Monday, December 19, 2011

Top 100 Songs of 2011

I spent a lot of time fine tuning the song list this year, to ultimately get to the same conclusion. The Top 20-30 are likely most representative of what my ears respnded best to over the last 12 months. After that, it's a  lot of cool songs that could be sequenced lots of different ways. This always seems more like an exercise in curation than critique, but it continues to be fun nonethlesss. One song per artist. Also, I did not purposely choose a 9 minute dance track by a Canadian elctro pop duo from the Hammer, but it's sort of cool how that worked out.  Here goes.


Title Artist
100 Cave Song Wu Lyf
99 Phantoms Young Galaxy
98 New Lands Justice
97 Then It's White The Field
96 Don't Stop (Color On The Walls) Foster The People
95 Get Together The Human League
94 Into The Trees Still Corners
93 My House Hercules & Love Affair
92 First Light My Morning Jacket
91 Badaboom Tapes N Tapes
90 Night is Young Southern Shores
89 When I Start (To Break It All Down) Erasure
88 Got It All (This Can'r Be Living Now) Portugal. The Man
87 Rider Okkervil River
86 You Was Me Jonny
85 Every Tear Is A Waterfall Coldplay
84 I Walked Alone Yacht
83 She Walks In So Many Ways The Jayhawks
82 Fragments Thievery Corporation
81 Magic The Sound of Arrows
80 Over You Cat's Eyes
79 One Time The Roots
78 Bigger Than Us White Lies
77 Towers Bon Iver
76 Woods The Rosebuds
75 Katzenjammer Big Talk
74 Bizness tUnE-yArDs
73 Caffeinated Consciousness TV On The Radio
72 Funny Word Deer Tick
71 Heart Attack Raphael Saadiq
70 Keep You Class Actress
69 Under Cover of Darkness The Strokes
68 In The Grace Of Your Love The Rapture
67 End of The Night Smith Westerns
66 Solid Ground PNAU
65 Where Are You J Mascis
64 L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. Noah and the Whale
63 San Pedro Mogwai
62 Baby Missiles The War On Drugs
61 If You Wanna The Vaccines
60 The Look Metronomy
59 Beat & The Pulse Austra
58 Gutter Rainbows Talib Kweli
57 Annihilation Eyes Maritime
56 Turn Off This Song and Go Outside The Lonely Forest
55 Wilderness The Horror The Horror
54 Palomino Mates of State
53 Shine Like Stars Glasvegas
52 Forever In Armitron BOAT
51 Omega Dog The Dears
50 Austere The Joy Formidable
49 Alex Girls
48 Memories of The Future Handsome Furs
47 Living Is So Easy British Sea Power
46 Positive Dog Day
45 Ice Cream Battles
44 Shuffle Bombay Bicycle Club
43 It Rich Aucoin
42 Able Gavin Friday
41 Blue Cassette Friendly Fires
40 Abducted Cults
39 Open Arms Elbow
38 Itchin' On A Photograph Grouplove
37 Blue Jeans Lana Del Rey
36 Queen Of Hearts Fucked Up
35 Black Hand Style Pharoahe Monche
34 Unkind Sloan
33 Last Night At The Jetty Panda Bear
32 Everything Works Miracle Fortress
31 Electric Band Wild Flag
30 Bed of Nails Wild Beasts
29 I Might Wilco
28 Ungrateful Frankie & The Heartstrings
27 Days The Drums
26 Amor Fati Washed Out
25 Do It Again Holy Ghost!
24 Young Glass Hey Rosetta!
23 Bedroom Eyes Dum Dum Girls
22 Underneath The Sycamore Death Cab For Cutie
21 The Last Living Rose PJ Harvey
20 Punching In A Dream The Naked & Famous
19 How'd You Like That The Kooks
18 Baby Don't Dance Mother Mother
17 Get Some Lykke Li
16 Please Ask For Help Telekinesis
15 Pacing Around The Church Cold Cave
14 Re-Wired Kasabian
13 Somebody That I Used to Know Gotye
12 The Long Goodbye Army Navy
11 New Beat Toro Y Moi
10 Get Away Yuck
9 Second Chance Peter Bjorn & John
8 Future Starts Slow The Kills
7 Heaven's Gonna Happen Now The Pains of Being Pure Heart
6 Take Me Over Cut Copy
5 It's Real Real Estate
4 Lotus Flower Radiohead
3 Midnight City M83
2 Still Life The Horrors
1 Banana Ripple Junior Boys

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Top 100 Albums of 2011

Sort of a strange yet cool year in music. There did not seem to be as many of the highly innovative, boundary pushing type artists releasing music this year (whoever they are). There did however, seem to be a lot of great bands who are not afraid to borrow from other great bands, past and present, and while proudly wearing their influences on their sleeves, they are still able to put a fresh, current and relevant spin on some very familiar sounds. My number one choice this year especially speaks to this.

