Every summer, there are a few albums that stand out as sun-splattered, electronic-synth goodness. Last year, it was records like Passion Pit and Phoenix that wafted through the sandy airs of my summer. This year, I do believe I've found an album to rock out to on sunny, beach Saturdays and also relax to when the late afternoon rolls around. Delorean is an electro/dance group hailing from the Basque country in Spain - they've toured with the likes of Miike Snow (refer back to my post of the best albums of 2009) and jj. Their latest album, Subiza, was just released at the end of March, and the following are my favorite tracks so far. Delorean - Stay Close Delorean - Warmer Places Delorean - Real Love
With Coachella music festival quickly approaching, it seems as though my posts may start heavily reflecting the acts that are appearing. In this vein, Yeasayer is a band that I was extremely hesitant about at first; having noticed the band's name all over music websites like Stereogum and Pitchfork, I was unsure of what to expect. With a single listen to their song, O.N.E., I was h.o.o.k.e.d. They define themselves on their myspace as "ENYA with BOUNCE", and I have to admit, they couldn't have said it better. Psychedelic, yet catchy, their songs have converted me from a sceptic to a devotee. And if you were wondering why their sound is so out-of-this-world, they have made it public that their latest album was a brainchild of an LSD trip the band shared in 2008. I've included their super trippy video for their song, Ambling Alp, and O.N.E. underneath. Check 'em out!
One of the most exciting things you can stumble upon these days in the music world is an amazing collaboration, and even more exhilarating is a band that combines two incredibly different sounds into one masterpiece. Such is the case with the new band Broken Bells: a collaboration between James Mercer, the lead singer of The Shins, and Brian Burton, formally known as the producer Danger Mouse. Combining the epic voice from Chutes Too Narrow and the producer who mixed the legendary Grey Album (Jay-Z's Black Album and The Beatles' White Album) obviously sounds like it could not go wrong - but not only does it succeed, it surpassed all my expectations. The album is not even out yet, but their first release, The High Road, is just short of incredible. Check out their first single below, buy the album on March 9th, and once you fall in love after listening to this one track GO TO THEIR SHOWS in NY on the 10th and LA on the 14th!
One of the amazing discoveries I've made recently from my searches online for pleasure & for work is this amazing Australian band. In the crazy whirlwind of getting back to work after a few months off, The Temper Trap's album Conditions has been a point of solace and pure joy. Their sound is unique, as if you took a splash of Radiohead and TV On The Radio, mixed that with a hint of Phoenix and a strangely enough, a dollap of the eeriness in Sigur Ros. Each song sounds like a clip from a movie, whether it's a soundtrack to a love story, or a flash of a desert road trip. The final confirmation that this band was headed to the top of my list was hearing that a fellow Melbourne-ian, Daniel Merriweather, is a huge fan (I'll have to post about him and his special performance for our show this past week soon! It was a-ma-zing). The best thing about them, besides the music - they'll be at Coachella this year! (and you can only imagine the excited countdown I've got going over here)
PS - If you recognize "Sweet Disposition," but you can't place it -- it's from the trailer for the film 500 Days of Summer ;)
As this year (that felt like a decade in my life) comes to a close, I'm forced to look back at the music I loved, replayed and then overplayed in the past 12 months. Each of the following albums would probably be completely scratched CDs right now (were they not digital) due to how much I simply needed to hear them at some point in 2009. These may or may not be new to you, but hopefully they'll give you a taste or reminder of greatness that was released recently. And if you're a stickler for good round numbers (which I usually am, so I feel for you) - this is a disclaimer: In honor of 2009 & because I will not add an album I am not or was not in love with just to make it an even number, there are only 9 deserving albums on this list. In no specific order, here goes...
Florence and The Machine: Lungs
I take the last sentence back: this album is first in my list for a reason. Florence Welch's voice is hauntingly unique and superbly refreshing in a music world filled with remixes and autotune. Each song is more powerful and astounding than the previous. The following are some of my favorites, but this album is without a doubt worthy, if not necessary to hear from start to finish.
