s soft and friendly stoner rap. Within this there are small tweaks, like the trill that reintroduces the melody at 1:17, the delicious quarter rest at 1:39, and the laser at 2:51 that give this remix a polish that sets it apart from the other bangers 0f 2010.

Technically, this track is both too old and too new for this list. I first discovered it on AWMusic where it was posted on the last day of 2009 (worse release date ever). Which should, unfairly, make it a song of 2009. As this was before Lady Gaga was huge and Brittany was still the name on everyone’s lips, I could see this chick was going to blow up. And she did, to gargantuan sizes that have us all cowering in fear that a giant-sized Ke$ha is going to rampage Los Angeles Godzilla-style, shedding hail-sized pieces of glitter in her wake.
I kept waiting to hear this one on the radio, appropriately bleeped. Or at least in the clubs. Because it’s so mega hot and what DJ wouldn’t want to play this song? I like “Tik-Tok” but this one is waaaaay better. And I think we can all agree that the rest of Ke$ha’s hits have been no match for “Tik-Tok.” So I did my homework to make sure the song was indeed released in 2010 and I couldn’t find it on Amazon, iTunes or the album itself. What gives?
Yeah, so it’s an unreleased track by Ke$ha. An unreleased track that’s twice as hot as anything from her you’ve ever heard. Even if you don’t like Ke$ha, give this one a listen. It has the mighty power to turn your party into a filming of Girls Gone Wild (hopefully without the nasty anti-feminist camera guys!).

Often a great remix will surpass the original to the extent that the song it is based on can sound hollow in comparison. That happened to me when listening to “Night By Night” recently. Where  was the epic synth? Where was the back-and-forth vocals after the climax (“she says I’m—I say she’s—She says I’m”)? They perfectly capture the drama of an argument in a way the original never did. Chromeo is best known as one among many 80s revisionist bands, and this remix keeps that spirit while creating a darker, fuller sound that is unmistakably 21st century.

10. Metric-Twilight-Galaxy-Death-to-the-Throne-Remix (5:37)

I’m a sucker for Metric and this is hands down Death to the Throne’s finest mix to date. Frankly his mixes can be too sick for my taste but here he adds lasers and synth to take Twilight Galaxy to a positively astral dimension. He shows off his skills without demolishintg too much of Emily Haine’s lyrics. The original song is not even remotely a dance number, DttT essentially produced entirely new music to back up the song. As a Metric fan, I hate to say it but the remix is a much better song than the original. True to Death-to-the-Throne form, there is a very sick section to the song, as well there should be leading into the climax of a great remix.

Best of 2010 Dance Songs Top 25
Image Thanks to Barnaby Ward

Baby even the losers get lucky sometimes. Here’s 25 great dance tracks from 2010 not quite epic enough to make my Best Dance Music of 2010 list.

11. Atypicals – Love Electric Soul (5:04)
12. Diamond Rings – All Yr Songs (GOBBLE GOBBLE’s Wings for Eyeliner) (2:30)
13. Party and Bullshit In the U.S.A. (Miley Cyrus vs Notorious B.I.G.) (3:15)
14. Drink-Up-Buttercup-Even-Think-Andrew-W.K.-Remix (5:18)
15. Loo & Placido – Californication (Tupac vs. Roger Troutman vs. Plump DJs vs. Zero Cash) (4:35)

(I wrote a post about this one: The Drop )

Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes have a new song, Helplessness Blues. I’m not excited about it yet, but it’s as good an excuse as any to share some Fleet Foxes themed material.

(OK, really I’m testing my Posterous connection to Tumblr, but isn’t that excuse enough?)

The New Fleet Foxes track, Helplessness Blues

My favorite thing about Fleet Foxes is the harmonies, which this Oh Land cover of White Winter Hymnal lacks, but it has a lovely girl singing. And everyone likes that.

Here’s Fleet Foxes covering Bob Dylan.

There are several new Fleet Foxes remixes, but I think this one from the Twelves is still the best around. Maybe the new album will deliver the DJs some better material.

OK, more best of 2010 stuff on the way!

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The Best Albums of 2010!

