Earlier this month, one of my most beloved (and long overdue for a redesign) side projects Music-critic.ca launched it’s annual best of feature. Not being one to miss an opportunity to wax on and on about the state of music, I crafted my top five records for the year.
Now, the problem with trying to rank your top five favorite records of the year is that you inevitably can’t find a spot for a record you really adore or you discover something that blows your mind after the fact. So since I’m taking a bit of recharge time this holiday season, I thought I’d whip up a full post to discuss my top five choices and also some also-rans that didn’t seam to make the cut. (Again here’s the full post for reference)
It’s no secret that I’m a massive, massive fan of The Deftones. Yes, who can’t love a bunch of old metal heads from Sacramento who adore Weezer, The Smiths, Joni Mitchell, The Cure and Duran Duran? But it’s also no secret that the Saturday Night Wrists album turned me off them for a while. It was such an offensive trainwreck that I couldn’t get over it. So I was incredibly weary of Koi No Yokan, but it turned out to be absolutely perfect. I know The Deftones are not everyone’s cup of tea, but do give it a couple of spins and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the depth.
fun. isn’t something that I’d typically sandwich in to a top five spot, except for the fact that Some Nights is probably the one record that my wife and I have been listening to constantly throughout 2012. It’s not just the lead single that’s really sharp, but the rest of the album is filled with great catchy anthems. Pardon the pun, but it really is a fun record and one that grows on you more and more with every listen.
To be honest, I totally forgot there was a new record from Japandroids in 2012. If I’m being frank, because of the similarity between the cover art of Celebration Rock and their earlier Post-Nothing, I totally spaced and thought Celebration Rock was just a special side EP or some collection of cheap B-Sides. It took me until November to realize it was a whole new album. Which is a total shame because 2012 was a pretty crummy year and if I had known about this before hand, I probably would have enjoyed the year a teeny bit better.
I’d like to thank Lou for getting me hooked on both Passion Pit and The xx in 2012. Yeah, I was familiar with both bands because of earlier remixes and best of lists, but I hadn’t actually listened to them like I did with both Grossnar and Coexist this year. Both bands broke through the typical one hit wonder status from previous years with their latest releases. Coexist is a great headphone record, while also a great record to play in the background while working away. And Grossnar is just a pretty darn awesome CD.
The also rans…
This record was ever so close to bumping Coexist from my list, but I couldn’t get over a handful of nit-picky things. First, Born To Die was hyped to the nines and plastered all over every single Starbucks in North America … and as an elitiest super snobb I couldn’t swallow my pride to add it to the list. And then of course there were the distracting controversies – her background, her history, the scenester backlash and of course her lackluster performances on SNL. But at the end of the day Born To Die is a pretty standout record. I’m still on the fence of how if I’ll appreciate the record as much in six or seven years, but for the time being it was very close to cracking my list.
Another close but no cigar record. Don’t get me wrong, I still adore Sleigh Bells, but Reign of Terror while fantastic, wasn’t as jaw-dropping or as addictive as Treats. I’ll blame it on familiarity and the lack of surprise, but it could have been a tiny bit better. Comeback Kid is still a fantastic track and far better than a majority of what was released this year.
Last but definitely not least, is Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ The Heist. I completely missed this album when it came out and wish it didn’t take syphoning off of other friends lists to catch it. Catchy and reminiscent of older Kanye Wesst & A Tribe Called Quest, The Heist really is one of those CDs that you know will stand the test of time. It also helps that it contains two tracks of the year with Thrift Store (which is fucking awesome) and of course Same Love (which really is one of the best songs in the past few years).
In what seams like the yearly signal that Christmas is around the corner, last month was Month Of New Music. Again, I could get into the history of it or you could just read my previous posts, essentially Month of New Music (#monm) started in December 2008 by a handful of Calgary Techies. The idea is to challenge yourself with help of peer-pressure from the online community to listen to one new to you CD for each day of November.
In years past, I’ve struggled to get past even the 15 day mark without an immense amount of effort. But now due to the advent of Rdio and online streaming , I’m happy to announce that 2012 was my most successful year, with 22/30 records nailed down. Or for those math nerds out there a 73.3% completion rate. Sure, I had to push my listening well into the first day of December to reach 22, but I’m just happy that I was able to push myself to new levels in this yearly challenge.
