A friend of mine posted a video on facebook a couple weeks ago. It’s for a song called ‘Work’ by up and coming hip-hop artist Iggy Azalea (see video below). Sure I could be accused of hopping on the bandwagon, as some young know-it-alls might say, but Iggy Azalea really seems like she has everything going for her at the moment. Her debut album, The New Classic, is set to drop in June. The two songs released already, ‘Work’ and ‘Bounce’, are two slices of club-friendly electronic heavy hip-hop.
Oh wait, you’re not familiar with Iggy? Well, hell, that’s ok, I wasn’t either until a couple weeks ago. She’s an Australian rapper who gained popularity through the new celebrity maker, YouTube. Back in 2011 she released a couple videos that went viral, one for the track ’Pu$$y’ and one in November 2011 for ‘My World’. Both tracks were featured on her first mixtape Ignorant Art. An official EP entitled Glory was released in May 2012 featuring guest appearances from T.I., B.o.B. and Pusha T. Her second mixtape produced by Diplo and FKi, Trap Gold, followed in late 2012 (available freely on her website). Besides being a hip-hop artist she’s also a model and is “The new face for Levi Jeans”.
Fast forward to 2013, as the release of her debut album approaches she released the afforementioned first single, ‘Work’ in March followed by ‘Bounce’ last week, with the video premiering today. The new video is direted by BRTHR and finds Azalea in India, extremely happy doing some Bollywood dancing and riding an elephant. Check it out:
If you like Iggy, why not follow her on Twitter, where she updates constantly (42000+ tweets) or on Facebook for song, album and mixtape updates.
Last day of April and we’ve been teased with Spring, but then Winter came back for a short reprieve. I made this mix throughout April and it contains 17 tracks released throughout 2013 that have found their way into my mind. Enjoy it at your leisure from the link below or on 8tracks here.
The Cover of the mix is brought to you by the beloved Corpse Flower, lovingly named ‘Putrella’, from Edmonton’s Muttart Conservatory. She bloomed just over a week ago, the first to do so in Western Canada. More info about the Corpse flower, latin: Amorphophallus titanum, can be found here.
Thanks for listening. -Kris
1. The Knife – Tooth For an Eye
The lead-off track of the Knife’s new 90 minute plus opus Shaking the Habitual combines the more experimental parts of Silent Shout with a lot of influence from their experimental score to the opera Tomorrow, in a Year. It’s likely the most accessible of all the tracks on the new album, which shows how willing they are to change their sound at their own discretion. A video accompanied the release of this track following the strange, yet humorous, videos that The Knife like to release.
2. James Blake – I am Sold
James Blake’s newest release, Overgrown, sees a slightly more straight-forward release from the young talent. ‘I am Sold’ is the second track on the album and was the one that caught me immediately. Influence from Burial is noted in the The repeated lyrics harken back to ‘The Wilhelm Scream‘ and ‘I Never Learned to Share’ from his self-titled debut, though musically it has a lot more going on it than those songs. A song that shows he is becoming more confident in his vocal ability, I sense even more from him over the next few years.
3.Phoenix – The Real Thing
Phoenix’s newest album, Bankrupt!, doesn’t live up to Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, but it does provide a safe opportunity to hear some of the best produced music out there, and good music at that. First single ‘Entertainment’ was catchy as hell, but lost some luster on repeated listening. ‘The Real Thing’ gets better and better with each listen, in a way I find quite similar to ‘Fences’ on their previous album.
4. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Under the Earth
Aptly titled, since I imagine this of the sound of the band digging and digging further into the ground, but not in any relation to their career. It’s almost a march with that extremely catchy drum beat that sounds amazing when the vocals and keyboards come in to accompany it.
5. Junip – So Clear
Jose Gonzales and company return with the same sound that made their album Fields one of favourites back in 2010. I could have put any track from their new self-titled album on here, but this one really stands out on first listen. Junip makes music that reminds me of the Autumn and Winter so it will be interesting listening to it on those hot Summer days, laying in the Sun, dreaming away.