Or: Why Best-Albums Lists Are Bullshit

I am never doing this again. No fucking really: if I start talking about Best-albums lists next year, someone give me a solid slapping and point me back to this page. Best-of lists are bull shit of course, but Best Albums lists are shit of the rankest kind. There’s just no conceivable way that any one person can listen to that many albums and also have some kind of a life. I basically disappeared from blogging from November-January, and here I still didn’t get it done by the ever-critical Dec. 31st deadline. My loved ones have actually told me I’m no longer allowed to utter the words “Best of” and “2010” in the same sentence anymore. They try to convince me that no one takes these lists seriously, that everyone assumes these are just your favorites, not the actual best albums.
But if you look at the comments for any of these lists, you’ll see that it’s just the opposite. Everyone responds with fury and indignation: you mean “The Muppets Sing Fight Club didn’t make your list? I’m never visiting this site again!” News flash: the person writing the list was on a deadline, and probably never even heard your cherished album. The albums they did include were based on whims and hype.
Think about it: when you want to compare two songs, it’s easy: just play one right after the other and decide which is better. But if you want to compare albums, you can’t exactly play all hour-and-a-half of each one, because you will be in a totally different mood by the time they’re both done. Moreover, it’s very rare for an album to not have one stinker song. Even the Beatles classic albums had such bombs as “Wild Honey Pie” and “The Tax Man.” So which do you rank higher? An album with 7 classics, and two losers? Or an album with ten pretty great songs and one classic? And do you give more credit to albums like The Suburbs because they have more tracks in total? It takes a long time to get to know an entire album and then there’s the whole issue of whether the songs move from one to the next in a pleasing, well-thought out way.
Anyway, after spending much more time contemplating this list than I should have, here are my picks for Best of 2010. For what it’s worth.
1.Crystal Castles – II

There are so many songs on this album that force me to utter, “I loooooooooove this,” the words are as compulsive as a cat’s purr. No matter how many times I’ve heard II I like it more than I remembered. There’s a huge diversity of genres touched on here: lush dreamwave, volatile dance punk, electro —it doesn’t hurt that these are some of my favorite genres. While the songs are vastly different from one another they’re all distinctly Crystal Castles, a hard feat that only Janelle Monae’s album achieves to an equal extent. Perhaps most importantly, when I ask myself which band of 2010 is doing something interesting and original, I can’t deny Crystal Castles tops my list.

Check out: Crystal Castles – Suffocation

No sense repeating myself: here’s  a full review from back in August.

Also see: Like A Pixie in A Blender

2.Sleigh Bells –Treats

Sleigh Bells’ “Treats” is the biggest surprise of my list. First, they deliberately overdrive their sound, which I expected would get tired by the third song. I can’t imagine they’ll be able to pull that off for four more albums, but on Treats, it works. Moreover, the sound is somewhat formulaic: Heavy, dance-y bass, solid urgent guitar riffs and enthusiastic female vocals. Yes! It’s loud! Very loud! But that gets repetitive really quickly, right?images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ9ZiBIUlKIZWbDjRcSNubDZxFHp15qeyiOiH11crt5rZ1rKaGGvg

The faceless cheerleaders marketing Treats perfectly match their furiously upbeat rockage.

But the more I got into Treats, the more complexity I discovered. There’s the explosive sound effects on the title track and the drum-guitar combo that sounds like a machine gun on “Tell ‘Em.” There’s the long wind-up and scream before the refrain on “Kids.” There’s the constant underlying siren under “Run the Heart.” They have taken that formula and pushed it’s boundaries. The lyrics to their slow number, “Ring Ring (Rill Rill),” are charming and intriguing. Even the only song I usually skip, “Straight As,” is full of win because it takes the noisy aspect of their sound to the max as the album reaches its climax. The album has its peaks and slow downs and each song flows comfortably into the next so that no matter how much I love the song before, I am excited about the next one. There’s never been a time Sleigh Bells came up on my radio stream that I felt the urge to skip them.

I can’t imagine where they’ll go after Treats because I don’t think they can push this particular sound in too many more directions. Then again, they said that about AC/DC too.

