Our look back at all things 2010 continues this week as we highlight some of the year’s most overlooked tracks. In this edition: gnarly rock.
Disappears, “Pearly Gates” (from Lux)
Chicago scene band with an ex-Pony, who were unlucky enough (but also indie as fuck enough) to be Touch & Go’s final signing before their finances hit the panic button. That left Lux in limbo before Kranky came along to save it (and to release its 2011 follow up, Guider). Per that latter label’s tastes in rock, you can consider the record to be another of those slight mutations in the infinitely expanding series of record-collector punk reimaginations. Standout “Pearly Gates” brings a bit of the freaky longhair Krautrock piston-pumping of Wooden Shjips, a booming smartass vocal that touches on Mark E. Smith and Jonathan Richman, and a vague sense of the Stooges’ working-class Midwestern noise racket. Somehow both dirty and polished at the same time, “Pearly Gates” shows us the sludgy under-the-hood action that makes a sleek machine go.
Future Islands, “Long Flight” (from In Evening Air)
Baltimore gallery punks who too often are dismissed (or hell, even loved) simply for Samuel Herring’s sui generis vocal presence made a bit more of a national dent this year, but not nearly enough to reflect the power of their music. Not to be that guy or anything, but this is a band you really have to see live to “get” (man). Herring stalks the stage not as some anachronistic sea-shanty shouter, like many have classified him, but as a barrel-chested self-mutilator (he’s known to punch himself in the face as he sings). When I saw Future Islands play, he was practically begging the audience to fucking move around a little bit; when he sang “Long Flight,” and as the liquid bassline rolled and tumbled to life under those steam-whistle synth stabs, I couldn’t resist. In the song, Herring returns home to find a lover with another man, and shifts from shaking off jet-lag to full-throated primal scream–and back–in seconds. You’re terrified for this guy.
Luna Is Honey, “Who Wouldn’t” (from Copy Cats)
They’re an unsigned LA band with a handful of tracks on an EP and a Myspace page to their credit, and that’s why you haven’t heard of them. But even though “Who Wouldn’t” is lo-fi as all hell, it most certainly doesn’t develop into a Polaroid as per Altered Zones. Instead, the track simply aches to be blown up billboard size–were it not for budget constraints, anyway. As it is, the song’s rough veneer feels like a cry from the great beyond, the song’s effortless cool and groovy ‘tude like a photocopy 20 generations deep from an original most closely resembling Phoenix.
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