Search My Blogs

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Numbers 100 - 91, "for Reverend Green"

100.Mistaken For Strangers - The National
Boxer (2007)
You could accuse them of being the poor folk's Interpol. But The National have pieced together an impressive body of work over the past decade or so, and this was the standout track from their breakthrough album.
It broods like Interpol, and is as lyrically obtuse. The relentless snapping drums set the mood without any real letup as we transition seamlessly into a very nice, understated chorus that somehow manages to be catchy at the same time.

99.The Miller's Daughter - The Drones
The Miller's Daughter (2005)
This was a tricky inclusion. There are a number of artists represented here whose body of work has rightly earned them a place in this list, even if they never released a killer hit single during that time, and The Drones presented just such a problem.
Lifted from the eponymous EP, this is as snarlingly good as anything the band has ever released, and it captures all their raucus talents - both lyrically and musically.

98.Cattle & The Creeping Things - The Hold Steady
Separation Sunday (2005)
Separation Sunday was by this reviewer's reckoning one of the freshest releases of the mid-noughties. It presented a vision of adolescent urban alienation delivered in a vital, engaging, and at times even poetic stream of consciousness monologue.
What made the album REALLY interesting was its interplay between urban alienation tales and religious - particularly high Catholic themes. That this is the moral background against which American youth in particular play out their adolescence made Separation Sunday a vital and unique cultural survey which had a lot new to say and said it exceptionally well.
And while rock/pop's propensity to steal or to drape itself in religious iconography and mores is indisputable, rarely is this managed with anywhere near the empathy for its content. Separation Sunday instead is a proper exploration of the interplay between identity and religon, particularly during modern adolescence when identity is so much in crisis anyway. Hence the iconography of graffiti and recreational drug use sits everywhere in the album uneasily beside Christian iconography.
This interplay is nowhere more redolent than in this track, and it's what really gives this one a dimension of greatness.

97.The Leavers Dance - The Veils
The Runaway Found (2003)
It does the soaring tuneful indie sound archetypal of its time as well as any.

96.Atlas - Battles
Mirrored (2007)
Certainly one of the more unique of the decade's offerings, and utterly insidious in spite of itself. A real garage jam aesthetic prevails here, the vocals are minimal, as is the content, and that's kind of the point here. It's an exercise in form. And one of the great ones.

95.C'mon C'mon - The Von Bondies
Pawn Shoppe Heart (2004)
This was one of the most barnstorming releases of 2004. It grabs you by the scruff of your aural neck within the first thirteen seconds and never lets go. And you're almost dared not to sing along.

94.Gold Digger - Kanye West
Late Registration (2005)
This insidious dancefloor mega-hit was played at every party on every scene in 2005, and probably represents the moment we realised Kanye wasn't going away anytime soon.

93.For Reverend Green - Animal Collective
Strawberry Jam (2007)
The arch experimenters came into their own in the noughties. Arguably nobody pushed the form of popular song more consistently and artfully across the decade than the Baltimore four-piece. And this swoony, multi-layered cacophany is entirely representative.

92.Fuck Forever - Babyshambles
Down In Albion (2005)
At first I wondered "what's the point in having a side project to the Libertines which sounds exactly like them?" But apparently Mr Pete Doherty was actually tossed out of the Libertines for some alleged and no doubt spurious substance abuse issues. And this bare bones, cocaine-addled ode to decadence was a pretty memorable response.

91.Heart Failed (In The Back Of A Taxi) - Saint Etienne
London Conversations (2000)
Saint Etienne were truly a nineties act, but they had this one hit in the mature years of their reign that is the equal of anything they ever produced.
Easy to put in a genre with Massive Attack, EBTG, Portishead, they never quite achieved the fame or status of those others, but their body of work does stand out well against theirs, and this track shows why.