Friday, December 31, 2010

Best of 2010 Part 7

Well we made it. I started this thing on January 21st of this year, so we're not quite a year old yet, but close enough. Thanks to all of you who came and checked out the blog, and pretended to read some of my ramblings. The new year will see some more changes to the blog. It will become more than just a music blog, as I'll be posting more stuff like crazy news links, funny videos, goofy pictures and such, but the music will remain. The new website is still in the works, but it's not quite ready yet, so maybe by the end of this month it will be ready to go. In the meantime, enjoy your new year's festivities, whatever they may be, and I'll see ya tomorrow. Afternoon. Late afternoon.

And my top three albums of the year are...

#3
Kings Go Forth
The Outsiders Are Back


In July I posted about Milwaukee's Kings Go Forth. Since then I've had them on regular rotation on my playlist. With the sort of funk-soul revival that's going on, there has to be someone leading the charge, setting the standard. These guys are so perfectly named it's uncanny. They are the new Kings of the genre, and they are taking us forward to a new musical era.

These guys aren't about making flashy music videos, or goofy merchandise, or anything else, they're all about the funk. From the the first note to the last, this album is absolutely fantastic. The thing is, these guys aren't young. Where have they been for the last fifteen years? Doesn't matter, the cat is out of the bag. For righteous funk-soul extravaganza on a stick, look no further. Their time is now. Hail to the Kings, baby.

One Day


High On Your Love


I Don't Love You No More


#2
Grum
Heartbeats



I was wrong about these guys. First, I got the name wrong. It's just Grum. Second, I thought it was more than just Graeme Shepherd. Nope, just him. Then after hearing a couple singles that this might just be a couple fun tracks on a mediocre album. Boy was I wrong there. I don't care what anyone else says. This is 80's electro-discopop, only it's awesome. Really awesome. I've listened to this album countless times since I got it and it's still amazing.

Take Chromeo, add a dash of Daft Punk, a pinch of David Bowie, and just a hint of Mylo for flavour, shake vigorously and you have Grum. It's true, this album is goofy and pretentious but it's just so much damn fun. Remember those nights when you went out and partied like an animal and just didn't give a damn? Put it on a record and this is what you get. One day this will be considered a classic. It already is in my books. Check out my September post for the two singles, and then blast these tracks.

Heartbeats


LA Lights


Turn It Up


#1
The Roots
How I Got Over


The Roots! Congrats guys, you are my favourite album of the year. These guys brought us their finest album in a decade with this new release. It brings elements of soul and funk to their raw classic hip hop sound. For me it captured the vibe of the year perfectly. A rock solid beat but a hint of frustration in the lyrics, but driven with sense of purposeful inevitability.

Social consciousness is not something everyone is born with. Some people develop it, some people don't, for whatever reason. For those with it, it's a struggle to make other people wake up and take notice. It's not about trying to change the world on a global scale, it's about trying to show those people standing right next to you that the world works just great when we all work together. Let this album shine it's light on you. Dear God. Right on, right on.

Doin' It Again


Now Or Never


The Fire


BONUS BEATS!

Deadmau5 - Community Nap


Rock over Fredericton, roll on Toronto.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best of 2010 Part 6

In a few short hours I'll be done with Moncton and continue my east coast tour to my final destination, sunny Freddy Beach. You can catch me at the Phoenix tonight, complete with some kind of new "t-shirt". There might be a couple new songs in there too. I recommend stopping in to say hello, there's no cover tonight and you won't see me again until 2011. Sounds scary, but that's really only a week. Meh, come say hello anyway.

We're nearly there. Today we have three awesome must-have albums, which means tomorrow will be even better. I like these kinds of lists. I should do more. Just a little more condensed next time. This has been a bit of an effort. No more chatter, let's get back at 'er.

#6
Shad
TSOL


Comin' atcha now straight from London, Ontario (another one?) is Shadrach Kabango. If that isn't a name that says "destined for greatness" all over it, I don't know what is. Shad was pretty good before. He's now proved once and for all that he's pretty much awesome. Forget Kanye, this is the album that he should have made. There's no darkness here, only light.

