Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Big Beat 'cast 36: Wrapping Up 2011

My final Big Beat 'cast aired last week on DIY Radio so if you missed it, here it is. It's my final look back at 2011, spinning a few more of my favorite tunes of the year.  But after spending a few weeks doing nothing but looking back, I’d been itching to get back to playing new music so I’ve sprinkled in newly released tunes from SLEIGH BELLS, DAJANGO DJANGO, SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS, HEARTLESS BASTARDS, a brilliant James Blake cover by THE BAMBOOS and more.  Thanks to everyone for listening to and supporting The Big Beat in 2011.  I hope you had a Merry Christmas and will have a safe and Happy New Year. I’ll be back next week with a brand new show loaded with more new music.   

THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART "Belong" (Slumberland), from Belong
SLEIGH BELLS "Born To Lose" (Mom + Pop), from Reign Of Terror
HIGH PLACES "Year Off" (Thrill Jockey), from Original Colors
DJANGO DJANGO "Default" (Because), from Django Django
HEARTLESS BASTARDS "Parted Ways" (Partisan), from Arrow
NEKO CASE & NICK CAVE "She’s Not There" (WaterTower), from True Blood, Vol. 3
THE FIELD "It’s Up There" (Kompakt), from Looping State of Mind
MILAGRES "Glowing Mouth" (Kill Rock Stars), from Glowing Mouth
THE WHIP "Movement" (Southern Fried), from Wired Together
SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS "The Night" (Vagrant / Ghostly), from Ghostory
MEMORYHOUSE "The Kids Were Wrong" (Sub Pop), from The Slideshow Effect
LINDI ORTEGA "All My Friends" (Last Gang), from Little Red Boots
ICEAGE "White Rune" (What's Your Rupture?), from New Brigade
SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS "Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects" (Daptone), single
ANNA CALVI "I’ll Be Your Man" (Domino), from Anna Calvi (SPIN performance video)
JAMES BLAKE "Limit To Your Love" (Universal Republic), from James Blake
THE BAMBOOS FEAT. MEGAN WASHINGTON "The Wilhelm Scream" (Tru Thoughts), single
THE HISTORY OF APPLE PIE "Mallory" (Rough Trade), single (video)
THE GO! TEAM "Buy Nothing Day" (Memphis Industries), from Rolling Blackouts
PJ HARVEY "The Words That Maketh Murder" (Vagrant), from Let England Shake
THE NATIONAL"Exile Vilify" (self-released), from the videogame Portal 2
KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS "Hauntin’ Me" (Transparent), single
SHAPES HAVE FANGS "Rattle and Confuse Me" (self-released), from Dinner In The Dark
SHARON VAN ETTEN "Serpents" (Jagjaguwar), from Tramp
ELEPHANT "Actors" (Memphis Industries), from “Allured”/”Actors” single
MOON DUO "Mazes" (Sacred Bones), from Mazes

Music via: mu-zique, The Last Python, Stereogum, Les Marchands de Bonbons, Rolling Stone, Music Is Art, Earmilk, ilictronix, Pitchfork, Austin Town Hall  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Song from Nneka "My Home"

Most of you know that after WOXY closed down, I stepped away from absorbing new music in mass quantities for a while. I reintroduced myself to my existing collection and as a result, didn't feel up to compiling a Top 20 for 2010 (sad face). Nonetheless a few albums managed to penetrate my consciousness during this time, one of which was the American debut from Nneka, a Nigerian-born German singer. Concrete Jungle was a compilation of her work to date, and served as a fine introduction to her hip-hop flavored R&B. She returns with a new disc Soul Is Heavy on February 28th. Watch, listen and/or download the first single "My Home".

Nneka - My Home by DeconRecords

LISTEN: The Big Beat's Top 30 of 2011 (TBB'cast 35)

Here's the complete list. Click above to hear my countdown of the Top 20 as it aired on DIY Radio.