Check out: Sleigh Bells – Treats

3.Wolf Parade – Expo 86

I wanted there to be a new Sunset Rubdown album this year but Spencer Krug was busy releasing another album with Wolf Parade. I’ve always liked Wolf Parade’s previous stuff and I like Dan Boeckner’s other project Handsome Furs too but even still this album was surprisingly great. What everyone else has said about Expo 86 is true: it combines the two gents’ skills in a true collaboration.I’m usually drawn to Krug’s delicious build-ups and captivating lyrics (see: “Cloud Shadow on The Mountain” or “Oh, You Old Thing”) but Boeckner’s songs are also among my favorites. His “Little Golden Age” and “Pobody’s Nerfect” bring a bit more rock and roll, a bit more bang and grrrr, adding the perfect spice to Expo 86‘s sound. Lyrics like I am a wall of sand and stone / and you, you’re some kind of ivy I’m trying to hold/ as best as I can will draw you into the song’s winding journeys with serious guitars, rising synths and toe-tapping rhythms . Though there is certainly enough rockage to generate a visceral response upon the first listen, Expo 86‘s the kind of album that will only get richer and more rewarding the more you play it.

Check out: Wolf Parade – Pobody’s Perfect

4.Menomena – Mines

Menomena reminds me of Modest Mouse and TV on the Radio, though they sound not a thing like these bands. The similarity is in that Menomena is a rock band that manages to do something new with the idea of the rock band. For one thing, they use horns in a way that sounds nothing like ska or reggae, and rock and roll doesn’t have much of a context for that. Honestly, I don’t know what all instruments they use. Somehow they make their guitars sound like a whole new animal (a rhino, perhaps?). There’s piano in the mix, but it usually pounds out percussion along with melody. You get beautiful harmonies and distinctive vocal solos. And the lyrics are intriguing and every song is a tiny symphony. . Just when you think a song has reached a climax the harmonies come in and that’s when you know it’s just getting started.

Check out: Menomena – Taos

5.Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History

I know, there’s a great pop rock record every year. I know, I know, there’s probably ten great pop rock records every year. Two Door Cinema Club isn’t doing anything that’s never been done before. But damn if they aren’t doing it right.

What struck me about the addictive nature of Two Door Cinema Club’s songs is what they lack: a keyboard. I’m a sucker for pianos and their bratty cousin, they synth (and pipe organs? Delish!). Guitars are necessary to bring the rockage, but they can’t get out in front and dick around if they want to make my list. I’m a child of the eighties and it was part of my upbringing to rebel against the Led Zeppelin guitar wankery my parents so relish. But it is the guitar hooks that make me think these songs should come with a warning label. So. Damn. Catchy.

I didn’t expect the whole album to make my list, rather I figured the finer tunes were likely to end up on a list of singles. But when you find there are eight songs out of ten that must go on such a list of singles, truly the whole album deserves celebration. If you like The Black Kids, Tokyo Police Club, or any rock band with catchy hooks, pick this one up.

Check out: Two Door Cinema Club – What You Know

6.Yeasayer – Odd Blood

First, there’s “Ambling Alp” which is easily one of the best songs of 2010. I’ve yet to meet someone who didn’t like it immediately. I’ve probably played it more than any other song this year, except maybe some of the tracks from Sleigh Bell’s debut. I keep thinking I’ll get tired of it but return to it with delight over and over.

Part of the fun is the variety of their sound. It’s hard to classify “Odd Blood.” It’s electronic and easy to dance to, but it’s not dance music. The lack of guitars bars the classification of electro. O.N.E. Is vaguely calypso. “I Remember” sounds like the love song from a lost eighties movie. “Mondegreen” with it’s handclaps and saxophone could be the latest pop song if it weren’t for the odd childlike vocal sections. The only thing the songs have in common is a love of synth and harmony. Yet Yeasayer isn’t the last in the long line of eighties retro revisionists either. The keyboards on “Rome” meander like a vocal improvisationist played in fast forward. “Love My Girl” sounds like Of Montreal covering Duran Duran. The music isn’t deep, soul-searching poetry, but it is a unique sound that’s going to influence their peers for years to come.

