I confess I underrated House of Balloons when I first heard it. Discovering its potential and beauty in full took me few listens but I am not going to make the same mistake with Echoes of Silence, the third and last part of The Weeknd’s aka Abel Tesfaye’s game-changing cryptic R&B trilogy. It happens that The Weeknd is the real saviour of music as his ideas did not end with the brilliant House of Balloons. What is more, Echoes is his most coherent and solid release (and whisper it, probably the best). The pace comes tamed yet do not fear: the album bursts with great tracks. D.D. is a powerful cover of Dirty Diana by Michael Jackson. It seems now that all the comparisons to King of Pop were not out of place. Outside is way more introverted and is the finest of the string of four majestic songs that make up the core of the record. It has a great xylophone part that just fantastically collates with a deep bass. XO / The Host means a double eargasm. Initiation finds the singer dramatically striving against his demons. Finally, the beat of Same Old Song could be played for all eternity. The aura of darkness envelops those Echoes making the voice of Abel the light to happily get through.

hydrameter: 4/5

Key Tracks: D.D., Initiation, Outside, Same Old Song, XO / The Host

Listen to Outside: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umvomiY7804

It may be a little hard for Missy Elliott to regain the crown for the Queen of Hip-Hop taking into account the current star status of Nicki Minaj. Pink Friday performed extremely well and became one of the most talked about rap albums in a while. Yet, full of A-list appearances (Drake, Eminem, Kanye, Rihanna, and others) and perfectly produced, it disappointed some people. It is just they expected something different. The cover depicting the Trinidadian-born rapper as a Barbie did not come as ironic. Indeed, many of those tracks are of bubblegum nature as the whole LP turns in pop direction way too often. There is nothing wrong with sweet beats: Super Bass is simply excellent and no wonder it became Minaj’s signature tune. However, as almost any hip-hop album, Pink Friday is long and that dose of electropop makes it feel sugary and ultimately sickly. Still, Nicki begins strong with high spiritis of I’m the Best which is followed by even better Roman’s Revenge. On this fierce tune Minaj morphs into Roman Zolanski, one of her alter-egos. Roman is gay, lunatic and raah, raah, like a dungeon dragon – I can only wish he would come by more often. Surprisingly, Eminem’s lines (here as Slim Shady) are not irksome; his anger suits the song perfectly. On the other hand, there are two powerful ballads on Friday that demand extra attention: the drum’n’bass Save Me and the brilliantly Annie-Lennox’s-NoMoreILoveYou’s-sampled Your Love. If you want to buy this record, make sure you’ll go for the deluxe edition as it contains the mentioned Super Bass (the best thing here) and Muny whose electric guitar intro is especially appreciated. It is a shame that those tracks were pushed out in favour of some mediocre tunes from the second half of the LP.

hydrameter: 3/5

Key Tracks: I’m the Best, Muny, Roman’s Revenge, Save Me, Super Bass, Your Love

Watch Super Bass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JipHEz53sU&ob=av2e

You do not expect a polite language from a rapper but Rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome line is pretty hardcore. Goblin, the second LP by Tyler, The Creator (the leader of OFWGKTA, the alternative hip hop collective), is full of venom, (self-)hatred and frustration. Lyrics of bitches giving blow jobs and killing various individuals like stabbing Bruno Mars in his esophagus are as common as hunger in North Korea. Tyler raps over some spendid beats and drumming and does not spare anyone. The opening Goblin is pitiless but demands another listen. Transylvania sounds as if it had been produced by Count Dracula himself. Meanwhile, AU79 is a great instrumental interlude. And I do not have to introduce Yonkers, one of the key black music songs of the last 12 months. This album is dark and depressive but also weirdly enjoyable. Homophobic? Yes. Misogynic? Yes, sir. Very good? You should check for yourself.

hydrameter: 4/5

Key Tracks: Analog, AU79, Fish / Boppin’ Bitch, Goblin, Transylvania, Yonkers

Watch Yonkers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSbZidsgMfw

The first great song of 2012 has arrived! And it’s no surprise it’s by Grimes. Listen to Genesis here:

http://pitchfork.com/reviews/tracks/12927-genesis/

Meanwhile, the talented artist has to push back the premiere of her extra-anticipated LP Visions. The good news is she has signed to 4AD. Read more:

http://pitchfork.com/news/44967-grimes-signs-to-4ad-listen-to-new-track-genesis-from-visions/

If the whole album will be as good as Oblivion and Genesis, Visions will kill!!!!!!!!!!!!