#1 - #10, #11 - #20, #21 - #30

1. Anna Calvi Anna Calvi
2. Yuck Yuck
3. Wild Flag Wild Flag
4. The Black Keys El Camino
5. Washed Out Within and Without
6. TV On The Radio Nine Types Of Light
7. Lindi Ortega Little Red Boots
8. Not In The Face Bikini
9. Dum Dum Girls Only In Dreams
10. The Feelies Here Before

11. Braids Native Speaker
12. Widowspeak Widowspeak
14. WU LYF Go Tell Fire To The Mountain
15. Loomer Ceiling
16. Ringo Deathstarr Colour Trip
17. Rumer Seasons Of My Soul
18. Cults Cults
19. Raphael Saadiq Stone Rollin'
20. I Break Horses Hearts

21. Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes
22. The Weeknd House Of Balloons
23. Elbow Build a Rocket Boys!
24. Radiohead The King of Limbs
25. Other Lives Tamer Animals
26. Mogwai Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
27. Kate Bush 50 Words For Snow
28. Girl In A Coma Exits & All The Rest
29. The Horrors Skying
30. James Blake James Blake

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Big Beat's Top Albums of 2011: #1 - #10

To recap, here's #11-#20 and #21-#30. But now, here's the Top 10....

10. THE FEELIES Here Before (Bar None)

After reforming in 2008, their first album in 20 years picks up right where they left off. Their signature sound remains intact: jangly, nervy guitar pop that owes more than a bit to The Velvet Underground at their most melodic. The aptly named Here Before finds them energized, with the impression there’s more to come.

[MP3] The Feelies "Should Be Gone" 

9. DUM DUM GIRLS Only In Dreams (Sub Pop)

The clad-in-black L.A. quartet debuted last year with I Will Be, filled with short, fuzzy, lo-fi songs that were equal parts Ramones, Ronettes, and Jesus & Mary Chain. The cleaner production on Only In Dreams firms up some rough edges while losing none of the urgency and serves to let some sunlight into their sound. Still clad in black, now sporting shades.

[MP3] Dum Dum Girls "Coming Down"

8. NOT IN THE FACE Bikini (Electric Factory)

Austin’s Jonathan Terrell & Wes Cargal concoct a barroom-ready brew of self-described ‘punkabilly blues’ that mixes Paul Westerberg, Jon Spencer, Jack White and the Black Keys that’ll have you knockin’ back round after round.

[MP3] Not In The Face "Downtown Girl"

7. LINDI ORTEGA Little Red Boots (Last Gang)

Ortega’s a Canadian alt-country singer born to a Mexican musician father and a mother of Irish heritage. Her music has the requisite amount of twang but with enough of a pop edge that she’s earned the name “Indie Lindi” back home. A bit sassy and sounding juuust a little like Dolly, you won’t hear Ms. Parton purr quite like Ortega does on the title cut.

[MP3] Lindi Ortega "Little Red Boots"

6. TV ON THE RADIO Nine Types of Light (Interscope)

Arriving after a short hiatus that allowed members to work on other projects, TVOTR's 4th disc is largely a mellower affair, stripped of the angst that dotted earlier releases. Still, their mix of post-punk, late night grooves and soulful introspection make an intoxicating potion. An interesting kick off to the band’s second act.

[MP3] TV On The Radio "Second Song"

5. WASHED OUT Within and Without (Sub Pop)

The crowning achievement of the chillwave movement may be the debut from Perry, Ga.'s Ernest Greene. Looping electronic beats atop synthesized ambient sounds, it’s a direct descendent of the lush dream pop and reverb-laden shoegazing of the 80’s and 90s. Within and Without is warm and soothing with enough bounce to give it a little pop.

[MP3] Washed Out "Before"

4. THE BLACK KEYS El Camino (Nonesuch)

Superstars-in-waiting following last year’s Brothers, the Ohio duo hit it out of the park with a big sounding, end of year party record. Taut and lean with only one song over 4 minutes, the Keys’ embellish their brand of Rust Belt blues ‘n’ boogie by adding a few more 70’s style riffs aided by a chorus of backing vocals that's best exhibited on “Lonely Boy”.

[MP3] The Black Keys "Lonely Boy"

3. WILD FLAG Wild Flag (Merge)

Whoda thunk one of the CD's of the year came from an all-female quartet whose average age is 40? Carrie Brownstein penned an article two years ago lamenting the rise in popularity of mostly bearded men making very sensitive music. She and her bandmates made a melodic, post-riot grrrl kick in the pants full of meaty, muscular riffs that revels in its exuberance.

[MP3] Wild Flag "Romance"

2. YUCK Yuck (Fat Possum)

If originality ├╝ber alles were your standard, it’d be easy to dismiss the debut from this London-based quartet.  Daniel Blumberg and Max Bloom's songwriting ultimately wins the day, crafting an album that sounds like a pastiche of early 90’s alt-rock (Dinosaur Jr., Teenage Fanclub) and plays like a collection of chart-worthy singles, failing to live up to its name.

