11

Dec

ITYLTS Presents: Best Albums of 2013

Kanye West - Yeezus

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"pardon i’m getting my scream on"

Kanye West’s Yeezus was nothing like we had really heard before. It was a world away from his College Dropout days, but as experimental as 808s and as heartfelt as MBDTF. However you feel about West, musically he is one of the most important artists of his generation. He constantly pushes boundaries, simply searching for the truest manifestation of his music and on Yeezus it was pure unadulterated frustration. From the jarring opening synths of “On Sight”, listeners are bombarded with anger and agression… and it doesn’t let up. The opening block of songs (On Sight, Black Skinhead, I Am A God and New Slaves) set a tone for the album that holds nothing back, screaming at you to be taken seriously. This doesn’t let up until the relatively quiet “Hold My Liquor” (my personal favourite), a stark contrast to what has come before it as West lets you take a breath and reflect on his flaws cause lord knows the man is aware of his shortcomings despite the bravado. However, after this midway break the downright dirty “I’m In It” continues the onslaught.

It is as in your face as no other record was in 2013 and by no means is it an easy listen, but you do anyway because Kanye West is convinced he has something to say and he will make you listen.

Album Highlights: “Black Skinhead”, “I Am A God”, “New Slaves”, “Hold My Liquor”, “Guilt Trip”, “Blood On The Leaves”.

DrakeNothing Was The Same

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"started from the bottom, now we here n*gga, we made it"

On NWTS, it feels like Drake is flexing his muscles, determined to prove something. Throughout the album, Drizzy Drake is on a mission to make sure you come away from listening knowing that Drake did this all himself, he deserves to be there and he is doing VERY well. In anyone else’s hands, this bravado would become unlistenable but in Drake’s it comes off as deserved, he makes no apologies (“Worst Behaviour”). But of course it wouldn’t be a Drake album without doing songs for the ladies, and of course Drizzy doesn’t disappoint, with his sing song style and smooth as hell delivery Drake keeps the girls happy on tracks like “Own It”, “Come Thru” and special mentions go out to the revealing “From Time” and of course “Hold On, We’re Going Home”, which can feel out of place on an album like this but whatever, its one of the best songs of the year.

Album Highlights: “Furthest Thing”, “Started From The Bottom”, “From Time”, “Hold On, We’re Going Home”, “Pound Cake”, “All Me”.

Haim - Days Are Gone

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Haim spent a lot of the first half of 2013 putting in the leg and ground work for the September release of their debut album Days Are Gone- and boy did it work. It worked because by the time the album was out, the songs were already so familiar and catchy that if you knew half the album was that good, the other half of unheard songs were going be great if not better. Its hard to pick one stand out track as so many on the album each have their moment, “Honey & I” and “The Wire” ooze 70s soft rock, especially Fleetwood Mac on the former, “If I Could Change Your Mind” channels the best parts of the 80s and “My Song 5” is distorted Black Keys in the best ways. 

One does worry that they could have used up all their best on this… but something tells me it’s going to be okay.

Album Highlights: “Falling”, “Forever”, “My Song 5”, “If I Could Change Your Mind”, “Let Me Go”, “Don’t Save Me”, “The Wire”.

Lorde - Pure Heroine

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Having one of those ‘songs of the year’ can be a blessing and a curse because the backlash can be brutal. It’s hard, because you have to strike while the irons hot but over exposure can mean the death of an artist. Lorde was pretty much unheard of before 2013, though she had been signed to Universal for the last five years honing her sound and biding her time.

And then “Royals” was unleashed, slowly making its way around the world until everybody and their mother was singing about driving cadillacs in their dreams. It was different and it spoke to a generation but could Lorde the artist ever outshine that song? 

Yes.

Pure Heroine is an outstanding debut, drawing on themes of disillusionment and fleeting youth that rang true with both teenagers and millennials alike who were starting to see the world wasn’t quite like what was promised in songs. 

