The Most Overlooked Tracks of 2010: Benoit Piolard, Groove Armada featuring Jess Larabee, Holly Miranda


Our look back at all things 2010 continues this week as we highlight some of the year’s most overlooked tracks. In this edition: post-coffeeshop.

Benoit Piolard, “RTO” (from Lasted)
Thomas Meluch knows ambience–his spacy tone-poems and smeary sound sculptures prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt. But on “RTO,” he builds some ascending synth chords, clopping hand percussion, and a (surprisingly?) soulful voice into a spectral folk lilt that gently rises out of its surroundings, like a hill cresting in a sea of fog. RIYL parallel-universe, never-got-past-Sea Change Beck.

Groove Armada featuring Jess Larabee, “Just for Tonight” (from Black Light)
By day, Jess Larabee is the unassuming frontwoman of Brooklyn trad-rock duo She Keeps Bees. By night, Andy Cato and Tom Findlay recast her otherwise unglamorous inky purr atop a torrid backdrop of gleaming string screams. The minor bit of press attending the release of Black Light focused on Bryan Ferry’s guest spot. But the clear highlight of the LP (and the duo’s best track since the unstoppable “Song 4 Mutya”) isn’t the drop from the crown prince of arty British glam, but the one where the girl with forearm tats temporarily dons the diamonds.

Holly Miranda, “Joints” (from The Magician’s Private Library)
Though Dave Sitek’s Maximum Balloon project left me mostly cold this year, Holly Miranda’s solo premiere–draped in atmosphere by Sitek, as is his wont–is another thing. Like fellow Sitek collaborator Katrina Ford, Miranda takes a sultry coffeeshop voice and stretches it into all manner of intriguing shapes. On “Joints,” it’s an impassioned yawn: the pull of exhaustion fogging her yearning for a lost love. The lyrics play the evocativeness of the unconscious off the refreshing sonority of the spoken word: “Dreamt of you again last night / Called your phone to hear your voice.”

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