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“Dolby’s Top 250 Tracks of the 2010’s (125-1)”

125 Black Milk – “Interpret Sabotage”
When I think of the whole “jazzy” movement in hip-hop of this decade, and I’m talking about the production especially on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, and I’m talking about pretty much the totality of Anderson .Paak’s catalogue, it seems warranted and welcome on the whole but also derivative of the blue note intro to Black Milk’s 2013 project No Poison No Paradise, which of course follows the oft-extolled Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, which with its median beat making and “good-ol’-kid” drawl, can come across as a Drake rehash at best. As if that’s not enough on Milk’s self-produced beats, he gets on the mic and beats it up in furiously brisk six-eight time signature with lungs of fire, spitting stories straight from the streets that also go down smooth.
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124 Obie Trice – “Richard” feat. Eminem
To say Eminem “takes over” this Obie Trick track from 2012’s Bottoms up is probably an understatement — he basically takes over, fumigates the area with tear gas and runs around scaring even the ants away with a chainsaw. The beat is on point courtesy of Statik Selektah (whom to Obie’s credit he shouts out in the intro in true respectful hip-hop form), obie owns the baritone register with some straight-ahead Detroit grit and Eminem… well… threatens to rape two toothless Big Buford-eating fat girls before a bafflingly strange chorus. It’s old-fashioned Midwestern misogyny at its finest.
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123 Drake – “Over”
It’s hard to believe with how hated Drake is now that when he came out he was pretty much a unanimous favorite among anybody who’d listen to any or a lot of rap up to that point — I think it was the genuineness of the flow, since he’s not that funny or eccentric in style. It’s just the energy he brought and all the real-life honesty and “Over” is a favorite of mine because it’s so human of him to be shy around all these people he “didn’t know last year” as he asks “Who the fu** are y’all?”, then not afraid to admit “I’m doin’ me”, reminding himself and everyone else what he got in it for in the first place.
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122 B. Cool-Aid – “syruphands”
LA’s B. Cool-Aid is so cool to me because the beats are awesomely melodic and sample-filled, but his flow is still so gritty yet gentle too, like a soulful Smokey Robinson type of figure on the mic that you deem incapable of any dishonesty, ostensibly enough. But don’t sleep on him: just when you’re getting comfortable he can blow your mind with some fast, close rhymes of street life, stuff you could never see other than channeled through his muse.
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121 Lower Dens – “Alphabet Song”
This song kicks off Nootropics, the band’s astonishingly velvety ’12 album (I think it’s their sophomore LP), with Jana Hunter making a statement right off the bat with her impossibly rich vocals filled with beautiful timbres and unmistakable melodic sense. I think that introductory percussion run is sort of important for a couple of reasons — first it sets the general m.o. of what they do of taking electro-pop and oozing it into something defiantly organic and melodic, and second, it’s so impossible to figure out rhythmically that it becomes trippy, like the rest of this album without question is as well.
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120 Mope Grooves – “Turn to Glass”
What IS the music of Mope Grooves? It seems influenced by pop but to take the music to such an askance posture that it evades the realm of anything that would be popular at all — the bright but tense piano chord changes implying a world of home that gets dashed to dust by the complete lack of groove, the goofy programmed drums and the almost completely muffled vocals. But the mix is so balanced with

its dark percussive abrasion and Annie Lennox/Nancy Sinatra pop tomfoolery that it’s sure to keep your attention and perhaps usher in a fun new age of absurdism in music, which heaven knows we could use. ..
119 Real Estate – “The Bend”

I made a regular habit of putting this CD on and playing it front to back in ’14 and the years following — to be honest at first the initial four tracks would strike me as classic and then the rest would just fade into obscurity, while not really striking me as BAD music. Sometimes it takes a live performance at the choice of the artists themselves to ignite a fire in you for a certain cut and for me it was seeing them do this one on a KEXP in-studio and seeing the sort of hypnotic zone Martin Courtney goes into when he plays this song that gives you the sense of the inspiration that goes into the whole thing and even makes you hear it in a new light. Also I keep going back to those lyrics and they continue to ring true: “’Cause it’s so hard to be in control here / Like I’m behind the wheel but it won’t steer”.

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118 The Struts – “Kiss This”
Oh, God bless The Struts… they kind of just suck. There’s really no more succinct way to put it. Splitting their time pretty unevenly between being “rock” and being “a rock,” these British blokes did belt out some timeless power pop on this cut at least, sort of marrying Cheap Trick classic rock spirit with lush modern mixing for a pretty decent payoff. Also I was so glad when my preliminary dread wore off that this was a KISS song, a malady glimpsed briefly from googling the lyrics.
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117 Kanye West – “Monster” feat. Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Bon Iver
“Monster” is in some ways, at least semantically at least, the reigning dog star on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, with this whole presentation of an authoritative emcee as a “monster” pretty original, then taken to comedic extremes by one of the girl divas in the group Nicki MInaj: “First thing’s first I’m’a eat your brains / Then I’m’a start rockin’ gold teeth and fangs / ’Cause that’s what a motherfu**in’ monster do / Hairdresser from Milan that’s the monster do”. The song totes a pretty bangin’ beat from Kanye with this awesome reentry of the snare midway through every verse, finds him a little out of breath with his flow finishing some of the verses but still probably made a lot of people jealous in the process.
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116 Flying Lotus – “The Climb” feat. Thundercat
Just when I think all the Flying Lotus songs are the same and there’s finally going to be nothing to say about this one, there’s THAT snare sound that comes along. I mean what IS that? It sounds like a lion snapping its fingers into about 20 mics. The music itself is as laid-back as ever, like session jazz, and to be honest I’m not really sure what this Thundercat dude adds to the mix: he’s pictured on Wikipedia playing guitar anyway so I guess he does more than smugly flip through issues of Clash Magazine all day. ..
115 Pixel Grip – “Golden Moses”
It’s hard to believe the orchestral and tantalizing Heavy Handed is Pixel Grip’s first album because this three-piece electro-pop unit from Chicago already sounds so confident and authoritative, and what’s more, well-rounded, spinning out tapestries of glee and romance on other tunes like “Tell Him off” but then sounding genuinely angry, without being theatrical, on “Golden Moses.” Ok maybe that keyboard sound is starting to get a TAD bit old by this tune… maybe for their next LP they’ll have a higher studio budget, or actually scrounge up the money on tour to cop a Moog. Either way this is a promising and fun group that’s continually rewarding.
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114 Mark Mulcahy – “Stuck on Something Else”

Mark Mulcahy is nothing if not an indie rock pioneer, borne of the late-’80s Connecticut lo-fi wizards American Legion and arbiter of countless singer-songwriter-like albums since. He’s at his best when as on this tune he stumbles upon a distinct and memorable little modicum of soft rock and sets it to some genuine, often ironic lyrics. I think on his last album he got a little too romantic and specific: here the lyrics remain refreshingly vague and universal, as pop should, and the result is something everyone can understand.

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113 Wu-Tang Clan – “Diesel Fluid”
2011’s Legendary Weapons, Wu-Tang’s only “mix tape” to my knowledge, sort of got dropped out of nowhere with very little hype, as most of their records and rap records generally tend to do (and sh** if this new TOOL album is any indication then pre-release hype is definitely not always a good thing)… when I got around to it I found it to have some pretty da** spinnable jams, like “Laced Cheeba”; the beautifully mournful “Never Feel This Pain” and then this jam, with a beat so laid back it sounds like it was made directly by the weed that fell out of that joint you’re passing. Method Man is at his phattest too.
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112 Kevin Morby – “City Music”
Kevin Morby burst onto the scene as what would have seemed to be an indie also-ran early this decade but had just enough stock genuineness and weirdness, along with his virtuosity on guitar, to set him apart. “City Music” is the title track on the approachable and consistent 2017 LP of the same name, gentle, undulating, cajoling and beautiful, and also notably following this strange, expressionist spoken- word vignette skit which is a mother speaking to her son, alluding to the concept of embracing the post- apocalyptic beauty of a 21th century city, rather than utilizing the ready logic that would tell you to run from it.
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111 FONTAINES D.C. – “Too Real”
To be honest I’m pretty out of the loop on pretty much every SPATIAL music scene in America these days, which is to say nothing of the blogosphere on which I keep a desultory finger from time to time, but for some reason FONTAINES D.C. strikes me as having probably the biggest cult following of any band, punk or outside, in the Western Hemisphere today. Bashing out white noise similar to the like European Iceage but with not quite as reliant on abrasion and chaos, the Irish band let the songs fall around the distinct narratives from singer Grian Chatten, with skewed capitalistic imagery ornamenting the displaced, caricatured rant of “I’m about to make a lot money”; to settle into the confrontational punk mantra of “Is it to real for ya?” that closes out the song.
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110 Grimes – “Weregild”
As you might have noticed, this decade has generally made Smash Mouth look like Frank Zappa in the department of poppiness level of music and to my bewildered astonishment I’ve heard any number of industry prigs coming out of the woodwork and demanding pop singles from artists as askance, eclectic and singular as Grimes and even Animal fu**ing Collective for Christ’s sake (artists whose primary skill lie outside of typical singles format, that is). Well, at least we have Halfaxa, Grimes’ solo album from 2010, a time when yeah the world seemed complete sh** but at least the music reflected that, as this song with surely corroborate.
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109 Califone – “Moses”
Just let me wax poetic here for an instant. Califone… is my favorite band on the planet. My favorite band used to be Nirvana, I think briefly it was Pavement, sometimes I throw out the name The Who just for worldly purposes and on certain weird football nights in early September I’ve been known to dabble in

