dinsdag 31 januari 2012

The Weekly Froth #24 (Jan Ken Po, Eli Escobar, Islands, and more!)

The Weekly Froth! A weekly take on six tracks, most of which have recently popped up somewhere in the blogosphere. Bit of a mixed bag with a slight leaning towards house, disco, and remixes, but generally just anything that for some reason tickled the writer’s fancy.
‘Colour Wheel’ by Jan Ken Po (Max Essa)
No he didn’t! Max Essa just released an album as Jan Ken Po, putting the bass lines at the center of attention and providing an album that keeps on rolling and rolling on. This is the album closer, and it is simply spectacular. It has a major bass line – like all the other songs on the album – that really keeps the song going, and this is mixed with sounds I connote to genre films. Some clever use of guitar and piano to give it a good vibe and to add some variety to the song (which you also get via that strip away of the bass at around 2:30, after which you get a build-up with the natural conclusion of the return of the bassline at around 3:30). In the mean time, all those extra sounds never conflict with the main sound, and thats ace. Such continuity, such flow: first surprise album of the year in what will hopefully be an ace 2012.
(To listen to this track and to listen and read write-ups of 5 others, click here)

Jack White to come with solo album

Jack White, who everyone knows from either The White Stripes or The Raconteurs or from one of eighthundred other projects he’s been involved with, will be releasing a solo album. The album will be called Blunderbuss and it will be released on the 24th of April via Third Man/Columbia. The first single off of the album is called ‘Love Interruption’, and that one will see a 7” release on the 7th of February.

New Album The Time and Space Machine in the works

Taste the Lazer is the title of The Time and Space Machine’s new album. It will be released on the 26th of March, and this will be done via the Tirk label. The Time and Space Machine is Richard Norris, and under this moniker he released a pretty good album a few years ago. So hopefully this album can continue in that vein. There will be eleven tracks on there, including ones called ‘Black Rainbow’, ‘Pill Party in India’, and ‘Flow River Flow’.

News Archive of January 2012

zaterdag 28 januari 2012

Talk Talk book, tribute album in the works

The band Talk Talk will be thirty this year, and to celebrate that a host of tribute stuff will be coming out. One of the things they’ve created is a book called Spirit of Talk Talk. It is limited edition and it will feature, amongs others, all of the art work James Marsh has ever done for the band. It will also contain hand-written lyrics from Talk Talk and contributions from those who’ve been influenced by the band, including Alan Wilder of Depeche Mode, Guy Gurvey of Elbow, and Paul Hartnoll of Orbital. Not only a book, but a tribute album will be coming out as well. This will be released on the 28th of May through Fierce Panda, and it will contain many people covering Talk Talk songs. Amongst those covering are Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond, Joan As Police Woman, and Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry will be covering ‘I Believe in You’.

Google rejects Perfume Genius Promo because it’s not family safe

Google has rejected an advertisement for Perfume Genius’s upcoming album. The ad, in which the Perfume Genius singer can be seen in the embrace of porn star Arpad Miklos, was deemed “non family safe” and promoting “mature sexual themes”, despite both males not being fully nude. Seeing the video, one must conclude that, yes, it has men in a romantic embrace, and yes, it is shockingly tame.

donderdag 26 januari 2012

Solo album M. Ward coming up

M. Ward will be releasing a solo album in April. Via the label Merge the album, called A Wasteland Companion, will be hitting the shelves on the 10th of that month. He asked some of his friends to help, and on the album one will be able to hear, amongst others, Mike Mogis, Steve Shelley, and Zooey Deschanel (New Girl ftw!), the latter with whom Ward forms She & Him.

FactMag makes link between Megaupload shutdown and its owner’s new idea

FactMag reports that apparently Kim Dotcom, Megaupload’s founder, was working on a new plan to, via Megabox.com, let artists sell their music whilst giving the artists a 90% cut of what would be earned. Not only that, artists would also earn money on songs they would let people download for free. FactMag notes that with Megaupload at one point having been the 13th most visited website in the world, it might have indeed become “serious competition for Universal and more”. Megaupload was shut down last week, and Kim Dotcom was arrested.

dinsdag 24 januari 2012

The Weekly Froth #23 (John Talabot, The Rapture x Cut Copy, and more!)

The Weekly Froth! A weekly take on six tracks, most of which have recently popped up somewhere in the blogosphere. Bit of a mixed bag with a slight leaning towards house, disco, and remixes, but generally just anything that for some reason tickled the writer’s fancy.
Track of the Week: ‘So Will Be Now…’ by John Talabot feat. Pional
Love the start with those vocals, and love how quickly he adds to it with the fingersnapping and a beat. Really gets it all going (and gets me going at that). This track is off of John Talabot’s new album, and he gets a bit of help here from Pional. Really like those echoey sounds that are thrown in there, and the kind of deeper beat that comes in after a minute or so. It all fits so well together, and it just keeps on rolling. After two+ minutes he dials it down for a moment, with the fingersnapping being one of the few sounds audible next to the vocals. That’s ace. After three minutes it delves in a bit deeper, and quickly the beat returns again. Nearing the end it gets some different sounds going eliciting different moods. Seriously, if this wasn’t on my to-watch-list before, it sure is now. Just an amazing track that keeps on giving and giving. All the sounds work really well together, and I love that voice and how it meshes so well with the rest of the song. February 2012, watch out for this album.
(To listen to this track and to listen to and read write-ups on 5 others, click here)

maandag 23 januari 2012

Crazy Zany Radio Sunday - 'Hidden Things Are Asking You To Find Them' by Wymond Miles

