January 8, 2014

My top 3 of 2013

There are plenty of lists that try to argue for the best albums of the year, but I want to take a different approach. I'm going to go over the 3 albums I liked most, and listened to most. I don't feel like agonizing past these, so this let's me agonize over which songs to link to.

The Bones Of What You Believe

Just a great freshman album from a new synthpop band. I've always been a sucker for girl-fronted pop bands, and this is no exception. The songs create a lot of different tempos and moods. Some make you want to dance in a dark room with repetitive lights and noises-

Some sexy puns, and bitterness. I couldn't be happier.

The band isn't a one trick pony, though. Other songs have a kind of desperation and evoke empathy and emotion that you wouldn't normally get out of an electric pop band:

I know a song hits a certain chord with me when I get goosebumps. The song doesn't hide the fact that it's a long metaphor for life, and how we can all begin to slip under sometimes. There's a darkness, but also an optimism that breaks through around 1:25, when the tempo changes. This pattern repeats itself, with the brightness lasting longer each time, until it rounds out the song.

Here's their first single, The Mother We Share.

This song captures their sound pretty well- an upbeat sound, with a sensitivity in the lyrics. It's hard to pay attention to both, but the end sound is great either way. You can listen to this album on repeat, and hear a lot of different styles and moods. I tend to listen to albums on repeat for days or weeks, so they have to have the depth to stand up to this kind of obsessiveness.


You've probably heard Fuckin' Problems, but if you haven't, here's a treat:

Why do I like A$AP Rocky so much? The guy isn't afraid to allude to other artists. To collaborate with other artists. This song features 3 of the hottest artists out- Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz, and Drake. 3 great verses, wrapped in a great hook. A good way to break into the mainstream is when you're working with the most popular guys in the game. He also collaborates with Skrillex, Santigold, and Florence Welch (Florence and the Machine), showing he will work with the best, regardless of their genre.

Songs like PMW (All I Really Need) show he can allude to Lil Wayne, but still bring his own interpretation and sound to this song. Schoolboy Q drops a verse, and alludes to his own song (Hands On The Wheel- where Rocky is featured), furthering the intertextuality of Rocky and what he brings.

It isn't just about having other artists help you out. Even on his own, he's great-  rounds out with strong solo songs like Goldie-

It's hard to really pinpoint what I like so much about his album. I talk a lot about sound, and the sound of songs. I used to think I liked lyrics, but the more I listen to music, the more I've discovered that I am really obsessed with tone and harmony. A different pitch in the hook, a little high-pitched play at 2:10. He ends both verses with the same lines, but the pace and tone that is set in the beginning portion of each verse carries over into the ending lines, producing two very different sound setups. I like this kind of variety and experimentation, especially when there is so much attention to pitch and a wide range of chords.

He even does a pretty decent sexy song. Can't blame him- why not?


Everyone's heard Royals, but if you haven't, you can listen to a little with some Rick Ross.

Lorde, another freshman artist (god, there have been a lot of new breakout artists these past 2 years), sings about never being a royal (though she's the queen bee this year with the most popular song of 2013). Rick Ross juxtaposes the opulence that Lorde fantasizes about- singing about dead presidents and his dirty boots muddying up his new Rolls Royce.

Another of my favorite songs that really showcases her overall style is Team-

You may say that this song cheats- it has clapping and a female pop artist surrounded by synthetic instrumentation. Right before the 30 second mark, her voice is manipulated, deepeend, and dropped off- providing the backdrop to lay a beat and some group clapping. You hear the maturity in her voice. The classic introduction period where she builds up the sound backdrop. Lorde has talked about having to focus so much on her voice, and you can tell the focus of the song is on the quality of her voice and the soundscape she can create. It's nice to hear this organic sounding, but also well manipulated, mature voice against the synthetic pop beats she sings against.

She does it again on A World Alone-

This time, she completely shifts gears around 1:20. A long introduction? When I first heard this song, I thought it would be a simple, maybe even somber song. Ah, but then she oohs and starts talking more personally. Kicking bad habits, some we can all relate to. Then you get catchy hook with an upbeat tempo, and lulled into a false sense of security again. Every time you hear the oohs, you know the catchy hook will be coming back soon, and you really anticipate and want to hear it. It's a poppy hook that people will sing along to on the radio, but also has some smart layering and lots of originality.

I'm excited to see what 2014 brings us. What were you 3 favorite albums of the year?

February 24, 2011

The Muppets and LCD Soundsystem

This has to be the best new music video on YouTube this week. This fan made video of The Muppets performing Dance Yourself Clean, the amazing opening track on LCD Soundsystem's latest album, is really really sweet:

It's basically a follow-up to the Kermit-starring fan video to LCD Soundsystem's New York I Love You from a couple of years back:

Today's post marks the tenth and eleventh music video starring puppets posted to Esoteric Mumblings. Be sure to check out all the past puppet themed posts from the Internet's number one (maybe) puppet music video blog.
February 2, 2011

One Evening Hotel

After listening to Broken Social Scene's 'Hotel' on a bus trip the other day, I realised that there was something very familiar about the ending of the song. A quick listen to Feist's 'One Evening' confirmed what I had suspected - they have the excact same guitar riffs! How come I never noticed this before? Here's a mix I made where the two songs are blended together:

mp3: Feist & Broken Social Scene - One Evening Hotel

January 22, 2011

Some of my favorite remixes right now

Hello world, how have your first three weeks of the new year been?

My apologies for the lack of updates in the last month! I know none of these are particularly new anymore by now, but anyway: Here are three of my favorite remixes right now.