Eve 6 premiereship (if you knew how funny Max Collins is during their live shows you wouldn’t IMMEDIATELY punch me in the face for that one). Califone lays down music-lover’s music, with eclectic instrumentations full of bluegrass filaments and ephemeral, aching melodies, with “Moses” off their defiantly excellent ’13 offering Stitches oozing along as about the most hopeless of all, detailing a romantic encounter gone bad but then zooming out with this humanistic discipline as to examine things within the overall human comedy, as Rutilli’s always been good at doing.
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108 Liars – “Scarecrows on a Killer Slant”
I have to say 2010’s Sisterworld was, a GROWER, for me, let’s put it that way, and when you hear charming ballads like this it’s certainly easy to see why — maybe certain things in my professional life at the time were facilitating my enjoyment of this song, a song which I’m pretty sure exists as a CD single at the checkout counter of your local gun store. Just short of analyzing it too much, I’d just like to vouch for this band in general and say if anybody has the confidence and authority to pull something like this off it’s Angus Andrew, what with his relevant work experience of the confrontational “It Fit When I Was a Kid” and the vague but hilariously twisted “Leather Prowler” under his belt.
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107 Versus – “Mummified”
Did the Bandcamp page of New York’s Versus really say the band was “formed in 1990”? I would have thought that would have been when their parents “formed”. Throw in the fact that it’s harder to be in a band in New York because it’s almost impossible to come upon a free-rent living space, obviating all the members working day jobs and still probably having no studio budget or space. But this is some fresh, instrumental, quasi-surf rock being belted out here, with an amazingly tender and innocent posture on the conception of rock and roll, which should be welcomed by the ears of thousands, if not millions, I would think.
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106 Sharon Van Etten – “Don’t Do it”
I think in a sense that “Don’t Do it,” the centerpiece on Sharon Van Etten’s fantastic debut EP Epic, speaks to the idea of New York art making a special impression on everybody, and maybe the artists not REALIZING how affecting they’ll be to the rest of the world, for their work’s tendency to get drowned out by their immediate surroundings in the big city. That is, this song, which deals with the theme of a suicidal friend, is a jagged pill to swallow, so that you’re far more inclined to remember listening to it nine years ago, as I currently am, than to currently be in the mood for it — let’s be happy that she got past this part of her life and exorcised these demons before they got bigger, I guess.
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105 Julia Holter – “Goddess Eyes I”
Somewhere deep down in Julia Holter is an agreeable, sensible pop diva. She just can’t be found now. That’s because this is “Goddess Eyes I,” which she was weird enough to position after “Goddess Eyes II” on her concise masterpiece Ekstasis from 2012, and on which she swathes her voice in so much fu**ed computer modulation that it makes Radiohead’s “Fitter Happier” sound like Mariah Carey. Ingeniously, though, she keeps the skeleton of the song, and even facilitates her words in ringing true as her declaration of “I can see you / But my eyes are not allowed to cry” now seemingly has implicitly transformed into, the everyday machinations of life have lacerated my feelings so badly that I’m no longer capable of crying, only clutching to that fleeting memory of the feeling, still nominally cemented by the musical skeleton extant.
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104 Eat Fire Spring – “One Horse Town”
At some point in the last probably 45 years a certain discussion materialized in music that all the possible blueprints for new music styles had been exhausted, that “everything had been done” and that

the only “original” music possible would be a melodic and harmonic set that utilized really uncomfortable rhythms and intervals, so that the end result wouldn’t even be understandable, wouldn’t FEEL, so to speak. Massachusetts’ Eat Fire Spring then exist as a significant counter-attack on this neurosis, reminding us that a human voice who loves and believes in rock and roll can breathe fire within the genre and create a musical world that, even if not completely “original,” is definitely essential. Most of these songs are catchy and great and “One Horse Town” might be the best, marrying the intimacy of emo and the poignancy of The Rolling Stones for a rustic masterpiece.
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103 Oneohtrix Point Never – “Returnal”
At the start of this decade, Oneohtrix Point Never was quite the renegade in approachable, listenable drone-ambient, taking a lesson from Yellow Swans, Stars of the Lid and others and weaving it through various sounds of acid house while also crafting albums that were undulating and always fresh. This album title track really ties the LP together with the strong help of some beautiful, inscrutable aboriginal-sounding vocals that seem to clash with the song’s harmonies in a poignant way.
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102 Cigarettes after Sex – “Sweet”
Sometimes I just think about Cigarettes after Sex and wonder how they can pull this stuff off at all — being so overtly sexual to the point where in past times they would have been labeled perverted, or low-brow. But then, that’s always been what the progress of music has been marked by — it’s mind- blowing at first almost to the point of being off-putting, but something conceptualized in the artist’s mind as soon to legitimately connect with a significant amount of people. It also happens that perhaps no band has so closely captured the celestial pop bliss of The Velvet Underground in the history of rock and roll. That certainly doesn’t hurt their cause.
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101 Four Tet – “Love Cry”
Funky, trippy, amorous and everything else that electronica should be in the 20-teens, “Love Cry” pummels out of the speakers as a key, emphatic statement on Four Tet’s classic There is Love in You from 2010, stretching out for nine minutes, none of which ever gets dull. It would be great music for partying to, on any number of substances, and I’ve also used it to soundtrack a simple snow day of sitting around the apartment.
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100 Big Boi – “Back up Plan”
This used to be one of my favorite work albums when it came out, sometimes veering toward the perverted but generally frothing over with volumes and volumes of street knowledge. It was also balanced — for all the periodic optimism this particular cut was like a cold splash of reality, with a sort of dual chorus of a female singing “I knew I was wrong / For thinking that you cared”, then bleeding into Big Boi’s rapid chant of grounded wisdom.
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99 Ghostface Killah – “Conditioning”
Generally there’s pretty little to complain about with this whole Ghostface Killah record which is apparently called “Ghostface Killahs” (well besides that title I guess) and though I chose this cut they mostly seem to offer some exciting street narratives over beats that are distinct but spare, not trying to be too flashy, which is certainly refreshing. Honestly my only knock on the album at large is that it’s too short, which wouldn’t pi** me off half as bad if not for all these vinyl douches lately who insist that the only way to listen to music is on a $25 object that holds all of 40 minutes of tunes.
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98 Mdou Moctar – “Asshet Akal”

