The cover art of her debut album kinda casts Jessie Ware as a modern-day lady in satin, and Devotion backed that perception rather nicely. No other album in 2012 sounded as poised or as stylishly rendered as Devotion, and the smoldering sophistication Ware projects is wonderfully distilled through her songs. Mid-tempo soul balladry mesh seamlessly with flutters of dreamy electronic music made for the floor, as Ware and her musical collaborators put the finishing touches to an entrancing pop album full of smoky restraint and subtle inventions. - Keith.
While I waited for The xx’s Coexist to match the minimalist thrills of their debut album, and as I pondered why I still lifted my skinny fists to Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend despite its (glorious) predictableness, I discovered an album that struck a darker and colder atmosphere than the former, with all the devastating inclinations of the latter: Raime’s anticipated debut LP Quarter Turns Over a Living Line is a tense, terrifying excursion of brutal ardour, casting a post-industrial gloom over much of anything I’ve been listening to this year. - Dan.
Perhaps Nocturne is the atmospheric pop opus that Wild Nothing has been building up to ever since Jack Tatum’s winsome debut Gemini turned up in 2010. For his sophomore album, Tatum taps into an echo chamber of dark, subterranean pop nostalgia that lulls the listener into false paradises without ever losing grip of the songs’ melodic vitality. Nocturne thrives on that sort of ephemera and obscure objects of memory that are miraculously transmitted — only in dreams. - Keith.
Philosophers, pimps and pale kings may argue for the better angels of our nature, but riled-up septuagenarian Bob Dylan is having none of that shit. His 35th studio album Tempest drips with tales of carnage, Shakespearean vengeance and unrequited desires — not to mention a winding 14-minute title track that deconstructs the Titanic sinking in surreal details. The death-obsessed landscapes Dylan paints are no country for old men, yet Tempest bears the true grit of a grizzled survivor’s defiance in the face of mortality: The more I die, the more I live. - Keith.
Under the overwhelming weight of an audacious album title like America, Dan Deacon has found an inexplicable spontaneity in a most exuberantly arranged pop record. The diverse connotations that America conjures is merely a foil for Deacon’s free-ranging creation of a world of density, expansiveness and childlike joy. The pace is blisteringly ADHD, with surprises at each corner flowing comfortably into each other. It’s addictive fun – just don’t read too much into it, and enjoy the ride for what it is. - Dan.
Arriving five years since his last full-length record, I Know What Love Isn’t from Jens Lekman is certainly well worth the wait, an enchanting breakup album so good it deserves its own manic pixie dream girl. In his songs, Lekman has seldom shied away from self-deprecation and lightheaded moments of vulnerability. I Know What Love Isn’t takes it a few steps further in revealing all the hallmarks of a hopeless romantic, brimming over with its rumination on heartbreak and love’s memories — or as Jens sings it, it’s all a bit like learning to carry along a broken heart gracefully. - Keith.
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To… .gif – Diatribe
.gif embodies the illusion of data passing off as real-life moving images by giving us an electronic amalgamation of observatory life with shades of melancholy, hope and resolution. While usually accompanied by ukulele, Weish finds the embrace of warm textures courtesy of Din, with synthesizers and beat arrangements assembling base emotions into the soul of a machine. - Brian.
To download all 39 songs in one file click here. MAP is published on the 15th of every month, featuring a showcase of music handpicked by bloggers from all over the world.
Adventures in Your Own Backyard, the homespun fourth album by Patrick Watson, finds the Canadian singer-songwriter and his bandmates expanding their joint creative discipline in the confines of their home studio. The result is a set of handcrafted songs that manage to sound intimate in spite of the somewhat mercurial quality of the musical arrangements. The waltzing grandeur of Adventures in Your Own Backyard bears the distinctive traits of Watson’s songwriting, yet the languorous song material chugs along with a confidence that infuses the album with a sense of discovery in every melodic detail. - Keith.
I know we haven’t been the most regular in writing this year. But the year-end review is something we’d never let go, so look out for our take on the best releases this year. Thanks for sticking with us.
