A$AP Rocky – Wassup

Fela Kuti – Everything Scatter (Toby’s Indigo Edit)

I’ve been meaning to put this up since catching yet another brilliant set from Toby Kaar in the Pavillion over the festive period. The man’s an expert at getting people to throw ridiculous shapes on the dancefloor with his eclectic sound. This remix from Fela Kuti is one of the my favourite’s from Toby, it just gets funkier with every listen. His soundcloud page is open for business again so get downloading. Also check out this hilarious interview with Toby from December.

Fifty Grand – First Lucid Dream

‘First Lucid Dream’ is a demo from Boston-based Fifty Grand whose upcoming EP is due for release in February. A minimal blend of ambient electronics and varied instrumentation combine to make this a chilled out gem.

At the Drive-In reform

Best news of 2012 so far.

Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again

I first posted about Michael Kiwanuka back in April when I came across his magnificent song “Tell me  a Tale”. Since then Kiwanuka has appeared on Jools Holland and topped the BBC’s Sound of 2012. I get the feeling that when those end of year lists are being drawn up next December his name will appear in most.

Eps of 2011

Eps kinda piss me off so I don’t tend to get very many of them but here are 5 from 2011 (in no order) that are definitely worth checking out.

Childish Gambino – EP
Frustratingly this is probably his best release to date.

Holy Other – With U
Haunting.

Burial – Street Halo
More cross-genre genius from William Bevan.

Grimes – Darkbloom
Gonna be big in 2012.

Hudson Mohawke – Satin Panthers
Massive!

Top 40 Songs of 2011

A much harder list to compile than the albums but sher we’ll give it a lash.

40) Gang Gang Dance – Glass Jar
Below is the shortened version, which is kinda cheating, it’s all about the five and a half minutes of anticipation.

39) Hudson Mohawke
Turn the volume up to 11 at 0.43

38) Shabazz Palaces – Are You…Can You…Were You (Felt)
“It’s a feeling”

37) Neon Indian – Polish Girl
The cool kind of catchy

36) Cage The Elephant – Shake Me Down
Great to hear the return of the uncomplicated rock tune, got a late 90’s/early noughties feel to it, love it.

35) A$AP Rocky – Bass
“Bass”

34) Washed Out – Eyes Be Closed
Could have picked any song off the album, this was the fist one to grab my attention, ultimate chill.

33) Clams Casino – Realist Alive
Hautingly brilliant instrumental hip-hop

32) Big K.R.I.T. – R4Theme
“Forever, forever-ever, forever-ever”

31) tUnE-yArDs – Gangsta
Fuuuunnnnky.

30) Youth Lagoon – Afternoon
Class for whistling along to.

29) TV on the Radio – Second Song
1.27

28) Ghostpoet – Cash and Carry me Home
“I’m still got some whiskey left, maybe I’ll just take a sip”

27) Balam Acab – Oh, Why
Handle with care, it’s fragile.

26) Bon Iver – Holocene
Lovely

25) Frank Ocean – Novocane
“At least you workin”

24) Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie XX – I’ll Take Care of You
“I’ve loved and I’ve lost”

23) Lykke Li – I Follow Rivers
Drums!

22) Toro Y Moi – Still Sound
Try not to dance.

21) Jamie Woon – Lady Luck
This is the jam right here

20) EMA – Breakfast
“Just like a breeze to me”

19) Grimes – Vanessa
Indie pop ftw

18) Moths – Summer
Uncontrollable head-nod

17) Cults – Abducted
0.38

16) The Weeknd – House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls
“Bring the seven on seven out”

15) WU LYF – Dirt
“No matter what they say dollar is not your friend”

14) Yuck – Get Away
Welcome back grunge, it’s been too long.

13) Purity Ring – Lofticries
Class

12) Drake – Marvin’s Room
Drake’s locked and ringing da ex, dose!

11) Holy Other – Touch
1.12

10) James Blake – The Wilhelm Scream
“Might as well fall in”

9) Jay-Z and Kanye West – Otis
“You ain’t ‘customed to going through customs, you ain’t been nowhere, huh?”

8] SBTRKT – Trials of the Past
“A loyal soldier who acts who acts who acts. But never asks.”

7)Lana Del Rey – Video Games
Some set of lips on yer wan

6) SBTRKT – Never Never
“Singing ooooh I’ve only let you down”

5) Tyler the Creator – Yonkers
“Here’s the number to my therapist, you tell him all your problems, he’s fucking awesome with listening”

4) Star Slinger – Mornin’
Happiness bottled.