Mdou Moctar is listed on Bandcamp as “Saharan music,” a descriptor so exotic and charming that I didn’t even want to delve further into it, leaving the artist’s epithet perfectly intact in all its majestic simplicity. Honestly when you listen to it you find that it’s really not all that obtuse or foreign-sounding – – actually I like it for its really complete mix and energetic way it trots along, like Moctar’s personal take on the cultural explosion coming out of the West.
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97 Ya$e – “Am I Close Yet”
Like I said before it’s almost impossible to find any information on this Ya$e cat but boy does he breathe fire on the mic, with more intensity than Drake but still understandable and fresh. And as if his flow isn’t hype enough, this song has probably one of the coolest intros I’ve ever heard, a simple but twirly and soulful piano run to set the tone. Then comes that awesomely crisp snare sound and of course the rapper taking on the world with his silver-tongued vocal acrobatics, just defying it to doubt him in the least. All in all, this is very complete hip-hop music.
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96 Califone – “Stitches”
2013’s Stitches is still Califone’s only album without founding percussionist Ben Massarella, which on paper would look like a drawback, but ends up being addition by subtraction (not to take anything away from the great skills Massarella had brought) with these delicate melodies each making their prominence known in sophisticated but pliable ways. The “Stitches” title track is no exception, floating along in gentle folk-rock form true to the band’s confident m.o. and coming together around a beautifully tragic mantra: “Cut the connection / Just to stitch it together / Again / Again”, the “again” repeated almost ad absurdam to great, applicable effect.
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95 The National – “England”
There’s certainly no shortage of stupefying, bewildering things about “England,” the track many name as the best song on High Violet. To music theorists, the most obvious might be that obstinately inscrutable phrasing they chose for the chorus, but there’s also the head-scratching notion that Matt Berninger could have written a song both so odd and so endearing about England when on paper he’s a good ol’ boy from Ohio.
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94 Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts – “Modzilla”
I definitely thought in general this album Blaster jumped out of the speakers as fresh and fierce, as the cover would certainly ideally indicate, with this opener sort of epitomizing the whole motha sucka with some straight-ahead garage rock, done in the playbook of grunge but with arguably some hooks and catchiness to even one-up some of the old flannel-wearing fire-breathers of old. And as sad as the news of his death was, it did lend some significance in a gutting sort of way to the main lyrical part of this song: “I ain’t goin’ to no place that I don’t belong”.
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93 The Gaslight Anthem – “American Slang”
The title track opener on Gaslight Anthem’s 2010 tour de force isn’t really too different stylistically from their former stuff — I think it’s heartier, though, for lack of a better term, and more full of feeling, which the markedly strange and specific lyrics would certainly seem to suggest: “And they cut me to ribbons and told me to drive / In a dream I had”. Then the song comes to a beautiful assembly around the phrase “You told me fortunes in American slang”, which might be a farewell to the phenomenon of “slang” at all, as elsewhere on the album Brian Fallon remarks that “The cool is dead”. For all his straight-ahead classic rock strategies, that is, he’s far from sugar-coating things. You couldn’t suggest that.
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92 Beach House – “Take Care”
I remember this excellent closeur on Beach House’s Teen Dream partly for its exceptionally weird music video (I think my CD came with a DVD offering a video for each song) of this old person sort of just staring into the camera. That’s kind of the type of tune this is, too — it’s like a support song, the gunky glue that holds together your constitution the exact moment you thought you didn’t need it, when all your delusions soundtracked by flashier tunes have fled away.
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91 Women – “Narrow with the Hall”
Women were a sensational band out of Calgary until their guitarist passed at way too young of an age. Their singer Pat Flegel has this noticeably nasal voice, almost like he’s deliberately whining into the microphone, and ironically enough I think it’s brought to the most profitable effect on this ostensible Beatles pop tune, compared with their faster or harder rocking efforts, because that vocal effect is most spotlighted here, as if the occasion for sounding pretty still oversaw that growling tone and hence obviates the unique place he’s coming from artistically.
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90 Theory of a Dead Man – “Medicate”
To be honest I know nothing about Theory of a Dead Man other than they’re Canadian and it takes a power drill to get this song out of your head once you hear it — just this morning though I was finally sort of pondering their band name though and realizing it might be introspective, like what happens when the self dies. One thing is for sure, they’re dealing with that Canadian ennui by leaving no stones unturned and cranking out some noise that updates radio rock, something that’s not easy to do these days.
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89 Rihanna – “Diamonds”
Rihanna belted out “Diamonds” for her album Unapologetic from 2012, a year when in my opinion pop music was making a fetid downturn with ham-handed nags like Taylor Swift and Alicia Keys flooding the airwaves. By contrast, Rihanna doesn’t try to do too much or make too noticeable of an impression, and as a result croons out a classic tune that sounds like it should have always been there, nestling up to Whitney Houston and En Vogue with natural charisma.
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88 Real Estate – “Talking Backwards”
For whatever reason 2014’s Atlas was the first Real Estate album to make a STRONG enough dent in my psyche to where I’d want to listen to it over and over and really get to know all of the songs. It starts with a song, “Had to Hear,” about calling up an old friend after a long time, getting over the nerves and getting that gratifying token of hearing that voice, which apparently had a soothing or invigorating effect on the songwriter. The whole album is contemplative and almost impossibly purposeful, with “Talking Backwards” representing a relative case of “cranking it up,” this song trotting along at a slightly increased pace but still mustering that beautiful, pristine guitar sound, like twee pop come to full fruition with alt-rock mixing and vocals as good as Bon Iver or Jim James.
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87 The Hives – “Patrolling Days”
Something about this 2012 Lex Hives album told me to check out the CD from the library and listen to it – – it was just so unhyped, nobody was expecting it to be good and so I figured maybe the band was getting less flak from the label on what to write and instead just letting loose, having fun and cranking out the kind of rock tunes they wanted to. Well the sense of humor is in no short supply here on this energetic apex “Patrolling Days”: “My patrolling days are over / And I ain’t shot nobody since / I fought the big cheese out of office / And showed the hep kids how to dance”. With how natural Pelle Almqvist

sounds taking up the English language and using it to make fun of everything in his sight in perfect parlance, it’s certainly hard to believe it’s apparently his second language.
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86 Method Man – “Episode 5 – Wild Cats”

On a really solid album Meth Lab Season 2: The Lithium from 2018, “Episode 5 – Wild Cats” has a focus and hypeness that makes it impossible for you not to declare it the toughest moment on the LP. One interesting thing about it is that the beat is basically rock, just played with a funky drum beat but with live snares and hats (which are probably sampled but still the feel is live), and little electric guitar frills placed throughout to mimic blues rock. In their diction, though, these “cats” are on point and about as gritty as you get, Redman at the top of his game and old Wu-Tang cohort Streetlife sounding like a ghetto rhyming engine, striking fear in his opponents right within the song’s unique rhythmic playbook. ..

85 Pixel Grip – “Plastic Enemies”
“Plastic Enemies” is another beautiful album track on their ’19 release Heavy Handed, a title which seems to maybe refer to the definiteness and purpose with which these keyboard riffs are played on all these tunes. Rita Lukea delivers a particularly gripping vocal performance here, repeating the line “Leave the light on” in the simple but captivating chorus and the rich melodies tug you in for a memorable ride. ..
84 Ikonika – “Sahara Michael”
“Sahara Michael” is a divine electro bath of synth sounds and rhythms from the British Sara Abdel- Hamid, or Ikonika, as her stage name dictates. According to story she got her start making music to soundtrack video games and yeah maybe this stuff can come across as slightly gimmicky and disposable sometimes, but it’s certainly fun, and an adventure in melodic eclecticism as well, with that primary incessant Moog riff summoning to mind Persian or Middle Eastern brands of music, perhaps, true to the artist’s roots.
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83 The Dandy Warhols – “Catcher in the Rye”
I guess the knock on this song would be that it’s straight-ahead bubble-gum pop that apes The Monkees’ “Daydream Believer” to an almost comedic extent, even making inconspicuous reference to a “dreamer” right in the chorus. It’s got a couple things in its cap though — one, I don’t think anybody expected this band to still be writing songs this catchy and inspired in 2016 and two, it comes on an album directly following this stomping, thunderous industrial song and then this frenetic sort of crack-punk ditty “For Reverend Jim,” so you can’t say enough about the juxtaposition. Also a close listen does reveal some backwards cymbals and greatly textural and ambient rhythm guitar, as well as of course Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s dry, laconic tone, which comes across as funny and invites examinations of what he’s saying.
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82 AronChupa – “I’m an Albatraoz”
According to Wikipedia, AronChupa, all one world but with the “C” capitalized, is the Swedish DJ behind this dark stomper of a club hit and the girl on vocals is his real-life little sister, Nora Ekberg. To be honest I thought it was a little weird at first but the more I heard it the more it grew on me and it really doesn’t have any close fellows in the industry, existing completely on its own plane of maniacal vindication and musical tension. That stomping the bass on the up-beat technique works really well here too, like a Kylie Minogue song with a little more balls and a little less readiness to cooperate with da** fools.
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81 Flying Lotus – “Computer Face//Pure Being”
For some reason 2010’s Cosmogramma was the Flying Lotus album I really connected with and settled on for a favorite — obviously as is the case with a lot of electronica music, for all its creativity and

wizardry, it can kind of be a tad readymade and disposable, the good news being that if you don’t “get” one Fly Lo album he’ll probably have another one out in a couple years for you to try your ears on. “Computer Face//Pure Being” seems like sort of an apt, nervous centerpiece hitting on a little world of melody and groove no one else had, up to that point.