You want tight lyrics, you got it. You want tight production, you got it. You want funk, you got it. You want soul, you got it. It's hard to find faults on this album. This should almost be number one. I guess the difference is the ones that beat this are all artists at their peak. You get the feeling that Shad isn't done by a damn sight just yet. Just listen to this, and listen to this:

Yaa I Get It


Rose Garden


Keep Shining


#5
Massive Attack
Heligoland


I'm a little biased with this pick. No wait, this is all biased. It's my list, if you don't like it, get stuffed. Massive Attack, comprised of Robert Del Naja and Grant Marshall, tore up the script in 1998, and have done it again in 2010. When this came out I knew it would be a contender for album of the year, and at first I had it as my number one, but if I'm honest the four ahead of it got more playtime, so five is where it will be.

This album is not for everyone. It is overtly dark, brooding, menacing, and intimately powerful and moving. It also produced my favourite post of the year, which featured my favourite song and video of the year, "Paradise Circus". These guys have a gift for making simple productions that seem to have infinite depth. Turn off the lights, put on your headphones, and open your mind to this album and it will have you reaching for corners and things to hold on to like no other album this year.

Psyche


Splitting The Atom


Pray For Rain


#4
Cee-Lo Green
The Lady Killer


You had to know this was coming at some point. I'm a big Cee-Lo fan, and as soon as THAT single came out, it was clear this album was going to be special. For those who haven't heard his earlier stuff, I recommend checking it out. He's really good. The quality of this album was not a surprise. Given how much awesome stuff he's put out with Gnarls Barkley recently I have a hard time believing it was a surprise to anyone else either.

Just when we wanted more soul in the world, just when we needed more funk, Cee-Lo stormed out of the box and jammed it right down our collective throats. This album is the pinnacle of his career so far, there's no question. His distinct voice coupled with a soaring orchestral sound that harkens back to the best of Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, and Sam Cooke. And he did with a lyrical zeal that everyone can relate to, and he made you want to jump up and down and sing it as loud as you could. Well now's your time. Take a minute, think back to all the crappy things that happened to in 2010, think how 2011 will be so much better and give 'er all you've got. Fuck you!

Bright Lights, Bigger City


I Want You


Old Fashioned


BONUS BEATS!

Duck Sauce - Barbra Streisand [Pimpsoul & DJP Remix]


Tomorrow's the big day... numero uno awaits!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best of 2010 Part 5

Off to Moncton soon as I'm done this, then back to Freddy Beach Thursday. Good times had by all, but time to get back to work. Got a lot done in 2010, but there's waaay more to come in 2011. Probably gonna have to drink more coffee. A lot more coffee.

On to Part 5... and into the top 10!

#9
Pretty Lights
Making Up A Changing Mind


Derek Smith is from Colorado. When he does a show, he calls himself Pretty Lights. Derek makes amazing music. So amazing that I'd never even heard of the guy until like six weeks ago, and now he's changed the way I look at the future of production. He's that good. Everyone I've since exposed him to has thought almost the same thing. "Whoa..."

This is the first of three EP's he released this year, and for my money it's the best. They're all awesome though, and the most awesome thing is... you can get them all absolutely free on his website. What? Free? Who does this guy think he is, Radiohead? Sure, you can make a donation. If you like what you hear and you can afford it, I encourage you to. If you can't or don't want to though, you can still get his stuff. All of it. This guy wins my musical inspiration of the year award by a country-style nautical mile.

Future Blind


Still Rockin'


I Can See It In Your Face


#8
The Black Keys
Brothers



The Black Keys are bringin' back the blues. The dirty, dirty blues. Sure, they sound like a rock band, a bit like the White Stripes, but deep down they're all about the blues. The dirty, dirty blues. There's only two of them. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney. They've been around a little while, but they're relatively young and this is definitely their best work to date.