Check out: Yeasayer – Rome

7.Parlovr – Parlovr

Really, it’s Parlovr’s fault that The Arcade Fire didn’t make this list. I was listening to that long album over and over, taking the time to get to know the lyrics and contemplate the value of the many reprises when I finally gave Parlovr a spin. Without a clue what the hell he was singing about or any familiarity I instantly responded to the songs on a visceral level that The Arcade Fire just wasn’t hitting me on. Think of the first time you heard Modest Mouse or Nirvana or The Pixies (fans of The Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah should particularly check this one out). I’m not saying that Parlovr is a match of these legendary bands, I’m only saying that they know how to rock out.

I love how they take a rest to harmonize sweetly on the refrain of “On the Phone.” I love the shouted opening of “Hiccup,” or the fast build-up at the front of “Sever My Ties.” After delightful “Oh-ooh-oooh-oohs he shouts, “What would you say to a dead man with no face!” and I admit that I have no clue what the fuck he is talking about but I am solidly on board. After five hearty servings of rocking out, “Speech Bubble/Thought Cloud” starts of as slow and alluring as the aforementioned Arcade Fire and takes it’s time reaching that leaping off point where shouting and guitars reign. Parlovr is a rollicking reminder that rock n’ roll is something to get excited about.

Check out: Parlovr – Sandwalking

8.Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid

I’m going to be frank with you: I intensely dislike R&B. That Janelle Monáe made the Best-Of list of a chick who listens to electro and new wave should tell you something of Monáe’s mastery of the genre. I say R&B but The ArchAndroid touches on so many genres it’s like a sampler of female vocal styles for the last sixty years. Many of these songs will blow you away right from the first listen.

The only reason this album didn’t rank higher on my list is that the lyrics were disappointing. The Arch Android is a concept album built around the 1908 dystopic epic Metropolis (Which—Whoah! Is reason enough to check it out). Thus I was expecting sci-fi visions on par with David Bowie or Kevin Barnes (in fact, Of Montreal backs her on a track). But the rhymes and the lyrics were all cliché and prosaic. Which is fine—you’ll be singing along with her regardless.

Not only can she sing, her technique has style. And that voice! “Cold War” is a good example of her vocal skills. By the time she finishes off that high note, you’ll have forgotten Cat Power ever existed. Then she has the brilliant audacity to finish the note with a growl. It’s exquisite. My advice to you (and to me): see this woman in concert soon. She is going to be very famous and even the nosebleed seats are going to be expensive.

Check out: Janelle Monáe – BeBopByeYa

9.She & Him – Volume Two

I had a lot of trouble deciding between this and Freelance Whales album Weathervanes. The latter even averaged one point higher in the ratings I gave the album’s songs. But it was the She & Him album that I played over and over until I learned the words to the songs, even though Zooey Deschanel doesn’t sing in my range. It was *her songs that got stuck in my head over and over; it was her songs I sang in the shower. Ultimately ratings are no match for the sheer desire to listen to the same album on repeat. Volume Two is full of heavenly harmonies, adorable lyrics (“Why do I always want to sock it to you hard? She sulks at the opening of “Over and Over Again.”), and catchy refrains.

My personal favorite on the album is “Home,” a song that gets me all teary and happy at the same time. Can’t ask for much more out of a song than that. Other excellent stand-outs are “Thieves,” “Lingering Still,” and the mythological metaphor “Don’t Look Back.”

Check out: She & Him – Home

10.The Limousines  –  Get Sharp

It was the year after MGMT released their instant classic, “Time to Pretend.” Having overplayed that song to death, I was on the hunt for a new song that captured the American experience with the same wit, charm and melody . I had Los Campesinos! And NPSH but my life needed a new dance anthem. Then I was at a music festival with my pal @WorkerBee when he lured me to the tent where The Limousines were tearing it up. Their as yet un-signed song “Very Busy People” filled that lack and became an instant obsession.

Like all their songs, the first thing you notice about “Very Busy People” is probably the fantastic melody and head-bopping pace. You may notice that they aren’t lazy on the trills and DJ effects. But it won’t be long before you catch a taste of the lyrics. And that’s it, you’re done for: these lyrics are so clever that no matter which line you come in on you’re going to be hooked. Do I exaggerate? From the very first line, We’ll end up numb from playing video games and we’ll get sick of having sex, The Limousines follow the rules of good writing drilled into undergrads by their poetry teachers: Be specific. Be succinct. Be personal.

