Best Music


Best 150 songs of 2012

I know this is a little late, but I can’t understand how all the blogsters can put out their end of year lists at the beginning of December. Best let it sink in for a bit I think. Anyway, enjoy.

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor — Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

Just as I was beginning to tire of the lack of innovation in the current instrumental post rock build, it’s pioneers GY!BE return after ten years with another clear album of the year contender. Every moment has been arranged to perfection, and one of the records two longer tracks (pushing 20mins) ‘We Drift Like Worried Fire’ may also be one of the best things ever to go through my ears. Take a listen below.

 

 

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New Music | 10 Amazing Recent Records

Here are 10 previously un-mentioned recent albums that are well and truly worth a listen. In no particular order:

Animal Collective – Centipede Hz

Duh. I’m not sure why I haven’t posted this sooner. While it’s more of a Strawberry Jam style release than a Feels or MPP as far as crowd pleasing catchiness goes; it still has a boisterous heart brimming with fresh ideas, conceived and delivered by the only four guys in the world who can properly get away with sounding like this. Whatever that means. Listen to it.

 

 

 

Tame Impala – Lonerism

Yeah it’s derivative, so wha? And what isn’t exactly? Who am I arguing with? I don’t know. This is flipping excellent. And be sure to check out the kick-ass remix of Elephant by the main man Todd  Rundgren.

 

 

 

Flying Lotus – Until The Quiet Comes

Easily on par with the greatness of his 2010 release Cosmogramma, and 2008′s Los Angeles; Until The Quite Comes is boiling over with FlyLo‘s fractal, fragmented electronic bliss. Seemingly made up of billions of little particle elements that swirl around in the stratosphere in some sort of contradictory chaotic-harmony.

And be sure to check out the troublingly beautiful accompanying short film by director Kahlil Joseph Below.

 

 

Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind

The outstanding new full length from US metalcore legends Converge, sits very much on the heavier end of the scale. The blisterring pace of the more hardcore moments blast you around in a haze of brutal chaos, which are frequently subdued and recovered by the more metal influenced melodic and heavy structural changes, which repeat and elongate into a patterned wall of fury, unmistakably trademarked spine-tingling Converge moments.

Check out the speedy, intricately cut video for album single Aimless Arrow Below. Directed by Max Moore.

 

 

 

Stars – The North

On this their sixth studio album, Canadian band Stars deliver more and more of their very memorable glittery pop songwriting. Less building on their sound, than extending their repertoire of engaging emotional beauty. And I’m not complaining. Go get it!

 

 

Dappled Cities – Lake Air

Another excellent Australian record. Packed with charm, gusto, and memorable hooks. Oh so many juicy juicy hooks. Let’s dance.

 

 

 

Of Montreal – Daughter of Cloud

This year’s second release  from the prolific Kevin Barnes led band Of Montreal. Although in this instance we have a collection of B-sides from the last few album sessions, the songs have been tracked and placed together with the same consideration as a polished full length album. While the ideas flow similarly to the last three OM releases, I feel more of a connection to many of these songs than I did with any on those. There are plenty of big ideas here if you’ve got the time.

 

 

 

David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant

Brassy, off kilter, Byrne signature yelp and warble; delivered back and fourth with the similarly structure bending yet angelic voice of Annie Clark. Full of the fun and earnestness of both personalities, swapping and swirling around the style of each. An enthralling listen from start to finish.

Check out the Martin de Thurah directed clip to first single ‘Who‘ below.

 

 

How To Dress Well – Total Loss

Total Loss has all of the introverted bedroom honesty and rough edged emotion of his first album ‘Love Remains’, which blew everyone away back in 2010. But this time around with the production quality it deserves, so we don’t get distracted by the clips and peaks left naked in that last release, and we can hear his sound in more of a finished and fully formed way. Soulful, subtle and raw. Slightly cringe-worthy twinkly R&B moments here and there, but these are more than made up for by the moments of completely devastating emotion. Four drippy winks out of five.

