Posts Tagged ‘MSTRKRFT’

The Best Music of 2009

January 19, 2010

I’m sorry for not posting anything since October. The blame lays on a brutal combination of working retail and being lazy and just reading Videogum when I got home. But it’s 2010, a new decade, a new beginning. So let’s do this right and begin the first Bad Guys Win post of 2010 talking about stuff from last year. Perfect.

When I told my friend Lauren that my best albums list had only ten albums on it she remarked that 2009 had been “a slow year”. She was being too kind. 2009 was disappointing for plenty of reasons, as most of the big records sucked and the bands that got buzz either were or sound like Animal Collective. A list of ten great albums is damn miraculous.

10. Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures

Josh Homme is a goddamn rock god. This is just front to back badass riffs, backed by Dave Grohl and a very spry John Paul Jones. I can hear the Jones influence, but the Homme sound is undeniable. More than just a record to tide me over until the next Queens album.

9. Japandroids – Post-nothing

Canadian duo with a singing drummer. Where have I heard that one before? An obvious avenue for success, Japandroids make sweaty sounding music with tons and tons of passion. “Young Hearts Spark Fire” is one of those singles that makes you want to run out and buy the band’s album right away. When the guys talk about taking time to “french kiss some french girls”, you smile and realize they’re a band with their priorities straight.

8. Raekwon – Only Built For Cuban Linx Pt. II

What are we calling this? The Godfather Pt. 2 of rap albums? Not to blaspheme, but I think it blows the original out of the water. Now if Rae could only make an album that’s any good that doesn’t reference his debut. Props to Ghostface, because he’s Ghostface and he kills it all over this record.

7. LMFAO – Party Rock

The beats on this record are sick. The raps are dumb, no, I take that back. The raps are amazingly dumb. That’s why they’re so great. When artists describe their album as a “party album” it is always a lie because the album will inevitably feature one of the following: a ballad, a hard street track, or worse, an ode to a fallen friend or loved one. Those can be great, but not for a P-A-R-T-Y! LMFAO go 14 tracks of party time music. This might not be your thing. I can respect that. But be aware that if you want to have a party, the word “party” is in the damn title. Truth in advertising, rarely done so well. “I’m In Miami, Bitch” is already classic status while “I Don’t Wanna Be” rides the sickest damn beat on the record. Well, that’s debate-able. Seriously, these beats.

6. Mastodon – Crack the Skye

A kid at work told me he’d heard Mastodon had sold out. The 13 minutes of “The Last Baron” say otherwise. Brendan O’Brien is no hack producer and any slickness on the production is overshadowed by the killer riffs and intricate playing that Mastodon is known for. If you don’t like Crack The Skye you’re just trying to be a dick. Quit it.

5. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix has three of the best Phoenix songs right up front. “Lisztomania”, “1901”, and “Fences” are Phoenix at their best. Man, those are great fucking songs. And the rest of the album is really good. Really good. But those first three songs are almost too good. Like, you listen to the rest of the album and think “Hey, these are good songs, don’t get me wrong. But ‘1901’? Getdufuckouttahere!” Am I making any sense?

4. DJ Quik and Kurupt – BlaQKout

Sick. Nasty. Fuckin’ ‘ell. Any and all of these words apply when talking about BlaQKout. DJ Quik and Kurupt rap about hoes, bitches, being awesome and all those other rap cliches from the 90’s, over the smoothest and sharpest throwback production I’ve ever heard. This is the kind of rap album you can play front to back, no bullshit just hilarious ignorant rhymes on top of the type of beats Jay-Z should have had on the Blueprint 3.

3. The Bloody Beetroots – Romborama

My friend Lauren described this as “horror movie dance music”. Apt. The last of the class of ’06 to drop an album, I figured after MSTRKRFT, Justice and Simian Mobile Disco, The Bloody Beetroots would sound past their sell date when Romborama finally saw the light of day. Instead, they delivered 20 straight bangers. And this shit is hard, son. Distorted screaming vocals, blown speaker beats; basically my dream album. Romborama could be categorized as a party record, but you’d have to leave early on account of the house burning down. Real talk.

