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Right then, seeing as 2011 has wrapped up for music, I might as well start a new topic for 2012, the (supposed) last year of human existence.
What upcoming releases are you looking forward to? Have you heard any so far? Will it be a better year than the last?
I am excited about the return of The Knife and The Avalanches, if we're lucky. Some notable Spring releases include:
Guided By Voices / Of Montreal / Rodrigo y Gabriella / Smashing Pumpkins / Errors / Lana Del Rey / Gonjasufi / Air / Matthew Dear / Leonard Cohen / Sharon von Etten / Lindstrøm / Tennis / School of Seven Bells / The Big Pink / Grimes / A Place To Bury Strangers / Sleigh Bells / Paul Weller / Nicki Minaj / Lambchop / Perfume Genius / Shearwater / Spiritualized / The Magnetic Fields / Lee Ranaldo / Santigold / Field Music / The Twilight Sad
so yeah, quite a bit to look forward to. I wonder if 2012 might replicate 2011 - lots of innovation, interesting and forward-thinking but short on 'classics'. 2010 was a huge year for critical darlings, maybe 2012 will be another year that the smaller & weirder acts come forward?
I guess we'll have to wait and see!
Janelle Monae is supposedly releasing two new albums next year! She has reported that she feels in a very creative space and that her future work "will be larger in scope and ideas"
For me personally, "The ArchAndroid" was the best album of 2010 and she most certainly has the greatest potential of any artist I've seen in recent years.
I want to see where the Lana Del Rey hype/backlash will lead. And there's the Shins new record.
Aside from many of the names already listed above I also can't wait for the new Mouse on Mars album - Parastrophics. They may have be around for twenty years in the music business but they've always been so highly consistent with each release.
Young American Man is the new album of Anais Mithell due out February 28th
I did an article for No Ripcord about 5 acts that have debuts in 2012 but who aren't getting massively hyped. Thought you guys might like it:
New Errors is great, as always.
The Of Montreal record is a tricky number - really offputting on first (casual) listen, then headphones revealed it to be very nice indeed. Will take a bit more to unravel but it's good.
Just listened to my first 2012 album, the current #1 on RYM, Matt Elliott's The Broken Man, and it's a tad boring
Sébastien Tellier strike again :
I don't know if the "Pepito" are well know outside France...this guy is totally crazy, this time, it's sure.
I haven't heard many 2012 albums yet, but the most impressive up until now is MU.ZZ.LE by Gonjasufi. It's short, but I like it.
I'll take my hat off to Lana Del Rey. Actually, make it a two: i'm sure taking it one for her team too. It's been a while since blogosphere became the place where names were catapulted to fame among music critics, decent charting albums and press exposure to die for; Finally someone thought about a way to use this weapon as a way to crossover to a wider audience. I'm not entering details about her life, what her dad is or used to be, her lips nor criticize the fact that she might had been signed by Interscope since day #1. This is a team that placed Del Rey is an 'outta nowhere' act, debuting with a strong pop song that invoked the comparisons to great artists like Cat Power and Fiona Apple. In the space of a minute or two, she was nicknaming herself as the Gangsta Nancy Sinatra - as if Nancy herself wasn't gangsta enough for all of us singing about Boots and Sundown -, getting constant press coverage and earning raves by every hipster favorite websites, major publications and Pitchfork Media. There was a mystery of who Lana Del Rey was, from where she came from and how she stole the world's attention in months using the blogosphere machine, internet and the press; Few were asking about the authenticity of her music and what was behind all that. This last topic is very subjective, but Del Rey started to show a side of her that wasn't thinkable by the time the so called 'first pop star for the indie world' came out. Big budget videos, crossover attempts, development of top 40 appeal, SNL performances, promotional EPs and singles released a thousand times to attract sales. Lana Del Rey was a pinhole, but people still talked about her and January went by with every big british magazine having something to say about her or placing her on the cover. All of this excessive publicity is twice more impressive if you consider that she has not released her first album, yet. But it leaked and i won't judge her or Lizzy Grant for anything, but her music itself.
Lana Del Rey could have tricked all the hipsters of the world and the big blogs for months, but things would get clear anyway by the time her debut got released and after a first listening or two. This is mainstream pop for those who think are cool enough to despise mainstream pop. Del Rey lacks the inventiveness and delivery of the likes of Cat Power and Fiona Apple, besides the sexiness in whispering and rapping of the forever-missed Aaliyah. The delivery is hurt and the lyrics can't save them; A good amount of times they border the cringe-worthy territory and are vastly unimaginative in creation and development - with the references being mostly generic. What stands out the most is that the same is applicable to the melodies. It's all dull. The up-beats numbers fail to showcase the strengths of Del Rey and risks are not taken. The riff of Blue Jeans evokes a Lynchian feel circa-Julee Cruise era, but after the song kicks off you realise this ain't Floating in the Night and the track was nothing, but a fluke. Nation Anthem uses what i consider the worst lyrical imagery of 2012 and brought me to the conclusion that Born to Die is the big MOR pop record of 2012 disguised as a serious artistic statement and covered by harps, pianos and strings. Everything is pretty much simple, repetitive, boring and generic. Halfway through the record I couldn't buy Del Rey's persona nor her product anymore - everything sounded way too manufactured for critical and commercial success and at the same time caught up in the hype. The production is too derivative to succeed and the material is too mediocre to get away with it. I'll make a note that when the production and Del Rey works the results are excellent, but this only happens once throughout the album - and that'd be Video Games. The Lana Del Rey hype succeeded in everything when it came to image handling, hype and name dropping - it even earned the best track on the record accolades from everywhere - but somewhere along the way they forgot about the most important factor that'd be crucial to sustain all of this in a longer-term: the music. And it doesn't matter if her lips are natural or not to contest it. The plus is for the team effort. D+
That's pretty negative HRS. It's not great, but D+ seems harsh. I'd give it a 5.5.
