Showing posts with label the avalanches. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the avalanches. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

the top 50 best songs of 2016

I've gone on record that this list in particular is always the hardest to make. Refining a list of songs that I've covered on albums I've reviewed over the course of the year - which numbers in the thousands of songs - down to a select six hundred or so, then down to a subset of just under 200... and then the final fifty. Suffice to say, there's always a lot to cover.

But I have to say, this year felt easier than others. I'd say part of it is that I'm getting a better handle on my organization going into these lists, but that would assume I've got some inkling of what I'm doing here. I think the larger factor is that the truly amazing songs that monopolized my year - the top 35 or so - they fell into place remarkably quickly, and that made ironing out the details easier than I expected. Maybe it was because it was easier for me to get passionate about some of these tracks than before, because if you ventured away from the mainstream Hot 100, there was a lot of great music in 2016. Away from the charts there was great metal, rock, synthpop, hip-hop, and especially country, which had one of its best years in recent memory, and fair warning, there's going to be a lot of it on this list.

As always, the songs had to appear on any one of the albums I reviewed - singles or deep cuts, all are possible, so no more wasting time, we have a lot to get through! So let's start off crazy with...

Friday, July 15, 2016

video review: 'wildflower' by the avalanches

Been waiting to get to this one. I really do wish I loved it more, but it is definitely solid.

Next up... hmm, I think Shura, Fates Warning, and then maybe that indie record... stay tuned!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

album review: 'wildflower' by the avalanches

So let's talk a little about sampling.

Now if you've been listening to hip-hop - or really mainstream music at all throughout the past twenty years - you're well aware of this practice, taking a piece of music or sound and using it to build a different song, often warping or flipping it into something brand new in the process. But let's take this a step further, because normally when a hip-hop producer samples something, he adds to it with backbeats and a rapper to flow over it - the sample is not the only part of the composition.

Enter plunderphonics, a fantastic word that describes a narrow subgenre of music where the compositions are entirely composed to samples merged and twisted together so that the fragments barely resemble the original piece and come together for a brand new whole. And what's all the more surprising is that there is often so many samples in these compositions that many are often uncleared, which can lead to a legal nightmare and is the big reason why we don't really see many plunderphonic records, or when we do the samples are often innocuous, from out-of-print videos or music from decades past, long forgotten by everyone else. This takes us to The Avalanches, an Australian electronic group who released a plunderphonic record in 2000 called Since I Left You that would become critically acclaimed for its fusion of samples into a cinematic, world-crossing retro-disco experience. Now going back to relisten to this record... yes, for sure it's a very good record that demands a lot of attention, but I wouldn't say I quite loved it - I appreciated the emotive scope and real earnest power, but it does have its moments that drag and you'd like to think that The Avalanches would have a little more ambition in the final product to make more than 'string section disco', to paraphrase Robert Christgau. And yet from that point it has taken sixteen years to follow it with a new album called Wildflower, which was reportedly created to thematically recapture the euphoric feeling of summer roadtrips, mostly pushed through 60s psychedelic pop. Okay, bit of a smaller scale, but I was definitely intrigued - so did The Avalanches manage to deliver?