If you’re curious as to what I listened to you’re in for a treat, as I kept a spreadsheet of all the records I listened to over the month. I even included some incoherent ramblings… which I haven’t gone back to read over.
Now in regards to my take on the state of music right now, I’m not sure what to say. I might just be in denial, but I’m stuck between two conflicting stances that lead me to believe that I’ve turned into the thing I feared the most as 16 year old… that I’m an out of touch fossil. See on the one side, I have a gut feeling that bands and cds that I tend to really enjoy are a dying bred within popular culture. Bands such as Sleigh Bells, Queens of the Stone Age, MUTEMATH, The Distillers, The Foo Fighters, BTTLS and Rural Alberta Advantage are just too few and suitable alternatives are far between. But on the other hand, maybe, just maybe my musical tastes have aged and I’ve just become that out of touch 32 year old that is living in the glory years of music.
Either way, at the end of 30 days of exploration, I can say that there is far too much crummy dance music out there, Death Grips are a fascinating band to watch and The Deftones new record is probably one of the best things I’ve heard in a long time.
BTW kudos to all of those who are keeping the Month of New Music torch glowing. Special shout out to all of those who completed the task, very well done guys.
Well, hello there. Did you think I forgot about you? Of course not, I can’t quit this blog.
Yes, it seams like every few months I go on a bit of a hibernation with the old c.t.overdrive. This time I plan on blaming it on the Alberta Election, Alberta Tweets and of course our impending move back to the great white north. But don’t fret, I’ll be back writing again soon enough. Look for a handful of final blog posts regarding our wonderful time in The District, with my series of ode’s to this wonderful screwed up capital of the world.
… but in the meantime, I thought I’d get the creative juices flowing by sharing what’s been hammering on my playlist for the past few weeks. I’m sure there will be something on this list that perks your interest.
Of course, not much more needs to be said about this band that already hasn’t been said.
We stumbled upon Fitz and The Tantrums through some odd ghetto show called The Stoop. Anyways, it’s a bit of a throw back to Hall and Oates and of course the motown sound. A great band which we were lucky to catch live at The Sweetlife Festival a couple of weeks ago…
Plus any band where the lead singer looks like Jean-Baptiste Emanual Zorg automatically gets street cred in my books.
Another reference to this year’s Sweetlife Festival (which as mentioned last year is a one day festival put on my a local Salad company… yes, a salad company), but we had the pleasure of catching Explosions In The Sky live and is easily one of our musical highlights over the past few years. Friday Night Lights fans will already know what we’re talking about…
Poser/Inside joke alert: True confession, we could have seen Kid Cudi at the Sweetlife festival, but instead decided to head home early. So I can’t actually admit that I’ve seen him live, but since that weekend I’ve spent more time listening to his record
trying to figure out why the kids like this guy, which is very, very solid record.
It’s probably a travisty to post the Walk The Earth cover, but it’s a really well done cover and hey, the video is an incredible smash sensation. If you haven’t already heard this song, then I’m sorry for you as it’s probably one of the most infectious songs to have comeout in ages. Similarily the whole record is pretty solid.
One of the biggest travesties of my “music reviewing career” was not including Wugazi on my top five records of 2011.. hopefully this makes up for it.
So, it would appear much has been made of Lana Del Rey’s epic flop of sorts on SNL last week.
I had heard of the track Video Games over the summer, but didn’t take much stalk in it. It felt like a one off listen and I guess I wasn’t in the mood for it. But over the past few weeks, after seeing her name pop up all over the netz, I’ve spent some more time listening to the entire album and it’s really growing on me. Sure it’s a Starbucks staple at the moment, but it’s actual a fantastic record. So to combat some of the negative comments and epic floppiness of the SNL performance, here’s Lana Del Rey on Later with Jools. (Which as my cousin would say, is absolutely brilliant for live performances.)
(P.S. She also apparently redeemed herself on David Letterman this week)
First – The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a short film from a team of ex-Pixar creative members. It’s also the first release from Moonbot Studios and also happens to be nominated for an Oscar. So, if you want to remember why we love animation, then have a look at this beautiful featurette.
Second – With the New York Giants newly minted as Super Bowl Champions, the big question on everyone’s mind is… where do they send all the loser t-shirts and hats?. Well, in case you’re wondering, they get sent to disaster areas across the world. Places like Africa, Haiti and of course Edmonton.
