19. Villagers – ‘I Saw the Dead’
Villagers the band is really just one man – Dubliner Conor J. O’Brien – so it’s unsurprising that the material takes on the singular quality of a solo artist’s. His theatrical album opener is led by flowing piano verses into a climactic, string-led choruses.
20. Darkstar – ‘Aidy’s Girl is a Computer’
Having just released one of the ubiquitous Hyberdub label’s poppiest albums, ‘Aidy’ marks a notable development in the duo’s style, combining sensual synths and beats with heavily vocodered vocals. Their reward is a surprisingly close and personal piece of electronica.
21. Elliott Smith – ‘Twilight’
Long before vampires ruled the film and book industries, ‘Twilight’ was a typically affecting ballad from 2004’s From a Basement on a Hill. Whilst most of Smith’s posthumous demo recordings have simple, acoustic accompaniments, here the Mellotron is ladled on through the middle section, which is repetitive to the extent that it begins to evoke the heartbreak of the lyrics.
22. Animal Collective – ‘Daily Routine’
This is as out there as last year’s Merriweather Post Pavilion got, and that’s saying something. Cascading bleeps fall into an explosion of dub-influenced bass. There’s no time signature to speak of, and the spaced out acoustic guitar later on harks back to Sung Tongs-era Collective.
23. The Roots ft. Joanna Newsom – ‘Right On’
The Roots have met a host of alternative musicians since becoming Jimmy Fallon’s house band, a fact exhibited by the contributions of Monsters of Folk and Dirty Projectors, et al, to their latest album. As it happens, this is the only Joanna Newsom on Spotify, so it had to feature.
24. Jonny Greenwood – ‘Milky Drops from Heaven’
In his first foray beyond Radiohead, Greenwood penned a soundtrack for the art house flick Bodysong. It’s an eclectic beast of a record – this cut features experimental jazz elements, which hark back to Radiohead’s flirtations with Charles Mingus.
25. Gal Costa – ‘Tuareg’
As part of the Tropicália movement, Gal Costa twisted the boundaries of Brazilian pop at the same time The Beatles were reinventing Engish-language rock’n’roll. She uses hypnotic pipe motifs to strange, dramatic effect in the verses, but the catchy chorus sandwiched between ensures ‘Tuareg’ is just as much “pop” as it is “art”.
*tracks missing on we7.