Every week our contributors will voice their opinion concerning one song, it’s a simple as that! The more the merrier, so people are always welcome to join in, just leave a note, eh.
Track: ‘Hidden Things Are Asking You To Find Them’ by Wymond Miles (click here)
Average grade: 5 out of 10 OR 4 out of 10
Craig: I can definitely see how many people will like this song, but I'm afraid it's not quite aligned with my aesthetics.  While its production is very high-quality and the instrumentation is interesting in its melodramatic rises and falls, this song is lacking in energy.  Specifically during the verses, the singer's melody is so slow and repetitive that it almost rocks me to sleep instead of inviting me to pay attention to the lyrics.
Anna: I like the music, I do. Eerie and effective, it works quite well for my brand new 2012 ears, although it feels that he makes way too many "pauses" in the song. HOWEVER:
These songs concisely yet esoterically document the existential crisis of our current epoch—moving from the nothingness of modern materialism, fragmented reductionist thought, and drug escapism to a world imbued with subjectivity and meaning through a new relationship with the Earth and cosmos as alive and full of inherent intelligence.
(with apologies to Stef for having to translate this)
If he wrote this, his grade is 1, as this pseudo-philosophical twatery is making want to cry.
If he allowed his label to write this and publish it, his grade is 5. He should have vetoed it.
I know this column is about music, but ears and brain are connected. Sometimes.
Linda: Hmm, I was expecting something completely different after I saw this track was released on Sacred Bones, the record label that is also home to Zola Jesus, and the somewhat ethereal blurb that accompanies the track (it uses the word 'epoch'). Apart from the accompanying text, the track offers little originality, but hey, maybe that's because I can't the decipher the eschatologist lyrics. 
Stef: I kind of like this actually. I think it’s got a certain atmosphere to it. Truth be told though, I liked the instrumental start better than the parts with the vocals, though I did like his delivery of “realize”. At one point, it gets a bit, I don’t know, bit too much, too generic?

Nick Curly to release debut in March

On the 19th of March Nick Curly will be releasing his debut album. It is titled Between the Lines, and it will appear on Cecille Records, of which Curly is a co-founder. The album will contain thirteen tracks, including ones called ‘Glass Ceiling’, ‘You Don’t Have to Hopp’ and ‘Piano in the Dark’.

Pulp to play shows in 2012

Pulp, who made a tremendously successful comeback last year, will be touring in 2012. The band first tweeted the cryptic message “Do you think this is over?”, after which they quickly announced they will be part of the Coachella line-up. They’ll be going US as well, with gigs in San Francisco and New York. IKRS saw them play in Brixton Academy twice last year, and they were absolutely on the ball with beautiful renditions of pretty much everything, so be sure not to miss them this time around if you weren’t able to last year.

zaterdag 21 januari 2012

Chris Clark readies Warp release

Warp will be releasing a record by Chris Clark in April. The album will be called Iradelphic, and the tracks on it have been recorded at a variety of times since 2009, when his Totems Flare album was released. The album will contain twelve tracks, including upcoming single ‘Com Touch’ and closer ‘Broken Kite Footage’.

Daniel Rossen to release solo EP

Daniel Rossen, known for his work with Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles, is prepping a solo EP. He is planning to release it on the 20th of March via the Warp label. The EP will contain five tracks, including ‘Saint Nothing’, which is available for stream on the world wide web.

donderdag 19 januari 2012

Orbital to release first album in yonkers

The duo Orbital, veterans in the music business, will be releasing a new album. This will be done in the month of April. The album will be called Wonky, and it is their first since their Blue Album that was released eight years ago. The new LP will count nine tracks, and one of the tracks features Zola Jesus. This track will be titled ‘New France’.

Still Going start up new label

The band Still Going are going to start up their own label. It will be called Still Going Records. One of the first releases on it will be their own new single called ‘D117’. They’ve got another single coming up, called ‘Work That Shit Party’. The duo previously released tracks on the DFA label, including the much touted ‘Still Going Theme’ in 2007.

woensdag 18 januari 2012

Best live performances of 2011 (compiled in bad videos that don’t do justice to the real thing!)

