Wednesday, December 31, 2014

top 10 albums of the year: #2


Caribou - Our Love

There were a couple of times after placing Caribou's album on my record player (the immediacy of vinyl is the best way to hear it) that took my breath away--the mushrooming synths on "Silver" and the gauzy R&B ice castle "Second Chance." And then there's the lovely melancholy slow burn of "Back Home" and the title track, as well as the driving, repetitive "Can't Do Without You" (my #1 single of '14).  All in all, a cohesive, blissful and haunting tapestry of electronica.

"In the beginning, I had a different idea of what the record was gonna be. I was excited by the hyper synthetic-sounding, glossy, digital sounds of R&B and hip hop production of the last few years, and I thought that the record was gonna be much more like that: transparent-sounding, super polished, super unreal. With tracks like "Dive," and a couple of other places, you can still hear it.

"But alongside that was a desire to make the most personal, most connected thing that I’d made, and I found it really hard to square those two things together. In retrospect, I was actually listening to more classic soul music, like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Curtis Mayfield with my daughter when I was just hanging out with her. That’s what warmed the record up." -Caribou

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

top 10 albums of the year: #3


Cineplexx - Florianopolis

Armed with lilting, tropic guitars, breezy, bossa beats, and crafty melodies, London-based Argentine Cineplexx's newest album is a luxurious ride and one of the year's most enjoyable collection of tunes. My favorite track might be "Far" (a collaboration with Ana Montiel)--a reverberated vocal swirling in moderate-tempo-ed, lush disco--but the album as a whole is paradise.

"Well roots are always there, for 29 years I listened to so much Latin music that I think it is impossible to avoid this influence. Actually, I love it and embrace it, in my own way. I love lots of Latin music, especially Brazilian music, Latin folklore, tango, Latin traditional music and romantic boleros, all this music is inside me and somehow will always be present in my own productions. I never stopped looking for new exciting music and in this search I continually discover more and more amazing music from Latin America too. In my music there is a kind of melancholy or nostalgia that you can find familiar to tango or bossa nova somehow." -Cineplexx

Monday, December 29, 2014

top 10 albums of the year: #4


Mac DeMarco - Salad Days

From the striking opening title track to the whistly, winsome closer, Mac DeMarco's album of slender folk-pop tunes is a lo-fi masterwork.  Refreshingly, his defeated, world-weary lyrics, catchy melodies and no-frills production quickly gets to the point instead of wallowing in embellishment.

“I feel sort of weathered and beat down and grown up all of a sudden. I've always had some kind of plateau that I wanted to reach, and now I just can't see the next one.” -DeMarco

Monday, December 22, 2014

top 10 albums of the year: #5


FKA twigs - LP1

I remember how eye-catching the cover (that teal background! that zoned-out maquillaged face!) of FKA twigs' debut was when I first saw posters of it popping up around the city. Like its package design, the music on the record is a bold, immaculate artistry that's difficult to ignore. FKA twigs' high, genteel birdsong voice sweeps through dreamy trip hop and makes you forget where you are.

 “My hope for this record is that people will be able to identify my sound as a producer and understand how much of this I do myself. I’m being fearless and finding a strength in myself to be more confident, to make bolder moves. It’s a tough industry. People always belittle what you’re doing, your creativity. I’m not listening to the sly putdowns. 
I’m finding the strength and confidence within myself to ignore those voices, and do what I’m doing regardless.” -FKA twigs

Sunday, December 21, 2014

top 10 albums of the year: #6


St. Vincent - St. Vincent

With crunchy guitars, pop hooks, vocals which vacillate between pretty-smooth and seething distortion, St. Vincent harnesses some terrific, active and varied musicianship on her self-titled record. As usual her lyrics on modern life (check the anxiety-tech, funky horned barn-burner "Digital Witness") are smart and punchy. So far, this is her most cohesive, best set: the album buckles, bites, curls up, and unfurls--a "Rattlesnake" of a record indeed.

"A lot of things that sound like synthesizers are actually guitars. All the music is played by people; there aren't programmed drums or anything. I wanted it to have the feel of humans but the sound of machines." -St. Vincent

Saturday, December 20, 2014

top 10 albums of the year: #7


Sinkane - Mean Love

Sinkane aka Ahmed Gallab has lived in London, Sudan, Ohio, and Brooklyn and has worked as a musician with acts from Yeasayer to Usher. This is likely to have some bearing on his array of musical influences. On the exceptional Mean Love, a rich tapestry of styles emerges that blend seamlessly--swirling psychedelia, surf rock, cool Afrobeat, Stevie Wonder funk, falsetto cries, Sade-ish serenades and haunting honky tonk.