Which of course is great, because I’m sure there is a new batch of Patriots fans in Africa at the moment, living life up in all of Tom Brady’s UGG boots glory.
Third – I’m not sure whether to thank or curse Mr. English for this heads up, but in addition to whatever DubStep is, there is a new dance genre gaining momentum called bruvstep… It’s leader is a 23 year old DJ called Skrillex. So for your entertainment, here’s Skrillex at his best?
BTW, if you decided to watch the video, make it to the 0:58 mark… That’s when it gets realz.
Fourth – This goes out to all my Gluten-Free readers… or better yet the people who follow my wife, but are still polite enough to drop by the old ctoverdrive. Anyways, DogFish Brewery out of Delaware (of all places) has released an epic Gluten Free beer called Tweason’ale. If you are curious to what it tastes like, let’s just say that at ChurchKeyDC last weekend, my wife described it as a religious experience.
Fifth – DC Comics, the legendary company responsible for subjecting the world to the disaster of a superhero that is Superman, has undergone a massive redesign of it’s corporate branding.
And while, I’m clearly not a fan of the DC Comicbook universe, I’ve gotta say I really, really dig the new branding and concept. It’s a drastic step to take a cherished brand and modernize it, but this is very well done.
Sixth – This may be my new favorite T-Shirt company and T-shirt. It’s a company called Edward Tea Belly.
Seventh – It would appear that The University of Western Ontario has made a massive, massive branding error. So much so, that most students and alumni are raising absolute hell. You know it’s bad when even the Alumni are pissed.
Eighth – Remeber when Andrew W.K., Matt & Kim and Soulja Boy teamed up for a music video? No?… Well it’s loaded below.
Anywho, it looks like The Gorillaz, James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem) and Andrew 3000 will be continuing this tradition later this year. Of course it’s all for Converse All-Stars… which actually makes the entire project that much cooler.
Ninth – How about some Mayer Hawthorne x M83 love to finish up these Random Thoughts? (courtesy of The Hood Internet of course)
So June is always an awkward month.
Wait, wait, wait, not in that bad Republican Weiner sorta way…
But in the there is so much going on sorta way. Because of which, I thought I would simplify things. Therefore I’m throwing a curve ball in to the pattern and I’m going to do an entire Random Thoughts post on music.
So for your pleasure (and my laziness), please find below a series of random musical links.
First – Yes, you’ve heard the song… and heard it at numerous Flames games… and you’ve possibly even seen the make your own Duck Sauce Remix app, but here is the official video… and… unfortunatly, it’s actually really solid. (Plus, who can’t argue with cameos from Drew Barrymore, Kanye West and ?uestlove)
Second – Yes, this is made far funnier, by actually knowing someone from Portland, but yes this song from the show Portlandia – The Dream of 90s is hysterical.
Third – The HoodInternet, which I’ve probably featured on this site more times than I can bother to count, have released their 5th Mix Tape. One of the tracks on this mix tape is The Clipse (Virginia’s best kept musical secret) vs. Matt & Kim called Virginia is for Cameras.
Yeah, this is how we roll in Arlington… Sorta… Actually, not even close.
Fourth – Alright, if that’s a bit to hipster for your fancy, you can also check out the 8-Bit Zelda remix of Virginia.
Fifth – Of course, from the same HoodInternet mixtape, there is this haunting mash-up of The XX and DMX.
Sixth – This has nothing to do with music, but from a designer angle this series of Design Advice inspired Desktop wallpapers are fantastic.
Oh, yeah they’re also not really safe for work.
Seventh – Regardless of the outcome of tomorrow night (Monday), here’s a great story from Bill Simmons (one of America’s most influential sports writers) on why he’s re-fallen in love with the NHL. From a Hardcore Hockey fan standpoint, I find it fascinating to see how someone could go from being a solid fan to an occasional fan.
Eighth – So was it Dirk determination or was it the veteran experience of Jason Kidd and John Terry that propelled the Mavs to the NBA Championships? Or… maybe … just maybe it was all the High Fives and Ass grabbing?
Ninth – Well here’s a pretty interesting little cover, it’s Weezer take on Radiohead’s Paranoid Android.
21 year old c.t.overdrive would be losing his marbles over this concept… unfortunately, 31 year old c.t.overdrive isn’t really that excited.
Tenth – And last but not least, let’s finish this off with some live QOSTA … Shall we. Yes, let’s do it.