One more look back at 2011 before we really leave it all behind us. Linda was so kind to put together a list of her five top live performances of 2011, and luckily for everyone she has added the worst YouTube videos that were made during those gigs, you know, to really give you the feeling how those performances were. Don’t forget that both Tune-Yards and 65DaysofStatic have live shows scheduled in The Netherlands at the time I’m writing this.
Pulp (primavera)  - A completely unsatisfying video of snippets of perhaps the best gig I’ve ever been too. It’s Pulp, it’s in Spain and they didn’t come on until 2am, what more could one ask for? For the duration of the night there were random outbreaks of Pulp sing-a-longs throughout Barcelona. This might have caused the backpackers in our hostel to come out of Barcelona with some not-so-nice flashbacks as we probably scared them a bit with a spontaneous outbreak of ‘Common People’ coupled with a small mash pit on R’n’B night.
Tune-yards (Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen) – This was recorded the day after she opened for Beirut at Brixton Academy, a giant venue compared to the tiny pub-backroom this is. Highlight of the evening was the revelation that the giant pink suitcase with flower pattern trying to stay out of sight at the back of the podium belonged to the bassist. I’m still amazed at the way she manages to build up the beat to the second track around 4:45.
Sufjan Stevens (Royal Festival Hall) – Proving that all you need to get into the Royal Festival Hall is a monkey hat and lots of giant balloons (and perhaps having the single best album of the noughties under your belt – that’s Illinois in case you’re wondering). Vesuvius was also stunning.
No Age (The Bear - ICA) – LOUD MUSIC and Bambi. That’s basically it.
65daysofstatic (Hammersmith Apollo) – “The best band to come out of Sheffield after Pulp.” That’s all Adam Rutherford, the genius behind this video, had to say to get me on board.  Oh, and there were also some pretty amazing bits about this space plane called a “space shuttle” (and just in case you’re wondering why the imagery is a bit shit: NASA – the world’s most famous science organisation – decided it was best to do all its recording on VHS).

Album Review - Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen by Casiokids

Album review of Casiokids' Aabenbaringen over Aaskammen (2012)

First of all, go see Casiokids live. They are the epitome of fun. It is a quirky bunch, and they are having fun being that, and they really exhume that feeling of “funness” to the audience. Not to mention that they have already released some catchy, lovely songs like ‘Finn Bikkjen’, ‘En Vill Hest’, and ‘Fot I Hose’ (they are one of those Scandinavian bands, by the way – where tuneful, easy-on-the-ear songs are grown in back gardens or plucked from trees or available from order at an online grocery shop). Plus, live they are always more fun and the songs always have a bit more punch than their recorded output, especially if one consumes it as an album. So you already kind of know where I’m going with my view on Casiokids’ latest release called Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen.
(To read the full review, click here)

dinsdag 17 januari 2012

Johnny Jewel readying himself for busy 2012

Italians Do It Better boss Johnny Jewel is a busy guy. He just recently released a two hour instrumental album called Themes for an Imaginary Film, and he has three albums coming up this year. Two highly anticipated ones at that, with them being the new Chromatics and the new Glass Candy albums, being released on Valentine’s Day and in May respectively. The third album is After Dark 2, and that one will see the, ehrm, light of day in April.

Tanlines to release debut

The band Tanlines is gearing up to release their first full album. This will be done on the 20th of March by True Panther Sounds, and it will be titled Mixed Emotions. One of the album’s tracks, called ‘Brothers’, is now available for streaming on the net, so preview that if ya wanna.

Our Top 50 Favorite Tracks Countdown - 05 - 01

Yessir, it has started, the countdown of the 50 best tracks of 2011! Everyday I’ll post one track in the Daily Clip section, but if you missed one don’t worry, after each batch of five I’ll be sure to post those songs with links on the site (you’ll find it in the main post). So for the next 50 days, nothing but the best, here we go!
This is awesome. So much raw energy, got to love the strong vocals, but also the frantic pace and all those little things that Steed Lord does to give it just a boost, like three packets of Red Bull. I just want to jump up and down when I hear this one, it’s amazing how much energy it provides. And as said, those vocals, and all the DJ/producing tricks Steed Lord gets out to enhance the experience, it’s awesome. The whole EP is amazing, but this one takes the crown for me.
I’m still waiting for them to get touring Europe, and I’m still waiting for them to release their album, but if all the EPs and tracks they released in 2011 are anything to go by it will be worth the wait. This track got remixes by some of the best guys out there, like The Juan MacLean, Mano le Tough, Holy Ghost!, and Steffi, and it is easy to see why this DFA product is being so highly touted. Strong vocals, and they’ve stolen a fair few away from Hercules and Love Affair’s original backing band to get the disco vibe right. It just rolls on so nicely, thanks in part because of that bass of course. It also has this kind of romantic view of being at night going on, the search for love, the amazing opportunities night time brings if one allows a bit of a romantic slant to its views. “I will let you in to my heart”, she confides, if only you “drop me a line”. Yearning for pure love, that must be in the top 3 of disco motifs right there.
I live in the city, but I don’t live in the CITY, if you get my drift. Despite that, I’ve seen Motor City Drum Ensemble DJ two times in 2011, and he delivered both times despite widely varying crowds. This is an original release he did for his awesome DJ KICKS entree. “Wherever you go, my heart is there, I’m yours”, and then the music kicks in again. It’s danceable, it’s got atmosphere, and it is smooth. It knows when to turn it down, when to get the pace up, and when to go vocals. I believe Resident Advisor had him in their top 100 DJ list this year, and rightly so. Kid got skills.
For all my love for Jacques Renault, I also do love the other half of Runaway, Marcos Cabral. And this track is as good an example of why I love him as any. Gotta love the bass and beat at the start, getting the thing rolling. So if you’re on the floor you won’t get a pause dancing on this one. Slowly the extra sounds come in and the vocals are added. I love how it gives the vocals plenty of room and then pushes the pace when they stop. That’s exactly the right thing to do in my opinion. Let the people focus on the vocals and when the bass and beat come to prominence again let them dance. The music really keeps this one going and strutting along, and the vocals give it some emotional oomph by at one point exclaiming Stop, you’re tearing up my heart. Tremendous song, danceable, got some emotion going on there, and I’ll happily dance to it or drop it in a set.
I love what Late Nite Tuff Guy has been doing recently, taking these old classic songs and actually making them better. Or well, putting a different, more dancefloor ready spin to it, but in this case I actually prefer this one to the original simply because it’s not verse-chorus, but it really builds up to that tremendous chorus with those absolutely fabulous vocals by former Doobie Brothers singer Michael McDonald. That build-up really makes those vocals jump out even more, and if you can bring out Michael McDonald’s voice better then you know you’ve got something golden. “I keep forgettin’ we’re not in love anymore”, McDonald sings, to in the chorus add that he keeps forgetting that “every time you smile”. Dang. Also love how, in the verse before the chorus comes in, Late Nite Tuff Guy strips most things away and clears it all out for McDonald to come in with an extra punchy beat. My favorite song of the year, had this on repeat for forever.

