Thursday, March 24, 2011

11 Best Builds: 11-7

11. My Morning Jacket - "Gideon"

One of many standout tracks from Z, "Gideon" is anchored by a frantic guitar line that serves as the steady thread throughout. But as far as steadily building the track's bombast, I give much of the credit to Patrick Hallahan's drumwork. He's attacking every drum and cymbal in reach by the time the song reaches its cathartic peak, marked by Jim James unleashing one his best primal screams on record ("Come oooooon!"). The song is like an approaching airliner, starting as a distant hum and escalating to a full-on roar.

10. The Felice Brothers - "The Big Surprise"

Part of the Felice Brothers' charm is their ramshackle simplicity. Their songs have a barnhouse jam feel, like they all just knocked off work and sauntered over to their instruments. But "The Big Surprise" was, well, just that...a song with some true structural mapping, foresight, and an unorthodox yet superb climax--when they hit that violin note it's like the bow stabs you in the gut. All this a refreshing indicator of what the Felices are capable of; let's hope we hear more of that sort of thing on Celebration, Florida.

9. The Decemberists - "The Crane Wife 1 & 2"

Focusing on the first part of the two-song suite, the "Crane Wife 1" is a pure example of how you can craft a nice build simply by adding a few new instruments each verse/chorus. But the momentum is also boosted by the lyrics, as the song's build owes as much to Colin Meloy's gripping lyrics as it does to the instrumental layering.

8. Damien Rice - "The Blowers Daughter"

First of all, screw you. I like this song even if it costs me a man card to admit it. What starts off as an quaint little ballad blooms into a heartsqueezing rise before, as if crossing some heavenly threshold, it switches keys and Lisa Hannigan takes the reins. Sure, O might be a break-up album for female college sophomores, but I have a soft spot for any song with such an affecting crescendo. Not to mention he uses the word "blower" in stony defiance of innuendo.

7. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - "Country Girl"

Long my favorite Neil Young-penned track, "Country Girl" features one of the less traceable builds on the list, only because it's already pretty dense from the outset. It features three similar yet distinct verses, each a bit more tumultuous than its predecessor, but the coda is what makes it. The song finally finds that root major it flirted with for the first four minutes, and the song concludes with a memorable vocal line over that deep, trembling guitar notes. Again, this song is more of a slow burner than most of the builds on the list, but it utilizes the approach just as great an effect.

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