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80 Four Tet – “This Unfolds”
Without a doubt, “This Unfolds” is the heartiest slab of IDM to emanate from Four Tet’s classic There is Love in You, placed smack in the middle at sixth and stretching out to near eight minutes of orchestral house music that’s just funky enough to keep your head nodding. It’s also great for Kieran Hebden’s knack in titling songs what they sound like, with “This Unfolds” actually taking the form of something exciting but atmospherically perfect in life, slowly building to a full statement in languid time.
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79 Kendrick Lamar – “King Kunta”
Out of everything, I think it’s the sheer ORIGINALITY of this music that hits you first, when you initially hear it. To Pimp a Butterfly came out in 2015, probably the exact period when trap was at its height and basically unilaterally ruling the hip-hop world: Butterfly was a boom-bap throwback awesomely peppered with some fresh jazz to add to the authenticity. The lyrics, then, work as a viable worldly statement of pro-black moxie, alluding to the African king of Lamar’s origin. Yeah, that’s a tad bit more cerebral than Fetty Wap, you might say.
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78 White Rabbits – “Everyone Can’t Be Confused”
I think “Everyone Can’t Be Confused” is the track whereon this band’s ’12 album Milk Famous really invites you into its world and then sinks you into it with quicksand. This chord progression is basically impossible to get out of your head and keep you soothed and enlightened for an entire anticlimactic work day, along with “Danny Come inside,” its co-leader in originality. The Velvet Underground influence is undeniable too in this New York band.
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77 The Gaslight Anthem – ““45””
““45”” (sorry for my clumsy punctuation… there are actually quotes in the song title) gets things off to the races in fine form on ’12’s Handwritten, by which time you thought there was no WAY this band still had this many classic tunes stockpiled for the unleashing. But it only gets more authentic when you look at the lyrics and their lucidity into getting older: “And all my friends say… See you on the flip side”. But the chugging garage rock groove reminds you who his real friends always were anyway.
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76 Dean Wareham – “The Dancer Disappears”
Dean Wareham is a singer/songwriter who fronted several bands in the ’90s such as Galaxie 500 and Luna. His solo album is self-titled and came out in 2014, full of music that’s turned way down in intensity from his bands’ projects but still possessive of much of the inspiration and beauty, as on this awe- inspiring opener full of mournful vocals and impeccable pop sense.
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75 Ya$e – “Joel Embiid”
The very name of this song should suggest how new it is to any basketball fans — and then what can you say about this guy’s flow. If he wasn’t rapping he’d probably be an auctioneer — at least he’s still getting that dough doing what he does now, or else he’s really good at bullshi**ing about it. Like, really good.
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74 Pixel Grip – “Twentyfour”
“Twentyfour” is an absolute miasmic bath of beautiful percussion and texture, so much so that between the snare and the bass in register there’s another sound and I can’t even really tell WHAT the he** it

actually is. To me, that sums up this entire album, too, this Chicago group presenting constant fresh takes on electro-pop and always accompanying it with some romantic episodes that can be mournful or joyful, but always entertaining.
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73 Grimes – “SCREAM”
Well, this is GRIMES’ version of a “poppy” album, but a song so weird and astonishing that I forgot it opens a little like PJ Harvey’s “50 ft Queenie,” with a rambunctious guitar run going solo and rocking you in for the groove. The diva then goes off rapping in some foreign language before unleashing the chorus of this song, which is… well, just her screaming her eyes off. It seems like this year we’ve had an influx of horror movies around Halloween to tilt the axis, but I imagine around this time she might have been just screaming about the state of pop music, not to mention the insulting aspect that she were expected to willingly take part in it at all, of course.
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72 Julia Holter – “Goddess Eyes II”
At some point in my adulthood I think I learned to appreciate, or even especially value, the “simple” in music, and “Goddess Eyes II” is the approachable, radio-friendly half of her suite of the same name, with the simple chorus of “I can see you but my eyes are not allowed to cry” and a very interesting video showing Holter’s head trapped in this little miniature house, her eyes fully visible as if to show the disconnect between identity and functionality she seems to allude to in the song.
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71 The Offspring – “Days Go by”
Commonly known as that Offpsring album that finally doesn’t suck, Days Go by came out in 2012 and finally marked a project whereon the band weren’t trying to score a goofy, gimmicky radio hit [to take nothing away of course from “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” which is obviously just that] and come across some worldly wisdom to adequately join the strong, punchy melodies: “All your anger all your hurt / Doesn’t matter in the end / Those days go by / And we all start again”.
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70 The Murlocs – “Comfort Zone”
Ambrose Kenny-Smith, the lead singer of Australia’s The Murlocs, has a voice so rich in texture and resonance that you can’t possibly think of it is something commonplace or that comes around often. This is somewhat of a weird comparison but he reminds me a tad of a male Joni Mitchell, just for how unmistakable the emotional undulations are in his vocals. What’s more, the lyrics are even pretty gritty on this rock ballad that sort of straddles a fresh line between garage and folk — his declaration of “I’m already falling back into my / Comfort zone” plays like someone fully entrenched in some meaningful life’s drama and who’s been punching veritable cements blocks in the social and romantic worlds.
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69 Kanye West – “All of the Lights”
There’s always a sort of white median, I think, with hip-hop fandom and with me I’d say I’m especially white, declaring a love for the Beastie Boys and The Roots and “hippie” groups like that. Along those lines, I personally get some verve even out of Kanye in a song like this when he goes “To my surprise a ni**a replacin’ me / I had to take him to that ghetto university”, this being the case despite the fact that he’s obviously singing from the foreign perspective of someone who’s just got out of the joint. I mean it’s street ENOUGH for me and especially enough to give you chills when the chorus dissipates into that beautiful, syncopated vocal of “All of the lights / All of the lights”.
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68 Sharon Van Etten – “No One’s Easy to Love”
I can’t say enough about Sharon Van Etten’s gripping, jolting masterpiece of an album from this year, and this might be its centerpiece, a track two just like “Ava Adore” which actually REMINDS me of “Ava

Adore” very much, sauntering along at roughly the same tempo and inviting in a melting peal of industrial, just to keep things fresh. And did she just say “There was one question you asked / ‘Is your father a man?’ / No but I think you should do / Ask of yourself the same”? Ok Sharon, we believe you about your title here. ’Nuff said.
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67 Flying Lotus – “Yellow Belly” feat. Tierra Whack
Just listen to this fu**ing song. I don’t really know what the he** to say about it.
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66 Califone – “A Thin Skin of Bullfight Dust”
As sad as it is to me that my favorite band hasn’t put out a new album in six years, it’s in a way all the more understandable because there’s always so much sadness, and almost like a resignation that plays as a sort of finality, wound up in lots of these beautiful songs such as “A Thin Skin of Bullfight Dust” in which Tim Rutilli declares “I’ve been a child / For as long as I remember”. The song is lugubrious but pastoral and gorgeous too, settling in around this hypnotic guitar riff that sends things into the night aptly.
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65 Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – “Bottled in Cork”
It seems like we’ve been pumped full of our fair share of eerie reunion stories where something goes really awry, like the breakup accounts of PJ Harvey’s Uh Huh Her or that scene in Clockwork Orange where that homeless dude sees the main character again and starts beating the sh** out of him — this is sort of the opposite, rare case that’s actually uplifting, a sequel to Leo’s 2003 European travelogue “The Ballad of the Sin Eater” where he’s now learned how to endear himself to Europeans, whether it’s for now having more money to buy drinks for everyone, or his rare witticisms like telling everybody you’re from New York so you don’t bore them with podunk places like Baltimore and whatnot. Also, Leo shows off his exceptional guitar soloing ability here to finest form on The Brutalist Bricks, quite possibly.
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64 Dig Exotic – “My Name”
To be honest I know this album from last year was really popular but I’m not really fully positive as to whether this exact cut made any radio notoriety — well it certainly could have, I’d imagine, although perhaps these guitar tones for just having ANY textural qualities to them qualify as to “exotic” for radio pop these days. I mean I grew up in a time when Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff” played in public places and people fully showcased their emotions unscrupulously in such ways. But this also happens to be a great song musically, drawing in nice influences and with lyrics that are pretty pithy in the romance department, too.
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63 The National – “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”
I remember my one friend who was a fan of this album (“Bloodbuzz Ohio”; “England”) thought this song was “so weird”… well I’m just a sucker for a great, simple chord progression so I love this masterpiece album closeur, personally, and even though I don’t really know what Matt Berninger means when he sings “All the very best of us / String ourselves up for love”, but boy is the imagery beautiful when he declares “It’s all been forgiven / The swans are a-swimmin’ / I’ll explain everything to the geeks”.
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62 Real Estate – “Had to Hear”
This is my highest ranking Real Estate song on this list and I must say I played the f out of this album this whole entire year after it came out, right through a distinct memory I have of putting the CD on at Christmas too. This was always a great opener, with that gentle but hypnotic guitar riff governing things and making a curiously strong artistic statement despite its apparent spareness, with no little help from

the awesome cleanness of the song and the band’s songwriting discipline and devoutness to simplicity, which the listener can’t help but take as galvanizing confidence.
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61 Modest Mouse – “Pistol (A. Cunanan, Miami, FL. 1996)”

