10. Interference Fits – Perfect Pussy (2)

The white cover and title of Perfect Pussy’s debut Say Yes to Love promises positivity, and while there are moments of joyous clarity in singer Meredith Grave’s indiscernible yell, the vast majority of the album pummels the listener with cynicism and raw energy and too many fuck-yous to fit in a twenty-minute album. The Syracuse outfit delivers on the enthralling promise their debut EP I Have Lost All Desire For Feeling displayed, but that their crowning achievement comes on their quietest and slowest effort shows that there’s a ceiling that Graves and co. are far from reaching. Graves is already on par with punk’s greatest poets, penning incredible thoughts like, “Nothing that comes and goes is you/but you can compensate for love’s sake/and say yes, and make something together, and make something new.” And then there’s the glorious breakdown that has Graves spinning into her multi-voiced and muffled psychosis, and it almost makes you think that she’s shrouding her voice because she doesn’t have anything to say. But she really just wants you to listen harder: what she has to say is worth fighting for to listen to.

9. Past Lives – Borns

Alexander Pope once said that easy reading is damn hard writing, and Madonna and Michael Jackson and Katy Perry will testify that the same thing applies to music. It’s really easy to disparage perfectly executed pop music as “formulaic” or “commercial,” and it’s easier to forget how difficult it is to actually reach the stage where one can consistently churn out hits. It used to be easy for the geniuses like Elton John and Mariah Carey to surround themselves with the right help to make music easy to listen to, but the pejorative label of “pop music” has discouraged worthy acts like The Cut Copy or Passion Pit from truly breaking through. We might want to add newcomer Borns to that list, because while treehouse dweller Garrett Borns has all the chops for a radio hit, chances are slim that we’ll be hearing “Past Lives” outside of charming boutiques and uplifting indie films. So here I am, on my knees, pleading to Clear Channel that I don’t care about the new Cage the Elephant or Imagine Dragons record. I’d much rather hear “Past Lives” twice a day for the next three months, and then once a week for the next six months after that, if you’d oblige. Please consider my request; he’s got Madonna instincts.

8. Archie, Marry Me – Alvvays

A lot of the music I listen to is written by young, horny people, which is why we get a lot of ruminations on body fluids and paranoia and general fucking on this countdown. So when an indie earworm expostulates on the emotional benefits of such an archaic institution as marriage, it’s understandably worth a listen. At least that’s the reason why this song is still heard on alternative radio. And here we have Alvvays, following the lead of CHVRCHES and Wavves by adding superfluous Vs to its name, providing us with another. Lead singer Molly Rankin understands the difficulty of her proposal, not just because songs about marriage rank low on the cool scale, but also because her first line acknowledges her object of desire’s “contempt for matrimony.” It’s an inauspicious start, but it’s a task this Toronto foursome is more than capable of picking up. Behind Best Coast-like mufflers and Broken Social Scene-like imperatives, Rankin shines through the haze and convinces the 99% of us who aren’t named Archie that her request should be fulfilled. After all, marriage may not be a cool subject, but it’s important enough to warrant a full bearing of the soul.

7. Butterfly Effect – Clockwork Indigo

Clockwork Indigo is a supergroup side project comprised of Brooklyn heroes Flatbush Zombies and The Underachievers, and their lead single “Butterfly Effect” sounds like Brooklyn vs. Everyone without the marketing gimmick. Zombie Juice and Meechy Darko have always had two of the most fascinating voices in hip-hop, first pronounced on the still-futuristic “Thug Waffle,” and now they are using their vocal talents to rap about things other than marijuana (though that remains a main theme). Issa Gold and AK throw down proper context to the Beast Coast movement that should bring New York back to rap prominence (if Bobby Shmurda doesn’t steal the whole thing for himself), and their social consciousness provides a proper foil to the Zombie’s contemporary musings. But the real star is Erick Ark Elliot, Zombies producer and often forgotten man on the mic, this time giving himself the first and best verse with seminal lines like “How can a nigga do his homework when his mom’s on crack?/How can I produce a record that be equal to that?” Well, he does: “Butterfly Effect” is the beat of the year, a slow and haunting orchestration with muffled drums, whistle hooks, and the voice of hero space man Carl Sagan peppered throughout. It’s the realization of hardship and the will to power through it, the ray of sunlight through a nuclear winter, or better yet, what these men probably see daily that got them into drugs in the first place.

6. No Black Person is Ugly – Lil B

This isn’t James Brown Live in Boston 1968, but Lil B did more to quell hateful Internet speech with this song than any talking head or intellectual around, and his contribution to the conversation was an imperative in the most racially volatile year in recent memory. “No Black Person is Ugly” is both self-explanatory and without exception, and so instead of dissecting it, I’ll simply reprint The BasedGod’s message at the end of the accompanying video.

I never want to hear you call somebody ugly, I am smart enough to see the underlying messages of hate spread around in America to people of dark skin color, this is not right and the motivations of these old ideas + platforms will be brought to light, I see the agenda and hate clearly, do not carry the hate your parents or grandparents + your peers tought (sic) or supplied you with, do not fear…love…You are protected, you have nothing to worry about, we are black as a world, we are love before hate. – Lil B



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