Posts Tagged ‘feist’

Top 10 Albums of 2011: 10-6

December 18th, 2011 | Features | 1 Comment

Ok, it’s finally time for me to make this list. It seems like I out-waited everyone…because this list is obviously the most important. 2011 was a good year for music – not as good as a phenomenal 2010, but still, pretty damn good, with some stone-cold classics for the ages. I changed this list a couple times cuz some albums were just a little better than others – some albums I liked more than other even though it seems as though they were objectively not-as-good – it was tough. But here’s what I’ve arrived at. This is 10-6, tomorrow or whenever I’ll post 5-1. Here they are.

10. Feist – Metals

Feist – A Commotion

It was a tight call between this album and Atlas Sounds‘ solid Parallax for the last spot on this list. Though my earlier post about this album lauded it as being better than The Reminder, I’ve since reversed my position because I feel like it doesn’t have as many hugely inspired moments as that album, though I still maintain it holds together a bit better. Unfortunately, the tracklisting tosses the three best songs – “A Commotion”, “The Circle Married The Line”, and “Bittersweet Melodies” – all together around the middle, so whenever I listen to it I feel like I just want to go straight there instead of starting from song one and playing it through; she should have spread those out more. It’s unfortunate, because there are plenty of other great songs on the album…like pretty much every other song on the album. At the end of the day, regardless of the tracklisting of the album, it doesn’t let down in terms of quality: Feist‘s singing and songwriting are as superb and star-worthy as ever. Which is why it beats out the competition to make the list.

9. M83 – Shut Up, We’re Dreaming

This is an example of an album that I’m not going to listen to much, but I can’t deny its brilliance. M83 outdid his already-quite-ambitious self with this double album that takes inspiration from dreams and beautiful fantasies. The lengthy affair never runs out of steam, while songs like “Intro” and “Splendor” break through to whole new realms of musical amazingness, the likes of which Anthony Gonzales has only shown potential for in the past. Despite the fact M83 is technically an electronic act, this album knows no genres or boundaries – only beauty.

8. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

St. Vincent – Cruel

I always respected St. Vincent as a great songwriter and singer, but she was an artist I just didn’t really put into rotation much…until this album. The difference this time around is the emphasis placed on her guitar playing – as every review appears to have noted – but for those who haven’t heard the album, please don’t approach this expecting a lot of soloing and conventional histrionics, it’s so much more than that. I’m not even sure if there is one solo, really, on the album. Instead, the guitars often either provide some chutzpa to songs like “Northern Lights” by virtue of their sound and power, or, better yet, they dance around the melodies and work as accoutrement a la Television and The Strokes in songs like “Cruel” (my favourite), “Neutered Fruit”, and “Dilettante”. And she makes great use of effects pedals to get all kinds of great sounds of out them.

7. John Maus – We Must Become Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves

One of my favourite breakout acts of the year, though John Maus has been making music for a long time now and it just took the rest of us this long to notice it. Admittedly, I think it took him a while to make as good music as he does now, but I don’t really see a huge jump in quality between WMBPCOO and 2006’s Love Is Real. Then again, Love Is Real doesn’t have a standout as obvious as “Believer”, WMBPCOO‘s pop-perfect closer. Or the beautiful little “Hey Moon”, the intimate gem he borrowed (and barely changed at all) from Molly Nilsson.

The rest of the album works great as a thoughtful, and (surprisingly) enjoyable work heavily indebted to the 80s, though Maus apparently wasn’t trying to do an 80s thing. He seems a bit brilliant, a bit weird, but very interesting. Hopefully his next album won’t take too much time in the cooker.

6. Iceage – New Brigade

Iceage – Remember

Perhaps the most amazing thing about Iceage is that they make punk music that isn’t nostalgic or retro-minded – something very hard to find. It’s the punk music of 2011. Not because they use synths and Ableton or whatever – they don’t appear to care about the past, or future, or anything like that. These Danish teenagers just express their anger and frustration in whatever way that they do. And the noise they make is badass. New Brigade is a consistent and perfectly-recorded document of their work. Easily one of the most memorable and exhilarating albums of the year.

(Click here to see 5-1)

Have You Heard The New…Feist Album?

September 28th, 2011 | Features | 0 Comments

Feist – A Commotion

Feist‘s new album Metals hit the web today in streaming form and I’ve listened to it. And it’s really good. I wasn’t sure if she could meet expectations after The Reminder – and the first single “How Come You Never Go There” didn’t really convince me otherwise – but Metals is so good it actually makes the eclectic The Reminder seem almost like a sketchbook by comparison.

Metals takes all of the things that made The Reminder great – the smooth but playful aesthetic, the big melodic pop songs alongside intimate acoustic ballads, Feist‘s angelic vocals – and seems to know exactly how to use and get the most out of them. It’s also a more consistent album in terms of feel and quality, though the highlights can be found towards the middle (as was the case with The Reminder).

Despite her fame, the sound hasn’t been smoothed out at all – if anything it’s gotten a little edgier, more bluesy and rustic. There’s no radio sheen, nor is there any single as clear cut as “1, 2, 3, 4”. My favourite song is actually “A Commotion” which could never make the radio because of its weird male-choir bit. “The Circle Married The Line” might be that radio banger, with its easy melody, highway rhythm, tinkling production, and pretty (though understated) chorus. Even so, it would be a stranger amongst the company of Rihanna and Lady Gaga.

Metals isn’t perfect – it slows down a bit more than I’d like towards the end, but that doesn’t mean the quality of the writing drops much. But it is most definitely a masterwork, with Feist perfecting the sound she introduced us to with The Reminder, re-proving that her status as one of the few indie-rock superstars is well deserved.

