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Top 100 Songs of 2008: #s 95-91

Hearts Of Palm UK
For Life

"I know I'm not supposed to think about the qualities separating me from the rest of humanity."

The way singer Erica Electra (what an appropriate name) croons "so beautiful" on this meek electro-pop number makes my toes curl. Really, every phrase she utters as the pizzicato strings climb up through the sweltering keyboards makes little friendly pinpricks in my heart. With a little help from Google, "Kavorka" is from Seinfeld episode that I don't remember and means "lure of the animal," and while I'm sure there's something clever/humorous going on with naming the song as such, I can't help but think it's wildly apropos due to the melodies' sedative and addictive nature. It literally feels like I'm melting in with the layers of warmth that Electra and her band of plunging synths as I listen, swelling and falling, all wrapping me up in a gooey confection of calmness.

94 "The Takers"
Takka Takka
[Ernest Jenning]

"You said in song that you would not talk about the bad things."

Just wait for that acoustic guitar to fade in on the left channel. It jostles quietly and amorously with the electric guitar in the right and the wafting atmospherics that surround. Oh sweet merciful aurgasm, check the rollicking snare and nervous/sleepy backing vox! And finally the dusty bass rolls in and then officially none of the instruments ever let go for the second half of this all too short (and yet, a completely perfect length) song. Like feeling the hot sun on your back for the just the perfect amount of time before a cool breeze diffuses your boiling skin, this is the ultimate sweet pop crescendo fix for whenever you're feeling impatient. Sometimes you get the most pleasure out of moments that seem to be over in a flash not despite their brevity but because of it.
93 "Bright Tomorrow"
Fuck Buttons
Street Horrrsing

Moment @ 3:59

If by "bright" they mean royal blue glaciers that are eerily transparent, then they're absolutely right. With an icy trance beat jogging through the epic track's first act on top of what sounds like a Casio on the "organ" setting, we're treated to what is quite possibly the most fascinating pairing of two distinctly dissimilar keyboard tones ever. Without ever getting louder or piling on more sounds, the two cadences battle each other, sometimes sounding agreeable, sometimes sounding resentful of each other. When the distortion hits, the immaculate glaciers are still in tact and clear as day, but they now vibrate with effervescence. They growl with a grin, snarl with a smile, and then the buried affected screaming begins and you've either encased yourself in your own block of frozen water, enjoying this slow descent to hypothermia, or you've taken a hammer to the surface, hoping it will all break into a million pieces. Obviously I chose both.

92 "Guns & Ammo"
Minus The Bear
Acoustics EP
[Tigre Blanco]

"Skip to the end / exhausted bodies in bed."

It's been a while, MTB. While I've liked everything they've put out, I haven't totally fell for one of their songs since I caught onto their debut full-length six months too late back in 2002. This one interestingly brings everything back to why I liked them in the first place (pretty simple: tricky yet gorgeous guitars + instantly singalongable verses and choruses) but is in the one format that the band had never attempted before. I am such a sucker for when pop/rock bands prove that the acoustic guitar can be used for something other than open chords and mastermind Dave Knudsen noodles and fiddles his way through trajectories both smoothly natural and incredibly inhuman-sounding (like he does best on electric as well). The hollow keys underneath also add to the richness of the otherwise organic setup and what truly sold the song as Top 100 material to me was the fadeout final chorus, with its multi-tracked everything combusting a hole in the song's musical ozone layer: busted wide open for utmost satisfaction.

91 "Liver Let Die"

"We're too lost to give off nothing but shove off / now get lost."

Often mindless hip hop acts kick off a track by reminding the listener who they are, as if we couldn't check the glowing MP3 player screen or back of the CD we just bought. It can be annoying, but luckily this is DOOMTREE. They're not bragging with self love when it crashes through the ears in the first second of the song; they're warning with backwards beats, drumstick crackles, and an ominous refrain trying to ward off the demons that keep everyone apart from each other, slowing falling apart in deafening solitude. They mention a "city" in particular and I can't help but think of Minneapolis (which the collective also calls home) in the dead of winter. I love this place, but the cold and discomfort does cause an isolation that sometimes unnecessarily keeps voices from being used and/or heard and restricts souls to buildings rather than let open to their loved ones. It's enough pissed off loneliness to make a song like this feel like a tiny hopeful brushfire (also wake up call) in the middle of an urban Siberian desert.

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