blog: This Is What God Thinks
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Best Songs of 2012: Vijay Iyer - "The Star of a Story"
Mike McKinley
January 22, 2013
The Vijay Iyer Trio's Accelerando is filled with great compositions and playing -- start to finish you can get lost in this music. "The Star of a Story" was the first track that really hit me and I keep going back to it. The rhythm section doesn't just swing on this track; they gallop along creating a great space for Vijay to do his thing. What makes this composition so entrancing is the breakdown. Bassist Stephan Crump takes the lead with a bow and Vijay seamlessly becomes part of the rhythmic flow. It's bold, confident, and beautifully weird.

Vijay Iyer Trio
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Best Songs of 2012: Dan Deacon - "U.S.A. I-IV"
Mike McKinley
January 21, 2013
Dan Deacon delivered a revelation with 2009's Bromst. He transformed his absurdist, albeit inventive, sonic onslaught into symphonic works equally blissful and dark. His music started hitting an emotional core, not just an experimental one. With America he goes deeper -- perhaps it's because Bromst already reconfigured my brain to find beautiful melodies among the excesses of looping, digitized noises. On America, the orchestration is just as massive, yet the contrasts are even brighter and harsher, and surprisingly, more accessible. It's amazing how psychedelic the music can become, or retained, by a passing horn line, vocal passage or at just being minimalistic and letting things breathe for a section. Yeah, throw this puppy on with headphones and enjoy the inward adventures. It's masterful. Still, I'm sure it's hard for some people to take him seriously as a composer: he oftentimes looks like the poster boy for the irony movement, he's known for putting on live DJ shows that turn into ridiculous, all-inclusive sweat-drenched, free-for-all dance parties, and he's got a great sense of humor -- you've all seen "Drinking Out of Cups," right? But all of those talents shouldn't clog your ears to the music he's making. Take a listen to the four parts of the "U.S.A." suite that triumphantly concludes America. Deacon's the real deal.

Dan Deacon America
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Best Songs of 2012: Sleepy Sun - "Creature"
Garret K. Woodward
January 18, 2013
Sleepy Sun is a kick in the crotch. The San Francisco rock group burst onto the scene a few years ago on the heels of their album Fever‚ a gritty blues/psychedelic/folk masterpiece. With the release of Spine Hits in 2012‚ the ensemble dropped their female co-vocalist and focused solely on the arena-filling pipes of Bret Constantino‚ a singer who evokes Kurt Cobain in the studio and Freddie Mercury onstage. In the midst of Spine Hits is "Creature‚" a track that immediately turns your head‚ leaving you staring at the stereo‚ wondering just exactly what the fuck was that? It almost sounds like two different songs mashed together. But‚ like peanut butter and jelly‚ the odd pairing (especially in tempo and style) fit together perfectly in method. This band is rapidly spilling across the globe‚ coating society with a molasses-thick sound that can neither be pigeonholed nor contained.

Check out my interview with Bret from last year.

Sleepy Sun Spine Hits Creatures
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Best Songs of 2012: Punch Brothers - "Movement and Location"
Jim Murray
January 11, 2013
The familiar bluegrass structure is there‚ but barely. Chris Thile continues to lead in sonic explorations‚ and the opener from this year's Who's Feeling Young Now? certainly sets the tone for that spirit. Counterpoint bass lines and loopy delays create tension amidst the song's forward‚ yet amidst the chaos is haunting beauty. The album is a masterpiece: both vulnerable in its nakedness and commanding in spirit.

Punch Brothers Movement and Location
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Best Songs of 2012: Dr. Dog - "How Long Must I Wait"
Mike McKinley
January 9, 2013
With every Dr. Dog record I joke about how they need to release a shitty song just to get it out of their system. Any track on Be the Void could be your favorite (even here at State of Mind, Adam King picked "Do the Trick"). I think deep down mine might be "That Old Black Hole" -- the lyrics seem simple, yet in their jumbled twists and turns there's subtle profundity: "I don't make rules for a living/I don't do tricks for a dime/I was born on a good day/deaf, dumb and blind/who am I to tell the truth?/I don't even know what it is." And it culminates in perfect pop song fashion that has you singing along as loud as you can. But, I didn't listen to any song more in the past year than "How Long Must I Wait," because it might just be the best groove they've ever written. As it builds, I melt into it. Every time.


Dr. Dog Be the Void
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