Viewing Gum Listening Post #24

Well looky what we have here! It’s only Viewing Gum Listening Post 24. That means there is one VGLP playlist for every hour of the day (though not every playlist lasts an hour, so that affords you some downtime to make a cup of tea or go for a piddle). Being that it is the first of the year, it’s a bit of an odd mix of tracks new for 2015 as well as the odd one I missed from the previous year(s). And some of the tracks themselves are downright weird too. But for the most part it’s a tale of new songs from returning champions, and should do well to banish those winter blues. You know the drill by now. Stream below, share with friends, or click here to load it up and get on with it.

  1. Bruce Haack – Party Machine (Prince Language Remix)
  2. Panda Bear – Come To Your Senses
  3. The Go! Team – The Scene Between
  4. Public Service Broadcasting – Gagarin
  5. St. Vincent – Bad Believer
  6. Sleater-Kinney – Hey Darling
  7. Gaz Coombes – The English Ruse
  8. Tami Tamaki – I Never Loved This Hard This Fast Before
  9. Aphex Twin – diskhat ALL prepared1mixed 13
  10. John Carpenter – Night
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2014: Albums of the Year

SCROLL DOWN TO STREAM A MUSIC OF 2014 PLAYLIST, OR CLICK HERE TO OPEN!

1. St. Vincent – St. Vincent

It says something when an artist gives a non-debut album an eponymous title, and so with Annie Clark’s fourth solo album, St. Vincent by St. Vincent feels like a restatement, a culmination of all that has gone before into some perfect representation of what St. Vincent means. And what it means is spiky, vibrant, gorgeous rock, with consistently killer tunes throughout. While it’s clear that her collaboration with David Byrne on Love This Giant has contributed to her craft and showmanship, this is still its own beast entirely. From the rambunctious likes of ‘Digital Witness’, ‘Bring Me Your Loves’ and ‘Birth in Reverse’ to the moving and haunting ‘Prince Johnny’, there’s a creativity at play in both music and lyrics that is completely individual. Ladies and gentlemen, this is St. Vincent. And she’s awesome.

2. Porter Robinson – Worlds

With its conceptual mix of Japanese videogames, virtual reality and vocaloid, Worlds succeeds in evoking an emotional response for something that has not yet existed. Can you be nostalgic about the future? While it’s ‘Sad Machine’ that got the most attention around the chiptune and synth blogosphere, there are better tracks here, dramatic opener ‘Divinity’, personal favourite ‘Flicker’ and the power pop of ‘Lionhearted’ just a few examples. It’s big, unabashed, electronic anthems, brimming with confidence and energy, and if you like CHVRCHES and M83, comes highly recommended.

3. Prince – ART OFFICIAL AGE

It’s fair to say London (and Manchester) was hit with a spell of purple fever earlier this year as Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL embarked on a string of hit-and-run dates, and this continued with the announcement of not one but two albums. And while the 3RDEYEGIRL release is good, it’s ART OFFICIAL AGE is the must-listen of the two. It’s indulgent, demented, and excessive, but in all the right ways (yup, one minute in and there goes the cheesy air horn), deploying as many wacky production tricks and effects as can be permitted by health and safety. And if it sometimes overextends its reach, the highs it does achieve in the process are magnificent – the lazer-blast bolstered ballad ‘BREAKDOWN’, the sexiest song about the most important meal of the day ‘BREAKFAST CAN WAIT’, and whatever the fuck ‘FUNKNROLL’ is supposed to be beyond the ultimate party song. In the words of the man himself “I might be small, but so is dynamite!”

4. TV On the Radio – Seeds

After a difficult period for the band following the tragic death of bassist Gerard Smith, the TVOTR team regrouped and with Seeds released an album that might be their most accessible yet, filled with hope and positivity and, most importantly, really good songs: ‘Careful You’, ‘Happy Idiot’ and ‘Lazerray’ among their best work.

5. Beck – Morning Phase

In terms of songwriting and execution, Morning Phase might be the most dreamy and beautiful album of the year. Simply wonderful.

6. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time

Cheerfully acknowledging that it had reached a point where a full-length release was inevitable, DJ and producer Todd Terje brings together old favourites and new classics in this compendium of cheerful, groovy, classy disco lounge par excellence. ‘Oh Joy’ indeed.

7. Aphex Twin – Syro

The return of Richard D. James was cause for much celebration amongst those who like their electronic music cerebral, uncompromising, and a tiny bit weird, but if Syro is not necessarily an evolution of what had come before, it’ still unlike anything else around. There’s so much going on at any one time yet it manages to retain a focus and clarity that sees it never come unstuck as blips and beats come at you from every direction.