I just have to say I am a huge Modest Mouse fan and it’s BECAUSE of this, not in spite of it, that my only Modest Mouse song on this list marks a stark, entirely jilting departure from the band’s general m.o., with the boys here dabbling in something closer to industrial, and in the lyrics too taking the ironic, displaced perspective of a rapist rather than Isaac Brock’s own everyday persona that’s relatable to real life. That’s all I have to say about this song other than I think it’s best listened to alone — it’s for people who like music more than they like hanging out with other people, in other words.

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60 White Rabbits – “Hold it to the Fire”
To be honest I remember one time having this song in my head when I was 90 miles west of my hometown in Orland Park, IL, training for a new job way too early in the morning around these relatively good looking and kind people around whom I was poised to make a good impression if at all possible — I was like who the he** does this song that sort of has the both the burning psychedelia and pop catchiness of My Morning Jacket at their best moments? Then, I’ve pretty much been trying to getpeople into this band ever since this episode, and even before it — well I guess this list is my last hurrah in that endeavor here, or just about, at least.
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59 Black Milk – “Deion’s House”
No Poison, No Paradise was another sensory overload map of Detroit with Black Milk making his own beats and rhymes, coming at us from a little bit of a different angle here with a tale of growing up, taking accountability and astonishing humility: steadily droning out the lines “Not clever but I thought I was” and “Not cool or slick but I thought I was” at getting kicked out of a friend’s house for smelling like weed. It’s just the genuine way he sounds that sews the whole thing together though, like a guide for what you have to do mentally to get by, lined with cathartic moments too though like “I ain’t see my dad much / So whenever trouble comes / I don’t mind to take the blame / They already expect me / To be the one to be insane”.
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58 Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts – “White Lightning”
As fate would have it “White Lightning” was the first single released off of Scott Weiland’s sole album with his last band the Wildabouts, Blaster (the way I understand it he was touring with this band when he breathed his last breath in late fall ’15) and in a way it’s a curious, inconspicuously abrasive choice for lead not at all unlike the uncompromising “Down” from No. 4. Well, this album wasn’t really very popular critically or commercially, but I like it a lot, letting it suffuse me as a genuine fan of classic grunge music who wanted to hear where the style was capable of gallivanting when under such a spirited guide. The result is something dark and distinct. But I guess this whole thing was doomed anyway. C’est la vie.
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57 Radiohead – “Burn the Witch”
The lead single from A Moon Shaped Pool is nothing if not spooky, with those incessant, percussive strings spelling out the especially tense, gothic mood and Yorke’s laconic but relentless lyricism plaguing the whole thing: “Avoid all eye contact”; “This is a low-flying panic attack”; “Burn the witch / We know where you live”. I think it took a while for it to grow on me just because this mode of music was so incredibly divorced from everything else in the mainstream in the middle of this decade and was even quite down and spare compared to the band’s immediately former commercial successes like “Bodysnatchers” and “A Punchup at a Wedding.”

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56 Flying Lotus – “Actually Virtual” feat. Shabazz Palaces
One astonishing thing about Flamagra is that though such a distinct and powerful statement in ultra- rhythmic, jazz-influenced (which is to say dominantly black) IDM branding, it also features these sporadic instances of songs that profusely mimic the “featured” artists in style. The Anderson .Paak song “More,” that is, bears a striking resemblance to Anderson .Paak’s own music from his albums and then this one with Shabazz Palaces on it basically IS a hip-hop song, with the Seattle rapper on the mic doing his thing pretty much the whole time. Boy is that beat a different animal, though, with boisterous, lashing percussion stomping under vapors of melodic, indescribable synth which give it a nice undulating quality.
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55 Band of Skulls – “Bruises”
“Bruises,” though only coming on track two of ’12’s Sweet Sour, marks basically the album’s upper extreme of sonic velocity, a general accomplishment fully nailed on this project in particular. Also it’s their way of plotting down a deliberate bludgeoning midway through a musical phrase that marks part of their creativity and cements some of the artistic power this music has.
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54 Dirty Projectors – “That’s a Lifestyle”
In general I thought Lamp Lit Prose was David Longstreth and company’s triumphant return to form and, related to how the album title suggests something retro, sort of a reawakening of their general funk-pop playbook unpacked on the showstopping Bitte Orca, just infused with some key freshness in the way of lyrics and vocal tone. Indeed, they sound like a band having fun belting out these translucent melodies and in addition, “That’s a Lifestyle” seems like a song that’s so quintessentially New York, like an episode of “Humans of New York,” or whatever, as if dealing with the world’s problems successfully at thatlocation will obviate that you can do it anywhere else, too.
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53 Usher – “OMG” feat. Will.I.Am.
Lo and behold, Usher is still doing it after all these years, the dude who soundtracked half of my middle school days with “You Make Me Wanna…” and “Nice & Slow” (and sent the girls into a tizzy doing it), perhaps not surprisingly getting comfortable here on a joint that by comparison to the rest of the pop world is just so laid back and classy, or “low-key,” but still gets its sovereign message across and embodies a great jam.
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52 Shiny Times – “Yellow Light”
Now, by and large, though I think they’re a TAD overrated, I generally agree that Mazzy Star did something really special and singular with “Fade into You,” with the rest of their songs pretty decent but that their clear-cut best: actually it’s almost like it was so good that it took the rest of the music world 27 years to aptly mimic it, which yes is the exact length of a generation, interestingly enough. Shiny Times sort of carry the torch for me among this recent twee pop revival for the ironic reason of their minimalism, their complete lack of ambition to do anything other than this charming soft rock, with every breath of singer Kim Weldin’s voice devoted to hewing a beautiful melodic portrait with no blemishes.
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51 The Walkmen – “Angela Surf City”
I think this band gets such a reputation for being sort of well-heeled and trendy that you tend to forget the visceral energy and searing power that goes into something of their guitar escapades, as on this cut where one of the players, I think it’s Paul Maroon, constructs this bulwark of close electric shredding to

agitate Hamilton Leithauser’s clean, nice-guy vocals, which of course still hog the spotlight with some good ol’ fashioned battle-of-the-sexes rancor.
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50 Women – “Locust Valley”

Hey, it’s Nick Hornby’s diatribe about how The Gaslight Anthem revive and perpetuate the spirit of rock and roll using three basic chords, everybody’s happy and holding up lighters, worshipping the ghost of Chuck Berry for all eternity! Oop… here come Women, this band of Canadian sissies that call themselves chicks, to dash the Anthem’s hope of being the best band of the decade to shreds with this song “Locust Valley” that plain and simple most bands just can’t DO, on a theoretical level, on a technical level, maybe on an emotional level but not with Pat Flegel’s inimitable laconic vocal SNEER, for lack of a betterword. He’s got this voice that seems to mock his own maligned, cathartic existence while mocking the depraved state of the rest of the world, fully self-celebratory and glorious on this unforgettable romp of dissonant arpeggios and defiant, furious originality.