 

 

Matthew Dear – Beams

Appart from an obvious two or three stand-outs, Beams took me a little longer to properly engage with than 2010′s Black City. While maybe less immediate, the new record still carries all of those incomparable eccentricities and alternate universe sensations that he’s drawn out in the past. When given the right amount of time, there opens up a fresh little pocket within his strange imagination that you’re then frequently drawn back into. Give this one the time that it needs, and you’ll be well rewarded.

 

 

Recommended

 

Grizzly Bear — Shields

To listen and observe Grizzly Bear, could strike a similar comparison to the observation of a masterfully crafted piece of un-movably solid furniture. Carved from the oldest of Oaks — the kind that have seen the world grow around them. The songs grow slowly with restraint; spiralling and moving with tangles and knots beyond notice from the naked eye, but buried within are the ages of restraint and slow moving solace. There is an understanding of things beyond time, and distanced from the everyday speed of the human world as observed from the reflection of a computer screen. They’ve been carved; sanded; whittled and polished to a polite and angular surface, that reflects the taming of universal chaos, into a center-piece of humanised craft, that fades in and out of attention. All of the knots, and grains from years of growth are then visibly highlighted under a coat of protective varnish. The metaphor then stands up and spins on its hind legs, singing a mash-up of Happy Birthday and Jingle Bells as it loses control of its own direction. I’m sure you get the point. Perhaps.

Yet a another growth in sound and structural adventure from previous albums Yellow House and Veckatimest, and occasionally harking back to the raw and emotional sounds of their earliest work on Horn of plenty. Shields encapsulates the distinctly different sounds of each invaluable band member, and gives us a masterfully crafted French Oak dining table, which will be the envy of all of your friends.

Yet again, I’ve posted the single ‘Yet Again’ below.

Grizzly Bear -- Shields

 

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iamamiwhoami — Kin

In December 2009, a series of bazaar, very well produced teaser video snippets were released anonymously online; which soon began a flurry of speculation all over the music-blogger community over their source. The quality of the releases suggested a new music project by a possibly already established artist. Guesses to the origin were sparse, from Lady Gaga, to The Knife, to Trent Reznor. The next round of more fully formed music videos in 2010 unveiled her identity as Swedish singer-songwriter Jonna Lee, soon identifying the project under the moniker iamamiwhoami (I am am I who am I). The videos where thematically dense and imbued with coded messages and folk-lore symbolism.

On June 11 this year, iamamiwhoiami released the debut album Kin. In keeping with the audio-visual nature of the project, every track was released with its own accompanying music video, each thematically tying in with the next. The existence of this surrounding wondrous universe seems to give another dimension to the haunting electro-pop when solely listening to the audio. The strength of her song-writing however stands alone as something truly dense and mystifying, with a simplistic pop-driven heart.

Watch the videos for album highlights ’Sever’ and ‘Kill’ below. And check out every one of her amazing videos here.

 

 

 

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Dan Deacon — America

Dan Deacon deserves a crown of solid gold with lego jewels for this album of the year contender. Recorded in a home-built studio insulated with recycled blue jeans; America is his most graceful and building record to date. while the first half follows on from the beautifully playful electronic pop stylings of his previous album Bromst; the second half is a four-part opus entitled USA, in which he applies heavy doeses of epic, guaranteed to lift you into a higher state of consciousness. This is an incredible feat of compositional genius.

The video for single True Thrush below gives us a glimpse of the energetic fun and games he likes to incorporate into his very memorable live shows. I hope he returns to my home town someday soon.

America is out August 27/28 via Domino.


 

 

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Antony And The Johnsons — Cut The World

Antony has just released his new live album Cut The World, which includes a beautiful new song of the same name. Backed by the Danish National Chamber Orchestra, the familiar older songs are re-invigorated, and lifted into a powerful new realm. Re-counting some of my favorite Antony tracks — eg. Epilepsy is Dancing, and Swanlights — with renewed fervour. He presents a world so unique and devastatingly heart-felt, that you can’t help but be completely swept away. Check out the video for Cut The World below, directed by Nabil (Kanye West, Bon Iver) and starring Willem Dafoe.

