Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie - Bring Me The Disco King

I got insanely busy and didn't finish my list. I'm going to go back in time and fix that pronto. In the meantime we've lost Lemmy and Bowie in a matter of days. Both were musical titans, but the latter had the greater influence on me. He was brilliant, and managed to reinvent himself in so many ways that were genuine, not merely doing it to be different. I'm just gonna post some of his videos this week, and then probably never post one again. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Best of 2015 Part 3

On to day 3 and so far I'm only regretting one selection, but it's a minor issue of ordering so that's pretty good. I'm sure I'll find some albums early in 2016 that I complete missed from this year that will scream "I should have been there!" but them's the breaks. Times are busy so let's get back to what we're here for.

#15
Jamie xx
In Colour


I really just want to call this guy Jamie Smith, because that's what his name is and the 'xx' part is stupid. Anyway I was surprised by this album. I didn't think I would be into it at all, but after a couple listens I was pretty impressed. Not really sure what I expected.

Like his old music with 'The xx', this album has a layered, ethereal sound that's progressive, but in a measured way. He uses space well, with minimal foreground dripped on top of sweeping atmosphere. Only a couple tracks feature any meaningful lyrics, which isn't bad by any means. My least favorite track is the most mainstream one featuring Young Thug. I don't really hear any classic singles, but it works as a collection from front to back.

Gosh


Sleep Sound


Loud Places


#14
Uffe
Radio Days


Uffe Christensen is a Danish electronic producer who has only done singles up until now. In his first full-length album he's done a commendable job of putting together catchy beats and blending them into a cohesive construct. Nothing feels out of place.

His sound is glitchy, minimalist, and eclectic. There are moments of late night deep tech house, bouncy UK garage grooves, downtempo trip-hop, and just a whole whack of varied sounds mashed together. It reminds me of slightly more subdued Siriusmo, another spastic producer who has featured on these charts before. Do yourself a favour and check this one out.

I Can Show You High


Lemon Nights


Die For You


#13
John Tejada
Signs Under Test


Another ethereal album, awash in reverb but more pulsing than Jamie xx. This one is purely instrumental. I think the best description is late night trance tech. This latest album from the Austrian producer isn't overly emotive, it just kind of expands through stillness.

Some really interesting synth choices really help accentuate the melodic lines in between frazzled fringe percussion. There's a lot of care taken to use air to give a delicate sense of changing pressure, as if the music were going for a deep sea dive down a tunnel. Probably not for those who aren't intently into electronic music, but I found it captivating.

Two 0 One


Beacht


Meadow


EP #5
Møme
Cosmopolitan


This is Jérémy Souillart. He's French, but he lives in Australia. Interesting decision. He makes what I guess you'd call chillwave, or maybe chillstep? I dunno. Genres are so often lost on me now, not that they're important. Gender, genre, seems to be a theme there. Anyway I digress. This is great collection of five tracks, including a booming psychedelic house track at the end. Two thumbs way up.

Cyclope


Hangover


Cosmopolitan


Tomorrow we tickle the toes of the top 10.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Best of 2015 Part 2

These last days of the year always seem to fly by, even more so than the rest. Could be the constant eating, drinking, and all the writing... or maybe my internal clock is just scrambled beyond repair, Whatever it is, we've got three more album to look at, so let's hop to it.

#18
Iris
Liquid Sunshine


There aren't too many prominent female hip-hop producers on the scene these days. That fact doesn't actually earn her any bonus points, just throwing it out there. I have no idea what her real name is (maybe it's Iris), and again, it doesn't matter. Her beats are dope.

In the past I've championed the likes of Brock Berrigan, Apollo Brown, and Wax Tailor, This is something similar, sample based with elements of the funk soul brother tied together with crispy drum tracks. There are some great sounds on this one, I highly recommend it if you're into instrumental hip-hop. Pick it up online here!

Seoul Soul


Azoto Rain


Bustability


#17
Laszlo
Cartoon Hero


Another 80's inspired album, this time from Aaron Wheeler, a disco producer often found on the Monstercat label. The majority of his work seems to be electro-dance stuff that doesn't really appeal to me, but he clearly has some talent and versatility as he shows here. That might sound strange considering this isn't far off electro, but there is actually quite a range of interesting sounds jammed together on this album.

It's a proper concept album, an audio tribute to the great cartoon heroes we used to watch as kids. It's definitely not for dancing, with eclectic grooves and quick transitions, Elements of dubstep, electro, synth pop are all there. It's a great listen, lots of fun for the kids, and at 38 minutes not too taxing on the brain.

What Did We Learn Today Kids?


Cartoon Hero


Supermassive


#16
Owiny Sigoma Band
Nyanza


It's been a while since these crazies have graced the blog, four years since they checked in around the same spot on my 'Best of 2011' chart. This album isn't quite as good as their self-titled debut, it's a bit faster and heavier rhythmically, but it's still very injoyable.