6. Local Natives – Mt. Washington
Never was impressed by this band, but their new album has changed that. Some great tunes on Hummingbird, with this one being the most depressing and Death Cab for Cutie-like. Short, concise, but hits you right where you want it.
7. Caveman – Shut You Down
I don’t know much about this band, but I believe I was introduced to them on Stereogum. They remind me of Wild Nothing with the dreamy guitar highlighting many of the songs on the album. A great album that shows musicianship well beyond their years. Check out their website for more info.
8. Jessie Ware – Imagine it Was Us
Jessie Ware’s debut album Devotion was beautiful late-night fare harkening back to the smooth soul of the 1980′s. ‘Imagine it Was Us’ is the missing 80′s dance single that would have made the dance floor explode. It’s already been released as a single and as part of the deluxe re-release Gold Edition of Devotion available here or on iTunes.
9. Solar Bears – Cosmic Runner
The Solar Bears provide a nice jaunt through the last 15 years of laid-back electronic music on their sophomore album Supermigration. It’s a mix of everything for this Irish duo who try to put in all together and succeed on this sleeper of an album.
10. Major Lazer – You’re no Good
Less dancehall and more R&B permeate the lead-off track of the new Major Lazer album Free the Universe. Santigold, Vybz Kartel, Danielle Haim and Yasmin provide some stellar vocal work over a great beat from Diplo. I think the closest you’ll get to a slow jam from Major Lazer.
11. The Cave Singers – It’s A Crime
If a band could sound Canadian, but not be Canadian, these Seattle rockers would surely fit the bill. I’m disappointed I’ve never listened to them before as I’ve missed them live a bunch of times before. Check them out in May and June as they tour throughout Canada and the States.
12. Kurt Vile – Never Run Away
The short standard rock song comes from Vile’s newest release Walking on a Pretty Daze, an album that really cements his great songwriting and guitar abilities. He still sounds sleepy in every song, but this is what you’re going to want to put on when you just need to sit on a sunny day after work and relax.
13. Phosphorescent – The Quotidian Beasts
Throw some Springsteen, a little country and maybe even some Kurt Vile in there and you get this 8 minute journey from the newest release from Phosphorescent, Muchacho. The lyrics and the title make this almost definitely a song about drug abuse, the beauty of those swells are euphoric.
14. Pickwick – Brother Roland
Seeing these guys live a few weeks ago was really a treat and to everyone who missed them, make it a mission in your life to catch them live. Shaun defined their music as garage-soul. I think this is the best song to exemplify this. Also buy their album.
15. How to Destroy Angels – We Fade Away
Combine Nine Inch Nails with the soundtracks of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and add some female vocals and you get How to Destroy Angels. Sure it sounds a lot like NIN, but in my opinion, better than anything Reznor’s released since Year Zero in 2007. I also thought Reznor wouldn’t be singing, but he’s on a few of the songs, including this one, that really just makes me want him to make a new Nine Inch Nails album. See them both live at the Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit in October in Asheville, North Carolina!
16. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Higgs Boson Blues
Push the Sky Away is quickly becoming my favourite Nick Cave album and this track is one of the highlights. I’ve never thought I’d hear Cave sing about Miley Cyrus or her alter-ego Hannah Montana, but he paints a morbid picture of life with this 8 minute bluesy dirge. It’s all about the atmosphere he creates.
17. Bombino – Tamiditine
Bombino was basically exploited by the Black Keys with his new album. It just sounds like they decided to play their music over his own stuff and make it sound like them. Sad really, but his amazing guitar playing is still in there. Check out Guitars From Agadez Volume 2 if you want to hear what he sounded like shortly after he escaped the tyranny in Niger.