December 23, 2010

Acoustic christmas songs (eight mp3s for download)

Enjoy some selected minimalist acoustic christmas tunes by Erlend Øye (Kings of Convenience, Whitest Boy Alive), E (Eels) and more. I guarantee you peaceful Christmas atmosphere if you fire up this playlist at medium to low volume on your living room stereo. Happy holidays, everyone!

mp3: Erlend Øye - Last Christmas

mp3: E - Everything 's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas

mp3: Mew - She Came Home For Christmas (acoustic version)

mp3: Coldplay - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

mp3: Seabear - We Like Winterclothes

mp3: Arcade Fire - Jingle Bell Rock

mp3: Okkervil River - Listening To Otis Redding At Home During Christmas

mp3: The Magnetic Fields - Everything Is One Big Christmas Tree

mp3: Uusi Fantasia feat. Eirik Bøe - Barefoot not Naked

My favorite musicians from Finland, electronica trio Uusi Fantasia, recently finally realeased a long overdue follow-up to their fantastic (and brutally underappreciated) 2004 debut Top Ten. The new album is titled Heimo and came out last month. Just like the debut album it's filled with chillout / jazz inspired electronica, but with a few more radio friendly and poppish tracks this time around. One of my favorite tracks is 'Barefoot Not Naked', a collaboration featuring Kings of Convenience's Eirik Glambæk Bøe. A long time friend of Uusi Fantasia, Bøe adds both his soft vocals and his characteristic acoustic guitar play to the track, which ends up as the best (but also only) Norwegian-Finnish song I've heard to date. The voice of Kings of Convenience's Erlend Øye worked really well with Röyksopp's chillout electronica classic Melody AM (2001), and bandmate Bøe suits the similar-sounding Uusi Fantasia landscape perfectly as well. (Check out Bøe's appearance on Cornelius' 2006 album Sensuous for another example of how well his vocals go with chillout electronica).
December 16, 2010

Holiday song from Beach House

mp3: Beach House - I Do Not Care for the Winter Sun

Beach House have had a very successful year. Their third LP, Teen Dream, has and reaped much more critical acclaim, and reached out to much larger masses of people, than their first two albums cold ever dream of. It's featured in many end of year lists as one of 2010's essential records, and I ranked it as my fourth favorite album of the year. Now the band is giving back to its fans, and just announced via Twitter:

We wrote a holiday song for you, thanks for the great year!

The pleasure has been all mine, Beach House. Download the song (it's really good!) via the link above, or via Beach House's official website.

mp3: Asobi Seksu - Trails

James Hanna and Yuki Chikudate of NYC duo Asobi Seksu have given the world the first taste of their forthcoming fourth LP, Fluorescence. Judging by 'Trails', the band has left the honey glazed dream pop sound of 2009's Hush behind, and returned to a rougher shoegaze sound again. On this song, they're so My Bloody Valentine, and I'm loving it!
December 14, 2010

My Top 25 albums of 2010: #10 - #1

My Top 25 albums of 2010:
#10 - #1

10. MGMT - Congratulations
//Country: US
//Favorite tracks: It's Working, Someone's Missing, Flash Delirium, Congratulations

mp3: MGMT - Congratulations

MGMT bashing has been all the rage across the Internet all year long, but I'm not one of the fans who hated the sophomore record. In fact, I think it's fantastic! To be fair, though, the band did bring the bashing onto themselves: After scoring the absolutely massive radio hit 'Kids', and packing their debut album full of equally danceable and dangerously addictive tunes, such as 'Electric Feel' and 'Time to Pretend', the two psychedelica-electropop-new wave-disco playing Brooklyn hipsters dressed in 60s hippie clothing were expected to continue their safe success formula, but it seems like they decided not to out of pure stubbornness. Instead, they threw away all late 70s new wave and disco influences, and instead started playing music that matched their clothing: vintage 60s hippie psychedelic rock with organic instruments. Not only did they change their sound, they also seemed to write songs with a strong focus on the fixed goal of never producing another hit song again. A friend of mine who went to Coachella this year reported that MGMT apparently flatly refused to play 'Kids', even after their fans begged them to do so. They seemed to have reached a position where they felt they could do whatever they wanted, and they decided to don't worry too much about the reactions from their fans.

While Congratulations isn't terribly unaccessible or experimental, it definitely isn't an album with any catchy radio material either. The songs are more progressive, and often straight-out weird, and quite impossible to dance to. The amazing second track 'Someone's Missing' builds up and builds up, nearing something that could have become a danceable, euphoric climax and then … just ends. Right there. 'Flash Delirium' takes us through a jungle maze of ever-changing melodies and rhythms and styles, in a freakish several-songs-in-one-experience that ends up close in style to Beatles tracks like 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun', or close MGMT friends of Montreal's 2007 album Skeletal Lamping (I never understood all the bashing of the latter, either - I loved the unstable songs, the rapid mood and melody changes and general schizophrenia throughout the album, and think is underrated in the same way as Congratulations). In the album closing and title track, MGMT manage fine without the synthesizers of the first album, and the flutes and horns and I-don't-know-what of 'Flash Delirium', and deliver the album's finest track with few more instruments to rely on than an acoustic guitar. With their immense talent, they can pull that sort of thing off easily. They're capable of catchy pop songs as well as progressive and semi-experimental rock, of bombastic synth as well as modest acoustic guitars, and this year they've proven this to the entire world.

