So 2013 is shaping up to be a pretty great year for music all ready. We’ve already had a new Postal Service track after 10 years, not to mention the first new My Bloody Valentine record in 22 years(!). Plus on the horizon we’ve got new albums on the way from old Riot Radio favourites like Wavves, Theophilus and Bad Religion. Plus there’s already been a handful of exciting new acts ripping shit up: Free Energy, Pure Love, Joey Bada$$, and Bleeding Rainbow to name just a few. Check it out:
Joey Bada$$ is a rapper from Brooklyn who raps in the classic New York style. There’s nothing retro about this – just a simple love of hip hop and hip hop traditions, a focus on lyrics and flow rather than production and pimping. Having said that, the track is produced by DJ Premier so you know you’re in for a treat. Keep an eye out for an album from Joey later this year – fingers crossed for another superb year of hip hop in 2013.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll think that “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea” is one of the great albums of the late nineties. Quirky and wonderful, with great lyrics, it’s amazing that something so original slipped out in a period when the most important thing in rock was a douchebag in a backwards red cap rapping about his penis.
So you may be interested to know that someone’s made a hip hop tribute to Neutral Milk Hotel’s finest. It’s patchy as fuck, as you’d expect, with many of the songs sounding like they’ve just been slowed down and had a Kanye acapella chucked over the top. But there’s a few good moments too, and since it’s free (or pay what you want) it’s worth it just to hear Dre and Eminem rapping over “Ghost”. Crazy.
One of the great art forms on the internet at the moment is the hip hop mashup. Take one famous rapper, take another well known (usually indie) album and mix the two together, then give it away as a free download. Here are a few of my favourites.
Born Ready to Die
A mashup of Lana Del Rey’s Born To Die and Notorious B.I.G’s classic debut Ready To Die. Insanely well done – I now listen to this version more than I do either of the original sources. “Juicy Lolita” is a definite standout. Remixed by Terry Urban in commemoration of the 15th anniversary of Biggie’s death. Download it here.
A superbly executed mashup of post-hardcore art rockers Fugazi and the Wu Tang Clan. Shouldn’t work but it so does – find out more from the Wugazi website. My favourite here is “P.L.O Squared”. Download it here.
This uses Washed Out’s chilled out classic from last year, Within and Without, as the backdrop to lyrics by Nas of Illmatic fame. While not as accomplished as the previous two (the music is more sped up or slowed down to meet the lyrics than used to create whole new beats), Nas’s angry uptempo rapping works surprisingly well with Washed Out’s downbeat chillwave. Standout here for me is “Soft Dreams”. Download it here and official website here.
The rapping of the Wu Tang’s Ghostface Killah set to cut up and reconstituted classic funk. Pretty amazing stuff. Remixed by Max Tannone, who also offers the instrumentals and sample information on his website. My favourite here is “The Same Girl”, but they’re all pretty awesome. Download it here.
The Notorious XX
The rhymes of Biggie set to music from the XX’s self-titled debut from 2009. By wait what, the same people that brought you Nasd Out above, this takes a similar approach – the beats are slightly tweaked versions of the existing songs with vocals removed rather than wholly new constructions. Once again the version of “Juicy” is a standout: renamed “Juicy-r” here since it’s mashed up with “VCR”. Download it here.
Cheers to atech who pointed me in the direction of a lot of these.
Any other cool mashups out there that I’ve missed? Let me know.
…it’s all free (or pay what you want), so what have you got to lose? These guys are from Christchurch and were an early highlight at this year’s Laneway Festival up in Auckland in January. Energetic garage punk with hooks, think the Buzzcocks meets No Age. Get their music in two easy steps:
