It’s no secret that Ca Va Cool has been relaxing a bit this year, but we’re still listening to the albums and going to the shows; we’ll probably be doing that for life. As the end of year approaches, we realized we couldn’t just sit back and keep our favourite albums and verbose explanations to ourselves. So today, we’ve got a blogger reunion of sorts, 8 CVC writers pick their favourite albums of 2014. Before we get to the heavy hitters later this week in our top 10, today we have the bottom half of the list, which is as eclectic a mix as ever.
20. Vince Staples – Hell Can Wait
Vince Staples is not a concealed weapon. His menace to society attitude has always been present in his music and on Hell Can Wait he raps with his guns drawn, referring to himself as “gangsta god”. Hell Can Wait constantly reminds us that simply living day to day is a feat in an environment deeply influenced by gang culture. The future is bleak, jobs are scarce, but there are ways to earn and provide. Staples refuses to talk about diamonds in his ear or rims on his car. He raps about cheating death and avoiding the LAPD at all costs. Let it be known, Staples is no godsend. But after a slew of hit or miss mixtapes, he has finally found his groove with a team of good producers that have created the next chapter in true West Coast gangsta rap. A special nod goes to Toronto producer Hagler, the beat behind “Screen Door”, “Limos”, and the hypnotic single “Blue Suede”. Hell Can Wait is not pretty, it’s a beautifully ugly EP from a rapper who is deathly serious about his music. — Alec Ross
This year’s mixtape is ready for you to download. The two disc set is packed with 2008 favourites from all of our writers.
Download: The Ca Va Cool Mixtape 2008 – Disc 1
01. She & Him – Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?
02. Hot Chip – Ready for the Floor
03. Chad VanGaalen – TMNT Mask
04. Bloc Party – Signs
05. Mystery Jets – Young Love feat. Laura Marling
06. TV on the Radio – Family Tree
07. DeVotchKa – Transliterator
08. Wilco w/ Fleet Foxes – I Shall Be Released
09. Wolf Parade – Soldier’s Grin
10. M83 – Graveyard Girl
11. Albert Hammond, Jr. – GfC
12. Vampire Weekend – Walcott
13. Brendan Canning – Churches Under the Stairs
14. Cut Copy – Lights and Music
15. Los Campesinos! – This Is How You Spell…
Download: The Ca Va Cool Mixtape 2008 – Disc 2
01. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
02. Passion Pit – Sleepyhead
03. Born Ruffians – Little Garçon
04. The Clips – Space Kidz
05. The Radio Dept. – Freddie and the Trojan Horse
06. Bon Iver – Re: Stacks
07. Lykke Li – Dance Dance Dance
08. Portishead – Machine Gun
09. No Age – Eraser
10. Plants and Animals – New Kind of Love
11. Bodies of Water – Gold, Tan, Peach, and Grey
12. Fleet Foxes – Oliver James
13. Deerhunter – Never Stops
14. Santogold – Creator
15. Beast – Ashtray
Tags: Albert Hammond Jr., Beast, Bloc Party, Bon Iver, Born Ruffians, Brendan Canning, Chad VanGaalen, Cut Copy, Deerhunter, DeVotchKa, Fleet Foxes, Hot Chip, Los Campesinos!, Lykke Li, M83, MGMT, Mystery Jets, No Age, Passion Pit, Portishead, Santogold, She & Him, The Radio Dept., TV on the Radio, Vampire Weekend, Wilco, Wolf Parade
The year isn’t even done and already I want to make ammendments to my list. For instance, no Air France. What gives? It’s not perfect, not even close, but hopefully the rest of the albums will please the ears. There’s a lot of obvious albums here which you don’t need me to tell you to listen to, but they have to be included because they’re amazing. If you missed the first half of the list, you can check it out here. Without further ado, I give you the conclusion of my Top 20 releases of 2008:
10 | Lykke Li – Youth Novels
Sweden’s newest indie starlet/semi-superstar, Lykke Li, starts off the top 10. I had a taste of how this album was going to be at the end of last year with the single “Little Bit” and she really delivered. Equal parts easy listening and indie dance, this album manages to be accessible pop and adventurous at the same time. This had to come from Sweden.
