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.

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.


Sleep Sound

Loud Places

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

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



EP #5

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.




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.

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


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


Owiny Sigoma Band

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


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?

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

Timecop 1983

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


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.


All My

Tell Me

EP #7
Zero 7

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.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Cancel - Summer Tape

It was cold out today. Hurry summer, come back. We miss you. 

Sandpeople - Roll Call

Went and saw Star Wars tonight. It was good. Not great, certainly has its story limitations, but I won't spoil them for ya. Check it out yourself, but first check this.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Charles Bradley - Changes

Black Sabbath cover? In soul? I'll take one please.

Erlend Øye - Garota

I'm not sure I gave this album enough credit last year. Defo worth a few listens.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Periphery - Stranger Things

Over 30 straight days I've had this updated now. Let's shoot for a new record. I don't actually know what the record is, so I'll have to go back and take a look. Amazingly we're very quickly approaching the end of the year, which of course means we're close to my 'Best of 2015' list. Exciting and scary at the same time, because I've still got a lot of listening to do and then I've got to sort out my rankings, which are very, very loose at the moment. Will I make it in time? Stranger things have happened.

Animals As Leaders - Physical Education

Metal Monday. It's happening. Let's be progressive today.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Dank All-Stars - Rental Love

This is a great cover of Lake Street Dive.

Mantler - I've Been Destroyed

Well we had our little disco party yesterday, so let's cool it down today. Remember this dude? He now goes by Marker Starling. Personally like Mantler better.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Roy Davis Jr. - Boiler Room London

One song isn't enough. We need an hour of soulful funky house beats to get us ready to boogie. As it happens, I have just the thing.

Phil Fuldner - Get Down

It's Saturday. We need big-ass beats.

Friday, December 11, 2015

U.S. Girls - Window Shades

Strangely, this sounds more like it.

Wild Belle - Giving Up On You

Well this doesn't sound much like their older stuff. Not sure what to think.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Yukon Blonde - I Wanna Be Your Man

More like Kelowna Brunette.

Coheed & Cambria - Here To Mars

I have no idea how this didn't come to my head two days ago. Embarrassing. Anyway, am I the only one who thinks that lyric videos have been done to death? This video would actually be pretty cool without the damn letters flying across the screen.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tears For Fears - Everybody Wants To Rule The World

Something more uplifting. One of my all-time favorite songs.

The whole performance is brilliant.

Nils Frahm - Re

Here's some spacey piano to help you think about that last video.

Why We Should Go To Mars

This. A thousand times this. Tell 'em what's what Dr. Zubrin.

Monday, December 7, 2015

KEN Mode - Blessed

Proper. Angry. Loud. Hardcore. Metal.

Deftones - Digital Bath

It's Monday... right? Yup, confirmed. It's Monday. Let's do metal. Surprised I haven't posted anything by these cats in ages, but then the new album isn't coming until early 2016. Really looking forward to it. This is one of my favs.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Incubus - Absolution Calling

To be honest I complete forgot that there was a new(ish) EP out. Oops.

The Icarus Line - El Sereno

So I was trying to figure out why the YouTube videos didn't have the player controls anymore in my embeds. Turns out I've been putting in the wrong code since August. Oops. I went back and fixed it. What a dummy. I think the blog could use a facelift. I'll start thinking about that. Maybe it'll get one for Christmas. I like this video. Cool concept.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015

Stone Temple Pilots - Interstate Love Song

This one too. Such a great tune.

Velvet Revolver - Fall To Pieces

Scott Weiland is gone. It's not a surprise, was just a matter of time. Still sad. One of my favorite performers in the grunge days. Let's sing him out.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Postmodern Jukebox - Viva La Vida

By Jove, Scott Bradlee and Puddles have done it again. I much prefer this to the original.

Tom Waits - All The World Is Green

Back again. A bit (a lot) earlier today. I feel we should do some more relaxing before the weekend arrives, because that looks like it could be hectic. No reason really, but it's December which invariably means mayhem 24/7. I'm looking forward to March.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Robert T - Cirrus

Running a little late today. Here's a really cool live performance on a whole whack of funky blip and bloop machines. Throw on your headphones and give it a whirl.