Feb 13 2012

Cougar Microbes Writer Picks 2011: Nicole’s Top 10

The Black Keys – El Camino

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

The Decemberists – The King Is Dead

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire

As a die-hard Ryan Adams fan – hello! – I have nothing bad to say about his latest creation. He can do no wrong. He’s always had the ability to defy genre, and his forte is in crafting timeless classics. And by classic I mean, modern day Neil Young – there I said it.

This time around, on ‘Ashes & Fire‘, he discards all pretense, offering up a series of stripped down ballads and a few crystallized pop songs (see: “Lucky Now”, “Invisible Riverside”, “Chains of Love”).

If you’re a sucker, like I am, for his folk-Americana roots, then be sure to give the title track a few spins. There’s nothing like those few opening verses. I don’t know what’s more thrilling – that or the laid-back love song, “Dirty Rain“.

If his “Wonderwall” cover taught us anything it’s that Ryan Adam‘s can be at his best when he pulls back, and for the most part ‘Ashes & Fire‘ is one of those albums: it’s strength is in its subtleties.

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

Little Dragon – Ritual Union

Yukimi Nagano’s vocals give major soul to this otherwise electro outfit, and the resulting combination is thoroughly modern. This Swedish band’s recent collaborations with the Gorillaz and SBTRKT are only bringing more attention to their own releases – and rightfully so. Nagano delivers a current take on R&B that’s outside the mainstream.

Must hear: “Little Man”, “Please Turn”, “Nightlight”.

My Morning Jacket – Circuital

Rich and free-wheeling rock n’ roll with masterful arrangements.  “Circuital” is an overall solid album, full of peaks and valleys, providing the listener with a complete experience.

Key Tracks: “Victory Dance” “Circuital” “Wonderful” “Holding On To Black Metal

Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde

The Smith Westerns self-titled debut album came as a breath of fresh air in all its fuzzed-out, adolescent glory. So with the release of the more fully realized ‘Dye It Blonde‘ there was a bit of an adjustment. Though the sound got cleaned up all the flirtatious lyrics and wonky guitar remain.

Yuck – Yuck

Wilco – The Whole Love

How do you begin to review a new Wilco album?  This is a band that’s tended to the hearts and minds of listeners everywhere for 17-freakin’ years!  They’re in a class of their own.

What stands out is how inventive they are. This album in particular explores some ambient noise moments that would be space-age if not leveled by Jeff Tweedy’s down-to-earth vocals. ‘The Whole Love‘ is a rhythmic dreamscape that covers a lot of turf. It’s masterfully refined pop and melancholia sandwiched between two starkly different 10 minute tracks, beginning with a wicked melt-your-face guitar solo and ending gently with a lullaby. Delicious!

The Kills – Blood Pressures

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

TRACKS:

Ritual Union by Little Dragon

Dirty Rain by ryanadams

Circuital by My MORNING JACKET

Smith Westerns – Weekend

Get Away by Yuck

Wilco – I Might

The Black Keys – Lonely Boy

Calgary by boniver

The Decemberists – Down By The Water

The Kills – Future Starts Slow


Feb 12 2012

Cougar Microbes Writer Picks 2011: Thom’s Top 10

1. Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

2. M83- Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

3. The Strokes – Angeles

On their latest album, The Strokes never promised to be anything other than themselves. Although rarely wandering from their earnest and melodic rock and roll, Angles‘ is another visceral slice of slick indie.

4. Lykke li – Wounded Rhymes

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

5. Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx – We’re New Here

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

6.Tieranniesaur – Tieranniesaur!

Tieranniesaur have the perfect mix of dirty dance riffs and pop melodies, ‘rockblocker‘ off their debut album was the perfect summer drunken night, and one of the coolest songs of the year.

7. Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part II

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

8. Alexander – Alexander

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

9. The Whip – Wired Together

The Whip really nailed their sound on wired together. It saunters with unshakable confidence, delivering atmospheric and avante garde synth pop whilst never getting above it’s station.

10. White Lies – Rituals

Even without the atmospheric density and grit that covers ‘Ritual‘s outer punk rock layers, it is an album of solid songwriting. Its fog only creates a more complex and moving second album.