maandag 16 januari 2012

IKRS Starts Its 2012 Season!

So yeah, 2012 is already going for a couple of weeks, so lets give you some quick updates on what we’re expecting to do now that all the favorite-of-2011 lists have all been finished (check those if you haven’t yet, some ace music there that you might like).
First of all, we are all looking forward to covering some ace music in 2012. Last year was amazing, and we hope this year can keep that run going and we will be able to listen and talk about a lot of it.
Second of all, we hope we can continue doing these things:
  • Our weekly columns: The Weekly Froth and Crazy Zany Radio Sunday (if ya wanna get in on that, give a shout)
  • Our daily clip with new music (though we might add some SoundCloud next to actual vid clips this year)
  • Our half-year and end of the year favorite lists
  • Gig reviews and album reviews
  • Our news items with, next to the latest music news, our little absurd stories taking titles and song names wildly out of context
Thirdly, we hope to add:
  • More interviews (We’ve been a bit lackluster there, will try to be a bit more pro-active)
  • More On First Listen features, where we type our opinion on a new album per track when listening to it for the first time
  • Some more experimenting: You see, we always look and try to find new stuff to do. Some work, some don’t. Try and have a bit of fun.
  • More of you! Hope to talk to you readers a bit more, meet some of you at gigs, chat a bit: we’re not that crazy or snooty as we might come across here sometimes. Honest.
So hopefully there will be plenty to enjoy on here in 2012 as well, but especially lets hope there will be plenty of great music to listen to and to revel in this year as well. And ya know, tips are always welcome, even if its your own band.

And with this, we are going to resume our regular broadcast.

zondag 15 januari 2012

My other fav things of 2011, and what I’m looking forward to in 2012

So, we are almost ready to resume our regular schedule here at IKRS with the winding down of our Top 50 Fav Tracks of 2011 Countdown and with our Top 10 fav Albums of 2011 lists just finished. First up, some other cultural and not so cultural things that stood out to me in 2011, and some things I’m looking forward to in 2012.
Fav movie - TIE: The Future by Miranda July and Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen
Fav gig: TIE: Pulp at Brixton Academy and Azari & III + Hercules and Love Affair @ de Melkweg
Fav video game - Football Manager 2012
Fav board game - Letters From White Chapel
Fav  book read - When Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor (2002)
Fav play read - The Balcony by Jean Genet (1958)
Most eye-opening book - From Reverence to Rape by Molly Haskell (1974)
Saddest Sports moment - Jerry Sloan stepping down as Utah Jazz head coach
Best sports moment - Bauke Mollema showing serious skills in the Vuelta (cycling)
Fav new television series - New Girl (gotta love the quirky humour)
Fav new thing to do - Drink tea not out of tea bags
First book I’m reading in 2012 -  Soft City by Jonathan Raban (1974)
Film I have high expectations for - My Darling Companion by Lawrence Kasdan with K. Kline and D. Keaton
First stupid thing I’ve done in 2012 - Pour boiling water over my arm
Sports thing I hope to happen - PSV to become national champion
Thing I need to buy - New friggin’ coat
Thing I want to buy - Some sort of apparatus to make grilled sandwiches
Thing I want someone to buy me - A train card for free travel all year round. And cookies.
Thing I want to do but I’m too scared to do anyway - Start a detective series with me filming my own actual endeavors as a detective with someone doing that film-noir voice-over of my life 24/7
Thing I still don’t want to do, not even in 2012 - Go on a cruise
Thing I hope to do more - meet and talk to new people
Thing I am looking forward to - de-Affaire Festival 2012 (if I’m still living in Nijmegen then, otherwise not so much)
Thing I am curious to see play out - Ron Paul in the Republican Primary and the revolution of America’s youth

