Looks like spring is finally about to break here in the Northeast, and because that puts me in such a good mood, I wanted to share some spring-y tunes with all of you. Fingers crossed that there won’t be any more snow – it would be a bit weird to have to release a late-winter mixtape after the early-spring one.

Track #1: Cut Copy – Need You Now

The lead track off Cut Copy’s latest, Zonoscope, Need You Know is full of layered, ethereal, dance-y beats. The build-up is relentless and like the first blossom of spring, the resultant synth and vocal explosion is beautiful and long-awaited.

[mp3] Cut Copy – Need You Now

Track #2: Peter Bjorn and John – Second Chance

The first single off of Gimme Some, this is lo-fi quirkiness at its best. My only complaint is that it could use a touch more cowbell. On a semi-related random note, did anyone ever notice that the acronym for the band’s name is PB&J? Awesome!

[mp3] Peter Bjorn and John – Second Chance

Track #3: The Strokes – Under Cover Of Darkness

I may not be a huge fan of their live act, but this jangly little ditty from the new Angles album sure puts a spring in my step (terrible pun intended). It does make me wish I was better at snapping though…

[mp3] The Strokes – Under Cover Of Darkness

Track #4: Alex Winston – Sister Wife

With its sprightly melodies, innocent-sounding vocals, and a healthy dose of glockenspiel, it’s hard not to fall in love with this one. With only an EP released to date, hopefully there’s more to come from Alex Winston.

[mp3] Alex Winston – Sister Wife

Track #5: Generationals – Greenleaf

After creating one of my favourite spring songs of 2010 (When They Fight, They Fight), expectations for Generationals were high this spring. Greenleaf’s funky, hand-clap driven baseline doesn’t disappoint.

[mp3] Generationals – Greenleaf

Track #6: Alexander – Truth

Is it weird that Edward Sharpe’s frontman is already moving on to solo side projects? Regardless, this folk/reggae hybrid is the perfect song to groove to when enjoying some of the first nice days of the year and getting some much-needed Vitamin D.

[mp3] Alexander – Truth

Track #7: The Head And The Heart – Rivers And Roads

At first listen, it’s easy to mistake this one for a slow-moving folksy acoustic tune. That is until the melody bursts free from its acoustic chains – yielding a deep, rich, beautifully harmonized chorus to wake the world from its hibernation.

[mp3] The Head And The Heart – Rivers And Roads

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Thought all of you might want to check out the pretty amazing “Moves” video put out by the New Pornographers. While I never doubted the musical quality of the band or the strength of the New Pornographers’ core fans, I frankly didn’t think they had as such pull to get “A”-listers like Paul Rudd, Bill Hader, Scott Adsit… okay I guess those are more like “B”-listers. But still impressive, no?

Check it out below.

Hey everybody!  Apologies for the long delay in posting, I’ve been out of the country for the past couple of weeks.

Anyway, big announcement, the official Coachella 2011 lineup has just been announced (http://coachella.com/)

Personal highlights include:

  • The Black Keys
  • The Chemical Brothers
  • Crystal Castles
  • Cut Copy
  • Sleigh Bells
  • Marina & The Diamonds
  • Rural Alberta Advantage
  • Arcade Fire
  • Mumford & Sons
  • Broken Social Scene
  • The New Pornographers
  • The National
  • Ratatat
  • Chromeo
  • Phantogram

Overall, the lineup seems pretty good, although there is quite a bit of overlap with last year’s Lollapalooza show (not a bad thing!).

Original poster below:

#5 – Hot Chip – Hand Me Down Your Love [mp3]
An early 2010 release, as soon as I heard the deep enveloping beats of this song, I knew it would  be a contender for one of the best songs of the year.  The melody is catchy and the beats are relentless.  The result?  My limbs inevitably become restless as I find it more and more impossible to not frantically move to the super-danceable electro-pop that Hot Chip is known for.  Fun.

