Posts Tagged ‘caribou’

INAUDIBLE’S BEST OF 2020

January 2, 2021

Damn, what a year. I have so much to say but zero energy to say it.

Above everything else this nutso year, music kept me sane.

There was a glut of good stuff, but here are my faves, in no particular order.

And I love you all, in no particular order.

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Freddie Gibbs/ The Alchemist – Alfredo (ESGN)

Another year, another Freddie Gibbs album on my list. Am I that predictable? Or is Gangsta Gibbs that goddamn consistent? You decide. In my opinion, this is absolutely his best collab since Pinata, as he and The Alchemist find some beautiful chemistry. Whereas last year’s Bandana with Madlib was a bit inconsistent, here Gibbs’ flow and Al’s soulful beats just click. Future classic right here.

Pro tip: Alchemist’s collab with Boldy James, The Price of Tea in China, is also a great record from 2020 worthy of many listens too.

Fave track: “Something to Rap About” with Tyler, the Creator

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Auscultation – III (100% Silk)

Joel Shanahan aka Auscultation has put out an album of beautiful 90’s inspired ambient techno, and it took about ten seconds of the opening track for me to be quickly swept into its eerie soothe.

Smooth synths, pulsing basslines, deep house rhythms with “up in dem cloud” soundscapes. This was my morning album for the entire covid spring, and I keep returning to it again and again. Hype.

Check out: “Glowing Hearts in the Rainbow Room

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Caribou – Suddenly (Merge Records)

Dan Snaith’s first Caribou record since 2015 finds him working with all his various strengths and writing a more subdued yet arguably stronger album than Our Love, with the warm and ear-wormy Suddenly.

Flirting with hip-hop, soul, techno, folk, psych and R&B, some critics have said it lacks cohesion, but even so, every song has something about it that makes it special or stand out or subtly get lodged in your head.

Worthy of repeat listens with great songwriting from beginning to end.

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Pure X – Pure X (Fire Talk)

Pure X are rock and roll. They take their sweet time, and they write beautiful songs. Check “Middle America” and/or “Slip Away” for exemplars.

The Austin-based band made their name writing reverb-soaked druggy slow jams, and ten years in they’re still writing those same slow jams — but it seems like maybe now they’re waiting until after they record before they get super stoned, because this is their clearest most focused collection of songs yet.

Great guitars, always solid bass lines, and smooth af vocal melodies. To be honest, I was just happy to see a new album by them, since 2014’s Angel has been a constant play in my living room for 6 years now.

And I hope I’ll get to see them play live again, once the world shifts back to a place where I can actually sway shoulder to shoulder with strangers in a sweaty venue.

I can’t wait to not have to wait for that…sheeit.

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Oddissee – Odd Cure (Outer Note Label)

The humble and always underrated Oddissee released my favourite quarantine album of this most fucked up year.

Oddissee deftly captured the helplessness and hopefulness of our 2020 Quarantine Lyfe with Odd Cure.

And throughout the album, he uniquely displays our anxiety and fears living through a pandemic, as well as, the opportunities we all had to rest, reflect, and reconnect with loved ones during the slow-pace imposed on us by covid. The phone calls to his fam spliced in between tracks are heart-warming and really capture the feel of those initial first wave lockdown days.

The whole album is chock full of soulful beats, flawless production, and some of Odd’s most thoughtful rhymes yet.

PG County represent!

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Ulla – Tumbling Towards a Wall (Experiences Ltd.)

Ulla Straus has recorded in the past under her full name, but here she needs only her prénom with the enchanting Tumbling Towards a Wall — an album that straddles the line of blissful ambient with touches of experimental composition. 

Ulla’s music is sonically diverse, oscillating between piano, strings, field recordings and hazy, soft pads.

Usually I’m one to say that I think most albums sound better through a good pair of headphones, but with Tumbling, I like hearing it on big speakers in an open room, it sounds completely different that way, and more alluring somehow.

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Shinichi Atobe – YES (DDS)

The man, the enigma, the legend, Shinichi Atobe returns with his first batch of songs since 2018’s stellar Heat.

Shinichi serves his techno straight-up, no fuckery, and builds his songs from the bottom up until they are bursting with subtle melody, and with YES he’s at his warmest, overflowing with rich grooves, head-bobbing bass, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention those goddamn beautiful handclaps. He’s also a pro at dropping a heavy piano lick deep into the mix when you least expect it, and it’s always pure class.

I think if I had to pick one absolute fave from 2020, it would have to be YES, as this album accompanied me on many “newborn needs to sleep” walks throughout the summer, and even when I was so goddamn tired I could barely go on, it kept a shimmy in my step, and kept lil Simon a dozin’ on my chest.