TRACKS:

Calgary by boniver

Midnight City by M83

01-Rockblocker by tieranniesaur

The Whip: Keep Or Delete

White Lies – Strangers

I Follow Rivers by LykkeLi

Gil Scott-Heron And Jamie XX – NY Is Killing Me

Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win (featuring Santigold) by Beastie Boys

ALEXANDER – Truth


Feb 7 2012

Cougar Microbes Writer Picks 2011: Olivia’s Top 10

1. M83- Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

2: Kanye West & Jay Z – Watch The Throne

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

3: Atlas Sound – Parallax

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

4. Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts

For those who don’t know Thurston Moore he’s the genius behind Sonic Youth. With his solo work he offers something very different from the raw material that characterizes his band. This album is very personal, folky and acoustic, oh and it’s produced by none other than Beck. Perfect on a rainy autumn day.

5. John Maus – We Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves

John Maus sometimes sounds so stereotypical that we might wonder if his music is just a big joke ! Everything is exaggerated and weird, from the way he inserts strange sounds when you least expect it, or his obvious nonstop mimicking of Ian Curtis. It’s a lot to handle, but somehow it works perfectly.

6. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

7. Cut Copy – Zonoscope

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

8. Nicolas Jaar – Space is Only Noise

Jaar is only 21, but he already released one of the most acclaimed and talked about album of the year. I think that says it all.

9. The Kills – Blood Pressures

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

10. Metronomy – The English Riviera

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

TRACKS:

Atlas Sound – The Shakes

John Maus. Hey Moon

Benediction by Thurston Moore

Nicolas Jaar – Space Is Only Noise If You Can See (Dave Aju Remix)

Metronomy – The Look

Jay-Z & Kanye West – Ni@#as In Paris ft. T.I. (Remix)

Midnight City by M83

The Kills – Future starts slow [vinyl version] FullHD

Need You Now by cutcopymusic

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues


Feb 2 2012

Cougar Microbes Writer Picks 2011: Kyle’s Top 10

1 – Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

Mogwai yet again releases an amazingly ambient yet centrally driving album filled with anticpatory progressions and songs that blend sonically disparate sections as if they were just one melodic chorus.

2 – Yeasayer – End Blood

Yeasayer’s ‘End Blood‘ EP made the list thanks to its incredibly different acoustical musings from previous efforts. Described by the band as “two ideas that didn’t fit on (2010 album) Odd Blood” its a radical shift for the relatively newly established band, and hopefully the sound of things to come.

3 – Tech N9ne- All 6’s and 7’s


4 – Ashtar Command – American Sunshine

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

5 – Das Racist – Relax

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here


6 – Sbtrkt – SBTRKT

7 – Yelawolf- Radioactive

8 – Atlas Sound – Parallax

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

9 – Sean Douglas –  If We’re Dying

Sean Douglas fills a void in pop music with somewhat of a Billy Joel and Elton John have a threesome with The Fray sort of vibe.  The emotions behind the songs are clear, the musical backing to his excellent and punchy voice is melodic and radio-ready, and the album as a whole works as a thoroughly orchestrated composition.

10 – The Difference – We Are Not The Same


TRACKS:

Mogwai – Mexican Grand Prix

Yeasayer – Swallowing the Decibels

TECH N9NE feat CEZA, JL, USO, YELAWOLF, TWISTA, BUSTA, D.LOC, TWISTED INSANE – WORLDWIDE CHOPPERS

“Mark IV (ft. Joshua Radin)” – Ashtar Command

Das Racist – Rainbow in the dark

SBTRKT – Wildfire

Yelawolf – The Hardest Love Song In The World

Atlas Sound – The Shakes

“Unconditional” – Sean Douglas

Out Of Order by The Difference


Feb 1 2012

Cougar Microbes Writer Picks 2011: Emily’s Top 10

1) Gotye – Making Mirrors

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

2. Adele – 21

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

3. The Decemberists – The King is Dead

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here

4. Rufus Wainwright – House of Rufus

A massive 19-disc box set of all the magic of Rufus—live performances, albums, singles and b-sides. Even though I could never afford this, it makes the list for best releases. And my Christmas wish list.

5. Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here.

6. Paul Simon – So Beautiful or So What

I have always surrendered to anything written by Paul Simon, but this album has charm and wit in spades. He even managed to hold back on that penchant for African drumming.

7. Florence and the Machine – Ceremonials

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here.

8. City & Colour – Little Hell

Although I’m the first to admit this album doesn’t top City & Colour’s previous efforts, it says a lot that it still crushes most other releases of the year.

