Saturday, December 31, 2011

The POP! Stereo Top 25 Albums of the Year!

2011…what can you say about a year when the economy remained in the proverbial shitter, the markets were up and down more than The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, the housing market still hasn’t bottomed out, unemployment is staggering, people rioted, people occupied, people got pissed off to the highest of pissividity, Kim Kardashian got married, then got divorced, the Cardinals won the world series, and Tiger Woods was out of action? I know…its OVER.
Thank god!

Musically, things were MUCH better (well not from a sales perspective) and so much great stuff came out this past year, I couldn’t even keep track of it all. There was SO much, that we had to take a hiatus just to catch our breath.

As could be expected we’ve compiled our Top 25 Albums of the year. It’s a diverse bunch of artists that kind of keeps our belief that good music is good music whatever the genre. We always have a debate about this stuff and that’s half the fun. The one thing that was easy to decide was our album of the year. We knew that way back at the beginning of summer. That was where the bar was set and everything else had to beat that or be close to it.

Anyway, grab a glass of champagne, have a sit down and have a look through. Let us know your thoughts and what your album of the year was we’d love to know.

25: Slow Club – Paradise
They created paradise this year with an album of indie pop that was filled with yearning and beauty.

24: Dum Dum Girls – Only In Dreams
They're fuzzy, they're lost in the 60's, they rock a garage like no one else can. What's not to love?

23: The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From The Vaccines
Sounding like it was recorded for 50 quid, the rawness and purity of this band shined through like a beacon of hope for British pop. They're one shot you'll look forward to getting.

22: The Kills – Blood Pressures
Still scuzzy, fuzzy and brilliant after all these years. The best coming together of an American and a Brit since World War II.

21: My First Earthquake – Friction
Probably the geekiest and most fun band I've ever encountered. How can you not love a band that writes a song about Enya and then references Kenny G w/in the song?

20: The Bell: Great Heat
This is one heck of a throwback to early 90's British Pop. Somewhere right now, Ian Brown is going, “Holy crap...”

19: MEN – Talk About Body
Le Tigre has just been out Le Tigre'd by one of its own.

18: Architecture In Helsinki – Moment Bends
What happens when indie pop gets funky? The Moment Bends is what.

17: Seapony – Go With Me
Harking back to Sarah Records, Seapony had us wondering if the label had been resurrected.

16: The Features – Wilderness
The biggest band no one has ever heard of returned with a genius of an album.

15: Sleeper Agent – Celebrasion
Anybody seen Jemina Pearl lately? We think Sleeper Agent might have kidnapped her.

14: Handsome Furs – Sound Kapital
The sexiest band on the planet didn't get a room...but they did release this.

13: Gus Gus – Arabian Horse
Lush, opulent, and amazing...kind of like their native Iceland w/o the cold.

12: The Chain Gang of 1974 – Wayward Fire
Punk funk, Disco punk whatever, these guys did it all w/in the course of an album. Angularity has never been so damn dancey.

11: Digitalism – I Love You Dude
Unlike Justice, Digitalism made a sophomore album we wanted to listen to on repeat a lot.

10: Beady Eye – Different Gear, Still Speeding
The lesser of the two Gallagher bands, Liam basically kept Oasis going and we still love Oasis even if they have a new name.

9: Cut Copy – Zonoscope
Can these guys do no wrong? Three albums, three home runs. Embracing indie, shoegazing, and dance in one giant bear hug they write songs that reach for the heavens and get there.

8: The Limousines –Get Sharp
If I Am The World Trade Center were to have become famous this is what they'd sound like now. Indie dance that's geeky, sugary sweet and FUN.

7: Mates of Sate – Mountaintops
This is the only band that can make us cry tears of joy.

6: Washed Out – Within & Without
The ghosts of shoegazing past all gathered together and possessed the members of Washed Out to record this album. From their name to the album title and everything in between this was the best album from 1992 released in 2011.

5: White Lies – Ritual
Fascinated by all things dark and depressing, White Lies has convinced us that love, death, sadness, and happiness are all good things especially when they're in a song. Manic depression has never sounded so good.

