Music

REVIEWS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

I’m often asked by my friends what I’m listening to. I’m using this page to put that information out there for anyone that wants to know. I obviously won’t list EVERYTHING that I’m listening to, but when something new comes along that I love, I’ll make sure to write about it here:)

1. Tricky, Mixed Race (2010)
I’m a huge fan of Tricky. When the album came out, I was slow on picking it up, but that changed as soon as I got word that I’d be photographing his concert in Köln for MOG in November last year. I picked up the album immediately and loaded it with all of his other albums onto my iPhone for the long drive (3 hours, minimum!) to Köln (Cologne, to the English people).

The album is brilliant. In interviews, Tricky has said that this, to him, feels the most like ‘him’ than the others. Maybe he’s changed over the years, maybe he’s gotten more comfortable, who knows… but the album, although definitely different from his earlier work like Maxinquaye and Angels With Dirty Faces, is still definitely Tricky’s sound. Not to compare, but the differences heard here are not so glaring as, say, the differences between Portishead’s second and third studio albums, which were released about a decade apart.

Check it out if you like: Tricky, Massive Attack, Portishead, Costanza

2. Caro Emerald, Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor (2010)
I came across Caro thanks to the most amazing radio station in Bavaria, EgoFM. You can expect a station that plays Ludacris right next to Portishead to give you the good stuff. I’ve not been disappointed yet.

I Shazamed her (yes, it’s a verb now for me) and checked out the track on iTunes. I usually make sure to check out the last two albums of any band that I get from Shazam, and this is her debut. It’s blown me away. It’s perfect Maneaters material, but past that it’s really well-written and produced. Her lyrics are spotless and the sound won’t really convince you that it was made in 2010.

I love that she can walk the line between vulnerable innocence and strong-woman-with-gumption without any trouble or lack of conviction. There’s no doubt that she can play both parts easily and with 100% success. Nowhere in the same country as ‘contrived’.

The sound is definitely retro, but I can’t place it absolutely. I’d say a mix of the 20’s and Swinging 40’s overlapping a mix of big band and jazz. Her voice is slightly Shana Halligan (Bitter:Sweet) and definitely an alto. Sweet, sultry and confident. YES.

Check it out if you like: Waldeck, Bitter : Sweet, Sharon Jones

3. The Hundred in the Hands, The Hundred in the Hands (2010)
You wouldn’t believe it, but this is their debut album. They’ve put out a few LPs and EPs before this, but this is the first full length from the pair that bonded while driving around in a van, playing each other music.

And thank goodness for that. I took them running with me today and got a chance to really dig into the lyrics. Here’s what I can say about them based on what they’re writing: they’re experienced in matters of the heart. The lyrics are somewhat abstract, but grounded enough for the listener to assign personal scenarios to most of the songs. Which to me, is a good thing. Stephanie Meyer would agree with me. But the writing here is way better, IMO.

For me this is a really diverse but mellow album: it speeds up in places and manages to pull you back in if you happen to start to drift off during one of the slower numbers. Eleanore’s voice is a definite high point for me… I love her kind of breathy, relaxed singing. I can’t choose a favorite track because I really do enjoy the whole album from front to back, but I was turned on to them by the song Commotion, which I totally love. It’s the perfect album for laying on your floor with the headphones on and daydreaming in the middle of the carpeting on a sunny day. It’s also perfect for driving long country roads, nights in the city and definitely a good pacemaker for a jog.

Check it out if you like: Sleigh Bells, Flunk, the Sounds, Mando Daio, Heart

4. Sleigh Bells, Treats (2010)
No, I’m not late to the party on this one, I just STILL love it so much since I bought it in the middle of last year.

Sleigh Bells was picked up by MIA after she heard a demo. That information alone will either make people run to them or toss them immediately in the trash. Based on all of the media drama that chick was causing last year, I was ready for the second option. But then I heard them, and I haven’t turned back since. To add to their awesome sound, they were actually giving out the entire album for free online (if you could find it) before its official release. How cool are they? Smart marketing, guys. And the lyrics are good too, paying a huge homage to all things young, hip and high school.

This album is fucking LOUD. There’s a lot of guitars, drums, synths and a really sexy femme voice over all of it. This is like the cool parties that we all want to go to but can never seem to find, either because we’re already too old to be in the know or because they don’t really exist. It’s that sweaty, screaming party in the unknown warehouse where everyone is dancing their asses off and probably making some poor decisions later on. This is the epitome of cool, head bobbing and not giving a shit. It is, quite figuratively, the new sex. Better than sliced bread, even, which is highly overrated by comparison. This album pulls out a nail file, sharpens its nails to points and rips the bread to shreds.

Check it out if you like: Good music, distortion, MIA, Santigold

5. Adele, 21 (2011)
I’m late to the game in posting this, but that’s only because I’ve been sampling loads of mediocre albums that were lined up before this one. Don’t get me started on other artists who have managed to completely fuck up their most important sophomore release… I will say that Adele has managed to prove herself a better musician than some considered great, at the young age of barely legal.

