We’re back again and this year going straight for the heavy hitters. Amongst our 10 favourite albums of the past year you’ll find American rap finding a new voice and hitting its poetic stride, both timeless and timely mini-symphonies, stripped-back and emotive electronic albums from England and Australia, and your required dosage of slacker rock. Without further ado, please enjoy Ca Va Cool’s best albums of 2015.
10. Kurt Vile – b’lieve i’m goin down…
At Pitchfork Festival this past summer, after torrential downpour followed by inhumane sun, Kurt Vile attempted to reclaim the mood from a harried audience. Despite an equipment malfunction, he still took time to greet his audience down in the muck, shaking hands and sharing smokes. It’s this personal appeal that fills his newest, most accessible record, b’lieve i’m goin down. On standout track, “Pretty Pimpin”, Vile rides a cascading guitar riff and speaks of his inability to recognize himself in the mirror and his detachment from the world around him, as swirling keyboards contemplate his panting vocals. Despite this emotional jumping off point, “Kidding Around” then talks about the meaninglessness of his lyrics and the importance of the “sound of the song.” True, his guitars twang and echo through the ambient heartland Vile has cultivated over his career, but his stinging sentiments about his place in the world are impossible to ignore. Despite his protests (or relentless rain), we can’t help but “care about the meaning of [his] songs”; Kurt Vile is here at his most affective and personal. — Anthony Boire
YouTube: Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin
Seasons heavily affect the kind of music I listen to. For a few summers now I’ve turned to synth-driven electro, rock and pop to guide me through a variety of romps, walkabouts, dance parties, swims and trips. Synths feel like bright happy colours. I don’t really care about their rampant over-usage of anything and everything from indie to hip hop these days. They still make me giddy and amplify my summer experiences more than either Bang or Olufsen could. In this vein I’ve put together a playlist of lovely synth-esque music which I hope will be a nice companion to your Summer adventures.
Download | The ‘Summer in Synths’ Mixtape
One of the most interesting songs of the year so far, Gold Panda sample the distinct sounds of a sitar and fuse choral raga chants with gimmicky DJ chops and skips over top of a steady hand clap rhythm. It’s world music gone nutty, and while it may not be the best song to play at a party, it’s a nice headphone banger.
“These girls fall like dominos,” Robbie Furze repeats on the British duo The Big Pink’s fourth single – wishful thinking, at least for this guy. The song’s got anthemic qualities and is sure to help the band blow before disappearing into Much Music’s “One Hit Wonders” territory. Good luck Big Pink, and thank you for this song that Blink 182 and MGMT are somehow both going to wish they’d made first.
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
Tags: Arcade Fire, Band of Horses, Basia Bulat, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Feist, Handsome Furs, Jens Lekman, Justice, LCD Soundsystem, M.I.A., Miracle Fortress, Panda Bear, Radiohead, Shout Out Louds, Spoon, Stars, The Cribs, The National, The New Pornographers, The Shins, The Teenagers, Tokyo Police Club, Two Hours Traffic
Maybe it’s a romantic connection with some bygone rural era, Mother Nature serving as a glorious muse, or a malignant environmental conspiracy of epic proportions (I’m looking at you Al Gore), but I’m finding a naturalistic / animalistic theme running through a lot of my favorite music. Whether its Andrew Birds, Grizzly Bears, or Alligators, I am feeling as much of a connection with nature as my crippling pollen allergy will allow.
However, there is one group of creatures I feel the need to focus on – Animal Collective. I recently picked up Strawberry Jam, feeling that I would experience the same affinity for that recording as I had for band member Panda Bear’s excellent Person Pitch. Fun fact; apparently Person Pitch is a pun based off of the title of the obvious Panda Bear influencing record Pet Sounds (Get it? Get it? Lame as puns go apparently. Look out for another lame pun at the end of this article).
Anyhow, getting to the music at hand, let me first say that I truly admire these two projects for their unbridled creativity and willingness to push sonic boundaries. Person Pitch simply must be heard to be believed. Made by singing overtop of samples sounding like old Phil Spector, 60s girl group, and dub records, Panda Bear (aka. Noah Lennox) has created a record that is simultaneously innovative, nostalgic, and beautiful. Standouts include the second half of Take Pills and the tear-inducing (In a good way) chorus on Bros.
As for Strawberry Jam, I must say, I am slightly disappointed, but only slightly. The record is as original a work as Person Pitch, but with a much broader sonic palette. Band members Geologist, Avey Tare, and Deakin (yes, those are how their names are listen, along with Panda Bear, an enterprising bunch) create textures and layers of noise that prefer a build and swell approach to traditional note or key changes. Check out Fireworks or Peacebone for perfect examples of this. However, despite this breadth of sound, Avey Tare’s vocals are a standout weak point. By alternating between a playful singing tone and full throat screams, even within the same sentence, Avey Tare juxtaposes a vocal style suited for the dignified genre of mall-emo (yeah, I said it, want to fight?) against perfectly constructed music, which is highly unfortunate. It’s easy to see where the improvement the band would have if Panda Bear sang all the tracks, especially on the exceptional number Chores.
I hope I haven’t ruffled too many feathers with this Animal Collective article (See? So many puns). Check out the track below for your listening pleasure.