July, July! What a wonderful (disgusting) month. Don’t get me wrong, I love summer as much as the next guy, just not when the weather feels more like a tailpipe than the warm sun. So I had to get out of dodge, i.e. Washington, and spend the weekend in the forever beautiful Jersey Shore. No, really. But I’m back in DC now and glad to share my half-year in review. Thanks to friends for introducing me to these songs in the first place.
Honorable Mention #1: Fruit Bats, “One on One”
Honorable Mention #2: Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse (Feat. Julian Casablancas), “Little Girl”
This is only an Honorable Mention because the album, The Dark Night of the Soul, will be released July 12, though we have already heard and written about the greatness wrought by the late Mark Linkous, Brian Burton, and David Lynch. My favorite is this off-kilter pop gem by Julian Casablancas.
5. Drake (Feat. Jay-Z & Lil Wayne),”Light Up (Riker’s Remix)”
I have trouble accepting Weezy’s diarrhea-of-the-mouth delivery as funny let alone profound, but you got to give the man props for his killer verse on Drake and Jigga’s “Light Up.” The original, found on Drake’s Thank Me Later, stays intact, with Weezy’s Riker’s Island, one phone call verse slapped at the end, casting a shadow over Drake and Jay’s previous attempts. Wayne couldn’t be more raw on this track, but he is far more intelligible than usual here, possibly because of the lack of cough syrup on the rock. The never ending flossing still gets on my nerves a bit, but the references to being locked up let me take him more seriously. For another FP take on Drake, check out Frontier Funbunny’s review of Thank Me Later.
4. Deftones, “Rocket Skates”
Deftones catch way too much unwarranted flak, and people should step down and give them their due. “Rocket Skates”, the band’s first single since “Mein” in 2007, is a welcome return to form, complete with cryptic yet sensual and soaring vocals over two-ton guitars riffs. The story behind this year’s Diamond Eyes is a sad one. Chi Cheng, Deftones’ bassist, was injured in a car accident in California in 2008 and has since been in an unresponsive coma. Diamond Eyes is a tribute to their bandmate the way Deftones only know how: rocking, then weirding you out.
3. Flying Lotus, “Computer Face//Pure Being”
If Flying Lotus (Steven Ellison) is the Stanley Kubrick of instrumental hip-hop, Cosmogramma is his 2001. A master of invention, Flying Lotus shows the shape of beats to come, by chopping and bleeping his way to the final frontier. “Computer Face”, the first single from Cosmogramma, sums up his prowess, showcasing that one offbeat rhythm among waves of background synths and what sounds like the drumming of silverware.
2. Titus Andronicus, “The Battle of Hampton Roads”
I have already written extensively about the Titus Andronicus album, so here I’ll focus on one monster of a song. Among the most enjoyable 14 minute songs in history, “The Battle of Hampton Roads” throws the listener through every possible fit and subsequent lull The Monitor has to offer. This behemoth endcap not only has guitar solos to make Steve Van Zandt perk up and a triumphant bagpipe interlude that recalls my Chicago south-side pride, but it offers an ultimate rest, the ideal ending for an album that rages so hard.
1. Kanye West (Feat. Dwele), “Power”
Kanyeeze, you did it again! “Power” continues on Kanye’s perpetual quest to push pop music forward, and for that, I thank him. He’s angry, but pensive. He’s flossing, but self-loathing. These are all regular modes for West, but we’ve never heard them so delightfully jumbled. “Power” also includes the best sample of 2010 with King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man.” Here’s his literally over the top performance at the BET Music Awards.