Photograph by Sarah Odriscoll

Photograph by Sarah Odriscoll

Once a year, the Ca Va Cool writing team packs their favourite records from the past twelve months into the trunk of the car and journeys to an unassuming silo somewhere in the Ontario countryside to duke it out.* Today, we emerge from this lost weekend with a consensus: our twenty best albums of 2013. With 10 writers contributing to the list, the bottom half is as eclectic as ever; from rap veterans to young folk songstresses, noisy British debuts to even noisier British follow-ups 20 years in the making, Ca Va Cool heroes of studio and stage developing their sound to breakout bands to look out for, and yes, even Danny Brown. Listening to the entire album is always ideal, but we’ve included links to our top tracks to enjoy as you read. Check back later this week for the conclusion of our list.

*It’s 2013, people; we just argued in a Facebook thread.

Run the Jewels

20. Run the Jewels

Considering it only took a year for El-P and Killer Mike to release another collaboration following the latter’s 2012 album R.A.P. Music, it’s hard to be surprised by the potency of this free 33 minute digital release. Really, all they needed to solidify their newfound friendship and undeniable chemistry was a name – Run the Jewels. It’s the mutual respect and admiration these two have for one another that has them consistently delivering such fluid and often staggering jabs. Mike bluntly declares how highly he thinks of El-P on second track “Banana Clipper”: “Producer gave me a beat, said it’s the beat of the year. I said El-P didn’t do it, so get the fuck outta here.” Despite the unmistakeable fury that can be found on any release by either artist, the pleasure they tuck in with that cynicism has never been more evident than when the two share rap duties. With both underground veterans’ wit on display throughout, boosted by some extra playful brutality, Run the Jewels is an album that both Company Flow and early Killer Mike fanatics and new fans can enjoy. — Jay Winer

Run the Jewels – Banana Clipper feat. Big Boi

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— , December 16, 2013    1 Comment

The festival concert is an interesting beast. They beguile you with their attractive band list (which look oh-so-impressive on the back of a t-shirt), their free-spirited collective nature between music lovers (slash, mass gathering of musical hippies/hipsters), and the promise of an excellent juxtaposition of genres. Although, there’s always another side. Between ferocious heat, growling crowds, and overpriced couscous, the three-day festivals bite back with a vengeance. Perhaps after a few different festivals, one acquires a sense of what they want over the course of the musical extravaganza, and not all of these expectations can be met. A few quick notes about Primavera Sound:

The setting: Fórum, by the Mediterranean Sea in Barcelona, Spain. The gusts of salty breeze were refreshing, but didn’t compensate for the lack of luscious grass as at Coachella or the abundant shade at Chicago’s Lollapalooza. Pavement ground covered with empty beer cups and cigarette butts just isn’t the same. Although the side program held in Parc Joan Miró – in an oasis of palm trees and a more personal feel with the band – was a different story.

The timing: Aside from the side-program, the shows didn’t start until the late afternoon/early evening. Likely, this is to avoid the stifling heat of the midday. That, and the Spaniards do things late (DJ Medhi’s set started at 4:30am!). I have mixed feelings about this. While I prefer the nighthawk approach, I think it leads to a tighter schedule with very unfortunate show overlap. On that note…

The scheduling: Oh God, why? Why were The Pains of Being Pure of Heart playing the same time as Carsick Cars, who were cut short by My Bloody Valentine? Gang Gang Dance with Sonic Youth? (Sarah’s personal nightmare). Andrew Bird and Phoenix? Deerhunter with my only opportunity to eat during the night? Sigh. It happens every time.

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— , June 8, 2009    10 Comments

Primavera es está en el aire, spring is in the air.  In Spain, anyway. (Thanks for Marc for the correction… clearly, my Spanish still has a ways to go!) Considering the pilgrimage to Coachella was a bit unmanageable this year, my summer concert festival will be Barcelona’s Primavera Sound 2009. The three-day tunesfest takes place may 28 to 30 (next week) and features a indie-packed international crew that will make your head spin. There are few names on the playbill that we haven’t yet spun here at Ca Va Cool, (as well as some old classics) so I thought I would do the honours and throw the records in the jukebox for all to hear. And, there’s a selection of favourites for good measure.

Download | Primavera Sound Festival 2009 Preview

girls-2

01 | Girls – Lust for Life / Lust for Life EP / 2009

Talk about an ingenious way to prevent pirating: Band name = Girls. EP name = Lust for Life. Search results = sketchy. I’m not even sure how to buy this EP, owing to my fear of opening any of the Google hits. But this track holds a lot of promise for the San Francisco group; irony, clarity, and levity. If anyone discovers the proper way to buy this album, comment away.

a-certain-ratio

02 | A Certain Ratio – Teri / Mind Made Up / 2008
03 | A Certain Ratio – Do the Du / Do the Du 12” / 1981

One of the original Factory Records post-punk bands, A Certain Ratio were featured in one of the best music movies ever, 24 Hour Party People. While maybe not explicitly named as one of the forerunners in the Madchester scene, they followed the wave by making the move into house music. Their most recent releases have been more-or-less modernized versions of their original sound, with some exceptions (like the dreamy ‘Teri’ included here).

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— , May 23, 2009    5 Comments