I kind of knew I was going to love this album going into it, there was absolutely no way this could have been messed up for me unless her name was Lady Gaga (yes, I’m pissed and disappointed). She’s still the soulful, wise-beyond-her-years songstress from 19, with more experience, heartbreak and moving on that can only come with age (and experience).

I highly recommend anything this woman touches.

Check it out if you like: Adele, Florence and the Machine, Lykke Li

6. Bonobo, Black Sands (2010)
I’ve always been a fan of these guys and the entire Ninja Tunes family, but I came across this album at the end of last year and it seriously made my year. I’m still listening to it on regular rotation with my other favorites, listed here. This has got to be one of my favorites from Bonobo, period. It starts slow and rhythmic, and speeds up slightly before slowing back down. It’s a nice buzz that lasts all day. It’s the sound of a perfect day.

iTunes would like me to say that it’s filed under ‘Electronic’, and I’d be inclined to agree with that statement, although I could also put it in the ‘chill’ category. It’s a mostly instrumental album, although there are a few songs with vocals and a lot of looped vocal samples throughout.

For anyone looking to try/check out Electronic music, this is as good as it gets.

Andreya Triana makes an appearance on the album, and the album is better for it (as is usually the case, the woman has a great voice). Her first track (of three), ‘Eyes Down’, is what drew me to the album in the first place, although I’m not sure what I heard that made me look for this album in the first place!

I couldn’t choose a favorite track on this album if asked, so I’ll say instead that the entire album is great from start to finish, with each song moving pretty seamlessly to the next. I highly recommend.

Check it out if you like: Ninja Tunes, DJ Shadow, chill music

 7. Gotan Project, La Revancha Del Tango (2001)
I’ve been listening to this album for no less than two weeks straight. I can’t get enough of it. And seeing as it’s kind of hard for me to describe exactly what it is about this whole album that makes me so happy, I thought I’d describe the things that come into my head when I listen to it, because I feel like that might describe the way the music feels to me.This album is living in a romantic city like Paris, Barcelona or Venice. It’s lazy weekdays spent lounging around your lovely central-city second floor flat in your underwear, with all of the floor-to-ceiling windows open, letting in a cool breeze that makes your sheer curtains dance in the sunlight.

It’s passing a hot stranger on a hot day on the street, only to run into them again at dusk on your way back home. A look is exchanged and they are suddenly in your apartment, and you’re all over each other. All night. Possibly into the next evening, in between broken bread,cheese and bottles of cheap red.

This album is never-ending introspective cigarettes smoked indiscriminately in high-contrast corner cafés, on sidewalks along the park, standing at the water’s edge as you watch the boats go by. It’s standing on your balcony, overlooking the city in your underwear, not caring who sees you.

This album is NOT love, but it is the sensual enjoyment of life. I hope that makes sense.

Check it out if you like: chill or lounge music, accordions, tango

8. Stereo MCs, Emporer’s Nightingale (2011)
I really CAN’T get enough of this album. It’s just effing amazing. I’ve been a fan of the MCs for about 17 years now (I counted) and while there are some albums that are definitely better than others, they never cease to put out something great. I love how they cross lines, borders and genres like no other band can or has the courage to do.

The MCs are a force to be reckoned with. And they’re amazing live. I managed to see them for the new album tour last month and I was NOT disappointed. If you want a good show and tons of dancing, go and see them. And definitely check out their latest installment. It’s truly not to be missed. I can’t stop listening to it. Well done, men.

Check it out if you like: Any of their previous work, electronic, dance, great lyrics

9. Lamb, (2011)
There are things that you expect from bands, and things that you don’t. I never quite know WHAT to expect from Lamb, but I wasn’t expecting to get an email from them, asking their loving and loyal fans to pre-order an album that wasn’t even made yet, so they could afford to make it. I never expected to be one of those people who supported bands like this, although there was no question that I pre-ordered the album.

As a ‘thank-you’ to all of us crazy loyals, they made a limited edition cover and poster that included all of our names and came in a numbered case. OF COURSE I’d help one of my favorite bands produce their first album in six years, of course. No question. What I got, what we ALL got, in return was nothing short of amazing. This album is not to be missed, and for me it ranks up there with their best work. Also, they’re great live and I would suggest you see them. What an amazing show. This is another album that I listen to repeatedly and keep going back to.

10. Friendly Fires, Pala (2011)
I don’t remember how I found out about them, or who told me to check them out, but I’m so glad that I did. This is such a great album!!!

My favorite tracks are definitely Show Me Lights, Live Those Days Tonight, and the Strangelove cover (originally by the amazing Depeche Mode), which is featured in a Gucci perfume ad. Guilty, maybe.

The whole album is great, but those are my favorite tracks after far too many repeats and listens in a row. This album is a feeling, it’s a state of being, and it was a great way to float through the last few weeks of my boyfriend being in another country on business. I swear, the daydreams that came from this album really did help me through that.

