Like we always do at this time, today Ca Va Cool presents the 20 albums we collectively overplayed and played loud in 2012. The first half of our list includes some faithful R&B from the unlikely state of Colorado, past CVC favourites both noisey and subdued, psychedelic rock from the West coast of Australia, cinematic Neil Young covers, coming-of-age rap from the city of Compton, a new indie rock superduo of sorts, and turn of the century hipsters growing up. Don’t read too much into that last one, we’ll continue our list-making ways for years to come.

Photograph by Florian Reimann

20. How to Dress Well – Total Loss

It’s quite possible that 2012 will be remembered as the year that R&B re-entered the zeitgeist. It’s not only been an important year for the genre on a commercial level, but for the first time in decades we’ve been reminded of just how advancing it can be. Tom Krell, like his contemporaries Frank Ocean, Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd), Miguel, and Solange, is a vanguard, and Total Loss, his second LP, is a turning point, where R&B became less about a type of content and more about a type of sound, less rooted in the story of a race and more rooted in the story of a person. Krell is a white guy from Colorado who learned about R&B through a childhood affinity for Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson. On Total Loss he not only creates a beautiful and wrenching exploration of chronic depression, he also manages to deliver the single best ode to Houston since her passing, on album standout ‘& It Was You’. — Sal Patel

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— , December 18, 2012    1 Comment

After over a decade as a group, The Walkmen release their seventh studio album, Heaven, which further departs from their initial adolescent garage rock and cements their place as distinguished artists still singing of heartaches and hangovers, but also of friendship and introspection, all with a matured sence humility and hindsight. Heaven still holds true to The Walkmen’s iconic sound – filled with shimmering vintage guitars, reverbed drums, and upright pianos – but what sets it apart is its continuation of the adult themes introduced by You & Me and furthered by Lisbon.

The Walkmen’s history began even before they were prep school boys who moved to be a part of the “New York scene”. Their friendship evolved into a brotherhood that has professionally lasted over 12 years, with no signs of halting. Once youngsters who owed a substantial amount of recognition to an episode of The O.C. – during the show’s downward spiral which featured some of the best music ever – they no longer seem overtly concerned with drinking to a stupor and drunk-dialing ex-girlfriends. Although they may still dabble in delinquencies, they are no longer boys.

Hamilton Leithauser and his band mates — multi-instrumentalist Pete Bauer, guitarist Paul Maroon, drummer Matt Barrick and bassist Walter Martin – no longer all live in New York. They still record and tour as one, but these days the band is split up between Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. The Walkmen are men now, and they have new situations to deal with. There’s a substantial amount of inspiration that must come from weddings and births of children. On title track ‘Heaven’, vocalist Leithauser reflects on his band while he wishes his friends will never leave his side so that their “children will always hear, romantic tales of distant years”. Hard to believe that the boys who began their career with an album titled Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone would be so concerned about their children’s’ happiness, but I guess this is what happens when one grows up. I’ll have to take their word for it.

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— , June 13, 2012    Comments Off on The Walkmen: Heaven

Photograph by Tim Snow

Maybe I’m getting too old for festival concerts. Between slathering myself with SPF60, eating $5 hot dogs, running spastically between stages, cursing the overlapping schedule, being inundated with corporate sponsorship and drinking watery beer, I was caught between disillusionment and laughter toward the predictable pattern of music fests.

The Osheaga Music and Arts Festival is in its fifth year, and has swelled from 25,000 to over 50,000 attendees. Despite my opening tirade, Osheaga has plenty to offer: a grassy hill with convenient stage view, venues of varying size (from cozy small sets to mega concerts), performances for many tastes (from small Quebecois bands to…Snoop Dogg?), the ability to walk freely with your drinks (goodbye, beer tent!) and free underwear to anyone willing to provide American Apparel with their email address.

When surrounded by so much chaos, I seem to morph into a reactionary skeptic. I should subtitle this post “The Festival Concert in which Sabrina Becomes a Huge Indie Music Cynic.” So, I apologize ahead of time if any readers take my grumbling opinion personally. But here it is, Osheaga 2010.

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— , August 17, 2010    3 Comments