1. Grab everything from their Bandcamp or via the handy widgets below.
2. Enjoy your new favourite band.
At the end of year I (Mike) appeared as a guest on The Egonomist podcast (of which Dan Riot Radio is a regular) to discuss our track and album year end lists, cool music that’s coming up in 2012, and to just have a few wines and yell at each other a bit. Sigh… 2011 it was a simpler time, I broke my new years resolution not to sick up on myself within a day, etc etc…
Episode 207: 2011 Music Riots
In which we discuss 2011 in music, our year in lists, get drunk and yell at each other for a bit. Download
Episode 208: New Years
In which we talk about what’s to come in 2012, the Big Day Out, get drunk and yell at each other for a bit. Download
What a year it was! So much great music. Arcade Fire even won a Grammy (albeit about 7 years and two albums too late), for what that’s worth in 2011. And boy, there were some great songs – too many to limit to a top ten this year. So here’s our favourite 25 songs from the year that was 2011…
25. Blink 182 – “Up All Night”
Mike: Remember when you were younger and you used to like music for the sheer enjoyment of it: you loved what you loved and fashions didn’t matter? How as you got older things like trends and what your friends liked started to obscure and influence your taste, and how this sometimes meant that you couldn’t always like things just because they were good? How this made you overlook things like the fact that, despite the dick jokes and American Pie soundtracks, Blink 182 were always a fucking great band? Great to have you back, boys.
24. Hercules and the Love Affair – “My House”
Dan: Simultaneously coldly sterile and camp as Elton John’s Christmas Hamper, “My House” danced that fine line between 80s Chicago house and actually wanting to listen to it. Catchy as all fuck – even a recently dumped emo with two left feet couldn’t stop himself from feeling the groove.
23. Male Bonding – “Bones”
Mike: You had me at “punk rock meets shoegaze”.
22. Das Racist – “Booty in the Air”
Dan: One of the more controversial acts of 2011, Das Racist seemed to divide people between thinking they were geniuses and thinking they were LMFAO. Of course, for the most part they were neither but “Booty In The Air” was a brilliant song precisely because they combined a Bass-heavy club beat, ‘we-came-to-rock-a-party’ lyrics and tacked it into sleazy ragga making it brilliant where LMFAO, and to be honest, most of the rest of 2011’s ‘Relax’ album could only master ‘stabbing at ironic Miami Bass’. Sounds shit? Well yeah, but it’s not. It’s booyakasha. Whatever that means.
21. The Vaccines – “Norgaard”
Dan: Conscious that I am potentially offering up as a favourite the ‘Chelsea Dagger’ of 2011, no one can deny that to one extent or another 2011 was about The Vaccines. The Vaccines were a singles band and that this was their single. Catchy power-pop that got stuck in your brain and had you mouthing the slightly sleazy lyrics ‘…she’s only seventeen, she’s probably not ready’ in meetings and on the bus. At least this is why I think I got that restraining order.
20. Liam Finn – “Cold Feet”
Mike: Liam Finn’s second album Fomo is also very very good, but it was single “Cold Feet” (singles and openers, singles and openers) that really did it for me. A pop gem that harks back to (I hate to say it) dad’s band Crowded House, but only the good bits.
19. Bombay Bicycle Club – “Take the Right One”
Dan: 2011 could joyously be described as the ‘Year of Shoegaze’, and I’d argue that it was true to a greater extent than when Shoegaze had it’s first round in the early 1990s because this time around it has influenced a wider range of music (read, ‘American music’) and had much more impact. Therefore, as always, there will be band-wagon jumpers. I would have thought that Bombay Bicycle Club, a band I have never really liked all that much would have been just that when they had a stab at the genre with “Take the Right One”. This was not so. Irredeemably catchy and masterfully written as a pop song it also catches, in one song, the essence of the 2011 Year of the Gazer.
18. Holy Ghost! – “Do it Again”
Dan: I have always felt that electronic pop music that supposedly sounds like it came from the 1980s always actually sounds better than electronic pop that actually came from the 1980s. It’s a slab of catchy synth pop over a driving beat that is catchier than herpes off of a sleazy night-club toilet seat. It’s not a myth. You can catch herpes off of toilet seats. One is left
wondering then, since 2010 was the Year of Holy Fuck, 2011 was the Year of Holy Ghost!, if 2012 will be the Year of Holy Cunt.