Their lyrics aren’t the lofty philosophical themes of Nick Cave or the strange but brilliant metaphors of Tori Amos or the sharp political observations of Ani Difranco. No, The Limousines sing about the same things your average pop band sings about: getting drunk, getting lucky, seizing the day. In fact, the biggest turn off about them is probably the lead singer’s voice. It’s not that Eric Victorino can’t sing, it’s that his voice sharply resembles the kind of teeny-bopper heartthrob sound indie rockers shrink away from, for its associations with didactic cliches. But if you just let yourself be seduced by the catchy pop rhythms, you’ll discover that they bring a fresh perspective to these tired themes. These are the kinds of songs you are not only going to want to learn the lyrics to, you are going to want to sing them with your friends at the top of your lungs while drunk at three a.m.

Check out: The Limousines – Flaskaboozendancingshoes


*I know that M. Ward was a successful musician before collaborating with actress Zooey Deschanel but since she wrote the songs and their lyrics, She & Him is properly her band first and foremost. There are two songs not written by Deschanel, and they are the two weakest songs on the album. Partially due to the brainless babes that dominate pop music and partially due to sexism, woman’s contributions to their own bands tend to be marginalized. Thus, it is always worth mentioning when a front woman really leads the band, despite the fact that with a male singer this is assumed.

Posted via email from Like Dancing About Architecture

Best Dance Remixes of 2009

At long last, here is the list of the Hottest Remixes of 2009. How was this list made? Songs were judged by their propensity for eliciting uncontrollable ass-shaking, head-bobbing and shout outs to your deity of choice. I narrowed further by including only remixes, thus no mash-ups or straight-out hot dance songs. Also, every song was to the best of my research actually produced in 2009…since you can’t exactly look this stuff up on Amazon. Final judging was done by listening to the list backwards to ensure that each song is indeed just that much finer than the last. This is an exercise that I highly recommend.

These mixes are not the songs that make me think “This is really good.” No, no, these are the ones that leave me clutching my breast, uttering, “SO GOOD, SO fucking GOOD” with a primal vehemence that is beyond rational: It is animal. If you feel the need to howl while listening, it’s okay, I understand. Just try to follow it up with some shake-shake-shimmy.


1. HEARTSREVOLUTION – Switchblade (Designer Drugs remix)

(*1st blogged Jan 2009 on Hot Biscuits)

Sick sick sick sick sick. Such a perfect combination of HEARTSREVOLUTION’s dark electro “razor sharp candy coated glass” with DD’s outstanding beats. How can you not hear that scary/sexy voice chanting “if you love me than do it forever” without taking that as a personal call to the dance floor? Personally, my body begins a series of twitches, tremors and knocks that some may call dancing.

2. Radiohead – Everything In Its Right Place (Gigamesh remix)

1st blogged on Jan 2009 on Pretty Much Amazing)

This is not a song that I ever expected to hear in a remix. DJs tend to stick with new songs and when they go for something older its usually a song that’s been established as a pop classic.

Instead, Gigamesh lent his skills to something so dreamy and nonsensical it would be tough to pull off. And yet: what’s so beautiful about this mix is how seamless it is. The bass doesn’t feel at all out of place on those strange but beautiful layered vocals. It’s not a complicated mix, which is fine, because too much cutting and chopping would destroy the surreal magic of the original. Gigamesh somehow ties up all that surreal magic and delivers it to the dance floor.

In my experience, the reaction to this remix has been a combination of wonder and delight. It works just as well in the chillroom as the get-down-throw-down room. And it is very easy to mix with other songs, despite not having a cumbersome, long intro.

3. Rogues – Not So Pretty (Feed Me Remix)

(Only 3 bloggers, all in Feb 09! First was

At first it’s just a delightfully upbeat electro pop remix. A clever opening treble sounds like a computer imitating a beat boxer. Then as it drives into the refrain this tasty treat is exactly like Britney Spears: Underneath that pretty pop is something dark and gritty. When the refrain kicks in with the grungy guitar the song growls a little, contrasted with his sweet pretty voice. and just when the music takes a turn back to the pretty he turns gritty, shouting: “You ain’t so pretty!” It may be the PMS talking but this mix is so pretty I could cry.

