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Best Opening Tracks of 2010 December 23, 2010

Posted by Richard Bolisay in Music, Yearender.

AND THE LIST CONTINUES. I am fond of first tracks. I still remember where I was when I first heard “Where The Streets Have No Name,” “Only Shallow,” or quite recently, “Silver Moons.” Opening tracks bear the pressure of carrying albums on their shoulders. And when they are that good—like the songs listed below—they seal the album’s place in my heart.

15. “Blessa”
Toro y Moi
[Causers of This]

Making comparisons is always the easy (and lousy) way to write a review, say, mentioning Caribou here, Panda Bear there, and those otherworldly terms “funk bass slapped grooves” and “slowed-down synth pop.” But Bundick shrugs it all off and opens his debut with this gem so fuzzy, after a while you’ll be surprised that you’re already on the last track. “I found a job. I do it fine. Not what I want but still I try.”

14. “Precious Stone”
Pete Yorn
[Pete Yorn]

It’s a good thing Pete Yorn decided to place “Precious Stone” at the beginning of his self-titled record, because really, despite the thumbs up from Black Francis, it is an unfortunately terrible album. Pete’s good at being typical, and typical this song delivers, a pair of lovers on a way to a date, killing time in a warm place, knowing it’s not going to work but happy that it all happened. “We know we cannot last forever, such crazy feelings you inspire.”

13. “Your Love is my Drug”

The verses are stoked to the point of abuse. The chorus is intense, the bridge is crazy, and that final line conjures the image of a patient walking aimlessly at a hospital ward, tugging at someone’s clothes. A song this tacky and sticky, how could you resist? Who are we to disagree when it’s Kesha herself who calls it “stupid and fun”? Just a quick edit: I’ll put “very” before both adjectives. “I like your beard.”

12. “Wide Eyes”
Local Natives
[Gorilla Manor]

The Bradbury allusion sets the tone at the start but towards the middle the song basks in a splash of colors, driven by the urgent drum beats, wondrously making a clean and luminous sweep. “Oh some evil spirit. Oh some evil this way comes.”

11. “World Sick”
Broken Social Scene
[Forgiveness Rock Record]

Five years of wait and we get seven minutes of Kevin Drew’s frustrations, which is fine because we share his sentiments, we know exactly what he’s talking about, and we feel, through the starry clash of guitars and cymbals, that nothing could be done about it. Hope, turns out, comes with a price. “I get world sick every time I take a stand. Yeah, I get world sick, my love is for my man.”

10. “We Sleep on Stones”
Cherry Ghost
[Beneath This Burning Shoreline]

My favorite lines from Thirst for Romance go: “Roses, help me to pretend, blushing brides and cosmonauts don’t meet their bitter end.” That phrase “blushing brides and cosmonauts” is just so beautiful. Brilliant writing is always Cherry Ghost’s strong suit, and their second album has a lot of that to offer. “We sleep on stones, there’s a killer in our homes that drives the night in. We sleep on stones, bitter winter’s got our bones, and lord knows I’ve been searching,” it says on the refrain of “We Sleep on Stones.” Everything is dark and brooding, postwar and mesmerizingly apocalyptic, but that’s where we are headed for anyway. “Hundred thousand heartbearts, twisting in the bedsheets.”

9. “Dance Yrself Clean”
LCD Soundsystem
[This is Happening]

Nine minutes of James Murphy brilliantly laying the bricks of aching senility and the dimness of what lies ahead, and eventually pushing us off the cliff. Oh, that feels good. Do it again. “Talking like a jerk, except you’re an actual jerk, and living proof that sometimes friends are mean.”

8. “Excuses”
The Morning Benders
[Big Echo]

“Excuses” reminds me of those moments when I realize I’m dreaming inside my dream, and I’m no longer in control of what’s happening because I just don’t want to wake up. “You tried to taste me, and I taped my tongue to the southern tip of your body. Our bones are too heavy to come up, squished into a single cell of wood.”

