What with being a quarter of the way through 2012, (give or take a few days obvs) it seems the perfect time to look back and re-cap some of the great records that have come out so far this year. I’m talking tracks not albums, because right now I’m a tiny bit sceptical about the future of the album as a format, but anyway that’s an issue for another day.
Welcome to the first ever piece that I’ve written specifically for this blog. The tracks aren’t really in any real order, and the whole list is likely to be a bit heavy on more recent tracks, mainly because January was ages ago, and I don’t remember things…. If there’s stuff whose inclusion you wanna argue about then, well I don’t care, but you can complain on twitter @tomristesmith.
1 – Ruff Sqwad – Mario Balotelli
Where to start with this one? A track about Mario Balotelli, sounds horrible right? Wrong. Admittedly I’m a bit (read very) out of the loop about what’s going on in grime these days, but this track is a total stand out. I came across it on Rinse FM, and quite literally it jumped up and down screaming pick me, pick me (ok not literally at all, more like figuratively). Normally the thing that grabs me about a grime tune is the beat, and this one’s no different, but the real hook that keeps me coming back – the amount of energy rammed into what’s a surprisingly melodic flow. I have NO idea who produced it so if anyone knows then hit me up.
Download at soundcloud http://soundcloud.com/takeover/03-mario-balotelli-ruff-sqwad
2 – Jacques Lu Cont – Church
I’m not going to pretend, like everyone else is…, that I was a massive Jacques fan prior to his comeback, sure some of his work as “Thin White Duke” and “les Rhythm Digitales” was on my radar (Most notably this), but the Lu cont moniker was a complete unknown prior to this come back. Discovering something new, but old is almost more exciting than discovering something new, new. It comes with the added fun of delving through the back catalogue, but also the spark of discovery. Oh and you’ll almost never end up saying “I preferred their old stuff”
Free download over at http://www.jacqueslucont.com/
3 – Jacques Greene – Flatline ft. Ango
Let’s keep on a Jacques tip for a bit. Although unlike Jacques Lu Cont, Jacques Greene may well actually be his real name..? Then again maybe not, I have no idea.
The “Concealer” EP, the first release on Greene’s own Vase Records, would no doubt have made the cut, if we were doing a rundown of albums and EP’s. Choosing just one track somehow doesn’t really do it justice. I’ve gone for “Flatline ft. Ango” because for me at least it really is the stand out. A lot of that undeniably comes from Ango, his voice lends the track some really great extra layers, and rides along almost floating on the beat. That’s not to take anything away from Jacques Greene, who really has delivered the kind of beat that exudes “dance to me” but at the same time feels a bit like I imagine sunbathing on a cloud to be. I think I’ll leave that there, because I somehow seem to have strayed into using that kinda bad metaphor that blog writers use to make it look like we know what we’re talking about type thing.
Is this as good as some of his earlier tracks? Personally I think no, but that says more about them than this…
4 – Deco Child – Pray
This should be wayyyy up nearer the top of the list, but if I start trying to put everything in order then who knows where the madness will end…
As an artist Deco Child is easily my favourite new discovery of the year, and although last.fm doesn’t agree, I’m pretty sure that it’s this Vs Ruff sqwad for most played. (I’m not really one of those obsessive scrobblers, what’s with that?)
I really don’t know what to say except listen to it. It’s beatific. And if you take a look around some of the mixes on his soundcloud (http://soundcloud.com/decochild) page, it’s somewhat surprising that this is the kind of music that he writes. Either way this is probably discovery of the year.
NB – I know it’s been on soundcloud way longer that this year, but that’s when it got an official release. Through the consistently brilliant Ninja Tune no less!
5 – Gucci Vump – Feeling
I put this one in now for a bit of a change of pace. Easily my favourite straight up house track of the year. For anyone who doesn’t know Gucci Vump are Brodinski and someone from “The Shoes”, who in all honesty I don’t really know very much about. I find with music where I first hear something leaves a big impression on my feelings towards it. Thats the same for everyone right? Well I first heard this in one of “The Magicians” Magic tapes, o forget which one, but the point is, The Magician is always on point, for something to stand out so clearly in a mix of that quality it must be really great.
