As the sun sets on the first month of 2011 hopefully a few will still indulge me in my annually late look back at the year just gone. Now in its 6th edition (2005,2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009) it should like all “best ofs” be taken with a pinch of salt. I dont even agree with half the placings but if you think Im retyping 200 numbers again…
Ask me tomorrow what my favourites are and ill have changed my mind or remembered a classic that somehow escaped my thoughts. Loving a piece of music depends so much on where you hear it, whats happening in your life or who you’re with. There are tracks that only feature because they seem to work particularly well when played repeatedly at volume while pummelling up the M6 late at night.
Its a personal selection at pray to my whims, if Im in love ill overload the chart with slush, break my heart and ive a terrible weakness for Country and Western. Quite what putting an experimental Norwegian Jazz collective at No.1 says on that front is probably best glossed over.
Hopefully somewhere among this ridiculously long list there might be one artist you’d never heard before but will go on to love in 2011. Regardless of their order everyone of these 200 pieces of music has something very special about it.
Watch: Jaga Jazzist perform a dogma version of “Toccata” in Tønsberg’s grand church, Tønsberg Domkirke (below)
“But we are ash, we are books
Coffee stained and overlooked”
“So what is love? (What is it)”
““try, try again, maybe we can start it over, like a record at the end””
The buzz around Obaro Ejimiwe aka Ghostpoet built slowly but inevitably in 2010. His soft, sleepy, dulcet tones first came to my attention via blogging stalwarts Cubikmusik & Jus’Likemusic, then in February at The Worldwide Awards his performance was so packed, security had to enact a strict policy of one in, one out (unfortunately I never got beyond out).
Gilles Peterson was just one of the people spellbound by Ghost’s everyday tales, sonorous delivery and mix of wonky beats, hiphop & electronica, snapping him up for his Brownswood imprint.
“To Something”, his unofficial mix of Fourtet’s “She Just Likes To Fight” featuring another up-and-comer Rox is a new high watermark. Absolutely beautiful. Count the days to his debut album.
GhostPoet – Twitter / Facebook / Blog / Soundcloud
Listen: The Sound Of Strangers FREE EP
Watch: “Cash & Carry Me Home” (Video) – The first big Ghostpoet single!
Read: Ghostpoet tells Cubikmusik about the acts that have most influenced him.
5. SAGE FRANCIS
“Best of Times”
“go on and listen when they tell that these are your best years, don’t let anyone protect your ears, it’s best that you hear what they don’t want you to hear, it’s better to have pressure from peers then not have peers.”
“I can do it up and down, I can do circles
To him I’m a gymnist, This one is my circus”
“The scars of your love, remind me of us.
They keep me thinking that we almost had it all”
Adele – Twitter / Facebook
Watch: “Daydreamer” Live on Jools Holland
“Rolling in the deep” – Slightly odd video featuring a room filled with cups of water, a dancer flicking talcumn powder and Adele unable to get out of a chair.
“Oh, lust only grows like anger and revenge or beauty comes and goes but love stays until the end”
“Youuuuuuuu… are so very precious to me”
“Feathers and a cage too small
Chemicals that make us tall”
Peter Broderick – Facebook / Website / Flickr
Watch: “Human Eyeballs On Toast” Video of Studio Recording
“What I have is what you need
And I’m never gonna give it to you”
Owen’s trademark looped violin and vocals given extra oomph by the Czech Symphonic Orchestra.
Owen Pallett – Twitter / Website / Soundcloud
Download: FREE Export EP
Watch: “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt” – Suitably bizarre video
“And we’re so so bitter, we never got over when Marathon got renamed Snickers”
In a flagrant abuse of the one song per artist rule I’m opting for three Akira The Don related tracks at No.14.
Back in May Akira’s website went up in smoke after his ATD 23 Streetfighter tribute mixtape was declared “The Best Gaming Mixtape You’ll Ever Hear” by the ludicrously popular gaming site Kotaku.com. In the name of adding to the buzz, my dulcet tones could be heard on Hype Machine Radio enthusing about standout track “Be Brave”. Shortly afterwards an unholy alliance of MLD and ATD’s twitter followers propelled the tune to the top of the Hype Machine chart.
14. AKIRA THE DON – “Be Brave”
“All I need a beat and sample
I hit it and it goes pop… example”
No best of the year would be complete without an entry from Polarbear, this year its as a guest on Akira’s all done in a day LP. Listen to more here, and he’ll also be guesting on “Concrete Pigeon” from Sound Of Rums new album.
Finally a quick mention for PolarBear’s AfroBear side project, this month a few new demos popped up on Polars Soundcloud page.
15. GIDEON CONN – “Wildfire”
“Money fucks money and money is sexy”
“If you’re drinkin’ Tennants, you need to sober up”
18. JAMES MATHE
“The Load (“Get a wind thing for the mic” live on a rooftop version)”
“I will not ever take this for granted, I am forever in your hands”
“You, You, You, You, You, You, You, You, You (repeat)”
20. JASJOT SINGH GHUMAN
Jasjot Singh Ghuman – Facebook
“Every night my little box, these speakers sexin me”
“I found a picture from before the fight, we’re in natural light
And youre sitting on my lap like everythings alright”
Sun Kil Moon – Website
“ Definitely Southall sovereign status, more than Shadow from Gladiators”
“In a couple of weeks you can tell all the freaks how you carried my body home”
“You look so lovely as you stand there”
26. PAUL WELLER
“No Tears To Cry (Leo Zero Remix)”
“If you don’t want to see me fall
Turn your face to the wall”
Every generation has a Weller song to call its own whether its by The Jam, Style Council or the Modfather’s “Wildwood” era. The glorious 8 minute Northern Soul swirl of Leo Zero’s “No Tears To Cry” remix may just be the track that bewitches a fresh generation.