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49 Liars – “Cred Woes”
That cover for this album was just too hilarious, Angus Andrew with that wedding gown on sitting there all alone after being “dumped” by his former friend and bandmate (and maybe more than friend… not really sure) Aaron Hemphead and left to pursue Liars as a side project. The name of the album was TFCF, which stood for Theme from Crying Fountain, a somewhat curious decision to pare the title down to an acronym but perhaps representative of how multifarious and diverse this LP actually is, in subject matter. “Cred Woes,” my personal favorite joint on it, travels into the fictitious perspective of a disgruntled American retail worker with the grounded mantra “I push down all my terrible thoughts inside” and comes complete with a solid music video, too.
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48 Wilco – “Love is Everywhere (Beware)”
There’s really nothing too remarkable about the first 20 or so seconds of this song: it opens as a very regular sort of rockabilly jaunt that even actually mocks some other tunes on the album in rhythm and feel. To be honest, it’s just Jeff Tweedy’s classic vocal that sends this tune over the top, that warm texture and seasoned disposition by this 2019 record and just our sense of listeners of his undeniable honesty, from Wilco’s overall body of work up to this point. This is one of my favorite bands and Ode to Joy in a sense seems like the essential Wilco album, recorded in their own studio and issued on their own record label.
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47 Lower Dens – “In the End is the Beginning”
It’s really sort of arbitrary that I placed this album closeur on the disarming Nootropics from ’12 behind any other tune on this album because once you hear this song your brain is coerced into this preternatural realm of trippiness and your entire conception of what an album closeur should be is completely revamped, with Jana Hunter’s introspective beat poetry basically manning the helm over ambient distortion and other noodlings. In this way, I guess, it is the perfect album track and so less conducive to a “songs” list, but don’t go just listening to side a of Nootropics or you’ll miss an unforgettable aural experience.
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46 Green Day – “Oh Love”
“Oh Love” rounds out Uno but I know it as pumping out of our local rock radio station some night around September ’12 at work and, perhaps not unimportantly, having garnered a litany of online hatred from people trying to tear down Green Day and refute what was some people’s opinion that this song was “epic.” Well I’ll let you judge for yourself — pro- or anti-Green Day stances are sort of like political views in that, especially at this point in their career, you’re not going to change somebody’s

opinion on it, but I think that itself speaks to their testament and this song does rock in the ears of any true fan, harking back to their old straight-ahead pop-punk days with some spirited CURRENT, well, straight-ahead pop-punk.
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45 Aloha – “Waterwheel”
Aloha is a band I first discovered at a record store, in all its charming High Fidelity kind of cinematic charm, I guess, at this “Recommended Listening” station at Tracks in Bloomington, Indiana, where I paid my collegiate homage. Here Comes Everyone was delicate, almost impossibly angular and jazzy pop with this strange but soothing alto vocal from Tony Cavallario, Some Echoes was solid and critically acclaimed but honestly this might be their best song, a bright and catchy tune with some ridiculously off-kilter lyricism, like an indie pop answer to Seven Mary Three with even more authenticity and artistic control. ..
44 Mr. Little Jeans – “Waking up”
“Waking up” is a classic pop song out of LA’s Mr. Little Jeans — it didn’t come on an album, so I actually surprise myself for even having listened to it at all, but I’m greatly glad I did and it even kind of rekindles my amour for ’90s pop singles like Robyn’s “Show Me Love” and other expeditions that didn’t need albums to shine. This diva’s little number gets extra points for stylistically jibing with the current time it was released, peppering in some trap-sounding beats but still possessing this gorgeous melodic overplay that seems to almost lull you into a dream, right in fitting with the chorus of “I’m not ever waking up”.
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43 Blur – “Thought I Was a Spaceman”
The incredible and polymorphic Blur took a spirited new turn a lot of people might not have seen coming, among others, on ’15’s Magic Whip — doing their best impression of Radiohead with a tense, jazzy and spooky little dirge, like the chameleonic Londoners they are. It even offers an amusing little comment on the band they’re imitating too, who once bemoaned their lack of opportunity to climb onto a spaceship, stuck as they were on Earth around “All these weird creatures / Who lock up their spirits”.
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42 Flying Lotus – “Arkestry”
2010’s Cosmogramma literally COMBUSTS around the strange and beautiful “Arkestry,” devolving into this sans-percussion descending synth riff. If somebody were to say that this was the exact sound of the world ending, you’d probably get more 1,000-yard stares than chuckles as a result.
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41 Evidence – “Late for the Sky” feat. Slug, Aesop Rock
Lots of things threw me for a loop with this one I have to say. One, I’d never actually heard this original song “Late for the Sky” by Jackson Browne, even though I generally like Jackson Browne and my mom was a huge fan growing up. But they take it and run with it like game-spitting animals here, this introductory spoken word skit playing the Jackson Browne version on a cab radio (the part where he says “Late for the Sky” is buried way at the end, to add to the confusion). Cats & Dogs is the excellent solo album from Evidence of Dilated Peoples and Aesop Rock helps him slay this partly sampled beat with more than his usual faux-rhythmic rigor.
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40 Kanye West – “Power”
Wow, I swear I didn’t mean to do two straight hip-hop songs with ’70s rock samples in them — maybe this decade was like a new version of the ’70s, with everything really blown up and grandiose and this King Crimson nod of “21st century schizoid man” would corroborate as much, like a man driven mad and overly voluminous, mentally, for the framework of showing his true self and letting his true artistic prowess bubble to the surface. This is ’Ye’s exact plaint on this cut but his mean street rapping is on point too, ranging from hilarious to haunting, when he actually threatens suicide before declaring “You

got the power to let power go”. Hmm, I would’ve thought that would be 808s and Heartbreak. Sorry. It’s still a great song.
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39 The Hives – “I Want More”

“I Want More” is the undeniable centerpiece on Lex Hives and what’s better it precedes the serious part of the album where Pelle Almqvist is actually voicing issues earnestly and tackling issues like accountability in everyday life, all that crap that most of us do — here he’s still on his making fun of everything game, taking on the subject of “fat” Americans in every sense of the word who are never satisfied: “I want sh** that’s made in India / Incense gold and myrrh”.

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38 Ya$e – “Slow down (Intro)”
“Slow down” is the ripping opening tune on Ya$e boom bap tour de force Black Sheep and the energetic, heroic delivery and real-life grit are easy to remember but what you might forget is how craftily these beats are assembled, this lead tune ushering itself in with this gentle but grainy organ sound to set an orchestral tone, with the stakes high and all.
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37 Ty Segall – “Whatever”
Da** has Ty Segall been one reliable rocker this decade — I should probably give him the decade’s game ball but I’m too spaced out on this spazzed surf rock to remember to do so (also I have no such thing). Anyway “Whatever” marks an interesting turn away from his hardcore punk masquerades into something more… eh… mature? Well, he’s still telling someone he’s their dog, like a gallivanting Iggy Pop sort of figure, but this tune is textural and catchy sort of like The Antlers with a West Coast punk attitude, a delicate and intriguing balance admittedly for us all to enjoy now.
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36 Melby – “VCR”
Sweden’s Melby really hit upon a pristine pop nugget here and really on most of this shiny, crisp pop album None of this makes me worry, this tune’s subject matter of a VCR the singer comes upon seeming to symbolize this whole twee pop expedition in a sense, which itself as we know is charming for its simplicity, transparency and slight antiquation, as well, perhaps.
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35 Stephen Malkmus – “Rushing the Acid Frat”
Groove Denied was Stephen Malkmus’ (Pavement, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks) strange and mesmerizing foray into electro, but leave it to him to dash it all to shreds here with some spirited acid rock, a slow but intricate chord progression governing absurdist lyrics handling college fraternities and other enterprises in which he’d seem to have no business (I get an at least vague sense of thwarted desires by young girls elsewhere on this album, which might when with this schematic I guess).
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34 Grizzly Bear – “Yet Again”
“Yet Again” tended to be the proudest moment from ’12’s Shields and even toted the swagger of being as good of a song and as radio friendly as the venerable “Two Weeks” from Veckatimest, the band’s impossible-to-one-up predecessor album. I’ve heard both songs in a Whole Foods, before, amusingly enough, and they both brilliantly capture the darkness of the Bush admin. and that whole decade while also spinning things into a bright melodic tapestry, as only they seem to be able to do.
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33 The Entrance Band – “Spider”
The Entrance Band’s Face the Sun from 2013 is one of my favorite rock records of this decade and for some reason “Spider,” for all the kinetic energy of the first two tracks, seems to be the one that stands out, with its conspicuous ebb in tempo but retaining of the album’s overall intensity, a metaphor for a