You've all heard Frank the Funkasaurus Rex sing "Tighten Up", and you were probably impressed. I can tell you with a considerable degree of certainty that the rest of the album is just as good. Could maybe do with a little more Frank though. This album is probably best heard on vinyl in your dirty, dirty bedroom. It'll make you laugh, it'll make you cry. It'll make you wonder why. Why? You've forgotten already have you? It's all about the blues. The dirty, dirty blues.

Everlasting Light


Howlin' For You


The Only One


#7
Caribou
Swim


Daniel Snaith is a brilliant producer who goes by the moniker Caribou. Mr. Snaith was born in London, Ontario, but now resides in London, England. Coincidence? Probably. He won the 2008 Polaris Prize, probably the most prestigious award in contemporary Canadian music, for his album "Andorra". This time around he was a finalist, but didn't win. Odd, because I think this album is noticeably better.

I posted the two singles from the album back in August, but there is so much depth in this album in only nine tracks that it's really something you have to play start to finish. It's almost like an electronic opera. Snaith isn't a particularly talented singer, and I'm not sure he's really figured out how to translate his music in the live arena to great effect just yet, but he's a brilliant orchestrator and his sound is very unique. He's another who's best is yet to come.

Hannibal


Kaili


Leave House


BONUS BEATS!

Hot Pink Delorean - Bee Eff Eff [Lazy Rich Remix]


Woooo electro madness. Off to Moncton, Part 6 tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Best of 2010 Part 4

Last night I watched another movie, this time it was Kick-Ass. You might have heard of it, or maybe not. I hadn't really until a few weeks ago, and I really didn't have any idea what to expect. It's a Canadian film directed by Matthew Vaughn, who also did Layer Cake, and I'm happy to report that this movie did indeed kick ass. I highly recommend checking it out. Action galore, lots of funnies, and a pretty cool story line. Definitely not a movie for kids. Believe me, the trailer does not do this justice. If you've got two hours of spare time, this is a good option.

Back to the tunes, we're pushing on past halfway now, inching closer and closer to the big guns...

#12
Rox
Memoirs


We start off today with British singer Roxanne Tataei, or Rox for short. I posted her single "My Baby Left Me" back in March, and I have to admit that at the time it sounded like it had lots of one hit wonder potential scribbled all over it. Thankfully I was dead wrong. This girl is an outstanding talent who writes her own songs and perform them well in front of lots of people.

She kinda sounds a bit like Christina Aguilera singing Lauryn Hill songs. It's very soft on the ears. She mixes in some upbeat pop and a little reggae vibe, but at it's core this is very much a classic soul album. A bit like Amy Winehouse, minus the whining and the petty attitude. Actually I like this album a lot more. If she can keep her songwriting on the edge, this girl is going places.

I Don't Believe


Precious Moments


No Going Back


#11
Jónsi
Go


This one was a bit predictable. I posted the first single way back in February, and even before the album came out I knew this would be there or thereabouts on most critics' "best of" lists. On this one I have to agree. Jón Birgisson, known simply as Jónsi, is the lead singer of Sigur Rós, a magnificent Icelandic group who you should really get into. This is his solo album, and while it certainly has that ethereal feel to it, it combines far more pop elements into it than anything he had done with the band.

This is not the type of stuff you'll hear me playing at the bar, and you won't find it on television. It's real thinking music. The kind of music you put on and pay attention to, it's not for background purposes unless you want it to help you dream. From all accounts the live show was something to behold, and I believe it. There's so much emotion in every song that it just seems like something you'd need to take in viscerally and not just through your ears. This might be a good place to start though.

Hengilás


Boy Lilikoi


Tornado


#10
Jamiroquai
Rock Dust Light Star


A lot of people think that Jamiroquai is just one person. In actuality they're a band fronted by Jason Cheetham, aka Jay Kay. They've been around for a while now, almost 20 years in fact, but they're still bringing the funk like nobody's business. I have a feeling these guys would be just about the coolest house party band that money could buy.