I first wrote about Lykke Li back in December. At the time, she was pretty much the bees-knees in the Swedish music scene. After having only released one single (‘Little Bit‘) people were hailing the 21 year-old as the next Robyn. Just a few months later, and konichiwa bitches, Lykke dropped her debut LP Youth Novels. The LP was produced by Björn Yttling (of PB&J fame) and Lasse Mårtén (who after producing Kelly Clarkson singles, seems to have gotten frustrated and turned to the likes of Lykke and the Shout Out Louds to get back his street-cred). The album is a fairly solid debut for Li. If I was Pitchfork, I’d probably give it a 7.4/10.
A couple of my favorite tracks are:
1. The Jens Lekman-ish “My”, a dreamy pop number which makes me want to run through the Swedish low-land wheat fields.
2. “Dance Dance Dance” a song about those times when you have so much on your mind, but decide to dance it off.
3. “This Trumpet in My Head” is one of two spoken-word songs on the album. It’s got a sweet classical guitar intro, a great little trumpet section, which Lykke claims she just “can’t get out of her head”. It kind of reminds me of the first time I listened to Danielson’s “Did I Step on Your Trumpet?”.
Another sweet video, featuring her new-found homies, is her acoustic rendition of “I’m Good, I’m Gone” (Lykke’s latest single) with guests: Robyn, Adam & Bebban (of the Shout Out Louds), Daniel (of The Concretes), Lars Laakso and Mikael Hjalmar:
Tags: Lykke Li
With only three songs recorded and released, a lot of people are telling me that it’s too soon for me to put my money on Lykke Li as Sweden’s next sensation. To those people I say, read this couplet from her single “Little Bit”:
It’s for you I keep my legs apart,
I forget about my tainted heart.
Any girl that’s capable of writing something so dirtay, and yet so coy and tender, has my vote and love. Add to the mix that she’s Swedish, and I’m smitten.
Lykke Li has already generated a fair amount of buzz in Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia. Now 21 years young, she spent her childhood summers growing up in the mountains of Portugal, and winters traveling with her mother through India, owning only one album – a cassette of Madonna’s Immaculate Collection. She eventually got her hands on a few more albums and in September of this year, with the release of her first EP (“Little Bit”), Lykke’s quickly gotten “a buzz bigger than insects in Texas.” After playing a few shows with Peter, Bjorn and John, over the past few months, Björn Yttling decided to executive produce her full length debut, to be released in early 2008. The album will also feature work from fellow Scandinavians Röyksopp and Kleerup (as much as I like Kanye reference, I also love a chance to use a good umlaut – look out for these in future posts as well).
So for those of you who aren’t just sold on the fact that she’s hot and Swedish, there’s also something to be said for her music. In the same way that fellow Swede, Jens Lekman, makes the act of self-administering an asthma inhaler soft and romantic (You pick up your asthma inhaler and put it against your lips / Oh those lips I’ve loved / They’re so red and soft/ I’m so sorry I couldn’t love you enough) Lykke’s song writing achieves the same end, by inviting the listener into her world, and taking them through what feels like a very natural and intimate thought process.
“Little Bit” is a song about how hard she finds it to tell the guy she’s seeing that she loves him; partially because she doesn’t know if she does, and partially because she’s scared he won’t say it back to her. She starts out the song boldly saying “Hands down, I’m too proud for love” – unfortunately, I hear that one every time I try to close a deal at Alfie’s. But by the end of the song, it seems very natural when she says “I will do it, push the button, pull the trigger, climb a mountain, jump off a cliff ’cause you’re my baby / I love you love you a little bit.” All that emotion (or as R. Kelly would call it “real talk”) set to an infectious beat, makes this song a must have. The video is pretty cool too, directed by Mattias Montero.
Tags: Lykke Li