The other part I liked about musical 2011, was it presented a really great collection of albums where bands weren't afraid to write 3-4 minute pop songs. Some of them lean more to the jingle jangle guitar fuzz skew, while the electro pop brigade bands continue to produce danceable pop that often incorporates organic and stringed bits when necessary. Some of the albums received fairly prominant profile, while as always there was some great music that perhaps slots more snuggly into traditional indie and internet based obscura.

Regardless, after painstaking compiling and curation efforts, I have done my best to sequence things with some sense of passion and bias recognition. The Top 50 is reasonably spot on, the next 50 are great, but sequencing of course would tend to be more loose. As with any list a self proclaimed music nerd puts together, it is within minutes of hitting "post" I will undoubtedly have regrets and contempt. For the moment though, here are 100 albums that worked pretty well for me in 2011.


ARTIST TITLE
100 Dawes Nothing Is Wrong
99 Erasure Tomorrow's World
98 Mister Heavenly Out of Love
97 Still Corners Creatures of An Hour
96 Crystal Stilts In Love With oblivion
95 Raphael Saadiq Stone Rollin'
94 Portugal. The Man In The Mountain In The Cloud
93 Tapes N Tapes Outside
92 Okkervil River I Am Very Far
91 Human League Credo
90 British Sea Power Valhalla Dancehall
89 Wu Lyf Go Tell Fire to The Mountain
88 Gang Gang Dance Eye Contact
87 Peaking Lights 936
86 Matthew Good Lights of Endangered Species
85 Big Talk Big Talk
84 The Lonely Forest Arrows
83 Sloan The Double Cross
82 The Sound of Arrows Voyage
81 Rich Aucoin We're All Dying to Live
80 White Lies Ritual
79 The Antlers Burst Apart
78 The Rapture Grace Of Your Love
77 Young Galaxy Shapeshifting
76 The Field Looping State of Mind
75 The Horror The Horror Wilderness
74 Austra Feel It Break
73 The Jayhawks Mockingbird Time
72 The Strokes Angles
71 Thievery Corporation Culture of Fear
70 Cold Play Mylo Xyloto
69 TV On the Radio Nine Types of Light
68 Talib Kweli Gutter Rainbows
67 Girls Father, Son, Holy Ghost
66 The War on Drugs Slave Ambient
65 BOAT Dress Like Your Idols
64 The Dears Degeneration Street
63 The Rosebuds Loud Planes Fly Low
62 Glasvegas Euphoric Heartbreak
61 Gotye Making Mirrors
60 Hercules & Love Affair Blue Songs
59 PNAU Soft Universe
58 Peter Bjorn & John Gimme Some
57 Cat's Eyes Cat's Eyes
56 My Morning Jacket Circuital
55 Deer Tick Divine Providence
54 Jonny Jonny
53 Roots Undun
52 Noah And The Whale Las Night On Earth
51 Mogwai Hardcore Will Never Die
50 Bombay Bicycle Club A Different Kind of Fix
49 Wilco The Whole Love
48 Class Actress Rapproacher
47 Maritime Human Hearts
46 The Joy Formidable The Big Roar
45 Grouplove Never Trust A Happy Song
44 The Vaccines What Did you Expect From The Vaccines?
43 Washed Out Within and Without
42 Smith Westerns Dye It Blonde
41 Fucked Up David Comes to Life
40 J Mascis Several Shades of Why
39 Mates of State Mountaintops
38 Metronomy The English Riviera
37 Gavin Friday Catholic
36 Battles Glass Drop
35 Dog Day Deformer
34 Cults Cults
33 Mother Mother Eureka
32 Pharoahe Monch W.A.R.
31 Friendly Fires Pala
30 Toro Y Moi Underneath The Pines
29 Handsome Furs Sound Kapital
28 The Drums Portamento
27 Death Cab For Cutie Codes & Keys
26 Bon Iver Bon Iver
25 Frankie & The Heartstrings Hunger
24 Dum Dum Girls Only in Dreams
23 Hey Rosetta! Seeds
22 The Kooks Junk Of The Heart
21 Miracle Fortress Was I The Wave?
20 Wild Flag Wild Flag
19 Telekinesis 12 Desperate Straight Lines
18 Holy Ghost! Holy Ghost!
17 The Kills Blood Pressure
16 Cold Cave Cherish The Light Years
15 Army Navy The Last Place
14 Radiohead King of Limbs
13 Yuck Yuck
12 Elbow Build A Rocket Boys
11 The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart Belong
10 Panda Bear Tomboy
9 Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes
8 Real Estate Days
7 PJ Harvey Let England Shake
6 M83 Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
5 Wild Beasts Smother
4 Junior Boys It's All True
3 Kasabian Velociraptor!
2 Cut Copy Zonoscope
1 The Horrors Skying