The newest album, from a critical standpoint, might not be as good as some of the previous albums on the list, but it gets bonus marks for being funky as hell and a lot of fun to listen to. For me it's their best album since 1999's "Synkronized". I posted a remix of the first single a while back, but you should probably hear the original mix because it's awesome. Now push play and dance.

White Knuckle Ride


That's Not The Funk I Want


Smoke And Mirrors


BONUS BEATS!

Guti & Dubshape - Every Cow Has A Bird


Love that track. Part 5 tomorrow.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Best of 2010 Part 3

I saw TRON: Legacy last night and I have to say that Rotten Tomatoes, for once, got it wrong. Well, they're not always right, but they're usually better than most one-off sites. IMDB used to be pretty reliable too, but lately I've seen some pretty dire rankings. I mean jeez, Inception was a good-ish movie, but number six of all time? Let's get real here. These are, of course, merely reflections of several votes and critics, but still. You'd think that in the end the good reviewers would balance out the rubbish ones. A ying-and-yang good-vs-evil kind of thing right?

Back to the point. I thought TRON was pretty good. Sure, the story was lacking, just like Avatar, but the acting was decent enough, the visuals were spectacular, and the music! Step aside John Williams, there are two new score sheriffs in town, and they have sweet robot helmets. With Jonny Greenwood and Trent Reznor also doing film scores recently, are we beginning to see something of a crossover trend here?

Check it out, it's worth seeing on the big screen. The IMAX 3D was awesome again. I'm not a fan of the 3D in general, but for certain films it works brilliantly. Just don't go buying one of those stupid televisions just yet.

Right, now where were we... ah yes, here we go...

#15
Michael Cassette
Temporarity


Oddly enough, I actually came across this album thanks to a post by Deadmau5 in November, and what a find! Ironically Joel's album didn't make this list, but this great album by Finnish duo Erkka Lempiäinen and Matti Heininen did. They go by the pseudonym Michael Cassette, all sneaky like, but don't be fooled! This is the work of two similarly inspired artists just beginning to show the world their wares.

Drawing largely from '80s synth pop, and surely Lifelike and Giorgio Moroder, they melt into your mind with dreamy moog riffs and uplifting themes. "Ghost In The Machine" is the single that grabbed my attention, and the album hooked me in. There's a cover of Jan Hammer's "Crockett's Theme" of Miami Vice fame as well that isn't as good as the original, but is still pretty unique. It's an album that probably isn't for everyone, but I give it two thumbs up.

Kilimanjaro


Magenta Sunrise


Nevermore


#14
Coheed & Cambria
Year Of The Black Rainbow


Those who know me probably know that Coheed & Cambria are one of my favourite bands. They always rock the house, and this album is no exception. That said, I personally feel it's their weakest album to date, but it still easily makes it into my best of list. These guys are always kind of hit and miss with people, as Claudio has a distinct voice that takes some getting used to. Give it some time, though, and you'll find that these guys are not your run-of-the-mill punk metal band.

My complaints from this album stem mostly from what I feel is overproduction on some songs. If they stripped out some of electronic noise and replaced some of the drum machines with live drums I think it would sound better, but it's still pretty fantastic. "Here We Are Juggernaut" is an amazing song that I posted in acoustic style here. "World Of Lines" is another, and then there's... well just scroll down a little! Simply an awesome band who I can't say enough good things about.

The Broken


Far


Pearl Of The Stars


#13
Janelle Monáe
The ArchAndroid


Janelle Monáe is one of the finds of the year. What I love about her is that even though she's on a major label she can actually sing and has real talent. Almost as soon as the album came out it was talked about as one of the best of the year, and for good reason. It's just filled with great vibes and oozes energy.

Look beyond "Tightrope", easily one of the songs of the year, and there are more than enough great songs on here to justify putting this one on repeat. There's something for everyone on here, whether you're into chilled out grooves, dancy beats, and flat out funk. Her varied style and tight production reminds me a lot of K-Os, which is definitely a good thing. Her music also carries a message, best embodied in the first track below. You'll see some great stuff from this one in the future, you can bet on that.