9. Janelle Monáe - The ArchAndroid
//Country: US
//Favorite tracks: Faster, Tightrope (Feat. Big Boi), Oh Maker, Mushrooms & Roses, Make The Bus (Feat. Of Montreal)

Monáe's sound is said to be 'futuristic', but to me, she's more of a time traveller, revisiting all kinds of ages, including the future. For the charismatic singer's amazing debut LP, she serves us a concept album that refuses to limit itself to any single genre or style, taking us both forward and back in time through 70s rock and Jackson-esque funk pop, contemporary R&B, classic soul, futuristic soul-punk and afrofuturism, and more. The concept album tells the science-fiction tale of a Messias-like android called Cindi Mayweather, Monáe's alter ego, in the city of Metropolis. From the ridiculously addictive guitar riff of 'Faster' to the slow ballad 'Sir Greendown''s excellent showcasing of Monáe's incredible voice, to the absolute pop genius and funky horns of 'Tightrope', to the long prog-rock guitar solos and robotic voice filter on 'Mushrooms & Roses', the album is a true masterpiece filled with so many excellent ideas, so much sprawling creativity, such limitless artistic inspiration, and such rare flat-out refusal to confinement into any single musical style, that I really end up with nothing more to say than: The ArchAndroid can't be explained. Give it a listen, now.

8. Broken Bells - Broken Bells
//Country: US
//Favorite tracks: The High Road, October, The Mall & Misery

mp3: Broken Bells - The Mall & Misery

I absolutely loved Beck's new sound on Modern Guilt (2008), which I believe he owed much to Danger Mouse's excellent production work. When I first heard that The Shins' James Mercer were to collaborate with Danger Mouse on a new project, I was very excited - another ingenious alternative rock songwriter and beloved artist of mine was to team up with Danger Mouse and his pop production skills! While Mercer kept almost exclusively within the confines of mellow acoustic pop on the first two Shins albums, he carefully explored entirely new soundscapes on the third album Wincing The Night Away (2007), like on the excellent opener 'Sleeping Lessons'. With Broken Bells, he seems to have let himself even more free to explore new styles and sounds thanks to the different project name. Mercer's always-present characteristic voice does give us a constant reminder that this is in some ways is the next Shins album, but this is something more than just a Mercer project: while the Shins is a project that revolves around him, with him writing all the songs and playing them with an ever-changing backing band, the songwriting on Broken Bells was a true collaboration, a two-man effort. Listening to the album gives you the impression that the two great songwriters truly had fun working together. The meeting of the mastermind who wrote 'New Slang' and the mastermind who wrote 'Crazy' has resulted in one of 2010's most fresh-sounding and catchy pop albums.

7. Foals - Total Life Forever
//Country: UK
//Favorite tracks: Miami, Spanish Sahara, This Orient

Foals' 2008 debut album Antidotes was an intense three-quarter hour of fast-paced and danceable post-punk-esque music in the same alley as, for instance, early Bloc Party. This year's follow-up Total Life Forever is much more introverted, slower and my opinion actually much better. Emotional ballads like 'Spanish Sahara' and '2trees' show a new and more mature side of the band, but tracks like 'Miami', with its addictive riff, still gives us something to dance to. From the mood-setting and perfect opener, 'Blue Blood', to the anthemic chorus of 'This Orient', Foals show that they're something much more than just another hip, danceable post-punk band out to score a few hits in the world's indie club dance floors. My top ten is almost completely dominated by North American bands, but Foals manage to save Europe's honor, and released what in my opinion is one of the disappointingly few really interesting British records this year. The Brits seem to give the band the recognition it deserves: UK magazines NME and The Fly recently crowned Total Life Forever sixth best and best album of the year, respectively.

6. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
//Country: US
//Favorite tracks: Home, You Wanted A Hit, All I Want, Dance Yrself Clean

On his third and allegedly final album as LCD Soundsystem, James Murphy gives us another hour of pure dance floor gold. Beats that make you want to dance and wry hipster poetry that make you chuckle - it's LCD Soundsystem like we've learn to love it, and Murphy doesn't give any impression of having 'lost his edge' yet - quite the contrary. The opener 'Dance Yrself Clean' initially just slowly builds up, until about 3 minutes into the track, when it explodes into a floor-filling dance track. The album never looses steam from that point, and takes its 00s dance formula through clear 70s and 80s influences such as David Bowie ('Drunk Girls'), Iggy Pop ('All I Want') and The Talking Heads ('Pow Pow') before it climaxes in the mind-blowing ending track 'Home' - which I honestly think is the best song Murphy's ever written. Through almost 8 minutes, the track's hypnotizing beats and Murphy's voice guides us through everything that's great about LCD Soundsystem. Please, Murphy, don't let this final track be the very final track! Thankfully, new statements by Murphy towards the end of the year indicated that the LCD Soundsystem project may live on somehow after all.

5. Eels - End Times
//Country: US
//Favorite tracks: End Times, Little Bird, On My Feet, In My Younger Days

mp3: Eels - In My Younger Days

Mark Oliver "E" Everett actually released two new Eels album this year, within just about a half year. Just for this unique case, I needed to invent a special rule for my end-of-year list: No more than one album per artist. Deciding which one of the two albums to choose was easy, however - while August's Tomorrow Morning was quite good too, I still think January's End Times is vastly superior. On previous Eels albums, frontman Mark 'E' Everett has dealt with sad topics such as death and suicide with his melancholic, but still uplifting, wry tongue-in-cheek lyrics, combined with beautiful and addictive melodies. On End Times, the topic for his lyrics is one that he quite rarely explores: love. And, more specifically - unhappy love. The recipe is the same as before, however: His frank and sad tale of the woman he loves leaving him is peppered up with his trademark talent for funny everyday observations. As when he in the title track describes an encounter with a crazy guy standing on the corner of the street shouting 'End Times Are Near' - while everyone else ignores him, E for once agrees with the poor guy - his woman is gone, so he also feels like "end times are here". On several track on the album, E is in my opinion back to songwriting on the same level of excellence as on the Eels' golden age of 1998-1999, where the two masterpieces Electro-Shock Blues and Daisies of the Galaxy were released back-to-back. E has a lot on his mind again this time around, and he presents it in an unpretentious and direct way.

