Frank Ocean

The conclusion of Ca Va Cool’s best albums of 2012 picks up where the first half left off, featuring old favourites and brave new sounds side by side: indie pop sits next to a “post-internet” patchwork sound; thematically-advancing hip-hop sidles up to our beloved indie rock. Without further ado, here are our writers’ ten favourite albums of the past year.

Photograph by Kristin Lidell

10. Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn’t

How could anybody break up with Jens Lekman? Unfathomable as it may be, the Swedish songwriter is no stranger to frank relationship-ending songs; ‘I’m Leaving You Because I Don’t Love You’ from his 2007 orchestral pop magnum opus Night Falls Over Kortedala could be seen as a prequel to this year’s ‘She Just Don’t Want to Be with You Anymore’. On the former, he seemed to be trying his hand at a long tradition of breakup pop songs (from ‘Breaking Up Is Hard to Do’ to ‘A Case of You’; from ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’ to ‘Ms. Jackson’), whereas now you can tell he has experienced heartbreak firsthand. I Know What Love Isn’t never wavers from its main theme as the stages of recovery play in chronological order: the difficulty in forgetting on ‘Every Little Hair Knows Your Name’, the sadness of imagining his lover with another on ‘Become Someone Else’s’, and after some time, a joyous moving on during the title track. This sad bastard music doesn’t sound like a particularly fun way to spend 38 minutes, but with the sincerity, warmth, and goofball humour that have always characterized Lekman’s music, he delivers an album that’s insightful, upliftingly melodic, and ironically, hilarious at points. In the end, he may have learned what love isn’t, but he hasn’t given up on love, because, well, he’s Jens Lekman. — Daniel Hernandez

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— , December 31, 2012    3 Comments

Jens Lekman

Miracle Fortress -     Five Roses
#5

Miracle Fortress
Five Roses

Montreal, Canada
Secret City / Rough Trade

Based out of Montreal, Graham Van Pelt has created the closest thing anyone has come to a Beach Boys record of the new millenium. Mixing layers upon layers of guitars with catchy melodies, the similarities never end as he even has a voice similar to Brian Wilson. But there’s nothing unoriginal about it, because he picked one of the hardest pop artists of the 20th century to copy, so coming close is a pretty great feat. On top of that, he’s not trying to top the Beatles, so he did it all without having a nervous breakdown.

The     Clientele - God Save The Clientele
#4

The Clientele
God Save The Clientele

London, England
Merge / The Track and Field Organization

The Clientele’s first full-length release Suburban Light (a compilation of singles and compilation tracks) is perfect. Released in 2000, any unknowing listener would have to assume that it was recorded in 1966. That being said, their first two albums were unsuccessful attempts to re-create the soft, romantic mood of the earliest work. Not to say they were bad, they just showed no growth from a creative band with much potential. Their last release, God Save the Clientele, has the band expanding their sound, which has something to do with the addition of Mel Draisey on keyboards and strings, giving the band a much fuller, less subdued sound which dominated prior releases.

Lucky Soul - The     Great Unwanted
#3

Lucky Soul
The Great Unwanted

Greenwich, England
Ruffa Lane

The Pipettes are good, but Lucky Soul are great. Where the former had great singles and an album which didn’t quite live up to them, Lucky Soul have created one of the most consistently enjoyable albums of the year. Like the Pipettes, Lucky Soul rock the 60s girl group sound familiar to fans of the Shangri-Las and Lesley Gore. Just like those songs from days passed, although the songs have upbeat drums, strings, and horns, they are all tales of lost love and heartbreak, everyone’s favourite topics.

The Tough     Alliance - A New Chance
#2

The Tough Alliance
A New Chance

Gothenburg, Sweden
Sincerely Yours / Summer Lovers

Sweden is taking over the pop world. I like almost everything I hear from Sweden, and one of the best examples is The Tough Alliance’s new album A New Chance. It’s definitely a retro-sounding album that takes its cues from 80s new wave and 90s dance, but don’t let that fool you, because this album is unlike much you’ve heard.