[MP3] Yuck "Holing Out"

1. ANNA CALVI Anna Calvi (Domino)

Calvi’s debut is a rich, slightly gothic soundtrack with songs of love, lust, and Lucifer. Blessed with a huge, soaring voice and influenced by film, classical music and flamenco guitar, her music has a dark, sensual quality that’s drawn comparison to PJ Harvey and Patti Smith. It was my favorite record upon release early in the year and stayed so throughout.

[MP3] Anna Calvi "Blackout"

The list of the entire Top 30 is after the jump.

The Big Beat's Top Albums of 2011: #11 - #20

Jump back for #21-#30 or forward to view the Top 10.

20. I BREAK HORSES Hearts (Bella Union)

[MP3] I Break Horses "Winter Beats"

19. RAPHAEL SAADIQ Stone Rollin' (Columbia)

[MP3] Raphael Saadiq "Stone Rollin'"

18. CULTS Cults (Columbia)

[MP3] Cults "Go Outside"

17. RUMER Seasons Of My Soul (Atlantic)

A 2010 UK release that was scheduled to come out in the US late in 2011. After promo copies were mailed, the release date was pushed back to Jan. 2012.

[MP3] Rumer "Slow"

16. RINGO DEATHSTARR Colour Trip (Sonic Unyon)

[MP3] Ringo Deathstarr "So High"

15. LOOMER Ceiling (Bon Voyage)

A November 2010 Australian release that is n/a on the US iTunes store and Spotify.

[MP3] Loomer "Ceiling"

14. WU LYF Go Tell Fire To The Mountain (LYF)

[MP3] WU LYF "Dirt"


[MP3] SBTRKT "Wildfire"

12. WIDOWSPEAK Widowspeak (Captured Tracks)

[MP3] Widowspeak "Gun Shy"

11. BRAIDS Native Speaker (Kanine)

[MP3] Braids "Lemonade"

The Bamboos - "The Wilhelm Scream" (James Blake cover)

Here's reason #52,864 why I love curated (read: DJ) radio:  I hear something that makes an instant connection, and then I'm off trolling the web to find out more.  I love the immediacy of hearing it, falling for it, wanting more right then and now.  As a radio host and blogger, the next step is to play it for you. 

So, props to fellow DIY Radio host Nick Taylor (no relation) for dropping this stunner during his Unmapped show yesterday.  Self-described as Australia's "greatest modern funk and soul band", The Bamboos strike me as fitting nicely alongside the Dap-Kings and Budos Band on the Daptone label.   Here's their soulful take on James Blake's "The Wilhelm Scream" released as a one-off limited edition single, aided by Aussie indie/jazz singer Megan Washington (who records as Washington).

[MP3] The Bamboos feat. Megan Washington "The Wilhelm Scream"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Big Beat's Top Albums of 2011: #21 - #30

Random thoughts on the year-end best of  list....

- I love this stuff.  Our year end roundtable at WOXY was one of my favorite things we ever did although, admittedly, probably the most self-indulgent.  Music nerdness run amok, but the best fly-on-the-wall experience we could give.  If you liked the inside baseball aspect of it, then you probably dug it.  Mind you, it was programmed to fill space during the holidays and given its length, did so in spades.  

- 2011 was a pretty damn good year in music.  But, as is usually the case for me, I tend to spend more time seeking out what's next than staying put on what's just been found (i.e. the 'next' of months prior).  This represents what stayed with me and as a result, what I reached for the most.  As this blog - and podcast - tends to favor new music from, in particular, emerging artists, there's no reason to be surprised that debut records comprise a large chunk of the list.   To that end, I'll admit to not showing an equal level of interest for new music from artists that failed to grab my attention previously.  A cursory spin, perhaps, but without a compelling first track to hook me, the time or curiosity usually isn't there.

- Try as I might, it was impossible to get to all of even the most well reviewed records of the year.  But isn't that always the case.  Made a good run at a lot of 'em these past few weeks, I did.  In the end, this is very representative of what I've featured on the blog/show.  Traditionally, I've only done a Top 20 and that's why these are separated out yet still worth sharing.

As for the big reveal?  I'll countdown the The Big Beat's Top 20 of 2011 Tuesday at 4p Eastern, 3p Central (2100 GMT) on DIY Radio, and then post 'em here on the site upon its completion.             

And now, on with the countdown....

