In the grand scheme of things, Animal Collective’s fever-pitch impact on the internet music world of 2009 isn’t much of a blip, but to my friends and I, living and breathing and freaking out on last.fm, it was the event of an age.
A lot of my friends just can’t get past Kanye West‘s outsize personality, and I think that’s a damn travesty. He’s not just a good rapper and producer; he’s a bonafide superstar with the gravity to pull in a who’s-who of incredible artists. He might shine too bright in public for your tastes, but he shines even brighter on record.
Despite all this, I’m a firm believer that one listen to Monster should be all anyone needs to become a fan. For this track from his 2009 opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye’s managed to corral Jay-Z, Rick Ross, and most notably Nicki Minaj for set of ferocious verses that more than justify the name.
This tune is one of the best posse cuts I’ve ever heard. It’s on par with a lot of great Wu-Tang material; just flawless verse after flawless verse, a parade of wildly different personalities detonating as one cohesive sound. It’s kind of insane to read just today that West doesn’t think the album is as good as us fans do.
Brock Van Wey took a headfirst leap off the end point of dub techno last year into the oceanic swells of ambient bliss on this first album under his given name. Instead of crashing into the waves and sinking, the man usually known as Bvdub simply took flight and never looked down. This is White Clouds Drift On And On.
Black To Comm came to my attention in a single instant: walking with my girlfriend into her favorite Manhattan record shop, Other Music, and spotting this artwork on the new release rack. I was drawn in, picking it up, staring into its depths. I had absolutely no idea who the artist was, but I wanted to know how it sounded. Unfortunately, at the time I was short on cash and wanted a known quantity – an album sure to justify my purchase. Fortunately, my friend Samuel at Bubblegum Cage III highlighted the error in distrusting my gut instincts that day.
JJ have dropped the newest dose of ecstatic balearic pop bliss from Sweden’s very own Sincerely Yours. This one’s a keeper, and the perfect balm to tide over fans of On Trade Winds and No Way Down until the next seismic event from that beguiling corner of the world.
Fans of Air France, Studio, and (to an extent) The Tough Alliance are well-prepared for this gorgeous dream experience. Everyone else: look at that cover, realize it’s not a hiphop album, and jump right in. Equatorial synth tones, reverbed percussion, hushed acoustics, tropicalia vibes, gently pulsing dub bass, and narcotic siren’s-call vocals all conspire in tugging unresisting listeners into a sweet dream of intimacy and comfort, warmth on the beach with a new lover. This is insanely easy to fall for.
Desire Lines manages to swallow up everything but the kitchen sink, every touchstone of the artists’ collective sound base, while retaining a densely unified sound and singular feel throughout. The entire trip is anchored by a heavy dub foundation and shrouded in a balaeric beach party ensemble, shot through with airy acoustic and scruffy funk electric guitar. Darkly futuristic keyboard lines weave into and around breathless moments of sunny ecstasy that lift the eargasm potential far above mere dance floor slow burns. Every moment is blessed with a loose, jazzy attitude which belies the group’s disconnection from the club and the more introspective nature of this heady excursion. All of these statements are true, yet merely dance around the compulsively head-nodding appeal of Desire Lines. This is an album to unwind to, whether out on the town or back at home. It’s something you’ll end up listening to alone most often, despite the instantly gratifying beats and approachable nature – any friend with a working set of ears would be thankful for an introduction – it’s just too engrossing a listen when surrendering full attention. One look at the cover art probably gave more of an impression than any of this paragraph, but if you have read this far, take my word that the visuals are certainly representative of the majestically dreamlike beauty captured by this album.