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Top 100 Songs of 2008: #s 55-51

55 "Kit and Pearle"
Dosh
Wolves And Wishes
[anticon.]

Moment @ 1:52

It's almost too bad that it's in Mr. Martin Dosh's DNA to never be flashy. With his warm and inviting tendency to create interweaving melodies, this guy could easily create some inspiring tunes for any artist willing to have a Rhodes piano in the background. Whether the beat sounds hip hop, pop, jazz, or rock, the Twin Cities man's genreless hummability is inescapable. It's also a good thing that he hasn't gotten ahead of himself, though, because then the instrumental community would lose one of their most successful crossover acts. He tried the vocal guest star thing on the last album and while it was still wonderful, his modesty didn't mesh the best with propulsive voices pontificating on top of his cloudy and earthy tones. Well he finally found the balance between voice and instrumentation here, because when local guys and gals Dark Dark Dark bust out subtly but forcefully over the whispery xylophone and wobbly guitar notes, it sounds like a quiet heavenly cacophony of joy. And while I believe the title refers to the man's beloved drum kit, it also makes the wordlessness sound like a love song between two lyricless voices.

54
"Arctic Swing"
Anni Rossi
Wheelpusher 7"
[Too Pure]

"Nourishment is temporary."

There's also a version of this song more boringly called "Machine" on her more official Afton EP, and while that's nice and all to have something more slickly produced, it doesn't have any of the character of this vinyl-only original rendition. When are musicians going to realize this? You think Bon Iver would have as much, if any success if he had re-recorded For Emma in a professional studio like he wanted to before many people told him that would be a terrible idea? Anyway, I digress. I'm glad I was able to hear this song in its primal state, because it proves once again that just the slightest tweak on the insufferable singer-songwriter genre can make verse-chorus-verse emoting artfully minimalist rather than trite and yawn-inducing. At first, I thought this was some kind of tuned-down ukelele alternating with a violin in a cut-and-paste fashion underneath Rossi's gorgeous breaking falsetto/snarl, but then I saw a video where the woman in question (I crap you not, check the link) strums, slaps, plucks, and bows her fiddle under her chin all while singing her song AND tapdancing to make a beat. All this and there's a melting heart at the song's core, making the technical proficiency that much more admirable.

53 "Hit The Wall"
Brendan Canning
Something For All Of Us...
[Arts & Crafts]

"You can have it all and it's all gone."

The steady fade in: the most underused method of beginning a song ever. They usually are too quick to notice or take way too long to get to the punch, but Canning proves if you just do it ever so evenly, it can prove remarkably powerful. Especially when you've got an incredibly simple but unforgettable atonal guitar riff and loop fighting for dominance in a song that's equal parts angst and acceptance. The Broken Social Scene crew have always been known for this and this is no exception: it swells with tension and release at the same time, feeling both scowlingly aggravating and therapeutically cathartic. Canning's low-level mumble would sound comforting if it were a cappella, but with the distorted mid-tempo brashness occurring underneath it, it sounds murderous and desperate. When the chorus of back-up singers come in to chant the eponymous refrain, it's as if hitting the wall could mean finally losing your cool and/or ultimately accepting one's own demise. Either way, it's a crushing defeat with barrels of negativity thrown over the side of the ship into the ocean through melody and rhythm. The horns float to the top in an effort to revive, but it's too late at that point - we might as well fade out.

52 "Pinkies"
The Big Sleep
Sleep Forever
[Frenchkiss]

"Our lives are showing / fading fast now."

You've got to respect a band that has two very capable singers, but chooses only to use them on half of their songs. I delved into The Big Sleep via their instrumentals, yes, but this powerhouse anthem, which harks back to the days of raw (in terms of both rock and sentiment) bands like Jawbox and Juno, certainly displays guitarist Danny's ability to belt out with gusto that much better when he gets to pick and choose over which terrorizing guitar licks he does so. His voice is turned up to 11, but it's still adequately drowning in the fuzz of the bass and the hammer-ons and pull-offs of his electric axe. It's a gut-busting rock song that has so much vigorous puissance that if the producers of Rock Band ever dug deep and found this track, they just might find it too potent to translate into flashing colors and animated fretboards. Some people wonder what happened to the original emo genre, which was founded on unprocessed and unbridled heart-led guitar music. Well it's good to know that not only are The Big Sleep still practicing it, but they're getting indie snob cred for it as well.
51 "1 2 3 Apple Tree"
Herman Dune
1 2 3 Apple Tree
[Everloving]

"It's like solving a case with a single clue / to know how bad I want to be with you."

Did I rip the Rushmore soundtrack? I thought to myself when this track came up on my computer for the first time. Turns out that not only was this quirky chirping ditty never in a Wes Anderson movie (give it time, however) but that it was indeed just recorded and release in the past year. Why no one thought of (or has gotten enough recognition to find its way into my headphones) ripping off 60s-era Faces and Cat Stevens to appeal to modern day hipsters before our man Herman is beyond me, but I'm more than glad someone did. Sure, the lyrics are overbearingly twee and straightforward, but that just makes it that much more authentic. It has no qualms about being precious or just another love song - it really feels like he just wanted to write a song that vented all the situations and similes he's come up with to show this person that he loves them. Well, that and he probably was trying to figure out a way to write a pop song that had a flute in it and didn't sound terrible. It's adorably verbose, daintily redundant, and positively pure in its execution. There's no sadness, no minor note, and no frowning allowed: and that is just refreshing sometimes. Simple as that.

Only one day behind schedule! The final 50 of the Top 100 Songs of 2008 will come to you regularly throughout February. Keep checking back and/or click on the "Top 100 Songs" tag below to get a recap of #s 100-51.

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  1. Blogger P. Arty | 10:52 AM |  

    I definitely have a new-found respect for that Anni Rossi song after seeing that video. Very cool.

    Also, Dosh--very good stuff!

  2. Blogger P. Arty | 11:00 AM |  

    Related: there's a lot of these handheld videos that are fantastic!

    Lukestar on a pier: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBc-MmA-21s

    Love Is All on a train platform: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhaBvJAq55w

    Phenomenal!

  3. Blogger chris | 4:54 PM |  

    Oh man, those are indeed both awesome. I will have to start following their stuff.

    The couple and the little girl in the Love is All video? BRILLIANT. They were very close to making my countdown.

  4. OpenID christineone | 1:36 PM |  

    Chris, I'm loving the countdown. So far the Herman Dune song is my favorite (and at #51, I guess that means I'm agreeing with your order). I'm going to listen to it on loop for the rest of the day.

  5. Blogger chris | 3:41 PM |  

    Yay! Two people commenting on the same Top 100 post? NICE. I'll get working on the next one right now...

    It really is quite impossible to get sick of "1 2 3 Apple Tree".

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