There are times when this album feels very techy. Thumping tribal Kenyan house music of sorts. Most of the vocals are heavily processed to give it a dub feel. Reverb and delay are applied liberally. If I have a complaint it's that the pacing of the song order is a little off. Some re-organization might have gone a ways to fixing that, but that doesn't take away from the quality of some serious jams.

I Made You, You Made Me


Changaa


Luo Land


EP #6
Foreign Fields
What I Kept In Hiding


These guys are really good, but they're also really boring. Kind of like the Mumford & Sons of indie folk but half the speed. It's like they only have one tempo, and one way to write songs. What they do, though, they do very well. Their sound is great, they're polished live, but man.. branch out a little gentlemen. Don't get me wrong. This EP is excellent, and the format suits them perfectly. I'd just like to see something different from some obviously talented individuals. 

I Have Your Weapons


In Hiding


Subtle Weight


Part 3 ahead, with some experimental sounds.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Best of 2015 Part 1

Holy it's Christmas Day. That means it's time to start my 6th annual 'Best of" list, 21 albums that grabbed my attention this year. I have to say it hasn't been the greatest year music-wise, for me anyway. I've heard varied opinions, as one does in the subjective arts business, but I felt that while there were a lot of 'interesting' albums, not many really grabbed hold of me like in years gone by. Just one of those years? Could be.

Only two repeat 'champions' find their way into the reckoning this year, and many of these artists were entirely new to me. That's a good thing, I suppose. In case you're wondering who made it in the past five years, you can check them out here:



                                   Best of 2011


                                                                                                                   Best of 2013


Actually I should add that this year could be described as 'year of the EP'. I had serious trouble trying to narrow it down to only seven, there are plenty of contenders that have missed out that on another day could easily have sneaked in. On the LP side, not so much. The top half of the table is pretty solid, the bottom a bit here and there.

Let's get stuck in, shall we?

#21
Sufjan Stevens
Carrie & Lowell


Let me preface this by saying that I'm not really a Sufjan Stevens fan. Not a great way to start an appraisal is it? He's flighty, often limited in scope, and just doesn't really grip me all the time. I really enjoyed his Illinois album, but otherwise found him very hit and miss.

This offering isn't a masterpiece. It's still whispy yet it has a certain weight to it, both lyrically and harmonically, that makes it stick out from other indie folk albums this year. It's sparse and droning, with just enough instrumentation in the background to keep its momentum creeping forward. For what it is, it's a solid effort from an unusual fellow.

Death With Dignity


Should Have Known Better


Carrie & Lowell


#20
Timecop 1983
Reflections


This one is unapologetically one dimensional 80's synth wave, and it's juicy. I guess the name might have given that away. Jordy Leenaerts is the man behind the brand, and he's created some serious throwback tunes. Nearly every track on this album sounds like it could have been a one hit wonder about 30 years ago. 

If you're not into epic cheesy synth ballads, don't even bother with this one. If you're like me and enjoy some dreamy synthesizer accompanied by a drum machine, dive right in. This won't make any best-of-the-decade lists, not even close. It's still a fun album, which just so happens to be good enough in a bit of an off year.

New Horizons


Lost Without You


My First Crush


#19
Humans
Noontide


This is a new band for me, who I actually discovered from a shirt that Shamos was wearing. He said I might like them, and hey, I do. Robbie Slade and Peter Ricq are from Vancouver, and they play with lots of buttons and dials and vocoders and such, it's pretty cool. Reminds me of a heavier Caribou, or a more conventional take on The Knife.

Like the others, this album isn't a grand slam for me, but it's getting better with each listen and there are some undeniably catchy beats that reach out amidst the sludgier sounds. 'Ennio' has a relatively mainstream sound, while 'Cold Soba' is glitchy and washed out. It makes for an intense hour of listening. I haven't delved too deeply into their older stuff, but based on this I've got some catching up to do.

Follow


All My


Tell Me


EP #7
Zero 7
EP3


My first EP selection has a terrible name. In case you haven't noticed it's a pet peeve of mine. Anyway we won't let that get in the way of the great tunes on it, four originals and one remix. Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker have put together a terrific little release with some great vocalists like José González and newcomer Danny Pratt, whose style is very similar to Sampha of SBTRKT fame. The opening track, '400 Blows', is one of my favorites of the year. I can't for the life of me understand how it doesn't have a video! 

Last Light


The Colour Of Spring


400 Blows


Tomorrow, part 2!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Journey - Don't Stop Believin'

Speaking of epic. The best live version out there.

Gowan - Moonlight Desires

More '80s epicness. This version is from '94.



Styx - Come Sail Away

Last Throwback Thursday of the year. Let's make it a good one. I've posted this before, but it was the studio version. This is a killer live performance from Dennis DeYoung.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi-Love

This album didn't make my best-of list, but it's worth checking out.

Silversun Pickups - Lazy Eye

Almost there! My 'Best of 2015' countdown starts on Friday. Just one more day after today! I hear these guys have a new album. Haven't checked it out yet. This is a goodie.