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Top 10 Canadian Albums of 2011

So much more amazing music released over the past year here in the Great White North. It was really tough to narrow it all down to 10, and then to rank them. Seems like a perfect way to get the year end-end musical round up started.

10. Young Galaxy - Shapeshifter


9. Austra - Feel It Break


8. The Dears - Degeneration Street



7. Fucked Up - David Comes To Life


6. Dog Day - Deformer


5. Mother Mother - Eureka


4. Handsome Furs - Sound Kapital


3. Hey Rosetta! - Seeds



2. Miracle Fortress - Was I The Wave?


 1. Junior Boys - It's All True

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's not that you're bad..you're just not very good

So by demand, popular or otherwise, it has been suggested to some extent by someone somewhere, that we take some more shots at bad artists. I feel this is habit forming, so we will oblige, but with a slight spin and with an understanding that it is end of year and generally speaking, most music blogs and sites should be celebrating the best of the 2011 and only mildly chirping the bad, the ugly and the overrated.

This time, we will take fewer direct shots at bad artists, but rather highlighting artists who are, in this writer's opinion, very overrated. Again, because Rattled By The Rush cares so frigging much, we will suggest alternatives. It hurts to care so much quite frankly.

Kings of Leon

Generally speaking I find cocaine to be about as classless and overtly poserish and contrived an activity as any that the simplest of humans choose to engage. In the case of KOL, it would appear they started to actually suck more once they got off the coke. Time to line back up lads.

They were not always necessarily a bad band. Their first two albums appeared at face value to have a reasonable sincerity and southern inspired indie esthetic that was both endearing and promising of things to come. You almost would not have known they were on RCA or were about to turn into such a household phenomenon.

To be honest, I stopped largely paying attention after Aha Shake Heartbreak and all the garbage they have produced since may have even tarnished the early material. I can barely even go back to the glory days at this point without cringing somewhat. It seems with every album and every single they add, these guys sound more and more forced. Like popularity is slipping and holy crap boys this needs to be a big hit. Press record, press print, get on the bus, cash the cheques.

I actually thought I was the only one, until I saw this piece in NME where the kid from The Drums (a far superior band in every way) suggested KOL should break up and that "Sex On Fire" is one of the worst songs he had ever heard. Amen young Jonathan Pierce. Would you like a job writing for Rattled By The Rush? The pay is shit, but the grand standing from the safety of behind a keyboard is terribly therapeutic and validating.

So there are worse bands than Kings of Leon, but that doesn't mean they are good. If people feel compelled to listen to an East Central southern twang inspired US band, I would hope they would reach for My Morning Jacket by now. If Kings of Leon are supremely overrated and really not very good, than it should follow that MMM are very underrated and more than interesting enough to entice even the most mildly critical and casual music fan.


Drake


I love that he's Canadian. He seems like a pretty great kid. He has solid capability and even a unique flow and delivery. So why does he keep making such bad music? Right off the bat, some will say I'm the 40 year old cranking on the kid because "you don't get it". Fair game. Let's do some comparatives.

Here's a lyric sample from "Best I Ever Had"

I say you the fucking best, you the fucking best
You the fucking best, you the fucking best
You the best I ever had, best I ever had
Best I ever had, best I ever had



I am not offended by profanity. Not in the fucking least. I am however, offended by ill conceived juvenile lyrics that don't seem to serve any purpose other than to entice white suburban kids to giggle at the slightest mention of F Bombs and someone describing the ranking of their sexual exploits.