30. JAMES BLAKE James Blake (Universal Republic)

[MP3] James Blake "The Wilhelm Scream"
29. THE HORRORS Skying (XL / Beggars)

[MP3] The Horrors "Moving Further Away"
28. GIRL IN A COMA Exits & All The Rest (Blackheart)

[MP3] Girl In A Coma "Smart"
27. KATE BUSH 50 Words For Snow (Fish People / EMI)

[MP3] Kate Bush "Wild Man" (Radio Edit)
26. MOGWAI Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will (Sub Pop)

[MP3] Mogwai "Mexican Grand Prix"
25. OTHER LIVES Tamer Animals (tbd)

[MP3] Other Lives "Tamer Animals"
24. RADIOHEAD The King of Limbs (tbd)

[MP3] Radiohead "Separator"
23. ELBOW Build a Rocket Boys! (Fiction / Polydor)

[MP3] Elbow "Neat Little Rows"
22. THE WEEKND House Of Balloons (self-released)

[MP3] The Weeknd "House of Balloons - Glass Table Girls"
21. LYKKE LI Wounded Rhymes (Atlantic)

[MP3] Lykke Li "Get Some"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Big Beat 'cast 34: (Some of) My Favorite Songs of 2011

That's right - only some, at least this week anyway. Once I started getting mapping out everything I really dug and wanted to feature, I realized two hours wasn't going to do it. So, consider this merely Part One. Next week, I'll count down my Top 20 albums of 2011 and then circle back to finish off my favorite songs the following week, just in time for Christmas. That'll make 4 programs covering this past year. That oughta do it.

You can hear the show on DIY Radio today at 4pm Eastern, 3p Central & 2100 BST to hear the show but alas, if you're unable to or just can't wait, press play below.

As the year winds to a close, a heartfelt thanks from me for giving some of your time and attention to my little blog and podcast. It's truly a labor of love and I'm always flattered by your kind words and comments. Additionally, I'm incredibly fortunate to have a few platforms to share music and words, via DIY Radio from London (eternal gratitude to Stephen & Harriet) and KUT here in Austin, only the best damn radio station in Texas. That's a pretty good combo if I do say so myself.

So, on to my favorites of 2011...I'm reluctant to call 'em 'the best' (even if I think they are): that's for you to decide. Some of these might very well be repeated next week as being representative of a favorite album but then again, there are some albums I'll be ranking that probably doesn't yield a favorite song. It'll be that the record as a whole got to me, rather than one song.  Check back next week for that.

(Some of) The Big Beat's Favorite Songs of 2011

JAMIE WOON "Lady Luck" (Polydor UK), from Mirrorwriting
ST. VINCENT "Cheerleader" (4AD), from Strange Mercy
THE HORRORS "Moving Further Away" (XL), from Skying
WILCO "I Might"(dBpm), from The Whole Love
NIKKI LANE "Gone, Gone, Gone" (IAMSOUND), from Walk Of Shame
SBTRKT "Trials of the Past" (Young Turks), from SBTRKT
TV ON THE RADIO "Second Song" (Interscope), from Nine Types of Light
PETER BJORN AND JOHN "Second Chance" (Startime Intl.), from Gimme Some
LYKKE LI "Youth Knows No Pain" (Atlantic), from Wounded Rhymes
FRIENDS "I’m His Girl" (Lucky Number), single
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM "Us v. Them" (DFA / EMI), from London Sessions
THE JOY FORMIDABLE "Whirring"(Canvasback /Atlantic), from The Big Roar
YUCK "Shook Down"(Fat Possum), from Yuck
MOUNT MORIAH "Lament" (Holidays For Quince), from Mount Moriah
WILD FLAG "Racehorse" (Merge), from Wild Flag
WIDOWSPEAK "Nightcrawlers" (Captured Tracks), from Widowspeak
WASHED OUT "Before" (Sub Pop), from Within and Without
GUIDED BY VOICES "The Unsinkable Fats Domino" (GBV Inc.), from Let's Go Eat The Factory
LEMURIA "Irregular" (Bridge Nine), from Pebble
GARY CLARK JR. "Don’t Owe You A Thang" (Warner Bros.), from The Bright Lights EP
GOTYE "Somebody That I Used To Know" (Samples 'n' Seconds), from Making Mirrors
M + A "Liko Lene Lisa" (Monotreme), from things.yes
GIRLS "Vomit" (True Panther), from Father, Son, Holy Ghost
RINGO DEATHSTARR "So High" (Sonic Unyon), from Colour Trip
BEST COAST "When You Wake Up" (Mexican Summer/Fat Possum), from Summer Is Forever EP
LITTLE DRAGON "Nightlight" (Peacefrog), from Ritual Union