11. Air, Pocket Symphony (2007)
This is one of my favorite albums to listen to when I’m working or trying to get to sleep.

Air is one of those bands that you feel like you’re supposed to like, because everyone you know whose music opinions you value RAVES about them.

They got a lot of publicity when The Virgin Suicides came into the theaters, due to the soundtrack… it was then that I first tried to like them. It didn’t really work out so well, and I walked away from them. But then when Pocket Symphony came out, I gave them another go and decided that maybe I can’t love ALL of their compositions or albums, but I could definitely love THIS album. It just flows so well, like a CD you could do Yoga to, and not get distracted. It’s not often a good thing for me when an album fades into the background, but that’s precisely WHAT I love about this album. It’s so NOT intrusive or screaming for attention, it’s too mature and confident for that. It plays, and you’re forced to enjoy it. To its own defense, this album fades into the background, but is a lot like your long-time lover in the same room, just sitting on the couch, reading: you’re always conscious of what they’re doing, even if it isn’t much.

12. Air France, No Way Down (2008)
A music friend turned me on to Air France, after we had a discussion in which we both realized that we LOVE the obscure but amazing band the Avalanches, and I lamented that I would KILL for them to put out another album that was even half as good as their first release (I’ll write about that below).

My friend gave me a digital pat on the back and told me to check out this band, and this album specifically, and to try to deny that they were influenced by the Avalanches.I gave it a listen and was HOOKED.

I can’t get enough of this album, I play it over and over again most days. I love when you can just put an album on loop and forget to change the tracks. It’s so good, it all just works together. I could, and do, listen to this album all day sometimes.

13. The Avalanches, Since I Left You (2000)
This album is, by far, one of my favorites of the 00’s. I got introduced to the Avalanches by my then-neighbor Derek, the amazing, excellent, far-too-very-sadly-not-interested-in-me bartender who used to wake up the complex on Sunday mornings by singing U2 at the top of his lungs, quite well.

I was notorious for locking myself out of our house, which was right next to his apartment. Since he worked nights and I was a college student at the time, I could always count on him to let me sit on his couch and hang out until my roommate came home to let me back in. We eventually got to talking about music, and that progressed to sharing music and piracy on a mass scale as we introduced each other to music we’d never heard before.

This album is one of the jewels of that period in my life, and I made it my mission to introduce as many of my friends as possible to this album, with great success:)

You might not have ever heard of the Avalanches (from Australia) or this album, and that’s not your fault. From Wikipedia: “The album contains about 3500 vinyl samples of various genres of music. As it was not originally intended for international release, the duo did not worry about copyright restrictions nor attempt to keep track of which samples they would need to clear.” Although it made a lot of best-of lists, it didn’t get a ton of attention in the mainstream, which has its ups and downs: Up: I’m cool for telling you about it. Down: they don’t get famous and continue to be kind of obscure.

C/o Pitchfork: “what really makes this album brilliant is not as much the volume or quality of the samples used as the way that they’re employed. The Avalanches have managed to build a totally unique context for all these sounds, while still allowing each to retain its own distinct flavor. As a result, Since I Left You sounds like nothing else”. That about sums it up.

Added bonus: John Waters films being used for the track Frontier Psychiatrist. B-more represent.

14. Girl Talk , All Day (2010)
I feel like it’s FINALLY safe to talk about this album, now that all of the hype and raving has worn down. Rest assured, I have been listening to this album NONSTOP since it came out last year…

(this is a cross-post from the fitness blog, where I write about how excellent this album is for multiple reasons)

Have you ever heard of Girl Talk? Well, Girl Talk is a DJ from NY that has been around for a few years, and up until last year, he was mostly a well-kept secret. But alas, all good things come to an end once an album is put out, but this album, All Day, is different.

Why? Well, for lots of reasons.

First of all, it’s free. (click to go to the totally legal download page)

Why is it free? Because GT specializes in Mash-ups, which I’m sure you’ve heard of. If you have managed to NOT hear of things called Mash-ups, then let me explain: you take two songs which have a similar beat, timing, tone, subject, or whatever, and you literally play them both at the same time. Mash-ups have been around for quite some time, and some radio stations even host mash-up shows and take requests late at night or on the weekends. A lot of mash-ups are not that great. But some of them are.

Because the album is made of a bunch of other, copyrighted songs, GT would need to obtain a license to use every song on the album if he wanted to sell it. Since that might not be possible, it’s easier for GT to get famous just giving this album away. Thanks, copyright laws!!!

So the second reason it’s different is because GT doesn’t just employ ONE style of music in the mash-ups. Although most mash-ups work best with hip hop or rap tracks, GT manages to throw in everything, including the kitchen sink: this album has rap, hip hop, rock, hits from the 90′s and 80′s. It has, honestly, everything. The dude managed to get Spacehog into this mix. That takes WORK. Spacehog? Remember them?? And it all works so GD well together, you can’t help but love it.