Leo Zero’s Dub Psychedelic Series previously sprinkled magic onto 70′s Bowie, and his Weller mix is a subtle triumph. On Soundcloud Leo was modest about his input “I can’t take credit for any of the parts! – I just did a beef-up and added some drums… the original is actually constructed with a lot of separate samples, I was very surprised when I cracked it open – it sounds so live, I thought it was all original“.
He was also understandably excited to be offered the chance to work on Weller’s material:
“A remix for Paul Weller that was a real honour ( and a lot of fun) to do. I think of this sound as what was going on at Blackpool’s Mecca Ballroom on the Northern Soul scene – slightly disco-fied…. but this track also reminds me of Neil Diamond and Glen Campbell – it’s a truly great song, and I was literally jumping round the studio with excitement when I first heard it! It was one thing to land a Paul Weller mix after being a fan for so long, but then to find out it was for such a belter of a song was mindblowing”.
Leo’s work is always unbelievably good, for further proof download his remix of Lissie here, and Patrick Wolf’s new one (below)
“So carelessly there, is it truth or dare
There’s a limit to your care”
“Please mister boss man, I need this job more than you know
But he gave me my last paycheck and he sent me on out the door”
“Blakula” an imaginary soundtrack to the tale of a black vampire born in Haiti, hibernated in Transylvania and defrosted in New York City in 1977. Its nothing to do with the 1972 Blacula (with a c) film which had its own collectable blaxsploitation soundtrack.
Theres an amusing backstory of Blakula’s adventures on the New York scene, writing poems with Burroughs, jamming with Miles and the Velvet Underground, shaking a canister for Basquiat and his tail feather with Warhol.
The album takes in rock, prog, disco, jazz but melds it all into one glorious voodoo funk soup that the Italian duo Simon Maccari and Andrea Bellentani aka The Diaphanoids should be justly proud.
30. BENIN CITY – “The Beat (Live @ E4 Underbelly)”
A live favourite, and the perfect blend of old style Hip-Hop with a little Go-Go – its like Shady Grove are back on stage. The Beat sounds very very nice.
A slice of pure pop dance so blissful that Kylie herself would crawl over hot coals to get her mitts on it. “This Is A Lull” would fit daytime Radio 1 perfectly, but equally it’s pulsing synths and 80′s snare hits make it more than cool enough for the trendier dancefloor.
It works even better when twinned with one of Run Toto Runs inventive videos – this time its all trippy motion effects (watch below). To show how they created it, the director Christopher Poole has released footage of the band performing to a super slowed down version of the tune, which when sped creates the otherworldly effect. Watch Rachel singing deliberately sloooowwwlllyyyy here.
“I keep using my energy
Pushing and shoving my way to please”
The musical equivalent of sunshine, The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble returned with a devastatingly brilliant free download of the Outkast covering “Spottie” from their new EP. They’re safe in the knowledge that anyone who listens will be compelled to buy the full EP (if not their entire back catalogue). See them live if you have a chance.
An ipod inspired musical version of attention deficit disorder killed my album listening habits – Twitter, Facebook, MP3′s by the thousand, iplayer, youtube… Its hard enough to hold my attention for one song, let alone a whole LP!
Mondkopf’s “Galaxy Of Nowhere“ was one of a handful of exceptions in 2010. An album I can listen to from track 1 to 12 without my finger even hovering over “next” – ridiculous though that problem is.
Perhaps the 23 year old Parisian just ticks all the right boxes for me? Eno influences, crunching beats, large synths but most of all wonderfully BIG orchestration! Lovely.
Mondkopf – Twitter / Facebook / Lastfm / Music blog
As a bonus grab Mondkopf’s remix of one of my favourite tracks of 09 by Wolf Parade. Its huge and free from those people at RCDLB who get their mitts on all the best tunes, damn them.
“To make it look like a global conspiracy, to hold the people down and keep them in poverty”
London born but now living in Italy (from where his mum hails) Lion D’s “Nah Like Da Way Deh” is a bitter pill of social commentary wrapped up in the sweetest summer reggae coating. Wind down the car windows and sing along to the likes of “To make it look like a global conspiracy, to hold the people down and keep them in poverty“.
Its also two tunes for the price of one as 2 and a half minutes in the vocals disappear and it heads off on a glorious 4 minute sax led instrumental excursion! If you like this be sure to check out his debut long player “Burning Melody“.
38. EDWYN COLLINS
“Losing Sleep (Instrumental)” (MP3)
Clap Hands (Video) pilfers its lyrics from the 1965 Shirley Ellis hit “Clapping Song” (which itself borrowed from an old nursery rhyme). Musically its a world away from Shirley (Youtube) with a huge squelching synth throb, Jones’ vocal clicks and a generally ominous tone. Not a skipping rope in sight but fantastic nevertheless.
“I’m flawed just like all of us, and I never pray but keep yelling that god is ominous”
“What wouldn’t I do” (MP3)
“What wouldnt I do for a woman like you?”
Strayfolk is an americana constellation found on the south-west and western seafront of Sweden.
Strayfolk – Website
FREE download of “What Wouldnt I do” + interview at Bad Panda
Listen: More from members of Strayfolk on the Swedish Music blog
Pretty Lights – Twitter / Facebook
Download: Grab the brilliant “Spilling Over Every Side” & “Glowing in The Darkest Night” EP’s for FREE on the Pretty Lights site.
“Gyal me wann fi hold yuh, put me arms right around yuh
Gyal you give me the tightest hold me eva get inna my life”
“Im deep inside of you, but you feel nothing”
“I’m from Bury, as in Bourrée
A French composition, On a fluted instrument”
49. GEORGE LENTON vs AL GREEN
George Lenton – Tons more music on Soundcloud