 

 

Best 25 albums of 2012 so far…

We’ve frighteningly breached that mid year peak already. Some amazing releases, with still some very anticipated releases yet to come. Below is a round-up of my favorite 25 records released so far, and a very brief run-down on each. 

25. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

Swedish folk sisters create charming Fleet Foxes influenced harmonies. Best listened to on a Sunday afternoon, under a pile of Autumn leaves.

First Aid Kit – The Lion's Roar

 

24. Young Magic – Melt

Very catchy electronic pop, with lots of glittery overlaid vocals; haunting reverb-y synths; and a splash of tribal africana.

Young Magic – Melt

 

23. ∆ (alt-J) – An Awesome Wave

Fronted by Joe Newman’s unique vocal style, reminiscent of the bazaar and endearing eccentricities of fellow British band Wild Beastsalt-J create something unforgettably different within the alternative brit pop shell.

∆ (alt-J) – An Awesome Wave

 

22. Fight Bite – Fight Bite

Cocteau Twins reminiscent dream pop, that washes over you in a stream of pure cool. With the welcome addition of boobs. Best listened to in the middle of the night, deep within a forest adorned with fairy lights and psychedelic bats.

Fight Bite – Fight Bite

 

21. Man Without Country – Foe

Rhythmically driving electronic shoe gaze, with a taste of M83, a touch of dark ambience, and a sprinkling of genius.

Man Without Country – Foe

 

20. Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It

The devastatingly heartbreaking second full release from solo artist Mike Hadreas, feels reminiscent to the earnest, soft vocal croon of Antony Hegarty, but with his own unique emotionally driven style.

Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It 

 

19. Porcelain Raft – Strange Weekend

Definitely a grower of an album. This effortlessly cool collection of alt-pop songs seem to re-surface in your brain months after any fleeting first listen, and then take over for weeks on end.

Porcelain Raft – Strange Weekend

 

18. Grimes – Visions

Probably one of the most hyped artists of the year, Grimes has secured an enormous following and influence in artistic and fashion-designer circles. But her signature soft vocal and dirty electronic backing speak beyond the realms of cool.

Grimes – Visions

 

17. Shearwater – Animal Joy

A more disconnected group of songs in comparison to previous thematically conceptual albums such as Palo Santo, Rook, and The Golden Archipelago. Animal Joy seems to have however further refined the groups special brand of nature-driven pop-rock and produced their most memorable group of songs yet.

Shearwater – Animal Joy

 

16. Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror

Bang! Bang! Rock. Fire. Fuzz. Cheer. Guitar. Electricity. All the drive of their first record, plus an extra kick in the biscuits.

Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror

 

15. Bear In Heaven – I Love You It’s Cool

Seems to lack some of the overall driving darkness of previous album Beast Rest Forth Mouth, But in place they give us loads of sexy. Still carries all of their synth-y psychedelic interludes, with that stadium rock drum kit backing, and some well carried dreamy lyrics to boot.

Bear In Heaven – I Love You It's Cool

 

14. Clark – Iradelphic

This is some incredibly densely layered electronic music. Grounded in natural samples of strings and percussion, coupled with some very vintage sounding synths and digital whirring. It weaves in and out of your brain through your ears and gives you a Pink Floyd mixed with Four-Tet flavoured lemon tart trip in your ear-mouth.

Clark – Iradelphic

 

13. Purity Ring – Shrines

Officially released on July 24, but has somehow already made this list. That is because I’ve had the great fortune to come across an internet time travel machine which has allowed me to zoom several weeks into the future and enjoy the heck out of every track on this dreamy beat driven electro-pop record, which sounds more now than it did two weeks ago. Very contemporary production, with some creepy-crawly, grotesque but extremely cute and softly delivered lyrics.

Purity Ring – Shrines

 

12. Here We Go Magic – A Different Ship

Here We Go Magic return with yet another homely folk-rock record. With its quaint, often simplistic, poignant lyrics, which slip in and out of perfectly intentional naiveté. The songs of Luke Temple continue to open up into a state of repetitive tumbling bliss, sometimes more reminiscent of electronic musician The Field than their more likely counterparts Grizzly Bear.

