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Oh the remix. Making bad songs good, good songs great, and great songs freaking amazing. Whether you absolutely love the original, the remix (if done right) can make you discover and appreciate things in a track that often goes over looked in its original form, don’t ask me how, it just does. 2011 was a good year for remixes (However, I’m not sure if 2011 was a great year for wine…time will tell) so here are my favourite ones of the year…
…and I can’t pick just one. Remixer Shane Conerty aka LEANN GRIMES came to my attention with some of the best remixes I’ve heard this year. Taking indie tracks and mishing and mashing and mixing things up, LEANN GRIMES ear for music sets him apart.
I’ve always said that the problem with The xx’s Intro is its over way too quickly for my liking. Its a phenomenal song that puts you right in ‘that mood’ from the start and then its over… So thank you Kenny Burke who has extended this to eight minutes plus, adding some beats, some dazzling synth arpeggios and keeping ‘that mood’ tone. God bless you Burke.
I couldn’t stick to just one of these remixes. Each one brings something different. Sango’s adds a big beat and lets the instrumental do its thing as it rides over it. Karmas slows it down, lets the vocals do their things and adds a whistle. Both brilliant.
The Neon Lights from the UK came out with two of my favourite remixes of the year. Funnily enough they’re remixes of The xx and Bon Iver, so we’re really not breaking that much new ground in this post so far… But seriously these remixes are golden. Taking Bon Iver’s Hinnom, TX and The xx’s Crystalized and doing something amazing with both of them,
Matt & Kim: “Daylight” (Stic Man Ra Remix) + “Block After Block” (Echoes Club Edit) + (Teen Daze 80s Teen Gang Movie Remix)
I couldn’t stick to one, again. There are always some great remixes of Matt & Kim’s stuff, probably because you’ve got something pretty good to work with already. Stic Man Ra’s remix of Daylight adds a lead guitar, a tight hip hop beat and a guitar solo to close. I’ve picked two remixes of Block After Block because both bring something awesome to the Matt & Kim table. Echoes brings along some 90s piano and some synths while Teen Daze brings along video games sounds and some synths. All good fun.
I mean, who didn’t remix FTP this year. It seemed like every week someone was releasing another remix of Pumped Up Kicks. I’ve painstakingly narrowed all these down to just one favourite remix of Pumped Up Kicks by MNDR. It completely transforms the original, taking the bassline vocals and adding to it a sick dance beat. And if you want to check out all the others…soundcloud bitches.
The Naked and Famous: “Young Blood” (Dave Sitek Remix)
TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek is a demon when it comes to remixes, and when he turned his attention to The Naked and Famous’ smash Young Blood, he did it right proud. Adding a little Japanese flavour with some massive snares, this is on par with the original and for a night out…it just noses ahead.
Adele had a helluva year in 2011, no bones about it. Rumour Has It is my favourite track off 21, and this remix just keeps up the love. This, without fail, gets me hyped for a night out, its just a massive dance track. Get involved.
Oh this goes hard. The original went hard, but this Cazzette remix takes it to another level. It speeds up and slows down vocals, adds a dubstep break, mixes in some d’n’b and just takes it to the next level.
It was hard to narrow down RAC’s amazing year of remixes to just one, but this remix of Theophilus London’s Why Even Try is the one for me. Taking away that heavy juicy bassline and adding in a sweet video gamey riff.
Now this is one that I prefer over the original, sorry Freelance Whales. Lightwave’s remix of Hannah is infectious fun, kicking drums and synths all round and puts me in a good mood everytime so can’t be all bad.
Now a lot of musico peeps out there put out their countdowns in December. I’m putting mine out in January and my reasons are twofold 1) What if I had missed something that was absolutely amazing in the last week of December huh?? and 2) I’m only just getting round to it now. Two big factors, you decide which one had more influence on timing…
So here goes…
(I tried to narrow this down to 50…but couldn’t. They’re in no particular order either, they’re all just out there for you to peruse, discover, enjoy and love.)
Happy listenings my lovelies.
Here are the tracks that have helped make the soundtrack to 2011 for me…
Alexander Ebert stepped out on his own this year away from the eclectic collective Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. A Million Years isn’t too far away from what he has done with Ed Sharpe and the gang, a sweet plodding a long little ditty.
