Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The 12 Best Songs From 2012

I know the year isn't over yet...but December 21st is a mere day away and I need to get this list in before Cthulu comes strolling down Main st....or whatever is going to happen. Ok, I am unaffected by the Apocalypse talk, but this year has been great for music and I was too excited to wait for January for this list. Without further ado, here's the year's 12 best.

12. "Time To Dance" - The Shoes

The Shoes are a electro-funk duo from France, not to be confused with the 70's group Shoes that came out of Zion, Illinois. This duo is a pair of music producers who have worked with the likes of Ladyhawke, Shakira and The Golden Slivers. "Time To Dance" lives up to it's name. A relentless hip-shaking, pulse pounder that includes a tinge of old arena rock infused piano. I'm a sucker for spelling out words in a song as well. One the best music videos of the year (This list features a few candidates). Jake Gyllenhal slaughtering hipsters? Works for me.

11. "Wolves" - Big Wreck

Ian Thornley is back where he belongs, knocking out inspired and rejuvinated tunes with the Boston boys in Big Wreck. Their first album in 10 years is the summer's Albatross which is a reminder of why Big Wreck were so successful in Thornley's native Canada in the late 90's. "Wolves" has a feel like it's an old classic right off the bat and it holds up being performed live as well. Another sign of a great song.

10.  "Ill Mind Of Hopsin 5" - Hopsin

Hopsin is a rapper from LA who has been releasing a series of videos on Youtube and in the fifth installment he expresses his frustration with today's culture and obsession on unrelatable fame. A feeling that many of us have but don't express with such style and cadence. It's interesting that he feels remorse that he's part of the very scene that he's riffing on. Can't wait for his album, which is to be released in 2013.

9. "Madness" - Muse

Sometimes the greatest songs come out of terrible moments. While the moment that inspired Muse's "Madness" isn't as terrible as it could be, it's one I'm sure most of us can relate to. After fighting with his girlfriend frontman Matt Bellamy thought about it and realized he was in the wrong and had to go to his mother-in law's place to admit he was wrong. Who's house was that? Goldie Hawn's as Bellamy is dating actress Kate Hudson.

8. "Some Nights" - Fun.

This was definitely a year for Fun. And yes their official name has that period on the end of the word. Fun. are from New York and have been making music together since 2008. Their song "We Are Young" exploded on the scene this year and catapulted them into the world's collective ear. I found the song sort of forgettable to be honest, but their follow up single "Some Nights" is what I call a fun song. It's got great vocals, a great flow and message that the heavy percussion hammers home.

7. "Oblivion" - Grimes

Claire Boucher, who performs under Grimes, is a Canadian artist located in Montreal. She started turning heads when she opened for Lykke Li on her 2011 tour and released her album Visions earlier this year which received rave reviews from both fans and critics. "Oblivion" is such an enchanting song, dreamlike and Grimes' shy almost lisped singing style is a welcome change to the usual.

6. "This Head I Hold" - Electric Guest

Another group from LA is Electric Guest who's debut album Mondo came out early 2012. "This Head I Hold" has a fun and very catchy hook. Almost daring you to not attempt a dance move or 2 while you listen. Mondo was produced by DangerMouse after him and Electric Guest singer Asa Taccone met through a family friend and became friends.

5. "Emmylou" - First Aid Kit

From the first steel guitar swells of "Emmylou" by Sweden's First Aid Kit you can tell that you're in for a treat with song. It's sounds are suitable for a back drop of memories of times spent laying around with someone and enjoying watching the minutes click by.  First Aid Kit, who took their name randomly from an English dictionary (love it!) are sisters who have been writing music together since 2007. The Lion's Roar their second album together. This song gets extra points because it's one of the first that i've heard that includes my name in it's not that name...

4. "Breeze Blocks" - Alt-J

Hailing from Britain, Alt-J also began their musical career in 2007. Though they've had a few EPs released 2012's An Awesome Wave is their official debut. Littered with references to many other works, novels and films it's quickly gaining momentum. "Breeze Blocks" may take some time to warm up to, but once you do it burrows into your head and you'll find yourself humming it I guarantee. Another great video which doesn't hurt either.

3. "The Afterman" - Coheed & Cambria

I'll admit I was slipping. Coheed & Cambria, one of my current favourite bands, released a new album in October and I was unaware of it until I saw it on the shelf in a music store. After picking it up and giving it a few listens, I realized that this one could be their best. The Afterman: Acsension is part one of a double disc with part two being released in 2013.  The title track is a mind-blowing song, so delicate and devastating. Powerful and simple. Told from the perspective of a woman losing someone close to her and not having the proper forum to say goodbye. I've never doubted Coheed's abilities and I never will.

2. "California" - Delta Spirit

I had this one as the candidate for the number one spot for most of the year. From Delta Spirit's self titled album "California" is one of those melancholy songs disguised under a happy beat and care free presentation. The realization of doing what you need to is the one thing that will destroy your perfect little world in a heartbeat.

