This year looks like it’s going to be the year of my favourite music releases. Pretty much every morning when I wake up and scroll some news feed or other there’s always a little teaser, or even better, a whole new single that gets me right in the gut – a tear was shed for Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and I screamed a little when I saw the headline NEW FLORENCE + THE MACHINE.
So, here are some singles (and/or a teaser video) from my Top Six Most Anticipated Albums of the Year: Why I Think 2015 is Going to Musically Rule. It’s particularly exciting because a few of these artists (like Passion Pit and Florence) are releasing their third albums, which is when I think bands (and TV shows on their third seasons) really hit the sweet spot. By the third record, musicians tend to be more comfortable in their skins and they’re past the pressure of the sophomore album that has to be as good as the debut. My ears can’t wait.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – I have ‘Multi Love’ on heavy rotation while I impatiently wait for the new album.
Passion Pit – I JUST WANT THE NEW MUSIC (in the meantime I’ll just listen to Sleepyhead over and over and over)
Florence + The Machine – I want more of Florence’s voice in my life. Not want. Probably need.
Alabama Shakes – I missed you (lead singer) Brittany!
Donnie Trumpet + The Social Experiment – There’s enough Chance the Rapper and co. to hold me over on Soundcloud…for now.
Courtney Barnett – She’s one of my favourite Australians and has some killer quirky songwriting skills. She also once said I could join her Anonymous Club.
So, if you ever listened to Sam Smith’s über-ballad ‘Stay With Me’ and thought that it sounded kind of familiar, you were right. The male Adele just quietly settled a charge of copyright infringement by Tom Petty, whose people said that ‘Stay With Me’ sounded too much like the 1989 track ‘Won’t Back Down’. When I first read the news I kept singing both choruses over trying to find the link, and they definitely do sound alike. But the tune is kind of generic in that it’s melodically logical (for easy-on-the-ears listening) so it’s kind of a forgivable mistake to make.
Tom Petty actually acknowledged that this sort of unintended imitation happens all the time, and usually, any noticeable links between songs are caught before a track leaves the studio. I admire his coolness about the situation, because what is modern music if not a bunch of borrowings and inspiration? (It’s still a little shitty for Sam Smith as the little guy who has to split his mega-earnings and songwriting credit with legends who probably need the credit and cash a lot less, though.)
This mash-up highlights the undeniable similarities (and sounds pretty sweet): Continue reading →
Today, I thought about living in the age of album leaks and what an unnecessarily destructive act of vandalism it is – Bjork’s album was released yesterday instead of sometime in March because of internet bean spillers, and Madonna had to do the same a few weeks ago. As a fan of music, I don’t understand why anyone would want to take the joy out anticipation and release-date countdowns, and why you wouldn’t want to respect that the artist wants to share their work only once they feel it’s completely ready? Album leaking is like breaking into a photographer’s dark room and publishing all the undeveloped images (I know this example probably isn’t the best in the digital age), and should be treated like a crime. I also want to know who the actual leakers are – is it someone on the inside with a specific agenda or an individual with so much loathing that they want to take the simple joys out of life for everybody else? Somebody help me understand!!
Rant over. Now I’d like to turn the attention to my Musical Cupcakes – delicious ear treats that are like rainbows on a cloudy day:
First, one of my favourite acts of 2014 remixed a track on the debut album of one of my other favourite acts of 2014. (That’s Wye Oak and Sylvan Esso respectively).
I rediscoverd this sing-out-loud (not a) guilty pleasure by Daniel Bedingfield circa 2009. The song does get many cool points though because the track was produced by Mark Ronson, one of the actual coolest people on the planet.
I’m fairly new to the music of Rubblebucket, and this KEXP performance made me officially fall in love, mainly because of all the brass bedazzled tunes. Also, as anyone knows, I’m a sucker for female led bands, and Kalmia Traver is extra awesome because she has an awesome voice, a tambourine strapped to her shoe and a history of kicking cancer’s ass.
Ok, so before this year gets steamrolling with music I really love (I’m already smitten with an EP of dance tracks that samples space sounds recorded by NASA and an upcoming album by a band whose oldest member is only 16 (!)) I must share the tracks I loved in 2014. The year can be summed up as a musical dream come true, mainly because La Roux finally released an album after FIVE YEARS of luminous electro-poplessness and I could once again dote on her fabulous falsetto. And then,to add to the dream, I got to see her perform live: she was amazing and cool and she danced and played guitar and threw a sweat towel into the audience.
So this playlist obviously includes my Queen of Pop (La Roux’s pop perfection is a whole ‘nother post) and many ditties that are contenders to be my personal Song of the Year. Ultimately, I’d have to give that title to ‘Hey Mami’ by Sylvan Esso, because even though I’ve listened to it an abusive number of times, the tune actually still physically gets me every time Amelia Meath starts singing and the electronics drop a few seconds later. Plus, ‘Hey Mami’ is a bit of a feminist anthem calling out cat calling, and there’s nothing I like more than a good jam with a good point.