8. Astroskeleton – You Are Not Alone

As I venture ever deeper into the chiptune realm seeking new music to play at the Gamerdisco club nights where I DJ monthly (and here’s a relevant Spotify playlist!), it was this release from astroskeleton that served as a reminder that a great chiptune song needs to be a great song first and foremost. If the wait for the new Anamanaguchi album is too much, you are not alone’s blend of rock and 8bit emotion gave just as good and sometimes even better.

9. Last Ex – Last Ex

I am a sucker for music that sounds cinematic, so this instrumental off-shoot of Timber Timbre (borne out of an unused score for The Last Exorcism Part II of all things), with its mix of Lalo Schifrin-style drums and off-kilter blues rock, is right up my dark and spooky alleyway. Cool and creepy in equal measure.

10. Neil Cicierega – Mouth Sounds / Mouth Silence

Internet viral pioneer Neil Cicierega (he of Potter Puppet Pals and the Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny) released his masterworks in the form of Mouth Sounds and Mouth Silence. If Mouth Silence is more straightforward mash-ups and silliness (samples of newscasters talking about Pokemon to the tune of ‘I Want You Back’, or simply chopping around the lyrics of ‘Wonderwall’), it is Mouth Sounds, in which Smash Mouth’s ubiquitous (circa 1999-2001) blight on mankind ‘All Star’ is inserted into the likes of ‘Float On’ and ‘Imagine’, that best demonstrates the strange artistry and audacity at play. Trolling through music it may be, unapologetically puerile, and barely listenable in places too, but also very smart at being very dumb.

Viewing Gum Listening Post #16

As you might have gathered, yes I like making Spotify playlists. And here’s to the first of 2014, as Viewing Gum Listening Post marks its Sweet Sixteen. It’s taken a little while for this year to warm up, but there’s exciting new releases forthcoming from a bunch of favourites, so I’ve included a few singles from those, but there’s decent stuff across the board! Stream below or clicky here for your listening pleasure.

 

  1. Warpaint – Disco//very
  2. Mogwai – Remurdered
  3. Metronomy – I’m Aquarius
  4. Broken Bells – After the Disco
  5. Cibo Matto – MFN
  6. Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL – Pretzelbodylogic
  7. Chad VanGaalen – Where Are You
  8. Temples – Sun Structures
  9. Alexander – Truth
  10. St. Vincent – Prince Johnny
  11. Beck – Blue Moon
  12. Julie Byrne – Piano Music for Lucy

 

2012: Albums of the Year

If you’ve been listening to my Viewing Gum Listening Posts or Tokyo Soundscape episodes (and if not, why not?!), you should probably already have a fair idea of my musical consumption the past twelve months. But luckily, it’s time for a good old recap, and a fully interactive one at that. So, besides a top 10 rundown, as well as a bunch of other recommendations that didn’t make the cut, I’ve also put together a Viewing Gum Music of 2012 playlist on Spotify, but for those after the bigger picture, clicking any of the covers featured in this article should also warp you straight to the full album itself on Spotify. And if you don’t have Spotify? Err…my words will have to suffice. First off, here’s my TOP 10:

As much as I have enjoyed Hot Chip’s singles and live performances, their albums have never quite clicked with me. That changed with their fifth release, In Our Heads, perhaps their poppiest record yet, but this isn’t a case of dumbing down. As much a summation of everything they have achieved thus far as it is a celebration of their influences, it also feels like a new lease of life for the Chippies. A total joy from start to finish.

#2. Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan

Dirty Projectors’ previous albums have been easier to admire than to actively enjoy – there’s often a lot going on, but to what end is often garbled, resulting in an uneasy listening experience. However, with Swing Lo Magellan, Dave Longstreth finds melody to match the madness, without losing the distinct quirks and tics with which he has made his name. No finer trio of opening tracks you’ll find anywhere else as here: ‘Offspring Are Blank’, ‘About to Die’, and the haunting ‘Gun Has No Trigger’ (translated into Sumerian Akkadian Cuneiform of all things by my good friend Willis!). Rest of the album’s damn fine too.

#3. Django Django - Django Django

An early frontrunner for my favourite of the year, it perhaps became a victim of ear-exhaustion on my part through heavy rotation. But that’s what Django Django does to you, providing a magical sonic backdrop to any endeavour. Still the best debut release I heard though, groovy beats with a hint of the exotic, and although the lyrics are unremarkable, they add to the overall texture. Every song sounds timeless yet completely of the time too, with rhythms so catchy it’s as if they’ve always existed.

