Showing posts with label deaf havana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label deaf havana. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

the top 50 best songs of 2018

The tagline that I've always had with this list is that it's the hardest to make, but let me qualify it: it's the one that easily requires the most work. And considering this is the year where I reviewed more albums than ever before, you'd think for the sheer volume of material this would be excruciating to assemble...

But in truth, this top 50 list actually fell out pretty quickly, at least with respect to the volume of music I've consumed. It still takes a lot of refinement to go through the best songs of any given year, but the truth about 2018 was that for as many songs as I loved, most of them were concentrated onto specific albums, which might lead to a slightly less diverse list as a whole. And if there was a year where my qualification that I can only put up to three songs from any given album on this list was tested... yeah, it was here. And yet even with that qualification, this list is kind of all over the place - little more hip-hop heavy than previous years and we'll get into why on my final list - and I'll freely admit there isn't quite as much metal or electronic music I'd prefer, but I needed to be honest with this one. Keep in mind songs from albums I covered on the Trailing Edge are eligible, and that if you don't see any songs from an album I loved earlier this year, there's no guarantee it won't show up on a different list - some albums don't put out the best individual songs and vice-versa. 

But no more wasting time, let's get this started!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

video review: 'rituals' by deaf havana

Man, I really wish I dug this a lot more than I do... eh, it happens.

But I'm coming up on the 1000th review... and I've got something special bundled with that, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

album review: 'rituals' by deaf havana

I've said this a number of times before, but about eighteen months ago, if you had told me that Deaf Havana would have wound up with a record on my list of the best of 2017, along with multiple songs making my other lists... well, I wouldn't have called you crazy, but I would have been extremely skeptical. But that's because All These Countless Nights by Deaf Havana isn't the sort of record that folks would expect to put on year-end lists - the production was arguably less colorful than their previous record, and the mood had taken a severe turn for the melancholy. It was a record wracked by drifting numbness, and I'm not surprised at all that it didn't resonate for everyone.

And yet for me it really did, mostly because the hooks were as strong as ever and the writing had improved by leaps and bounds - and I want to highlight that specifically, because that's the sort of advancement for a band that puts them in a higher tier, regardless of their sound. If you're great composers and lyricists, even if the production doesn't go your way you'll have a layer of underlying quality, and that gave me a lot of hope going into Rituals this year. Yeah, the buzz was not nearly as positive in comparison to All These Countless Nights, mostly thanks to the band making a pivot towards pop tones like every other rock band going right now, but I wasn't against this in theory: they've always had a strong pop undercurrent when it came to melody, and it's not like I'm against retro-80s pop rock on principle, so what did we get out of Rituals?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

the top 50 songs of 2017 (VIDEO)

And there we go. Massive videos, really proud with how they turned out - enjoy!

the top 50 best songs of 2017

I said on Twitter a few months ago that of all of my year-end lists, this one is always the most complicated - because it's by far the most personal. With the constraint of a list of hits or talking about records in aggregate, you've manufactured some distance - but if you're just going through the list of the songs that spoke the most to you regardless of whether they were a single or not, there's no separation or barrier.

And when you add to the fact that 2017 was a tumultuous year - not just for me but for most of the world, although I did have my own share of trying times - it's a little unnerving to go through the cutting process and realize how dark it truly got. There isn't much escapism in this top 50, and what escapism does show up is very much colored by consequences waiting in the wings. I'm not saying it's downbeat - in comparison to the melancholy that colored a lot of last year, there are more pronounced moments of joy and triumph - but it is by far the most unsettled, pulling the least punches and ultimately producing a psychological profile of my year in 2017 I'm still not quite sure what to do with. But hey, all of these came from albums I covered this year, and I wouldn't have spent a month pruning this list to its form now if I didn't have faith in it - even though I can guarantee there'll be a fair few conspicuous entries that aren't here if you're comparing to other critical lists. So let's get this started...

Friday, June 30, 2017

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2017 (VIDEO)

And there is THAT weight off my shoulder. Whew, ton of work to get that out... and yet it's not over, as I've got another special video dropping soon, so stay tuned!

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2017

There have been a lot of people who have said that 2017 has not been a good year for music, on the charts or otherwise... and from a certain point of view I can see it. Hip-hop in particular has had a really rough past few months, and between pop stars flopping, mainstream country continuing to spiral, and entirely too many records from established acts not living up to their potential, indie or mainstream, I can see why people are calling 2017 a disappointment.

I can also say that I don't buy it for a second, because for me, 2017 has been awesome. I already have plenty of songs to line my list of the best hits, and going into this point at the midyear, I have more records that I've scored 9/10 than ever before. Granted, it also seems like one of those years where the critical darlings aren't quite crossing over in the same way, and if you haven't heard of most of my favourites, that would be why - and that's not even counting the stuff I had to cut, and man, there were a few rough choices there. I think part of this comes from Patreon helping to shape my requests - once the scheduling got figured out as part of this experiment, things began to click and I started covering a lot of stuff I really loved. 

So you all know the drill by this point: twelve albums in order - an order that could shuffle by the end of 2017 - twenty-four songs in chronological order of my reviewing them (yes, I'm expanding the list, it's that kind of year), and keep in mind that if they don't make this list they've still got a real shot for the list at the end of the year, so let's get this started with...

Saturday, February 11, 2017

video review: 'all these countless nights' by deaf havana

Okay, I know it's not a good look to say that this caught me by surprise by how good it was... but yeah, I really dug this, a lot. Smart writing, great hooks, it stuck with me pretty effectively.

Next up, looks like Sampha and (sigh) Big Sean, so stay tuned!

Friday, February 10, 2017

album review: 'all these constant nights' by deaf havana

So I think I've gone on the record a number of times that I don't really care for post-hardcore music. It's not really my scene, the clash between screams and melodic singing can feel awkward and not always compliment the riffs, and I've also had the misfortune to see a lot of terrible bands come out of the genre as it mutated into something far uglier in the latter half of the 2000s and early 2010s. It wasn't my scene to begin with, and thus you can bet I had some extremely mixed feelings preparing myself for the English group Deaf Havana, particularly their 2009 debut that, hey, wouldn't you know, was produced by Matt O'Grady of You Me At Six, another group that I didn't really care for and yet would have never have covered if it wasn't for Patreon!

But then something happened - their screaming vocalist Ryan Mellor left the band for personal reasons after that first album, which resulted in a hard pivot towards pop punk and power pop. Their sound got rootsier along the way, and what resulted was a very Jimmy Eat World-esque stab at rock, only with more interesting and intricate guitarwork and tighter basslines, which I'd consider a net positive. And for once, critics agreed, throwing a fair amount of praise their way for that 2011 project Fools And Worthless Liars, which I actually happened to like a decent bit. The pivot and overwritten but earnest lyrics actually reminded me a little of Frank Turner in a good way - frontman James Veck-Gilodi didn't have that kind of charisma, but you could definitely see him on that path, especially as a songwriter on tracks like 'Hunstanton Pier'. Coupled with a penchant to take some borderline progressive instrumental risks - and how their third album Old Souls dove into even more rough-edged material, even pulling from soul and blues to augment an already strong power pop formula - I had a lot of reason to dig into All These Constant Nights and expect real quality. So did we get it?