9. Cake – Showroom of Compassion

Made the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011 list here.

10. J Mascis – Several Shades of Why

I’m not usually brave enough to name a favourite album, but this year it was easy. Mascis brings the power of Dinosaur Jr, the simplicity of bare and honest lyrics, and then his godlike guitar virtuosity, to bear in this true 2011 masterpiece.

TRACKS:

Eyes Wide Open by Gotye

Adele – Rolling In The Deep

The Decemberists – This Is Why We Fight

Calgary by boniver

The Afterlife by Paul Simon

Florence & The Machine – What the Water Gave Me (DhARMA Edit)

City and Colour – We Found Each Other In The Dark

J Mascis – Not Enough


Jan 31 2012

Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011: TV On The Radio – Nine Types Of Light

Tv On The Radio didn’t take too long to follow up 2009’s brilliant ‘Dear Science,‘ and as usual didn’t disappoint. This time the Brooklyn outfit set up camp on the West Coast and the sunnier climate appears to have seeped through to these tracks.

With another mild change of direction the tracks on ‘Nine Types Of Light‘ have borrowed some of the horns from its predecessor but definitely comes across as a more laid back affair.

Lyrically frontman Tunde Adebimpe and singer-guitarist Kyp Malone seem less preoccupied with tales of apocalypse and the end of the world and more focussed on making sure you tell the ones you love exactly how you feel for them. That this would be the last album Gerard Smith would appear on before his untimely death makes this all the more poignant.

Meanwhile, special praise should go to guitarist and producer extraordinaire Dave Sitek for realizing that the band’s sound needed a tweak and for incorporating some of the ideas he has been involved with in his “other” projects recently. TVOTR haven’t lost the electricity that initially made us fall in love with them, they have just refined the way they administer it to us.

TRACKS:

TV On The Radio – “Will Do”

Nine Types of Light - TV On the Radio


Jan 28 2012

Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011: Tyler, The Creator – Goblin

 Last year I sat through a blogger and A&R roundtable organized by one of the majors in London. In between talk of “organic artist growth” and “breakout singles” The name of the Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, and more specifically Tyler, The Creator‘s ‘Yonkers‘ video,  came up several times as the label people seemed genuinely baffled by the success the collective were enjoying and the way they had gone about it.

Then in May he followed this up with his first non-independently released album ‘Goblin‘ acting as a metaphorical punch to the stomach. In between persistent arguments with his inner voices, tongue-in-cheek suggestions that  we  “kill people, burn shit, fuck school” and general disclaimers to his position as hip hops posterchild Tyler spits some of the best venom since Eminem’s debut album.

Cole found himself asking “Is ‘Goblin’ a comedy album? I still don’t know. Tracks like “Yonkers” are dark, featuring samples that seem to be pulled from horror films. The rhymes constantly reference murder and explicit sex, and flow slowly as if they were first written to be high school poems. The album confuses me to no end, and I can’t stop listening to it“.


TRACKS:

Tyler The Creator – She (feat. Frank Ocean)

Goblin - Tyler, The Creator


Jan 26 2012

Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2011: Ashtar Command – American Sunshine

 The musical superduo Ashtar Command, composed of Chris Holmes (Sir Paul McCartney‘s go to DJ) and Brian Liesegang (Founding member of Filter) first showed up on our radar with a track on the PS3 game ‘Red Dead Redemption‘. Their debut album ‘American Sunshine‘ was an unexpected and delightful revelation.

Chief Cougar Microbes collaborator Kyle hailed it as an “incredible masterpiece that should be known collectively throughout the web as the most underrated album of 2011 .

 The album is slightly conceptual, non-surprisingly themed around an “American Sunshine” indie-super-collabo-album idea.  Which basically means they have everyone from Har Mar Superstar, Rachel Yamagata and Alex Ebert, to Joshua Radin and Z. Berg doing their thing.

However it never feels that these artists were just added in ‘just because’.  There is no gimmick here, its pure music.  The tracks combine a range of haunting algorithmic synth-outs to indie progressive rockfests that leave your ears and soul wanting more.

 Hopefully Holmes and Liesegang feel that yearning and continue to release incredibly original and unique musical experiences long into the future. If 2012 isn’t the end of the world that is“.


TRACKS:

“Blister of The Spotlight (ft. Rachael Yamagata)” – Ashtar Command

“Mark IV (ft. Joshua Radin)” – Ashtar Command