After scoring a rather splendid album at the beginning of the year, Toro Y Moi added another release to his spotless collection. Freaking Out EP is a straight-to-dancefloor five-track haven for all those not tired of New Year’s Eve. Bundick did his best to make disco beats ooze from every second of his latest offering. However, I miss the experimental and psychedelic nature of his two albums. All Alone and Freaking Out can get you sweat yet they seem too obvious. Sweet, on the other hand, is a completely different story. Toro Y Moi chops his voice to gorgeous effects. The true showstopper is the final track, I Can Get Love. It is a trance-like club meditation on love that gives the middle finger to the sceptics.

hydrameter: 3/5

Key Tracks: I Can Get Love, Sweet

Listen to I Can Get Love: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYxtd9naca4

James Blake was undoubtedly one of the most acclaimed artists of the last year. No wonder a lot of people went crazy when it had been announced that he would make a track with Bon Iver, another critics’ favourite. The latter did even better in 2011: his album climbeb to number 2 in the US, received some bloody-fokken-awesome reviews across the globe and the singer-songwriter himself got 4 Grammy nods. Finally, Enough Thunder EP gets a release and… a lot of people simply shrug it off. Wrong! The fourth EP by Blake is not as exceptional as his debut but feels as a natural successor to it. If you liked (or loved, like me) James Blake, Enough Thunder will satisfy you. The opening Once We All Agree is a perfect introduction to this rather dark micro-universe. The instant power of this slow jam comes from a brilliant piano and electronic noise haunting like an echo. It breaks unexpectedly to give us We Might Feel Unsound which is more adventurous (still pretty gloomy, though). Not Long Now explores a similar ground. The mentioned collaboration with Bon Iver comes next. I find it charming, strangely getting close to folk at times. All those auto-tune objections are as lame as they are ridiculous. Fans of Feist’s Limit to Your Love should listen to songs four and six. The first one is another cover (Joni Mitchell this time): straightforward and not as forgettable as the closing track. 

hydrameter: 4/5

Key Tracks: Fall Creek Boys Choir, Not Long Now, Once We All Agree, We Might Feel Unsound

Watch A Case of You: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IG2E3qyFqsw&ob=av2e

2011 in review

January 1, 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

2011 Summary: Best Albums

December 22, 2011

So this is it. I give you 30 magnificent records that made 2011. They represent various genres, from electronica to R&B, from folk to New Age. Some of them were delivered by acclaimed artists while other by newcomers who wait for true recognition to come. Nevertheless, they have all taken me to places I just could imagine of. Emotions they evoked were different: sadness, euphoria, longing… What they all have in common is the passion behind them. I may have underrated few of them in my reviews but my ears have opened just in time. I believe you should listen to them (if you haven’t already). Thank you for reading and see you next year!

 

30. Zambri Glossolalia EP

http://www.undertheradarmag.com/news/listen_glossolalia_ep_by_zambri/

 

29. Baths Pop Music / False B-Sides

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOgU8EP0YDQ

 

28. St. Vincent Strange Mercy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iOniCjeCjE

 

27. Toro Y Moi Underneath the Pine

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4J6bFDvvwY&ob=av2e

 

26. Ford & Lopatin Channel Pressure

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0i8ScfOnjLs

 

25. Cities Aviv Digital Lows

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwV3mNpy9gM

 

24. Feist Metals

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2uVRMBD5RY&ob=av2n

 

23. EMA Past Life Martyred Saints

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dPIK9Qe7K4

 

