It took me quite a while to get into Daft Punk’s new single Get Lucky. At first I didn’t think it was that interesting, but after some time it made me realize that the new Daft Punk album didn’t need to be revolutionary to be fun to listen to. I was curious about the album, but as I’m not a diehard DP-fan, the extensive promotion for ‘Random Acces Memories’ didn’t do much for me. It became a massive hype though, the expectations were high. And as the album was forced to launch on iTunes yesterday, I didn’t hesitate a moment to give it a listen.
It all starts off well. A funky epic Get Lucky-ish opening followed by a more calm, laid-back and vocoder-voice track and the interesting speech on Giorgio on Moroder. After that, the box of ideas seemed to be empty. The tracks became repetitive and the album reached a bottom-low, with only Nile Rodger’s guitar-work, single Get Lucky and the Panda Bear-collaboration Doin’ it Right as the only good tracks on a generally disappointing album. Get Lucky did give the wrong impression of the total work, but the big promotion can’t be an excuse, ‘Random Access Memories’ fails to impress at every facet.
If you read our latest article on Vampire Weekend, about the first two singles of this album Step and Diane Young, you might already know how excited I was for ‘Modern Vampires Of The City’. Vampire Weekend’s first album is among my favourite indie albums of all time, then they released their second album ‘Contra’, an album that didn’t quite do it for me, and now they’re back with their third album and I must say, it gets me almost as happy as their first album. Though the youthful playfulness of their first album has been exchanged for a more well-thought mature sound, ‘Modern Vampires Of The City’ really shows the band’s artistry.
While the African rhythms and Peter Gabriel influences have moved to the background, even more than they did for the second album, the style is as you can expect, or at least I hoped for: ingenious, refreshing and warm. With songs like Step and Everlasting Arms, two of my favourites, being the band’s most emotionally heavy songs, the band has really shown versatility, even writing their most beautiful ever. For the more energetic listener, there’s also enough to be heard on the album, like the fun rocky Diane Young and new single Ya Hey.
A few months back I named Jai Paul’sJasminethe best track of 2012, as it had everything that year was about in it for me. Now in 2013, completely unexpected, Jai Paul, an artist who has always surrounded himself with mystery, has suddenly uploaded 16 tracks to his Bandcamp, without track titles, or any information. Though I know nothing about the album’s history and where this came from, I know one thing for sure: this is, to me, among the best albums, I have heard since Frank Ocean’s ‘Channel Orange’. I’m over the moon.
To leave the whole affair about what this is - read all about it here - I’ll go into the music. Jasmine sounded like a demo or something: clipping sounds, sounds heavily ducking eachother, the vocals blending in strangely, it all sounded unfinished. And that’s what this 16 tracks sound like too. Edits, unfinished stuff, but perfect in their imperfections: the imperfections together form a perfectly polished sound, and that is mainly because of the fact Jai Paul is a brilliant singer and songwriter whose tracks don’t need high-end studios. On the contrary, they need this kind of production to really stand out, to make it more personal and refreshing than anything.
To me, James Blake is one of the biggest geniuses of the 21st century. He is one of those artists that creates genres instead of adopting them. His debut album was fantastic; the electronic, experimental music combined with the vulnerable singing was a perfect match and set the trend for many other electronic musicians. Now his second album ‘Overgrown’ is released. The main difference with his debut album is the way he crafts the songs. On ‘James Blake’ the singing was submissive to the instrumentation; the singing was more an addition and used as an other instrument.
On ‘Overgrown’ James Blake tries to write more complete songs instead of experimenting with electronics and vocals. Through this some tracks sound a little bit overdone. Despite of these songs, ‘Overgrown’ is incredibly interesting and exorbitantly good. Life Round Here, Retrograde and Digital Lion really showcase what kind of genius James Blake is, being diverse and remaining a certain quality level on every song. Take A Fall For Me, featuring the legendary RZA, is definitely my favorite track of 2013 until now; it’s dark, sinister and unpredictable. ‘Overgrown’ really showcases that James Blake is both a great songwriter and experimental musician. He fulfilled the expectations he created with his debut album and shows that he is one of the most exceptional musicians of this century.
Sometimes not knowing an artist before listening to him or her, can make you obsolete, you tend to think: “Well I don’t know it yet, so I don’t like it.” Something slightly similar happened when I heard about Kurt Vile. I didn’t want to take the time to discover him, but I’m glad I did by listening to his most recent album; the first of him I heard, which actually is his fourth already. Usually you start comparing people’s fourth albums to the three before. This time around though I compared all his past albums to the newer one which I heard first and it made me happy to see I discovered Kurt Vile at the right time: at his best so far.
It seems like Vile took the best parts of his first albums, added stuff like Real Estate as influences and created his best work so far. Unlike his previous album Kurt Vile started writing properly structured songs, though they all have something in common: they start from a simple riff and end up to be great songs from time to time, though in the end you might feel like you listened to one long song, and that’s my only complaint: the lack of variation or peaks.