Album Highlights: “Tennis Court”, “Ribs”, “Buzzcut Season”, “Team”, “Royals”, “Still Sane”, “White Teeth Teens”

Shy Girls - Timeshare EP

imageLuscious male led rnb had a moment in 2013 (which is sure to continue int the new year) with acts such as Sam Smith, Joel Compass and Autre Ne Veut. The standout for me however this year has been from Portland’s Shy Girls whose debut EP Timeshare was one of the most gorgeous albums of the year, hitting every spot and melting every heart.

Working as a hospital worker in the day, Dan Vidmar takes to the night to craft sensuous early 1990s rnb, driven masterfully by his falsetto. In a world where the questionably misogonistic lyrics of The Weeknd are somewhat glossed over in the eagerness to praise, Shy Girls sweeter approach feels fresher and less relying on a crutch.

Album Highlights: “Under Attack”, “Second Heartbeat”, “Still Falling”

Chance The Rapper - Acid Rap

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Chicago’s Chance The Rapper is about to close out an amazing 2013. Collaborations with Justin Bieber and Childish Gambino follow the release of the critically acclaimed mixtape Acid Rap. With its psychedelic beats and off the wall frenetic flow, Chance The Rapper produced something not quite like anything else out there and on a second listen the force of his lyrics suggest something far deeper than just a simply unique way of delivering the message, instead showing that this young Chicago kid has something to say and worth listening to. 

Album Highlights: "Good Ass Intro", "Cocoa Butter Kisses", "Lost", "Favourite Song", "NaNa", "Acid Rain", "Chain Smoker".

Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

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This year saw two huge acts come back to reclaim what others had tried to replace. Both acts were following up career-making albums and both had immense amount of pressure to live up to- and in their own ways they both kind of did it. Even though they might not have lived up to the impossible hype, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories is a fantastic album by anyone’s standards. Working with a full orchestra and drawing on the disco influence of Giorgio Moroder and Nile Rogers, the French duo crafted an album that boasted one of the songs of the year (“Get Lucky”), a spoken word documentary about Moroder’s work (by the man himself) and enough funk to keep the party going all night long.

Album Highlights: “Lose Yourself To Dance” “Get Lucky” “Doin’ It Right” “Contact”

Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience (Part 1)

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The other act I was talking about in the Daft Punk review was Justin Timberlake. Since 2006’s Future Sex/Love Sounds, the world had been waiting for new Timberlake material (there was even a PSA about it) so when it was announced that Justin Timberlake and Timbaland were back with material the world also sighed a collective sigh of relief. 

The 20/20 Experience (Part 1) is a gloriously full soundscape from start to finish just showing how much Timberlake had grown up. The orchestral opening of “Pusher Love Girl” is exactly the reintroduction that Timberlake needed to usher in this album, and that smooth playful sound runs all the way through until the haunting “Blue Ocean Floor”.

If Future Sex/Love Sounds was about making the babies, then 20/20 is about being totally and completely in love. Every song is an ode to his/your better half and celebrating that love (especially on “Mirrors”) . Timbaland’s flawless production is so welcoming because it does not sound like whatever dubstep/eurotrance rip off on the charts and also sounds wholly different to all the other post rnb that came in its place.

Let’s just not talk about part 2.

Album Highlights: “Pusher Love Girl”, “Suit & Tie”, “Tunnel Vision”, “That Girl”, “Mirrors,  ”Blue Ocean Floor”.

Janelle Monae- The Electric Lady

If we can’t have Lauryn Hill back, then thank god we have Janelle Monae. Her debut album ArchAndroid was a critically acclaimed tour de force that pushed boundaries all over the place. The follow up The Electric Lady cemented Monae’s place as one of the most exciting artists in the industry.

From the opening guitar and James Bond-esque strings of “Suite IV Electric Overture, The Electric Lady unfolds itself as a genre bending piece of art stopping at every possible sonic moment. Jumping straight into the sultry Prince collaboration “Give Em What They Love”, Monae more than holds her own against the legend. The first half of this album is incredible with tracks like the empowering “Q.U.E.E.N.” and the truly sexy affair “Primetime”. By the second half, it does feel like Monae loses steam from that brilliant opening but what comes is still a brilliant constructed work, including the ‘Tightrope’ esque “Dance Apocalyptic” and the album closer, “What An Experience” which has all the right levels of Marvin Gaye. 

