It’s been a great year for music. Here, S.O.T.R. contributor Cassandra Gillig highlights some of her favorite tracks; some insanely hyped and some you may have missed out on. Enjoy!
1. Harlem – “Gay Human Bones”
Part of me is embarrassed that this song is my “Song of the Year” (albeit only one-half), while another part of me is unexplainably contented. What it boils down to is the fact that I’m a sucker for a good pop hook. Somewhere under the fuzzed-out vocals is the most catchy guitar-line I’ve heard all year and I won’t be the one to deny it such a great title. Regardless of the fact that I will never believe that anyone involved in this band has played sports, the utterly absurd and oftentimes indecipherable qualities of the lyrics have driven me to embrace it even more. Even though Harlem’s Hippies didn’t make my list of best releases thus far, I have to acknowledge it as a stepping stone in the right direction. If “Gay Human Bones” and some of the other better tracks on the album (fantastic opener, “Someday Soon”) accurately predict the band’s new direction, their next release will be the greatest album I’ve ever heard. In the meantime, I am more than happy to settle for this.
2. Beach House – “Silver Soul”
Beach House’s Teen Dream is easily one of the best albums of the year; it’s hard to overlook its gorgeous melodies and light, sweeping choruses. The band’s growth in the four years since Devotion is perfectly displayed on “Silver Soul.” Flowing into a cascading chorus, “It is happening again” is repeated soulfully to a fantastic combination of slide guitar and organ; the track is so much more well-thought-out and presents so much more depth than anything on previous releases. What exists as a cripplingly beautiful, cryptic diatribe on love easily claims a number-two spot solely because of its dual ability to console and revive—there’s something so sorrowful about the positivity present. “Silver Soul” may not be a definitive sing-along song but it certainly bares an alluring necessity to be crooned.
3. Women – “Eyesore”
Women are poised to release one of the best albums of the year in August. The idea that the band hadn’t quite figured out its direction was all over their debut, with messy genre-shifting and a serious lack of central harmony. In spite of this, there’s something about “Eyesore” that promises they’ve finally got things figured out. Though sad and dreamy in many ways, Women revive their traditional brightness in wonky revolutions of angular guitar and piercing drum beats. The ground this track covers is vast and enthralling. While the production of this particular song is still fairly lo-fi, the band has taken on a more advantageous edge in “more decipherable” fidelity, and I can say with confidence that this track perfectly foreshadows a brilliant release.
4. Strange Boys – “Be Brave”
My affinity for Texas garage rock is anything but understated, yet I couldn’t quite find myself loving The Strange Boys’ most recent release. Regardless, its title track, “Be Brave” seemingly carries the rest of the album. The song’s Dylanesque vocals (and I certainly cannot be the first to notice) are the perfect counterpart to noodly, jangly guitar and a general irreverence toward sensibility. The jazz sax interludes perfectly enter and exit to thudding percussion, and, for a moment, The Strange Boys create avant-garage perfection.
5. Twin Sister – “All Around and Away We Go (Coolrunnings Remix)”
I am rarely a fan of remixes, however, Coolrunnings’s reimagination of this incredible Twin Sister track improved it ten-fold. The band’s thriving pop soundscape is expanded by rhythmic exploration and refined electronic elements. The whispered, raspy vocals are amplified and made more vital, transitioning this piece’s pop genius from its regular state to something just a tad more complicated and interesting.
6. Sunny & the Sunsets – “Too Young to Burn (Daytrotter Session Version)”
The Daytrotter Version, yes. Pretentious? Maybe, but it’s coming from a genuine place. This track has been floating around for a long time and, despite the fact that it’s on an official release this year, I’d heard it many, many months back. There’s something about the Daytrotter Version that breathes new life into this already fantastic track and I love it. Sunny & the Sunsets are one of the only bands operating today with a discography tastefully rooted in sixties pop and are a band to look out for in the coming months.
7. Fungi Girls – “Doldrums”
Up-and-coming Texas teens Fungi Girls saw their HoZac debut this year with a fantastic 7” touching upon the ideal amalgam of well-honed Nuggets garage and surf ideals. “Doldrums” is the definitive chugging, blusey summer jam–if ever you wanted one.
8. Sandwitches – “Stardust”
Delicate female vocals over well-orchestrated background music? Yes, I am that predictable. That aside, the new Sandwitches track is really one of the most gorgeous things I’ve heard all year. In more quiet spots, the vocals sting with a scathing honesty that’s almost impossible to find. This track’s magnificence is in its minimalism and that’s something impressive to behold in the grand scheme of this year.
9. Fang Island – “Sideswiper”
I have to admit, this is a bit of a weird choice for me. Post-rock with just a little math influence that sounds ripped from a children’s TV show theme song. This is my favorite track off of an excellent, underappreciated release from Chicago’s Fang Island.
10. Box Elders – “Tiny Sioux”
Rounding off the list is a classic garage track (again, shocker!) off of a fantastic 7”. All I can say is: the most tasteful falsetto of 2010. Box Elders have never released a bad track, and this is no exception.