22. Anna Calvi Anna Calvi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKVy0EVu2ZI

 

21. PJ Harvey Let England Shake

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1lFM1K8R1s&ob=av2n

 

20. Thao & Mirah Thao & Mirah

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m0IEC6Q4QM

 

19. Wild Beasts Smother

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPHQSWPjdk8

 

18. Atlas Sound Parallax

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rY5Uf4E0e4&ob=av2e

 

17. The Weeknd House of Balloons & Thursday

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ex38L8xtNI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdH1kXzquQo

 

16. Peaking Lights 936

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omGnzAd28YM

 

15. Zola Jesus Conatus

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7VhbL94WN0

 

14. Cat’s Eyes Cat’s Eyes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKPcOQinl50

 

13. John Maus We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMku-GbafEg

 

12. Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TTPGAy5H_E&ob=av2e

 

11. Austra Feel It Break

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LJtMrhb558&ob=av2e

 

10. Panda Bear Tomboy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plWq_XMT5i4

 

9. Oneohtrix Point Never Replica

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiwi7d0f91Y

 

8. Julianna Barwick The Magic Place

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H34gnFIpI-U

 

7. Chelsea Wolfe Ἀποκάλυψις

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wA5HbCtlbFM

 

6. James Blake James Blake

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOKXHzL6UVs&ob=av2e

 

5. Kate Bush 50 Words for Snow

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JoPFIWOONU

 

4. Grimes / d’Eon Darkbloom EP

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bWmLFaJA-Q

 

3. Cults Cults

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0pSo58K5aY

 

2. Gang Gang Dance Eye Contact

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_bkNR-zOn8

 

1. Björk Biophilia

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQiT9ibMw_c

2011 Summary: Best Tracks

December 21, 2011

These tracks wouldn’t stop playing in my brain all year long:

 

50. Prefuse 73 feat. Trish Keenan The Only Trial of 9000 Suns

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4U7GZSerUw

 

49. tUnE-yArDs Bizness

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQ1LI-NTa2s&ob=av2e

 

48. Zola Jesus Vessel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY9WUZZrTpw

 

47. SBTRKT feat. Little Dragon Wildfire

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-LEiOzXHWM

 

46. Björk Moon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=br2s0xJyFEM

 

45. Austra Shoot the Water

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgLCcPxNgNE

 

44. James Blake To Care (Like You)

http://vimeo.com/20366505

 

43. Kate Bush Song of Solomon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc-TCxTIHvQ

 

42. Britney Spears Hold It Against Me

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Edv8Onsrgg&ob=av2e

 

41. Gang Gang Dance MindKilla

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2R7k1_kOqvk

 

40. Katy B Broken Record

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oES929aenGc&ob=av2e

 

39. Low Try to Sleep

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXgc0I0zsYs&ob=av2e

 

38. Zambri On Call

http://www.undertheradarmag.com/news/listen_glossolalia_ep_by_zambri/

 

37. Purity Ring Lofticries

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tuKkeQDSek

 

36. Thao & Mirah feat. tUnE-yArDs Eleven

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m0IEC6Q4QM

 

35. St. Vincent Cruel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Itt0rALeHE8&ob=av2e

 

34. Hooray for Earth True Loves

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVwSP51KVO8&ob=av2n

 

33. James Blake I Never Learnt to Share

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSvb_jGwQ7s

 

32. Planningtorock The Breaks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWO9LweKzV8

 

31. St. Vincent Surgeon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGIbR5jdA58

 

30. Chelsea Wolfe Mer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjSkktZL7zk

 

29. Cults Never Heal Myself

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VG4FhNaikD8

 

28. Lykke Li I Follow Rivers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZYbEL06lEU&ob=av2e

 

27. Björk Cosmogony

http://stereogum.com/761851/bjork-cosmogony/mp3s/

 

26. Cat’s Eyes Over You

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWG-rW1cgps

 

25. The Weeknd The Knowing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJxOBXTFi6g

 