Here's a lyric sample from "Calculated Amalgamation" by Pharoahe Monche


Rebels, so please believe it'sWar on the streets of Egyptmy vocals a total eclipse of totalitarianismYou seek to mistreat usSo this is calculated amalgamation


Ok, so Drake's 25 and Monche is like 39. Conceivably he could have more to rhyme about eventually than girls and other Degrassi inspired juvenilia. So let's give him the benefit


From HYFR (with some help from an even more overrated Lil Wayne):


(And I say) Hell yeah. Hell yeah. F*ckin right. F*ckin right, all right.
(And I say) Hell yeah. Hell yeah. F*ckin right. F*ckin right, all right. 


So if you rhyme along to this on your own or with your drunk friends at a party, I probably can't help you because there is a better than average chance you are a complete and utter moron. I love simplistic lyrics and champion the three minute pop song more than most. Clever however is the differentiator and this is not clever. 


So again, to be fair, let us assume Drake has good skills and the best production team money can buy at his disposal, but he is simply writing about what 25 year old dudes write about. Then how is it that a 28 year old hip-hop artist from the same province can have a little bit more to say:


From "Keep Shining" by Shad:


And I’ve been known to talk about women on a track or two
I talk to women, I just can’t talk for women, that’s for you
We need women for that, more women in rap
Even tracks like Kwali’s Four Women. That’s still only half the view of the world
There’s no girls rappin’ so we’re only hearin’ half the truth. What we have to lose?



So am I tired of hearing about Drake? Yeah, a little. If credible music critics and sites want to continue to over hype and put this kid on a pedestal, it's cool. At least he is a successful young Canadian. Let's just not pretend he has chosen to say anything interesting with his new found stardom and reach, and let's once again take some time to explore far superior artists who are working really hard to make art that isn't rooted in hype, slick tricks and very little class.



Foster The People


Holy crap, how did these guys get so big? We saw them open for Cut Copy in the Summer just as a couple of their singles had broken. I think "Pumped Up Kicks" has some 48 million views on YouTube currently. The live show was enjoyable. Much like their album (which I bought incidentally). Sometimes enjoyable is sufficient. I am as guilty as anyone for validating disposable pleasant pop music. Every now and then though, something takes off and we all need to grab the reigns and put things back in their forgettable and disposable perspective.


Part of what I find most troubling is the bands FTP have puposely or accidentally chosen to emulate. Some songs sound like Maroon 5, and there's a previous blog entry which should sufficiently address what a bad fucking idea that is. Then there's the MGMT factor. I will say they are not alone in aping everyone's safe little late blooming one album wonder darlings. 


I think it is the combination of such mediocre influences that I find perplexing. Steal from others. Absolutely. Knock yourself out kids. The Beatles did it, Coldplay does it, but Maroon 5 and MGMT? For real? Honestly no one is stopping you from ripping off whoever you want and this is the best you could come up with? "Lads we should make songs that sound like an uninterstiung hybrid of shitty groups like Maroon 5 and MGMT". You don't have to steal from Radiohead or The Smiths boys, but set your sights a little higher.


So I congratulate these kids with my most perplexed crinkled brow. Bank the cash because it's very likely your sophomore album will tank and be almost as artistically vacant as MGMT's.


MGMT


Please refer Foster The People rant. MGMT are not very good. Please move along. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

CanCon & The 10 Year Old Music Nerd

As I approach my 40th year this month, it seems inevitable to recall stuff. Lots of stuff. In my case everything is typically benchmarked with some sort of musical pinpoint.  Last night's Prince concert got me thinking about being 10 years old and hearing "Little Red Corvette" for the first time. Then I started thinking about how there were no MP3s and how I used to place a cheap tape recorder next to the radio and wait sometimes for hours to hear the track that would make it onto my sketchy little mixed tape. On many occasions, the announcer would talk into the intro or jump in before the song's conclusion, thereby buggering up the version you wanted. Assholes.

I had hundreds of albums when I was 10 or 11. No brothers or sisters. I was a completely self taught music fanatic. All my allowance went into records. It's all I ever wanted for gifts. When I was 9, a family friend gave me Paradise Theatre by Styx for my birthday. Way better than a bike. In and around this 9-11 year old period I was even aware of some pretty cool Canadian music. I sense there will be more contemplative moments in the next couple of weeks, but here are some of the CanCon albums I was listening to at that age, between like 1980-1982.

Saga

Rough Trade

The Spoons

Harlequin


Payolas

Prism

Strange Advance

Toronto

Aldo Nova 

Martha & The Muffins