1. "Song For Zula" - Phosphorescent

I was about a minute and twenty-seven seconds into this song when I realized how incredible it was. So effortless, why hasn't this song been written before? It feels like being the first one to step on to a new planet. Matthew Houck is the man behind the music in Phosphorescent. His latest album Muchacho will be released in the new year, but "Song For Zula" was an early Christmas gift to all of us. Almost the opposite of the last song. "Song For Zula" celebrates life and love under an almost introspective haze. His voice hit's the right notes at the right moment and it's just the right length. Damn near perfect. A soundtrack for life's perfect moments for years to come.

Thanks for reading everyone!

Enjoy the Holidays and ol's Johnny will see you in 2013


Thursday, 13 December 2012

10 Great Duets

Though it's seldom seen these days the duet has always been a mainstay of musical culture. Two people want to be lead singers? Make it a duet! The duet used to have it's own category in the Grammys...not sure if it does anymore. Here's 10 Great Duets

1. "Relator" - Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson

Yes that Scarlett Johansson. She's actually got a very unique singing voice, breathy, airy and reminiscent of singers from decades ago. This song is of the album Break Up which is a collaborative effort between the two. The entire album deals with, obviously, the fragility and turmoil of romance for those in a traveling business. Like musicians and actors.

2. "Broken" - Seether feat. Amy Lee

Seether were a hard rock/heavy metal group with origins in South Africa. So it came as a surprise to fans when the re-released their song "Broken" in 2004 with Evanescence's Amy Lee contributing on lead vocals. Maybe not so surprising after it was revealed Lee was involved in a relationship with Seether frontman Shaun Morgan at the time. It's still Seether's biggest hit to this date, but many saw it as a step in the wrong direction for the band.

3. "Easy Lover" - Philip Bailey & Phil Collins

Twin Phil attack!! This was off Bailey's solo album Chinese Wall which Collins played drums on. Though Bailey was talented and a well known artist from his time with Earth, Wind & Fire, he still felt he needed a strong single-worthy song for the album. Collins and himself sat down and wrote "Easy Lover".

4. "Borne On The FM Waves Of The Heart" - Against Me!

Tom Gabel has a way of fitting words and lyrics into his songs without falling into the trap of forcing them to rhyme. Yet his songs touch on the experiences we as humans and listeners live every day. "Borne On The FM Waves Of The Heart" which features Tegan and Sara's Tegan, deals with looking at falling in love from an objective and pragmatic stand point. From Against Me's 2007 album New Wave.

5. "Cruisin'" - Huey Lewis & Gwenyth Paltrow

Yes that Huey Lewis. This song was recorded for the 2000 film Duets. It's a cover of an old Smokey Robinson song and Lewis and Paltrow actually do a very good job at maintaining the song's loose and velvety vibes.  Paltrow has dabbled in the music world from time to time and recently appeared on that Glee show everyone is talking about.

6. "N 2 Gether Now" - Limp Bizkit feat. Method Man

Wanna add immediate street cred to your band? Acquire a member of one of the most notorious hip-hop groups of all time, Wu-Tang Clan. In the late 90's Fred Dursts' Limp Bizkit was everywhere, but this was kind of before they wore out their welcome. This song is actually very enjoyable, catchy and quick. Durst and Method have a good flow going too.

7. "Little Know It All" - Iggy Pop & Sum 41

Pay attention. This may be the only time i'll admit openly that I enjoy a song that Sum 41 has any involvement with. Iggy Pop's 2003 album Skull Ring featured numerous collaborations with punk acts from past and present such as Green Day, The Trolls, his old band The Stooges and yes Canada's Sum 41. Not sure what it is about this track, but the energy level is constant and Iggy actually sounds great!

8. "Turn Your Back" - Billy Talent & Anti-Flag

Though it actually only includes Chris #2 and Justin Sane from Anti-Flag i've seen "Turn Your Back" credited as being by both bands before. I think it's a cool idea, not just 2 singers getting together, but 2 bands rocking together on a single track. This one is off Billy Talent's third album, so I guess it's more credited to them than Anti-Flag.

9. "I Saw Red" - Sublime feat. Gwen Stefani

Before No Doubt really made it big, Gwen Stefani was gaining notoreity in the SoCal ska-punk scene by hanging out with Bradley Nowell and Sublime. She contributes guest vocals on this blink-and-you'll-miss-it track from their 1994 album Robbin' The Hood.

10. "Jackson" - Johnny Cash & June Carter

Perhaps one of the most famous duos in Country Western history is Johnny Cash and June Carter. They met while the Carter Family were on tour with Cash in the late 60's and Johnny proposed to her while on stage in London, Ontario. "Jackson" was originally written by Jerry Leiber and Billy Edd Wheeler, but Cash and Carter's version was much more popular. Even more so after the movie Walk The Line was released and Reese Witherspoon and Jaoquin Phoenix performed the song.

Goodnight y'all