The reason I say that this on its own is a great high-energy playlist is because each mash-up or part of a track lasts for around a minute, if it’s even that long. It’s great for NOT judging how long it’s been based on the length of a song (which is something I do quite often). The variety is great enough, and it all sounds so effing excellent that you can’t help but just pay attention and keep going.

This is a favorite album of mine for running. It just NEVER stops.

And in case all of this isn’t excellent enough, GT has made a FEATURE-LENGTH video (available in parts or tracks) called Girl Walk of three dancers (plus many more) dancing through NYC to the entire album. I’ve supplied you with part 1 below so you can sample the awesome. Just one more reason to love NYC: you can film stuff like this on the street with no warning, and it’s no big deal.

15. Goldfrapp, Black Cherry (2003)
I’m a huge fan of ALL things Goldfrapp, this just happens to be the album I’m rocking this week. It was, also, my official introduction to the band back in 2004 or so. I don’t remember how or when, but this album ended up in my hands and it has since left my hands multiple times when I want to introduce OTHER friends to the magic that is Allison Goldfrapp.

I think because it was my first, it’s my favorite. As stated above, I love all of the albums (Felt Mountain was the hardest for me to get down with, but even that happened over time).

Also, unlike some of the other albums, or at least, to a different extent than the others, this album IS sex. It’s dirty, electronic and sexy to its rotten fetish core. What other album could you find songs like Strict Machine, Twist and Tiptoe on? This album is red glitter 7″ platform mary janes paired with striped over-the-knee socks leading up to a crinoline petticoat. Yeah. Exactly that.

 16. The Black Keys, Brothers (2010)
When this came out, people could NOT stop talking about it and I was a bit wary of checking it out. It was just after I moved to Germany and I was still getting the hang of how things get released. Thankfully, my iTunes account is still linked to my US bank account, so I was able to get my digital paws on it before my Deutsch comrades were.

And I’m not disappointed. I got it when it came out, and I haven’t stopped listening to it yet. That’s good. It’s one of those easy albums that seems to have a mood for everything, and you can just keep it looped on repeat and play it all day. And not even mind. You can’t do that with all albums, you know?

*

17. Little Dragon, Ritual Union

I hear Little Dragon first on an excellent track from SBTRKT’s latest album, the track is called Wildfire. I found her voice to be incredibly sexy and definitely wanted to hear more. So I did a little lookup on iTunes and settled on this album.

I’ve been listening to it nonstop and can’t get enough of it. I love the overly electronic sound and the ‘sound signature’ of her work, even though apparently each of her albums are slightly different from each other. I can’t exactly choose a favorite song, because honestly the album kind of falls together for me and I find myself losing time while listening to it.

But that’s not always a bad thing, as I’ve said before. I just can’t choose a super high- or low-light on the album. Everything is great, so that’s what I’m saying. Give it a listen if you like electronic music and sexy female voices. And decent lyrics, thank goodness:)

18. La Roux, La Roux (2009)

I’m not late to the party, I just love love love this effing album. When Elly and Ben came out with this back in ’09 it was THE TITS, and honestly, it still is. They’re still kind of alone on the new-wave/electropop stage, and whatever, that’s fine. Elly’s such a gd individual. Let her have the whole stage.

I’ve been listening to the album since it came out, and it’s a permanent fixture on my iPhone for when I get tired of sampling new music that usually ends up blowing. I can listen to this album at any time of day, straight through: case in point, I totally fell asleep with it the other night in my headphones. That shouldn’t be the case for anything faster than Portishead, but Ellie can do it and I’m happy to have her singing to me when I fall asleep.

I can’t wait for the new album to come out. It’s about time, isn’t it? They’ve been working on it since ’09!I can’t even choose a damn favorite on this album, there are just too many excellent tracks. And Elly is SO hot. It’s like if Tilda Swinton had a hot sister who sang.

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19. The Kills, Blood Pressures (2011)
I feel like I’ve been saying this about a lot of albums, but I have to say it again: I can’t stop listening to this album. It’s been on repeat, totally looping, for at least a week.

Unlike the other albums, though, I totally have favorites on this one: Future Starts Slow is a perfect track, and I could listen to this ONE track over and over and over again. Nail in My Coffin is amazing, and I’ve put it on an upcoming Maneaters album. Damned if She Do is effing great as well, and too good NOT to love.

In all honesty, the whole album is worthy of love. But these are the top three for me.

This is, also, the first Kills album that I’ve actually enjoyed fully. Earlier ones (No Wow specifically) didn’t really wow me (pun totally intended).. but now that Blood Pressures is here and I’m in love, I feel the need to go back and listen to all of the others as well and see if I didn’t miss something. Maybe it’s like my taste buds, and now that we’ve all matured I might like something I heard earlier better.

20. BurialUntrue (2007)
I can’t stop listening to this album.

A new friend came over just about a week ago so I could take some photos of his scar, and we realized during the shooting that we have almost exactly the same taste in music. That was awesome, and it was a totally excellent, bonding-experience kind of day.