Our 10 Favorite Albums of 2011 - Overview of the Lists

So we have given our favorite albums of 2011 top 10s, and here is a quick overview of them, naturally without the write-ups and the streams of individual tracks. Also, glad we were able to add Ilse’s list as well. So three top 10s, loads of different albums there, so hopefully you can find some tips in there or something to agree with (or both!). Lets roll:
10. Azari & III – Azari & III
09. Beni – House of Beni
08. Reverso 68 – Well Heeled Vol. One
07. Jessica 6 – See the Light
06. Tiger & Woods – Through the Green
05. Little Dragon – Ritual Union
04. Holy Ghost! – Holy Ghost!
03. Hercules and Love Affair – Blue Songs
02. Joakim – Nothing Gold
01. Nicolas Jaar – Space is Only Noise
10. iceage - New Brigade
09. EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints
08. YACHT - Shangri-La 
07. Los Campesinos! - Hello Sadness
06. Wild Flag - Wild Flag
05. CANT - Dreams Come True
04. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy
03. My Brightest Diamond - All Things Will Unwind
02. Tune-Yards - w h o k i l l 
01. Nicolas Jaar - Space is Only Noise
10.Tom Vek -Leisure Seizure
09. Mi Ami - Dolphins EP
08. The Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck
07. Kurt Vile - Smoke Rings for my Halo
06. Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
05. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
04. Various Artists - Drive OST
03. J. Mascis - Several Shades of Why
02. Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact
01. Tune-Yards - w h o k i l l

Our Top 50 Favorite Tracks Countdown - 10 - 06

Yessir, it has started, the countdown of the 50 best tracks of 2011! Everyday I’ll post one track in the Daily Clip section, but if you missed one don’t worry, after each batch of five I’ll be sure to post those songs with links on the site (you’ll find it in the main post). So for the next 50 days, nothing but the best, here we go!
Closer of the very nice Wolfram album, which saw Wolfram team up with guys like Holy Ghost! and Hathaway, this is perhaps the most adventurous song of all (not counting the spoken word film bit he put in there somewhere). A good eleven minutes, and it starts with just a mere piano. At one point it starts doing a little tune, as if we are sitting in at practice and hearing a song get born on the piano. After three minutes slowly the beat is allowed in and the actual song starts, which is this lovely, catchy affair to get on the dancefloor on. Love how it goes a bit deeper, and then basically resets at the eight minute mark. Lovely song.
Beni delivered a tremendous album with some very club ready tunes. Perhaps none so much as this one featuring Sean Delear and Turbotito. It’s got this clubby beat going on that makes you want to dance, and the vocals just entice you to get into dancing mode even more. They even literally invite you by saying “Come on in”. There’s something very sexual to the vocals without throwing in innuendo or noises of people grunting and going at it. In the chorus they go one step further, stating that they “can’t flow without you”, in other words, get on the floor and dance with me baby. It’s got a lovely high pace, and it just makes you want to be surrounded by cute, young people that are getting it on. If you want to get into that club vibe, this is the track, I’ll tell ya.
Hercules and Love Affair impressed me with their new line-up, and with their live show, and with their album. So yeah. Nothing impressed me more though than those vocals by Aerea Negrot, who is on vocal duty for this song. Such nice vocals, so much control over it; perfect. It’s got this yearning quality to it, this dreamy feel. And then the violins come in, that is great, and after that the beat and drums kick it up slightly (though by all means, this is not the most danceable song on the album, far from it). It is this tune where you look at the floor and dreamily dance away, and I do love songs that evoke that kind of feel. Plus, the strings and the vocals give it all the extras it need to be one of my favorite tunes of the year.
Joakim knocked it out of the park with this one. His previous album, I wasn’t too enthusiastic about that, but this one is excellence. With this as its highlight. It’s got this estrangement to it, and I do love that in songs. Kind of like Circlesquare a few years ago, which went on to become my favorite album of that year (and one of my favorites of all time). The first time the vocals come in he immediately cuts to the chase. “My love is gone,” he sings. But if you are afraid it is corny or anything, think again, because the lyrics, the tone of his voice, and the sounds of the music all work together to get across this alienated, this melancholic feel. Some immediate piano sounds are thrown in there at the four minute mark, along with some extra sounds to further convey both the distance and anxiety of the narrator. If you love this kind of vibe, like I do, than go out and get this album on vinyl, like I did. You won’t regret it.
I can’t believe this song is not number one. And I made this list, and I can’t believe this song isn’t even in the top 5. This is a downright home run by the boys from Azari & III. I’ve seen them perform this one live a few times and it positively kills. It’s got the attitude, it’s got the sexiness, it’s got it all. Great vocals, easy to dance to, and everything just fits. It’s got spunk, for some reason I find that to be the right word. In one year they’ve gone from Paradiso upstairs to the support act of Hercules and Love Affair to Lowlands, to Trouw, and now they’re scheduled to perform in the Paradiso main room. And if you listen to this, and if you see how they bring it every live show, then surely one understands the ascend. They bring, exhume, dish out energy, and this track is a perfect example of that.

