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Dave’s Music Discoveries 2016

February 26, 2017

First thing I should mention is that things are still going well with Spotify for me.  I did have some issues last year with downloading too many albums last year and filling up my 32GB phone.  That just prompts me to be a little more critical with regards to what I feel like I am enjoying enough to justify letting it take up space on my phone.

The second thing I wanted to add was to give a quick shout out to some additional albums that I liked from 2015 but somehow missed them and discovered them after the fact.  They are (in no particular order):

  • Oh Wonder – Self-titled album (My wife and I have been playing this album a lot)
  • The DØ (pronounced like the deer, the female deer) – Shake, Shook, Shaken (any serious Metric fans should check this video out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qu577tNp1hA)
  • JR JR – Self-titled album
  • Kopecky – Drug for the Modern Age
  • Battle Tapes – Polygon (I first heard the single “Feel the Same” for this a few years ago and I have been waiting to hear a full album ever since) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJdLiyPIbcY

 

But on to this year.  I’ll start at number one this time and count up to number five which I had the most trouble deciding on.  I’ll give an honourable mention to the other contenders for the #5 spot at the end as well.

 

#1) The Naked and Famous – Simple Forms

1-tnafI’m a big fan of this group, ever since I first discovered them back in early 2011 with their debut album “Passive Me, Aggressive You”.  They had a second album in 2013, but for me that one was just okay.  This one got back to the quality of the first in my mind.  They have a nice full electronic sound in the background of most songs with good energy, and the vocal chemistry between Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers is beautiful.

They are a band out of New Zealand and they have had some success and radio time with a few hits including “Punching in a Dream”, “Young Blood” and “Girls Like You” from the first album, and “Hearts Like Ours” from the second album entitled “In Rolling Waves”.  So far the only single I’ve heard on the radio from the new one is the song “Higher” but I think we’ll hear another before the album has run its course.  I’m thinking maybe “Energy” or “Last Forever” might be possibilities.

If anyone wants to see them live, let me know.  Next time I hear they’re in town I might just buy a couple tickets and hope to find a buddy after the fact.

 

#2) Yeasayer – Amen & Goodbye2-yeasayer

These guys are a band out of Brooklyn, formed back in 2006 but this album is my first time coming across them.  For me, they have an almost Beatles quality with some of their vocals like the intro track “Daughters of Cain” and “Prophecy Gun” when the lyrics finally come in.  Also, the song “Gerson’s Whistle” kind of reminded me of the Beatles with its story about a random guy style; kind of reminiscent of “Eleanor Rigby”, “Nowhere Man” or “The Fool on the Hill”.

As for the rest of the album, it has good variety of musical sounds and clever lyricism throughout.  Give it a listen.  I haven’t heard it on the radio, but I’ve heard “I Am Chemistry” on a few quality pre-packaged playlists that are provided on streaming sites.  Here’s the video for that song, but be prepared for some serious weirdness!

Not sure what’s happening on the album cover either, but whatever…

 

#3) Young the Giant – Home of the Strange3-young-the-giant

Formed in the early 2000s out of Irvine, California (LA area), this band went mostly unnoticed by me for their first couple of albums.  They would probably be best known for their hits “My Body” and “Cough Syrup” (both from their debut self-titled) but I never gave the rest of the albums a good listen through.  This one, for one reason or another, stood out for me.

“Something to Believe In” was the first single released, and I’ve lately been hearing a lot of “Silvertongue” getting airtime, but I think my favourite song is one called “Titus Was Born”.  It starts off very soft and then builds to a solid head-bobbing sound by the end.

They are on my radar now; I’ll definitely be checking out any future albums they release.

 

#4) Paper Lions – Full Colour4-paper-lions

This was just a fun album for me, plus it’s good to have some Canadian content.  These gentlemen are from PEI, which I got to check out for the first time this summer (had a nice trip out east).  The musical style is kind of an 80’s inspired pop-ish sound with a good mix of chill and upbeat songs.

chucky-dangerI like the album title because it feels like a good throwback/tribute/follow-up to a previous album they released that was simply called “Colour”.  This was from back in 2006 before they changed their name from Chucky Danger Band.  I like Paper Lions better, so good call on the name change.

 

I think “My Number”, “End of July” and “If You Ever” are my top songs from the album.