Say Lou Lou, formerly Saint Lou Lou, have released their follow up single on the interwebs today. Julian is another dreamy pop gem, in the same vein as Maybe you. With artists such as Rhye and Jessie Ware making waves, I expect that Say Lou Lou may be one of the next it bands when they release their album.
You can hear the studio version through soundcloud below, and check out a stripped down version over at listenbeforeyoubuy.net.
This year’s list was much more difficult than last year’s was. I’m normally an albums person, but this year I found myself listening to individual songs much more than whole albums. A bunch of tracks didn’t make the list including songs from the Dirty Projectors, Meg Myers, Death Grips, Diplo, Niki and the Dove and so on and so on. I hope you enjoy this list and feel free to listen to my Top 50 (in order) on 8tracks:
50. M.I.A. – Bad Girls
M.I.A. returned for this one-off in 2012. A great song, better than anything off her last album and one of the best videos of the year.
49. Beach House – Lazuli
Synth arpeggios combined with the Beach House haze bring the music. Layered vocal lines of ‘Like no other, you can’t be replaced’ over top really make this song stand out in their catalogue.
48. Ab-Soul – Black Lip Bastard (Remix) (Featuring Black Hippy)
A bonus track featuring all of Black Hippy, the hip-hop collective that includes Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock and Ab-Soul. Dark, lo-fi hip-hop goodness.
47. Yes Nice – Hot River
Locals make well with a perfectly produced pop song. Eagerly anticipating the release of their new album.
46. Psy – Gangnam Style
I’m sick of it now, but I really did like this song when it was just starting up. Korean Pop channeling LMFAO, a dance song with a message about the absurdity of class in Seoul. An equally absurd video and dance made it catch on fire.
45. Lee Fields – Faithful Man
Fields’ ‘Faithful Man’ harkens back to the day of Al Green and Sam Cooke with this slinky soul number.
44. Die Antwood – I Fink U Freeky
South African dance/rap music with lazers, beats and innocent sounding yet malicious female vocals.
43. Bear in Heaven – Sinful Nature
Sounds like chill wave in a standard song structure. The 1980′s through a piece of cellophane.
42. Japandroids – The House that Heaven Built
Loud, abrasive and earnest. The Japandroids sound like they are putting everything in to each song, ‘The House that Heaven Built’ is the cumulative pinnacle of Celebration Rock.
41. John Talabot – So Will Be Now (Featuring Pional)
The closing track on John Talabot’s amazing ⨏in. An end of the night, time to chill out song.
40. Lana Del Ray – Off to the Races
The best songs from Lana Del Ray’s Born to Die were released last year, see Top 50 songs of 2011, but this track proved that she still saved some good ones for her debut album.
39. Kanye West – Clique (Featuring Jay-Z & Big Sean)
Kanye’s GOOD MUSIC crew really came together on a few tracks this year. While Cruel Summer was more miss than hit, some tracks really showed how good Kanye is at music production.
38. Mother Mother – Let’s Fall in Love
Canadian alt-pop group release one of the catchiest tracks of 2012. A thankful return from Mother Mother after their disappointing 2011 album Eureka.
37. Matt & Kim – Let’s Go
Matt & Kim returned with their infectious upbeat music. A great track to sing a long to at the top of your lungs.
36. Kendrick Lamar – Swimming Pools (Drank)
So many great songs from Kendrick this year, but I picked this as the first out of two on the list. A slow burn of a hip-hop song with a glorious chorus.
35. Purity Ring – Obedear
Robotic electronic Cocteau Twins. Purity Ring takes you to a beautiful sinister place in this track.
34. Frank Ocean – Lost
The most singable sing-a-long song on Frank Ocean’s excellent channel ORANGE.
33. Andy Stott – Numb
I like to think of this as operatic techno. It’s not really opera at all, but there is something about the female vocals in this track that really make it unique.
32. Angus Stone – It was Blue
A driving dirge that was unexpected from Angus Stone. I like when singer/songwriters add some depth to their work.
