Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hey, two months late! That's a new record. But I said I was gonna finish this Quarterly Report shit, and here it is. Hopefully I'll get the fourth-quarter shit done quicker. And just because the whole chronology is so massively fucked up, I'll clarify: These are my favorite songs that came out between July and September. Some of them are old as hell.

The Quarterly Report - Singles

1. Thom Yorke: "All for the Best". This is from the tribute/benefit album thing for Mark Mulcahy, this old 80s/90s college rock guy whose wife recently died. Yorke is covering a song by Miracle Legion, one of Mulcahy's bands, and so he's singing someone else's lyrics, and they're not even remotely about corporations slowly taking over our universal consciousness or whatever. Instead, it's a bunch of telling, vivid details about being totally sad and totally devoted to someone, how those two feelings can feed off each other in ways that don't even come close to making sense. The melody is pretty simple, too. Yorke's got this insane compositional sense, and he knows when to phase in the big discordant guitar riff or the trash-can percussion or the electronic hums and beeps so they'll have maximum emotional impact. His voice is also obviously on some force-of-nature shit. And here he's devoting those gifts to a song that's pretty deceptively simple, and it keeps him grounded. He's also harmonizing with his brother, and so there's this warm intimacy to the whole thing that I really never hear on actual Radiohead songs. Point is: Everything about this song is totally devastatingly gorgeous. I'd love to see Yorke applying his gifts to really direct gutpunch songs like this, but I know it's not gonna happen, so I might as well just take full delight in it while I've got the chance.

2. Lil Cali: "Ric Flair [feat. Young Dro & Mouse]". I was talking to David Drake about this one. Drake mentioned how a friend of his predicted that the real Ric Flair would pull a Rosa Parks and sue over this one. I don't think Ric Flair will sue. I think that when Ric Flair hears this shit in the club, he screams "whooo!" a bunch of times until his face gets all red. Then he runs around chopping people's chests. Then he gets all dazed, takes a couple of steps forward, and flops on his face. That's what I would do if I was Ric Flair, anyway. Obviously awesome title aside, this is just perfectly executed deep-South bounce-rap with a particularly nasty Dro verse and a total MVP performance from Mouse. Right now, I wouldn't be mad if Mouse was house producer for the entire world instead of just Trill Ent. He's the most consistent non-Boosie rapper in Louisiana these days, his hooks stick in your head all day, and no producer anywhere else is better at uncomplicated dance-rap shit these days. I hope his car is entirely free of weed and guns; these Louisiana cops aren't playing these days.

3. Jeremih: "Imma Star". I didn't like "Birthday Sex" because you guys know how I feel about yippy/stuttery Dream-isms. But the follow-up is total simple, slithery, insinuating R&B strut, and it's great. Jeremih's basically just singing battle-rap lyrics here. Except they'd sound a whole lot more ridiculous if he rapped them, and somehow they come out simultaneously ridiculous and cool in his detached matter-of-fact croon. There's one part where I'm pretty sure he says, "Don't need Roger Ebert or the paparazzi," which is clearly ridiculous; everyone needs Roger Ebert. Also: "You a Scorpio? Girl, get over here / Ride me all night like you kin to Paul Revere."

4. Trick Daddy: "Ruby Red". If all those songs with kids' choruses proved anything, it's that Trick's most dubious impulses can sometimes turn out to be his best. So: a teary-eyed addiction confession over a bloopy Jim Jonsin plastic-pop beat with a chipmunked-out Southern rock chorus? Yeah, that'll work. Trick's built up ridiculous amounts of goodwill over the years, and this song uses all your built-in sympathies, almost preying on them, so that Trick can tell us about how his chest hurts when he wakes up in the morning. It's a simple song about the accumulated physical costs of a life lived hard, and it reminds me of something like Johnny Cash's "Sunday Morning Coming Down". It's not exactly a song about hard-earned wisdom; it's a song about hard-earned depression, about wishing you had the wisdom to prevent what you're feeling now.

5. Toby Keith: "American Ride". Keith's particular strain of asshole conservatism is one that I kind of like, even if I almost never agree with it. Keith doesn't get all furious or offended or bent out of shape; he's no self-righteous Fox News Bible thumper. Instead, he just lays back and makes fun of everything, trusting that everything's going wrong and every attempt to fix shit is doomed: "Plasma getting bigger, Jesus getting smaller / Spill a cup of coffee, make a million dollars." And then, on the chorus, he sings about how you have to love all this bullshit. It sure helps that he attaches these shithead sentiments to a monster of a three-minute Southern rock windows-down singalong, snarling out na-na-nas when he can't think of any other stuff to complain about.

6-10. Big Boi: "Fo Yo Sorrows [feat. George Clinton & Too Short]", Lil Boosie: "Top Notch [feat. Mouse & Lil Phat]", Still Going: "Spaghetti Circus", Tum Tum: "Don't Play No Games [feat. Baby C]", Florence & the Machine: "You've Got the Love (Jamie xx Rework)".