woman being like a spider and catching men in her web. It’s the gung-ho way that Guy Blakeslee croons out these sentiments that really sells it, like an artist with a knack for alt-rock who deep down is really just a Rico Suave showman.
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32 Hot Hot Heat – “Pulling Levers”
“Pulling Levers” seems like a song so classic that once you internalize it you get the notion to think, who are the influences, who does this tune remind me of. Strangely, I think, at its core it’s really just a great Hot Hot Heat track, harking back to the naïve pop of their critical breakthrough Make up the Breakdown but plodding along with a special world-weary level of character here. Actually my only complaint about it is that it’s too short — I thought they could have repeated the entire chorus about two more times at song’s end, to send things off into the night emphatically.
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31 Steve Gunn – “Paranoid”
“Paranoid” is the astonishing closeur on The Unseen in Between, a full-fledged monster of a folk rock album that New York’s Steve Gunn unleashed in the wake of his father’s recent passing. The clean, gorgeous guitar sound is there, of Gunn’s own playing, but I think things take a special turn for the lyrical here, in haunting form, with Gunn accusing somebody ACCUSING somebody of paranoia of being mad, the idea being that fear and a heightened state of alertness in our current world would be more appropriate and understandable than this naïve whim that everything is groovy.
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30 The Dandy Warhols – “Semper Fidelis”
Here we come to the bizarre and gripping track two on the band’s awesome album Distortland — a weird dip into something resembling industrial music, for them, with heavy metal stabs of guitar but a beat that’s brisker and more rhythmic than like Mastodon or something along those lines. It’s a tad bit melodic and catchy but to be honest the main draw is that thick murk of sound and the weird, almost robotic vocals that gallop along with confidence just as if they were normal.
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29 White Rabbits – “I Had it Coming”
Here the Velvet Underground influence is QUITE proud and prominent, so pronounced that for much of this song the band gets by on just two chords, and a lot of genuineness and perhaps more importantly, heartbreak. Actually, you never even get word of what it is that happened to the lead singer Stephen Patterson but he sounds so devastated in his vocals, while also coming across so comfortable within the realm of cathartic alt-rock and sewing together a little gem of a tune and album closeur here.
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28 Radiohead – “Decks Dark”
Composed as many of these A Moon Shaped Pool songs were as long ago as two decades, they still come together and mesh pretty da** well on this pastoral, beautiful Radiohead album, with this one perhaps the best of all, taking by Radiohead’s standards a fairly approachable and radio-friendly disposition, sort of like a revamped cover of “High and Dry” with some of the theatrics taken out and replaced with some worldly wisdom that goes down quite smooth.
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27 Wild Flag – “Endless Talk”
I think “Endless Talk” is where Wild Flag, which was composed of Sleater-Kinney and Helium, really comes together around something anthemic and memorable — it’s an undeniably simple, straight-ahead rock song, and in that way most purposeful, with master songwriter Carrie Brownstein taking the reins and showing her knack for bashing out some rock and roll in the spirit of The Rolling Stones or the Pretenders.
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26 Julia Holter – “Fur Felix”
For how critically acclaimed 2012’s album Ekstasis was pretty much across the board the Wikipedia page on it is incredibly miniature, featuring no section describing the instrumentation — the best I can conjecture for this strange and beautiful ballad would be guitar and sitar, giving way to Holter’s odd, sporadic but undeniably melodic vocals. One thing’s for sure, it’s just a tad more eclectic than Taylor Swift, and I think Holter’s songwriting approach is incredibly fresh, summoning in the ghosts of Annie Lennox and others for an expedition obviously borne in the sonically vanguard.
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25 Menomena – “Queen Black Acid”
“Queen Black Acid” is straight-ahead, radio-friendly acid rock of the finest variety, the opening track on Mines, which, belying as much, tends to dissolve into overly obtuse lyrical theatrics, in my opinion, though generally retaining your attention still enough to qualify as listenable.
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24 Vault – “Dolorosa”
“Dolorosa” and in general this cathartic project vault is the rare bit of electronica where the vocal takes the helm as the most prominent and artistically important channel, here rendered as a sort of strange series of expressionist wailings which certainly exist without genre entirely, hence essentially hewing their appeal in the process.
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23 Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – “Even Heroes Have to Die”
To be perfectly blunt, The Brutalist Bricks was definitely Ted Leo’s last album of any merit and I think pretty much all would agree this was its finest offering, a terse corpuscle of unparalleled power pop which, auspiciously enough, also features some might fine “whoa”’s in the vocals.
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22 Big Boi – “Be Still” feat. Janelle Monae
The verdict is pretty much in across the board and Big Boi dropped bombs all over this Sir Lucius Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty banger — it was a big work album for me when I was putting in time in this warehouse around when it came out, all filled with rambunctious boom-bap bragging. Here, though, this track stands out because he gets disarmingly real, and humble, letting Monae croon out the chorus “Be still young heart / Never will you fall apart”, the rapper even assuming the part toward the end when he sets this scene of sitting alone in his car on a lonely evening before letting on that “I’ll be still”.
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21 Dexter Story – “Bila”
LA’s Dexter Story is just a jazz juggernaut on the loose — there’s no other way to describe it than that and this is some classic African-American music on the loose, as in American jazz in the vein of fellow So Cal denizens like Kamasi Washington but with this great African aspect too of these tribal vocals, fitting together with the spirited musical interface in perfect lockstep and charm.
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20 Kanye West – “Black Skinhead”
You might remember “Black Skinhead” from that iTunes commercial it was on — ok probably not but it is definitely that kind of song and I think embodies part of Yeezus’ genius for being so approachable and radio-friendly while also having the grittiness and excitement of hip-hop. Surprisingly, despite the title, this song isn’t really very political at all, at least to my ears, veering toward the hubristic and egotistic (shocking, isn’t it), the “skinhead” maybe referring to a sort of ultimate power he takes over just by moving the party. Eh, I really don’t know.
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19 Grimes – “Flesh without Blood”

Listening to “Flesh without Blood,” you can definitely tell why you hear this selection in Friday’s and not “SCREAM” — this is Grimes’ assemblage of radio-friendly pop that for some reason all those media blowhards were clamoring for around this time. Well, as you can see by my ranking, I’m begrudgingly abiding conceptions of its brilliance — it’s got a great chorus with the diva’s sort of exotic-sounding vocals working strangely to her advantage, cloaking the bare romantic disavowal in a distant quality that lends to the music and away from a sort of head trip. Grimes knows how to music along and the song turns on a sort of metaphysical sphere, like great pop should. Frickin’ sy borg.

