Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Critical Beatdown: Round 9


Grinderman, "Heathen Child"
NS: Though I'm disappointed that the version of "Heathen Child" featuring Robert Fripp has yet to make the Internet rounds, there's enough to dig here in the meantime, most obviously Grinderman's patented lascivious groove. Not an immediate classic (it kind of meanders), but Cave sings and everyone else plays at the top of their game. 3.5/5

AM: There's something not quite right about "Heathen Child." On the one hand, if this evil boogie moved onto your block, you wouldn't let your children play near it. On the other, there's too much build up, not enough release. 3.5/5

Panda Bear, "Slow Motion"
NS: I like this more than "Bros," actually. Certainly, the beat is snappier than AC/Panda Bear fans are probably accustomed to (I predict a Kanye sample in 2011). And the timbre is as lush as we have come to expect from Mr. Bear. 4/5

AM: The stuttery, head-snapping rhythm recalls Madlib, of all people, while the reverb soaked, chant-y vocals do indeed achieve a state of suspended animation. A song like this doesn't go anywhere because it doesn't need to. 4/5

Bethany Cosentino, Kid Cudi and Rostam Batmanglij, "All Summer"
NS: This collabo between Best Coast's singer, Vampire Weekend's lead guitarist and the erstwhile Transformers soundtracker strikes me as a perfect summer jam to play on repeat in hell. Alternating between Cudi's awkward non-verses (which kind of linger without significant accompaniment) and Cosentino's vacuous chorus, it shouldn't surprise anyone that this travesty was written for a Converse commercial. 0.5/5

AM: Music so meaningless as to render any judgment of quality moot. 2.5/5

Marnie Stern "For Ash"
NS: Marnie's latest is as riff-tastic as ever, a mini-suite of furious strumming, chanting and fret-tapping (an area in which Stern really distinguishes herself--Battles aside, she's probably the best in the biz). While there's no reason to think this couldn't have been on her last album, the charm remains intact. 4.5/5

AM: She yelps like Avey Tare, and this song taps into the prismatic melodies of Animal Collective's best work. Marnie and her guitar get there in their own fashion, shelving the abrasive, metallic sound she usually favors for a fleetness that allows "For Ash" to sprint along in spasmodic bliss. 4.5/5

Eminem feat. Rihanna, "Love The Way You Lie"
NS: I don't want to accuse Rihanna of attempting to benefit from her won experiences with domestic abuse, but I wonder why she felt the need to lend her voice to yet another one of Eminem's hyperviolent, self-loathing rants, narrated by a repentant Chris Brown type. Even if the tone was different, the song is still junk: if this beat isn't another jack from Dido, it might as well be. 1.5/5

AM: I get that Eminem likes to rap in character, and I realize Rihanna is on an edginess offensive. But the moronic "twist" here makes my stomach churn for all the wrong reasons. Sonically, it offers nothing that that Plan B album didn't in 2006, when he was ripping off Eminem. 1.5/5

Estelle Feat. Nas, "Fall In Love"
NS: "American Boy" goodwill will only get you so far. This song is obviously meant to evoke that 2008 classic, down to the basic rhythm of the thing and the way her voice dips down when singing the title. What's weirder is that, in addition, Nas basically parrots Kanye's part. 3/5

AM: "American Boy" was better the first time around. Every aspect of this song is about 60% as infectious as it was on that one. 3/5

Fucked Up "Year Of The Ox"
NS: That a 13-minute punk track doesn't run out of ideas halfway through is, already, triumphant. That said track manages to throw in some lovely string passages and at least a half-dozen great guitar lines suggests overwhelming talent and ambition. This whopper of a rock tune might even top COCL's greatest moments. 5/5

AM: My original "Ox" write-up noted that the violin is too sugary, that the guitars never accumulate their pummeling sheen. Which is true. But then I listened to it five more times, and realized: with a sound this huge--and "Ox" sounds massive, even for Fucked Up--singling out one element misses the point. "Year Of The Ox" just keeps growing, oblivious to its own imperfections, until it encompasses a handful of moments as transcendent as any in the band's catalog. 4/5

Let's Wrestle "I'm So Lazy"
NS: Heavy shades of GBV here, which I cannot stress enough is not necessarily a good thing. The singer's voice seems distractingly off at times, and I probably wouldn't have noticed that if "I'm So Lazy" was two minutes shorter. It ain't exactly harmful, but still... 2.5/5

AM: The charm and hooks that colored Let's Wrestle's debut are blessedly present, albeit in somewhat shorter supply. The sloth extends to the tempo, but churning power-pop is always a good thing, even when it's sluggish. 3.5/5

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