4. Little Boots – Remedy (Buffetlibre vs Sidechains Remix)

(1st Blogged Jul 2009 on Sheena Beaston)

Songs like this are why I am obsessed with music. Oh! Her little “Oh-uh-oh”s! The whistle! The drum solo! The bass drop that fills me with chills and trembling! Oh-uh-oh! Dancing is indeed my fucking remedy, Little Boots, and these two DJs consistently draw me to the dancefloor. If the snake oil salesmen sold a potion that made me feel like this song does, I’d be the first in line for the cure.

5. Groove Armada – Drop The Tough [The Twelves B-LIVE Remix]

(1st blogged Jan 2009 on This Big Stereo)

The biggest surprise of this list was not who made it, but that the whole thing didn’t end up being a litany of The Twelves greatest hits. By far the most fun live DJ show I’ve seen, The Twelves consistently produce adorable disco takes on the hottest indie songs. This one was my favorite of 2009, but, while some DJs have a mix of bangers and losers, any of their 2009 mixes would be a respectable addition to your Best-Of  list.

6. Jewel Kid – Break My Heart (Computer Club remix)

(1st blogged July 2009 on Penned Madness)

The bass on this hits like a hammer. But a pleasant hammer…a hammer of bright colors perhaps? This song was one of the few that entered my mp3 player in 2009 that never moved out of heavy rotation. Few DJs can rock a beat this hard without it sounding tacky and pasted on. Looking to hear more bangers from this LA DJ in 2010.

7. Empire Of The Sun – We Are The People (Jimmy2sox Remix)

(1st blogged Feb 2009 on This Big Stereo)

There were a ton of remixes of both this song and this album in general when Jimmy2sox came on the scene, by DJs who’s names would not be followed with “Jimmy who?” I already had my favorite “We Are the People” mix all picked out, and my second favorite too. Then this came along. The first time I heard that saxophone solo I was hooked. Who the hell adds a saxophone solo to a remix? Jimmy2sox, that’s who.


8. Metric – Sick Muse (Adam Freeland mix)

(1st blogged Sept 2009 on We like It Indie)

It opens with gorgeous synths that slice like Ginsu knives. Then when you think it’s showed you all it has to show, it seeds this dark bass which leads into hazy snow before picking up and up and up into some heavenly place in Emily Haine’s voice. He doesn’t chop it up too much, leaving choice lyrics such as “all the blondes are fantasies.” No instrument shouts for attention over any of the others; it feels like a song in its own right. I know this song well (Metric is a favorite) and when I’m listening to this mix I still forget which parts are from the band and which are his production.

9. NASA – Gifted (Aston Shuffle remix)

(1st blogged May on Discopunk)

This song is so fantastic to begin with that it needs no remixing. The spacey synths perfectly capture the nostalgia of 80s Freestyle: close your eyes and you might think you’re back in the seventh grade roller skating rink. Not surprisingly, many notable DJs have lent their hand to this tune. I have the Treasure Fingers remix. Oh, how many times I’ve heard the Steve Aoki remix. You be good, you listen to me: this is the mix you play.

10. Sneaky Sound System – It’s Not My Problem (Thin White Duke mix)

(1st blogged May 2009 on This Big Stereo

Her voice comes in like something from a dream. The pitch rises like a tornado and when the beat breaks it crashes like a beautiful wave. This, my lovelies, is where the good little disco beats go when they die.

I have nothing more to say because now I must dance.

P.S. If you own these songs, and you are under the impression that it would be wiser to remove them than allow for the puny quantity of publicity this simple blog provides, let me know and the links will disappear.

*I put more hours than I’d have liked into making sure these songs really came out in 2009. Though the first mention I could find was in 2009, that very post refers to this track on their best of 2008 list. So I sunk more time into trying to find the true release date, as well as contacting Hot Biscuits themselves. Ultimately, searching the site that released the album and the mix itself didn’t post it until 2009.