 

#5) Bear’s Den – Red Earth & Pouring Rain5-bears-den

This album is a bit more on the softer side than the rest of this list, even registering in the folk side of the spectrum, but every song is so good I can’t stop playing it.  I tried to resist and put something else in the number five spot, but it won its way into my heart.  I don’t know if I can point to any particular song as a stand out; I think it stands best as a whole.  I do like how the opening/title track starts out though.  I think the album had me before the first word.

The band is from London and this is their second full-length album.  They did some touring as openers for Mumford & Sons so they’ve been getting some good exposure.  Good for them!  Now someone just needs to work on their Wiki page.

 

The albums that Bear’s den were up against were:

  • Panic Is Perfect – Cellspace (this album came out early in the year and got a lot of listens from me – I got attached to it and it was hard to let it go) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5yzNaeByLU
  • Radiation City – Synesthetica (Using the words “taciturn” and “cacophonous” in the first two songs gets my respect; smart is sexy)
  • AURORA – All My Demons Greeting Me As a Friend (I like her accent… even though she’s Norwegian, she sounds a bit Irish to me so the album took me back to classic Cranberries no need to argue era)
  • Blossoms – Self-Titled (Dana vetoed this one)

Thanks for reading to the end.  Hope I gave you something new to discover along with me. Until next year!

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Dave’s Music Discoveries 2015

December 27, 2015

I enjoyed documenting my music discoveries last year so much that I thought I would go ahead and do it again this year.  I kind of had it in mind all year that I was going to do this though, so I’ve had albums in the back of my mind all year.  My list has been constantly changing with each new discovery, and each time I would come across a new favourite, it would bump off something else – sometimes an album that had been on the list for a while.  It was hard to let go of some albums, and I was almost tempted to make this a top 10 list instead of a top 5.  I ended up scrapping that idea; I found the farther away from #1 I got, the harder it was to put them in order.  Five is a much more manageable number.

Since I was paying closer attention to new music throughout the year, there were a few big changes that happened in the industry that I noticed as soon as they happened.  The first is the change to new music day.  Tuesday has for decades been the day that people would be lined up at their record stores all across North America to get the latest from their music heroes.  As of July 10 of this year, the day is now Friday.

 The other change is the unfortunate demise of the online music streaming service Rdio.  I wasted my time singing its praises last year, and I apologize to any that jumped on that sinking ship.  Just over a month ago, they filed for bankruptcy.  I have since switched to Spotify, the reasons for which would be another article for another time.

For now, without further ado, let’s start this year’s countdown starting at number 5!

 

#5) Atlas Genius – Inanimate Objects

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When I first listened to this album, it was the day after it came out in late August.  I was doing a long run, training for a half marathon and this album was on repeat.  I had one of the best runs of my training!

I love the sound of this one, fitting right in my rock/electro happy place.  It was a great follow up to their first album released in 2013 (you may remember “Trojans” and “If So” from that album).  So far, Molecules is the only one I’ve heard on the radio, but there isn’t a bad song on the whole album.  “The Stone Mill” is a good intro song easing you into the album, “Stockholm” brings you along with its strong chorus, and “Friends With Enemies” shows you their range with a song you could slow dance to.  I would see them next time they make the trip from their hometown of Adelaide, South Australia to Vancouver.

Here is a link to their video for Stockholm which made it onto the FIFA ’16 game sound track:

It’s not an exciting video, but it shows you where the album art comes from.  It may look like a robot kitteh wearing a gas mask, but it turns out that’s not the case.

 

#4) Chvrches – Every Open Eye

This was an album that was highly anticipated by me because my top album of 2013 was their debut entitled “The Bones of What You Believe”.  The sophomore album wasn’t a disappointment.  I do have to say, I like the songs performed by Lauren Mayberry best, so the track “High Enough to Carry You Over” is a bit of a yawn for me.  What can I say, she’s kinda my music crush.  She’s not just a nice voice though; she has a law degree and a masters in journalism.  The schooling comes in handy for double checking contracts with music labels and lyric writing, I’m sure!  The Glaswegian (from Glasgow) accent doesn’t hurt either.
This album has the farthest leaning on the electronic side for my list this year, and as is common with any kind of EDM, it’s hard to provide a whole lot of variety.  My one complaint with the album is that by the time you hit “Bury It” (Track 10), it feels like the record is already on repeat.