As for Album of the Year, I want to say Chet Faker’s Built on Glass for it’s albuminess (take that The Album is Dead theorists!). The collection of tracks works best when listened to as a whole, and though there are single songs, like ‘Talk is Cheap’, that could be played on their own all day, most are best in the context of the thoughtful 51 minutes. Chet Faker also appears twice in this playlist because ‘Lesson in Patience’ is just the perfect track to wind down a party or listening session, and my favourite thing about it is that the song is so named because Faker doubts his sax playing skills (for no reason!).
So here’s my 2014 in a nutshell.The best thing about the beginning of a new year is the thought of all the music that is going to embellish the seasons, and the thought of a soundtrack to remind you of those that have been.
Since music is basically the bricks that line memory lane (well, that and the sense of smell), and I’m also always listening to something old while discovering something new, it only makes sense that I appropriate #ThrowbackThursday for a bit of aural nostalgia.
Sometimes I think that the universe puts certain music in my life (does that sound nuts?), and lately it’s been reminding me of the electro-rainbow melodies of Electric Guest and their first and only album Mondo, which was stamped with the trademark disco sheen of Danger Mouse production. Even though the album was released in 2012, one of my favourite tracks, ‘Waves’, is currently being (ab)used in a TV ad/commercial, and I recently ‘found’ an old Spotify playlist with a couple of beloveds from the LP.
It was nice to hear that the record still holds up, especially ‘Under the Gun with its ominously cool machine melodies, and that I don’t just crave Electric Guest because of the memories of living in L.A (where the group is from) when I was loving Mondo. The music still makes me want to move, and I’m looking forward to what the band puts out for their sophomore project without the help of the genius producer.
Word on the street (aka the band’s Facebook page) is that the new album is in the works; in the meantime, I’ll be jamming to this.
Every Sunday, Pigeons and Planes puts up a post called ’15 Free Songs You Should Download Right Now’, which is a great, guilt-free way to sample some new music from not-so-big acts and score a couple of great tracks for your personal collection.
This week’s edition had several gems, including a sensational cover of James Vincent McMorrow’s Cavalier and a fun, city nights dance track called ‘Lost in the Girl’ by Danish singer Kwamie Liv. She’s just released her entire first EP for download on SoundCloud, though if you don’t want to commit to the entire thing – the rest of the tracks are a little deeper and darker in terms of production – ‘Lost in the Girl’ is the one to have. The song basically dares you not to sing a long and/or groove a little.
The words and tune are super catchy insta-pop, and there are these luxurious dramatic synths that lift the track and remind me of music from an 80s soapie. You’ll want to download it so you can have it thump through the speakers in your car, blast through your earphones as you walk down the street and soundtrack your morning routine while you sing to yourself in the mirror.
Do download the entire EP though, but also read this interesting interview to get an idea of the process and person behind the music. You’ll appreciate it even more; from the late-night listening tracks, like ‘5am’ and ‘Coming Down’, to the jammers (see ‘Comin THRU’). Mostly, you’ll find that Kwamie Liv definitely has a talent for writing memorable hooks and good pop that reminds us that pop music isn’t (and shouldn’t be) all that bad.
I’m back on the side of the world where The Internet is fast and available so I get to indulge to my heart’s content with streaming, free downloading, link-clicking and everything-listening. And while this is definitely a dream scenario, I still find the way that music available today a little overwhelming in its muchness. It feels like there is no longer time to sit with an album, or even a great playlist, and truly get to appreciate it in it’s entirety because at every moment there could be something else that you should be listening to.
The flip side to this ‘problem’ is that it must mean that there is actually a lot of good music out there, despite what the mass consumption vehicles would lead the general public to believe, and the best thing about it is that we can rely on our own ears to find the awesome stuff, and bands can create fan bases, without the middle (The) Man.
What I’m getting at is that sometimes I don’t like the excess of the internet, and sometimes I love it because then I get to hear music from Deers, an all-girl band from Madrid, Spain that put up two songs from their album DEMO on SoundCloud and BandCamp. Now, aside from the fact that I am a sucker for girl groups and the sweet yet attitude-filled music that makes me want to stick my tongue out at someone (see Sleigh Bells), I also love Deers because of the lo-fi ’50s-type punky pop that’s pretty much instantly loveable.
The first track,’ Bamboo’, is a saccharine, shoulder-shaking melody with the right combo of ‘tude and syrup, while ‘Trippy Gum’ is a little more groovy and has a sick guitar breakdown in the middle that weirdly reminded me of the Ben & Jerry Cores ice creams (the guitar bit is the cheeky center). It’s the kind of music that fits in with the summer I’ve suddenly found myself in and the type I’ll be craving when I feel like being Super Cool Girl. Thanks, The Internet.