#4. Grimes - Visions

 Like other feted electronic mood-makers The xx and James Blake, there doesn’t seem to be a lot happening on first listen to Visions, but the calm surface belies a constantly churning sound that’s otherworldly without dissolving into New Age muzak, dreamy without being indistinct. There’s a real pulse throughout, reaching peaks with ‘Genesis’, ‘Oblivion’, and ‘Nightmusic’, but the whole album ebbs and flows nicely.

#5. Field Music - Plumb

 Brothers Peter and David Brewis operate on a highly-skilled level of technical songcraft, with unconventional instrumentation and shifting time signatures, buoyed by quintessential English eccentricity and humour. There’s a classic pop-rock sensibility on show, but Plumb takes you down unpredictable paths. An absolute pleasure.

#6. Jack White - Blunderbuss

It’s fair enough how long Jack White has taken to release a solo album having kept himself occupied with two extra bands (with two albums each) alongside The White Stripes, but now that time has been called on his breakthrough duo, Blunderbuss has landed, and it’s a hoot. Though armed with a few full-on rockbusters, White more often indulges his bluesier side, but either way, there’s not a duffer to be found.

#7. Grizzly Bear - Shields

 It’s become somewhat easy to take Grizzly Bear for granted. As expected, Shields is another batch of gorgeous impeccably-crafted tracks, and while there may not be one standalone stunner as ‘Knife’ was to Yellow House or ‘Two Weeks’ to Veckatimest, it is perhaps their most consistent and complete record thus far. A grower to be sure.

#8. Adrian Younge - Something About April

 Adrian Younge builds on his work as composer (as well as editor) on cult comedy favourite and affectionate Blaxploitation spoof Black Dynamite with concept album Something About April. With a rich blend of cinematic soul, it’s a warm sensuous record that’s far more than just a nostalgia exercise.

#9. The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwends

 Psyche-rock mischief-makers The Flaming Lips flip through their eclectic rolodex, bringing in “fwends” old and new to contribute samples, licks, or full-blown vocals to this musical oddity. The results aren’t as mixed as one might fear, but there are some exceptional highs, notably the Cyberman-sampling ‘2012 (You Must Be Upgraded)’ and the pounding ‘This Ain’t My Trip’, as well as Neon Indian-collaboration ‘Is David Bowie Dying?’, and controversial cover ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’.

#10. David Byrne & St. Vincent - Love This Giant

David Byrne teams up with St. Vincent on a funky song selection, filled with character and bolstered by its brass section. It’s a shame sometimes Annie Clark’s voice gets lost sometimes under Byrne’s, but when they are on equal footing or flying solo, it works like a charm. Bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy fun fun fun fun fun.

So those were my total besties of 2012, but here is a selection of 20 other albums I enjoyed which are all absolutely worth your time too. Hover over the cover for the title and artist, then click to be whisked away to listen to it on Spotify!

Alt-J - An Awesome Wave Animal Collective – Centipede Hz Beach House - Bloom Best Coast – The Only Place Bo Ningen - Line The Wall Busdriver - Beaus$Eros Crystal Castles - (III) Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros – Here Electric Guest - MondoThe Gaslamp Killer - Breakthrough Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! Jesse Ruins - Dream Analysis Keaton Henson - DearNorah Jones – Little Broken Hearts Opossom - Electric Hawaii salyu x salyu – s(o)un(d)beams Sigur Rós - ValtariTame Impala - Lonerism Turntable Films - Yellow Yesterday   The xx – Coexist

And in case you just want to cut to the chase, and sample the best of the best, here again is the Viewing Gum Music of 2012 playlist embedded below.

 

Viewing Gum Listening Post #6

Oh man, I’ve been sitting on this for a while! Finally, it’s the sixth edition of the Viewing Gum Listening Post. Hear and now!

 

 

  1. David Byrne & St. Vincent – I Should Watch TV
  2. Animal Collective – Today’s Supernatural
  3. Busdriver – Kiss Me Back to Life
  4. Lianne La Havas – Forget
  5. Adrian Younge – Two Hearts Combine
  6. Delicate Steve – Ramona Reborn
  7. Tame Impala – Elephant
  8. Adriano Celentano – Prisencolinensinainciusol
  9. Swans – The Seer Returns
  10. Matthew Dear – Her Fantasy
  11. Sun Airway – Activity 2
  12. The xx – Angels
  13. Sacred Harp – Julie