4: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – s/t
Oasis may be a thing of the past, and the brothers may hate each other but the Gallagher with the most to prove did not disappoint in 2011. Self doubting and dare we say it, humble, Noel proved himself to be a worthy solo artist. Say what you will but he knows how to write anthems and this album is packed with them.

3: The Good Natured – Skeleton
Technically this wasn't an album (well it sorta was in the States) but it's our countdown so tough. The Good Natured proved that gothic tendencies, post punk angularity, and massive synth pop hooks could combine to make one heck of a record. It also doesn't hurt that singer Sarah McIntosh is ridiculously adorable.

2: Summer Camp – Welcome To Condale
Summer Camp welcomed us to Condale, and we moved in. This was the perfect summer album filled with lots of throwback vibes, hooky songs, and Elizabeth Sankey's soaring vocals. For a dynamic duo, they proved that great things do come in small packages...or bands.

1: Martin Solveig – SMASH
SMASH was exactly as it's name says, a smash. This was a perfect record in every sense; catchy, fun, influenced by everything, filled with awesome guest stars, it had it all. The songs were everywhere...even Target used, “Hello,” and the videos Martin and his team put together were self-deprecating, hilarious, and so well done they need to do a movie. Some people get it and clearly Martin Solveig does. In a really sucky year, SMASH made us laugh, made us dance, and made us have fun. It was perfect escapism and that's why it's our album of the year.

So there you have it...our favorite albums of 2011. Coming on Monday we'll look at the five most anticipated albums of 2012. It's not even January 10th yet and it looks like it's going to be a great year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Whipping It Into A FevrPitch

Dubstep, drumpstep DJ/producer/remixer extraordinaire Kill Paris, and British dance music DJ/producer Mark Okoh, first collaborated on a remix of Mark's club hit, "Illegal" after connecting through SoundCloud. They came together once again a year later, on the track "Let Me See Your Hands", a song inspired by a trip to the legendary Coachella music festival in 2010. This time some anthemic vocals came courtesy of singer/song-writer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, Marty Rod. After the success of “Let Me See Your Hands” the idea of combining their differing styles of music (dance, dubstep and rock) to create something new, was an opportunity these three producers could not resist, and FEVRPITCH was born.

FEVRPITCH is like a Nick Hornby novel...fricking fantastic.  Super slick and ridiculously catchy, these guys create electro that takes everything they know and fuses it into something better than the sum of their parts.  Just listen to, "Running Away."  It's the type of song you can imagine being on the radio, in a TV show, packing out a dancefloor, and everything in between.

FEVRPITCH will hopefully be more than a minor side project for those involved.  The songs are too good, the talent is to great, and the potential is limitless.  They're so good, they'll work you into a err...fever pitch.   

Download: Running Away (via Sendspace)
Watch: Running Away

Time To Get Cultastic

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I once wrote about a band named Her Lips Might Shatter. They were a dark synthpop project from wunderkind, Alisa Nizhniy. (You can check that post out HERE.)

As these things go, I lost touch with Alisa and kind of wondered whatever happened to HLMS. Then fate kind of tapped me on the shoulder and introduced me to Cultastic!

Culttastic is the latest synth-pop solo project from electronic music producer Alisa the DJ enchantress, contortionist, vocalist and self-produced musician whose back and better than ever.

A little less rooted in dark synthpop and a bit more rooted in witch house and j-pop (holy weird influences Batman), Cultastic is like a hybrid of all three. Dark rhythms, and chilled beats sidle next to sugary pop thrills and massive hooks. It might sound a bit confusing, but the songs are good enough where it all flows together flawlessly.

Alisa is flexible in every way imaginable not only physically but also musically and Cultastic is clearly an outlet for that. Just listen and you'll see for yourselves. Whether it's Her Lips Might Shatter, Culttastic, or her just programming a MIDI controller, it's nice to have Alisa back making music.

Download: I'm The Night
Download: I'm The Night (Witch House Remix)
Download: Teach Me How To Dougie (Cultastic Post Remix)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Chalk And Numbers Twee It Up

Brooklyn's Chalk And Numbers make modern Indie Pop with Classic Pop touches. Inspired by their favorite artists, such as The Beach Boys and Dusty Springfield, they use older recording techniques to capture the charm of antiquated sounds and do their damndest to avoid all things modern (and digital) during the the recording process.  (They allow those influences to come out during performances and writing songs.)