On to actually good albums, First Aid Kit's The Lion's Roar is pretty good.
Edit: I just realized that D+ might be exactly around 5.5. I have no idea how these letters work really, and they seem pretty useless for rating music since you have nowhere to go below 'insufficient'.
Just gave Leonard Cohen's new album a spin, and it's also pretty good, albeit a bit too growly—even for me.
I haven't even started on 2012 yet, I'm still catching up on 2011. (Made a few late finds which probably belong on my top list).
A few I'm excited about are a new one from Rodrigo y Gabriela and one from Gonjasufi.
Since I listened to the Deluxe Edition that painfully adds more 3 damaging tracks - and is basically the edition that will sale the most - I rated thinking about those tracks (the same way that if they were any good or better than the album material, i'd sure count them to enhance the final score). I guess my letter systems works a little like this:
Warning: this is an improvised approximation of it haha
A+ 10 out of 10
A 9 out of 10
A- 8.5 out of 10
B+ 8 out of 10
B 7.5 - 7.0 out of 10
B- 6.9 - 6.0 out of 10
C+ 6.0 - 5.5 out of 10
C 5.5 - 5.0 out of 10
C- 5.0 - 4.0 out of 10
D+ 4.0 - 3.0 out of 10
D 3.0 - 2.0 out of 10
D- 2.0 - 1.0 out of 10
So, I'd give Born to Die a 3/10. Maybe without counting the Deluxe Edition tracks, i'd enhance the score to a C- or a 4/10. And though it's fun, maybe I should quit using letters too. I was arguably harsh, but looks like i was harsher.
1. Chairlift - Something
2. Rodrigo y Gabriela - Area 52
Yeah. January is always dead.
Worst album of the year I've heard so far: Dia Frampton - Red
Dia Frampton, who came in second in The Voice, and who I was rooting for to come in first. And, it's not even her fault the album sucks. Her vocals are superb. And, it's not even that it's overproduced. If it had typical mainstream production, it'd succeed on only the strengths of the vocals. The production and the songwriting are godawful. The verses clash with the choruses, and the choruses aren't even the one things pop song choruses strain to be: Catchy. There are drastic, awkward sudden changes in tone. It's painful to listen to, and even more painful to listen to because Dia Frampton really is a fantastic vocalist, and if she had the production team of a Gillian Welch or Neko Case, or even the bland centrist production of a Michael Buble, it'd still be at least a perfectly decent album.
ScHoolboy Q - Habits & Contradictions: damn.
A+ = 10,0
A = 9,2
A- = 8,3
B+ = 7,5
B = 6,7
B- = 5,8
C+ = 5,0
C = 4,2
C- = 3,3
D+ = 2,5
D = 1,7
D- = 0,8
F = 0,0
If A+ is 10 and if F is 0
then A is 9,2 and A- is 8,3
and if A- is 8,3 and B+ is 7,5
then B is 6,7
If Man is 5
Then the Devil is 6
And if the Devil is 6
Then God is 7
1. Gonjasufi - MU.ZZ.LE
2. Leonard Cohen - Old Ideas
3. Blaudzun - Heavy Flowers
Worst I have heard so far: Nada Surf - The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy
I'd recommend Bhi Bhiman's record, especially for anyone who likes rootsy/folksy musicians.
Grimes's Visions might be my new favorite album of year.
Anyone getting a "minimalist Spiritualized" vibe from Gonjasufi?
New Anais Mitchell? Sweet. I still haven't looked into her back catalog yet, but I want to.
The new album of "Stuck in the Sound" is good.
Pursuit (excellent video
If you like world music, try the El Gusto album. They're a North African Buena Vista Social Club, old musicians (Jewish and Muslims alike). It's a great record. 4 stars
I was a bit disappointed by the Leonard Cohen; this guy is always acclaimed by the critics whatever he does, and here It's decent but I was never impressed. His voice is in a bad shape, but the words and the instrumentation are good. 3.5 stars
I liked First Aid Kit's debut, so I'm gonna try them.
I've also heard a couple tracks by Django Django and Stuck In The Sound + the new Air and they sounded good.
Nicolas, in case Rocky's post didn't scream to you "Nicolas, listen to Bhi Bhiman",
NICOLAS, LISTEN TO BHI BHIMAN! :)
thanks Bill I hadn't seen his post.
I've heard tracks from Cloud Nothing and although it's far from my alley I liked some of it (good guitars). Husker Du then Cloud Nothing, am I becoming a post hardcore fan
About the El Gusto Orchestra of ALgiers, it was produced by Damon Albarn and here's a sample
Edit : Bhi Bhiman sounds great indeed