DAVID BOWIE – WHERE ARE WE NOW?
For Fans of: U2, Elbow, Leonard Cohen,
EVERYTHING EVERYTHING – KEMOSABE
For Fans of: Django Django, Bloc Party, Kenna, Franz Ferdinand, The Rapture, Alt-J,
Nothing sounded quite as cool in 2010 as Everything Everything’s My Kz Ur Bf. They seemed to take the dance-rock genre of the mid-naughties pushed forward by Franz Ferdinand and friends, and bring it to creative new heights. It was truly a welcomed sound, as I always believed this kind of music was too quickly dropped by bands and critics. Everything Everything now fight to keep music fresh and exciting in 2013 with their soon to be released album Arc. Kemosabe, a single from the upcoming album, is as frantic and grandiose as My Kz, but has a decidedly sweeter sound than its predecessor, and… well… far less violent. I may need to wait for the lyrics to figure out what the hell lead singer Jonathan Higgs is saying, all I know is it is a proper good-time track.
HAERTS – WINGS
For Fans of: Fleetwood Mac, All Saints (yes, All Saints), Grimes, Jessie Ware, Chairlift,
A great euphoric female pop song always takes me back to the eighties. I remember my parents driving down the highway, me in the backseat, daydreaming while seeming to float over bright green pastures and brilliant yellow canola fields. In the background, I always recall a endlessly joyful Fleetwood Mac song playing, weaving its way through a child’s imagined adventures. Of course, now that I am older, I have an innate fondness to the Everywheres and Seven Wonders that pass by my ears, which is why when the brilliant Mitten Mouth Music (an always reliable source of top notch music) posted Wings, I was instantly enamoured. The Brooklyn based german band bring a dopamine-injected summer day to mind with the airy synth, bouncy bass, and island-ready guitars. The vocals are truly reminiscent of Stevie Nicks, and bring her traditionally honest swoon to the table. It is a golden track to add to your iTunes library and wait until those long sunny days come back to us.
LOCAL NATIVES – HEAVY FEET
For Fans of: The National, Grizzly Bear,
I’m on a bloodbuzz. Yes, I am. I’m on a blood… buzz. When I heard Local Natives, creators of one of my favourite debuts (Gorilla Manor), had teamed up with Aaron Dessner, one of the masterminds behind my favourite band of the decade (The National), I was cautiously optimistic. When I heard Breakers, and realized Local Natives had tightened up their sound and gone for the grandeur and brilliance of High Violet highlights, I was excited. When I heard Heavy Feet today, and realized they had done it again, I was on a full fledged bloodbuzz (which I have always believed meant a state of ultimate excitement). On Heavy Feet, the drums are more urgent, the build is bigger, the guitar more affecting than your average Gorilla Manor track. Songs like Aiplanes and Sun Hands may have been great, and Who Knows Who Cares may have been absolutely genius, but the rest of the album suffered from overly loose structures that felt liked they dragged a bit. Dessner’s influence of more solid, structured tracks is a positive sign that new album Hummingbird may eclipse its predecessor. I guess I better lift my shirt up.
ELISA TOFFOLI – ANCORA QUI
For Fans of: Jeff Buckley, Antony & the Johnsons, Gypsy Kings slower songs,
While millions watch Django Unchained, the sounds of Rick Ross or Tupac/James Brown collaborations catch their ears. But what had me intrigued was the wonderfully alluring voice of Elisa Toffoli over Ennio Morricone’s softly plucked guitar. The simple combination of the two is completely intoxicating. I won’t pretend I have any clue as to what she is so passionately singing, except that the title means ‘still here’, and the word she longingly states over and over at the end of the song is ‘remember’ (in several different conjugations). But it doesn’t matter, the heart of the song is in her earnest and heartfelt delivery, and that is universal.