Undoubtedly lo-fi as a result of this lack of technology, Chalk And Numbers don't veer into the palace of over distortion that most modern lo-fi bands inhabit.  That alone is something to celebrate. Their goal is great sounding, modern indie pop music that's ridiculously catchy and sugary sweet.  They've met their goal on their debut EP and exceeded it.

Sounding like the 60's if it happened in your living room right now along with so many twee bands I can't even begin to type them all out Chalk And Numbers are the kind of band you want to bring home to your parents.  They're the kind of band you want to give a hug to and watch your girlfriend skip along to.  They right gorgeous pop songs that are so easy to fall in love with it's a little creepy.  These guys, simply put, are fab.  

Their debut E.P., He Knew, is available now and features six original songs by Andrew Pierce.

Download: Summer Nights
Download: Happiness This Time Of Year (never to late for a Holiday song)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Nedry Live In Dim Light

Nedry are a trio by way of London, Osaka and Bristol whose distillation of advanced rhythmic structures, low frequencies and raw human tones stand uniquely at a fascinating sonic crux of leftfield, club and indie juncture.

Drawing on the gothic undertones of David Lynch – and at points, absorbing T.S. Elliot’s ‘Four Quartets’, vocalist Ayu Okakita revels in ruminations urging acceptance of the shadows; to permit the darkness to settle around her.

Perhaps a bit Bjorkian in her vocal stylings Ayu takes thing in an unusual direction throughout the band's songs.  You can hear this on the two new songs they've just released.

A bit chillwave, a bit abstract, and totally sounding like something from the Warp back catalog, Nedry seem to compose songs that are weird but likeable and easy enough to latch on to for those who get confused easily.

Their new album, In A Dim Light, will be released 12 March 2012 on Monotreme Records. Available on CD and digital formats and as a 180 gm vinyl edition of 500 on black (200 copies) or white (300 copies) vinyl with a free CD of the album and a free 12" x 24" poster. Pre-orders also come with free bonus tracks.

Download: Float (Edit)
Download: Post Six

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Have A Merry Christmas

It's that time of the year again...chestnuts roasting on an open fire, time for a sleigh ride w/silver bells, in a winter wonderland while listening to a few of our favorite things.   And whether or not your knee deep in snow (like some of us) or drenched in sub-tropical sunshine (like the rest of us) we here at The POP! Stereo would like to wish you a fantastic Christmas.

Thank you for your continued support.  We really appreciate it.  While we can't give you all presents...we run a blog...not Conde Nast publishing, we can give you a bunch of songs.  So have at it, download these 10 songs a blarin, rip open some presents, drink eggnog and stay warm!

Until next time...have a holly jolly!

Download: Analog Players  Society - Christmas Time Is Here(left click)
Download: Goodman Brown - Holidays
Download: Laura Warshauer - I Love You Mr. Grinch (Von Ukuf Remix)
Download: Ghosty - Holiday Hymn (Vic Goddard Cover)
Download: Tenniscoats w/Oshiro Makoto - Priere
Download: Krashkarma - Nightmare on Christmas
Download: Josh T. Pearson - O Holy Night
Download: Tristen - Frosty The Snowman
Download: Ash Reiter - Blue Christmas
Download: Bullet & Snowfox - Christmas Wrapping (Waitresses Cover)
Watch: The Mountain Goats - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This Is Coco Machete

After nine years, and over 100 releases, New York City’s Coco Machete Records delivers its first eponymous collection with This Is Coco Machete. Far from being a retrospective, This Is Coco Machete places you smack in the middle of the label’s most recent, current club bangers. It’s been out exclusively on Beatport for a couple weeks and is available worldwide this week.

A mix of eclectic vocals and sonic inspirations could have only originated in the streets of New York City but have gone global. Many of the featured artists and remixers on This Is Coco Machete – No. 1 hail from every corner of the globe; Fukkk Offf & Jence of Digitalism come from Hamburg Germany; Oliver Twizt, The Netherlands; Zodiac Cartel & Disco of Doom pop in from the UK; Polymorphic & Noise Invaders rep Moscow; Mikix the Cat, Paris; NROTB & Hatchmatik are from the Great White North  and of course Spencer Product, Entyce & Debra Dolce are the resident natives from NYC. The compilation is simply for people who want to, as the label puts it, shake it all night long!  This is the sound of New York City, this is Coco Machete!