4. Beach House - Teen Dream
//Country: US
//Favorite tracks: Silver Soul, Norway, Walk in the Park, 10 Mile Stereo

Baltimore duo Beach House left the modest, toned-down, lo-fi indie sound of their first two records behind, and are on this third record strutting with confidence and a new high-production, polished pop sound. Singer Victoria Legrand also seems to sing with a stronger and more confident voice than ever before. I have no doubts where the confidence of the band comes from - they're written their best album by far, and they know it. It kicks off with no less than four amazing pop songs - the sequence of 'Zebra', 'Silver Soul', 'Norway' and 'Walk In The Park' is one of the strongest and most impressive album openings you could imagine. Towards the album, the high-soaring, anthemic and haunting '10 Mile Stereo' presents us with an almost shoegaze-esque wall of sound, and is the definite proof of departure from the toned-down lo-fi music Beach House was known for in the past. Teen Dream is by far the band's biggest success so far, and they've reached tons of new fans worldwide – the proof of which I could see with my own eyes at the two live shows I saw with them this year (in February and July), which were both packed. I can't wait to see how the band follows up this exciting breakthrough album!

3. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
//Country: Canada
//Favorite tracks: The Suburbs, Modern Man, Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains), We Used To Wait

For their hugely acclaimed third album, Arcade Fire left the pompous church organs and the political messages of Neon Bible behind, and returned to their childhood for inspiration again. Lyrics-wise, they once again have a clearly defined theme (Funeral's was death, Neon Bible was church and state): memories about growing up in the suburbs. Musically, however, they're everywhere - and so many places they've never set their foot on before. 'Month Of May' is the most straightforward rock song ever, and on 'Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)' they've moved further than ever from the organic retro sound that made them famous, and fully indulge in electronic disco beats. An Arcade Fire song with pumping bass that you could play right between two eurodance tracks at a party without anyone noticing? Welcome to 2010.

The title track's melody is so good that I don't care that the band used it for two separate tracks, only altering the tune's pace and lyrics. The only other example I can remember of that idea working was on The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, where they in the exact same manner revisited the title and opening track's melody for less than two minutes towards the end of the album. Yes, there I did it - I made the Sgt. Pepper comparison. But judging by the almost exclusively positive feedback on this album, and the fact that Arcade Fire have managed a second time to make a hugely successful follow-up album to an outrageously hyped predecessor, and with the Arcade Fire fever's end nowhere near in sight after their seventh year in mainstream spotlight, I no longer think it's unlikely that their songs will still be remembered decade after decade from now on, much like the Beatles'.

2. of Montreal - False Priest
//Country: US
//Favorite tracks: You Do Mutilate?, I Feel Ya Strutter, Enemy Gene, Sex Karma

mp3: of Montreal - Sex Karma

I've already covered this album extensively, and have declared my love for it in oh so many ways through the past few months. If you read Norwegian, head over to my very long review here. If you're not too fluent in Norwegian, try this automatic translation of the same review, courtesy of Google Translate - and get a good laugh, if nothing else. Here's an alternate version of one False Priest's best songs (although the whole album has nothing but strong tracks):

On the album, Kevin Barnes sing this track in duet with the 9th place artist on my list - Janelle Monáe.

1. Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record
//Country: Canada
//Favorite tracks: World Sick, All to All, Romance to the Grave, Sweetest Kill

mp3: Broken Social Scene - Romance to the Grave

The Canadian indie collective returned with their first proper record in five years. In the last five years, the careers/projects of several key members, notably Feist and the members of Metric and Stars, took off so completely that they're no longer able to make time in their busy schedules to contribute fully to Broken Social Scene anymore. The result: Broken Social Scene has shrinked to a band of no more than six core members. This could have made their latest effort more tame compared to their previous release, the loud and massive self-titled 2005 album, but I honestly don't think it shows - the two de facto frontmen of the band Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning truly are on top of their game on this record, and the two talented musicians' main project is Broken Social Scene and Broken Social Scene only. Opening track 'World Sick' is as massive and 'epic' in its sound as any of the most memorable BSS classics, and on tracks like 'Sweetest Kill' Drew's songwriting shines as bright as ever, spilling his guts to us with his typical frank, direct and touching lyrics. I managed to catch Broken Social Scene live in May, and the enthusiastic 9-piece live band gave me the impression that they were truly enjoying playing together, and that we can expect many more years of new BSS material. The rumors of BSS's death that floated around during the band's 5-year hiatus were definitely nothing but rumors.

December 13, 2010

My Top 25 albums of 2010: #16 - #11

My Top 25 albums of 2010:
#16 - #11

15. Young The Giant - Young The Giant
//Country: US
//Favorite tracks: My Body, Cough Syrup, I Got

Very promising debut album from energetic indie rockers, reminiscent of the debuts of artists such as Franz Ferdinand, The Killers and The Strokes. Read more, or watch the video for my favorite song:

14. Jónsi - Go
//Country: Iceland
//Favorite tracks: Kolniður, Hengilás, Boy Lilikoi

Sigur Rós' vocalist Jónsi is way too happy these days to make melancholic, dark and dramatic post-rock, it seems. We could already sense this in the band's 2008 album Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, which was much more upbeat and cheerful than before, only occasionally diving into Jónsi's trademark melancholy. When he released his debut solo album this year, the recipe was exactly the same: happier and more fast-paced music. Turning solo also allowed him to explore several things that were harder to do under the Sigur Rós moniker, namely a complete overhaul of instruments and soundscape, and singing in English instead of Iceland or 'Hopelandic'. Check out the beautiful unofficial video for Kolniður below. It's basically shamelessly copying the style of Sigur Rós' Heima DVD, but I don't care - slow images of picturesque landscapes is what still works the best together with Jónsi's magical voice.

