Five beach-party bangers, and the end of an era

Yup, you guessed it: this is the end of this particular road, and 5ingles is headed to that great big blog column scrapheap in the sky. Five (!) years and God knows how many columns later, the time has come to call an end to acid-tongued assaults on dumb pop songs and obscure underground chestnuts.

It all started, as so many things do, with a phone call received while on vacation in Virginia Beach: old pal Kevin Hoffman reaching out to see if I had any interest in writing a singles column for City Pages. That was the summer of 2007, and in the intervening time, this column radically redefined what a "single" represents without winning a single award. Still, a great deal of fun was had, sacred cows disemboweled, and so on -- besides, there's always an indescribable thrill in random comments suggesting that the author is deserving of physical violence. 

Anyway, thanks to Hoffman, Sarah Askari, Andrea Swensson, and Reed Fischer for allowing me to have my way and my say with media-market saturated chart slop and nightmare machinist-scrapings. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and hopefully I didn't blow it too badly. And I'll still be kicking around Gimme Noise, in some form or another, for a good while, so it's not like you're rid of me that easily.

Now: let's say goodbye, with some nostalgia and beach-party bangers, after the jump.

Top Five Things I Learned Writing "5ingles" From 2007 to 2012

5. Illegal downloading isn't worth all the bugs and spyware you'll wind up with. So, seriously, don't. If in doubt, YouTube it.

4. Attempting to rip off Robert Christgau and Feminist Baseball simultaneously isn't as easy as it looks.

3. Writing a pop-music column for an alternative weekly doesn't impress anybody for longer than five minutes.

2. Sometimes music isn't the answer. Sometimes a great song can't heal wounds or save someone.

1. Comment-section haters gonna hate, and hate, and hate some more in cozy, Web 3.0 anonymity, because 90 percent of the time it's way easier to hate than to love. This was true in the late 1990s, when I was in college and Internet message board were full of sawed-off, faceless jerks, and it's just as true today.

Top Five Things I've Gained In The Last Five Years

5. Gray hair

4. Stress/near-ulcers

3. A jacked-up degree of responsibility and semi-adequate compensation

2. Mounting debt

1. A zest for rap, noise, and experimental music, to the exclusion of almost everything else; fuck indie rock, seriously, for the most part  

Top Five Favorite 5ingles Columns

Bonus Track: May 15, 2012

Before reading further, pour yourself a glass of Courvoisier, settle into a comfortable chair, check out the hook while the DJ doesn't revolve it: 

And, as promised, here are our beach bangers.

5. Delicate Steve, "Afria Talks to You"

There's so much happening here - riffs alternately disco and desert-island, splashy hand-claps synced as percussion, space-y slide guitars, delirious organs -- all scraping together forever, shifting from roller-rink fantasia to funk-show strut to God knows what else. There's a humongous wrongness at play, which may explain why "Afria" ultimately feels so unarguably right, even if it only makes real sense as a beach-party banger after several margarita rounds.  
4. Eric Copeland, "Louie Louie Louie" 

Copeland's gifts for gross genre recombination are such that it'd be best to save "Louie Louie Louie" for that moment where everybody's split, passed out, or clustered around the margarita blender, desperately watching those stainless-steel blades as they spin, and spin, twilit and inexplicably mesmerizing.
3. Emicida, "9 Circulos" 

The only non-HEALTH song from the Max Payne 3 soundtrack, probably overheard from somebody else's cooler, way more hype beach party next door. Hoser.
2. Xander Harris, "I Want to Be Free" 

What I adore about CHRYSALID is how doggedly uninterested the album is in present-day musical mores; this recent-ish Xander Harris album is all k-holes and synthesizer pre-sets and ambient daydreams and analog cotton-candy and benevolent unicorns with Flock of Seagulls haircuts. "Free" has the effect of momentarily substituting all worries and frustrations with such utter and total bliss that I simply never want its deepening-purple Affirmation-seminar drones to end; it's the perfect soundtrack to waking up on a beach alone, with sand in your mouth and no idea how you got there.

1. Best Coast, "Up All Night" 

As it turns out, "Up All Night" is the only song from The Only Place that I could force myself to listen to more than twice, then I wound up stuck to it in a weird way, because what I didn't like about it - the lack of gear shifts, of wavering - is what's compelling about it: the sense that the singer is just staring at you, unblinking, while recycling the same series of complaints that register as little more than whiny white noise, quicksand giving way beneath her feet with agonizing slowness, until the distortion swallows her whole, like she was never even there to begin with.

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