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
UPDATE: This contest is now closed, the winner has been notified by email.
Flawlessly able to cross back and forth between reverb-ridden classic rock and low fidelity sludge, Kurt Vile’s presence alone would be enough to make this a classic show, but completing the best one-two punch tour of recent memory are New Jersey natives and fellow lo-fi stalwarts Real Estate. If you’re the type that was slightly disappointed by Dum Dum Girls, eagerly await Best Coast, and don’t think there’s anything ridiculous about Chillwave besides the title, then this is definitely the show for you. There have been some truly phenomenal releases in the past couple of years on labels like Woodsist, In the Red, Captured Tracks, and eventually Matador for some, but at the forefront of all these new acts you’ll find Vile and Real Estate, who have managed to release accomplished albums without losing any of their DIY sensibilities.
To win a pair of tickets to see Kurt Vile and Real Estate at the Great Hall next Tuesday, July 20, send an email to email@example.com with “The Great Kurt Vile” in the subject line and your full name in the body. This contest closes Sunday, July 18 at midnight. To find other great shows, check out Collective Concerts.
I arrived at a surprisingly packed Horseshoe on March 14 without expectations. I had seen Real Estate open for Girls the last time they were in Toronto, but had never seen Woods live, and wasn’t sure how their music would translate to the setting. Both proved to be way better in person than I was expecting.
Real Estate took the stage first, opening with their self-titled album’s opener, ‘Beach Comber’. Their jangling guitars had some people swaying along, but it wasn’t until their last song that the crowd seemed to get into it. They played a few new songs that make their next record sound very promising in my mind, one even featured what was probably their best vocal melody yet. It’s always good to see a new band with a lot of hype touring with new songs that sound better than their past songs. By the time they closed their set with ‘Fake Blues’, the crowd was alive and moving, something that can be hard to get a Toronto audience to do.
Woods were up next, and as soon as I saw them pull out their gear and set up, I could tell I would be in for something different than what I was expecting from them. Their setup included one member of the band sitting on the floor fidgeting with effects and strange sound loops. If you hadn’t seen him come out at the beginning, you would have never known he was even there. They kicked things off with a jam that lasted a good five minutes before their first proper song. I now understand the Neil Young comparisons that Woods frontman Jeremy Earl has been receiving. It seemed at times I was experiencing what Neil Young and Crazy Horse might have sounded like around Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. The crowd favourite was probably ‘Rain On’, but it was the ten minute jam near the end of their set that had me captivated. The texture and noise that makes their music so unique translated perfectly into a live show, and the sheer joy of watching Earl thrash out on his electric made this show quite the experience.