There was much to celebrate in 2011 for Bey (and in 2012 it looks like too, welcome to the world Blue Ivy). Mrs. Carter played a phenomenal headline set at Glastonbury, released 4 one of her finest albums to date and announced to the world she was expecting. With all that celebration going on thank god she had the perfect song to..erm…party with.
You may know him as Troy from NBC’s Community, as Donald Glover or as the rapper Childish Gambino. Whatever you want to call him, the dude has had a great year. With the release of Camp, his first full length studio album, Glover showed that he wasn’t an actor who dabbles in rap…he is a rapper AND an actor. Even though Camp was bonkers good, the highlight of the year for me was Freaks & Geeks, a near 4 minute rhyme with perfect delivery, hilarious wordplay and effortless style.
Now it was hard to choose between this and the beautiful Flying Overseas, but Why Even Try nosed ahead…just. I’d like to explain why but I can’t really, its a feeling. Either way as soon as I heard this track from TL I was hooked, from the 80s esque rnb funk to the beautiful guest vocals of Sara Quinn. London did something different with hip hop this year, keep doing it.
One of the perks of being a music blogger is when you get emails from a band about their music and then you see the band start to get attention in their own right. Enter Little Tybee. With their beautiful folk sound and rich musical arrangements, Little Tybee are set to do big things in 2012 (did you see the video for Boxcar Fair?).
E-Dubble had a banging 2011. From the Written Thursday mixtape to the stand alone tracks he keeps giving us for free, E-Dubble is on track for an even bigger 2012. I could have gone with a few E-Dubble joints in this list but I went for Where We Are as it never fails to get me ready for whatever the night will bring…everytime.
I first came across Work Drugs with their cover of Adele’s Rolling In The Deep, a very interesting and different cover. Then they started releasing some of their debut original material and it is just beautiful. On board with the chill wave genre, Work Drugs take everything about the genre and make it into something amazing, especially with Blue Steel.
There’s something so epic about the beginning of Woods like its the start of something big, at least thats what I always feel when I hear it. Then it launches into this anthemic chorus and then you know you’re onto a winner. I found them in their relationship with Bon Iver and if you got to see them on tour this year opening for Bon Iver, well you are very very lucky indeed.
Musically, 2011 belonged to Adele. No bones about it. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing Rolling In The Deep or the universally adored Someone Like You. Both songs would have fitted nicely into my best of 2011 but I’ve gone for Rumour Has It simply for the sheer attitude and fun that comes along with listening to this slice of perfection.
2011 belonged to Adele, but The Weeknd was close behind nipping at her heels, and he is in the running to owning 2012 as well. His mixtape trilogy of House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence pretty much exploded apart the internet and made way for an exciting approach to getting, successfully, music out there. Along with Frank Ocean and others, The Weeknd’s Abel Tresfaye and his producer Illangelo are paving the way for how R&B will sound in the next couple of years. Tell me you’re not excited about this guy…and then I’ll know you’re lying.
Paul Simon brought it to the mainstream with Graceland, Vampire Weekend made it hipster cool and GIVERS are carrying on the tradition. Ridiculously fun and infectious, GIVERS are making the kind of music that just puts a smile on your face and makes you get up and boogie, especially with Up, Up, Up.
2011 was huge for M83 thanks to the absolutely amazing Midnight City (and maybe its use on Made In Chelsea…at least in the UK). As soon as those synths and drum beat kicks in you know you’re onto something incredibly special. The album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming lives up to the promise of Midnight City, I’m just excited about what he’s going to do next!
As soon as I heard Ritual Union I had to get it. Little Dragon have been slogging it out for a while but have swung into the mainstream this year with that amazing tune (and a feature on SBTRKT’s Wildfire).
I think Husband is one of my favourite discoveries of the year. Ordinary had me as soon as the chorus came in, the rest of the EP just as much. I grabbed the chance to interview Mike (from Husband) straight away and I cannot wait to see what he’s going to do in 2012 and will be backing him all the way.
Beirut’s 2011 album Rip Tides had some absolute gems on it and it was a toss up between Sante Fe and East Harlem as to which would make the list. East Harlem got it as it was one I had listened to most out of the two. Bringing balkan folk to trendy music type ears, Beirut did it with the lovely East Harlem.
