The spectacular opener like "First Song" deserves an adequate follow-up, and "Wicked Gil" proves to be just that. There's something about those pounding guitars and Bridwell's jet-engine vocals that energize the song. "Wicked Gil" serves its role by carving out the overarching style of this album: it's uncomplex, it's rather repetitive, it's often difficult to make out the lyrics--but BOH manufactures all these qualities into strengths.
10. Toro y Moi - "Minors"
"Minors" found a spot on the Best Of 10 songs of the year list, and it just so happens that it's the second track on Causers of This. Unlike most entries on this list, "Minors" slows the pace of the album, its chorus pouring hot waves of synth over Chaz Bundick's words. Perhaps for a chillwave record, slowing it down is just what track 2 should do. At any rate, it's both a mellow dance track and an serviceable carrier of the slow-burning torch that opener "Blessa" ignited.
9. Drive-By Truckers - "Sinkhole"
If you thought Decoration Day was going to be a gentler affair based on its country ballad opener (and namesake for a HSW feature), "Sinkhole" should snuff that out. It features a razor-wire guitar riff behind Patterson spitting the kind of Southern gothic poison on which the DBT's have built a career. It's a key element of a really stellar run of songs--the first eight of the album are almost flawless.
8. Tom Waits - "Shore Leave"
Back when I wrote up my Tom Waits primer, I covered this song a bit:
"Listen to 'Shore Leave' and tell me it doesn't evoke images of a sailor on liberty in some seedy southeast Asian seaport."Since no one has told me otherwise, I'll assume my declaration was received with wholesale acceptance. "Shore Leave" doesn't just effectively sculpt an environment; it's crucial as a second track, an "establishing shot" that sets the stage for the upcoming tracks. In fact, the last verse ends with the sailor yearning for his girl back home in Illinois--and the next (non-instrumental) track, "Johnsburg, Illinois" is about that girl. It's a subtle enough transition, but also offers the listener an overt directive as to the where Tom is taking us.
7. Animal Collective - "My Girls"
In its brief existence, "My Girls" has already been dubbed a classic by both alternative media and the fans of blippy trance icons Animal Collective. Indeed, it's a tremendous song with an infectious pace, celebratory air and explosive chorus and delivery that doesn't let wane the lingering grandeur of opener "In the Flowers". It's ironic that such an ambitious song very candidly expresses the desire for a simple life.
Tomorrow, numbers 6-2.