woensdag 11 januari 2012

Our 10 Favorite Albums of 2011 - Nr. 01

And so its the end of the year again (or the start) and we have listened to an awful lot of music, the people here. And two of us managed to churn out some words on what we consider as our favorite albums of 2011. So enjoy, hope it proves to function both as a tip sheet and as a salute to good music.
01. Nicolas Jaar – Space is Only Noise (Circus Company)
There’s something about midnight that heightens ones senses, isn’t there? In previous years I often picked for the top spot an album that I deferred to when on the midnight commute to my little ol’ home. This album just has that midnight, distant vibe all over it. Emotion through a sense of disconnect, like you are watching events unfold in life as opposed to being part of it. Or maybe I’m just thinking this for the French cinema bits thrown in there. Jaar has this very rare sense of knowing when to use what kind of sound. And in music, that is a gift, and an important one at that. Find the right sample, find whatever makes that sound you feel you need, and then drop it at exactly the right time. Not to mention that the actual songs that come out of it are tremendous.
Tremendous certainly is that killer combo smack down in the middle of the album. The songs ‘Problems with the Sun’ and ‘Space is Only Noise If You Can See’ are such great examples of not only Jaar’s musical skills, but also how they can be turned into good songs. Sitting in the train, looking out of the window into the night, city lights the only thing you can see, faintly hearing some sort of commotion in the background, in the reflection seeing some girl study, seeing some boy dream about something or another, knowing that so much is going on in the world that I’m crossing per train, so much love, loss, hope, laughter, frustration, dreams: this album any day of the week. And twice on Sundays.

01. Nicolas Jaar - Space is Only Noise (Circus Company)
Well, here’s a surprise: two completely different lists, and the only album we agree on is our mutual nr 1 album. That must count for something, even though I haven’t seen it turn up much in other best-of-2011 lists - though that can easily be explained by our superior taste in music here at IKRS (And yes, she's kidding. But not by much. If at all. Wait, I don't think she is. Actually, I agree. Yeah. Right on Linda! - ed).
Things could easily have gone wrong for Nicolas Jaar on this album, minimalism is always a risk as with this type of music, more than any other, you have to get the balance exactly right. Leave one bleep out and you will lose the flow of the record; be a bit overly ambitious and add an instrument too many and you’re stuck with unnecessary fluff forgoing your entire raison d’être (or at the very least the chance of making a good record). But Jaar had no problems with any of those issues: every single sound on this album serves a purpose, and he got those few sounds exactly right. As such, ‘Space is Only Noise’ does require slightly more stringent listening conditions than any other album in order to fully appreciate it: it as an album especially suited for dark, lonely nights, which are pretty rare in London as it’s never fully dark here and there’s always a nutter somewhere shouting abuse. But even under those suboptimal conditions, this album has really gotten under my skin.

Nicolas Jaar - Space Is Only Noise by CircusCompany

maandag 9 januari 2012

Our 10 Favorite Albums of 2011 - Nr. 02

And so its the end of the year again (or the start) and we have listened to an awful lot of music, the people here. And two of us managed to churn out some words on what we consider as our favorite albums of 2011. So enjoy, hope it proves to function both as a tip sheet and as a salute to good music.
02. Joakim – Nothing Gold (Tigersushi)
You used to be young, now where do you belong? That’s the key question on Joakim’s track ‘Forever Young’, the first proper song on this LP. It made a good run for the top spot this one, as I absolutely adore this album. It just oozes with this aimlessness, this distance, yet in terms of the sound and the music it sounds terribly mature and terribly well crafted. Something like ‘Fight Club’, with the delivery and the rhythm of it, that is very well done. It is also just the atmosphere the whole album exhumes, both in terms of sound as well as in lyrics. I think it is such a plus for an album to not just have ten good songs on there, but to have ten good songs on there that are connected, that together create a certain feel. Individual songs are nice and all, but to have a whole album, in its entirety, give out a message, an emotion, that’s what sets the better albums apart for me. 
That melancholy in title track ‘Nothing Gold’ is amazing, and even per song all the elements really combine and by doing so they make the sum more than just its parts. It is an album that I think has been overlooked, but especially if you, like me, feel connected to the atmosphere this album evokes, then it is one you definitely shouldn’t miss. And what it evoked for me is this sense of being in a place where you have gone through all the emotions as a younger person, and now you’re not so much there anymore. Either because you’re too old to do the things that provided you with these emotions, or because those emotions have just dulled out and you’re stuck with all things happening around you but not quite feeling any of it. Which sounds more depressing than it really is, honest.