So then we started emailing each other cool music to share, and I eventually added him to some emails to other people, also about music. The first song he gave me was Archangel, off of this album. I’m not even joking when I say this: I listened to that song on repeat for a minimum of 4 hours one day. It’s just TOO good not to listen to repeatedly.

Something funny happened after that: another friend sent the same song in a separate (but involved) email, as a featured suggestion. Too perfect, wouldn’t you say? The planets definitely aligned.

Then I thought I should give Burial another shot, since I’d heard his debut album, Burial, a few years back and, I guess, wrote it off or just wasn’t overly impressed. So I went and found this second album, and I have to say that I am TRULY impressed. Now it’s gone from just listening to Archangel on repeat to listening to the entire album on repeat.

I have to say, I’d recommend it to anyone. I really would. It’s a great electronic (specifically: dub-step) primer. A nice way to ease into Burial, too. Because you know now I have to go back and listen to ALL of the albums, to see if I missed the train on something excellent.

iamamiwhoami21. iamamiwhoami, Kin (2012)

I honestly can’t remember WHERE I heard her first, but after recommending her to multiple friends, downloading, and converting videos to MP3 for all I COULDN’T find on iTunes, I think I can safely say she’s one of the better things I found in 2012. Just at the end, of course, since we save the best for last, right?

So this is apparently a ‘project’ from Jonna Lee and her producer, and they’ve got their own youtube page where you can see all of the excellent, haunting videos they’ve produced to go with this most excellent music.

I can’t remember if it was Clump or Sever that I heard first, but regardless, they stick in my mind as my two favorites, even after having been through everything else. As an artist and film lover, I’m in love with the videos and how representative they are, while still bordering on the nonsensical. They remind me of Matthew Barney’s work, honestly.

Definitely check them out (and love them) if you’re a fan of Swedish electronic, since I’d say they fall pretty soundly into that genre without being TOO stereotypical. And now I must go check out everything Jonna Lee. Because we know that’s where this is leading..,

22. the Limousines, Get Sharp (2011)
Talk about an accidental find… I heard these guys at the Sounds concert I went to last year. They were the openers, just after a DJ. Normally I’m not a fan of the opening bands. Not on principle, just lots of practice. I hardly EVER catch anything amazing while waiting for someone else to come on. I can’t be the only one.

So then these absolute KIDS get on stage, and there’s just three of them… a lead with a guitar, a drummer, and number three is behind him with a powerbook. Seriously. I’m not sure if I rolled my eyes or not, but there’s a huge chance I did.

They started playing, and it was mildly interesting. I think I’d already made up my mind about them, but then I was finally able to tune in and listen to the lyrics, and then I started to enjoy them. A lot.

I think Very Busy People caught me initially and made me laugh a bit, but then the songs that REALLY got me, which I had to go home and listen to again online, were The FutureDancing at her Funeral, and my absolute favorite (now) Wildfires. I dare you to check out these songs and not like them, at least just a little.

Yeah, they’re young, and the subject matter is a little young (but not Fall Out Boy or 98 Degrees ‘young’, there are some things I WON’T do), but they are seriously catchy, and at least they have a sense of humor about themselves. Here’s hoping album two solidifies the deal.

artworks-000020696826-kxzj6w-crop23. Chromatics, Kill for Love (2012)
I’ve had this album in my iTunes library for a few months and haven’t been able to really sit down and listen to it the way I’d like to. I’m starting to think that might be par for the course with this one, since the first time I heard it was in a crowded, noisy bar. One of the tracks caught my attention, and then throughout the night I KEPT hearing just the tiniest bits of songs, all sounding kind of related to each other.

I realized a few hours later the album was repeating itself and got excited, since that meant someone was using an MP3 player somewhere. Thankfully it was the bartender and he told me what the album was. I went home and downloaded it that night.

So this album is great in loud bars, as it’s ambient to begin with and has vocals that are reminiscent of the Jesus and Mary Chain. It’s electronic. It’s ambient, to a point. Downtempo, almost lounge, almost distortion. It’s sitting comfortably in the middle of everything and manages to kind of slip out of YOUR consciousness whenever it’s the album that’s on. I can’t listen to this album enough and I’m going to have to have it on repeat in my headphones for a WEEK to get it down, it’s that slippery.

That’s not a bad thing, it just makes it a little harder to get to. It’s not in the same vein as ‘albums and songs that can’t hold my attention’, it’s more like an album that’s playing hard to get.

All of that being said, the things that DO stick in my head are all worth repeated listens, esp the track Lady, which is the one track that ALWAYS manages to bring me back to the album if I have in fact slipped off again. Definitely worth a listen.