My favorite Jónsi song of 2010 is however not on this album! Check out the almost painfully beautiful 'Icicle Sleeve', a song that for some unfathomable reason didn't make the album, but has been played live on this year's tour:

mp3: Jónsi - Icicle Sleeve (live)

13. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
//Country: UK
//Favorite tracks: Some Kind of Nature, On Melancholy Hill, Plastic Beach, Empire Ants

mp3: Gorillaz - Empire Ants (feat. Little Dragon)

Damon Albarn and his many friends jump from genre to genre in this very eclectic album that just about anyone can find something they enjoy on. Hip hop legend, 60s/70s alternative rocker, and Swedish-Japanese indietronica singer - an amazingly diverse mixture of artists joined in on Albarn's project this time around, and contributed with their vocals. If you've ever found yourself at a party with a diverse musical crowd in 2010, you'll know that Plastic Beach has the rare gift of bringing together the indie kids, the electronica purists and the hip hoppers in front of the stereo, singing along to the lyrics in peaceful unison. This album is so full of hit material that it's hard to pick any favorite tracks - from the amazing buildup of electronica track 'Empire Ants', to Lou Reed's incredibly cool and nonchalant rapping on 'Some Kind of Nature', there are too many great moments to choose from. But I do know that this is the video I'll always remember this album for, and also that this is the song that will always come to my mind first when I think about the spectacular Gorillaz show I saw this summer:

12. Röyksopp - Senior
//Country: Norway
//Favorite tracks: Senior Living, The Alcoholic, The Drug

mp3: Röyksopp - The Alcoholic

For their fourth album, the Norwegian electronica duo went back to their roots - instrumental and atmospheric chillout music. After two albums of vocal heavy electro pop, they returned to their debut album's magical and at times even eerie soundscapes. The latter dominated on this year's album, as it's apparently inspired by darkness, drugs and … senior citizens. Read more, or check out the mesmerizing video for 'The Drug':

11. Vampire Weekend - Contra
//Country: US
//Favorite tracks: Horchata, Holiday, Cousins, White Sky

Ah, the sophomore album - it's never an easy task, and as for indie phenomenas MGMT and Vampire Weekend, we saw two very different approaches this year. While I very much respected MGMT's decision to not just follow the same formula as on their very hyped debut album, with the high risk of disappointing their fans by failing to re-create the debut's magic, I equally respect Vampire Weekend for just giving it a shot - and actually succeeding! The 2007 self-titled debut included lesson after lesson in magical pop song writing, with afropop rhythms that never tried to hide its very obvious strong Paul Simon influences. This year's album includes … exactly the same. And the same number of unforgettable songs. Check out my favorite song now:

My Top 25 albums of 2010:
#20 - #16

20. Nóra - Er Einhver Að Hlusta?
//Country: Iceland
//Favorite tracks: Opin Fyrir Morði, Sjónskekkja, Skóflaðu Mér

Nóra's five multi-instrumentalists don't only play an impressive amount of different instruments on their debut album, they also wander through an impressively large number of styles. The male vocalist Egill and the female vocalist, his sister Auður, take us through ambitious Arcade Fire-style theatrical-sounding indie, Belle and Sebastian-sounding modest twee, a dark Radiohead-esque song, Nordic folk music and more through the album's fifty minutes of playful Icelandic pop. Download one of my favorite songs now:

mp3: Nóra - Opin Fyrir Morði

19. Hot Chip - One Life Stand
//Country: UK
//Favorite tracks:Take It In, One Life Stand

While I feel that Hot Chip's latest effort in some was a disappointment compared to 2008's amazing Made In The Dark, it is still one of the albums I enjoyed the most this year. When the band released 'One Life Stand' as a preview track in late 2010, I got really hyped - while the track name surely is dorky, and the lyrics as well, they're both so incredibly and unresitably sweet. Hot Chip's short, geeky and shy front figure Alexis Taylor has always seemed like a major romantic to me. When I worked as backstage crew at a Hot Chip concert once, my suspicions were confirmed: I didn't find a wrecked backstage area afterwards, and no signs of wild partying with the local groupies - I found a clean and tidy room with a neat table with nothing to dispose of but a few burnt-out candles, as Taylor apparently had spent a romantic and relaxing evening backstage with his wife, who he of course had brought along abroad.

The whole album is chock full of warm declarations of love the title track's, but at the first listen, I didn't find any tracks that could match the title track's brilliance - until I reached the very end. After a few less convincing tracks, the album ends on the ingenious 'Take It In' - which is not only perfect album closer, but in my opinion also possibly the best song in Hot Chip's entire career. I continued listening to the album, and it grew on me more and more through time. After almost a whole year constantly on my iPod, 'Take It In' still feels as powerful, as fresh and as perfect as when I first heard it. Download it now, and you'll see what I'm talking about:

mp3: Hot Chip - Take It In.