Joakim - Forever Young by Tigersushi Records

02. Tune-yards – W H O K I L L (4AD)
And to complete this trio of female singer-songwriters: Merrill Garbus. She’s quickly grown to be one of my all time favourite artists. She is an amazing live performer, full of enthusiasm and energy and even able to get a Jimmy Kimmel audience who quite obviously don’t belong to her target crowd to jump along to her tracks. I’ve seen her three times in a year’s time, and each time she managed to completely blow me away. The ingredients for a great album were there on her debut, but really have clicked into place on this one. ‘Bizzness’ and ‘Gangsta’ are probably two of the best songs to have come out in 2011.
Although amazing on record, her live performance is so much better. Just witnessing how she builds up the rhythms for each song would blow anyone away, let alone her amazingly strong voice and personality that just makes you want to hug her right there (you’ll be pleased to know I managed to control myself though). And there’s even more to get excited about with the saxophones on this album! Amazing how she could think all this up when starting out with just a ukulele a few years ago. The most soulful album I’ve heard this year (and yes, that includes Adele), can’t wait for the next one now.

Tune-Yards - Gangsta by The Recommender

Our Top 50 Favorite Tracks Countdown - 15-11

Yessir, it has started, the countdown of the 50 best tracks of 2011! Everyday I’ll post one track in the Daily Clip section, but if you missed one don’t worry, after each batch of five I’ll be sure to post those songs with links on the site (you’ll find it in the main post). So for the next 50 days, nothing but the best, here we go!
Okay, so the album as a whole, for me, didn’t do it. Some of the songs were just a bit too experimental for me personally. Luckily there were some highs on there as well, and when this band hits the mark it really hits it. The vocals on this one are magnificent, love the (steel?)drums and the way this song constantly finds ways to propel itself forward. The vocals have a bit of edge to it, which juxtapose nicely with the beats and drums. I also love it when they put the vocals alone with the beat, that’s really lovely, and the voice somehow gets so powerful, really triggers something which really puts this song over the top for me. That’s excellence right there.
Oh boy, Nicholas got it on this year and delivered some tunes that would all be worthy of being somewhere, some place on the list. I picked this one perhaps because it was one of the first I heard by him, perhaps because it has this really old school house thing going on which I really like, but certainly because it should get people on the dancefloor. Really old school house with the beat and then the piano coming in, some nice repetition to get into it, and then   those strong vocals really complete it all. I would be dropping this on the dancefloor at a house party in a heartbeat, no question. This fits right in. And as said, Nicholas really has had this whole string of stellar releases this year, so definitely one to keep an eye on and to turn to if you want to fill out your set.
You know what, this really is the point where it’s all five star excellence. I would be happy to put this track at the top of any list, and then realize there are still twelve songs to come! Fuck me. This song is the lead off for Little Dragon’s ace album of the same name. They deserve all the plaudits they’ve received for just the first two tracks alone. Love the music, and these melancholic vocals fit in so well. “These ritual unions have got me in trouble again”, she laments. So it packs plenty of emotion, and in the meantime the drums keep it up at a steady pace so to keep the song moving along nicely. Very strong showing from this Danish band.
Oh, I remember this being my soundtrack whilst walking to and from the local (yet awesome) festival here (at which the band responsible for the previous song, Little Dragon, played). Its got this lazy disco beat going to set both the tempo and the mood, and after a while Adeline Michele comes in to sing that it was “Just another night without your love”. Greg Wilson, though, takes his time to get there with all kinds of lovely variations on the initial sounds to really paint the right picture. Just short of three minutes in Michele starts narrating her story of love lost and how she longs for being held in someones arms again and truly feeling a spark.  For she knows, When it’s good, it’s so good. So if you’re walking around at night dreaming about someone to look you in the eyes lovingly, this surely is the right song for you.
So much to love about this song. First of all, the tight drums and how that propels the song forward. Secondly, it is so catchy and dancey. Thirdly, it is so heartfelt. Instead going ballad after friend of the band (and Juan MacLean drummer) Jerry Fuchs died, the lads of Holy Ghost! go into homage mode by recalling the mourning process with this TUNE. In the chorus they sing “I’ve got the feeling I’ve done / something half wrong / it surrounds me / drowns me in it”, just to indicate that you can be emotional, you can say something conveying feeling, whilst you are making people dance. Excellence by the DFA duo, whom I interviewed as far back as 2010 (it’s 2012 now, remember?).

zondag 8 januari 2012

Our 10 Favorite Albums of 2011 - Nr. 03

And so its the end of the year again (or the start) and we have listened to an awful lot of music, the people here. And two of us managed to churn out some words on what we consider as our favorite albums of 2011. So enjoy, hope it proves to function both as a tip sheet and as a salute to good music.

