Friday, December 23, 2005

list season: the top 10 b-sides/demos/unreleased songs of 2005.

to me, a song is a song. and being the obscurist i am, i tend to prefer b-sides and rarities more than i enjoy the hit singles. that's one of the reasons why i chose to cover "waiting on you" instead of, say, "el scorcho". b-sides sometimes are throwaways, sure, but when you're a good artist, it shows your depth as a songwriter. listening to a demo is like reading a songwriter's notebook: you only get what's necessary. and unreleased songs are sometimes unreleased for good reasons, but sometimes not. so, here's my tribute to the best hard-to-find songs of this calendar year:

10. death cab for cutie- "jealousy rides with me" [b-side to "soul meets body"]:
i'm a sucker for extended metaphor. and this song is not very much different in simplicity and emotional relavance to their cover of "earth angel".

9. kanye west featuring talib kweli, q-tip, common, and rhymefest- "we can make it better" [i believe this is from the japanese version of late registration]:
just when you think kanye is going to strangle this track with his observation of a sorrority girl ["delta's brown-skinned, aka's light-skinned/and they supposed to be bougie, so they got white friends/first day of school, i'ma take you sight-seeing/show you what we do on weekends for excitement/she said, "i know what you 'bout to say like your hypeman"/she had a nigga hit her, now she only date white men.."], rhymefest steals the entire show with one line: "clinton ain't in office, who gon' give us shit free, now?"

8. hot hot heat- "wait a second" [demo, also one of the b-sides to the "goodnight goodnight" single]:
when i heard the almost-anthemic chorus, i got really excited for elevator to be released. they should have kept this song for the album, because it's better than most everything on the full-length.

7. bloc party- "hero" [b-side to "two more years"]:
the second-best use of handclaps in a song this year. that's a good enough reason to put them on the list.

6. maximo park- "stray talk" [b-side to "grafitti" (i think)]:
it was a welcome change-of-direction when i first heard this track, which is a dance-post-disco-punk band with an entirely acoustic track. not entirely folky, but very stripped down and enjoyable.

5. elliot smith- "angel in the snow" [unreleased]:
beautiful, yet undeniably melancholy. still, i can't help singing along to the chorus: "don't you know i loooooved you.." it proves that there is still a broad red line between "emotional" and "emo".

4. the futureheads- "we cannot lose" [b-side to "area"]:
the simplistic bassline, the urgency in the extremely singable chorus.. there's not much to not like about this song. except how many times i play it in succession, and do my frustratingly annoying air guitar moves.

3. tv on the radio- "dry drunk emporer" [free download, unreleased song]:
for everyone who thought "when the president talks to god" was a little too direct, here's a protest song with a little more subtlety. the live version is just as defiant.

2. sufjan stevens- "chicago (solo banjo demo)" [unreleased]:
listening to this acoustic version of "chicago", it made me realize that why i prefer seven swans to the projects from the "50 states project". sufjan sounds more vulnerable over intimate arrangements. and i'm a sucker for minimalism, too. when i hear sufjan sing, "i drove to new york/in a van/with my friend/we slept in parking lots/i don't mind/i don't mind," i can see the music video in my head. this song is the perfect soundtrack for driving cross country and sleeping in parking lots. not that i've done that lately or anything.

1. radiohead- "i want none of this" [from help: a day in the life]:
i've always preferred Gloomy Radiohead™ to any other form of the band. "bulletproof (i wish i was)," "exit music (for a film)," and "we suck young blood" have always been among my favorite radiohead songs. "street spirit" is one of the best songs ever made. i love sitting in a dark-ish room and listening to radiohead, pondering my existance and everyone else's. okay, maybe not the last one, but radiohead is the perfect soundtrack to a late night or a comedown [or, perhaps, a late-night comedown]. if "i want none of this" is an eerie sample of things to come, then a lot of people aren't going to like radiohead's new album, whenever it comes out. however, i will be first in line to say radiohead outdid themselves once again.


Blogger heather said...

very cool post. i will have to check some of these out...thanks!

1:08 PM  

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