Monday, December 26, 2011

AOTY (Album of the Year! - ???)

2011 is over and I hope we can all agree that it was a great year for music. I must admit that certain discoveries made in 2011 were from prior years, but aren't we all working from our own chronology? I discovered Led Zeppelin in 1992 when I had to stay home from school for a few weeks after getting Mono, and that's when it is etched into my mind. I digress...

SOTW took a bit of an obscure turn this year. Turquoise Jeep was crankin' out hits like Tyson. Sam the cat won several hard-fought battles, much to my dismay. Kreayshawn rapped like NWA...except a bit more catty. How could I turn a blind eye?

I think 2012 may take SOTW back to its roots, riffing on 80s standards. We can all relate to it's over-the-topness. Hearkening back to the 90s Grunge, Motown Phillery and Gangsta Rap. The 2000s were a bit of a lost decade, at least the first half. Maybe we'll appreciate it later.

Getting down to brass tacks the SOTY comes from the AOTY (M83's "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming"). I must admit, this album was in the running before it came out, but critics agree that it delivered. I was reading the Wall Street Journal "best of 2011" last week, and I couldn't believe my eyes...the WSJ agrees with SOTW that M83's double-disc is the greatest album of 2011! Needless to say, I was absolutely floored by this. Sure, some of the tracks are radio-friendly, but there is a nearly 1-minute monologue by a 5-year old girl about a magic frog in one of the tracks! Such tom foolery is expected from SOTW, but WSJ!? I can just picture some 50-year-old Managing Director at Goldman Sachs reading this in the WSJ on the subway on the way home from work / universe mastery, and picking it up on iTunes. Oh man is he gonna be pissed!

So as to be more inclusive, I came up with this list of SOTW's top 10 albums of 2011 from various sources (Pitchfork, Time, Prefix-mag, my head, etc.) in no particular order:
1) SBTRKT - SBTRKT (seriously, this is the jam. It's R&B with easy drum n' bass)
> Fave Track: Wildfire -

2) AraabMuzik - Electronic Dream (similar to SBTRKT but heavier on the electronica with hints of trip-hop and more complex beats)
> Fave Track: Feelin' so Hood -

3) TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light (one of my fave bands continuing to dominate with their unique brand of strange rock)
> Fave Track: Will Do -

4) Jay-Z / Kanye - Watch the Throne (I'm just playin'. This album sucked ballz)
> Better -

5) Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (more ambitious follow-on album. It's good...real good)
> Fave Track: Helplessness Blues -

6) Shabazz Palaces - Black Up (I'm probably not allowed to like this album. It's REAL Black Panthery, but also real good/experimental/hip-hop. Remember Digable Planets (#coollikethat)? Well, one of em is in this band, and he's pretty angry about lots of stuff. Worth a listen)
Fave Track: An Echo From The Hosts That Profess In Infinitum -

7) St. Vincent - Strange Mercy (Annie Clark went to Lake Highlands and she's the real deal. This album is weird and good.)
Fave Track: Cruel -

8) Girls - Father, Son and Holy Ghost (rock that is kinda sad / kinda awesome)
Fave Track: Alex -

9) PJ Harvey - Let England Shake (folky baroque rock...this was the runner-up to AOTY. I finally got around to listening to it a month ago, and it's been in heavy rotation. It's a concept album about World War I, specifically, from the England viewpoint. It will go down as one of the greatest concept albums of all least in my book)
Fave Track: The Words That Maketh Murder -

10) Radiohead - King of Limbs (Radiohead can do no wrong. Some people didn't like this album as much as past albums. I did. It takes some time to grow on you, but it's a very impressive album, musically)
Fave Track: Little by Little -

A nice sample from the Album of the Year: M83 - "Midnight City"

"Citeh is ma Chhuuucchh!"

SOTW shout out to the Mayans, Rick Santorum (I'm just playin'...Rick, you so craaazzzy) and 2012. Looking forward to another year of great music!

Hope you dig,

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Song of the Week - X-Mas Edition (Sleigh Bells - Riot Rhythm)

Is it weird to say that I'm not really a Christmas music guy? Maybe not. When you think about it, Christmas music is so strange. There isn't a whole lot of innovation. It's basically just new (and old) artists singing old covers. Can you think of another event or genre that is covered and re-covered this much? Just type "Christmas music" into google and tell me this isn't insane. The whole imagery is strange too. Most of it isn't even religious. It's just lyrics about weird traditions, mythical beasts that fly and an ancient red ninja that lives in the permafrost.

My Mom used to tell me and my sister stories about Melvin who is a young giraffe. Typically, these stories were parables invented on the fly. Melvin had an arch-nemesis named Micah who is a snake. Micah was always trying to get Melvin to do bad stuff (cheat at the carnival, be mean to his sister, steal toys). Clearly this was my Mom's way of teaching us ethics (occasionally retrospectively) through mythology/trickery. My point here is (religion aside), Santa Claus was invented on the fly by someone's "Mom" to trick their kids into being nice. This is my theory.

Lastly, wouldn't it be strange if someone wrote a bunch of songs about the adventures of Melvin? And then artists went on to cover and re-cover these songs ad nauseum. Real strange, but I'd check that out...for sure.

With all of this in mind, I give you a completely unrelated song by the misleadingly Christmas-esqu Sleigh Bells (Riot Rhythm)

This video is pretty strange (aren't they all?). Basically, this guy with a beard teaches a young kid how to dominate in chess. Pretty standard. Sleigh Bells was either #1 or #2 on the most dominant concerts of 2011 list. So, coupled with their festive name, they get the rarely awarded SOTW: X-Mas edition shout out. Maybe I do like Christmas music?

Stay tuned for:
1) SOTY (Song of the Year)
2) That secret SOTW I've been working on

Shout out to Jesus.

Hope you Dig,