#4 – Yeasayer – Madder Red [mp3]
Given how amorphous and fluid Yeasayer’s music typically is, “Madder Red” is surprisingly melodic and memorable.  From the opening  tribal drumming and falsetto melody sequence, this song is a beautiful amalgam of different instruments and textures that combine to make something truly memorable and hypnotic.

#3 – The National – England [mp3]
While there were a number of standouts on The National’s “High Violet” album, “England” takes the honours as my favourite for the absolutely awesome build-up in tempo and emotion throughout.  It starts slowly and simply before an unexpected blast from the brass section ushers in some texture and urgency.  The brass returns again just before the 4-minute mark, starting-off a build that relentlessly continues until suddenly, like a dying star, it collapses unto itself, leaving the listener with a chilling sensation of nothingness and wanting more.

#2 – LCD Soundsystem – Dance Yrself Clean [mp3]
The lead track off of the “This Is Happening” album, “Dance Yrself Clean” is one of the few tracks that cemented their place in my list on the basis of a few seconds of awesomeness.  The beauty of the song is not in its complexity or layering of instruments – in fact, it’s exactly the opposite.  The song is remarkably simple – so simple that it manages to train the ear and mind to think they know what’s coming, lulling the listener into a state of calm by subtly layering in pleasant rhythms and sounds.  That is, until the ear detects a bit of a change – a repetition at a higher frequency, a change in tempo, an impending sense of urgency, and then… a split-second explosion of dirty, funky, crunchy, danceable grooves that absolutely pull you in.  It is this ability to pull the listener into the rhythm, rather than bombarding them with it, that is the hallmark of James Murphy’s music and is the reason this track is the second-best of the year.

#1 – Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) [mp3]
Anyone who knows me well could probably have guessed that Arcade Fire would top my personal chart this year.  Furthermore, my infatuation with the group means they probably could have reasonably made that conjecture well in advance of “The Suburbs” coming out.  However, what they probably could not have guessed was that the best song off of that album would not be an epic, shout-out-loud indie anthem, but the dark, danceable, disco-esque “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”.  Perhaps the sheer unlikelihood of this song is what makes it so good – but then again, perhaps what appears at its surface to be unlikely is merely the amalgam of their diverse sound and influences over the past eight years.  In a way, Sprawl II is a microcosm of Arcade Fire’s entire catalog, capturing Regine’s raw, passionate vocals on the EP, the epic hopefulness of “Funeral”, and the dark moodiness of “Neon Bible” – all wrapped up in the existential angst of modern life reflected in “The Suburbs”.  But above all, it’s just plain good.  Saturated with tension, dripping with atmosphere, and peppered with dramatic shifts throughout, this song clearly stakes it’s rightful place at #1 for 2010.

#10 – Jónsi – Tornado [mp3]
With his absolutely stunning and exquisite music, Jónsi is well on his way to being the best thing to come out of Iceland in recent memory (frankly it’s not too difficult when you’re competing against an economic crisis and volcanic ash).  “Tornado” fuses classical orchestral components with dynamic vocals ranging from from soft melodies to dramatic falsetto, creating one of the most, if not the most, beautiful songs of the year.

#9 – Lissie – Pursuit Of Happiness Kid Cudi Cover) [mp3]
I originally wasn’t going to include any covers in my 2010 list, but this one is just too good to exclude.  While the initial attraction is just hearing Kid Cudi’s creation performed in a different style, this cover soon gets going on its own merits, with Lissie delivering some real passion throughout.  Also, check out the corresponding live video for this song here.

#8 – The Irrepressibles – In This Shirt [mp3]
In addition to being the 8th best song of the year, this song also has the distinction of being the first ever song featured here on MMMMM.  It’s chamber pop at its best, with complex and layered harmonies that contribute to a deeply moving, epic song that entrances from start to finish.  As I mentioned on my original review, this song clocks in at just over four and a half minutes, but manages the feat of feeling twice as long while at the same time making you wish it never ended.