31. Jessie Ware – Still Love Me
Jessie Ware’s music is updated 80′s soul. Imagine dancing really slowly in a club under the disco ball.
30. The Shins – The Rifle’s Spiral
The Shins return! Well really James Mercer and the new Shins as he fired the rest of the band. Same sound, a bit more oomph and this opener, which could be the best Shins song yet.
29. Bat For Lashes – Laura
Bat for Lashes is becoming more theatrical as her career progresses. I see her taking the reins from Tori Amos as the next Kate Bush. ‘Laura’ is a grower that really shows Natasha Khan’s vocal chops.
28. Poliça – Dark Star
This band reminds me of Sleigh Bells, not because they sound the same, which they don’t, but because they’re trying something different with a female vocalist. This is the ‘Rill Rill’ of their debut album.
27. Schoolboy Q – Hands on the Wheel (Featuring A$ap Rocky)
Built around a sample from Lissie’s live version of Kid Cudi’s ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ Schoolboy Q and A$ap Rocky rap about weed and booze. Trite lyrics but catchy as hell.
26. The Raveonettes – Curse the Night
My new favourite Raveonettes song. Could listen to on repeat for hours.
25. Rihanna – Diamonds
Not the best Rihanna song, but I haven’t been able to get it out of my head for the last 2 months. It became the theme of a trip i was recently on and it will always remind me of that.
24. Electric Guest – Troubleman
Eight minute epic that grooves along nicely. Soul pop from this young LA band.
23. Yeasayer – Henrietta
I’m so very sad that Yeasayer’s 2012 album was nowhere near as good as 2010′s Odd Blood. At least there were a couple good tracks on it, ‘Henrietta’ showing the great love song writing of this band.
22. Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe
Pretty sure this was released in 2011, but officially released in 2012. Super addictive song that was everywhere at the beginning of the year. Beiber made it popular and for that I thank him.
21. Twin Shadow – Five Seconds
When making this list I totally forgot about this song and how i listened to it all the time in the Spring and Summer. It is a great track that really reminds me of music that was realized in the mid 2000s. Your indie dance track of the year.
20. Grizzly Bear – Yet Again
Difficult to pick a favourite from Shields, but i find this one stuck in my head most often.
19. Doe Paoro – Born Whole
It doesn’t do much, but what is there is perfect. The simplicity of this track is what makes it great.
18. Killer Mike – Untitled (Featuring Scar)
Reminiscent of early 1990′s rap, Killer Mike has a style that seems retro yet modern at the same time. This track and ‘Reagan’ are the standouts from his 2012 release.
17. Ellie Goulding – Only You
The danciest track on her album Halcyon finds Goulding using vocal manipulation, heavy beats and an incredibly addictive chorus. This is the farthest she’s travelled from her ealier music, and i really like it.
16. Dum Dum Girls – Lord Knows
First song by any Frankie Rose / Dum Dum Girls project that really stuck with me.
15. The xx – Chained
Most songs on Coexist feel incomplete, missing that final part that would make them great. ‘Chained’ is fantastic, but just misses the mark. If it had that extra push it would easily make the top ten.
14. Hot Chip – Motion Sickness
Consistently getting better album after album, the opener on In Our Heads is an example of a perfectly constructed dance song.
13. First Aid Kid – Emmylou
A great country song that relies on the influence of so many greats before it. You’d swear they were from Nashville, but these two girls are from Sweden.
12. Alabama Shakes – Hold On
Just some good old modern rock with a dash of the South, a dash of soul and roughness around the edges. I hear this has to be heard live to really be appreciated.
11. Jessie Ware – Wildest Moments
Another track from Jessie Ware, the Sadé of 2012.
10. Cat Power – Ruin
Lead off single from Cat Power’s first album of original material since The Greatest. Built around a piano riff, it is one of the fastest paced and rocky tracks Chan Marshall has ever done. A bleak look at the world today.
9. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop
Holy crap, turn on the radio for the last couple months and this is on ALL THE TIME. It’s getting a bit old now sadly. 4 or 5 months ago Shaun posted this on the blog and based on it’s catchiness and a wicked video it became a hit. Now it’s huge. If you haven’t watched the video yet, make sure you check it out.
8. Chromatics – Lady
Part of a soundtrack for the world between waking and sleeping. This shoegaze, Italian disco, whatever you want to call it, track demands late night listening, preferably while driving at 3am.
7. Burial – Loner
A Burial song that you can actually dance to, at least for a couple minutes. Over the 8 minutes of ‘Loner’ you’re transported from horror film to dance club to rave to empty streets in the middle of the night to a freaky children’s show.
6. Schoolboy Q – There He Go
I feel like I have to apologize for the lyrics in this song. This isn’t for sensitive ears. This is just an amazing introduction song on Schoolboy’s Habits and Contradictions. It really sets the tone for the rest of the album and shows what you’re in store for the next hour. Dirty with an amazing flow and a great backing sample.
5. Kendrick Lamar – Backstreet Freestyle
When I first heard ‘Backstreet Freestyle’ it reminded me of Lil’ Wayne’s ‘A Milli’, but after many listens this is world’s above that track. The beat is perfect and there is a lot going on (especially if you listen to it on a 5.1 system) that you don’t pick up on first listen. The vocal build-up shows that Kendrick can do mean rap just as well as his usual laid back style.
4. John Talabot – Destiny (Featuring Pional)
If I was to create an electronic song I would likely make something like this. This song is very similar to the rest of the album, but Pional’s vocals add that extra je ne sais quoi. An excellent track for dancing, relaxing or driving.
3. Frank Ocean – Pyramids
I don’t think anyone thought that Frank Ocean was going to release a 10 minute track as a single preceding the release of channel ORANGE. Really two songs sequed together one an upbeat dance track, the second a slow jam, ‘Pyramids’ is the epic of the year.
2. Kanye West – Mercy (Featuring Big Sean, Pusha-T & 2 Chainz)
It starts off with a sample of what I though was Indian music (it’s actually dancehall), adds some bass, a sample about lamborgini’s and an eerie piano line that sounds slightly like steel drums. Then get some guys to rap over it. On first listen it didn’t really make sense to me, but it quickly grew to me my favourite hip hop song of 2012.
1. Chairlift – I Belong in Your Arms
Maybe I’m just a sucker for a cheesy 1980′s love song. This could have been in The Breakfast Club or Say Anything back then. It just makes me want to spin around in circles in the middle of the dance floor. I’m surprised it is my #1, but it just snuck up there and makes me smile.
While we finish up our best of the year posts, I thought I would share a new track from one of my Favourite current musicians. Olafur Arnalds. I know I speak about him all the time, so it should come as no surprise that I am rather excited he has a new album coming out in February. The same week as my birthday even. I have already pre-ordered it and anticipate this to be one of my most listened to albums of the year. Especially since his other albums are listened to on a weekly basis.
Sometimes there are 2 versions of a song that are equally stunning. Bon Iver did a live acoustic guitar, piano and sax version of Anais Mitchell‘s gorgeous track, Coming Down, on Australian Radio’s Triple J awhile back. The original itself is beautiful, and Bon Iver‘s version makes it sound like it came from their latest LP. They both sound heartbreaking and passionate. I can’t say I have a favourite, but I listen to both equally. Below are both versions. Which one do you relate to the most?
Nothing gonna stop me now.
And Bon Iver’s Cover, following a 1.5 minute interview.
Every time I hear a song from this band from Portland, I get this great feeling inside. Typhoon features a roster upward of 12 members, and their jubilant and energetic songs generally sound much more uplifting than their lyrics might hint at. The new single “Common Sentiments” from their forthcoming album to be released next year is no exception. Its a song about all the things we aspire to do, but realize that as we get older it becomes harder and harder to do. Something I can relate to rather easily. Their sound is becoming more and more refined, yet still maintaining that raw energy of their live performance. Check out their new track now (I can’t embed it unfortunately), and go over and preorder the 7″.
