Hot Routes: Week One

31 Aug

Editor’s Note:  This is the Swanky roundup of our top picks and songs of the week, running every week of the 2012 Year of Football.  For a primer, check out the Introduction.

Week One

This week features only College Football action, which is fine with me.  The NFL is great, but there’s something about Saturday Game Days that are special.  They bring in the double hammer of nostalgia/current appreciation for the college life and intense alumni/student pride.  And it’s Saturday, which means that there’s no need to worry about waking up early the next day – go ahead and take that extra keg stand if you feel like it.

The only caveat about the picks this week is that it is the first week – these predictions are being made without knowing how these teams will perform during actual games.  There is much more pure speculation going on this week than there will be going forward.  So keep that in mind in the event these all crash and burn.  There will also be fewer picks than usual, with just college playing.  Hey – at least you get the tunes.

Boise State (0-0) at Michigan State (0-0) – Friday

The pick:    Michigan State (-7)

The track:  Henrietta by Yeasayer

Yeasayer’s latest album Fragrant World is a collection of dynamic, catchy, emotional and uniquely weird songs that get better the more times you hear them.  “Henrietta” is one of many tracks on the album that packs all kinds of sonic themes and layers within its running time.  I couldn’t even tell you what instruments half of the sounds are coming from – but they go together into an awesomely weird song that builds to a tingle-inducing climax.  Watch out for that sneaky bass line towards the end too – it kind of makes the song.

After the last several years of hearing Boise State whining about getting a shot at national title games while they played mostly Mountain West bottom-feeders, I’m looking forward to all that noise dying down a bit this year.  There’s no denying they had a solid team during those years, but the constant piping up from the cheap seats got tiresome.  This year, with a large part of last year’s team gone, it will be tough for the Broncos to make any kind of noise on the field.  Michigan State lost some core players from last year as well, but they’ve still got a very good defense that should be successful against an inexperienced offense on the road.

North Carolina State (0-0) at Tennessee (0-0) – Friday

The pick:  North Carolina State (+145)

No links – look for it on Spotify or here.

The track:  Hinnom, TX (Alpha Consumer Remix) by Bon Iver

Only upset pick of the week.  North Carolina State ended last season on a strong run, while Tennessee went out with a bit of whimper.  UT has been wildly inconsistent during head coach Derek Dooley’s tenure, and they lost star WR Da’Rick Rogers this offseason – even at home, this team does not inspire much confidence.  On the other hand, NC State looks like they’re ready to build on last season’s momentum, and they seem primed for a first week upset.

Bon Iver has been holding a remix contest over the past couple of weeks for his Bon Iver tracks, and since all of those songs are undeniably great, it’s not a big surprise that a lot of the new remixes are quite solid as well.  There is a lot of open space in Bon Iver songs, and the cool thing about that is that it allows for a lot of interpretation with remixes.  The new mixes can go in a lot of different directions.  The Alpha Consumer mix fleshes out “Hinnom, TX” to great effect.  The original song had a bit of that expansive, Explosions in the Sky feeling, and Alpha Consumer’s mix takes that feel to the logical conclusion.  Great song for when you step on to the high school football field and think epic thoughts.

Michigan (0-0)  v. Alabama (0-0) – Saturday

The pick:  Alabama (-14)

The track:  Elephant (Todd Rundgren Remix) by Tame Impala

This track-to-game match up was too perfect to pass up, with Alabama’s (still mystifying to me) elephant mascot and the track from Tame Impala.  The original “Elephant” is a great song in its own right, and the new mix from Todd Rundgren brings out the heavy, sneering coolness behind the track even further than the Aussie rockers did.  The result is a hard-charging, electric-tinged psychedelic stomp that rocks balls.

On the game side of things, I feel like the hard-charging nature of Alabama will be too much for Michigan to handle.  Michigan seems to be on the right track, but it’s too early in their recovery to football greatness for them to go up against the physical beasts of Alabama and manage to get within two scores.  The benching of Michigan’s top RB, Touissant, also doesn’t help matters at all.  Denard Robinson just doesn’t have the throwing capabilities to beat ‘Bama.

Clemson (0-0) v. Auburn (0-0) – Saturday

The pick:  Clemson (-3)

The track:  For Your Heart by Divine Fits

This spread seems to be giving too much love to Auburn.  The Tigers have new Offensive and Defensive coordinators this year, and still appear to be a work-in-progress.  Clemson, meanwhile, is bringing back the dynamic stars of their explosive offense last season, and is primed up for another successful season.  In the offense-friendly setting of the Georgia Dome, I like Clemson.

If you’re looking for a propulsive, urgent-sounding pop/rock track this week, you could do a lot worse than “For Your Heart”.  Divine Fits is a ‘supergroup’ that includes prominent members of Spoon and Wolf Parade, and this track features strong elements from both of those groups’ prior efforts.  It’s got the vocals and synth flourishes of Wolf Parade and the weirdly awesome chord runs of Spoon.

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