CJ's Best Of The 00s Volume 7: And When You Believe,They Call It Rock And Roll
61. Lords-The Sword(2008)
It's tough to pick a best song by the Sword because all of their songs are fundamentally the same, and that's not a detraction. You play a Sword song and you know what you're going to hear-Conan the Barbarian references, monsters, witches, etc. Oddly, enough, "Lords" is the only song on that album that's just about fighting, not so much about displeasing evil gods or trolls or what have you. The Sword gets a lot of shit for being "hipster metal", which is a bullshit term invented by assholes to make people who are just starting to get into metal feel bad for not liking Gorguts to be their first exposure to the genre. But the fact of the matter is, people don't like the Sword because they're a training-wheels band, people like the Sword because they're really fucking fun. And for what they are, the lyrics are pretty amazing: "Turn back your horses before it's too late/There'll be no safe crossing this night" and "Men kneel in temples of madness/False prophets spread discord and fear" are both examples of really cool, classic fantasy-novel type imagery. Plus, "Lords" has one of the best metal riffs I've ever heard, bar none. "Lords" might not be the most ridiculous song on Gods of the Earth-that distinction goes to "Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians"-but it's definitely the most awesome and probably the most metal. As Deep Purple member Roger Glove once said, "Heavy isn't about volume, it's about attitude", and in that regard The Sword is one of the most metal bands around.
62. Atlas-Battles(2007)[find a higher quality version, the song deserves it]
How Battles hasn't been drafted to compose the soundtrack for a big-budget Hollywood sci-fi movie is utterly beyond me. Space Rock is a term that can get thrown around pretty liberally, but "Atlas" literally sounds like what rock and roll would be if it was invented by people from Neptune and not Earth. It's incredibly fun, but it's fun without for a second losing a sense of otherworldliness- there's never a moment where you're not reflecting that this song doesn't sound like anything you've heard before. It's immaculately produced, which lets every member of the band shine through completely-everything from the grinding bassline to the enormous factory sounds to the chipmunk vocals coalesce to make "Atlas" sound like a hit single from Jupiter. It's oddly alluring for something so bizarre, and it makes the eight minutes fly by. Experimental, crazed and refined to a T, Battles should be pushing the space rock barrier for a long time to come.
63. Stress Rap-Cannibal Ox(2001)
"You love New York, but New York don't love you." That's basically the bottom line to Cannibal Ox's very brief but very excellent body of work. "Stress Rap" is an interesting deviation from most rap songs, as it's not so much about being aggressive against other people, but holding your own against those that would aggress you. That doesn't mean punking out, though-Cannibal Ox makes it very clear that you do them as bad as they would do you, should the occasion arise. That's a quality consistent with the music of Cannibal Ox. They never waver, for one second, whether it comes to the frigid production or Vordul Megalon's borderline furious delivery. Cannibal Ox is warrior's music, for those that would fight the shadows.
64. Crowd Chant-Joe Satriani(2006)
For real? You want me to analyze "Crowd Chant"? No. No fucking away. Here, how about a synopsis? "Crowd Chant" is a song where Joe Satriani plays a short solo and then the crowd mimics the solo with their voice. This happens a several times for a few minutes. If that's not your kind of thing then you won't like this song. It's my kind of thing.
65. Daft Punk is Playing at My House-LCD Sound System(2005)
Whoever invented the term "dance-punk" and applied it to LCD Sound System needs to be destroyed. As a matter of fact, "prefix-punk" needs to be abolished, completely. There is nothing punk about applying prefixes to things, as a matter of fact that's about one of the least punk things you could hope to do. "Art-punk?" What the fuck is that? Is that punk that's more artful than other punk? Fuck that, and fuck you if you think MGMT is somehow more artful than Minor Threat. Even "Art-rock" pisses me off. All rock is "art-rock" if it was made with honest intent and for the sake of itself. "Post-punk"? Yeah, I can really see how Joy Division is part of a spinoff genre from The Clash. Fuck you.
"Daft Punk is Playing at My House" is a really great song.
66. Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!-Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds(2008)
Nick Cave has never sounded cooler than he has on "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!", and for Nick Cave that is no small potatoes. The dude's been in the business for more than 30 years but he hasn't lost an ounce of swagger-a parable about the Biblical figure of Lazarus waking up from his grave, getting addicted to drugs and winding up in an asylum? If there's a more Nick Cavey idea for a song out there then...no, actually, there isn't a more Nick Cavey idea for a song anywhere, which is probably why it wouldn't work that well without Cave and his merry band of lunatics preforming it. The main organ riff pounds away, the guitar solos are killer and Cave makes a convincing case for why the dead should stay dead, even if it is hilarious and exciting when they don't. It'll get stuck in your head for days and it gives you the feeling that you're in a Cohen Brothers movie, and if that's not your idea of praise than I don't care to know you.
67. Sex On Fire-Kings of Leon(2008)
Nonsensical lyrics or no, it's pretty great that we can have a good rock song that charts high that isn't sung by a disaffected ballsack. That's all.
68. The Beast and Dragon, Adored-Spoon(2005)
Spoon makes rock and roll that's somehow cooler than regular rock and roll. It's like Nick Lowe's sharper, more feedbacky cousin. If I could smoke a cigarette to one song in the world, it would probably be this one. I really wish more people would listen to Spoon, because even the people who like Spoon don't really listen to Spoon. They're kind of like the Melvins in that way, in that everyone has heard of them and everyone likes them but nobody seems to own an album by them. I think that's part of their appeal-they're aloof without coming off like a bunch of assholes. It's not exclusionary cool music, like Of Montreal can be. You listen to Spoon and you feel like you can be as awesome as they are. Spoon is for everybody. They're just...fuck, man, they're great. They make great songs and this is one of their greatest. You should get one of their albums so I can talk to you about them outside of "Spoon is awesome". People wonder what happened to all the good, solid rock and roll and it's right there under their fucking noses. It's right here.
69. Things I Did When I Was Dead-No Age(2008)
No Age is one of my least favorite bands that I find myself listening to more than I expect. I think it's because of songs like "Things I Did When I Was Dead" that just sort of creep in and stay there. Stuart tells me their stage shows are ludicrously crazy and I have a hard time believing it-the music is so introverted and mistrusting. Especially in this song, which has a very signal-like quality, the way they repeat that one note over and over again. Technically these guys are considered punk of a sort, and I can actually kind of see it, in attitude if not in actual technique or style. Just getting out there and doing what you're doing without any kind of production values or skill...that's what punk's all about, and if it sounds good so much the better. This sounds good.
70. Turn Tail-The Young Knives(2008)
We finish this project with a song by the Young Knives, one of the most distinctly British groups I've had the pleasure of listening to. It's not just that the singer's voice is so blisteringly U.K, it's their whole attitude about thing, their stiff upper lip in times of crisis. On "Turn Tail", Henry Dartnall sings "We're all slaves on this ship, this ships sinking/We will not reach the shore" and he doesn't seem all that distressed by it. That's the great thing about this song, they talk about all these awful things, all these things they can't get their hands on and stuff that's eluded them and they somehow manage to not only make it sound like it ain't no thing, it even sounds kind of romantic. The string arrangements are very smart, practically folding in with the rest of the core rock instruments. "Post-punk revival" my ass-this is power pop in the grand British tradition. And even if they are full of themselves, that means that they've got the pomp to back it up.