6 – Flosstradamus – Total Recall
I’m not really sure what the genre Trap is exactly, then again I’ve never been that hot on genres, but apparently it’s what Flosstradamus make. To me it just sounds like Hip-Hop at unusual tempo’s, but whatever it totally works. They’ve produced a few records for some other people, and as far as I know the “total recall” EP is only their second release, which makes it all the more surprising how unique but yet reassuringly familiar their sound is.
7 – Diplo & Nicky da B – Express Your Self
The one person who’s had the biggest effect on my musical education (Is that even a thing?), as this list will no doubt reveal is Diplo. He’s introduced me to more new genres since I’ve been listening to his output than I could ever have imagines existed, including this one “New Orleans Bounce”. It’s a kinda high energy hip-hop, but according to wiki it’s been around since the 90’s, so you probably already know that.
Should probably put in a quick word about the track really. Well it’s boss. High energy really is the word. The first time you click play likely as not after it’s 4.37 you’ll be left wondering what just happened, all I can say is I urge you to click play again. Trust me it’s worth it.
8 – Burial
Now this I really do wish I could just put this in as a whole EP. The “kindred” EP, is stunning, breathtaking, exactly what you’d expect from burial but not in a boring predictable way. I’ve chosen “Ashtray Wasp” really only because it took me a while to really get into the record, and that was the first track out of the 3 to really click for me. Everyone has those moments with records, and burial is particularly divisive, in a room of 3 people each would probably pick a different track… What I’m really saying here is listen to the whole record.
9 – Ango – Love me
The thing that makes Ango great is his voice, as far as the “Another City Now” EP goes this provides by far the best showcase of that. Tracks like this really make me wish I could sing! The production is on point to, right from the point when the first “sunset” synth sets in over the drums. – I’m not sure sunset synths are really a thing? If it’s not then it should be, that kinda sound that slowly fades into a track, screaming out sunset and oceans.
10 – Alabama Shakes – Hold On
A bit of a change in sound, thus far the list has been reasonably electronic, but then Alabama Shakes turned up to remind us all that guitar music is still alive and well. I’ve put in a live video of this one, because it wasn’t until I saw them live that I really realised how great they are. Alabama shakes are a band that have a big future in front of them.
11 – Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – Tapes and Money
Who doesn’t love TEED? I think you have to be pronounced dead on at least two separate occasions not start dancing when one of his tracks comes on.
Tapes and Money sounds a bit like Starsmiths “Give me a break” and that really is no bad thing, a simple disco beat with catchy hooks over the top. The thing about this track is that it always leaves you wanting more. Every time it ends I can’t help wishing the “So lie so lie so lie so lie so lie (feet don’t fail me now), ” chorus was just a bit bigger. It’s for that exact reason that I don’t think I’ve ever listened to this track and not put it straight back on again when its finished.
12 – Perseus – Seychelles
Not my favourite Perseus song, but as easily one of my favourite discoveries of the year, I had to shoe horn them in somewhere. One of the brilliant acts from the “French express” stables (Check out the label they’re soo on point right now), Perseus are leading the way in bringing tropical house to a wider audience, me included. This is another discovery from “The Magicians” magic tape series.
13 – Emika – Hit me ft. Jimmy Edgar
I’m a big fan of Emika anyway, but this track is really something else. Maybe it’s the surprise of it being soo far from what I’d expect, maybe it is just really great. Probably both actually. But for me at least this has a kinda sweet disco vibe, about a long way away from her more bass heavy offerings, and if anything more on point with the kinda music I’m really feeling at the moment.
One thing that annoys me about this track – I brought it in .wav, and last.fm really doesn’t scrobble .wav files well. Now to anyone browsing my profile I look like I’m massively into that band “The Music”, anyone remember them?
14 – Usher – Climax
Yes this does say Usher, yes the track really is great. This one all comes back to me being a massive Diplo fan boy to be honest, but I really do feel like this track shows off his versatility as a producer really well. I would probably write a bit more about it but tbh I’m getting a bit bored or writing this list now, it’s taken WAY longer than I thought it would.
Well there we go. Thats a selection of the best tracks of the year so far, as picked by me. I was gunna do something cleaver like have 25 tracks, because we’re 25% through the year, but 14 took long enough.
So what have we learnt…. Basically that Diplo and the lucky Me crew, are both super on point this year. Go check them both out whilst their hot………