Thursday, August 13, 2009

Favorite Moments in Music: Part One (50-41)

Late last year, I jotted down my 20 favorite snapshots in music for the year 2008. It was fun enough that I decided to just go ahead and chronicle my favorite moments in all of music. I'll be doing ten a day, starting today and ending on Friday with number one.

These aren't necessarily my favorite songs (though several of my favorites do show up.) These are just the tiny bits and pieces of songs that really get me - the fist pumpers, the heart melters, the plain old "what the hell??" moments that make listening to music such an enjoyable and rewarding pastime.

Behold the list. Feel free to comment. Feel even freer to sample the songs by clicking the links that I'll be including with every entry.

50. Screamin' Jay Hawkins - I Put a Spell on You
"Because you're miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine"

We'll start things off with the oldest song on the list - the novelty classic "I Put a Spell on You". The song itself jangles around unnaturally like a zombie, but it's often forgotten how good Screamin' Jay's voice really was......of course, it's hard to notice that fact when he's ranting and raving about putting spells on the object of his affections. Why? Because you're mine, of course. Or rather, becaaaaaause you're miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.

He does it a couple of times in the song, but the best one is around 1:05 in.

49. Blindside - Sleepwalking

I hadn't listened to 'Silence' in quite a while, and while not all of it resonates in quite the same way that it once did, the bridge to 'Sleepwalking' is still a shiver inducing moment of the highest order. The bridge stands out amongst the shouted verses and anthemic chorus in its laid-back sparcity, but the best part comes as the band cuts out as Christian softly sings "goodbye", before coming back in full fury for one last go at that chorus.

48. Mogwai - Friend of the Night
"The bridge fades into the chorus"

I love "Friend of the Night". I'm sure Mogwai has put out other stuff that is more "critically respected" (and a quick glance through those critics' websites tells me I'm right), but aside from "Hunted By a Freak", there's no other song in their catalog that pushes all the right buttons for me. The bridge to the song is a simple piano line repeated a bunch of times. It's beautiful, and stands in contrast to the swirling guitars and heavy drums that make up the rest of the song, but you don't realize how fantastic it really is until it starts building in intensity and allows the big, molten post-rock hook to the song to play over the top of it. All of well-respected dissonance from their earlier stuff can't match up to those 5 minutes.

47. Sölvi Blöndal - Assault Team (mp3)
"Electronica + Rock + Strings = Instant joy"

Sölvi Blöndal (from the band Quarashi) was apparently commissioned by the makers of the video game EVE-Online to make song tracks for the soundtrack, and I have to say, he did his job well - all of the tracks sound great. The standout track is "Assault Team", an edgy rock-laden electronica song that packs an energetic punch. Once the strings come in over the top of all of that, it's just too good (a very similar song, in terms of string built rock-electronica - rocktronica? - is found in Jesper Kyd's 'Access the Animus' which made its way onto the 2008 list.)

46. Hot Water Music - The Sense
"The first 22 seconds"

'Emogame 2' was a fairly terrible flash game in which the game's main characters (leading figures from various emo bands) killed celebrities and people whom the author deemed 'sellouts' by throwing LPs at them. One thing that made up for this was the fact that the main part of the soundtrack comprised itself of a loop of the first 22 seconds of this song over and over again. That would initially seem like a bad idea to hear the same 22 seconds over and over again, but the riff to 'The Sense' completely justified it. The rest of the song is decent enough, but the main riff is such an earworm that the whole track comprised of nothing except for it, and I wouldn't have batted an eye.

45. El-P - The League of Extraordinary Nobodies
"We haven't even gotten to the part where it's a joke"

When one listens to an El-P song, they generally expect to hear biting social commentary and cynically snarky lines. 'Nobodies' may be a throwaway from 'I'll Sleep When You're Dead' (maybe not "throwaway", but it's definitely not one of the showcased tracks), but it would be hard to find a song that better distills his style. The song itself is filled with great lines decrying society at large and the whole 'going through the motions' lifestyle, but then at the end, El-P launches into a rant condemning his own failings before exclaiming "I hear the cackles of the crowd, they're laughing at us / and we haven't even gotten to the part where it's a joke."

44. Rob Dougan - Furious Angels (Instrumental Version)
"Just when you think it's over... the good part comes..."

Furious Angels appears to be winding down around the 3:15 mark - right before it builds back up into a string-led, big beat driven monster. My favorite bit is right at the begining of the buildup, where the string section snakes along a melody before expanding and filling out. Strangely enough, it was another online flash game (Avalanche, this time) that turned me on to this song (odd where music gets found these days).

43. Mewithoutyou - In a Sweater Poorly Knit
"A fittingly haunted ending"

Mewithoutyou has some great moments (and this will not be the last one featured on this list), but one of my favorites is at the very end of my favorite mwY CD. The theme throughout 'Brother, Sister' has been "I do not exist, only you exist", and to close out the album, that mantra is simply sung over and over again, right before the song fades out with a harp softly played (but really, can a harp be played any other way?). It's the perfect end to a great album.

42. White Stripes - Seven Nation Army
"The opening bass guitar line"

The begining of 'Seven Nation Army' is actually played by a guitar played through an octave pedal (my bother was crestfallen when he learned that bit), but the fact remains - EVERYONE loves it. When it comes on the radio, I don't think I've ever seen the channel turned - in fact, most of the time it gets turned up. Seriously, give it another listen and tell me that's not a great riff.

41. Faith No More - Epic

What is it? Theories range anywhere from drugs, to masturbation, to nothing at all. In the end, it really doesn't matter - what it is is a damn good song. A strong case could also be made for the soft piano playing over the fadeout. That part is also great, but "IT'S IT! (what is it?)" is pretty difficult to beat.


  1. A lot of soccer supporters have taken to chanting "Seven Nation Army" from the stands.

  2. 7NA isn't a bass riff? I join your brother in being crestfallen.

    Cool concept, I can't wait to see the next 40.

  3. 100000 awesome points for SCREAMIN JAY HAWKINS