03. Hercules and Love Affair – Blue Songs (Moshi Moshi)
Out with the old, in with the new. Nomi Ruiz, Antony Hegarty, and the whole band went away, and Mark Pistel, Aerea Negrot, and Shaun Wright came in. And if you thought it couldn’t get better than the first album, here they are with a magnificent comeback. It is geared a bit more towards house than to disco, despite it having this old disco album set up of start up-tempo, drop it down to some ballads, and then have the people dance again. All of this with some amazing, amazing vocals. Negrot is fantastic, what a command she has over her voice. It’s all throwback, it’s all fun, it’s all house in the Eighties. It’s gender bending, it’s sexy, it’s playful, it’s naughty. Where Azari & III are a bit darker, more physical, more about sex, this is more about playfulness, about fun, about flirtation. 
I’ve seen the new line-up several times, and they are just fabulous, so fun and queer. I can understand people who say it borders on kitsch, but I like that, because you know what, so was disco the first go around (check some of these vids out y’all). It’s about fun and dancing together, and that vibe does come across on the album as well. Some absolute corkers you just have to dance to, and some ballads as well to inject it with some emotion (though, admittedly, former Hercules singer Nomi Ruiz outdid the band in the ballad department this year). And honestly, with such powerful voices, that is disco and house as well. Those fab vocals over that music that makes your body want to go to work. For me, and I’m probably in the minority on this one, but for my money’s worth I rather listen to this album than their debut, and that is saying something.

Answers Come In Dreams by moshi moshi music

03. My Brightest Diamond - All things will unwind (asthmatic kitty)
After just having had Annie Clark, AKA St. Vincent, here’s another former Sufjan Stevens background singer! Her first album, A Thousand Shark’s Teeth, didn’t do much for me. Apart from opening tracks ‘Inside a Boy’, the tracks were quite forgettable. Maybe that’s why she remained to be in Stevens’ backing band until this last album came out. The album features maybe the best yet Occupy-inspired protest tracks in ‘High Low Middle’ and ‘There’s a Rat’, though compared to the rest of the album, they seem a tad bleak and rushed.
Luckily the rest of the album is of a much higher standard. Take ‘Escape Routes’, with its opening sentence “It takes a lifetime to learn how to love”, borrowed from Laurie Anderson. It’s a beautiful pop song with an extravagant chorus backed up by a small chamber music ensemble, yMusic, which she brings along to her live performances. ‘Be Brave’ and ‘We Added it Up’ are a few other musical gems on this album. Bit it’s not all easy pop songs, there’s also a track based on her grandmother: ‘She Does Not Brave the War’, which details how, despite women like her grandma not being allowed to go to war in those days, they did save the day by keeping the country running despite the absence of their ‘all-knowing’ husbands. So feminism, pop and protest songs, what shouts 2011 more than that?

My Brightest Diamond, "We Added It Up" by My Brightest Diamond

donderdag 5 januari 2012

Our 10 Favorite Albums of 2011 - Nr. 04

And so its the end of the year again (or the start) and we have listened to an awful lot of music, the people here. And two of us managed to churn out some words on what we consider as our favorite albums of 2011. So enjoy, hope it proves to function both as a tip sheet and as a salute to good music.
04. Holy Ghost! – Holy Ghost! (DFA)
Every time I put this one on my record player and the vinyl gets a spinning I am reminded of how good these songs are. These are just fabulous disco songs, perhaps with  a slight pop edge, and they roll on just so smoothly and they make me so happy. They’re just so darn catchy, and then we are only talking about the stellar songs and not even about the real highs. One of them being ‘Jam for Jerry’, a song in memory of the late Jerry Fuchs, which (as a Jerry Fuchs tribute should) has some amazingly tight percussion thrown in there. I also love the emotion in the chorus though, “I’ve got the feeling I’ve done / Something half wrong / It surrounds me / Drowns me in it”, or something to that effect. The thing is, they got it right when they made this song so catchy, so danceable, and not some half-assed ballad. 
Another highlight is that they got Michael friggin’ McDonald on the closer of this album. And perhaps none were pleased more than they themselves, but anytime you get such a powerhouse on vocals, even if it just is for one track, that’s amazing. It also is what McDonald stands for, you know? The album, it may sound strange, but one of its big assets is that it is so darn easy on the ear. The songs are so catchy, so smooth, so easy to listen to; and yes, that’s most definitely a skill. To make songs that you don’t have to work for, but that just ease into your ear. Just a tremendous debut.

Holy Ghost! - Some Children (Free Download) by DFA Records

04. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy (4AD)
Annie Clark has returned! Three albums in, St. Vincent really seems to turn out to be the kind of artist who just can’t disappoint. As soon as I heard ‘Surgeon’, the first single of this year’s album, I knew we were going to be in for a threat. And how amazing is this album? It is off to a bit of a false start with ‘Chloe in the afternoon’, based on a 1972 film by the same name by Éric Rohmer. The song comes across unnecessary repetitive and a tad uninspired, but perhaps you actually need to have seen the film to fully appreciate it. However, as soon as the second track ‘Cruel’ begins to play, all is forgotten. Accompanied by a rather nifty video (in which Annie gets abducted by a motherless family and shreds in the trunk of a car - while bound and gagged) she returns to where she left off with her last album Actor: pop songs that could feature in Disney cartoons, but with a dark twist. 
Compared to Actor, the melodies have gotten much grander, and perhaps more appealing to a more general audience. Also, the album is more balanced, with tracks flowing into each other almost unnoticeable. And then there are the guitar riffs such as in the chorus of the aforementioned ‘Surgeon’. Wow. And the solos are even more impressive if played live: the whole set tends to turn into a guitar jam session featuring only Annie Clark (and in case you haven’t actually seen her: that is pretty amazing). She really has nailed it on this album.