What did you think of the album? Let me know in the comments section or over Facebook or Twitter.

Have You Heard The New…Feist?

August 12th, 2011 | Features | 0 Comments

So everyone’s favourite indie-songstress-turned-international-superstar Feist is releasing her highly anticipated fourth album Metals on October 4th. Will it be as good as The Reminder? Will it be better? Will it be worse? Well, the first single “How Come You Never Go There” just hit the internets (and something called the radio) so let’s start judging.

Marc: Well, it definitely seems like some changes are afoot. No way “How Come You Never Go There” is as catchy or instantly loveable as something like “1,2,3,4”, and it definitely seems to be lacking that classic Feist vulnerability and smoothness. Instead, it’s kind of swampy. Maybe got a bit of a Neil Young circa Harvest vibe about it. That might be the idea with Metals, to change things up, stop being so soft and cuddly and maybe be a bit more…interesting or something. But I love soft and cuddly Feist! Whenever I see her I melt, she’s just sooooo cute! Agggg!!!

But anyways…Bottom line: “How Come You Never Go There” is a fine song. It’s got some nice melodies, lyrics, the instrumentation is pretty legit, and those swooping “wo uh wo uh wo uh“s are classic Feist. Metals will most likely be a pretty solid album, but like I said, if this track is any kind of indicator, it’s definitely going to be a bit of a change from what we’re used to with Feist.

Hangover Mix

December 31st, 2010 | Features, The Mix | 0 Comments

So, it’s the last day of 2010. It’s been a great year – we got some great albums, learned some important life lessons, took chances, made mistakes and all that stuff. Tonight we’re all gonna party, get crazy, and in the morning we’ll all probably have some badass hangovers. Here’s a mix of some very soft, pretty tunes to get you through.

1. The Jesus and Mary Chain – Just Like Honey

2. The Velvet Underground – Candy Says

3. Yo La Tengo – Tears Are In Your Eyes

4. Cat Power – Lived In Bars

5. Cass McCombs – The Executioner’s Song

6. Feist – Brandy Alexander

7. Kevin Drew – Summer Time Dues

8. M. Ward – Undertaker

9. Ohbijou – Favourite Skin

10. Sandro Perry – Family Tree

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Top 50 Canadian Albums Of The Decade, 14-10

December 21st, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

14. The New Pornographers – Electric Version
Ok, so Challengers may be my favorite, but Electric Version is probably actually the band’s most consistent long player and it was the Pornos album that made me a fan. I’m not even sure how I heard about the band but I remember the first time I heard songs like “From Blown Speakers” and “Chump Change” it was like a sugar rush for my ears or something, I was totally blown away. Even listening to it now, six years on, those songs are just as amazing and pop-perfect.
13. Jason Collett – Here’s To Being Here
Way, way, way better than the albums that came before it, Here’s To Being Here was a brilliant tribute to the folk-rock of the 70s but it also happened to find Collett at his most characteristic, sounding supremely confident and in-the-moment as he lead his band through his tightest set of songs ever. “Out Of Time” goes from a easy groove into full on a dance-y bounce and back again. And that little synth solo is brilliant, somehow perfectly fitting. “Papercut Hearts” is strangely a lot of fun and though it’s kind of hard to take “Henry’s Song” too seriously, that doesn’t get in the way of it being an incredible and at times moving song.
12. Stars – Set Yourself On Fire
I remember when this came out it was a knockout. And it’s still a knockout. The orchestral arrangements, those perfectly composed touched-by-twee songs, the almost cartoonishly perfect vocals by Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan – if, like me, you were in high school at the time, you wouldn’t know a cool teenage girl who wasn’t in love with this album. It’s just so brilliantly constructed, revisit it if you haven’t listened to it in a while, you’ve probably forgotten how good it is. There are few moments on this entire album that aren’t genuinely moving and gorgeous in their nostalgic teenage romanticism.
11. The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema
Is it clear that I really like The New Pornographers yet? Ok, so it might not be my favorite or their most consistent, but Twin Cinema is the most New Pornographers-y of all their albums. The power is more powerful and the pop is…pretty much as good as ever. Actually, in songs like the simple but meticulous “Use It”, the awesome (is there any other way to describe it?) “Jackie Dressed In Cobras” and the whirlwind “Sing Me Spanish Techno”, it’s better. Also, here the Pornos manage to combine the crayon colored pop of their previous albums with a large measure of the grandeur that would dominate their next.
10. Feist – The Reminder
Somewhere along the way, somebody must have had the crazy notion that Feist could become some kind of global superstar, transcending her indie beginnings and outselling just about everyone she’s ever known. Somebody somewhere must have thought this possible…right? The fact is, she obviously had the talent to all along, but these days talent is only worth so much. The Reminder was the kind of ambitious project that could have gone either way for Feist and luckily, it ended up becoming more successful than perhaps anyone could have imagined. Feist stepped up and took a big role in the writing of the songs and unsurprisingly there were all kinds of messy emotions and tangled ideas behind that charming facade. Big kudos also needs to go out to producer Gonzales, who masterfully brought Feist’s songs to life with a wide pallet of friendly sounds that, at the same time, were unusual and interesting. For instance, the left handed piano that guides “My Moon My Man” isn’t something you’ll be hearing in a Taylor Swift song any time soon, and the lush orchestration that envelopes “Limit To Your Love” that draws from Motown and classic movie scores is used so soulfully that with most other artists it would just seem parodic. Even those little details, like the fact that they recorded in an empty mansion and made sure to get bird sounds on the record, all contribute to the masterpiece that the album is. This is one for the time capsule.