While the rest of the country prepared to kick off the summer this weekend, with barbecues or swimming or whatever you do, we in San Francisco were battening down the hatches, as the fog rolls in and dampens our spirits that were so recently teased with a summery come-on. Appropriately enough, this week's Top Ten is a mish-mash of top-down party jams and huddled-in-a-blanket dirges, and if you can't handle the, um, mixture of heat and cold, then, uh, get out the kitchen.
10. Editors – "The Weight of the World" (from The End Has A Start, out July 17th on Epic) (mp3 via Hayat Bayat)
The Birmingham combo's excellent, Joy Division-reminiscent "Munich" from 2005 unfortunately wasn't equaled by any track on their album, The Back Room, and I kind of wrote them off. However, a now-legendary performance at Coachella (opposite Madonna!) and some leaked tracks from their upcoming album are making me reconsider. This ballad, taking off from a "Just Like Honey"-style beat, is both quieter and more ambitious than anything they've done before
9. Simian Mobile Disco – Live DJ Set on BBC Radio 1's "Essential Mix," Sunday, May 20th, 2007 (mp3 via BBC Essential Mixes)
Okay, yes, I was in LA last weekend, and I upgraded to a rental car that had Sirius Satellite Radio, and I'm sorry, but rather than enjoy the soothing sounds of KCRW or the indie jams on, er, Indie, I stayed locked on Sirius Channel 11: BBC Radio 1, which was broadcasting live from their "Big Weekend" concert event. The broadcast was so compelling that I even listened to a whole Scissor Sisters live number ("Comfortably Numb") and I really, really hate them. But it was hearing this storming DJ set (from the duo currently vying with Justice for the title of Reigning Kings of Electro-skronk) that made the upgrade worth it
8. Common – "The People" (from the apparently forthcoming album Finding Forever on Geffen)
Class-consciousness is sorely lacking in... well, jeez, in America in general, so it's nice to see prog-rapper Common taking up the cause. More importantly, he rhymes "Botswana" with "Obama." All this happens over a quirky sample, produced by Kanye West (in an apparent attempt to be reminiscent of J Dilla), with oddly cut-off vocals and infectious synth lines. He's no Dilla, but what are you gonna do
7. Bjork – "Earth Intruders" (Spank Rock remix) (mp3 via Chazology)
Just as Mark Bell's clattering remix of "Hyperballad" seemed to lead the way to his production work on Bjork's next album, Homogenic, one can only hope that Spank Rock's rerub of "Earth Intruders" might lead to a new Bjork album infused with their hyper Baltimore style. Oddly, this mix turns the tempo down a notch, but still manages to feel freer and, well, more fun
6. Spoon – "The Ghost of You Lingers" (from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, out July 10th on Merge)
Depire the fact that this track from the Austin indie rockers is basically just piano, voices, and and some funky reverb, it sure reminds me of ELO. Maybe it's the minor 7th chords? Either way, it's not surprising everybody's jumping over themselves to grab (and give away) the leaked mp3s from the forthcoming album
5. Al Gore giving the smackdown to Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America on Tuesday
While I have to say I'm getting a little tired of hearing some of the same phrases from Mr. Gore over and over ("I'm engaged in a different kind of campaign"), his gentle but firm calling-out of Diane Sawyer is awesome and totally deserved – I mean, he's talking about the media's fascination with the trivial and tendency to overdramatize, and then what does she do but go right to overdramatizing the trivial. With this and his telling John Stewart that his show is ironically one of the best places for real news, Gore is speaking so much truth right now it's freaking me out
4. Booka Shade vs. M.A.N.D.Y. – "Body Language" (Senor Coconut remix) (mp3 via Batteria Ricaricabile)
Following on the heels of his Kraftwerk cover album, Senor Coconut applies his cha-cha shtick to a more recent German electro jam, last year's deservedly massive "Body Language." Turns out Mr. Coconut is the alter ego of the German electronic artist Uwe Schmidt, and his Latin-inspired interpretations are as artificial and synthesized as the originals, somehow making them all the more awesome
3. Trailer for "Control," the new Ian Curtis movie
Reports are filtering in from Cannes that this biopic on Ian Curtis, lead singer of Joy Division, is getting a big "thumbs up," and if the trailer is any indication, I can see why. First time director Anton Corbijn brings the simple majesty of his black-and-white photography to the film, and boy, at moments Sam Riley looks so much like Curtis it's creepy
2. Clientele – "Bookshop Casanova" (from God Save the Clientele on Merge)
Coming after ten lovely, laid-back almost-ballads, "Casanova" comes as a bit of a shock. It's pretty much a straightforward disco track, complete with swirling violins and a lyrical sentiment that basically boils down to "Let's have sex": "You got my name, pick up my number / Come on darlin', let's be lovers." Okay!
1. Rihanna feat. Jay-Z – "Umbrella" (from Good Girl Gone Bad out June 5th on Def Jam) While Barbadian singer Rihanna's 2005 reggae/hip-hop hit "Pon de Replay" (released when she was 17!) was one of my favorite tracks of the year, I admit it was a bit of a trifle, notable mostly for its infectious Carribean rhythm track. But now, at the ripe old age of 19, Rihanna emerges with this majestic, Beyonce-like performance, a whole order of magnitude more mature and accomplished than "Replay." It's all about the chorus, an emotional declaration of (apparently) friendship, and after singing "You can stand under my umbrella," she gives us a little echo-ey remix: "ella, ella, ay, ay, ay." A superb song, and if its position atop the iTunes chart is any indication, it will likely be the hit of the summer. Now if the fog would just clear away for a minute...
Please donate a few dollars to the Mother Jones Investigative Fund! We're a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and we rely on YOU to support our fiercely independent reporting. Your donation is fully tax-deductible, and it takes just a moment to give. Thanks!