Top 200 Tracks of 2012 (26-50)
50. City Brat – Moves / Yeah It’s There
Brooklyn based ‘City Brat’ are Alex Fippinger on drums and Jason Grad on vocals, guitar, keyboards, video direction, and PR. If people still sent out physical promos, Jason would be at my front door CD in hand. This DIY attitude led to the slight hiccup of forgetting to blind CC the 400 music blogs the promo was sent to and accidentally sending it to my dad email at Music Like Dirt Publishing (yes I’ve no originality and stole the name).
The Song By Toad blog has a regular PR Hall Of Fail feature focusing on the failings of people paid to do such things. It’s entertaining enough to be spun off as a separate entity (Like, Frasier to the main site’s Cheers).
Fortunately my dad took a liking to lead single “Yeah Its There” and forwarded it on with the suggestion i’d appreciate its David Byrne/Talking Heads-esque sound. He was right, and you can add Vampire Weekend and The Strokes to Talking Heads to the list of obvious influences. It’s a very slick sound with jangling guitars, an infectious bassline and multi part harmonies which is impressive given it’s all (bar the drums) the work of one man.
Such is the songs maddeningly catchy nature I’m amazed it hasn’t featured on many more of those 400 or so blogs.
49. Aaron Sayer feat Owen Penrice – Have No Fear
In 2011 Aaron Sayer’s “Change” was one of the picks from the 200! songs I listened to as part of the Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition. Since then he’s finished a music production course at Huddersfield University and has moved to London to manage singer/songwriter and occasional rapper Owen Penrice.
“Have No Fear” appears on both Aaron and Owen’s Soundcloud page’s so I’m not entirely sure if it’s a co-production but it’s certainly more evidence of a burgeoning talent. On his cover of Chase and Status’s Blind Faith, Penrice sounds very Jamie T-esque, but on “Have No Fear” the vocals recall Walthamstow’s finest, Brian Harvey who i’ll always defend as a fine r&b/soul vocalist.
Aaron compliments this perfectly as he rhymes over a skittering dubstep meets trip hop backing with the repeated hook of “Romance was killed by nightclubs“.
48. Widows – Lucifer
47. Footsie – 1 Spliff
46. Fabiana Palladino – Young Thing (Demo)
I’d love to claim I’ve keenly followed the music of Fabiana Palladino from the second I heard her voice on Ghostpoet’s “Survive It” in 2011. Unfortunately I merely loved the tune, swooned at the gorgeous vocals and then didn’t bother my arse finding out who was responsible for said voice.
Thankfully Ghostpoet places more value on the people who made his debut such a success and tweeted a link to Fabiana’s new demo late back in April.
Fretless Bass alert! “Young Thing” has a wonderful 80′s soul feel courtesy of the lesser spotted fretless bass. And if you’re going to feature a bass player it could be described as good fortune to have Pino Palladino as a father. Pino’s bass playing stretches back as far as Paul Young’s “No Parlez” LP, but in the 90′s he pretty much supplied the bottom end for the entire Neo Soul movement with his work on D’Angelo’s classic “Voodoo“ album along with Erykah Badu, Bilal and Common.
A perfect bass is one thing but as any chef will tell you it’ll count for nowt if you don’t get what’s on top right and thankfully “Young Thing” is a treat. Palladino is blessed with a beautiful voice, the song is understated but reels you in and the production has more than a hint of Paisley Park.
45. Gregory Porter – Be Good (Lion’s Song)
“Be good is her name
And I sing my lion’s song and brush my mane”
Porter’s grand lustrously velvet voice marks a meeting point between the classic crooners like Nat King Cole or Tony Bennett and the traditions of Soul and Jazz.
“Be Good” is a lullaby to heal the wounded pride of a lion led a merry dance by the object of his affections.
It’s a little known fact that Gregory’s beard is made of pure Angora wool, imported direct from the Orkney Isles to his native Brooklyn and freshly knitted twice a year.
Be sure to listen to 1960, What? from Gregory’s previous album if you want to hear more.
44. The Melting Ice Caps – Keep Both Hands Behind The Cutting Edge
Despite a Twitter description that reads “Charming London-based laptop chamber pop chanteur“, the debut Melting Ice Caps LP find’s David Shah letting the dust settle on his laptop more often than on the nine previously released singles (most of which are still available for free).
“Keep Both Hands Behind The Cutting Edge“ features the full Ice Caps band and turns a health and safety message “Nobody wants to see your fingertips, Detached from your piano fingers” on its head with a tongue in cheek end barb of “… At least not yet“.
43. Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou – A Proud Surrender
To record their album ‘La Ferme De Fontenaille‘, husband and wife duo “Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou packed guitars, a few mics and a 4-track cassette recorder into their long suffering British Leyland campervan, and headed for northern France.
“I was born in the North West of England
Where Industrial shells like monuments stand” (lyrics)
“A Proud Surrender” from their free to download taster EP sounds like a protest song that’s been passed down through generations and forged in the struggle of the working man. It is however entirely original and like the rest of the album was largely forged in a barn in the Pay De La Loire region.
