As much as I bang on about the cultural importance and artistic creedence of the album, I understand the potential power of the single as well. In fact it's hard not to in this, the iPod generation, when the twin forces of the internet and iTunes conspire to make sure that each week has a handful of new tunes by fresh young faces to slay the world with a three minute hit. So this post is dedicated to some of those great singles that have triumphed so far this year
Animal Collective - My Girls
Even from its first appearance way back at last year's Coachella Festival, the song formerly known as House was always going to be an anthem. It's a deliciously vibrant cross-over hit, bridging the pop gap with its cylclical lyrics and dance-floor abandon; but also satisfying stern-browed musos with its psychedelic layering and futuristic Beach Boys harmonies. It only helps that its subject matter, an endearing wish for domestic bliss, is wholly unique in singles charts filled with stuff about roaming rock star lifestyles, cheap hook-ups and fleeting rendezvous' - the very things that the song is rebutting against. Most obviously too, as the lead single from Animal Collective's sixth studio album, it is the crystallisation of Merriweather Post Pavillion - an album bound to pop up in the end of year lists for music blogs far and wide. Personally, I don't think there's anything on the album that reaches the dizzying heights of this track - from its bubbling synth build-up to its cathartic "whoooo!" before it hits the second chorus. For my money, there will be few tracks greater this year - that whe it first emits from the speakers at a club or party, so many people will rush together to sing, dance and be merry. And isn't that what it's all about?
check out The Official Video
Dirty Projectors - Stillness Is The Move
Another indie favourite from an album that will also be doing the rounds come end-of-year time. Much like Animal Collective too, Dirty Projectors' Bitte Orca is an experimental affair that also satisfies the base urges of energy and melody. Stillness Is The Move is an excellent microcosm of that approach, penned by the lovely Amber Coffman (isn't she great?), this mixes the band's usual jangly guittar squiggles with a funky R&B inspired backbeat to create a bouncy, groovy sing-a-long propelled by Coffman's ever rising falsetto hook. Stillness Is The Move has great pacing too, just as you think all the tricks have been used up, it introduces a bed of sweet strings that also empahsises the vocal's yearning and also sets the end off into an airy finish. If nothing else confirms its brilliance, take note of the fact that its the only song that's ever been officially released as a single for Dirty Projectors.
Check out the quirky Official Video
The Galvatrons - Cassandra
Though the blogosphere seemed to swoon in unison upon their first appearance, there seems to be an increasing faction of people who are now finding it cool to dislike The Galvatrons. Now i'll be happy to admit that their recently released debut, Laser Graffiti didn't quite live up to expectations, but as I said when I first ears upon them, the question of whether their 80's throwback shtick would last a whole album (and it nearly does but that's a story for another day). Still, all this gets away from the cracking pre-album single Cassandra, it manages to continue the blueprint laid out by When We Were Kids, namely: arena sized synth hook, squealing guitar, electro drums and yearning call and response chorus - circa 1987. Part of the whole appeal is that the Geelong based four piece are entirely unapologetic about their derivative sound, in fact they're a lot like metal/glam rock satirists The Darkness, you're only going to enjoy it if you're in the joke. As long as you know the punchline though, it's a joke worth telling again and again - at high volumes.
Check out the video
Phoenix - Lisztomania
It's questionable whether the song has anything to do with the movie of the same name, or indeed Franz Liszt - but it does have to do with is happy, up-tempo, carefree, breezy indie rock. The kind of thing Phoenix have crafted so well ever since their debut. As the opening track on their excellent new album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (another classical reference, mmmm?) it sets a bubbly tone and pace that the album never seems to disappoint in upholding. The main appeal of the track aside from its great propellent guitar line and keyboard breakdowns is Thomas Mars' understated vocal delivery, Who else could turn potentially garbled lines such as "Lisztomania/Think less but see it grow/Like a riot, like a riot, oh" into a sure-fire chorus? His French-inflected instead creating an intriguing pattern of rhythms and melody that you can't help but sing-a-long to.
A big shout out to the Melbourne Comedy Law Revue gang for including a choreographed dance of majesty to the tune of the Gallic four-piece in their closing.
Check out the vid here
And now for some other great singles that are heralding some future releases:
Muse - Uprising
The opening track from the forthcoming album The Resistance (due to drop in two weeks - can you feel the thrum of excitement?). It blends political revolutionary dissidence with glam rock, and Dr. Who synth with Blondie's Call Me punctuation.
Radiohead - These Are My Twisted Words (click link for free download)
Radiohead are nothing if not unpredictable, first there's an article from Thom Yorke saying that fans shouldn't hold their breath for a new album, then they turn around and drop not one, but two, new tracks - a dedication to war veteran Harry Patch and this, a typically airy experimental affair. The kind you'd expect from the 'head but no less welcome.
The blogosphere is abound with rumours and speculation concerning a new EP, perhaps called Wall of Ice, but for now we can revel in the fact that the band are indeed working.
weezer - (If You Are Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To
There was a time when weezer were the only band I loved, then came the hinterland years between 1996's Pinkerton and their re-invention as a slightly different form of pop-rock with 2002's self-titled green album. A series of increasingly bland albums later and I was ready to give up on my childhood heroes, then along came last year's self-titled red album, and it was actually pretty good. I'm certainly hesistant with another album being released so quickly in response, their new album Raditude (amazing!) is due before the end of the year, but if this tongue-in-cheek, peppy single is anything to go by - it's red album Pt. 2, and that's just fine with me.