24. Grimes Vanessa

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxC2XLePDWQ

 

23. Austra Beat and the Pulse

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjKtbCx3piM&ob=av2e

 

22. Twin Sister Kimmi in a Rice Field

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emCw-rRU3Q4&ob=av2e

 

21. Cults Bad Things

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1WSC99ANnQ

 

20. James Blake The Wilhelm Scream

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isIABK-0ohQ&ob=av2e

 

19. Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris We Found Love

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg00YEETFzg&ob=av2e

 

18. Björk Crystalline

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvaEmPQnbWk

 

17. Cults You Know What I Mean

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_E2tS_7j8y4&ob=av2n

 

16. Cults Most Wanted

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMvdhVxSmg4

 

15. Oneohtrix Point Never Child Soldier

http://soundcloud.com/mexicansummer/09-child-soldier

 

14. Grimes Crystal Ball

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bWmLFaJA-Q

 

13. Purity Ring Belispeak

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mtjs2VibXA

 

12. Anna Calvi Blackout

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lo267BTLnZk&ob=av2e

 

11. Lykke Li Sadness Is a Blessing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xu-b3u5jDiU

 

10. Björk Thunderbolt

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vre4S5076wA

 

9. Grimes Oblivion

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5H-YlcMSbc

 

8. Ford & Lopatin I Surrender

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcAkjVKf2Ck

 

7. Chelsea Wolfe Movie Screen

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-CgpRo2E5o

 

6. The Weeknd High for This

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sX9DgavXiN4

 

5. Cults Abducted

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9i1MXHGB8g0&ob=av2e

 

4. Gang Gang Dance Thru and Thru

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjJ8IPDQk6Q

 

3. Björk Virus

http://vimeo.com/27401723

 

2. Julianna Barwick Prizewinning

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GSoPHO2M54

 

1. Purity Ring Ungirthed

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UpgisMDAoU

2011 Summary: Best Videos

December 20, 2011

Get a snack and something to drink, and prepare yourself for 25 mind-blowing videos. Featuring killer crocs, a possessed Japanese and one Pop Princess going really crazy…

 

Avey Tare Oliver Twist

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMk2vONzTNk&ob=av2e

 

Erykah Badu Gone Baby, Don’t Be Long

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osQbNZ3pOXI

 

Björk Crystalline

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvaEmPQnbWk

 

Anna Calvi Blackout

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lo267BTLnZk&ob=av2e

 

Die Antwoord Rich Bitch

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bdeizHM9OU

 

Fleet Foxes The Shrine / An Argument

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yAxIdkF2Qo

 

Gang Gang Dance MindKilla

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2R7k1_kOqvk

 

Grimes Crystal Ball

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bWmLFaJA-Q

 

Grimes Vanessa

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxC2XLePDWQ

 

Hercules and Love Affair Painted Eyes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRFCcITmcoI

 

Hooray for Earth True Loves

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVwSP51KVO8&ob=av2n

 

Is Tropical The Greeks

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xixbvp_is-tropical-the-greeks_music

 

Lykke Li I Follow Rivers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZYbEL06lEU&ob=av2e

 

Lykke Li Sadness Is a Blessing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xu-b3u5jDiU

 

Low Try to Sleep

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXgc0I0zsYs&ob=av2e

 

M83 Midnight City

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX3k_QDnzHE

 

Frank Ocean Novacane

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMfPJT4XjAI&ob=av2e

 

Panda Bear Alsatian Darn

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yvOYoNrzWM&ob=av2e

 

Purity Ring Lofticries

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tuKkeQDSek

 

SBTRKT feat. Little Dragon Wildfire

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-LEiOzXHWM

 

Britney Spears Hold It Against Me

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Edv8Onsrgg&ob=av2e

 

The Weeknd The Knowing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJxOBXTFi6g

 

Chelsea Wolfe Mer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjSkktZL7zk

 

Youth Lagoon Montana

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IKPT30jOJw

 

Zola Jesus Vessel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY9WUZZrTpw

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