Top 50 Tracks of 2010: UNKLE featuring the Black Angels – Natural Selection

December 8, 2010

25. Unkle feat. the Black Angels – Natural Selection.mp3

The bluesy-psychedelia of the late-’60s garage pop crossed with UNKLE’s electronic sensibilities. Moves along with a confident swagger, as I imagine UNKLE themselves must, what with their impeccable production and godawesome backcatalog.

It’s the effortless cool that David Holmes projects. Or Death in Vegas. Or the Stones themselves, back in their heyday. The Black Angels classically-rockist vocals aid greatly as do their tasteful insertion of huge, distorted riffs.

The UNKLE Soundsystem.

The Black Angels and their Death Songs.

The rest of the Top 50.



  1. Effortless cool? I believe that is the only kind.

    By the way, I bought the album based on this track.

    • Well, there’s the kind of cool that’s nearing 50 and shouts “Whoooooooooooo!!!” at various drinking events. That seems like an efforted cool.

      And then there’s Vmpyr Wknd. Very much a concerted cool.

      Pt. 2 – See, it’s not just pirates and wastrels what reads this here blog. (No offense to the rest of our steady readers.)

  2. I think a strong case can be made that effortless, or at least apparently effortless, cool is the only kind because cool implies detachment, aloofness, being above the fray, etc. It is effort, for example, that is the fundamental issue in the Great Mock Sock Debate between our resident arbiter elegantie and a bumptious interloper.

    I say it is a strong case because Wallace, and to a lesser extent Gladwell, have both unpacked this concept pretty thoroughly. I have neither the patience nor skill to do much more than regurgitate their thoughts, so I suggest going to the sources.

    To parry: The nearing 50 who yells, “Whoooooo” is not cool and thus is not evidence of cool, effortless or otherwise. Regarding the silly Ivy Leaguers, it appears they are going for affect, specifically an ironic one. This is a safe route toward cool since irony is much the opposite of sincerity and it is nearly impossible to be simultaneously aloof and sincere. However, their coolness is degraded by the youngsters’ palpable aspiration to be cool. My bitch with VW is not that they are or are not cool. My bitch is with their belletrism.

    And, yep, I still believe in music delivered in a format that, in a pinch, can be used as a coaster.

    • Excellent touche there, o/o.

      Yes, guys who shout “whoooo” have never been cool but some reason there are always lots of guys who shout “whoooo.” Wallace and Gladwell may have unpacked that but all the examination in the world won’t keep the sweaty, past-his-prime “gentlemen” from leaning drunkenly on your shoulder and conveying his level of fun in a manner befitting an amateur Tuvan throat singer.

      “Ironic distance” and “ironic enjoyment” are the new black and have been so as long as I can remember. Belletrism had me running for my Wiktionary, but clearly no other word would do. Roughly translated, they’re like a highly sought after paint color that smudges off the wall with the slightest touch.

      I won’t waste my time expounding on them further other than wondering about my own aesthetic preferences via the new tagline in the header.

    • “Bumptious interloper”? Be careful, or you may find yourself getting some interloping done on your bumptious.

  3. I read your phrasing of “effortless cool” as I was in the middle of thinking about the cost of irony and satire on our society. Lately, I’ve been thinking about that a lot. Like Wallace in the link, I believe it is “relentlessly … corrosive to the soul” but I also understand the necessity of the approach and can offer no alternative to it. The concept of coolness is obviously wrapped up in all of this.

    • There’s a lot of debate on the attempt to live irony-free in his commencement speech you emailed me. It takes a Herculean effort to live life without resorting to distancing yourself from the seemingly unlikeable people that populate it.

      Obviously it’s much easier to reside “above” it rather than treat every human as human, with their own thoughts and desires. To be “cool” usually means looking down on something or someone which is purely human in its own way.

      I try not to ironically appreciate things but the attempt to be a real humanist is often abandoned because of the effort involved. As for cool? I no longer have any idea where that resides. Eye of the beholder, I suppose.

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