YES, INDEED.

Check out: “Lake 2” and (my personal humdinger) “Ocean 1

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Adrianne Lenker – songs/instrumentals (4AD)

The first time I listened to “anything” off this album, I was on (yet another) walk with Simon. It was a chilly, grey October morning, and I couldn’t even make it halfway through before I started to cry. But it felt good, so I put it on repeat, pushing the heavy stroller down the sidewalk and bawling. On the third listen one of my contacts popped out of my eyes, and I thought I should probably stop after that. So I put on the new Deftones to cleanse the palette.

That definitely wasn’t the first (or last) time I could be seen crying while walking around my neighbourhood with my newborn son this year (hey man, second baby + pandemic + sleep deprivation = crying Papa, aight?), but good lord and goddamn, that track is a sure fire doozy.

The rest of the album floats a similar melancholy vibe of pitch-perfect simple break-up songs. Just a woman and her guitar, a few chirping birds, and the creaks of the old wood floor of the cottage she recorded in. So good.

The companion piece, instrumentals, is two songs featuring soft finger-picking, more birdsong, light rainfall, and lots of wind chimes. The second track “mostly chimes”, really feels like you’re sitting on the porch of a weekend cottage, up early with a coffee, and listening to the birds and gentle chimes in the breeze.

Side note: I had also never really listened to Big Thief until this year, but U.F.O.F is also an absolutely amazing record and I highly recommend it.

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KMRU – Peel (Editions Mego)

Kenya based sound artist Joseph Kamaru, aka KMRU put out several albums this year, my favourite one being Peel. It was conceived as a time-restricted experiment in texture, influenced by “experiences travelling in Montreal, as well as being back in Nairobi just before lockdown.” 

The album was recorded in just 48 hours, but its heavy drones feel almost timeless. Kamaru said he is “always happy to have limitations while making music, and Peel is a good example of this.” He gives the impression that more time wouldn’t have yielded any better results. 

The second KMRU album of 2020, landed three weeks after Peel. If you want to hear the breadth of Kamaru’s talents, check out Opaquer. If you want to hear his ability to laser in on a very focused idea and extract from it 75 minutes of special music, choose Peel.

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nthng – hypnotherapy (Lobster Theremin)

Elusive Dutch producer, nthng, released his second album for the great Lobster Theremin imprint, and goes far beyond the deep house he made his name on. Hypnotherapy is a trippy and dark record that spans dub techno, heavy 4/4 beats, hazy ambient and mind-bending trance.

Tracks like “I Just Am” and “Heitt” hit hard with the after midnight dancefloor in mind, while other tracks like “Beautiful Love” and “With You” will veer you more towards the couch, but this album is one that keeps on giving and sounding better the more you listen.

The first time I heard “I Just Am”, I was (you guessed it) on a walk with Simon, and when the beat cracks in at the 3 and a 1/2 minute mark it was so thrilling that I just pushed his stroller into oncoming traffic and started dancing.

I pictured all the Muteks and music festivals and countless special dancefloor and live music moments that did not happen this year and I cursed covid and cussed out corona, and then slowly picked Simon’s mangled stroller up off the curb. Luckily, he was completely unharmed. He smiled at me, blew a raspberry, and we kept on a-walkin the year away…

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Yves Tumor – Heaven To a Tortured Mind (Warp)

In the days before the big covid shift, I bought tickets to see Yves Tumor in April 2020, and was totally stoked to see this new glam version of the artist. I had tickets to see one show a month up until June when lil Si Guy was set to arrive and throw a wrench in our routine. But instead, the ‘rona came and tossed in the whole rusty tool box.

So Heaven To a Tortured Mind became my go to jogging album for all of spring. And while it perhaps doesn’t quite hit the heights that Hands of Love did for me in 2018, I still totally dig Yves’ move from noise freak to weirdo pop star.

It seems like he can get away with anything now.

Like the guitar solo on “Kerosene!”, for example. If you had told me 10 years ago that the best song Warp Records would release in 2020 would have a full-on wank shred of a guitar solo in it, I would have belly laughed and probably farted. But here we are. 2020. You tricky asshole.

Haha, but yeah, I seriously love that song and the video is pretty great too.