Here’s a link to the first single “Leave a Trace”:

I think this song will cause many an in-car argument on whether she says the word ‘relief’ or ‘release’.  Actually, she says both; she changes the word between the bridge and the chorus.  Argument settled.

 

#3) Børns – Dopamine

This was a late entry into my list.  It came out in mid-October, but I didn’t really discover it until a few weeks ago.  I’ve been hearing “Electric Love” for a while on satellite radio, and “10,000 Emerald Pools for the first time a couple weeks ago.  The album is such a great listen.  The music sound is just so well layered and I found it lyrically satisfying too; describing a girl’s eyes as ‘green like American money’… how cool is that?

I always like a good singer too, and Garrett Borns has one of those strong high ranges, with perfect harmonies though a lot of the songs.  Don’t let his stage name fool you into thinking he’s super exotic/foreign though; he’s from Michigan.

I predict the next single will be “Dug My Heart”.  I can see it being a favourite song for mushy couples the world over.  Here’s the video for his first hit “Electric Love” though:

The video gets a bit trippy, but I like him, and I look forward to see what he comes out with next.

 

#2) Tame Impala – Currents

This album has gotten a lot of play time from Dana and I while we’re hanging out at the house chilling.  It’s a chill album, that’s all there is to say about it.  I would expect nothing less from a band that has been described as being in the category of ‘psychedelic rock’.

For his influence for the sound of this album, the mastermind behind Tame Impala – Kevin Parker – said he listened to the Bee Gees while on mushrooms.  He also likes to experiment with sounds and fool the listener into thinking a guitar is a synth and stuff like that.  However he does it, I like the result.

Some of my favourite tracks include “Eventually” with its good use of the quick pause, and with the catchiness of “‘Cause I’m a Man” I’m often catching myself with it stuck in my head.

The only negatives I can think of are the talking parts in “Past Life” and the broken record part of “Let It Happen” that goes on for just a bit too long.  Fortunately, that part isn’t included in the video version that reduces the song length by about three-and-a-half minutes:

There’s also a video for “The Less I Know The Better”, but I won’t post that because it’s pretty NSFW.  One last thing though: with the origins of this band being Perth Australia, that now makes two Aussie bands making my list this year!  Good on ya Aussies!

 

#1) Joywave – How Do You Feel Now?

This album has held the top spot for most of the year on my constantly changing list.  I just gave it another good listen to see if I could find any songs to comment on that stand out for me.  It was harder than I thought it would be; it’s just solid all the way through.  If you’re with me so far on my music taste, and you haven’t given this album a listen yet, do it!

Most people would have first heard music from this Rochester band back in 2013 with the collaboration they did with Bid Data called “Dangerous”.  They followed up with an EP in 2014 entitled “How Do You Feel?”, and their first full length album “How Do You Feel Now?” didn’t come out until April of this year.

Here is the video for the first single off the album “Somebody New”.  I thought it was a fun video but it definitely goes under the category of ‘don’t try this at home’…

Yeah, I like them even better after seeing this.  I can’t say enough good stuff about this album.  If anyone hears about any concert dates, be sure to reach out to me; I think these guys would be awesome live.

 

Well, that does it for this year’s list.  I should give a mention to a few albums that didn’t quite make the list but deserve an honourable mention.  That list for me would include ‘Glitterbug’ by The Wombats (would have had a better chance without the whiny guitar intro on track 1!), ‘Blurryface’ by Twenty One Pilots (I so wanted to include this one!  They do an amazing job of blurring genre lines, and without the use of a banjo I might add…), ‘2.0’ by Big Data, ‘Vitals’ by Mutemath, ‘LOVETAP!’ by Smallpools, ‘Girls in Peacetime Want To Dance’ by Belle & Sebastian, ‘Wiped Out!’ by The Neighbourhood, and Nothing But Thieves’ self-titled album.  I’ll leave it to you to explore these other great albums at your leisure.

I’m already looking forward to new music in 2016 including new stuff from Panic! At the Disco, Bloc Party, St. Lucia, Chairlift and The 1975 to name a few.  If anyone out there reading this shares my love of new music, feel free to pass along your discoveries with me!  Until next year, keep rocking in the free world and all that…

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