Cold War


Dance Or Die


Neon Valley Street


BONUS BEATS!

Ante Perry vs Tube & Berger - Ever Never


Part 4 comin' atcha tomorrow.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Best of 2010 Part 2

I made a mistake yesterday after posting part 1. I went to the Pitchfork site to see what their top 50 albums of the year were. It's always been about the independent music movement there, but I have to say what I heard was beyond what I had anticipated. Maybe it's just me, but I just don't understand their concept of good music. There were a few there that I agreed with, but most of it was decidedly average, and some even so bad that it's almost unlistenable. Seriously. That bad. I don't get it.

Do people really listen to that stuff? I mean, I have some strange tastes and I post some weird tunes sometimes, but this "indie" thing just all sounds the same to me. My brain just can't seem to comprehend why in the world anyone would want to listen to dried-out lo-fi static-charged flighty dribble. I like guts in my music, substance, good production and as much funk as possible.

I remember thinking about this years ago, thinking about where music was heading. I remember thinking how different the music I liked was from the music my parents liked. I wondered how weird some of my generation was. What would music sound like in twenty years? How weird would people be? I feel that so-called indie rock, certainly that represented on the Pitchfork chart, and dubstep are exactly what I was thinking of. I like to think that I'm flexible, that I'm open-minded and that I can see the beauty and attraction in most forms of art and music, but I just can't get into that stuff, and don't think I ever will.

I digress. On to the good. Here's part 2 of 7.

#18
Booka Shade
More!


A while back I posted "Teenage Spaceman", the first single off Booka Shade's new album. Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier are another DJ/producer duo from Germany who continue to write new rules in the electronic genre. Their productions really are a thing of beauty. Rarely overly complex, they just seem to blend simple soft synth sounds really nicely together, creating a smooth tapestry of sound that is almost unrivaled in the house genre.

Producing complete albums is almost old fashioned nowadays in the electronic world, but Booka Shade continues to put out complete albums of awesome music. This latest offering features tracks that keep that awesome vibe going, but still have a fresh sound to them. Whether it's the progressive grooves of "Teenage Spaceman", or the simplistic minimal funk of "The Door", it just keeps you moving forwards through their moments of musical brilliance. Can't wait to hear their next effort.

Regenerate


Donut (Interpretation)


The Door


#17
Gorillaz
Plastic Beach


I almost didn't include the new Gorillaz album on my chart. Almost. Then I gave my head a shake and here we are. When I posted "Stylo" I remember thinking how awesome it was that there was some fresh new tunes to get me through the summer. I've always been a fan of Damon Albarn's so-called side project, which has turned out to be more like a main project. I'm thankful for that, too, because he makes way cooler music with these guys than he did with Blur.

I don't think this album is front-to-back awesome, but it's really good and there are more than enough great tracks on it to make its acquisition a sensible decision. This album, more than their previous efforts, blended so many great styles together. Ambient, soul, hip hop, and what can only be described as synth funk all find a home here, and do it seamlessly. This, to me, is what the indie movement is supposed to sound like. No crappy white noise in the background, just nice, smooth, funky production to go with great vocals. I mean common. Snoop Dogg is featured on one track, what more do you need?

The World Of The Plastic Beach


Empire Ants


Broken


#16
Deftones
Diamond Eyes


Welcome back Deftones. After some decidedly average albums since the sonic juggernaut that was their 2000 release "White Pony", Chino and the boys returned with a vengeance with arguably the best rock album of the year. It just goes to show that you can never count out serious talent. "Rocket Skates" came out at the end of February and the second single "Diamond Eyes" shortly afterwards, and boy was it exciting to hear them back to form.

At their best, there are few bands that can match the sheer velocity of sound that throttles you backwards. It's almost like getting punched in the face, and liking it. It's what Fight Club would sound like if it were made into music. If there's a complaint to be made it's that they've been consistently inconsistent in the quality of their live performances, but when it comes to making seriously kick-ass studio cuts of pulsing edge-of-your-seat type hard rock, these dudes are the bee's knees.

