Saturday, December 22, 2012
The final part...
1. 212 (Azealia Banks):
there is no shortage of female hip/hop artists out there going filthy for street cred or attention but no one has arrested the spotlight with an independent release quite like Azealia Banks. 212 was released late last year merely to get a toe-hold online but a year later it still holds sway. It could be the propulsive house beats given new life out in the mainstream or the body part most voiced (the female reproductive organ) but nah, its Azealia’s astonishing confidence.
2. I’m Addicted (Madonna):
I can hear the outbursts now: “Madonna isn’t relevant anymore” and “she’s too old to be hip”. Most of this is true and while her album disappointed there were a few gems including this full out rave number where she slyly—and brilliantly—manages to spell out the album’s title mixed with the drug MDMA (Ecstasy) towards the end but I bet you hadn’t realized until now. They’ll be stomping to this one in the many gay clubs around the world and remembering just who their boss is.
3. Gangsta in Design (No Concept)(Schoolboy Q):
Schoolboy Q belongs to that emerging class of young hip/hop heterosexual male, which means he’s all about looking the part to attract the ladies. If that includes a little metrosexual primping and gay-bait attention then so be it. He knows the game and will jot it down after conquest.
4. Genesis (Grimes):
a hybrid of pop music and the composition on her keyboard, the opening riff is now ingrained in the minds of all who’ve heard it. Grimes does little more than hum repeated lines in Genesis but its testament to her craft that you’re not aware of this until the dreamy sequences end.
5. Five Seconds (Twin Shadow):
a sublime mix between David Bowie and TV on the Radio, the first track released from Confess is a dirty whirl of winds being filtered through dance-funk.
6. New York (Angel Haze):
spitting verses harder than Azealia, Angel Haze proves that she’s more than just an Aaliyah look-alike with this stunning track, decorated with so many tasty electronic hi-claps and a stunning programming that it dares you not to nod with approval.
7. Pyramids (Frank Ocean):
a ten minute attempt to bind human life and sexual tension from ancient Egypt to modern times. It best reminds us of his brilliant Novocain last year, only it’s far more epic.
8. Dreams Deferred (Five Steez):
the jury is still out if Steez was inspired by Langston Hughes famous poem but the hopeful and hopeless circumstances juxtaposed to Damien’s brilliant production is electrifying.
9. Another Ace in the Hole (Bryan Scary):
surrounded by prog rock, this track stands alone on Scary’s album as a pure rocker and even with fey vocals, the result is instantly gratifying.
10. Nathan (Azealia Banks feat. Styles P):
a stunning gauntlet thrown down but I’m still stuck with one burning question” who the hell is Nathan exactly?
11. You as You Were (Shearwater):
the usual Bowie-like stomper, this one timed to sweet perfection and some hectic drumming. It’s an ode to the past he’s still wrestling with.
12. There He Go (Schoolboy Q):
the usual sexism on display but when he cracks the repetitive falsetto in the chorus, it lifts what could have been a by-the-numbers track into some type of awesome edict.
13. Feels Like We Only Go Backwards (Tame Impala):
a pleading, turned upside-down with crunching guitars and their lovely voice directing the action right up to its beautiful yet tragic end.
14. Montreal (The Weeknd):
after an outstanding last year, who knew Abel Tesfaye would save his best—and most defining track—on top of a new year where others would remain dormant. Montreal starts with reverb before his vocals trip in with so much longing and soul-brother testimony that it leaves us dizzy and hoping that he’ll take the girl that did him wrong back.
15. A Simple Answer (Grizzly Bear):
veers close into their tried-and-true territory and isn’t much more than a wily repetition of its one world chorus but the varied instruments used make it fascinating.
16. Goldie (ASAP Rocky):
digging on the cultural fascination with the thug life, ASAP Rocky cuts hard vocally before relieving himself with Lil Wayne-like verses.
17. Yellow Orange Rays (Sam Sparro):
screams Prince without imitating the legend!
18. 1991 (Azealia Banks):
a stunning, versatile offering that chronicles her start to current standing within the hip/house community. As with the rest of her stuff, this is a winner.
19. A New Town (Field Music):
a delicious falsetto affair full of lo-fi programming and doo-wop harmonies that go on for days. The band’s new album is scattershot but this one settles nicely into its groove and achieves maximum effect.
20. Young Man in America (Anais Mitchell):
the stunning title track of her new albums doubles as guide to her heady vision, replete with hypnotizing horns and percussions.