3) Ambassadeurs – M.O.P.E.
Yes!

2) M83 – Midnight City
From the hair-raising intro to that glorious sax solo, perfect.

1) Childish Gambino – Freaks and Geeks
Swag!

Top 40 Albums of 2011

40) Austra – Feel it Break
39) Tom Waits – Bad as Me
38) Toro Y Moi – Underneath the Pine
37) Yuck – Yuck
36) Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi
35) Childish Gambino – CAMP
34) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong
33) Bing K.R.I.T. – Return of 4Eva
32) Drake – Take Care
31) Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place
30) TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light
29) Neon Indian – Era Extraña
28) Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die but You Will
27) Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
26) Girls – Father, Son and Holy Ghost
25) Friendly Fires – Pala
24) Jamie Woon – Mirrorwriting
23) Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact
22) Frank Ocean – Nostalgia/ultra
21) A$AP Rocky – LiveLoveA$AP Mixtape
20) tUnE-yArDs – WHOKILL
19) Tyler, The Creator – Goblin
18) Beirut – The Rip Tide
17) Metronomy – The English Riviera
16) St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
15) Balam Acab – Wander / Wonder
14) Clams Casino – Instrumental Mixtape
13) Cults – Cults
12) Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation
11) Washed Out – Eyes Be Closed

10) M83 – Hurry Up We’re Dreaming

Covers a range of moods from the childlike excitement of ‘Raconte-Moi Une Histoire‘ to the agony of ‘Wait‘ with plenty of dancefloor gems in between. Most impressively of all, this album brings 80’s dance back to our headphones but actually manages to make it sound good. Another triumph from M83 which sits comfortably in between dance and rock.

9) Gil Scott-Heron And Jamie XX – We’re New Here

A brave endeavour which could easily have backfired. Instead these two diverse artists combined to produce a stunning LP with Jamie bringing his customary loops and bass-heavy beats to the table but managing to let them interact with Heron’s vocals and not overpower them. 2010’s I’m New Here brought Heron back into the spotlight. In May 2011 he passed away but not before he had left the world with one last piece of magic. For Jamie XX to recognise the potential for this audacious remix album and to pull it off confirms his status as one of the most exciting talents in modern electronic music.

8] Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes

Lykke Li was always capable of producing a great tune, a powerful indie pop anthem, ‘Until we Bleed‘ and ‘Little Bit‘ provided ample proof of that. What Wounded Rhymes clarifies is that Li can make a proper album which draws you in right from the start and holds your interest until the last note. Li finds a perfect balance of bangers – ‘Youth Knows No Pain‘, ‘I Follow Rivers‘, ‘Rich Kids Blues‘  and slow burners ‘Unrequited Love‘, ‘Silent my Song‘.

7) EMA – Past Life Martyed Saints

Drawing influences from a variety of genres and touching on diverse themes in its lyrical content, Past Life Martyed Saints is an incredibly polished debut from Erika M Anderson. The sudden change of mood in curtain raiser ‘The Grey Ship‘ signal’s Anderson’s intent to produce the unexpected. It may only have 9 tracks but these songs are refreshingly diverse, from the haunting chant of ‘Anteroom‘ to the magnificently lazy sound of ‘Breakfast‘.

6) Jay-Z and Kanye West – Watch the Throne

Full review here. A 16 track LP bursting with hits. Virtually any track off WTT would have punters flocking to the dancefloor, throwing shapes to some of Kanye’s finest beats as the duo bounce off each other perfectly to create tracks oozing with style. ‘Otis, ‘Ni**as in Paris‘, ‘Murder to Excellence‘ just three of the many highlights on this impressive collaboration.

5) PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

This album is so good that even though it celebrates the old enemy you can’t help but love it. Let England Shake landed Harvey the Mercury Prize and it’s not hard to see why when you listen to these 12 tracks. Each provides something new, the theme of the album remains the only constant as Harvey digs into her musical arsenal to produce new tricks at every opportunity. Her voice dictates the mood with everything else following suit, from the ominous ‘Let England Shake‘ to the mournful cry of ‘England‘.

4) WU LYF – Go Tell Fire to the Mountain

One of the most striking and original sounds to emerge in 2011. GTFTTM is a collection of hugely atmospheric tracks which lean on various genres. There’s more than a hint of post-rock structure to the songs but WU LYF also dabble in more catchy uptempo numbers. The shredding howl of the vocals combines perfectly with the echoing drums and beautifully layered guitar to produce an album that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.