Another one that I will predict will have a big year in 2012. Heaven was everywhere last summer and her feature on Professor Green’s Read All About It made her a familiar name. Daddy showcased why she is a much sought after songwriter and her trip hop sound goes down a treat. Cannot wait to see what else comes a long from this medically trained singer/songwriter.
What more is there to say about Metronomy that hasn’t already been said by pretty much every music critic out there. From the mercury prize nominated album English Riviera, Everything Goes My Way is a laid back, some what European sounding, classic pop song. You can’t go wrong.
If The Weeknd and Frank Ocean are the future of R&B, I’m not worried. Frank Ocean made big things happen for him when he released his mixtape Nostalgia, ULTRA for free via his tumblr. With two guest appearances on one of the most eagerly anticipated albums of the year, Ye’s and Jay’s Watch The Throne, the world is Frank Ocean’s oyster. Novacane was my favourite track off the mixtape, that beat…that beat.
The National had a relatively quiet year up until November when they released a few new tracks they had done live in session with indie golden child Justin Vernon. Back in April though, Exile Vilify was released alongside Portal 2, which it was featured in. It’s classic The National, what else is there to say?
Now this was tough, I could have pretty much picked the whole of Bon Iver, Bon Iver to put on this list but that would be unfair. Since its release back in June, my favourite track from the album has changed and right now it is Towers. A more countryfied affair, I just love the ‘drop’ of it. As always.
I hadn’t heard much from CSS since their Listen To Death From Above single a few years ago, to be fair I wasn’t actively looking. When this popped up on my radar I fell in love all over again with the Brazilian collective. Partnered with the amazing Ratatat, CSS deliver a sweet upbeat party track with Red Alert chocablock with the fun sexy innuendos they are known for.
Australia always seems to be good for new music and this summer Western Australia gave us San Cisco and the happy go lucky sun filled Golden Revolver. As soon as the song opens, the riff takes you way to the land down under of sun, sea and surf and lets you stay there for three minutes.
Found The Good Natured on their feature on Adrian Lux’s massive tune Alive (coming up in a minute). After listening to a few more of their tracks, The Good Natured have gained a place in my best of the year with Skeleton. With quite an upbeat albeit eerie start, Skeleton really gets going when the chorus kicks in. For fans of Marina and The Diamonds (and I didn’t even really warm to them).
Drake’s album Take Care was one of the best of the year, a great showcase of the direction that hip hop is going. For me, it was the albums opener Over My Dead Body that did it for me. The laid back keys, the chilled out vocals and OVO’s own’s flawless delivery. You cannot deny that attitude.
This was featured on HBO’s How To Make It In America. Sadly that has been cancelled now, but this show had some super cool music (M83, Summer Camp, Blood Orange to name a few). Balance is just good synthy chill wave goodness, trust me.
Now this might split some people down the middle. Rihanna came along on her new album Loud and sampled The xx, the amazing Intro. I personally think its a great use of it but I understand that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Hello Goodbye hit the mainstream a few years ago with the electro poppy track In Your Arms. This year they came back with a new album and a new sound. Still upbeat, preppy and happy, they’ve gone into a more indie rock direction and its paid off. Finding Something To Do is a busy get going track right from the start and will have you singing along in no time.
I could have put Born To Die, Blue Jeans or Off To The Races up here. I am obsessed with the self proclaimed gangsta Nancy Sinatra. I didn’t catch onto Video Games straight away, but when I did that was it for me, I was hooked. Her album Born To Die is one of the ones I’m looking forward to most right now. If you haven’t heard Video Games (and its pretty hard to miss) it is a slow, sultry ballad that took the internet by storm in every single way it could.
I haven’t heard that much more from Kites With Lights than Cosmonaughts but that track is good enough to tide me over with. Super busy with a high energy beat, 80s synths and catchy melodies, Cosmonaughts is a rare treat for the ears.
How can you not like these two. The energy they put into their tracks and videos transcend through the headphones to the muscles in your face and suddenly your smiling. Block After Block is no exception.
2011 has been a big year for the boy/girl duo with Angus and Julia Stone, The Civil Wars and The Belle Brigade doing great things. Big Harp joins these guys with Everybody Pays a sweet unassuming acoustic based track.