17. Ximena Sariñana – “Different”
Mike: …And the award for the year’s catchiest (and more importantly, not shittest) unashamedly pop song goes to…
16. Cut Off Your Hands – “Nausea”
Mike: Auckland’s Cut Off Your Hands released their second album Hollow this year to mixed results. I really like it, myself: it’s not as immediate as their brilliant debut You & I, but it’s a slow burner and ultimately rewards on multiple listens. “Nausea” is a jangly, haunting but breezy number that gets everything right. This is the sound of summer, a New Zealand summer. A New Zealand band that is easily as good as anything the rest of the world has to offer. Just wonderful.
15. Justice – “Newlands”
Mike: Maybe it’s because I grew up in a suburb of Wellington called Newlands, but this was the standout track for me on Justice’s rather good new album Audio, Video, Disco. If mental-haired northern suburbs MP Peter Dunne had bothered to campaign this year he should’ve used this as his campaign theme. But that would’ve required an awareness of popular culture, and in any case, would’ve tainted this song forever for me. Opening with their trademark keyboards-like-guitars sound, this is fist pumping anthemic electronica at it’s finest. This is the music bogans will be rocking out to in the future, which takes me nicely full circle back to Newlands, Wellington.
14. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – (I Wanna Live In A Dream In My) Record Machine
Dan: Yeah, it’s Noel, yeah he was in Oasis and yeah, the song title has Oasisesque brackets around it. Fuck up. Oasis were awesome, they wrote awesome catchy pop songs that rocked. Noel, for the most part forgot this with his High Flying Birds venture except for when he didn’t. On this song. It is Oasis at its middling which makes it better than most bands at their best.
13. Cults – “Abducted”
Mike: Another great new band of 2011, Cults captured the same sort of breezy, Phil Spectored sound that Best Coast delivered so well last year. Catchy as all fuck, but with some quite dark lyics and a nice Motown-ish feel thrown in for good measure. What’s not to like?
12. Fucked Up – “Queen of Hearts”
Mike: The accompanying concept album that this appeared on, David Comes to Life, is also very good, but personally I prefer Fucked Up in small doses. If I’m being honest, while I really like Damian (Pink Eyes) Abraham’s voice, I find it gets a bit one dimensional after a while, especially when combined with the complex guitar arrangements that make the band so exciting (at least for me). But hey, that’s what a lot of people seem to like about the band, so whatevs. Everything comes together on this song though, and JESUS CHRIST what a guitar sound. This also features Madeline Follin of the band Cults, who adds a nice contrast to Damian’s brutal punk rock bellowing. (Free download on this one too – dunno how legal it is. #FuckThePolice).
Dan: I have long believed that if you don’t like some bands you basically don’t like rock music: the Ramones and Nirvana being probably the best examples. I feel sort of the same way
about Kasabian, but it is more ‘if you don’t like Kasabian, getting wasted and jumping around to music isn’t for you.’ “Velociraptor” is about as dumb as songs get, the lyrics are sub-mornic, the tune is a basic driving guitar and kick drum, and Tom Meighan sounds as if he’s doing Ian Brown after fifteen shots of tequila, but the song works in a fist-pumping visceral way that make it work despite these otherwise tragic failings.
10. The Decemberists – “January/ June Hymn”
Mike: It’s a bit unfair of me to include these two songs (off The King Is Dead) as one entry, but they just work so well together, and after nearly a year I still haven’t been able to pick a favourite of the two. So here they both are in all of their sad, haunting, seasonal beauty.
9. Jasiri X – “Occupy (We the 99)”
Dan: The thing about political songs is they still have to be songs. Kind of why I think every second Bad Religion song didn’t really work. Jazri X has a unique way of popping up everywhere at the right time and more often than not gets it right. “Occupy” not only captured the zeitgeist of the Western World’s most decisive moment of the new decade, it’s catchy two-line chorus and infectious beat made it something that would not only be chanted but stuck in the brain. It doesn’t try to be a manifesto; manifestos aren’t songs. It is an energetic explosion of a tune. Like “Killing in the Name” if “Killing in the Name” wasn’t ages ago. (Free download too).
8. The Horrors – “Endless Blue”
Mike: Their album Skying divided people, but there is no denying the genius of this song. Opening with a slow, jazzed out repeated riff for a couple of minutes, it lulls you into a daze before kicking you in the teeth with a guitar riff of face-shredding brilliance. A wall of guitar power that washes over you and leaves you floored. Plus you can dance to it. Fuck yes.