3) Bon Iver – Bon Iver

How do you follow an album like 2008’s For Emma Forever Ago? Justin Vernon’s debut LP as Bon Iver transported him for the isolation of that famous  log cabin in Wisconsin to superstardom. He couldn’t try to do the same again, it simply wouldn’t have worked, the rawness of Vernon’s pain is what made For Emma… so engaging, 3 years on we’re expecting some progress and Bon Iver delivers it. It continues the transition signalled by the Blood Bank EP to a bigger production and a bigger sound. Vernon’s vocals are now backed by an army of instruments, the songs may have changed but the impact is the same.

2) James Blake – James Blake

Full review here. His 2010 EP’s guaranteed his status as one of the most hyped/blogged artists of 2011 but rather than stick to the formula which made those releases so popular, Blake opted to put a more introspective, personal touch to his brand of post-dubstep which he somehow manages to combine with a folk sound to brilliant effect to create an LP that is as moving as it is original.

1) SBTRKT – SBTRKT

Full review here.Top spot on this list was pretty much sealed after my first listen to SBTRKT’s (Aaron Jerome’s) stunning debut album. Like Blake, Jerome doesn’t shy away from the inclusion of heartfelt lyrics but SBTRKT offers that extra bit of variety. ‘Wildfire‘ and ‘Trials of the Past‘ are two of the year’s massive dancefloor anthems while ‘Hold On‘ and ‘Something Goes Right‘ provide a more subdued but equally brilliant listen. Pop/House number ‘Pharoahs‘ and tribal call to arms ‘Go Bang‘ further prove Jerome’s capacity to diversify his electronic sound. A treat from start to finish.

Clams Casino: Realist Alive

A friend recently suggested that I check out an artist called Clams Casino, guessing that his music would appeal to me, he wasn’t wrong. It is only after reading James Vincent McMorrow’s description of Casino’s music over on Nialler9 that I gave him a try. Mike Volpe is a 23-year old hip-hop producer from New Jersey who performs as ‘Clams Casino’, his raw beats blended with atmospheric effects have laid the foundations for rappers such as Soulja Boy, Lil B and A$AP Rocky to gain acclaim.

Earlier this year he released Instrumental Mixtape for free download. Like Will Wisenfeld of Baths and Aaron Jerome aka SBTRKT, Volpe has, in my opinion, managed to hit the nail on the head in terms of finding the perfect balance of the various sounds currently finding favour among electronic music producers and fans.

Childish Gambino – Bonfire

CAMP is Donald Glover/Childish Gambino’s first commercial release following several free-to-download productions including the mixtapes I Am Just A Rapper 1 and 2 as well as 2010’s Culdesac album. Glover’s career as an actor and writer for popular television series Community and 30Rock sparked  interest among indie circles about this multi-talented rapper who spat lyrics about being a role model for middle class black kids and making “white” rap.

It’s obvious from opener ‘Outside’ that CAMP is going to go heavy on production, perhaps feeling the pressure to produce an album worthy of a price tag after gaining a significant following from his free releases. After only a few listens the album still needs to grow on me but initial impressions suggest the attempt to make a ‘big’ album hasn’t really paid off with a few epic choruses bordering on cringeworthy. He still triumphs when he sticks to his tried and tested aggressive flow on tracks like ‘Backpackers’, ‘You See Me’ and the brilliant ‘Bonfire’ which calls to mind his anthemic gem ‘Freaks & Geeks‘.

“I rap about my dick and talk about what girls is fly, I know it’s dumb, that’s the fucking reason I’m doing it” he asserts on ‘All the Shine’. Well whatever the reason/justification for it, the fact remains; the same lyrical content (having sex, being written off, being an actor and rapper, changing ‘the game’) which came across as witty and clever in early releases have grown tiresome.

Perhaps the LP’s finest moment comes in one of Glovers’ moments of modesty. One of the album’s highlights ‘That Power’ concludes in a story which confirms Glover’s knack for writing/storytelling, an eloquently told four and a half minute tale about the bus home from summer camp. While it’s likely to be skipped after one or two listens much the same as Chris Rock’s episode at the end of Kanye’s ‘Blame Game’, it’s poignancy cannot be denied. Check it out here.

Awesome video for Bonfire too…