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The Anti-Hit List

BY JOHN SAKAMOTO

Manti1111

10. LOW, "Broadway (So Many People)": Three-quarters of the way through this ethereal Minnesota band's surprisingly hard-edged Sub Pop debut comes this lush, seven-minute walking tour of post-9/11 Manhattan, built around the ingenuous out-of-towners' refrain, "Where is the laughter?" Oddly, the verses recall the melody to Blondie's "Union City Blue." (From The Great Destroyer, www.subpop.com, out Jan. 25)

9. GWEN STEFANI, "What You Waiting For (McSleazy remix)": More than any other high-profile single this year, this pouty concoction relies so heavily on big-budget visuals to bring it to life, it would be more accurate to say the song accompanies the video rather than the other way around. Fortunately, mash-up master McSleazy has rectified that situation with this deft remix, which does what all successful remixes are supposed to do: make the original more interesting than it really is. (www.mcsleazy.net)

8. JOANNA NEWSOM, "What We Have Known": Potentially the most divisive cult release of the year, this folk harpist's love-it-or-hate-it full-length debut, The Milk-Eyed Mender, evokes musical eccentrics from The Incredible String Band and Devendra Banhart to Macy Gray and Lisa Simpson. For the converted, this B-side provides more of the same. For the uninitiated, check out the lovely video for "Sprout and the Bean" at www.dragcity.com. (From the "The Sprout and the Bean" single, www.walnutwhales.com)

7. STEVE EARLE, "San Antonio Girl": Shot the year Guitar Town came out (1986), this kinetic 65-minute performance captures an impossibly thin, young Earle exuding the unique energy that pours out of someone who's just broken through. This rollicking performance, dedicated to producer/manager/promoter Huey Meaux (who, among other things, discovered Tex-Mex stars The Sir Douglas Quintet), is from one of four new DVDs featuring uncut performances from TV's Austin City Limits. (From Live From Austin Tx, www.newwestrecords.com)

6. CAMOUFLAGE NIGHTS, "Skies Are Foggy": "It's not easy being sleazy / I get so wheezy / When those evil urges seize me..." Led by former Thrush Hermit/ Dears guitarist Rob Benvie and Thrush Hermit bassist Ian McGettigan, this woozy amalgam of rock, hip-hop and the kitchen sink is dying to be adopted as the official anthem of the stubbornly dissolute. (From The Summer of 2004, www.camouflagenights.com)

5. THE HIVES VS. THE MONKEES, "Two-Timing Touch and Steppin' Stone": This aural blind date, set up by Thriftshop XL, throws the generic "Two-Timing Touch and Broken Bones" into sharp relief by making explicit its roots in both punk and bubblegum. It's instructive to note, however, that The Monkees' tune gets absolutely nothing out of the pairing, which shows just how badly The Hives need the help. (www.thriftshopxl.com)

4. BRAZILIAN GIRLS, "Lazy Lover": Saddled with an aggressively cheesy cover shot (mirrored sunglasses? You've gotta be kidding) that threatens to scare off the very audience the music should appeal to, this seductive single is perfect for those of us who want to embrace every offering on David Byrne's Luaka Bop label but would frankly prefer something a little more, well, commercial. This irresistible blend of pop, samba and electro fits the bill perfectly. (From the Lazy Lover EP, www.vervemusicgroup.com)

3. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, "The Star-Spangled Banner": Why is it that our most passionate artists are more eloquent in defeat than victory? And how is it that this poignant instrumental, played on a lone 12-string acoustic, conveys more than the most passionately articulated protest song? (www.brucespringsteen.net/news)

2. FOUR TET, "Castles Made of Sand": Far more than an homage to Jimi Hendrix, this cover's twinkly dissonance actually illuminates a great deal of Kieran Hebden's original output as both Four Tet and with Fridge. As does the rest of this sublime chill-out compilation. (From LateNightTales, www.azuli.com)

1. GREEN DAY VS. OASIS VS. TRAVIS VS. EMINEM, "Boulevard of Broken Songs": Here's an example of the wit and intelligence at work behind this mash-up by San Francisco producer/remixer/alt-radio guy Party Ben, built around Green Day's soon to be ubiquitous "Boulevard of Broken Dreams": when he gets to the line "I walk alone," he segues seamlessly into "All the roads we have to walk are winding" from "Wonderwall." And for good measure, he tosses in the first verse of Travis's "Writing to Reach You," which poses the burning musical question, "And what's a wonderwall anyway?" Dazzling. (www.partyben.com)

Email jsakamoto@eye.net.

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