I’ve got a lot of new music to add to the music page, and I feel really bad for just getting to it now… I’ve had a bit of a back log of things to blog lately, as the computer is getting fixed, I’m killing myself with work, and when I am NOT at work, I don’t want to spend time looking at the phone or computer, but at my boyfriend:)

So these albums are the ones I’ve had on repeat on Spotify for the past 3 months or so… Not to plug a program or an app, but I really appreciate Spotify premium meaning I don’t have to update the music on my iPhone. That’s awesome. I don’t have to be choosy anymore about the memory space. I love it.

Polica-Give-You-The-Ghost24. Poliça, Give you the Ghost (2012)
We actually got onto this one right after its release, as an offing AMAZING remix of Lay Your Cards Out came out relatively quickly and got major play on Ego.fm in Germany AND 6 Music in the UK… It became an instant favourite between us towards the fall of 2012.

That being said, it’s been on repeat and I actually bought this one that year. I’ve just been majorly lazy about updating my music page. The entire album is worth the listen, and the first few tracks always really grab me and suck me in.

Quite honestly, I remembered to write about this one because their new one came out last year, and I also need to write about that… so you are getting TWO from them from me. And that is not the only band I’ll do that about today:

Polica-Shulamith25. Poliça, Shulamith (2013)
Hey guys, busy much?

So they released this a year after their last one that I loved, and it’s ALSO excellent? Even Lady Gaga can’t manage that. I loved her first album. Nothing since, sadly.

So Shulamith came out and reminded me of how much I loved their last album, so I ended up listening to BOTH on repeat over the winter.

Is it wrong that I can’t choose a favourite track? Is it wrong that I LOVE the opening track and get excited when I hear it on my playlist? Is it wrong that this album can effectively function in my background for ANYTHING I happen to be doing? I hope not.

MNDR-Feed-Me-Diamonds26. MNDR, Feed me Diamonds (2013)
I caught this one thanks to the band Creep, who remixed the title track and sent us all an email to let us know. The title track is excellent on its own, but the Creep version is equally excellent and possibly better. I can’t tell, actually, since I love them both.

So this is the band’s first full album, although the’ve released a lot of singles before this. And while the title track IS my favourite (what’s the good in being good?), the rest of the album holds my attention to keep it on repeat. It’s a perfect album for walking the streets of Tokyo and especially the crowded train stations. My favourites are (In no order):  Number 1 in Heaven, Faster Horses, Fall in Love With the Enemy, UBCL, Waiting To name more than half of the album is an accomplishment these days.

And if I can just mention for a moment the lyrical goodness that IS Feed Me Diamonds and the historical event it references, I loves it. I haven’t heard too many excellent lyrics these days, and this one is a favourite for that reason, among many others.

phantogram_-_eyelid_movies27. Phantogram, Eyelid Movies (2009)
Another old album that I forgot to post, that ALSO got continuous play once I heard it… very near to its release, I w

as just newly implanted in Germany at the time and it must have slipped my mind, in all of the setting up and getting acclimated that happened.

Once again with the track names, Mouthful of Diamonds was the first track I heard and it had me hooked, but the rest of the album does NOT disappoint. I especially LOVE Running From the Cops, When I’m Small and You are the Ocean, but don’t let that detract: the entire album is worth listening to for an entire day on repeat. It never gets old.

Of course, this is getting listed NOW because of the impressive NEW album they just put out, that came up on the radar:

Voices_album_cover28. Phantogram, Voices (2014)
WAS WORTH THE WAIT.

Because I was listening to the previous one the entire time anyway…🙂 But Voices goes off in a bit of a different direction, while still maintaining the original voice and sound that made me love the earlier album.

The entire FIRST FOUR tracks are excellent together and apart, and lyrically worth a listen. Especially Never Going Home, which might describe my current state of existence…

If you like ANYTHING by Phantogram and haven’t heard this yet, definitely give it a listen. Because it is worth every second.

PURITY-RING-SHRINES-575x57529. Purity Ring, Shrines (2012)
Because I heard and downloaded the single of Belispeak years ago for a Maneaters album, and it came back onto my radar for some unknown reason at some point.

I gave the entire album a listen, and just didn’t stop. Because why should I?

Aside from the odd names of the tracks (that are all a lot longer than seems to be normal these days), JUST TRY to listen to this album and to WANT to stop it halfway through. Because I can’t and don’t.

It’s great for walking the city, just as MNDR is, but in a completely different way. Crawlersout, Fineshrine and Lofticries are my personal favourites, but that is not to say I don’t love the rest of the album as well:)

David Bowie's The Next Day30. David Bowie, The Next Day (2013)
How appropriate to put him at number 30. It’s a nice, round number.

How awesome was it that on his birthday, David just nonchalantly releases a new song, and is like “oh, by the way, here’s something new I’ve been working on, I’ve made an entire new GD album’.? I love this man, seriously. I love the concept of the album cover, I love that he isn’t bothering with touring, and just put out an excellent album. Not fading away, still completely relevant, this one.