Album Highlights: “Q.U.E.E.N”, “Electric Lady”, “Primetime”, “Dance Apocalyptic”.

Laura Marling - Once I Was An Eagle

Laura Marling’s third album Once I Was An Eagle opens so unassumingly that you almost forget you’re listening to it… until Marling’s voice come in demanding to be listened to. And thats the whole album in a nutshell. Its a playful album, with cheeky lyrics (“You Know”) and beautiful arrangements  (“Devil’s Resting Place”) all grounded by Marling’s vocals that sound far older than her 23 years. There’s not much more to say about this because it just simply needs to be listened to in its own right.

Album Highlights: "I Was An Eagle", "You Know", "Master Hunter", "Devil’s Resting Place", "Little Birds", "Where Can I Go".

Honorable Mentions: 

James Blake - Overgrown

Disclosure - Settle

Active Child - Rapor EP

Woodkid - The Golden Age

Miley Cyrus - Bangerz

23

Jul

disCOVER: Laura Marling & Eddie Berman “Dancing In The Dark (Bruce Springsteen Cover)”

She just makes it seem effortless.

(via Pigeons and Planes)

20

May

ALBUM STREAM: Laura Marling “Once I Was An Eagle”

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NPR have are streaming Laura Marling’s latest album Once I Was An Eagle

Listen via NPR here

Once I Was An Eagle is out May 28. 

**Everytime it surprises me that SHE IS STILL ONLY 23**

05

May

ITYLTS Best of: April

ITYLTS’ Best Of: April from ITYLTSmusic on 8tracks Radio.

Here’s ITYLTS picks for the best songs of April. (it was real tough to narrow it down to 10)

The Knocks- “Modern Hearts ft St. Lucia

NoNoNo- “Pumpin’ Blood

Phoenix- “Entertainment (Blood Orange Remix)

Keebo- “Native American

J Dilla- “Trucks

Jai Pal- “Crush (Jennifer Paige Cover)

Junip- “Line of Fire

Laura Marling- “Master Hunter

Mtume- “Juicy Fruit (Dreamin’ Thomas Tenfeld Edit)

Daft Punk- “Get Lucky ft Pharrell

BONUS

Daughter- “Get Lucky (Daft Punk Cover)

28

Apr

Laura Marling: “Master Hunter”

Every time I listen to Laura Marling and then write about Laura Marling I have to mention that this girl is STILL only 23 years old. It astounds me everytime, I really should get used to it.

"Master Hunter" is a big acoustic guitar picking song that Marlings vocals mesh with effortlessly. The opening lines reminded me so much of Fiona Apple and if this was over a piano the comparison would be uncanny. But it’s not, its completely Marling. 

"Master Hunter" and "Where Can I Go" are both from the upcoming album Once I Was An Eagle out May 27. 

12

Mar

Laura Marling: “Where Can I Go”

Laura Marling has the ability to make you stop what you’re doing and listen. Few artists can do this, and few are under 25. Sometimes I can’t fathom that Marling is only 23 because I feel she has been around forever, and I guess six plus years in this industry means she kinda has. 

Returning with a fourth album Once I Was An Eagle, Marling’s brilliant new single “Where Can I Go” is a folksy treat harking back to the Joni Mitchell’s of this world with infinite grace. 

"Where Can I Go" is from Once I Was An Eagle out May 27th.

10

Jan

ITYLTS Best of 2011: Best disCOVERS

So here comes another bit in my look at what rocked my world musically in 2011 (Check out the best songs of 2011 right here)

Anyway, Regular followers of the blog know that I do a feature called disCOVER where I post up covers that I like. I have always loved a good cover. I love finding new and different interpretations of songs I know really well, especially if they come way out of left field. There’s been some doozies over the year and again in no particular order, here are 20 of my favourites (with some extra bonus tracks that weren’t from 2011, but were bloody brilliant)

………..

