Showing posts with label jamie xx. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jamie xx. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

video review: 'i see you' by the xx

Well, this was a pretty damn great surprise. Didn't really expect this to be as good as I expected, but I really did love it. Man, January has been pretty damn good thus far...

But it won't last, given what I'm covering next... so stay tuned!

Monday, January 16, 2017

album review: 'i see you' by the xx

Hmm... this is a bit of an odd case, and one that you typically see. I can't deny I'm a little amused by it, but the novelty of it all means we should get used to seeing this more often.

See, I liked The xx. As an indie pop group they worked in refining very sleek, reserved R&B-inspired pop songs tapping into a certain minimalist shyness that could be pretty compelling in the right setting. And while I thought their sophomore album didn't quite connect as deeply as their debut, and even despite entirely too many indie pop groups following in their wake to muddle this sort of quiet introspection and make boring garbage, I saw a place for The xx. Not a big place, I would never call myself a huge fan, but they didn't need a lot of space to make their points.

And then their producer Jamie xx released In Colour in 2015. Picking up vocal performances from his bandmates, it was one of the biggest indie records of 2015 - and for good reason, as it picked up a ton of critical acclaim for its lush, gorgeously organic, potent as hell production. Sure, it wasn't doing anything all that new in terms of electronic music, but it had a level of taste, swell, and potency that set it apart, easily making it one of my favourites of that year more than I could have ever expected. But that raises a fascinating question when it comes to band dynamics - the solo sideproject that blew up from The xx was from their producer and with a decidedly different sound and approach to the main group, which raised the big question of where The xx would take it. Buzz was suggesting that they'd be following along with a bigger sound, but could that compromise the reserve and subtlety that made The xx so distinctive? In other words, I was decidedly curious about where I See You was going - so where did it go?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

the top 25 best albums of 2015 (VIDEO)

And now we've got the last of the lists - damn, this video took WAY too much work to get online...

Okay, next up... well, it's Rachel Platten, so nobody cares, but after that is Billboard BREAKDOWN, so stay tuned!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

the top 25 best albums of 2015

We're now onto my final list, the one that always produces a certain amount of frustration as I struggle to recognize the best of the best. And as I said in my last list, it's always difficult to narrow it down to the best of the best. And this year was probably the hardest yet, mostly because it started so damn strong and was able to sustain that momentum into late this year. And while I was able to trim this list down to 25. And thus for the sake of my own conscience, I need to mention a few Honourable Mentions in no particular order that just missed this list. 

Because believe me, when you have comeback records like No Cities To Love by Sleater-Kinney and Tetsuo & Youth by Lupe Fiasco that show huge returns to form, they deserve at least a shoutout. Hell, an album that features a creative rebirth like Baroness' Purple which dropped very late in the year deserves it too. And then you have underappreciated gems like Escape From Evil by Lower Dens, one of the great unsung synthpop records of this year. And on that note, as much it might be a bit of a contentious statement to say that hip-hop had a great year, I stand by it - when you have Earl Sweatshirt, Jay Rock, The Underachievers, Yelawolf, Pusha T and Czarface dropping stellar sophomore records, coupled with comebacks of unexpected quality from Ludacris and killer debuts from Joey Bada$$, all of which might have had a shot for this list in a weaker year, that's saying something. And that's not counting the list itself that's at least twenty percent hip-hop, but we'll get to that - hell, might as well start with...

Friday, January 1, 2016

the top 50 best songs of 2015

And now we're onto the list that's always the hardest for me to make, mostly because it requires by far the most work: the best songs of the year, overall. Not just hits, but singles and deep cuts from album ranging from widely successful to barely out of the underground.

And this year was harder than most, mostly because it was a damn great year for music. The charts may have been strong, but that was nothing compared to the cavalcade of great music we got, which meant that cutting this list down from thousands to around 630 to 165 to the fifty we have meant that there were a lot of painful cuts, so much so that I seriously considered instituting a one-song-per-album rule. In the end... I couldn't do it, because there were some records that were so unbelievably good that I had to include multiple entries. Now we'll be covering those albums in greater detail a bit later this week, but in the end I held to the rule that at most I could put three songs from any one album on this list - and that we easily had more of those makes my argument that was a damn solid year of music, probably better than last year's, all the more powerful. 

One more thing before we start: while I can describe music well and why it works for me on a technical level, most of the songs on this list cut a fair bit deeper than that, and thus I'll endeavor to provide some emotional context as to why they worked so well beyond a purely intellectual exercise. And of course it's my picks - there might some common overlap between my choices and other critics, but it would be disingenuous to choose tracks for 'cultural importance' rather than what really got to me more deeply.

So let's start with a track that completely threw me off-guard.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2015 (VIDEO)

Almost forgot to put this video up. This was a ton of fun, really did love making this - always nice to talk about music that's actually all sorts of awesome.

So next up is Billboard BREAKDOWN, and then finally I might have time for this new Vince Staples... stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

the top album/songs of the midyear - 2015

Last year when I put together this list, I was debating its very relevance. I mean, would it give away what would turn out to be my top albums of the year overall, or would it find an audience at all?

This year, the debate was different: I knew I had to do a midyear review for 2015 because there was so much quality that came out in the front half of the year that I'm honestly a little concerned I'm not going to get a chance to highlight it all. Between comebacks that delivered in spades, debuts that blew my mind, and records that seemed to have an abundance of creativity more than I would have ever expected, the first six months of 2015 have been overwhelming strong, to the point where keeping my list of albums to twelve was insanely difficult. It'll be incredible if the rest of the year keeps up this momentum, but for now, here is my top albums of 2015, thus far:

Monday, June 1, 2015

video review: 'in colour' by jamie xx

Holy shit, I was not expecting this album to be as good as it was. But with every listen, I find more to unpack in this production, and the emotional beats hit me like a ton of bricks every time.

Next up... whoo boy, might as well pry open the fangirl hole and discuss Florence + The Machine. Wish me luck!

album review: 'in colour' by jamie xx

So first let's talk a little about remix albums.

Believe it or not, even despite being in an era where electronic music is bigger than ever, outright remix albums don't seem to be as popular as they used to be ten years ago. Sure, you'll see a few of them in pop, especially from acts who are more on the electronic side and want to push the success of their albums a little longer by enlisting various DJs to remix their material, but the concept of one producer remixing an entire project from another artist is a lot less common. Granted, we live in the era of the internet, where you can find dozens of remixes of entire projects on Soundcloud or YouTube within hours of the song dropping, but to be able to infuse the entire project with a distinctive and unique personality is a different matter entirely.

And thus you can kind of see how big of a deal it was when Jamie xx, producer and remix artist known for working with the critically acclaimed indie pop group The xx teamed up with Gil-Scott Heron to make We're New Here, a full remix album of Gil-Scott Heron's album that had dropped the previous year after sixteen years of absence from the music industry. And while Jamie xx's personality had been visible with The xx, his glassy, edged synths, subtle beats, and crisp percussion paired with Gil-Scott Heron's aged vocals were much more striking. Of course, one of his beats ended up being sampled by Rihanna and Drake for 'Take Care', which was a massive hit in 2012, but honestly, I've always liked Jamie xx's original version more for its greater texture and edge, and thus I was anticipating his upcoming debut with a fair amount of excitement, even though I found the second album from The xx album underwhelming and lacking some of the melodic tightness I dug on their debut. So did Jamie xx manage to deliver on his own with In Colour?