Download: D’ Secret SVC - Alley Cat (FUKKK OFFF Remix)
Listen: This Is Coco Machete No. 1

Saturday, December 10, 2011

PNAU Unites Us

Since the formation of PNAU Nick Littlemore and Peter Mayes have grown to become one of Australia’s most loved electronic acts. Having already released three critically acclaimed albums over in Australia it is with great excitement that PNAU announce the release of their new single “Unite Us” for Ministry of Sound on 5th February 2012.

Taken from their forthcoming album Soft Universe, set for release early next year, this supercharged anthem stands as the perfect introduction to the big, ambitious and elevating sound that has come to characterize PNAU. “Unite Us” is a supremely effervescent track. It surges with colour and positive energy bearing allusion to the musical output of Littlemore’s highly acclaimed side project Empire of the Sun. His impressive role as composer for the Cirque du Soleil in Paris, (he is the youngest musician ever to have filled the position) can also be felt in the track’s expansive sound.

To say, "Unite Us," isn't the very definition of epic would just be stupid.  This song sounds as expansive as the universe.  It's gargantuan...the kind of thing you'll hear echoing off of every rafter in every stadium ever.  It's massive stadium scale pop that's all conquering!  So unite behind us with this track and prepare for the Year of Pnau in 2012.

Download: Unite Us (Kris Menance Remix)

Heartstopper's Electro Pop Therapy

is a deeply personal EP that finds upcoming producer Eries 'Heartstopper' Cornelius combining the biggest genres of music to give addicted electronic fans the treatment they've been looking for. ElectroPopTherapy marks the first official release from Heartstopper and YCTP Music.

"Moments come and go," says Heartstopper, "but I feel like this is my moment to introduce the world to what I'm capable of. ElectroPopTherapy is a reflection of me and the different sounds that I grew to love. 

Recorded in Florida and sounding like it, Heartstopper takes that slightly cheesy sound that made the state famous, classes it up a bit and makes stuff that sounds like Bangers & Cash relocated to the middle of the state and moved into Celebration.

"Nasty Girl," the download below, is a sweaty, messy, and sloppy seconds slice of electro that's guaranteed to pack out floors.

Download: Nasty Girl

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fol Chen Get Technical

Ever-innovative, enigmatic LA collective Fol Chen is proud to announce their collaboration with Monome. The band worked hand in hand with Monome and The Machine Project to create the Tetrafol, a pyramidal sound manipulation device that will be available through Monome shortly.

According to the folks at Monome, the Tetrafol is, "a hand-held tangible electronic sound toy. Circuits enclosed by a wooden tetrahedron detect orientation and motion-gestures to modify the playback of a collection of Fol Chen's micro-compositions, allowing the user to explore sound through physical manipulation. The battery-powered device has its own internal speaker but can additionally be hooked up to a headphone or amplifier. The circuit and firmware are based on open-source hardware and is itself published as open-source, allowing anyone interested to learn about its deepest inner-workings." The devices are hand assembled and will be limited to an edition of 100, making them remarkably unique.

The device will come pre-loaded with the sounds Fol Chen created for new tracks "So Good" and "Back on Kent," allowing people to create their own take on the song, but users will be able to upload their own music to the device for manipulation as well.

Download: Back on Kent
Download: So Good

Everything's Golden

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Golden (David Adusei) was brought up in a Ghanaian household with a lot of pop, R&B and native West African music being played. He moved to Raleigh, NC at the age of 10 and took guitar lessons.

After 2 years of lessons, he started experimenting with sequencer programs and voice manipulation. Shortly after, he started writing lyrics and singing. Now living in Wilmington, NC, he attends University of North Carolina. He started deejaying house parties and getting into more different forms of dance music. He deejays regularly in Wilmington and a few parties along the East Coast.

He's been inspired by a lot of dance producers and bands that he's discovered. Adusei also takes his inspirations from R&B, disco, African funk, and soul music. He continues to focus on music and develop his sound to draw a stronger connection with listeners.

Golden's Desirée EP is out now!