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18 tUnE-yArDs – “Wooly Wolly Gong”
“Wooly Wolly Gong” is nothing more or less than a heart-rendingly beautiful ballad written by Merrill Garbus to her young child — the entire song consists of plucked guitar, vocals and some sort of makeshift percussion which I think might just be comprised of somebody stomping their foot, or something quite rudimentary and low-budget like that. Well, you see where I ranked it, which should obviate the spellbinding genuineness and feeling that went into this project, an indie rock lullaby to a growing child, pleading to fall asleep safe from the “beddy bugs” and culminating in the wondrous sort open interrogative of “How can you keep my bleeding heart wide open?” Don’t listen to this song if you’re wearing too much mascara before work.
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17 Kurt Vile – “Jesus Fever”
For how gung ho I went on this album when it came out and the couple years after I went pretty Kurt Vile light on this list — and it’s not even as though his later projects like “Pretty Pimpin’” hurt him that much (whereas they certainly didn’t HELP him, per se) but I guess the whole Smoke Ring for My Halo LP was sort of just an ambient compliment to this booming masterpiece of a central song, the song featuring the most percussion on the album, the most “rock” song on the album but also lacking none of the plangent melodic qualities, and even imbuing a sense of freedom as great rock and roll should do: “I’d pack my suitcase with myself / But I’m already gone”.
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16 Kendrick Lamar – “Momma”
For how glorious To Pimp a Butterfly is in general I think it can generally veer a little bit toward the opaque and grandiose, so that it’s nice to get a more personal number like this where we can zoom in on Lamar’s life and psyche and hopefully take something out of it. In this case, of course, it’s the declarataion of “I know everything… Until I realized I didn’t know sh** / The day I came home”, it’s the trippy experience of seeing a younger person who resembles your appearance and build and becoming totally lost in the moment, totally at the mercy of the current reality and of your hometown, and of course answering to “momma,” which isn’t diagrammed in the lyrics, ’cause he**it doesn’t have to be.
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15 The Dismemberment Plan – “Invisible”
The knock on this album was that it was “immature”… I’m like it’s rock and roll! Sheesh! It’s supposed to be fun, not a friggin’ board meeting! And indeed, the LP does begin with the lines “If you hit the space bar enough times cocaine comes out / I kinda like this computer”, a happenstance which any seasoned fan will tell you sort of sums up what this band has been about from day one — raw, overwhelming energy. But what’s this here… a sensitive ballad placing oneself in the plight of a struggling downwardly mobile 20-something, who is so metaphysically “invisible” that he feels it in aesthetic? It’s similar to tunes like “Spider in the Snow” except that Morrison is actually singing in first person, fully envisioning himself in the situation, and the result is almost as gripping and absorbing as that stepwise ascending synth riff, grafting a full-fledged jazz sense onto this radio friendly pop tune in utterly transcendent form.
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14 Lower Dens – “Lion in Winter Pt. 2”
Anybody who follows the sporadic but somewhat exhaustive Dolby Radio already knew I really liked this song — it figured to play pretty high up and I just can’t emphasize enough the beautiful Velvet Underground vibe I get from it, the minimalist bass synth riff and mostly Jana Hunter’s gorgeously textural vocals which ooze onto the mix like pancake syrup, spinning out vague and haunting bits of wisdom and culminating in a poignant repetition of “As above / So below”.
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13 tUnE-yArDs – “Doorstep”
This song is ranked lucky #13 which may be appropriate because it’s part and parcel with the rest of this album which in general deals with Merrill Garbus’ “life’s humiliations” and her travails as she “tr(ies) so hard / To be a peaceful loving woman”, but the song centers on a loved one getting shot and killed by a policeman, which I think may or may not be true to the reality of Garbus’ actual personal life, whereas it may not actually matter given the emotional zeal with which she pulls this song off. On one hand the chords are so cheekily bright and bouncy that it seems absurd, but the scatting session she wades into is bountifully resonant stuff, a musical achievement which would make ecstasy-ingesting teenagers and music theory professor equally proud and floored.
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12 Black Milk – “Welcome (Gotta Go)”
It’s funny I was just thinking about that Beck line in “Loser”, “Butane in my veins” — I can’t think of a closer analogy for what this song was to me around 2012. It literally WAS my energy — it’s this beautiful urban song of undeniable velocity and grit, subject matter a bit ambiguous other than depicting ideas of, if not pro-black, at least looking out for his fellow “brothas” in Detroit or wherever. This was the song that would get me hyped up for going and doing my rapping and it was also a great model for beat making and flowing, but mostly a great Midwestern hip-hop song that always seemed to turn the nighttime into the day, in its own way.
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11 Beach House – “Walk in the Park”
Geez, I have to say it feels like generations since this album came out — I’ve already featured this song, for instance, on my “Dolby’s Top 500 Indie Rock Songs of All Time” list, ranking it I think #27 or thereabouts. It seems like I’ve had so many love affairs with this song, which was always best rendered, I thought, digitally on headphones like on the old iPod shuffles. These days I probably prefer their prior album Devotion to Teen Dream but I will always vouch for this song as just this complete, overarching statement of genuine human sympathy, as if, in writing a pop song so beautiful and so aptly reminiscent of The Mamas and The Papas, Victoria Legrand must have felt this person’s pain so keenly that to hold it in would have hurt her more than anyone.
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10 Eat Fire Spring – “The Mess”
Well dog gone it Eat Fire Spring you got “Sprung” on me out of nowhere just this year and really stole my heart with some stuff that while enjoyable strolls astonishingly close to “emo,” which would basically all but preclude them from being included on Dolby Disaster. I included “One Horse Town,” of which I’m a huge fan, on one of my self-righteous “Pop Mix” playlists earlier this year. I couldn’t get enough of that tune but this one takes the cake for its visceral energy. Actually if I could think of one comparison point it would be The Strokes, for how the music itself seems to have the quality of living in the moment and gathering vivaciousness while always also on a melodic mission to make an impression with catchiness and distinction.
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9 Califone – “Magdalene”

“Magdalene” is a fantastic song on the band’s final (as of now) album Stitches from 2013 and is also a quintessential Califone song for many reasons — its gentle folk-pop gait, undeniable Beatles pop sense and, more subtly, the band’s penchant for throwing the title into the song in a really curious place, as in not the chorus but buried inconspicuously within the second verse to never be repeated again, except for the million times you’re tempted to listen to it just to have a perfect soundtrack for the falling of the leaves. And it did come out in Autumn ’13, as I distinctly remember.

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8 Wilco – “Citizens”
Califone and Wilco are sort of like brother-sister bands, both folk-rock entities from Chicago and having been known for touting each other and exhibiting full respect for each other, even sharing Windy City stages from time to time. But I for one (soap box spiel here) happen to firmly prefer Califone so if you would have told me Wilco would write a better song than “Magdalene” this decade I definitely would have spit in your face. But they did and the only way they could have done it, which they did, was become more “Wilco” than they ever were in the past — I’ve said this already that this was the album Wilco had been waiting to make, recorded in their own studio, released on their own record label and full of such energy and beauty but also such mourning, an almost narcotic realm of the sense that the otherworldly can become your own by just letting go and holding on to rock and roll, in your everyday life.
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7 Ya$e – “They Look down on Me”
I think this is my favorite song on the Ya$e album just because it seems the most contemporary — the beat resembles trap more than most of his other stuff does, with those rapid, clicky sounding snare drums, and the rapping style even is almost sort of like half-singing, in that dramatic Drake, J. Cole style. Throw in then the me-against-the-world attitude and the boorish swagger Ya$e exhibits on the mic and you’ve got a full-fledged classic 2010’s hip-hop track.
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6 Milky Chance – “Stolen Dance”
It seems like the older I get the better I become at telling if I’ll permanently like a song the first time I hear it. This tune, however, threw me for a loop, as it really didn’t jump out at me on probably the first couple listens. Its greatness hit me eventually as a sort of bittersweet confluence between its penchant for being different and the crushing reality of my unfolding life being different from what it had ever been by getting more desolate and more up to me to find my happiness and my people. As time rolls on, though, it continues to play as a radio-friendly gem I can always hum and nod along to. I even love Milky Chance’s voice, which definitely sounds “stoned in paradise” in both mood and raspy timbre.
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5 Pharrell Williams – “Happy”
I think I made the comment at some point on my blog that I actually had no belief in the world “soul” until I heard this song. I’d already been a huge fan of Pharrell’s work last decade with Clipse and through this one with Missy and N.E.R.D. but this tune might be the best thing he’s ever done, an anthem that went on to soundtrack Disney’s Despicable Me 2 but also play ad nauseam on radio and constantly get heads bobbing.
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4 Steve Gunn – “New Familiar”
I don’t think it’s possible to overstate how gorgeous the main guitar riff in this song is — he knows it’s good so h maintains it pretty much the whole verse/chorus folk-rock masterpiece but at the same time unleashes a raucous, distortion-addled solo to send things fully into orbit. This will be the folk-rock blueprint for other artists for years and years to come, if they know what’s good for them.
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3 Sharon Van Etten – “I Told You Everything”
“I Told You Everything” leads off Van Etten’s magical new album Remind Me Tomorrow in style, with a fantastic and deliberate chord progression, bounteous piano sound but most important, I think, Van Etten’s gorgeous voice, which seems itself like the perfect musical instrument and helped to galvanize her breakthrough EP Epic, as well. One cool think about “I Told You Everything” is that while to an extent it holds up as an autonomous pop song it’s also the perfect album intro, with very little volume and very much intimacy which invites you into her world and obliterates any doubt that she’s planning on being real with you on this journey.
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2 Kamasi Washington – “Cherokee”
Washington buried “Cherokee” way late within The Epic, something most artists wouldn’t be able to pull off and actually have any of the masses listen to it. But Washington was operating on a level completely his own in this decade, giving a great interview with Rolling Stone at one point in which he said his music would never be political because “Politics doesn’t affect the way I show love to my brothers”. “Cherokee” is an indescribable music which like this quote seems so undeniably original, genuine and completely out of left field that its greatness just can’t be denied, and generally this revival of jazz this decade has been welcomed by this blogger as the renewal in a cycle, like the returning of spring. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, but somehow it’s still fresh, too.
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1 Flying Lotus – “Takashi”
“Takashi” in an orgiastic bath of sounds and notions from one of the masters of current American music, LA’s Flying Lotus, full of texture but also seeming to play with the personality of a television theme song, as strange as that sounds. But actually, that’s one of the hardest things to do in electronica, give the theoretically disposable, flash-in-the-pan music some true personality, and Flying Lotus seems to do this with primary melodies but also with incredible percussion layering that’s as intimidating as it is complex. Lastly, the syncopation in the hats and snares seems to snowball into something mocking a horse galloping about a minute into this song, which is my favorite part — it’s sort of like that Beatles song “Flying” that sounds exactly like flying, except riding a horse in this case, all the more appealing in a sense because, what the he** black dude ever rides horses?

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