42. Roots Manuva – Skid Valley (Hot Sugar Remix)
“I hear you talking about those trade embargoes
you see those chicken shops, you need to bar those“
Released as part of Big Dada’s free “Jubilee Schmubilee” EP, “Skid Valley” finds Rodney turning 40 and delivering a state of the nation address covering the ills of chicken shops, private education and the coalition.
The LP version failed to do justice to Manuva’s magisterial lyrics but fellow Ninja, Hot Sugar provides a remix that thankfully offers the musical accompaniment they deserve.
41. Open Mike Eagle – Your Back Pack Past (Featuring Has-Lo)
“I know it’s hard out there for a dinosaur
What you collect all those rare vinyls for?”
40. TNGHT – Higher Ground
39. Miguel – Adorn
38. Rozi Plain – Humans (Buddy Peace Remix)
37. Busdriver – WERNOR HERZOG
LA’s one and only Busdriver is preparing a new album for NinjaTune’s Hip-Hop offshoot Big Dada to arrive very soon. To mark the event Busdriver put together a FREE seven track EP which as Big Dada say “reminds us that, rather than being one of the most eccentric MCs out there, he’s just one of the best MCs out there“. Featuring guest appearances from Das Racist, Terra Lopez, Open Mic Eagle and Nocando, it’s the curiously named “Wernor Herzog” that had caused my jaw to drop.
“I love the idea of using Wernor Herzog as an adverb. Equating it to going particularly ham. Try using it today and feel how rewarding it is”
Over an absolutely massive synth riff, Busdriver, Open Mike and Nocando trade incredibly quick fire, quick witted and downright nasty lyrics encompassing everything from throatfucking, fair trade cheese, and Egon from Ghostbusters 2.
Download Free EP from Big Dada Records here
36. Bad Books – Forest Whitaker
35. City Shanty Band – Howlin’ Wind
The City Shanty Band are an 11-member shanty band described by the Daily Mail as a “hackney-based a cappella group”. Being featured in a paper loathed and loved in equal measure (actually it might be loathed more) is a double edged sword. The band playfully scolded the paper as “Silly fascists” because if you’ve got an accordion and a drum you’re probably not a cappella.
The band continued reading the review… “We sing a mix of original compositions and traditional sea shanties with an urban twist. Jesus! Urban twist is a horrible way of describing anything. Basically, we change the lyrics a bit to make them relevant and shit, yeah?”
34. Alice Jemima – By Your Side
Someone who to my knowledge hasn’t yet signed a record deal but must surely be on the radar of any A&R men still in gainful employment is Devon based singer Alice Jemima.
Her debut EP “All The Boyfriends” was written, recorded and produced at home, although “By Your Side” sounds like she kidnapped The XX’s Oliver Sim and kept him in the spare room until recording was finished.
After reading the above ‘review-ette’ Alice’s mum tweeted to let know me she was combing the house to find any hidden members of The XX!
By Your Side is available on the “All The Boyfriends EP” which you can purchase from Big Cartel.
33. Andrew Ashong – Flowers
“Flowers” is a multinational effort with the “Shuggie Otis-esque” voice of Andrew Ashong hailing from Forest Hill, London via Ghana and Detroit house master supreme Theo Parrish liberally sprinkling his production genius.
It’s deceptively simple with clattering drums, Rhodes keys and midway through a squelching bass organ riff, but as is the way with Parrish productions over the course of almost 9 minutes it delightfully ebbs, flows, and builds. All in all the musical equivalent of sunlight breaking through the slit in your curtains at the start of a glorious summers day.
32. Jackamo Brown – LayyyLow (Feat. Worgie & FlamesYall)
Does “pondering life over music” count as a tiny sub-genre of spoken word? I’ll have to think of a better tag but its responsible for some of the most goosebump inducing moments in musical history, from James Yorkston’s “Woozy With Cider”, Dexy’s “Reminisce Part 2″ or James Brown’s “King Heroin”.
To that list you can now add the FlamesYall remix of Jackamo Brown’s “Lay Low“. You don’t need to be a parent to appreciate the wonder in Warren Borg’s (Worgie) voice as he reflects on how his life has changed from carefree hung-over afternoons of monster munch and cola with his girlfriend to waking to the crystal blue eyes of his child.
As co-producer and co-writer of Scroobius Pip’s “Distraction Pieces” Borg proposed to his girlfriend live on stage at the Secret Garden Party.
Producer FlamesYall chips in with his own parental advice and best wishes before summing up that it’s the most beautiful thing you can ever do.
You can download a mini-album of Jackamo re-workings for free on FlamesYall’s soundcloud or visit Jackamo himself on his blog where he explains that he’s definitely not Scroobius Pip.
Buy the original “Oh No! The Drift Of The World” LP.
31. The Vaccines – I Always Knew
30. Wolf Alice – Leaving You
29. Lianne La Havas – No Room For Doubt (Featuring Willy Mason)
28. Dr. John – You Lie
27. The Psychedelic Singh – Ghara Wajda King Wajdi feat Sain Mushtaq Hussain
Bradford’s Amarik Singh, aka Psychedelic Singh brings his trademark and unique style to Saain Mushtaq Hussain’s Punjabi folk song and turned it into a 60′s style Psych-rock stormer. Listening to the original I’m not sure Sain Mushtaq could ever have imagined his voice leading a chorus of wah-wah guitars, beats and samples.
26. Todd Terje – Inspector Norse