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

Photograph by Erin Algiere

When first we heard from Tennis they had an incredible amount of positive buzz attached to their name. With only one single and a story that chronicled a long term romance filled with university life, sailing trips, and marriage, Tennis reached for the top of the blogosphere and generated the kind of hype that a major label’s marketing team can only dream of. But having a hit debut album can be both a blessing and a curse. Although Tennis received a considerable amount of praise for Cape Dory, they needed another well-received record to keep the momentum going.

With Young & Old, Tennis take a step in the right direction for their career. Young & Old is an album sitting on the fence between comfort and foreign territory. The best maturation processes take time and Tennis seem to understand this. Although we still hear their classic sound (‘Robin’ is a great example), compared to its predecessor, Young & Old has a sound that is more developed, and more meticulous in its production.

I chatted with guitarist Patrick Riley in September of last year about the future of Tennis, and it was then that he first commented about a new record in the works. Then December came along, and Tennis performed at the Biltmore Cabaret in Vancouver; this marked the first time Tennis had performed their new material in Vancouver. The addition of an extra touring musician, and a more confident front woman, signified that something was happening to the band as a whole. It was not so much a period of radical change, but rather a period of growth and development; they really couldn’t have named this album any better. Young & Old, nostalgic and new, the album will win the hearts of fans already attached to the surf-rock sounds, and it will also grab the attention of a considerable amount of first-time listeners. Vocalist Alaina Moore exemplifies a front woman who has discovered a new sense of confidence in her voice, ‘Petition’ and ‘Origins’ are the clearest examples of this.

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— , March 19, 2012    Comments Off on Tennis: Young & Old

September 3-5, 2011, Seattle, Washington — To say that I enjoyed myself at Bumbershoot 2011 would be an understatement. In their four years co-producing the event, One Reel & AEG Live have truly achieved something special incorporating numerous venues inside the seventy-four-acre Seattle Centre over labour day weekend. Bumbershoot’s greatest assets are its use of space, the variety of musical acts, presentations of other mediums of art, Paul Allen’s Experience Music Project, and beer gardens with great stage views.

On the first day, Seattle sextet Pickwick played two dazzling shows filled with their mixture sultry garage hodgepodge, while Swedish act Little Dragon had the crowd dancing on the Fisher Green stage. Adorned in gold clothing and electric blue shoes, vocalist Yukimi Nagano pranced around the stage, perfectly in sync with the synthpop being generated from her bandmates. Ray LaMontagne and his backing band the Pariah Dogs closed the evening with their soulful folk, playing hits such as ‘Jolene’, ‘Beg, Steal or Borrow’, and ‘Trouble’.

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— , September 19, 2011    2 Comments

Last week I posted twelve of my recent favourite tracks, seven of which were by Californians, earning the mixtape the name California Sunrise. It varied from electropop to reggae and soca-infused funk and there’s an equal variety to be found in part 2 of the Summer mixtape series. If part 1 was the build-up, then part 2 is the break-down. I’ve tried to stack this mix with a few more mellow jams on the back-end, to pair with those inevitable late-July lamentations of the “summer’s half over already!” variety. Youth Lagoon is a fantastic band name and a fictitious place that I’d like to go to one day. If I did, here’s what I imagine it would sound like:

Download | Youth Lagoon Mixtape

Trey Songz vs. Cut Copy – Invented You Now (The Hood Internet Mash-Up)

I don’t think I know how to make a mix without a good Hood Internet mash-up. Here the duo take Cut Copy’s ‘Need You Now’ from their fantastic new album Zonoscope and mix it with R&B crooner Trey Songz’ immortal ‘You Gon Think I Invented Sex’. I watched an interview where Songz decoded his metaphorical lyrics for the audience, explaining that “the song is about how I lay pipe so good that you gon think I invented sex, even though I didn’t, feel me?” Yes Trey, we feel you. Particularly when the vocals from your track with Canadian-pride Drake are over-top of this brilliantly chopped up Cut Copy beat.

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— , July 20, 2011    2 Comments