18. Two Door Cinema Club - Tourist History
//Country: UK
//Favorite tracks: Something Good Can Work, I Can Talk, Eat That up, It's Good for You

Uncomplicated, danceable and uplifting indie rock that any fan of bands like Phoenix, The Wombats or early Bloc Party will appreciate. Read more, or just watch the video below :

17. Holy Fuck - Latin
//Country: Canada
//Favorite tracks: Red Lights, Silva & Grimes, Latin America

Holy Fuck is lo-fi electronic music with no programmed elements, that feels like some sort of danceable electronic post-rock. Latin's their third album, and possibly their most intense one yet. Read more, or just check out the epic video for 'Latin America' below, which includes live footage, a video diary of the band exploring Japan, and very sweet lightning and color effects:

16. Seabear - We Built A Fire
//Country: Iceland
//Favorite tracks: I'll Build You A Fire, In Winter's Eyes, Wolfboy

The Icelandic folk-ish indie poppers return with a sophomore album that mostly revisits the themes, moods and soundscapes of the first. But on some tracks, electric guitars and drums are given a bigger presence than on the very acoustic first album. To me, this has been the perfect album for slow and relaxing Saturday/Sunday mornings, and it's filled with charming and soothing songs that are impossible to dislike. Seabear should be checked out by any fan of fellow countrymen múm's later and more poppy albums. Check out the colorful and beautiful little video for 'I'll Build You a Fire':

December 10, 2010

My Top 25 albums of 2010: #25 - #21

My Top 25 albums of 2010:
#25 - #21

25. Yeasayer - Odd Blood
//Country: USA
//Favorite tracks: Ambling Alp, Madder Red

In the beginning of 2010, Yeasayer returned. Still experimental and weird, yet more accessible than before. This is one of my favorite videos of this year, and it gives anyone new to Yeasayer a good indication of how wonderfully strange Odd Blood is:

24. Best Coast - Crazy For You
//Country: USA
//Favorite tracks: Boyfriend, Crazy For You, Each And Everyday

Bittersweet indie pop about the female vocalist's heartaches - this debut album naturally appealed a lot to me, being a big fan of Camera Obscura (who released one of my favorite albums of 2009). But while being thematically close sometimes, Best Coast goes for a rough and fast-paced surf-rock sound, miles away from Camera Obscura's slow twee. This is simple, straightforward but magical pop music, and hard to dislike.

mp3: Best Coast - Boyfriend

23. Kele - The Boxer
//Country: UK
//Favorite tracks: Tenderoni, Everything You Wanted

On his solo debut, the Bloc Party vocalist finally took the final step towards a completely electronic sound. Read more

22. Casiokids - Topp Stemning På Lokal Bar
//Country: Norway
//Favorite tracks: Fot I Hose, Finn Bikkjen!, En Vill Hest

The Polyvinyl signed oddball electro pop band from Norway finally invaded the US this year. Read more

21. Senera Maneesh - No 2: Abyss In B Minor
//Country: Norway
//Favorite tracks: Blow Yr Brains In The Mourning Rain, Reprobate!

Big and beautiful noise. Read more

mp3: of Montreal - I Was A Landscape In Your Dream (Grizzly Bear remix)

mp3: Grizzly Bear - Boy From School (Hot Chip cover)

It's winter again, it's starting to get ridiculously cold again, and once again I'm turning to Grizzly Bear. Where I live, it's been creeping down to 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit / minus 16 degrees Celcius recently, and most of all I just feel like crawling down into some warm place and hibernate until spring, bear style. Since I'm not able to do that, however, turning to the slow and warming sounds of the four Brooklyn bears once more is a good second option.

You've probably all heard the band's three studio albums that are playing on repeat on my speakers these days, but I thought I'd share two rarer tracks with you today. Both are Grizzly Bear doing beautiful interpretations of songs by two of my other favorite bands. In the first, they turn one of the most easily overlooked tracks from of Montreal's most overlooked album into an amazingly atmospheric and layered little beauty, perfectly juxtaposing the soft Barnes vocals of the minimalist original with lush Grizzly Bear-esque soundscapes. In the second, they turn one of Hot Chip's very best, the electronic and synth-driven - and strangely uplifting - Boy From School, into a melancholic and mostly acoustic piece that relies almost exclusively on the beautiful and strong vocals, rather than electronic beat.

Hope you'll enjoy them! And continue to enjoy (or perhaps even discover or rediscover?) Grizzly Bear.
November 24, 2010

New Feist song: Don't Make Me Wait

mp3: Doug Paisley (with Feist) - Don't Make Me Wait

Doug Paisley's album Constant Companion, which came out last month, features Feist on the above song.

Feist's new documentary film Look at What The Lights Did Now has recently been screening on an obscurely small number of cinemas across the world, but according to her website it will be released as a DVD in stores December 6th in Europe and December 7th in North America, with a bonus CD. I'm honestly excited about absolutely any new material from this lady, so I'm looking forward to it.
October 18, 2010

Kele (from Bloc Party) has taken a break from guitars

The career development and evolution of musical style that Bloc Party's Kele has gone through is pretty much a typical nightmare scenario for lo-fi enthusiasts or any strict rock fan who frowns upon drum machines and electronic beats. While Bloc Party's promising earlier EPs and classic debut Silent Alarm saw them mostly wander in rough, unpolished post-punk landscapes driven by dirty guitar solos/riffs, the band took a turn towards slick studio production in the sophomore album Weekend in the City. Then, in the stand-alone singles Flux and One More Chance, and the third and final studio album Intimacy, Kele's growing love for danceable club music made the band delve deeper and deeper into electronic music.