7. Chiddy Bang – “Too Much Soul”
Dan: The thing about middle-class, white, hip hop fans is that they like their hip-hop in equal measures ‘edgy’ and/or ‘political’. Well they can shove a Tek 9 up them and spin; Chiddy Bang
has been the best thing outta hip hop in the last two years precisely because they write well-crafted, danceable, clever tunes that rock any party and seem to make any, easily identifiable sample, work as if it had never really been in any other tune before. The natural track to pick as a fave off of 2011s Peanut Butter and Swelly would be the Martha and the Vandellas-sampling “Heatwave” and this is a beautiful song too, but “Too Much Soul” does it for me the same way 2010’s “All Things Go” did – a dance track that somehow captures the bitter-sweet in its chorus sample. Like an early 90’s party rap record fucked a happy hardcore anthem. It could happen, don’t you know.
6. The Men – “Bataille”
Mike: I’m all for innovations in the digital age, and usually when someone harks back to “better days” and old technology as being better, I roll my eyes and pop on an M83 album (on iTunes, natch). But “Bataille” was recorded on analogue equipment, and pain me as it does to admit that I’m (very) occasionally wrong, you can really notice the difference in their guitar sound. Plus it probably helps that this is an outstanding song, bringing back memories of Sonic Youth and Nirvana at their noisiest best. I just about destroyed my undies just by writing that last sentence, so please put a tarpaulin down before listening to this, just in case:
Mike: It pains me to say it as a massive Wilco fan, but I wasn’t as taken with Wilco’s new album The Whole Love as everyone else seemed to be. I just don’t see how anyone can say an album that contains songs as bland as “Open Mind” or “Sunloathe” can be up there with their best work. However, like all Wilco albums, The Whole Love still contained some incredible songs, the most amazing of which is the epic opener “Art Of Almost”, a song that is very worthy of comparisons to their finest material. And if I wasn’t trying to limit this list to one track per artist, then single “Born Alone” would certainly have made it here as well. Oh, I can’t stay mad at you for long, Jeff.
4. Pains of Being Pure at Heart – “Even in Dreams”
Dan: I can barely disguise the gushes of love I have for Pains of Being Pure of Heart, so much so I will not turn their name into an acronym; I think acronyms are beneath them. “Even in Dreams” takes their dreamy shoe-gaze sound into the light of love-lorn pure pop making a rare and beautiful thing indeed; a shoegazer themed anthem.
3. The Strokes – “Under Cover of Darkness”
Dan: There is a saying, “About as anticipated as a new Strokes album” used to describe things that are not very eagerly anticipated (“A John Key-led Government is about as anticipated as a new Strokes album” etc) and 2011’s Angles was no exception. Basically, the reason their record company doesn’t drop them and they can keep themselves in skinny jeans and hair product for another two years is there is always two songs that are fucking amazing. On Angles it was this cut of fuzz-pop, catchy enough to work as a single without turning into ‘plinky-plonky piano and one riff’ gimmickry that so many indie bands feel is necessary to make a single (read ‘Razorlight Syndrome’).
Mike: The Strokes returned with a stellar single that captured everything that was great about one of the most important bands of the last decade. Which makes it all the more sad that the accompanying album, Angles was such a disappointment. Three absolutely killer opening tracks (this was track number two), then a massive tail off to seven songs of utter garbage. Its like they don’t want us to like them any more: the video for this song was shit too. So here’s a live version that more accurately conveys its brilliance.
2. The Go! Team – “Buy Nothing Day” featuring Beth from Best Coast
Mike: It seems like forever since this came out (January), but it’s still as fresh as ever. Irresistible pop hooks from two of my favourite bands, this song is just impossible not to like. From Beth’s psychedelic summer vocals to the wall of sound guitar orchestra that rounds out the track, this is pretty much everything a great song should be. In fact, if you don’t like this song, then you are literally worse than Kim Jong Il (too soon?). The video is absolutely perfect too.