E. GRIZZLY – SHARK HUNTER QUINT
For Fans of: Lateef the Truthspeaker, Buck 65, MF Doom, Heems,
I’d like to welcome you to the Adventures of E. Grizzly, the entertaining website of one of the most raspy and rambunctious MCs out there. It is a mix of hilarious artwork (check out the painting) and youtube videos, but also live shows, songs, and lyrics from the gravelly-voiced, Miami-based rapper E. Grizzly (aka Eric). The highlight for me so far has been finding the indie-rock tinged track Shark Hunter Quint off his newest mixtape – The Nah Mixtape. As stated in Grizzly’s site, the album was produced by the drummer of the punk band 1994, and the influence made for a great marriage. Industrial drums and rock reverb get layered with whirling synth to create a My Bloody Valentine-esque wall of noise that sounds completely novel for a hip hop track. Grizzly’s weathered but energetic delivery adds sand to that storm as he belts out thoughtful and unique lyrics – “I’m about the new religion of free thinkin’, without the superstition”. And all the sounds blend together perfectly in the earworm of a chorus “I-I-I-I-I’m an American Guerrilla”. This is a stellar concoction of new ideas and solid rapping that has me saying, at least for today, IMVERYGUERRILLA.
TRIFONIC – NINTH WAVE
Painting Credit: Jeremy Geddes
For Fans of: Apparat, Clams Casino, Lukid, King Felix, Chill Wave,
In Celtic folklore, the world of the known and the world of the unknown are the divided by the ninth wave from the shore. Beyond that ninth wave, according to legend, are the islands of the Otherworld that are free from war and hardship, and carry within them the promise of eternal peace. This might just have been the feeling these San Franciscan brothers were shooting for.
Brian Trifon, best known for his soundtrack work on some of the most popular video games (Assassin’s Creed, Halo, Ghost Recon), paired up with his brother Laurence to form Trifonic back in 2005. Since then, they have enjoyed their share of critical acclaim and small screen recognition (even used on CSI), and have now dropped their new album Ninth Wave. And akin to the folklore they used as inspiration, the sounds are very much peaceful and…well…otherworldly.
In the title track, plucked strings are cut and looped, tweaked and sliced, and allowed to ebb and flow as natural as the tide. Echoing atmospherics hover overhead while a snapping percussion snakes its way through the song. The highlight drops at nearly two minutes when what sounds like a violin as seen by a funhouse mirror wobbles its way in, and an equally dizzying electric guitar strolls along side it. The effect is as calming as it is transportive.
Brian wrote to IMVERYAPE stating the song is more or less about how change and progress come in waves, and how this reflects the peaks and valleys of their own creative process. Whatever undulating pattern illustrates their method, I look forward to what new waves from Trifonic bring us.
MAJOR LAZER – GET FREE (FEAT. AMBER COFFMAN)
For Fans of: Dirty Projectors, Bob Marley, Jamaican Soul, Rihanna, Lauryn Hill,
Tis the season for sharing, and I have relied on all the blogs I follow to share the gems I missed in 2012. Although I am only ten dollars through my iTunes gift card, all ten of those tracks have been winners, including Major Lazer’s Get Free. I discovered this slow Reggae-inspired song on acityinthemidwest‘s great list ACITM’s Top Music Videos of 2012. I’ve always enjoyed the quality of these Chicagoan, brother-sister duo’s site, and I one hundred percent agree with their choices for best videos. Especially the day-in-the-life-of-your-average-Jamaican video for Get Free. The video is shown in slow-motion, which perfectly reflects Get Free‘s laid back feel. Music fans who may not have been able to find the right time and place for Major Lazer’s often abrasive wall of noise will appreciate the timid vibe on this one. Diplo and Switch give Moombahton a break, and give the boys and the girls in the dancehall a chance to slow dance.
Thanks acityinthemidwest, and long live the Best-Of list!
FRANK OCEAN – WISEMAN
For Fans of: R. Kelly, Weeknd, Marvin Gaye,
I am a big step behind the blogosphere on this one, so I won’t go into much detail about the history of the song. As most know, it is a song meant for Tarantino’s Django, but an appropriate scene wasn’t available for it so it ended up on the cutting room floor. However, it somehow still made it out to the public. That is a great thing, because much like Thinkin Bout You, Wiseman is a touching slow burner. Even better, the lyrics have matured since Channel Orange. Ocean levels the playing field by saying there are no good or bad men, no strong or weak, we are all just flesh and blood. We may have sins, but the killer in me is the killer in you. It is a true, but often ignored wisdom, and I haven’t heard it so sweetly expressed as this.