Here We Go Magic – A Different Ship

 

11. Lower Dens – Nootropics

Carrying moments sometimes reminiscent of something you might hear on the more blissful moments of an Air record, with a vocal that carry’s like Wild Beasts, and even the occasional reminder of Radiohead. Lower Dens have crafted a beautiful dream pop/rock record full of open air, day dreams, Dear Hunter-esk vintage guitar ramblings, that softly roll around and calm you the heck down.

Lower Dens – Nootropics

 

10. Daniel Rossen – Silent Hour / Golden Mile

On this solo E-P, the Grizzly Bear guitarist and vocalist shows us exactly how important his part is to the GB sound that we’ve come to know. His signature sound and song-writing are exemplified here, and while the anticipation thickens for the new GB record, you come away from this satisfied with a group of songs just as perfectly executed.

Daniel Rossen – Silent Hour / Golden Mile

 

9. Chromatics – Kill For Love

Opening with a perfectly fitting cover of Neil Young’s — Hey Hey, My My, Re-titled Into the Black, you might begin to feel comfortable that you’re settling into a rather relaxed, guitar driven pop-rock record with a bit of a dream-pop twinge. The next few songs to follow further reinvigorate this notion, however, as you progress deeper into the depths of this diverse yet surprisingly cohesive album, this is soon swallowed by clusters of dark electro ambience, and thumping digital kicks. These elements of vintage guitar and electronic atmospherics move in and out in tandem to create something very unique, and very beautiful.

Chromatics – Kill For Love

 

8. Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan

A very late addition to this list, but already perhaps one of the most worthy. Seemingly just as sporadic and eccentric as their last gem of a record, although somehow easier on the ears. They’ve taken their brand of David Byrne influenced afro-pop song writing and delivery, and perfected it ten fold.

Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan

 

7. Chairlift – Something

This is pop as it should be; Every track has its own story and character. It has the perfect mixture of playfulness; heart felt delivery; and snappy song writing, all with a memorable polish. Mostly up-beat and electronically driven, chairlift echo the kitsch 80′s dance pop, with a modern day production boost. Catchy as all hell.

Chairlift – Something

 

6. Susanne Sundfør – The Silicone Veil

This is a beautiful album. With high souring, powerful vocals, the Norwegian singer-songwriter hauntingly grasps the frequent shift in and out of major and minor, in a manner that can only be summoned by the Scandinavian atmosphere. Although the closest comparison would be the Canadian electronic group Austra, the dark and brooding string-laden electronic music on The Silicone Veil projects with a heightened authenticity.

Susanne Sundfør – The Silicone Veil

 

5. Sebastien Tellier – My God is Blue

The cheeky Frenchman returns, playing down the sexuality — a tiny bit — and focussing more on the colour blue, which is a pretty sexy colour anyway in my opinion. Still providing all the uber-cool disco suave, with a touch more epic expanse. I love this guy.

Sebastien Tellier – My God is Blue

 

4. Frankie Rose – Interstellar 

A beautiful, expansive synth-pop record. Warm layered vocals that pull you through a deep ocean of glittering lights, then lift you through the clouds and let you go while your wings unfurl across the ‘wide open sky’. Wowzers.

Frankie Rose – Interstellar

 

3. Hot Chip – In Our Heads

A more serious Hot Chip album, which more than provides with its masterful control over electronic dance melody, and poignant tongue-in-cheek lyricism.

Hot Chip – In Our Heads

 

2. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…

In her long awaited return, Fiona Apple has put together a flawless collection of heartfelt stories, poetically strung together with her soulful ballsy bombast. Play this anytime, anywhere, all the time.

Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel...

 

1. Beach House – Bloom

I have a special place in my heart for Victoria Legrand’s soft, husky call. I can’t see how this band could ever improve. This is a masterpiece. I get kind of emotional just thinking about it (don’t hurl). Reverb-y dream-pop with such control over melody and structure, that it lifts you up and melts you back down at perfect intervals.

Beach House – Bloom

 

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