2. MSTRKRFT – Fist of God

No lie, before Fist of God, MSTRKRFT seemed like a second rate Justice. They had the skills, but not the tunes. Fist of God is, to steal from Jimmy Cameron, a game changer. Al and Jesse go hard and fierce right from the start, sear your face off and then things get interesting. “Heartbreaker” feels less and less like a breather and more like a new direction every time I hear it, and that it’s followed by the title track is just great sequencing. No shit, sometimes “Fist Of God” literally takes my breath away. It’s perfect. That Lauren and I got to meet Jesse and Al and they turned out to be awesome people just made cosmic sense. An asshole could never make a song like “It Ain’t Love”.(Editor’s Note: Meeting Jesse and Al had no baring on the placement of this album)

1. Passion Pit – Manners

I don’t know why the cover art is so boring for this album because Manners sounds like the creation of an exuberant young man with boundless energy, access to a children’s choir and lots and lots of ideas. He might be a little sad sometimes (hey, who isn’t?); the music is how we can all feel better. Songs like “The Reeling” are melancholy in subject but joyous in execution. I’ve read that some people hate this album. To them I ask, what is it like to be cold inside? Kick any puppies today? Aww, hell. I can’t stay mad, this album is too fun. Is it possible to be too fun? Ask Passion Pit.

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Ready For The Weekend by Calvin Harris: He still likes girls

August 19, 2009

Calvin Harris is a young British guy who, much like Lily Allen, got his record deal based on some tunes he slapped up on a Myspace page. Thus, Harris lacks that polish of your typical pop star, and in interviews he tends to come across as a pretty normal guy. His music is pretty unpretentious and the songs tend to hang on themes of parties, girls, and girls at parties. Which is fine, he’s famous and in his 20’s, I hope he’s enjoying girls at parties. However, it appears that on Ready For The Weekend Harris comes dangerously close to sucking the well dry on party tunes for and/or about girls.

Just to get it out of the way, Ready For The Weekend isn’t bad. Calvin Harris continues to make jams, he just can’t sustain it for an entire album. At 15 tracks, Ready For The Weekend nearly topples over from being so front loaded. Tracks like “Rain”, “Ready For The Weekend” and “Flashback” are fineĀ  editions to the catalog. At the same time, Calvin Harris’s limitations as a singer and lyricist are much more obvious. “Worst Day” finds Calvin heartbroken and listing all the mistakes he made in a relationship with a woman. It’s so earnest as to become a parody, and wouldn’t be out of place on the Flight of the Conchord’s album. Obviously, there it would have more jokes. Harris as a singer has not grown on me as he seems to only sing with various levels of bored detachment. When he concedes his choruses to various unknown female singers, the songs take off into the stratosphere. An album of Harris productions and a rotating cast of guest vocalists wouldn’t be a bad idea.

But there is plenty to love. The aforementioned “Flashback” is exhilarating and bold, and “Rain” is a party starter if I’ve ever heard one. Calvin smartly included his Dizzee Rascal collaboration “Dance Wiv Me”, which still grooves along as well as it did a year ago. “Stars Come Out” struts out on a familiar Harris bassline accompanied by some playful falsetto on the chorus from Calvin.

I don’t want my expectations to get the best of me, but I wanted more from this album. Harris has heard all the great dance artists, but he has yet to transcend his influences, which leads to plodding tracks like “5iliconeator” which sounds like a weak attempt at Moby ambience, or “Yeah Yeah Yeah La La La”, an embarrassing Prince imitation.

Ready For The Weekend works for a time but comes far short of classic status. Especially in year where acts like Phoenix, Passion Pit and MSTRKRFT have brought the heat, Calvin Harris’s latest can’t help but feel undercooked.