You've Seen The Butcher


Sextape


Royal


BONUS BEATS!

EDX - Hoover


I'm already reconsidering my rankings. Meh. Part 3 tomorrow.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Best of 2010 Part 1

Well here we are at the end of the year, and after more than 300 posts and somewhere close to 400 different songs posted, it's time for me to reveal my top 21 albums of the year. Originally this was going to be a top 7 list, but upon reflection there were simply too many really good albums this year. Keep in mind that although I've ranked them numerically, I could easily change my mind on any given day. For the sake of the next week, however, we'll go with these. Also realise that these aren't necessarily the best albums of the year, just the ones that I liked the most. There are lots out there that I haven't even heard yet that I'm sure will be even better than the ones already here, but them's the breaks.

There were also lots that other people really loved that I didn't really get into that much. Broken Bells, for instance, was good, but not great for me. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs was amazing, but it was just a four track EP, so I couldn't really qualify it. Eminem was decent, but I didn''t really like the Arcade Fire at all. Chromeo came close, but didn't quite make it in the end, which says something because I'm a big fan of those guys.

Kanye West scored a perfect 10 score from Pitchfork, but I have to admit that I don't really dig the album. Not that I was a huge Kanye fan to begin with, but I do enjoy some of his earlier stuff. This new one, however, just doesn't do it for me. I try not to put too much stock into lyrics and I felt the production was poor. Meh. Maybe it's just me.

So here's my list. To use my absolute least favourite quote of 2010: it is what it is. ;)

#21
Shit Robot
From The Cradle To The Rave


Shit Robot, real name Marcus Lambkin from DFA, has been around for a long time and has produced some awesome remixes, and even some great original works, but has never really ventured into the full-on production scene until now. This was a highly anticipated album among fans of the electronic album and, while it didn't quite rip the door down, it was an excellent album with some really cool sounding beats and featured lots of other great artists on vocals.

Previously released tracks like "Simple Things (Work It Out)" and "Triumph" (see below) were included, but tightened up a little here and there to go with seven other groovy tracks spanning exactly one hour in total length. Visions of early Chemical Brothers and the Flaming Lips are conjured, but Lambkin stays true to his heavy synth and arpeggiator roots in his debut LP. This isn't a rocking out album, it's for grooving through the night skies with some trippy beats to light the way.

Take 'Em Up


Grim Receiver


Triumph


#20
Bag Raiders
Bag Raiders



Bag Raiders are the Australian DJ duo Chris Stracey and Jack Glass. These guys have been around for a relatively short amount of time, and first came to my attention with the track "Fun Punch", that I featured in my post a month ago. This album also features "Shooting Stars" which is in that post. They combine a nu-disco synth sound with some really funky beats and have increasingly used vocals which feature fairly prominently on this album.

Daft Punk
and Mylo are certainly influences and of course '80s synth pop, which seems to be experiencing somewhat of a revival these days. I'm loving it and you can be sure this won't be the only album to feature that sound on this list. This album has a great party funk feel to it and any time you combine partying and funk you have a winner. Give this album a shot, I bet you won't regret it. Let's start with their brand new video that came out about four days ago.

Sunlight


Snake Charmer


Gone Away


#19
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
I Learned The Hard Way



I first posted about Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings in October, when I first heard about them. Since then I've had a chance to listen to a couple albums and I have delightfully discovered that they are a first class modern soul revival group. Think Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Dusty Springfield. Sharon Jones maybe isn't quite in that esteemed group just yet, but she's pretty darn good and her band is awesome.

This is some seriously great evening groovin' tunes, maybe at a dinner party or just chillin' with the homies. Some of the sounds are so slick I half expect to hear them on a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack in the near future. Aside from the previously posted "If You Call", here are three choice tracks to help show you what's what.

I'll Still Be True


Window Shopping


Better Things


BONUS BEATS!

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - That One


Tomorrow, part 2.