This Swedish band has some of the catchiest yet complex electro-pop songs I've heard in years. Though from the words "swedish" and "pop", you'd expect cheesy hits a la Ace of Base, Miike Snow brings us an indie, heavy and sometimes dark mood through the electronics resonating in their songs. I've found myself putting multiple songs on this album on repeat for days at a time- that's how catchy they are while also being qualitatively impeccable.
I've definitely talked about La Roux once or twice before on this blog, so if you've read this or talked to me in the last year, you have heard of this firey-haired Brit. Just as much of the music coming out of the UK is these days, La Roux's singer Elly Jackson is innovatively bringing back the sounds of the 80s in the most refreshing and catchy way. Her songs are infectiously rhythmic and evocative of a "Depeche" mode in music. Just like her David Bowie hairdo, she stands above the rest in this year's pop competition.
The xx brings something new and exciting to the music frontier today: minimalism. Fronted by singers Romy and Oliver, two TWENTY year olds from the UK, The xx makes their mark through speaking and singing softly to heavy yet often sparse beats. The most amazing thing about this band, other than their age and style, is that their music is supersaturated with raw emotion - something rare and so valued in music today. I was lucky enough to see them perform recently at a relatively intimate venue, and all I'll say is - get into them quick before their surely imminent explosion.
I have to preface my explanation of this album with the honest confession that in my eyes it would be very hard for Julian, the lead singer of The Strokes, to do wrong with a solo album. However, no matter how much expectation I had, Phrazes more than stands up to his prior work. This short 8-song venture is a captivating mix of smokey, deep vocals and playful yet intense instrumentals. The following gives you a taste of the highest of highs on the album (11th dimension) with perhaps the mellowest (Tourist).
Kid Cudi may be the "break out artist" of 2009, crossing over almost every genre in his music by melding rap, hip hop, electronic and even indie hipster music into one. With appearances from indie-synth stars like Ratatat and MGMT, and hip hop masters Kanye and Common, you know there's something stellar coming from this kid from Ohio. Though at first listen, there's almost an eery, frightening tone to some of this album, with a couple more plays you realize the weight in the songs is satisfyingly heavy and actually quite impressive. There is serious talent coming from Kid Cudi, so be warned by this first album that there's more to come from him (there better be!)
Not much needs to be said of an artist with as huge of a following and presence in the music world as Lady GaGa. Whether she's the new Madonna, Marilyn Manson, or Britney Spears, she has her own revolutionary image and a bundle of amazingly produced and executed songs to go with it. Her album is without a doubt one of my, along with probably every teenager and gay man alike's, favorite albums of 2009.
*due to possible copyright infringement, i took down these songs (go get them on itunes and support her!)
Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Another band that need no introduction, Phoenix has perfected alternative popular rock music in its essence. There aren't many bands that I think can do no wrong, but this French foursome has gotten almost every song in their four studio albums completely right. Initiating out of a band with members of Daft Punk, it's without question that Phoenix has a great grasp on creating melodies and popular dance-worthy hits. As expected, their newest release delivered 10 new tracks to add to my most played on itunes.
Just as music is often a soundtrack to our lives, this quaint electronic cd took hold of my summer spending time on the beaches of Santa Monica, and will forever be stamped in my memory as the melodic backdrop to those few months. Additionally, this album happens to be an amazing, uptempo mix of quirky beats and cheerful sounds. In their debut album, Passion Pit grabbed the attention of much of the mainstream with their great dance songs, and I just happen to be among the mass of individuals who are looking forward to their next endeavor.
Stumbling upon an amazing new cd at work is a frequent occurrence - however, finding an album of a new and great band who happen to have a member who dated my roommate in high school is QUITE rare. Princeton may sound pretentious initially, but the band's tunes are FAR from inaccessible. Their "Magnetic Fields" meets Santa Monica beach vibe is so appealing as the summer rolls out, you'll find yourself humming these sweet beats in the shower and hoping to fall asleep in the hammock with their lullabies. Watch for their album out later this month!