7. “Zebra”
Beach House
[Teen Dream]

Victoria Legrand’s voice, coupled with the images of running black and white horses, always swallows me whole. It’s like doing laundry: washing myself, scrubbing off the dirt, wringing the water out, and hanging myself out to dry. With its thick arrangement, glacial mood, and woozy landscape, “Zebra” is sometimes better than sleep. “Any way you run, you run before us.”

6. “Blood Dries Darker”
[At Echo Lake]

I’ve always preferred songs with rough edges, those that sound recorded in a basement of squeaky floors, or in this case, something recorded in a summer cabin, on the countryside, away from the bustle of the city. The guitars dissolve the melancholy of “Blood Dries Draker” and soak it in a cheerful vibe, until Jeremy Earl laminates the fizz and gets on another adventure in lo-fi. “You look in the night for direction.”

5. “The Wild Hunt”
The Tallest Man on Earth
[The Wild Hunt]

Kristian Matsson knows departure is a warm gun. Our belated and wishful plans of leaving always disappoint us; wherever we go, our hearts will always stay where we left them. He couldn’t have been more affectionate in breaking the ice of sorrow. “And I plan to be forgotten when I’m gone.”

4. “Heard it on the Radio”
The Bird and the Bee
[Interpreting the Masters Volume 1]

Being in love with love: everyone went through that phase. Up to now, maybe. Greg and Inara take us by the hand and bring us to the carefree days when we shaped the most beautiful fantasies we’d never have, driving around the city, sitting in the park, listening to a song over and over again, and wishing everything will just happen as we please. “When we first met, it wasn’t what you said, and still I loved you like mad, I loved you like mad.”

3. “Completely Exposed”
Jamie Lidell

This is possibly the best track Jamie has ever composed, sung, and arranged. Combining funk, soul, and electronica, it introduces the listener to a mirage of eccentric elements—beatbox, synths, reverbs, noise—without losing the crooner’s most powerful instrument: his voice. “I don’t wanna be close. Opening up has left me completely exposed.”

2. “Sometimes I Don’t Need to Believe in Anything”
Teenage Fanclub

Gerard Love thinks it still feels good to be alive and says it with such calmness that he seems to have spent some time on the other side before telling it. Heavenly harmonies surround the heartwarming lyrics, comforting us with the sway of hooks light enough to keep us afloat. To be honest, I’m just thankful that the band that I love ever since has never changed. “Taking a ride on a subway train, to feel more alive when you get back out again.”

1. “Leaves Eclipse the Light”

Just the moniker alone is enough to force me to grab a dictionary and look up what it means. But Matthew Cooper isn’t getting kicks from obscurity. On his new record aptly called Similes, he’s taking on changes to his repertoire, refining it, adding percussion, and most surprisingly, he sings. His voice is drowned in the richly layered arrangement of “Leave Eclipse the Light” and I don’t complain. Its low-key beauty always makes me tremble. “All of the mysteries, conflicts, discoveries, hiding in frequencies, keeping the mind at ease.”



1. Carl Papa/ Douglas Racso - December 26, 2010

LOOOOVE this list. amen to broken social scene and LCD soundsystem. i am now listening to the other tracks/albums listed :D

2. Richard Bolisay - December 28, 2010

Thanks Carl! I didn’t know you were the same person. Hehe. It’s nice to read your ongoing list on your blog too. :)

3. Carl Papa/ Douglas Racso - December 28, 2010

had a hard time finishing it hehehe

4. Carl Papa/ Douglas Racso - December 28, 2010

as for my dual identity. it started in college, and i finally decided this year to use my real name instead hehehe.

oooh and i can’t wait to see your best songs of the year list. do you like sufjan?

5. Richard Bolisay - December 28, 2010

attaway to fame. props for your animation work!

yes, sufjan’s here with me right now. do you want to talk to him? hehe. hope i could finish the music lists by january. please do wait for it :)

6. Carl Papa/ Douglas Racso - December 28, 2010

wow thanks :D

omg sufjan! hehehe

7. Sani - January 5, 2011

Beach House, Morning Benders, LCD Soundsystem all fine choices. But, I just can’t stand Ke$ha. Haha. Doing good doing good. More lists! ;)

8. Richard Bolisay - January 5, 2011


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