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HONORABLE AUDIBLES (click album to sample a track)

Soela – Genuine Silk (Dial Records)

(Dial kicks off their 20th anniversary true to form with Soela’s buttery debut full-length)

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Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats – UNLOCKED (Loma Vista)

(8 tracks, 18 minutes, hits hard working that classic boom bap throwback style)

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Aesop Rock – Spirit World Field Guide (Rhymesayers)

(Aesop’s most ambitious and joyous clusterfuck of an album, lots to love here)

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White Poppy – Paradise Gardens (Not Not Fun)

(Dreamy, hazy, afternoon daze pop, done right)

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Oneohtrix Point Never – Magic OPN (Warp Records)

(Daniel Lopatin’s most accessible OPN record yet)

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Earth Boys – Earth Tones (Shall Not Fade)

(Dub techno & deep house with tongue-in-cheek vocals and plenty of sax-a-ma-phone)

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Bibio – Sleep On The Wing (Warp Records)

(Bibio keeps up his hot streak and folk tendencies with another lovely collection)

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Sam Prekop – Comma (Thrill Jockey)

(Sea and Cake frontman ventures into techno for this solo album, beautiful rich synths)

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DJ Lostboi and Torus – The Flash (Queeste)

(Float away on DJ Lostboi’s soundclouds, inspiring morning music)

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The Phantasy – Ibiza Pt.I

(Goddamn, this makes me miss the dancefloor! Killer techno and house tunes from the Prince)

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Why Bonnie – Voice Box EP (Fat Possum)

(Indie pop that sounds like 1992 and Tusk era Fleetwood Mac, no complaints here)

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Route 8 – Rewind The Days of Youth (Lobster Theremin)

(Route 8 just keeps on getting better at writing classic house and techno jams)

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Mac Miller – Circles (Warner)

(An artist that was clearly still coming into his own, RIP)

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And an unfortunate last minute RIP to Viktor Vaughn aka MF DOOM aka King Geedorah aka Metal Face Terrorist

Well, shit, here we are. Welcome to 2021 y’all, let’s move on and cautiously, carefully put all the shit piles in the rearview.

Fingers optimistically crossed.

Cheers and love,

ml

INAUDIBLE’S BEST OF 2014

December 11, 2014

radio-knobs

Well, here we go again, friends! Welcome to INAUDIBLE’s sixth annual end of year list! For this edition my list will be a bit streamlined, but you’ll still be sure to find some choice selections.

Click on the album covers and titles to sample a track. Enjoy!

TOP 12 ALBUMS OF THE YEAR

alvvays_album

12. Alvvays – Alvvays (Polyvinyl)

Molly Rankin et al came of age this year with the release of Alvvays’ debut self-titled album. A record that harkens back to the lo-fi East Coast rock of the 90’s (Eric’s Trip, Hardship Post, Thrush Hermit) with a touch of Camera Obscura thrown in for good pop measure.

The best thing about this album is that it’s hooky as all hell, every song has something that makes it special – a catchy guitar lick, a subtle synth flourish, or Rankin’s endearing vocals. Check it.

Sisyphus-Album-Cover

11. Sisyphus – Sisyphus (Asthmatic Kitty)

Sisyphus is the unlikely trio of indie king Sufjan Stevens, rapper Serengeti, and soundsmith Son Lux. They released a handul of singles and an EP last year under the alias S/S/S before fully realizing their aesthetic as Sisyphus. It’s an odd mishmash of each aritst’s talents, and finds Sufjan at his most playful as he sings alongside the irreverent lyricism of Serengeti.

At his best, Serengeti sounds like MF Doom, yet at times I find his non sequitir rhymes seem almost superfluous. The album most effectively showcases Son Lux’s growth as a top-rate producer with an ear for off-kilter melodies and dynamic beats. Sisyphus is not easy to digest, yet after a few spins it reveals itself as an album with a lot to offer its listener.

road

10. Road Hog – D.W.B. (Lustwerk Music)

Road Hog is the alias of house revivalist and all around cool dude Galcher Lustwerk, who made a name for himself last year with his excellent Blowing Up The Workshop mix, as well as the equally smooth Nu Day EP that came out in early 2014, but it’s with his Road Hog moniker where he seems to really nail it.

The theme of D.W.B. is music to listen to while driving, and Lustwerk subtly crafts a propulsive set of tracks that will remind listeners of late 90’s Detroit heroes Theo Parrish, Carl Craig, Theorem, and more. While his music as Galcher Lustwerk uses vocals to anchor his songs, Road Hog is pure instrumental techno that’ll get your ass moving and your head bobbing. So smooove.

yag

9. Yagya – Sleepygirls (Delsin Records)

My ears first heard Icelandic producer Yagya in 2009 when he released his highly influential Rigning LP. I consider this album a highpoint in ambient dub techno, and so I was pleasantly surprised to find he had put out a new album this year entitled Sleepygirls.