The Weeknd disCOVER double shot

The Weeknd had a huge year and you know you’re making it when already established artists are clambering to cover you stuff. There were some awesome covers knocking about this year but here are two of my favourites, from Brit Eliza Doolittle with a fantastically laid back stripped bare cover of The Morning and French Canadian Couer De Pirate bringing all her sweetness to Wicked Games

Eliza Doolittle - The Morning (The Weeknd Cover) by Melissa Casipit

Coeur de Pirate - Wicked Games by ozalup

Quadron: “Ex-Factor” (Lauryn Hill Cover)

You kind of have to watch this one. Lauryn Hill is usually pretty untouchable, but Quadron has come pretty darn close with this one. It is so simple, so bare but so so beautiful. 

Birdy- “1901” (Phoenix Cover)

I can’t bring myself to like Birdy’s take on Skinny Love, I’ve tried and I can’t. But this Phoenix cover has turned things around for me. Again this cover strips away and goes for the heart of the track, and she nails it.

Birdy - 1901 by OfficialBirdy

Enna: "Michicant" (Bon Iver Cover)

While I couldn’t get behind Birdy’s cover, I could get behind Germany’s Enna who has made a beautiful cover of Bon Iver’s Michicant. Incredibly raw and stripped back, the arrangement replaces some of the louder tones of the original with softer woodwind, acoustic guitars and my favourite, the glockenspiel. 

Bon Iver - Michicant - Cover by enna

Trails and Ways: "Midnight City" (M83 Cover)

M83’s Midnight City was a highlight of the year for me, as was Trails and Ways folksy world music take on it. Taking away all the electro synthy-ness of it, Trails and Ways gave us a beautiful organic version of this massive track.

Midnight City (M83 Cover) by TRAILS AND WAYS

Oh Land: “Bloodbuzz Ohio” (The National Cover)

Oh Land had quite a year this time around with her original material, but she grabbed my attention with her cover of The National’s Bloodbuzz Ohio. Transforming the sombre of the original into a more optimistic message gives Oh Land’s interpretation a beautiful angle- while keeping its haunting undertones.

Oh Land- Bloodbuzz Ohio (The National cover) by ITYLTSmusic

James Vincent McMorrow: “Wicked Games” (Chris Isaak Cover)”

McMorrow did two covers this year that people were interested in, one was of Willow Smith’s Whip My Hair and one was of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Games. Funnily enough, I’ve gone with McMorrow’s take on this 90s classic. JVMcM’s voice goes fantastically with this, how could it not?

James Vincent McMorrow - Wicked Game by Loud-SilenceDotCom

Owl Eyes: “Pumped Up Kicks” (Foster The People)

As you may know, the love on ITYLTS for Foster The People’s knows no bounds, so a cover has to be pretty special to come close to the original. Owl eyes does it with this live cover on Aussie Triple J of Pumped Up Kicks. A lot of people when they first hear Pumped Up Kicks fail to pick up on the sinister message, a kid shooting up his school, behind the lyrics because it just sounds like the chillest, coolest, happiest summer track. Owl Eyes’ take on it brings that message a little more to the forefront…Oh and it has glockenspiel on it so you know its going to be good.

Owl Eyes - Pumped Up Kicks (Foster The People) by fromgotowhoa.com


"I Can’t Make You Love Me" (Bonnie Raitt Cover)- Double Shot

Both Adele and Bon Iver had the best albums of the year and the both decided to cover Bonnie Raitt’s lament on an unrequited love I Can’t Make You Love Me. Both are beautiful as you’d expect, but I think out of the two, Bon Iver’s does it for me that little bit more. However, you know the Adele cover is ridiculously good too.

Bon Iver - I Can’t Make You Love Me by muffins_cube

I Can’t Make You Love Me [feat. Adele] by The Quiet Game

Tokyo Police Club: “All My Friends” (LCD Soundsystem)

Sadly LCD Soundsytem are no more, but thank god for covers for keeping the music alive. All My Friends in the original is a driving force of pianos, drums and is just perfect. Tokyo Police Club have come along and rocked it up, and it works. 

