As the new year draws closer, we’ve decided to take a look the music that’s gotten us to where we are today. So in an effort to broaden our musical horizons and our understanding of contemporary artists, we’re counting down 2012 by counting up from 1952, taking a look at a handful of songs from a different year every day until January 1st. You can find the full list here. Today we’re heading back to 2010!
Earl Sweatshirt – “Earl”
What else could you expect from the 16-year-old son of a law professor and a poet, who probably grew tall sucking at the tits of South Park and Eminem? “Earl” is a vérité recording of the kind of shit talk that gets shot around at a skatepark or by that group of backpacks that hang out in front of the 7-11. Terrifying or just plain old “boys will be boys”? And I don’t mean to take the piss out of Earl’s own cool intelligence. This isn’t the work of just any teenage menace; he’s the artful editor, the smart kid who fell in with a bad crowd. In all of its unremorseful rape-rap/horrorcore glory, “Earl” had blogs crying “the new face of punk” left and right. Like the other early Odd Future recordings, Earl’s eponymously named debut was available for free — a subversion of the mainstream game from head to toe.
LCD Soundsystem – “Dance Yrself Clean”
A nine-minute epic opens the third and final LCD Soundsystem album This Is Happening. James Murphy sings a teetering, fragile little melody for the opening three minutes — just him and this toy beat. It sounds lamenting and sorrowful, but, by now, we know that Murphy’s the kinda guy that can shake a slump. And then, at precisely 3:07, he turns despondence into disco. Four snare shots call in a massive, toothy synth and one of the most unrelenting ass-shakers of the year, if not the decade. Like he sings, “It’s the end of an era, it’s true.”
Cee Lo Green – “Fuck You”
In “Fuck You,” a spurned lover wraps his flipped bird in that vintage Motown sound. If radio audiences weren’t acquainted with Cee Lo after “Crazy,” the cleaned up version “Forget You” was endearing enough to cozy it’s way into minivans and aerobics classes everywhere. I mean, major crossover appeal. Green comes off like a quirked-up ’70s Stevie Wonder, but both the soul and charm are undeniable.
King Krule – “Out Getting Ribs”
Archy Marshall released this track as a single under the moniker Zoo Kid when he was 15. “Out Getting Ribs” is an exemplary bedroom song, the kind of personal, experimental thing that bursts forth white hot and a bit amorphous and can only be caught by home recording. A testament to the power and importance of affordable audio suites like GarageBand, really. “Out Getting Ribs” lands somewhere between Morrissey and Scientist, drawing a more audible influence from early dub than the post-dubstep banner might suggest.
Wavves – “Post Acid”
In 2009, Wavves frontman Nathan Williams got in some kind of a dust-up with Jared Swilley of the Black Lips and had a set-stopping meltdown in Spain while admittedly on Valium and ecstasy, after which, drummer Ryan Ulsh quit the band. To call the band turbulent gets close, but bratty gets even closer. Here it is: brattiness as an aesthetic — a behaviour, a sound, a look, an ethos. That vision of the hipster as trust-fund, slacker, apathetic waste case realized with a guitar strapped to it. “Post Acid” captures the whole character; that “you-ou-ou-ou-ou-ouuuuuu” in the chorus even approaches the classic playground taunt “na na na na na na.”