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Top 100 Songs of 2008: #s 90-86

School Of Seven Bells
Silent Grips 7"
[Ghostly International]

"I play a trick on division when I say I am me."

I really liked their full-length debut that also came out in 2008, Alpinisms, but this vinyl-only track blows everything on that album out of the water. Speaking of water, this song feels like a hypercolor waterfall. Splashing down into neo-futurist pools of star systems and digital mainframes, the way the beat wobbles between soulful and synthetic is mind-bending. All this postmodern gadgetry fills the head with melodic weirdness and we haven't even begun talking about the heavenly dueling female vocals. Like two gorgeous twin androids trying to convince you of their humanity, their arpeggiotic flutters are simultaneously provocative and haunting to the nth degree. Like it could kill you at any second for trusting technology, but it also wants you to give into its hypnotics because it is the technology.

89 "People Talk"
Cheap Time
Cheap Time
[In The Red]

"I thought you were a flower / but you charge by the hour."

The garage rock revival is wayyy over (praise Allah) and yet this track proves that the etchic of thrashing in a closed-off, poorly mic'd environment can still work wonders with a snotty pop song. Unflinching in execution with its cartoony determination and yet slipshod and crusty in execution, it's almost ironically balanced with enough self-awareness and visceral genuineness that its astuteness can be easily dismissed after its brief just-over-two-minute runtime. The opening drum thump and concrete lyrical symbolism begin the adventure in guitar slop and what follows is so off-the-cuff you can get intensely claustrophobic and paranoid just from hearing the title repeated in sweaty fashion during the chorus or the verses popping out in tiny doses in between.
88 "Pussyfooting"
Fujiya & Miyagi
[Deaf Dumb & Blind]

An eternal weakness of mine: singing the same lyrics over and over again with emphasis on different words. Idlewild mastered it back in the early 00s when they put out great records instead of mediocre ones and now F+M are the new kings. Previously just "liked" for their ability to fill the little linguistics-loving hole in my heart, what sold me here is not only his coy delivery of the song's title, but also the "pow pow pow rakka takka UH" followed by an expert muted guitar slink that totally seals the deal. The beat whirrs, claps, and bumbles with bass, but I'm sorry, it's all about the deadpan about-faces between embargos on prevarication and declarations of love. He sounds so threatening it's like he's about to smack someone in the face, but really he's just ready to either get down on one knee and/or do a mean salsa and lay a big smacker right on her face. The rattlesnake beatboxing in the extended bridge just makes it all the more hilarious/endearing/bizarre.

87 "Trap Door"
JakeOne ft. MF Doom
White Van Music

"It's how it goes in this modern life like Rocko."

Fry guys, Randy Newman, Urkel, and Rocko's Modern Effing Life. When will Doom put out a full-length solo record that's not strictly about food? Don't get me wrong; JakeOne's production featuring swanky but subtle surf guitar and a ghostly organ is aces, but the rapper behind the mask is only on two tracks! Give the marblemouth mic spitter his own record, where he's not forced to share it with the capable but always lukewarm to my ears Madlib, let him rhyme about whatever he freaking wants, and I guarantee it will be my first hip hop #1 album of the year. When booming this in the car, Jess once asked me, "how awesome would it be to have his voice? Just imagine. No one would eff with you." It's so true. And yet, he's also one of the most unpretentious rappers out there - fluidly mixing these crazy pop culture references with thoughtful raps about fears and future generations ("the black one").


"Soon we will be laughing / out there on the landing."

Shortest song on the countdown. Clocking in at one minute and eleven seconds, the chorus is too perfect in the simplest and simultaneously abstract way to toss it away as a transition track on a lo-fi acoustic pop record. At first, a single chord just jostles in the air in a menacing fashion with breathy backing vox hovering toward the top of the mix, and when it finally busts into the refrain, all ears are on the cathartic release, mumbling in a dreamlike state about a distant conclusion and the plans that keep anything from happening. It's a dark corner of the mind presented in a hazy consciousness of memory, regret, and the world that was supposed to be. And if that chorus that has so many possible interpretations doesn't dig itself into your brain like it did to me, then I guess I'm the only one with a list of shoulda coulda wouldas.

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