Many old fans were disappointed by this turn, as so many of these all-electronic synth-driven tracks made a total waste of the incredible guitar skills of lead guitarist Russel Lisack, which arguably was one of the band's major trademarks in the early period of their career. While I can agree with those missing Lissack's soaring guitar solos, I for one actually really enjoy Kele's electronic material. It makes a lot of sense that Bloc Party now have (de facto) disbanded (they've officially been on hiatus for about a year) and that Kele has started up an electronic solo project, while Russel Lisack's makes use of his guitar skills on, among other things, Ash's live shows.

Above, you can download two of my favorite danceable electronic Bloc Party tracks, plus another two tracks from Kele's solo album that are stylistically quite close.

Kele's The Boxer came out back in June this year.
Hello internet, here is some electronic dance music I am currently fond of.

//// German DJ Dennis Kaun, also known as Kaos, makes cold sounding but somehow still uplifting electro/house music that takes you right to the clubs of his native Berlin. Both of these tracks are a few years old, but I didn't discover him properly before now, and you shouldn't miss out either!

mp3: Kaos - Lessons In Love (feat. Erlend Øye)

mp3: Kaos - Cerebral Tremolo (Brennan Green Edit)

//// Another German artist, Digitalism is a duo from Hamburg, which together with Berlin is one of Germany's major electronic music hubs. The Daft Punk influenced duo rose to international fame with their 2007 debut album Idealistic, which has been described as 'dance punk' or 'house-rock hybrid'. Their debut was very innovative and fresh sounding, and one of my favorite electronic albums of all time, so I was very excited when they released a new track to the internet earlier this week. Unfortunately 'Blitz Trailer' is literally just a 'trailer' to their upcoming EP, but it still makes me hungry for more. Download it below, and also check out two older tracks if you're new to these Hamburgers.

mp3: Digitalism - Blitz Trailer

mp3: Digitalism - Idealistic

mp3: Digitalism - Pogo (Shinichi Osawa Remix)

//// Holy Fuck is a quite unusual electronic band, with highly progressive songs that fall somewhere between post-rock and electronica in their sound. While Digitalism merge Electronica with the beats of danceable indie rock bands, Holy Fuck pushes electronica towards soundscapes closer to bands like Godspeed You Black Emperor. Another band to emerge from the booming alternative music scene of 00s Toronto, Canada, the members of Holy Fuck of course are intertwined with the other alternative music artists of the city that we have covered so extensively in this blog, most notably Broken Social Scene. BSS producer Dave Newfeld also produced Holy Fuck's debut album, and band member Brian Borcherdt used to play in By Divine Right, a Toronto band who also counts (Broken Social Scene's) Brendan Canning and Leslie Feist to its former members.

mp3: Holy Fuck - Silva & Grimes

//// Norwegian dance-synthpop-band The New Wine (which I most recently covered a month ago) just released their debut album in their home country, and are aiming to internationally release their blend of guitars, funky bass lines and retro Nintendo-esque samples sometime around new year's. Check out the track 'Words on Fire', which in the band's own words is one of the album's "more clubby/dancy songs".

mp3: The New Wine - Words on Fire
October 1, 2010

Ma Ma Mashup Mix Fever

Todays song is created by producer Norweigan Recycling. This mashup contains over 16 different songs from artsts like Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Micheal Jackson and Cee-Lo. All miss,mix,&matched and stitched back together into this beautiful mashup.

The song is called "Miracles" and takes its biggest samples from Micheal Jackson, but it goes all over the place and has a great sound quality.

While generally not a huge fan of mash-ups, this song has it's own appeal for its sheer size, artist selection, and decadent feel.

September 23, 2010

Eels videos from Tomorrow Morning

Yesterday, Eels released the second music video from their latest album, Tomorrow Morning. The new video, for 'Baby Loves Me', has a really quirky and low-budget feel to it, a big contrast to the high-production and completely awesome video they released for 'Spectacular Girl' back in July. You can watch them both out below, and be sure to check out the whole new album - I personally think it's the best music (frontman) E has made in years.

What a guy.

mp3: Eels - Baby Loves Me

An unusual Eels video, but possibly one of my all-time favorites from the band's 15-year career. Love the combination of the songs innocent lyrics/sound and the video's plot.

mp3: Eels - Spectacular Girl
September 22, 2010

Video: Animal Collective - Bluish

Animal Collective just released a (belated) official video for 'Bluish', one of my all-time favorite songs by the band. 'Bluish' is from their highly acclaimed 2009 album Merriweather Post Pavillion, and this very trippy video in my opinion matches the psychedelic sound of the album perfectly.

mp3: Animal Collective - Bluish

The lyrics are simply beautiful. Try giving this stripped-down acoustic cover a listen, and this fact will probably become even more apparent to you:

mp3: Sondre Lerche - Bluish (cover)
September 15, 2010

Two slow remixes

mp3: Broken Social Scene - All To All (Spirit If Remix By Kevin Drew & Ohad Benchetrit)

mp3: Stardust - Music Sounds Better With You (Eat More Cake Remix)

Turn down the lights, take it easy and enjoy these two chillout remixes. Eat More Cake are a four-piece electronica band from London, here doing a very sweet take on Stardust's 1998 French house classic. Kevin Drew and Ohad Benchetrit are two of the many members of supergroup Broken Social Scene, and here they add their personal touch to one of my favorite tracks off their own band's latest album, Forgiveness Rock Record.

Here are the two originals:

Classic music video that takes me right back to elementary school.

Cute and minimalistic live performance.
September 9, 2010

K.C. Purposely

I already did a post about K.C. Accidental, but with Arts & Crafts re-releasing the albums, I figured I would post a song from the same EP/part I referenced before.

mp3: Silverfish Eyelashes

A song with a lot of build-up, and it's rather long. It's definitely worth it though. There's a reason these two essentially spawned an entire generation of relationships and music that is Broken Social Scene, Arts & Crafts, and all the various bands and histories of each of its members and collaborators.

