FKA twigs

There was something very exciting about The Weeknd’s ascent in 2011. R&B had finally outgrown its ’90s persona. It no longer had to be about tender love making, or cutesy courtship. Its performers no longer needed to be dancers first, and singers second, or spend the majority of their music videos displaying abdomen wet with sweat, rain or both. Its emotional pallet could be more broad than the template: triumph, love, heartbreak. Perhaps most importantly, it no longer had to play on radio. This was the new R&B, presented to the world by Abel Tesafaye, a shrouded 19 year old, whose first four songs hit the internet, and instantly caught the eyes of millions in months.

When I came across FKA twigs earlier this summer, it took me back to the same excitement I had when hearing “What You Need” two and a half years ago. Much like Tesafaye, Twigs’ music often feels like quiet inside a smut-filled storm. She’s an observer to the seedy scenes of London’s clubs, where she’s tended bar for the better part of a decade. Like Tesafaye, whose vocals have drawn comparisons to Michael Jackson (particularly after his “Dirty Diana” cover), Twigs has already been compared to Janet.

Framing Twigs’ music in the context of R&B, however, is limiting. With only one eclectic EP and an excellent lead single for a forthcoming full-length out, her choice in production veers from the tenants of current R&B, instead drawing more from London’s dub scene. And that might be what makes her sound most exciting.

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— , August 13, 2013    Comments Off on FKA twigs

Toronto alt-folk group Fort York are having a busy month. With an Indiegogo campaign in full flight to help fund the recording of a new album and shows planned all over the city, I asked the guys to take over mixtape duties for me and tell me what they’re listening to as they write new songs for their upcoming EP. The result is a mix so eclectic that I can only assume their new album will strive to be all things to all people. From J Dilla to Dirty Projectors, and Bob Lind to King Tubby, I was excited to see some of my personal favourites and discover some new songs that have been on heavy rotation since. Below you’ll find Conor and Rory Lavelle, Nick Kewin and Kyle Fulton’s choices with some brief thoughts on what they like about each of their picks. When asked to contribute anything further, drummer Dan Lefebvre simply said “I think y’all got it covered” – I’d have to agree.

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— , August 24, 2012    Comments Off on Guestlist: Fort York

Last week I posted twelve of my recent favourite tracks, seven of which were by Californians, earning the mixtape the name California Sunrise. It varied from electropop to reggae and soca-infused funk and there’s an equal variety to be found in part 2 of the Summer mixtape series. If part 1 was the build-up, then part 2 is the break-down. I’ve tried to stack this mix with a few more mellow jams on the back-end, to pair with those inevitable late-July lamentations of the “summer’s half over already!” variety. Youth Lagoon is a fantastic band name and a fictitious place that I’d like to go to one day. If I did, here’s what I imagine it would sound like:

Download | Youth Lagoon Mixtape

Trey Songz vs. Cut Copy – Invented You Now (The Hood Internet Mash-Up)

I don’t think I know how to make a mix without a good Hood Internet mash-up. Here the duo take Cut Copy’s ‘Need You Now’ from their fantastic new album Zonoscope and mix it with R&B crooner Trey Songz’ immortal ‘You Gon Think I Invented Sex’. I watched an interview where Songz decoded his metaphorical lyrics for the audience, explaining that “the song is about how I lay pipe so good that you gon think I invented sex, even though I didn’t, feel me?” Yes Trey, we feel you. Particularly when the vocals from your track with Canadian-pride Drake are over-top of this brilliantly chopped up Cut Copy beat.

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— , July 20, 2011    2 Comments

Sometimes, there’s too much good music. Mixtapes are a chance to pick and choose from the spectrum of too muchness and bring friends and readers some of the best of what I’ve heard recently. But sometimes there’s still too much, which is why I decided to split this mix into 2 parts, or ‘sides’, if you will. Part 1 is California Sunrise, because as you’ll learn quickly in the captions below, California has inadvertently become a major theme in my listening choices as of late. Like past mixes, this one’s heavily influenced by how I feel with the on-set of my favourite time of year, and is an effort to share a soundtrack perfect for your sun-kissed days and sweaty nights. Stay tuned for part 2 next week.

Download | California Sunrise Mixtape

Blackbird Blackbird – Sunspray

As promised, this mix comes chock-full of Californian inspiration. ‘Sunspray’ starts the trend, with band Blackbird Blackbird hailing from San Francisco. Since March of last year, they’ve steadily released a series of EPs leading to this March’s Summer Heart full-length. My favourite track by the band comes from their second EP Let’s Move on Together. The unintelligibly faint vocals layered overtop synths create a delicate yet danceable tune, seemingly made for an intimate slow dance in a sea of raging fast-dancers.

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— , July 11, 2011    3 Comments

UPDATE: This contest is now closed, the winner has been notified by email.

Take a chance on Givers. This fine quintet from Lafayette, Louisiana began with long-standing friendships predicated on their musical inclinations dating back to high school, but through the years had never managed to share a stage or studio together. When a last minute cancellation at a friend’s gig created a slot for an opener, the group took a chance and hopped on stage for a completely improvised first set together. The chemistry was insane, and after a few months of playing and recording together, indie deities Dirty Projectors took a chance on them bringing the band on tour in the Fall of 2009. This proved to be the break they needed, as Givers went from obscurity to appearing on several “bands to watch” lists all over this very internet in early 2010. The buzz is going strong as Givers released their debut album In Light this week.

So join the good company of Givers, Dirty Projectors, the Internet, and myself in taking a chance on these guys. Courtesy of Embrace, we’ve got two tickets for you to see Givers in Toronto at their show with Pepper Rabbit and 1, 2, 3 at the Garrison on Tuesday, June 21. More info here. To enter to win, email contests@cavacool.com with “Up Up Up” in the subject line and your full name somewhere in the body. Contest closes Friday, June 17 at midnight.

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— , June 8, 2011    1 Comment