#7 – The Black Keys – Tighten Up [mp3]
Spectacularly catchy and soulful, this funky, bluesy number from the Black Keys was stuck in my head for the greater part of 2010.  Add in one of the best videos of the year, and you’ve got a no-brainer for a top 10 song this year.

#6 – Crystal Castles – Not In Love (ft. Robert Smith) [mp3]
A relatively late entry into the race, this one caught my attention in early November with its unlikely combination of Robert Smith’s dark emotive vocals and Crystal Castles’ thumping, danceable, mind-melting beats.  Since then, I’ve been an addict – and the only cure (pun intended) is to put this one on for yet another spin.

#15 – The Ting Tings – Hands [mp3]
Super fun and dance-y, this one is unabashedly 100% sugar-pop.  But with an infectiously addictive melody and a chorus that commands you to “clap your hands if you’re working too hard”, who can resist?

#14 – Cults – Go Outside [mp3]
Despite only having a handful of songs, they were one of Pitchfork’s most-hyped darlings of 2010, and for good reason.  L0-fi fuzziness, simple and melodic vocals, and a healthy dose of piano and glockenspiel combine to create a pretty magical effect.

#13 – Pepper Rabbit – Older Brother [mp3]
This one makes me want to go outside and lay down in a fresh meadow or something.  Which is really too bad, because I don’t know if that opportunity has ever presented itself (at least not in December).  I guess I’ll have to settle instead for laying down on a fresh couch and enjoying the soothing vocals, chimes, ukulele and organ of “Older Brother” in the confines of my own house.

#12 – Sufjan Stevens – Vesuvius [mp3]
If I had to pick one word to describe this one, it would be “fission”.  Sufjan starts with a soft, beautiful melody, and over the course of 5 minutes, deliberately deconstructs it until you’re left listening to a cacophony of distinct parts, albeit with the melody subtly remaining throughout.  A beautiful song that grows on you with each listen.

#11 – The Naked and Famous – Punching In A Dream [mp3]
Electronic power-pop awesomeness from New Zealand that will have you dancing up a storm.  Unfortunately New Zealand’s a long way away, so despite having their album debut on the New Zealand charts at #1,  this one is still picking up steam on the other side of the world.

#20 – Gil Scott-Heron – Your Soul and Mine [mp3]
This is spoken word that throbs with an intensity that only a true veteran of the style can muster  – amazingly dark, dramatic, and moving.  I’m not typically a fan of the genre, but this is just… incredible.

#19 – Mumford & Sons – The Cave [mp3]
Bluegrassy twang, melodic lyrics, harmonics, a driving tempo – you certainly know what you’re getting when you listen to a Mumford & Sons song.  That being said, it really is a fun and distinct sound that the boys from London have been able to create.  A guaranteed cure for toe inertia – those babies will be tapping in no time.

#18 – Zola Jesus – Night [mp3]
Dark, dark dark.  Thumping bass, reverse reverb, and haunting supporting vocals really highlight the beauty of Danilova’s opera-trained vocals.  If you’re looking for a light summery song, stay well away from this one – but if you’re looking for a melodramatic, climactic song that is just dripping with atmosphere, you’ve found it.

#17 – Broken Social Scene – World Sick [mp3]
One of the few true single-worthy songs off of the Canadian supergroup’s “Forgiveness Rock Record”, “World Sick” starts out soft and slow and tricks the mind into treating it as ambient noise before unexpectedly kicking into high gear and surprising listeners with the characteristically BSS-like amalgam of instruments which somehow combine to create something remarkably beautiful.  One of the best crafted songs of the year, with a lot of build-up, build-down and everything in between.

#16 – Phantogram – Mouthful of Diamonds [mp3]
One part soft and sweet vocals, one part synthy sub-melodies, and five parts chill.  “Mouthful of Diamonds” is a relaxing, weightlessness-inducing song.  Tilt your head back, close your eyes, and let the perfect music buzz take hold.