(Super Late) Best Singles of 2011 – M83, Yuck, Sabrepulse, Eric & Magill, The Joy Formidable

I’ve had this fucking post sitting in the queue since before new years and I just lost interest in the futile act of writing, so it sat. Though we’re now into shorts weather here in Atlanta, it’s still not too late to celebrate a few of the best songs of last year:

M83 – Midnight City

I do love this song, despite a few major complaints.

1. Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming and much of M83’s catalog in general suffers from a bit of Manic Pixie Dream syndrome. The faux vintage haze of idealism gets under my skin after a while.

2. That fucking sax solo. I think this single is amazing, right until the worst trend of 2011 slaps me in the face…and still it deserves a place on the list.

‘Midnight City’, when it works, showscases the spacey soundtracks to adolescent daydreams they’ve nearly perfected over the years. Despite the melodrama, the highs are dizzyingly high. See also: Kim & Jessie.

Sabrepulse – Close To Me

Probably the best man in Chiptunes, expanding his sound into a more polished realm. Worthy of repeat. Click the graphic above and buy the album. Keep some money in his pocket so that he can continue to evolve his sound. Plus, the download comes with a few great remixes.

Yuck – The Wall

Nostalgia for the 90’s doesn’t really appeal to me, as I suffered through most of the highs and lows of that decade. Despite leaning heavily on the playbook of many early 90’s staples, Yuck manages to create something simultaneously forward looking and seeped in the right notes of the past.

Phantogram – Don’t Move

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oAif29JfkQ

Eyelid Movies was one of my very favorites of 2010 and this cut off their newest EP holds great promise for what’s to come. Shaking off a touch of the gloom, “Don’t Move” remains moody, yet catchy and just the right tempo for swaying along.

The Joy Formidable – Whirring

This song reminds me, in all the good ways, of the stomp and harmony of Pretty Girls Make Graves, all while offering a meatier, layered guitar sound. Ritzy Bryan’s pummeling coo floats perfectly above the noise, just as Leona Marrs & Andrea Zollo’s voices did in PGMG.

Eric & Magill – You Make It So Good

I don’t usually find this kind of indie-psych-folk at all appealing, but there’s something amazing tucked into this hypnotically mixed song. The spiraling blend of vocals and crisp drums just sinks in perfectly. However, I can’t make heads or tails of the video.

Stream All Those I Know on Eric & Magill’s bandcamp

Alan Wilkis’s remix of Phantogram’s ‘Mouthful of Diamonds’

Ever listened to Phantogram and just said, “Well, I like this…but it’s just too darn sad?” Alan Wilkis has the cure for you with this remix, giving you a window into a parallel universe where singer keyboardist Sarah Barthel became the lead singer for CSS instead of Lovefoxx. The crystalline tone of the original is tossed in favor of party synths and a 80’s electro breaks. As much as I love Phantogram’s take on things, I’d probably be down with them just as much if the whole album was like Wilkis’s remix.



PHANTOGRAM – MOUTHFUL OF DIAMONDS (ALAN WILKIS REMIX)

Check out Alan’s soundcloud for a whole lot more quality remixes and originals.

For good measure, here’s a live version of the original ‘Mouthful of Diamonds’ live on KEXP

Phantogram – ‘You Are The Ocean And I’m Good At Drowning’ (from Eyelid Movies)

You do the research on Phantogram and you see a lot of weird pseudo-anticipation expressed with the term “Trip-Hop”. This mid-90’s genre that was once a plague on every coffee shop and upscale boutique in America, has been left squandering now. I freely admit, it was something I once loved…but time makes fools of us all and in retrospect, much of what the genre pooped out wasn’t that great.

In what Phantogram has repurposed for their sound, like the occasional dust speckled hip-hop drum sample, definitely calls back to some of the finer points that trip-hop had to offer. There’s some similarity in singer/keyboardist Sarah Barthel’s reverb drenched cooing that would be in line with a lot of other female singers from that era. The sparse, Morricone inspired guitar lines are also familiar touchstones for the genre.

Hm, I really had meant to write about these guys and in the end circle back to say, “But, they’ve got a lot that separates them from being the first crest of a trip-hop revival.” The more layers I dissect in the album…the more I find a lot of genre callbacks. Weather flush with retro tendencies or not, Eyelid Movies is still an incredibly solid album that comes across like early stuff from The Ravonettes on quaaludes. Rarely do I find a new release full of songs that are worthy repeat listening.

“You Are The Ocean And I’m Good At Drowning” has been the standout track from Eyelid Movies. The song builds up the from the skeleton of a drum loop filled out with bass synth mood and a subdued guitar lead. Guitarist Josh Carter takes vocal point on this song and filled in at the chorus by Sarah Barthel; the interplay similar in tone to The XX, if they had a concept of crescendo instead of just steely posturing. “You Are The Ocean And I’m Good At Drowning” does arrive at a satisfying build, an asset utilized by many of their songs. Maybe fairer to call it “post-shoegaze” instead of “trip-hop revival”…less damning anyway.

PHANTOGRAM – YOU ARE THE OCEAN AND I’M GOOD AT DROWNING

Eyelid Movies was released on February 9th 2010 via Barsuk Records. Order it at insound.com.