Five years on and Yagya’s M.O. hasn’t changed a bit – we still get the buttery smooth yet subdued bass and 4/4 beats of before, but he has also added female vocals singing God knows what in Icelandic, but sounding amazing doing so. Also, the album flows as one continuous hour-long mix, expertly shifting from Deepchord style dub techno to downtempo moments to ethereal ambience, and further reveals Yagya as a master of the genre.

WildBeasts_AlbumArt

8. Wild Beasts – Present Tense (Domino Records)

I dismissed Wild Beasts for years, thinking they were too artsy or that the falsetto vocals were too grating, until I finally actually listened to Smother. That record quickly became my favourite album of 2011 that I didn’t get into until 2012, and ever since then Wild Beasts have held a special spot on my list of revered ‘rock’ bands.

With each album they put out they seem to get a bit more subdued and minimal, while becoming better songwriters in the process, and the case is no different here with Present Tense. It is a much different beast than Smother and Two Dancers – it is spare and elegant where their earlier albums could at times be showy, cocky even.

Present Tense is undoubtedly their quietest and most emotional, and with the addition of prominent synth arrangements, it is also the band’s most electronic. Wild Beasts are one of the more interesting and compelling British bands out there, and they continue to outdo themselves. Check it.

Atlas

7. Real Estate – Atlas (Domino Records)

New Jersey quartet Real Estate returned this year with their third album Atlas, a much tighter and fulfilling record than their 2011 album Days. It’s an album that displays what a difference a few more years on tour can do when it comes to becoming a more dynamic band. The tempo of the album remains pretty much the same throughout, all the songs languidly jive to the same introspective clip, but this creates a tranquil, hypnotic effect one can use to let thoughts drift about the halcyon days of youth.

The tracks on Atlas are no great departure from the band’s earlier sound, but they’ve filled out their melodies even further, and have somehow really managed to tap into a sensation of nostalgia, which is definitely part of the album’s success.

Their live show at Il Motore (RIP) in Montreal in support of this record was much better than their tour for Days, which was mostly due to Matt Mondanile’s showmanship on guitar – at times it seemed his Ducktails “sound” was definitely bleeding into the Real Estate set, but that just made the show more vibrant. Keep it coming, boys.

Andy-Stott-Faith-In-Strangers

6. Andy Stott – Faith in Strangers (Modern Love)

I’ve loved Andy Stott since Merciless came out in 2006, and still consider that collection of tracks to be some of the best techno out there, even if it was slightly derivative. Yet, when Stott began experimenting with murky dub and jungle I started to tune out a bit. With 2012’s Luxury Problems, I liked the direction he was moving towards and the addition of vocals from Alison Skidmore, but the record failed to truly captivate me … but the wait is over for that, because with Faith in Strangers Stott has captured my complete attention. It is the most fully formed and wholly unique record in his discography, weaving between moments of cavernous beats and spooky ambience, and an uneasy balance of beauty and menace, which is just a lot of dumb words to try to describe something that needs to be heard to be experienced.

Violence” is arguably the best electronic song of the year. It feels old and new, dark and foreboding, and airy and light all at the same time. Let’s hope Stott continues on this upward trajectory, and for the love of God is he ever going to play MUTEK in Montreal? C’mon, book the guy already!

Syro

5. Aphex Twin – SYRO (Warp Records)

Holy shit! New Aphex Twin everybody! The Grand Puba of electronica returned this year with a release under his AFX moniker and has appeased the masses (for now). What else can I really say? There’s some amazing tracks on this album and I am very interested to see what Richard D. James will do next as he seems to be in an uncharacteristic “I wanna share!” mood as of late. Let’s hope it lasts.

My one qualm about the excellent SYRO is that the tracks are old. There’s nothing brand new here, but it’s definitely enough to tide us over until real new Aphex Twin drops in the next year or two. Keep sharing, sir!

leon

4. Leon Vynehall – Music For The Uninvited (3024 Records)

I was drawn to Brighton producer Leon Vynehall’s Music For The Uninvited from the first seconds of the Zelda inspired “Inside the Deku Tree”, with its punctuated string arrangement that threatens to blossom into life but tantalizingly doesn’t. It’s an effort in restraint that pays off big time as the next three tracks kick up to dance floor tempo and beyond, effectively displaying some of the finest house bangers of the year. “Be Brave, Clench Fists” hinges on an even sweeter orchestral loop than “Deku” and builds warm synths and a nice 4/4 beat around it to great success, while later tracks “Christ Air” and “St. Sinclair” close the album on a more introspective note.