The appended artwork for Actress‘ R.I.P is an an evocative accompaniment to the album, with Eve Ackroyd’s charcoal rendition of a hand feeling for yet blending into the textured painting serving as an apt interpretation of how Darren Cunningham immerses himself into the multifarious layers that make up his music. This is dark stuff that’s full of life, meaning, and context: Cunningham’s rave roots still occupy a shadowy presence, but with R.I.P it is but one part of a larger ensemble that slips in and out of your consciousness and remains in my opinion the most deeply affecting release of the year. - Dan.
sharon van etten:
Lately, I have been obsessed with this band from Montreal called Automelodi. I work at a record label (Ba Da Bing Records) and my boss, Ben, is constantly getting new records in. He knows I have a soft spot for 80s/90s post punk/early electro, vaguely alternative music... and so one day, he put on a Wierd Records compilation. It was a vinyl set of like 4 pieces or something. There were so many good bands on there... however, Automelodi stuck out in my mind as being an authentic, genuine, NON-cheesy version of the 80s I wish I was a part of. The song in particular that gets me going in the morning is called "Schéma Corporel".
mp3: automelodi - schéma corporel
bani haykal from b-quartet:
often enough, it’s the early morning rush which gets me excited about shutting my eyes. and by morning, we’re looking at the 4 a.m. time frame where all you hear is yourself in a foggy blur, thinking if sleep is really all that important because the early few are storming off for work. in all honesty, there is no ipod nor a single earplugging devicetron which i’d attend to. often enough, it’s someone else’s sonic leak i’m getting addressed by. but, i’m listening to Steely Dan’s “Babylon Sisters”. in my head, at least. sanity ‘from the point of no return’, personally. it’s a breath of fresh air. despite its age. everything is beautiful then.
mp3: steely dan - babylon sisters
naomi yang from galaxie 500:
The perfect song to start the day is “A Tonga Da Mironga Do Kabuleté” – the live recording from 1971 by Brazilian artists Vinícius + Bethania + Toquinho. It is like a beautiful sunrise – although I think that the lyrics are actually some sort of political commentary disguised as a Candomble/Afro-Brazilian curse – but whatever! And then you should just leave the CD on, and listen to the rest of the album while you have your coffee. And you will have a great day.
mp3: vinícius + bethania + toquinho – a tonga da mironga do kabuletê (live in buenos aires, 1971)
jamie stewart from xiu xiu:
i have a nico button on my guitar strap and her excess eyeliner has been burning the dirge "janitor of lunacy" into my waking ears as of late, at least 20 times in the last week. until yesterday we have been on tour in scandinavia, russia, poland, austria, germany and czech. these grey locations held hands with her harmonium perfectly.
mp3: nico - janitor of lunacy
justin ringle from horse feathers:
i have been obsessively listening and waking up to this tune by gillian welch called "annabelle". it's a song about a sharecropper in alabama and it is so sad, beautiful and timeless that I can't help but listen more than once in a row. the harmonies in the chorus make my hairs stand up... beautiful song.
mp3: gillian welch - annabelle
tracyanne campbell from camera obscura:
my favourite song at the moment is called 'one in a million' by steve miller. it's really beautiful. his voice is like honey in the sun and it totally melts my heart. the lyrics are quite simple and i guess
corny but it's a great tune and the production is so good it really doesn't matter. i wish i'd written it. in fact i'd love to do a cover version of it. i was recently in stockholm visiting my friend victoria (bergsman) from taken by trees and we were singing it in the flat and talked about recording it. watch this space...
mp3: steve miller band - one in a million
stuart murdoch from belle and sebastian:
every day when i leave the house and walk over the iron bridge and up to the glasshouses, i listen to “what for” by james. i have a habit of dropping back 20 years in my thoughts, and having a parallel soundtrack running in my head so that i may be walking in a street in 2008, but my head is in 1988. i don’t know why that is. this is an up and hopeful song of the period from a band i used to care for deeply.
as we slip into the autumn here, i am prepared to let my new song of obsession become “the game” by echo and the bunnymen.
“everybody’s got their own good reason why their favourite season is their favourite season”.
mp3: james - what for mp3: echo and the bunnymen - the game
alison eales from butcher boy:
I'm waking up to Labi Siffre, and wondering how I managed to stay asleep for so long. His songs are diverse, unpretentious, and performed with tangible joy. I'm literally waking up to him as well - I have 'It Must Be Love' set as my alarm, and it is proving to be a very nutritious musical breakfast.
mp3: labi siffre - it must be love
who we are
i love music, but i can't play it for the life of me, so i might as well try writing instead. hope you like it. i'm from singapore, where there really is good music if you look hard enough. i'd love to hear from you (yes, you): email@example.com
I'm a four stringing minstrel of doom, and hired gun for the odd band or two. Few things excite me more than music, and whiskey soaked vocals are a definite plus, so please be sure to send some my way. When I'm not contributing to I'm Waking Up To and MAP, you should follow my misadventures at http://litford.wordpress.com And yes! I'd love to hear from you too: firstname.lastname@example.org
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