Photograph by Dustin Condren

Photograph by Dustin Condren

You’ve read the first half of our best albums of the year, but in the final hours of 2014, we’ll be listening to the music that really gets us going. This past year that meant Scandinavians of both the funky and bleak variety, an existential stoner from Montreal, and an aging punk with dance moves made for broadcast television. There were modern classic albums of sumptuous techno minimalism and the Philadelphia power chords that soundtracked the year. But it was a Canadian indie stalwart who after a decade of fine releases has finally, truly come in to his own – getting points from every one of our writers and solidly becoming Ca Va Cool’s best album of 2014.

Photograph by Victoria Davis

Photograph by Victoria Davis

10. Ought – More Than Any Other Day

For a short while, Montreal’s Ought have burnt brightly, if a little coldly. On their previous EP New Calm, they sounded like a strained David Byrne backed by Joy Division. Now, shouting life-affirming mantras like, “Today more than any other day I am excited to go grocery shopping!” seems be a staple of Ought’s music. With their uplifting LP debut More Than Any Other Day, Ought firmly cement themselves as a positively unmissable act. Throughout both of their latest Toronto shows, Tim Beeler, who commits his talent to guitar and vocals, flailed and shimmied his way through their rhythmic and hypnotic set. Ought affirms that they are, as they put it, a “Habit”, and their frantic energy is palpable in each note and groove they bring on More Than Any Other Day. — Anthony Boire

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— , December 31, 2014    Comments Off on Best Albums of 2014, Pt. 2

Photograph by Handsome Joel Hansen

The holidays tend to be rife with tension, and our Ca Va Cool family is no exception. Picking only 20 albums from 2010’s offerings is tricky; every year, some fantastic records/EPs/tracks are overlooked. Our super-secret ranking process starts from civilized debate and degenerates into name-calling, tantrums and sulking. To pacify the whiners and to give you, the readers, more awesome music, we present our 2010 mixtape. Happy 2011!

Download | The Ca Va Cool 2010 Mixtape – Disc One

01. School of Seven Bells – Windstorm
02. Titus Andronicus – Theme from “Cheers”
03. Sharon Van Etten – Love More
04. Harlem – Someday Soon
05. Baths – Hall
06. Gorillaz – Empire Ants feat. Little Dragon
07. The Black Keys – Unknown Brother
08. Wye Oak – My Creator
09. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Can’t Hear My Eyes
10. Superchunk – Everything at Once

Download | The Ca Va Cool 2010 Mixtape – Disc Two

01. Library Voices – Haunt This House
02. A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Drink Drank Drunk
03. Young Man – Up So Fast
04. Owen Pallett – Scandal at the Parkade
05. Future Islands – Long Flight
06. The Morning Benders – Excuses
07. Gold Panda – India Lately
08. Jenny and Johnny – My Pet Snakes
09. Lindstrøm & Christabelle – Lovesick
10. Spoon – Got Nuffin’

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— , December 31, 2010    Comments Off on The Ca Va Cool Mixtape 2010
Photograph by Autumn De Wilde

Photograph by Autumn De Wilde

In the pirate blogosphere culture of our recently ushered in decade, it can be hard to keep an album under wraps. Just ask Spoon. With whispers of leaks plaguing the unveiling of Transference, they moved up the North American release date of their seventh album to January 19, seven days ahead of schedule, even featuring a stream on NPR’s First Listen to satiate the clamouring internet crowds. The hype is not surprising, given the wait between their latest LP and 2007’s critically acclaimed Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Frontman Britt Daniels has a history of pushing the average pop/rock listener slightly out of their comfort zone through Spoon’s edgy vibes. Transference pushes the boundaries in a different way than expected: not an in your face return album, but with Spoon’s flair for paring the music down.

The album starts off with eerie organs, gradually joined by a variable fidelity track of Daniels’ unique yelped singing and sparsely strummed guitar. When the vocal layering comes in mid-track, I wonder if the album would have been more appropriately titled Transcendence. Shiver inducing. Most of the remaining tracks bounce with uncomplicated but well-executed structures (‘Is Love Forever?’, ‘Mystery Zone’), in Spoon’s classic style. To me, the anthemic ‘Got Nuffin’ (previously released as an EP in June 2009) feels the most like a big ticket production number; this album’s answer to ‘The Underdog’. Then comes ‘Who Makes Your Money’, its stripped-down synth and digitized vocals reminiscent of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga’s ‘The Ghost of You Lingers’.

A significant detractor is the comparative scarcity of Spoon’s standard quirky lyrical play. Daniels’ normally quick-witted one man banter is seemingly replaced with blatant proclamations and undecorated honesty. Take the aptly titled ‘Nobody Gets Me Like You’ for example: “No one gets what I’m doing/Everyone else seems to look through it/Oh, but maybe I never wanted them to/Couldn’t count on it anyway/Nobody gets me/Nobody cuts me like you.” There’s still something ensnaring about Britt’s boldfaced approach, as if he gets to the point of the songs without clouding them with words.

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— , January 19, 2010    3 Comments

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

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— , December 25, 2007    4 Comments

The National

So, I read Pitchfork a lot.  And by a lot I of course mean daily.  And by daily I of course mean whenever my Profs become less than adequately engaging.  Thus, I get a lot of my musical stylings from Pitchfork recommendations, especially the ‘Best New Music’ list.  However, on occasion, it’s difficult to cut through the hype to see which records are actually worth spinning and which records are simply getting positive reviews because the writer knows a guy who knows a guy who robs a guy who plays in, say, Vampire Weekend (although I’m really getting into their demos).  As Ca Va Cool Contributor / Headmaster / Generalissimo Dan suggested, I will be attempting today to cut through the hype with a clear head, open ears, and biting satirical wit.  I will be giving you guys the top three records from 2007 that deserved the Pitchfork hype, and the top three records from 2007 that did not deserve the Pitchfork hype.

Records that Deserved the Hype:

The National – Boxer

Put simply, I think that this is one of the great records of this decade, taking a place alongside Is This It?, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Elephant, Turn On The Bright Lights, etc. etc. (you can insert your record of choice here to avoid argument).  On Boxer, Matt Berninger crafts intensely personal stories in a more understated manner than on Alligator.  However, what Berninger loses in ‘jaw drop factor’ he makes up for in understated beauty and one of the most accurate accounts of modern American life yet put to vinyl.  Further, Boxer features beautiful orchestral arrangements that complement the band’s instrumentation while never overshadowing it.  I could continue on for pages upon pages, but I won’t.  I will simply ask you to pick up this record as soon as possible (get yourself a Christmas gift, you deserve it).

The National – Brainy

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— , December 16, 2007    7 Comments