Jens     Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala
#1

Jens Lekman
Night Falls Over Kortedala

Gothenburg, Sweden
Secretly Canadian / Service

Oh Jens. His songs are great, and although all of the albums are dubbed “collections of recordings” spanning several years, all of the songs on his newest release Night Falls Over Kortedala play perfectly as an album. His charming wit and somewhat bizarre/cute romanticism find a home among consistently perfect melodies and lush arrangements. This album is Tigermilk good.

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— , January 17, 2008    4 Comments

The first ever Ca Va Cool mix includes some highlights from the writers’ favourite albums, EPs, and singles of 2007. Pretty representative of what was important this year in indie pop, rock, and dance (indie being a sound, attitude, and aesthetic, rather than commercial means). This was a team effort, and you know what they say about herd mentality: it’s never wrong.

01. Spoon – The Underdog
02. Shout Out Louds – Tonight I Have to Leave It
03. Tokyo Police Club – Box
04. The Teenagers – Homecoming
05. The Shins – Australia
06. Radiohead – House of Cards
07. Basia Bulat – I Was a Daughter
08. M.I.A. – Paper Planes
09. The New Pornographers – My Right Versus Yours
10. Panda Bear – Comfy in Nautica
11. The National – Slow Show
12. Miracle Fortress – Maybe Lately
13. Two Hours Traffic – Stuck for the Summer
14. LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends
15. Jens Lekman – The Opposite of Hallelujah
16. Handsome Furs – Handsome Furs Hate This City
17. Feist – Past in Present
18. Justice – D.A.N.C.E.
19. Stars – Window Bird
20. The Cribs – Moving Pictures
21. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Satan Said Dance
22. Black Kids – I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You
23. Band of Horses – Is There a Ghost
24. Arcade Fire – The Well and the Lighthouse
25. Au Revoir Simone – Sad Song

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— , December 25, 2007    4 Comments

Jens Lekman

There are those that subscribe to the belief that indie pop music was born in the releases of Scottish record label Postcard Records (i.e. Josef K, Orange Juice, and Aztec Camera), and to some extent that is where the home of pure pop music remains, as evidenced by more recent bands like Belle and Sebastian, Franz Ferdinand, and Camera Obscura. But somewhere in that bustling period from 1981 to today, indie pop found a second home. Sweden, despite its distance, and with many thanks to the internet, has had a huge outpour of both excellent and excellently-received albums. Some of my personal favourite artists include Peter Bjorn and John, Love Is All, The Concretes, and Shout Out Louds.

Today I’m going to focus my energy on my newest favourite Swedish release. Jens (pronounced “Yawns” or “Yens”, not quite sure which) Lekman’s Night Falls Over Kortedala, is an album I would usually refer to as my favourite album of the year. However, I’ve stopped using that moniker as I tend to have several “favourite albums of the year” making it very clear that I am either confused or a liar. All will become clear once the end of year bests are published on Ca Va Cool. So what I mean to say is that I love Jens Lekman, and that at one period in time this year, a period which may not have ended yet, this was/is my favourite album.

Sounding as if a humble eukele player was given unlimited access to an orchestra, Jens Lekman’s second LP Night Falls Over Kortedala is both understated and overstated at the same time. The core of the songs rest in Lekman’s Jonathan Richman-esque delivery: witty tales of insecurity with a romantic twist. But then each of the songs is expanded to their climactic limit with instruments from varying genres (i.e. R&B, Salsa, Classical). Definitely worth more than just a listen, and if you like what you hear, check out “A Sweet Summer’s Night on Hammer Hill” and “Black Cab”.

The music video for “Sipping on Sweet Nectar.”

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— , November 13, 2007    Comments Off on Jens Lekman: Night Falls Over Kortedala