Our look back at all things 2010 continues this week as we highlight some of the year’s most overlooked tracks. In this edition: songs from the gallery, more or less.
The Bad Plus, “Never Stop” (from Never Stop)
The UN talks between modern jazz and All Other Music keep breaking down for lack of attendance, but not for the Bad Plus’s lack of effort. The trio, known mainly to NPR listeners and rock-leaning jazzbos, have been reimagining much of pop geekdom’s recent canon for piano, drums, and stand-up bass for the past decade (cf: “Flim,” “Heart of Glass,” “Iron Man”). The title track from their fine 2010 offering is an original, but that doesn’t mean it’s not concentric with current circles. In particular, “Never Stop” treads deliriously close to the sonorous indie of Messrs. Daniel and Eno, proving that Transference didn’t have 2010’s monopoly on nervous noir piano, chunky drums, and cavernous sonic space.
CocoRosie, “The Moon Asked the Crow” (from Grey Oceans)
You don’t dig glued-on blue beards, I get it. Give this track the benefit of the doubt. The beat is some gothically transfixing, Timbaland-gone-Brothers Grimm thing. The narrative, as I hear it, is a creepy bedtime story about what sort of mystical Pan’s Labyrinth type shoebox theater is visible right outside the second-floor window to those who’ll close their eyes and wait. Sierra Casady’s vocals bob and weave with the spirit of Ari Up winding through a one-drop. The result: 2010’s most enjoyable art-school fever dream.
Parenthetical Girls, “On Death and Endearments” (from the Privilege, pt. 1: On Death and Endearments 12″)
“Gentlemen, please rise,” Zac Pennington instructs. He has our attention, and for the next few minutes, we listen in awe as he prepares to kill himself. This is a pre-emptive eulogy, a series of intellectual qualifications and polite requests–but most certainly not a laundry list of regrets. With baroque phrasing and stately androgyny wholly his own, Pennington patiently peels off his requests over a backdrop suggesting that Sufjan’s not the only twee dude who dug out the Notwist record recently. He hasn’t much time, and he must strongly insist that, after his demise, his more sordid scenes be kept under wraps. Shame is not remorse, after all, and history is kindest when it doesn’t know the full story. Don’t think it’s just some precious art ploy, either: each one of the limited 7-inches containing this song is hand-numbered in the blood from Pennington’s own hand. Meeting adjourned.