1. Jay Z & Kanye West – “No Church In The Wild”
Mike: 2011 was a great year for hip hop, and it was something of a surprise to me that the song I listened to more than any other was by two rappers I’m not even that huge a fan of. Sure, I’ve listened to and liked the odd Jay Z song in the past, and I definitely enjoyed Kanye’s album from last year, but Watch the Throne really took things up a notch for me. But then putting two of the 21st Century’s best rapper/producers together on one album and it being awesome really shouldn’t have amazed me that much. As you may have noticed, I’m something of a sucker for opening tracks on albums, and “No Church In The Wild” just fucking owned it, right from the very first listen. OFWGKTA’s Frank Ocean kicks things off with a melody about religious belief and what it is to be human:
Human beings in a mob
What’s a mob to a king? What’s a king to a God?
What’s a God to a non-believer who don’t believe in anything?
… which Jay Z takes up and runs with:
Tears on the mauseoleum floor
Blood stains the coliseum doors
Lies on the lips of a priest
Thanksgiving disguised as a feast
… and finally Kanye just says “fuck it” and starts rapping about bitches, drugs and sex:
Sunglasses and Advil
Last night was mad real
Sun comin’ up, 5 a.m.
I wonder if they got cabs still
All delivered over an unforgettable driving beat and bassline, complete with some screeching monkey noises thrown in for good measure. This song is like a movie featuring a machine gun toting drunken monkey ninja in a Star Wars t-shirt with huge explosions and robot dinosaurs: it truly has fucking everything.
Summer seems to have finally hit the NZ shores and what better way to enjoy the sunshine than by chilling with some old school hip hop. This is a collection of some of the hip hop classics that my friends and I grew up listening to on the mean streets of Newlands, Wellington. Enjoy!
Wavves are a kick ass rock band. Sure, they may have one of the worst Twitter accounts ever written by a fully grown adult, but they sure do write some fine tunes. Last year’s King Of The Beach was pretty much my favourite album of the year, and they’re back with a brand new EP of all new tunes that actually improves on its predecessor.
The Life Sux EP is a slightly poppier, slightly slicker release than KoftB. Main Wavves man Nathan Williams has upped his songwriting game and raised the stakes nicely. Check out opener “Bug”.
Kinda like a buzzed out and bratty Hüsker Dü meets a psychedelic early Green Day, with just the right level of stoner abandon to make it appeal to the internet generation. Cool, but it doesn’t care that it’s cool. Track two “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl” is more of the same and available as a free download to boot:
As if you needed another reason to buy (or let’s be honest, download for free) this EP, track three is a somewhat inevitable duet with William’s girlfriend Beth Cosentino of Best Coast* (playing at a Big Day Out near you soon) fame, and is as awesome as a combination of those two great things should be.
The rest of the EP is equally great, but if you’re not convinced by now then you never will be, you ear-muff wearing old swine, you. (Although I should mention that track five is a collaboration with Fucked Up, and again is as awesome as that sounds).
Contender for release of the year for me so far.
* No news to speak of on the Best Coast front, except that they’re currently recording. Beth did just release a very nice iTunes Sessions EP though, with existing (and in some cases improved upon) versions of Crazy For You numbers. It also contains a wonderful cover of a Loretta Lynn song called “Fist City” that if you don’t like, then God have mercy on your record collection.
After last week’s bile fest, here’s something to help wash away the horrid aftertaste of the new RHCP song. To restore your faith in modern music, and humanity in general, here’s a few recent albums that I’ve been loving. Remember, there’s more good music than bad out there, you just gotta look.
David Comes To Life – FUCKED UP
A hardcore punk concept album from Toronto Canada’s Fucked Up. While the vocals are pure 80s hardcore, the songs are anything but: complex arrangements, female backing vocals and a guitar sound to die for. Must be heard to be believed.
Coastal Grooves – BLOOD ORANGE
I’ve already posted the full stream of this album a few weeks ago, but I’m still obsessively listening to it so figured it deserved another mention. Here’s Dev Hynes performing its opening song while dressed as a fucking wizard way back in 2009. That’s a contender for best guitar solo of the year right there, too.
Within and Without – WASHED OUT
Washed Out is the stage name of DJ and producer Ernest Greene. This is chillwave at it’s finest: laid back and breezy, but engaging and never boring. Everything on this album just works, from the cover to the song structures. Just perfect.