2011 has been kind to Summer Camp. The release of Welcome To Condale made plenty of best of lists and their nostalgic chill wave take on John Hughes has earned them fans all over the place. Better Off Without You is the perfect slice of 80s infused indie pop and will get you going straight away with that footloose esque riff.
Another 80s infused indie pop slice from Telekinesis with Please Ask For Help. Perfect for the party or headphone listening, this track from the brain of drummer/singer Michael Lerner has a big beat and catchy melodies alongside a tip top guitar riff.
2011 was all about chillwave, to be fair I’m still unsure about the ins and outs of the genre, but I know St. Lucia was a big part of it with his first release The Old House Is Gone. It sounds epic with that beat and synths, St. Lucia is going somewhere.
One of my most played songs of this year was Adrian Lux’s beast of a track Teenage Crime. Back in Novemer, Adrian Lux came back big with Alive featuring vocals from The Good Natured. It is a massive track that has one of the best drops going, seriously when it hits those synths big things happen and it goes off crazy…as do i.
Elvyn was one of the bands that emailed me this year and I’m so glad they did. The Decline is an awesome track that blends together 70s classic rock with the modern world. Look out for these guys, I’m seeing good things happening.
Death Cab For Cutie have been around for a while and in 2011 they released their latest album Codes and Keys. It was a great album and You Are A Tourist was an amazing track, as was the video.
James Blake- The Wilhelm Scream
James Blake had a helluva year but I only downloaded The Wilhelm Scream back in December. Late to the game. James Blake minimalist approach has paid off and though this sounds like something from a literature essay, it is what is not there that speaks volumes. He doesn’t clutter the track with anything that is not needed and made something truly original…despite it being a cover.
The Horror’s latest album Skying brought these boys into the mainstream and Still Life is the highlight of the album. For me it brought around thoughts of The Cure and Echo & The Bunnymen, a hauntingly beautiful track.
Anyone who has ever read this blog before knows I am a big champion of Foster The People. Having followed them from playing to a room of 60 max to seeing them pack the John Peel tent at this years Glastonbury, I have to say its been a helluva journey. I didn’t really appreciate Call It What You Want when I first heard it, but man that breakdown…It changed my mind.
After the massive critical acclaim that The Antlers received from their 2009 studio debut Hospice, they had to do something really special with the follow up Burst Apart. They did. They didn’t replicate Hospice but showed their evolution and their influences. Rolled Together is incredibly soulful and lopes along so nicely it will chill you out no end.
Seattle’s The Head and The Heart won me completely over with Down In The Valley, a beautiful folk track from this band. It’s been great to seem them go from strength to strength this year, and 2012 shouldn’t be any different.
Katy Perry- Last Friday Night
Whatever, I regret nothing. Katy Perry’s dedication to partying on a Friday night cannot help but get you excited for what’s to come. Don’t hate, have fun.
Some heralded Watch The Throne as an instant classic, others felt underwhelmed from theses two hip hop heavy weights. I was in the latter camp, yeah its good but I feel like it could have been so much greater. This was a toss up between No Church In The Wild and That’s My Bitch, but the thing with That’s My Bitch is that the hook doesn’t match the verse so for that reason No Church In The Wild is my pick from the album, and with that opening bassline how could you disagree.
I cannot wait for Hoodie Allen to make it big. Fun lyrics, clever wordplay and great beats give Hoodie everything he needs to make it. James Franco is the embodiment of all this and the video is hella fun too.
Seriously whenever I see a photo of these guys they always look so so happy, bless their cotton socks. Posted up on GIVERS a whiles back with the original of this remix. CSS came along and threw their magic pixie dust all over this and remixed the hell out of it.
Paul Simon paved the way to mainstream afro-pop, Vampire Weekend made it hipster cool and now GIVERS are making it super fun. Up, Up, Up is a lovely, fun loving (perhaps a little rockier than VW) track from this Louisiana band. Their album In Lights is out now, and its really really good. (Also, check out this CSS remix, it’s GOOOOOD
Haven’t heard that much from CSS in a while, then out pops this awesome little track, Red Alert, with producers Ratatat on board. Get this involved in your weekend playlist. It is from their new album La Liberacion, which is out now.