All My Friends by TokyoPoliceClub

The Vaccines: “Last Friday Night” (Katy Perry Cover)

The Vaccines have had a huge year so they came along and covered one of the biggest commercial tracks of the year, Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night. However, instead of the fun loving track, the indie band have infused it with something that sounds like it could have come from Joy Division or Echo & The Bunnymen…and it sounds great. The Vaccines - Last friday night (Katy Perry Cover) by bandalismo

Run Toto Run: “Sleepyhead” (Passion Pit Cover)

Oh the Glockenspiel strikes again. Run Toto Run strip back Passion Pit’s electro pop gem and replaces the synths with a beautifully played violin, glockenspiels, accordian, guitars and the good old fashioned handclap.

Run Toto Run - Sleepyhead (Passion Pit Cover) by fadedglamourblog

Barbara: “Pursuit Of Happiness” (Kid Cudi Cover)

Take a hardcore trancey/dancey/hip hop track take that all away and what do you have? Barbara’s beautiful version of Kid Cudi’s Pursuit of Happiness

Run Toto Run - Sleepyhead (Passion Pit Cover) by fadedglamourblog

The Civil Wars: “Billie Jean” (Michael Jackson Cover)

Who hasn’t tried to cover MJ, its like a rite of passage (especially on big tv music talent shows). The Civil Wars performed this flawless cover of Michael Jackon’s Billie Jean at their second show. Yeah, I said second. Honky Tonk, MJ’s gone country.

Billie Jean, The Civil Wars Live at Eddie’s Attic by megan-conravey

Mike Posner: “Rolling In The Deep” (Adele Cover)

I love this cover. Some people didn’t, go figure. Posner’s cover of the ubiquitous Rolling In The Deep really plays up the melancholic loss that underlies this powerhouse track.

Mike Posner - Rolling In The Deep (Adele Cover) by nogato

Winter Gloves: “True Blue” (Madonna Cover)

Paper Bag Records released a sampler of their artists covering Madonna and it was amazing. My favourite off the mix was Winter Gloves’ take on True Blue. While it may not have had a glockenspiel in it, it did have a saxophone solo and sometimes that’s even better.

Winter Gloves ‘True Blue’ (feat. Hannah Georgas) by Paper Bag Records

Finally, here’s some that I discovered this year but have been around for a while…

Antony & The Johnsons: “Crazy In Love” (Beyonce Cover)

Beyonce’s Crazy In Love like you have NEVER heard it before. Hauntingly beautiful. 

Antony And The Johnsons - Crazy In Love by eplistic

Mumford & Sons: “Not In Nottingham” (From Disney’s Robin Hood)

I couldn’t resist putting up the one with footage from the film. What a film, what a song.


Laura Marling ft. Mumford & Sons: “Jolene” (Dolly Parton Cover)

Mumford & Sons again, back when they were a live band supporting Laura Marling on this beautifully poignant cover of Dolly Parton’s Jolene.

Laura Marling + Mumford & Sons “Jolene” Live together by stephanedouillard

Local Natives: “Cecilia” (Simon & Garfunkel Cover)

I had to put the video of this because the guy is playing drums ON A TREE! Amazing.

05

Sep

PREVIEW: Laura Marling “A Creature I Don’t Know”

The Guardian have Laura Marling’s new album A Creature I Don’t Know streaming right here. Opening track, its good. US/Canadian readers can stream it over at New York Times here. You can pre-order the album here

23

Aug

disCOVER: Laura Marling & Mumford and Sons “Jolene (Dolly Parton Cover)”

We’re having a bit of a Laura Marling moment surfing through youtube, and we found this. The fantastic Jolene by Dolly Parton covered just brilliantly by Laura Marling and Mumford & Sons. Oh enjoy this one.

Mystery Jets Double Shot

This is truly I Think You’ll Like This Song moment. Maybe you’ve heard these before, maybe you haven’t, have a listen and prepare to have your socks rocked off. Two tracks from the Mystery Jet’s second album 21, one that is so eighties it is one of the best things ever and another featuring the delectable Laura Marling. Either way you’re laughing.

Mystery Jets - Young Love by nasiadurh1

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