Leave Home – THE MEN
Sharing their album name with the Ramones’ second LP isn’t the only thing that Brooklyn’s The Men have going for them. Crunchy, powerful guitars and unbridled energy prove that pure grungy guitar rock is not only alive and well, but still has plenty of life left in it yet.
Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You – DOES IT OFFEND YOU, YEAH?
Named after a Rickey Gervais quote from the Office (“My Drinking – Does it offend you, yeah?”) I was a huge fan of these guys’ 2008 album You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into. Sort of indie rock and 80s pop mashed up with ultra heavy keyboard driven electro. I wasn’t initially as taken with this album as their debut, but it’s a grower and I’m pretty sure I like it even more now. It’s just a tad edgier. And you’ve got to love those crunchy keyboard sounds.
Watch The Throne – JAY Z AND KANYE WEST
This album has been getting some mixed reviews around the place but I have to confess that I really like it. It’s not a perfect album, but there are some amazing songs on there from these two justifiably popular and hugely creative hip hop icons. Opener “No Church In The Wild” featuring Frank Ocean (download a free Frank Ocean mixtape here) is just amazing – a contender for track of the year for sure. (Gotta love those screeching monkeys – more songs should feature monkey sounds, definitely). The track “Otis”, built from Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness” is great too, if ultimately falling short of it’s potential.
Endless Now – MALE BONDING
Fuck I love Sub Pop Records. They are arguably even better now than they were in their so called hey day at the height of the grunge era. As well as Washed Out above, another of their new bands that I’m really digging is Male Bonding. Chilled out shoegazey vocals over amped up punk rock drum beats. There is not a single thing in that previous sentence not to like. The song “Bones” also features another contender for my favourite guitar solo of the year at around the 2:56 mark
To The Mountains – SUPERMODEL
Hometown heroes Supermodel show that New Zealand can rock just as hard as anywhere else. HUGE songs with massive classic rock hooks – think Queen meets the Strokes and you’re halfway there. To The Mountains also features a strong contender for best album art of the year too: just beautiful.
We Are The Champions – JEFF THE BROTHERHOOD
Blue album-era Weezer meets the dullard rock of The Ramones and The Riverdales. After that sentence, how are you still reading this and not already listening to the song below?
Skying – THE HORRORS
Another album that seems to be dividing people, but unlike Watch The Throne I can’t really understand why with this one. I love everything about this album, and it’s a very strong contender for my album of the year so far. Psychedelic indie meets Berlin-era Bowie, this is just a near perfect album for me. “Endless Blue” is a best track of the year contender too.
Vice and Virtue – PANIC AT THE DISCO
Commercial rock doesn’t have to suck. Sure, Panic at the Disco have some of the most retarded music videos to ever grace music television, but don’t let that confuse the fact that they are and have always been a really great band. I loved their first two albums, and when they announced that half the band was quitting, I assumed that would be it for Panic. But they’re back and this latest album is as good as anything they’ve done. Forget the bad press around emo – haters gonna hate. Just listen to the music and make up your own mind.
Thursday – THE WEEKND
Another artist from Toronto, although Abel Tesfaye AKA The Weeknd couldn’t be more different from Fucked Up, although no less innovative. He writes futuristic, thoroughly modern R & B, and the best part of all is that he releases it all free. Get his latest jam Thursday for free here, and his earlier mix House Of Balloons is also highly recommended (and completely free).
Pedals – RIVAL SCHOOLS
I remember Rival School’s debut United By Fate from ten or so years ago: a pleasantly original take on post hardcore punk at a time when punk was as stale as it’s ever been. I do remember listening to it and enjoying it, but not really appreciating how good it was till much later, by which time the band had split up. Fortunately they’ve reunited and released a follow up over a decade later, and have picked up exactly where they left off. In a genre as rigidly unforgiving of original thought as modern punk you really start to notice the true originals. Rival Schools are a lot like Sunny Day Real Estate in that respect – another band that I didn’t appreciate till much later and who have also recently reformed with their original lineup. They are that very rare thing indeed: a unique punk band, and they should be commended for it.
Any other great new music that you think I should check out? Let me know