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Monday, May 16, 2016

Numbers 80 - 71, "This is Our Emergency"

80.Shine A Light - Wolf Parade
Apologies To The Queen Mary (2005)
Had I known the video was this stupid in advance, I might have marked this further down. Oh well. These guys know how to write a tune that lingers in your subconscious for DAYS. They rightly musically belong alongside their mates in Arcade Fire. Where other lists will cram Arcade Fire's two or three key singles  into the top twenty, we'll hear nothing further from them in this countdown. Wolf Parade, however we're not done with yet ...

79.This Is Our Emergency - Pretty Girls Make Graves
The New Romance (2003)
Find me any band around today with a name half this good. It is of course a direct lift from The Smiths song of the same name, so they know how to reference the pantheon. A brilliant, high-strung effort from an act that have delivered consistently good albums over the past decade or so, but no singles anywhere near this stand out. A song made up of a million mini-phraselets "Stand up so I can see you/ Shout out so I can hear you/ Reach out so I can touch you" and we seem to be on a crescendo, but then the punchline is deadpanned. "This is our Emergency", and all expectations fly out the window, and this weird genre-defying creature deserves a spot all on its own.

78.Shut Me Down - Rowland S. Howard
Pop Crimes (2010)
I've dealt with Rowland at some length in the NEXT post, which I've twittishly published ahead of this one. Suffice to say, this is about as good. It all rests on ONE mantra intoned through that booming, arresting bass vocal that could only possibly belong to one man. "I miss you SOOOOOOOOOOOOO much." Close to the finest guitarist this country has ever produced he was also a songwriter of major importance, "I'm standing in a suit/ as ragged as my nerves" is as good as anything Nick Cave ever wrote. The entire landscape is so much the poorer for his absence.

77.Sandstorm (Original Mix) - Darude
Ignition (2007)
You don't get to become a thing as ubiquitous as this became without having set off some kind of important primal nerve somewhere. The main riff belts you about the head with a musical baseball bat, then pauses just long enough to let your head ring with it all. The soundtrack to the wee small hours for too many who'll never remember them.

76.Heart It Races - Architecture In Helsinki
Places Like This (2007)
And here's a video that might have managed to bump its soundtrack up the countdown a few places. This is such a unique, weird beast, it sits nowhere neatly in genre terms. The rhythm is actually a kind of afro-traditional melded to western structures in a way we really haven't heard since ... wait for it ... Paul Simon produced some of the most interesting material of the late 80s. Certainly one of the decade's more accomplished Australian acts. I'm predicting this will stand up well to time's ongoing enquiries.

75.The Rat - The Walkmen
Bows + Arrows (2004)
"Yooooooooooouve got a nerve to be asking a favour/ Yooooooooouve got a nerve to be calling my number .... can't you hear me I'm/ beating down your door." It's not really a chorus at all. But it's better than most of the decade's actual choruses. This thing broods like a menstruating teenager. The menace, the spite, the bile all just sitting barely beneath the skin of this nasty, hateful number that pretty much everyone will agree was the band's finest moment.

74.Grindin' - Clipse
Lord Willin' (2002)
Pharell Williams doesn't make the countdown in his own right. But if any producer, including Dre did more for music during the noughties, then I'm utterly ignorant of them.

Because I saw Clipse live a  few years back. The most disappointing gig I've ever been to. Who'd have guessed it, these guys CAN'T RAP outside a studio. But there's the amazing dimension, because on record NONE of their rap peers can hold a candle to them. So if that's not Pharrell's magic, I'd love to hear any alternative explanation. The way they inflect everything semi-conversationally is completely peerless. The main riff? Sounds like it's that noise you produce when you click your jaw and use your mouth as a resonance chamber. So the whole thing is kind of understated, sounds punk-fresh-DIY, and lyrically snaps crackles and pops with a joy in the rudiments of language that every great rap act had in their DNA.

But NEVER pay to see these guys live.

73.Kids - MGMT
Oracular Spectacular (2007)
If you had to hand ownership of the decade's dancefloors to a single riff, does anyone have a better candidate than this? Becoming a touchstone for SO MANY different styles, genres, scenes takes some REAL songwriting chops. In future when people ask "remember the noughties", most respondents are just going to hear this riff playing in their head.

72.All My Friends - LCD Soundsystem
Sound Of Silver (2006)
Another contribution from arguably New York's finest. They virtually defined their own genre and naturally enough came to own it. It's dance music you just BARELY want to dance to, its smart, sassy lyrics are such that who doesn't want to sit down and have about eighty beers with James Murphy?

71.Numb Numb (Screwed and Chopped) - Juvenile
Juve The Great: Screwed And Chopped (2003)
I suppose you could make the case that 'Screwed and Chopped'/slowed and throwed plus 'Dirty South' are new noughties-born subgenres within hip hop. So here's one of the finest examples of both. The slowed up syncopation effect on the vocal in the chorus is somewhere music hasn't much been before. And yeah, maybe it's a cheap and obvious gimmick. But somewhere in the definition of a gimmick is the meaning "it just WORKS."

And nobody has stepped into the silly hip-hop generic attire of the self-proclaimed drug dealing overlord more fittingly before or since. And it's all kind of tongue-in-cheek hilarious "My shit is the bomb/There must be Saudi Arabians that ain't used some."