Enjoy, and try to see them live if you get the chance. An amazing show. Buy their album and a t-shirt!
September 7, 2010

Three new releases

mp3: The New Wine - Delete, Rewind

Norwegian synthpoppers The New Wine (I previously covered them here and here) finally came out with new material in Norway yesterday, the single-track digital release 'Delete, Rewind'. The band will be touring Norway in October and Europe in November. It is unfortunately still unknown when they will start releasing material outside Norway, and also when their fabled debut album - which they reported recording in studio back in May - will finally be out. Good to hear something new from them though, and it makes me hungry for more!

mp3: Röyksopp - The Alcoholic

I posted the first small tastes of Röyksopp's fourth album, Senior a month ago, and now the release date is just around the corner: September 13th is the day the acclaimed Norwegian electronica duo's new all-instrumental concept album is officially released. I've had the chance to listen through Senior in its entirety, and I must say it's definitely darker and less accessible than last year's radio-friendly Junior (the best way to experience the new album, the two musicians suggest, is 'in a dark room with an opium pipe in your hand'), but ultimately much better. Check out my favorite track, 'The Alcoholic'.

mp3: of Montreal - Enemy Gene

Another much-anticipated album that comes out next week is False Priest, the tenth studio album by Athens, GA based indiepop eccentrics of Montreal (out September 14th). Two months ago, I wrote about my anticipations for the album after having heard the first leaked track, 'Coquet Coquette'. Back then, I was puzzled by how the album was supposedly going to be very r&b and funk influenced, while 'Coquet Coquette' really sounded like one of their more straightforward indie rock tracks. Now, after having given False Priest ten listens, the answer is clear: 'Coquet Coquette' is really just an exception, and not representative of the album's style at all. In of Montreal's manic-depressive catalogue, False Priest is the manic answer to the depressive Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer: a hyperactively manic, upbeat, funky and flamboyant affair with an ever present pumping bass and high falsetto throughout its 53 minute playtime. Beyoncé's younger sister Solange Knowles as well as close of Montreal friend Janelle Monáe make wonderful vocal contributions to the album and not only make the whole 'indie pop turned r&b' concept work, but actually seem quite sincere too. Check out the track 'Enemy Gene' featuring Monáe, or read my blog entry about her previous collaboration with of Montreal.
September 6, 2010

Young the Giant

mp3: Young the Giant - My Body

My body tells me no / but I won't quit / I want more!

I'm hooked to this track - so energetic, raw and catchy. Young The Giant are a quintet from Newport Beach, and even though their self-titled debut record isn't out until October 26th, they've already grown a considerable fan base through their very solid live performances (check out the video below to get a taste!) and an EP. The sweet guitar riff, the rough, organic sound, their tireless youthful energy and the hedonistic lyrics on this track remind me of the young Strokes of the Is This It era. I'm looking forward to hear more from these guys next month!

Recently Freecreditreport.com decided to hire an actual band to promote their site after the previous set of commercials did so well. If you are unaware what I'm talking about, then you are surely missing out. The catchy upbeat little ditties in every song actually were entertaining and the goofy face of the band were hard to resist.

(This one is my personal favorite. My first car looked just like that, but was red)

Anyway, it turns out these guys weren't a real band and just actors paid to sing the song. While an effective jingle, the freecreditreport.com marketing team decided to take it up a notch and do a band search for the new face of freecreditreport.com. The search took a few months and got plenty commercial coverage (including MTV!), but finally we have a winner.

They are the ... Victorious Secrets! (irony)

What does everyone think? Did they deserve to win? The other 3 runner ups will be posted at the bottom of the post if you didn't get to catch them.

For more information on The Victorious Secrets check out their myspace or their official band website. Their pop rock sound is actually pretty infectious.

(exert from their myspace)

Here's what other anonymous people are saying about
The Victorious Secrets!

"They are not too bad actually."

"Hey... they're okay."

" They remind me somewhat of a grungier Sloan. Shocked that this isn't horrible! I'm sure I'll be sick to death of it though. "

"...interesting chord progressions, and lead vocals that don't infuriate me."

"If I have to put up with it, this is perfectly acceptable."

" Something about their songs remind me of the Von Bondies. I kinda don't hate it. "

" It's not horrible... "



The Poets Dance

I Love Monsters

"Dude, you got some ... Arnzt on you"

For anyone living under a rock or for anyone who just gave up on the band, Weezer is releasing their latest album on September 14. Back with a tongue in cheek album cover and title, Hurley**, is set to be more "raw rock and roll" then previous albums and the current single shows this to be true. "Memories" is a step up from the latest batch of Weezer turdlets i.e. Raditude, but will the new album show promise to go back to the days of the famed Blue Album or even Pinkerton? Not quite, but for now we just got to give Weezer time.

"Memories" along with the other 9 tracks on Hurley are the first releases from Weezer on their new label Epitaph. Maybe after the big label move Weezer will start to make more and more sonic changes to a less "pop/rock/radio friendly snooze fest" and more to some of "Say It Aint So".

In the meantime, this song will be rocking most alternative/college radio station playlists for a long while and Weezer will be headlining the ever famous Seattle Bumbershoot festival this sunday along with Rise Against and Hole.

Weezer: Memories

**An album named after the famous character played by Jorge Garcia on the television show Lost. To be honest I was hoping for a Lost concept record, or maybe some answers to Season six but you cant win em all.