"I always tend to do things that might be a little polarizing. People are either going to love or hate it. I had this idea, this epiphany when I was working on this album. All of the influences I put together — African music, country-western music, soul, funk — are people who experienced a similar kind of oppression or longing or nostalgia. A lot of simple people who were poor or came from a lot of hardship, and in that they created this music. I found that common theme within all that music, and I wanted to bring them together — infuse a reggae song with pedal steel. And I realized reggae had a lot in common with country music, you know?" -Sinkane

Friday, December 19, 2014

top 10 albums of the year: #8


The Juan MacLean - In a Dream

Even though LCD Soundsystem is over, the party continues for Nancy Whang on this warm and bright disco LP. The splashy beats, bass riffs and shiny synths recall vintage New Order. John MacLean and Whang's vocals drive the album home with a soulful breeziness.

"I don’t think In A Dream is a grandiose house record. I wouldn't call it a house record, grandiose, humble or otherwise; ‘humble house – new micro genre in the making. I would barely categorize it as a dance record, although I do refer to it as such primarily to put it into easy context. There certainly are house music references, but I think the main similarity would be more so that many of the things that impacted the creation and evolution of house music also influence Juan and me." -Nancy Whang

Thursday, December 18, 2014

top 10 albums of the year: #9


Trust - Joyland

Toronto artist Robert Alfons' first solo foray (his cohort Maya Postepski left for Austra) hits both melancholy and buoyant strides. Populated with nods to Kon Khan, sound effects (birdsong, bleeps, atonal cries), wintry strings, acidic synths, Alfons' low-register vocals and beaming beats, the album is a glowing electro reverie.

"I write music that has to be emotional, so it starts from there. That's what gets me excited to make music in the first place. I'm not a gear nerd, I'm not somebody who sits around and pours over that. I would rather write melodies and songs and build it from that point." -Alfons (of Trust)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

top 10 albums of the year: #10

Herein lies the beginning of the countdown of my Top 10 albums of the year!


James Vincent McMorrow - Post Tropical

Recorded in the middle of nowhere in Texas, Irish singer / songwriter McMorrow's sophomore album lays down a warm bed of folk, brass and electronica as his angelic vocals scale gorgeous heights.

“I think surroundings impact everything. I think musicians, artists, respond to aesthetics. If you put yourself in a pretty environment, you’re more inclined to try and do it justice I guess. There’s definitely elements of it that found their way in. It would be impossible for it not to. Every minute you look out the window, you realize where you are. The whole place was so different from anything I've ever experienced before." -McMorrow

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

wild tu(n)esday!

Simon & Garfunkel's "El Candor Pasa (If I Could)" has been going through my head ever since I heard its amazing usage in Wild.  An elevator version by easy listening French maestro Paul Mauriat closes out today's playlist. Also check Luxar's groovy treatment of "Last Christmas."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

libby's top albums of 2014!

OOF, has this been an amazing year of music or what!?  In no particular order, here are my picks of the best albums of 2014.

FKA Twigs - LP1

Once I heard "How's That" from EP2, I was dying for a full album.  She did NOT disappoint and I don't think I'll stop being fascinated by her for a very long time.

Gorgon City - Sirens

These guys did a great job of filling my Disclosure-loving heart.  A distinct bass "thump" in the chorus of each song and great guest vocalists - nobody does 90s house music like the Brits.

SOHN - Tremors

The emotion in each song kills me.  Someone tore him up...

Beck - Morning Phase

Okay, I lied, I have two albums tied for first place.  This is one of them.  I have to admit, I haven't listened to Beck's stuff much outside of the 90s and man, this came out of nowhere!  Haunting and gorgeous.

Caribou - Our Love

This is my other #1 album.  I love each and every song from this album but the standout song, of course, is "Can't Do Without You."  Just those four words building up for 5 minutes...unreal.

Toni Braxton & Babyface - Love, Marriage & Divorce

I know, this came out of nowhere.  Though a little cheesy at times, it took me right back to the mid-90s.

Royal Blood - Royal Blood

Rock is alive and well in these two Brits.  The first song along blows my face off every time I hear it.

Ariana Grande - My Everything

Don't worry, I whip myself every night for loving this album.  Too bad it came from such a terrible little brat.

Sam Smith - In the Lonely Hour

He's an angel.  That is all.

Tinashe - Aquarius

Take note, Rihanna, this is how it's done.

Little Dragon - Nabuma Rubberband

The minute I heard "Klapp Klapp" I knew we were in for a great album...

-Libby Hostetler