I remember how excited I was when I heard Where are we Now? that day, and how excited I was to send it to my (now) boyfriend and tell him about the David making music again. This entire album got us through a drive to Florida from Virginia, and a different drive from Germany to England before that. My personal favourites are the title track, The Stars (are out tonight), (You Will) Set the world on fire, and Valentine’s Day… except that all of them are my favourites, it that even possible? I can’t say that there is a song on this one that I DISlike… that’s not true of all David’s albums, but this and Heathen can do no wrong.

139022277431. WetWet (2013)
Do you know how hard it is to google this band? It’s effing rough. The band is called Wet, the album is also called Wet, and when you google search, you get Wet Wet Wet and their entire history, of course.

This isn’t a full album, but an EP with 4 tracks, but those 4 tracks are brilliant. And since this is a first release, better to discuss NOW, rather than after they’ve become all famous and stuff.

Recommended by my lovely friend Drew, the band hails from Brooklyn and could be classified as indie, pop, electronic, etc. The songs are slow, moody and vocals are great. I love her voice, and love it especially over the tracks. Slightly sulky, a little muted, but beautiful.

131211-young-fathers-dead-cover32. Young FathersDead (2014)
Surprise winners of the Mercury Prize, these guys snuck on the music scene out of practically nowhere. I checked them out just before the results came out (but after reading a list of nominees), and I have to say: an interesting album. Actually, the first time around, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, but after a few listens it grew on me.

Something odd, though: their single, Get Up, for some reason makes me think of those crazy Terminus cannibals from the Walking Dead. I have absolutely no idea why, but I think it’s something about the line from the track ‘come in and do the right thing‘. That’s all I can say.

Aside from that oddity, I really appreciate their lyrics and style. This is a nice, new Hip Hop. For some reason it reminds me a lot of Tyler the Creator. Anyone else?

Check them out if you like good lyrics.

91533. TirzahI’m not Dancing (2013), No Romance (2014)
I heard both of these back to back, when I went to check out the voice of the woman singing on Tricky’s latest album.

What I love most about the fact that she’s on his new album is how he found her: his teenage daughter, whom he had with the excellent Martina Topley Bird, had been listening to Tirzah, and he found her through his daughter. I’d expect only the BEST musical tastes out of the child of those two, but what I find a bit interesting is how similar Tirzah’s voice sounds to Martina’s.

In the track I’m Not Dancing, she says, “I’m not dancing, I’m fighting/ I’m not shining, I’m burning/ I’m not touching, I’m feeling”. Those are some lyrics I can get behind. And both of the EPs are excellent.

*

unnamed234. Five Knives, Savages (2015)
Holy shit, what a gd excellent album.

I’m not sure where I heard about Five Knives. I do this thing where whenever someone or some article mentions a band I might like, I go to Spotify, save the album, and then listen to it later when I have the time. I know that Five Knives was added recently, but I can’t remember if it was a friend or an article that mentioned them to me.

If you like Sleigh Bells or the Sounds, and like strong female vocals, check the album out. They’re from Nashville, of all places, and sound so incredibly high-energy, I think they’re on my list of ‘must please see live’ bands for the future. They only appear to be doing things like Warped Tour at the moment, so I guess I’ll have to hope they’ll come to Tokyo, or try to catch them when I’m back in the US. Adding them to my Songkick tracked list… now.

I’ve listened to the album straight through and around again no less than 10 times in the past 2 weeks, mostly on my commute to and from work. They’re the right kind of ‘going to fuck things up’, ‘get it on’ music I need to listen to before I go into my office and turn into a machine. Their lyrics might be a little ‘in my 20’s’, but they’re not bad, or bullshit at all. Take My Picture, I Love You to Death and Criminal are perfect Maneaters material. Criminal is a perfect opener to the album before it speeds up and gets out of control. Rattatat is very MIA in the lyrics, but feels more like it came from Sleigh Bells. Female empowerment all over the damn place.

I’ll definitely be purchasing, once I’m home. Highly recommend.

35. FKA Twigs, EP1 (2014)TWIGS---FACEBOOK-AVATAR
I’m so late to the game posting this, although we’ve loved her for so long here at our house… we just forgot to talk about it. I’m pissed we’ll be missing her when she comes to play Fuji Rock this month here in Tokyo, but I’m not interested in much else on that line-up, or that many assholes being in one place. I might be almost done with festival concerts (Stephanie, if you read this, take note: I still want a festival concert as my bachelorette party).

If you don’t know who FKA Twigs is yet, or why she’s awesome, then here’s a video you can watch. Artist, performer, and lovely voice. Gorgeous lyrics, great sound, and it appears, a really great live show as well. Oh, and she won the Mercury Prize in 2014. Because of course she did.

I’m actually surprised Tricky hasn’t tapped her for a collaboration, since her sound is right in line with what he’s usually looking for in a female vocalist. Maybe she isn’t gritty enough? BUT THAT VOICE!

Favorite tracks: Two Weeks, Video Girl, Pendulum. Check her out, see her live, buy all the albums she makes. Yes, please.