Vynehall is definitely a producer to keep your ears on, and Music For The Uninvited is some of the most eclectic and rewarding electronic music you will hear this year.

gibbs

3. Freddie Gibbs and Madlib – Piñata (Madlib Invazion)

Freddie Gibbs and Madlib have both been in the hip hop scene for way more than a minute now, and although they seem to come from different sides of the rap game (Madlib operating on the jazz-funk side of things, with Gibbs working the straight-up thug angle) their unlikely collaboration is a fresh set of smooth beats and tight rhymes.

Gibbs’ sharp lyricism and technically precise flow on each track compliment the soulful and extravagant production from Madlib. People were waiting to see how these two would compliment each other, and the result is arguably just as good as the now classic Madvillian.

Gibbs has always sounded great as a featured guest on other rapper’s albums, but here he steps up to the spotlight and is able to maintain and sustain for Piñata’s seventeen tracks. Guests like Danny Brown, Raekwon, Scarface, and Earl Sweatshirt all help make this record one that all fans of hip hop can dig. Ya dig?

caribou-our-love

2. Caribou – Our Love (Merge Records)

Dan Snaith has never been content to lock down a sound or remain in any one genre for very long. In his decade long career as Manitoba/Caribou/Daphni we’ve seen him shift from pastoral electronica to psychedelic pop to krautrock to house music and the dance floor. In a lot of ways, Snaith’s musical trajectory is very similar to Kieran Hebden’s Four Tet project, as both of these artists have slowly moved from cerebral IDM to more visceral and straight forward dance music that still remains somewhat off-kilter.

The strength of Our Love is how Snaith is able to make us feel the emotions he wants us to feel like love and wonder and nostalgia and even bliss. Sounds cheesy right? But his songwriting is so self-assured and personal here, he makes it easy for his listeners to happily float off on his vibe and occasionally wanna get up and dance too. Great stuff!

Run-the-Jewels-RTJ2

1. Killer Mike and El-P – Run The Jewels 2 (Mass Appeal Records)

Run them jewels fast, run them run them jewels fast, fuck the slo-mo!

Building off the hype and momentum of their debut collaboration as Run The Jewels, El-P and Killer Mike returned this year and dropped an even tighter and more enjoyable set of songs with Run The Jewels 2. Their debut was number four on my Best of 2013 list, and just like last year I had this album on repeat while jogging and exercising, trying my damnedest to learn Killer Mike’s tongue-twisting rhymes and bopping along to El-P’s post-apocalyptic production which is even more percussive, abrasive, and dynamic than before.

RTJ2 is straight-up fight music and the best part is El and Mike make it seem completely effortless. The rhymes and beats come second nature to two artists who’ve been in the game for twenty years and are finally both getting the musical cred they deserve with the Run The Jewels project. And as with their debut, it’s clear they havin’ hella fun making this music.

I hate the fact that P-fork also picked this album as their number one, but at least they selected an album that challenges its listeners both sonically and thematically. As seems to be the case quite often for my number one pick, I’ve chosen Run The Jewels 2 as my favourite album of 2014, because it looks way forward to the future but also has its feet firmly planted in the past. It tapped into my mind and my gut and made me FEEL, goddammit. It’s old skoool fuckin’ with new skoool and its done with class, tact, intelligence, style, and vulgar bravado! Way to go Jamie and Mike. Ch-check it!

Yes! We made it to the mafuckin’ end!

HONORABLE AUDIBLES

There’s always more great music that I just don’t have the time to write about, but please click on the album covers to sample a track of some of my other 2014 faves!

Palms Trax - Equation EP

Palms Trax – Equation EP

Art Crime - Never Look Back

Art Crime – Never Look Back

Cloudface - Untitled

Cloudface – Untitled

Route 8 - Dry Thoughts EP

Route 8 – Dry Thoughts EP

Kassem Mosse - Workshop 19

Kassem Mosse – Workshop 19

Jack J - Looking Forward To You

Jack J – Looking Forward To You

Terekke - Terekke EP

Terekke – Terekke EP

Little Dragon - Nabuma Rubberband

Little Dragon

Lnrdcroy - Much Less Normal

Lnrdcroy – Much Less Normal

Lawrence - A Day in the Life

Lawrence – A Day in the Life

Fave Video of the Year

bobby-womack

    R.I.P. Bobby Womack (1944-2014)

VISIT THE ARCHIVES

INAUDIBLE’S BEST OF 2013
INAUDIBLE’S BEST OF 2012
INAUDIBLE’S BEST OF 2011
INAUDIBLE’S BEST OF 2010
INAUDIBLE’S BEST OF 2009

Big love to all of you for 2015 and beyond!

xo ml.