As you may have noticed, I have been a little absent as of late. Life seems to get in the way of what we deem extraneous activities. On top of this being the busiest 2 months of the year, I happened to start a new career move in mid August, and maintain the small business we run. This was something I wasn’t anticipating, and was somewhat unprepared for. Add into that, the fact that my wife and I are expecting a new baby in December, and you have one highly busy guy. I have several posts to make in the coming days/weeks/whenever i can find a spare 30 minutes. Posts about new local releases, symphonic performances, Fall playlists, new songs, and playlists for the coming baby.
However, today it is once again about Swedish Pop. I have fallen for the Nordic bands/girls this year. The sound coming from those beautiful countries just seems to grab me as of late. There is a blog that features only awesome music from the Nordic Countries called Ja Ja Ja, and I have been introduced to so many of these new artist’s from this site. This new track by Swedish Sister Duo, Saint Lou Lou, is of no exception. This isn’t a flashy Robyn or Niki and the Dove track. This is a slow and seductive track that teases itself into your ears with its whispery vocals and sensual slow mo Black and White video. Check out the video below, and the fantastic remix by Montauk directly below the video.
And if you can’t get enough Music from the Nordic Region, I am really enjoying the new Sandra Kolstad album and I highly expect it to be one of my top albums of the year. It tends to lean more towards the dark electronic side of the spectrum, borrowing from influences of Fever Ray, Kate Bush, and Bjork. This Norwegian artist is making waves over in Europe, and hopefully will reach a little crossover here in North America. Her new video is below. Enjoy!
And if you needed some more of my favs from this region, here are few more recent videos for your perusal.
More Dark Electronic Swedish/Norwegian Pop – Karin Park
Norwegian Retro Pop – Michael Paskalev
I may even post a playlist of my favourite Nordic Music sometime soon.
I first got into Macklemore + Ryan Lewis through their great video for “Wings”. “Wings” was a social commentary on the commercial consumerism of the Nike Air Movement of the 80′s and 90′s. Something that was instantly relatable for me, as I had several pairs of airs and Jordan’s.
And now, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have their first iTunes top 40 hit with “Thrift Shop”. If I take into account his social commentary on the aforementioned “Wings” and his recent track, “Same Love”, supporting gay marriage, I could assume that this is a parody of hipster culture and thrift shops. But, it could also just be taken as a fun track. Either way, this video is extremely entertaining, and the song is beyond catchy. The horn loop that drives this song gets ya dancing, and then the witty rhymes keeps ya going. I am very excited for the new album, The Heist, to be released in October. But the track is available in the iTunes store now.
Here is the fantastic video for this great track, followed by a well done trailer for the Heist. And PS, if you hadn’t figured it out from the title, there is some bad language in this song, so listen accordingly.
Taking the world by storm is Korean rapper PSY, who on his sixth album, has crossed over internationally. #1 on the Itunes Video Music charts, viewed by over 50 million people on YouTube and being played across the world at sporting events, ‘Gangnam Style’ is the biggest Korean song to be released ever.
The thing is, is this song is catchy. The video is terrific, but the song, which sounds strikingly like LMFAO, begs to be played in clubs to create mass dance parties with everyone singing “hey sexy lady!”. The song is about finding the girl who fits all sides of the spectrum: professional and wild. The video is a humorous skewing of ‘Gangnam’ culture that would be familiar to Korean audiences, but it works all to well to other audiences. It has even spawned a female version featuring Korean pop darling Hyuna with a guest spot from PSY.
It is fairly obvious that PSY will only be known for this song in most of the world, but hopefully this creates more world wide interest in K-Pop.
Like PSY on Facebook, or check out PSY’s website, hopefully you can read Korean.