Unknown36. Buscabulla, Kitsune: Buscabulla (2014)
Buscabulla (Spanish slang for troublemaker) is the music project of Puerto Rican designer and Brooklyn resident, Raquel Berrios and Luis Alfredo Del Valle. Thanks, Last.fm. The duo showed up on my music radar sometime last year, and I patiently waited for the album to be released. It’s a short little thing, only 4 songs, but it’s never the size that matters, is it?

These 4 tracks are awesome. All of them. They can stand on their own, and they also work well as a team. Electronic, visceral, atmospheric and has a strong baseline. Everything I love in music when I can’t understand the lyrics. Caer is definitely my favorite of the 4, but it’s not a boy band, so I don’t necessarily need to choose between the edgy one or the shy one.

Give it a listen if you like Si*Se, Brazilian Girls, Esthero, Gotan Project, or female vocals.

a4169490652_1037. Ta-Ku, Songs to Break up To (2013)
I don’t even remember where I got this recommendation from. It might have been a student, it might have been BBC or Radio 6. I can’t remember. But I found this album in 2015 and haven’t stopped playing it. It’s wonderful. It’s all electronic, instrumental hip-hop. It flows and has emotion, and is perfect for playing in the background of just about anything.

There isn’t a track on this album that I dislike, but my favorites might have to be I Miss You and Heartbreak. I think because they’re at the top of the album, they have the most impact. Once you realize how great the album is, you continue to enjoy it, but it’s no longer a revelation, maybe?

Check it out if you like: Burial, Underworld, Gotan Project, Bonobo.

38. Alpine, Yuck (2015)
It’s getting to the point where I don’t even know anymore. I don’t remember where I heard about Alpine or who told me about them. But they’re one of the many bands (albums) saved to my Spotify account, which means I WANTED to check them out at some point. I’m just hearing about different bands from too many different places.

But this one is at the top of the list, so I always see it first when I go to it. I’ve listened to it a few times and liked it enough to keep it ON the list, so there’s that.

Alpine hails from Australia and has put out a few other things prior to this. I guess this means, since I saved their 2015 album, that I heard about them from somewhere pretty recently, as this album is their newest. Had I heard about them earlier, I might have saved their previous full-length release, A is for Alpine.

Phoebe’s voice is soft and airy, and sounds a bit like Joanna Newsom at times (the earlier, higher-pitched Joanna Newsom). That’s not a bad thing. It’s a great thing. She also reminds me of the lead singer of Flunk, who we haven’t heard from in a while.

The music is classified on iTunes as alternative, but I’m not sure it fits into that category. But really, maybe I just assume everyone is electronic these days. Up for Air and Foolish are really nice tracks, although I don’t like ALL of the lyrics in Come On. Aside from my issue with the lyrics in that song, everything else sounds pretty solid. I highly recommend!

39. Creep, Echoes (2013)
I definitely heard about this one from Lou Rhodes. Because she worked with Creep to make Vertigo (on this album), she sent out an email about it to her mailing list, and posted about it on Facebook.

I’ve heard a few tracks from them before, and like their way of working with other artists, like Tricky does, for vocals. It’s very similar to Tricky, which is great since he also appears on this album with his song Call Her.

I think the fact that they’ve used different vocalists makes it an interesting album to listen to, since although the songs may sound similar as you go through it, the changing vocals definitely make you pay attention. I really love the track Days, and Jessica King from Dark Sister is effing creepy, or maybe just sad when you listen to the lyrics.

Listen to it, you’ll like it.

40. Sleigh Bells, Bitter Rivals (2013)
Just keep going, Sleigh Bells. The sophomore release was amazing, and I actually have been listening to it nonstop. My proof and example is this: I basically keep NO music on my phone, in order to save space. I stream just about everything on Spotify these days, and if it’s really good, I buy it. And it lives on my computer iTunes playlist.

But there are a few albums I keep on the phone, in case Mark is using Spotify (he shares my account now, and if we BOTH want to listen to music, we have to choose who it will be, since it won’t stream on more than one device at a time). For this exact situation, I keep a few of my favorites on the phone, ready to go. And this album is on there, and has been since its release in 2013.

You just can’t beat Sleigh Bells. Right from the beginning with the title track, it’s on. And it really doesn’t stop, even if it slows down slightly, for the next 9 tracks. It’s insane. I love their energy so much. The first release was amazing and I wasn’t really expecting them to be able to mimic it for a follow-up, but they definitely succeeded. You Don’t Get me Twice, Sugarcane, Sing Like a Wire, basically every track on this album is hard-hitting and full of energy. I just can’t turn it off.

*****

Hey! We’ve reached 40 albums on this page, and it’s time for a new one. Please continue with the recommendations by going to my Music (continued) page.

3 Responses “Music” →

  1. roy leiser

    20.01.2013

    I found this article about a year ago while looking from a cover picture for an album.

    Since than I’ve dowloaded almost all of the albums recommended here and they’re amazing! Thank you so much for publishing this post! finding a new good album can make your week so much better… this post made A LOT of weeks so much better!

    Reply

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