Download: Destinee

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fanfic Love Nights In Berlin

Back when I used to do radio there used to be this guy named Marco. Marco was a cool kid. He was all combat boots and Front Line Assembly t-shirts. He was Belgian and was the only person I knew who could say Einsterzende Neubauten. He did a show where he played industrial/nu beat and he used to play tapes because the stuff he had was so underground it didn't know it existed yet. He also ALWAYS ran over his allotted time, which used to drive us metal kids NUTS.

Why am I telling you this? Well this band called Fanfic from that most European of areas, Texas, seem to look like they'd be some sort of post electroclash unit but in fact may actually be the children of Marco! Fanfic create dark electronic pop which has its roots closer to old school industrial and Depeche Mode than it does anything post 2003. These guys write songs you pull rope to while smoking illegal Clove cigarettes.

Are they good? Oh heck yeah they're good. They're so good in fact, that you'll want to don a trenchcoat and speak with a thick Belgian accent after listening to them. So why not get in touch with your inner goth and join Fanfic in a graveyard!

Download: Damaged
Download: Touchmachine
Download: Nights In Berlin

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Noah & The Whale Give It All Back

Following recent music videos and singles for "Waiting For My Chance to Come" and "Life is Life," London's Noah and The Whale is back with it's latest single, Give It All Back.  The music video, directed by lead singer, Charlie Fink marks the second Fink-directed music video of the five from the band's most recent album, Last Night on Earth.

Paired with the release of the video comes a free download of the brand new "Give It All Back" remix from UK electronic artist, Chad Valley. Chad Valley, aka Hugo Manuel, joins Fake Blood, RAC, Yuksek, and Bibio in providing remixes to support Noah and The Whale's Last Night on Earth.

Download: Give It All Back (Chad Valley Remix)
Watch: Give It All Back

Friday, December 2, 2011

HeavyFeet Still Love You

are two music producing, tea drinking, radio show presenting, industry critiquing, cake loving, studio gear buying, blog writing chaps from the rainy city, Manchester.

This dynamic duo have taken the Switch & Andrea Martin tune, "I Still Love You," and turned it into something that sounds like a long lost Deep Dish recording. A sweeping and uplifting remix, HeavyFeet have created a massive vocal house tune out of something that was originally abstract and jittery.

It shouldn't work but the remix does work, and works well and I'd almost say it outdoes the original.

Download: I Still Love You (HeavyFeet Re-work)

Archers of Loaf Release Vee Vee Once Again

On February 21, Merge will reissue Archers of Loaf’s sophomore release, Vee Vee, on dbl-CD, limited-edition green LP and digital download.

Remastered by Bob Weston and featuring new liner notes by MAGNET magazine editor Eric Miller, physical copies of Vee Vee will include sixteen bonus tracks and new cover art re-imagined by graphic artist Jay Ryan. Reissues of All the Nation’s Airports and White Trash Heroes will follow later in 2012.

The first full-length produced by Bob Weston, Vee Vee was a slight departure from the previous bombastic noisepop that characterized Archers of Loaf’s previous work, and it proved that the band wasn’t just a flash in the pan. The album became their best-selling album to date and landed them on the covers of most fanzines and at the top of college radio charts across the country. “Harnessed in Slums” and “Greatest of All Time” became anthems of the underground and led to successful tours with the Flaming Lips and Weezer.

Here's the tracklisting...
Disc 1 -
1. Step into the Light
2. Harnessed in Slums
3. Nevermind the Enemy
4. Greatest of All Time
5. Underdogs of Nipomo
6. Floating Friends
7. 1985
8. Fabricoh
9. Nostalgia
10 Let the Loser Melt
11. Death in the Park
12. The Worst Has Yet to Come
13. Underachievers March and Fight Song

Disc 2 -
1. Harnessed in Slums ’95 (Bob Weston Radio Mix, 1995)
2. Telepathic Traffic (“Harnessed in Slums” single, Alias, 1995)
3. Don’t Believe the Good News (“Harnessed in Slums” single, Alias, 1995)
4. Smoking Pot in the Hot City (7” single, Esther, 1995)
5. Mutes in the Steeple (7” single, Esther, 1995)
6. Mark Price P.I. (out of print)
7. Bacteria (The Speed of Cattle, Alias, 1996)
8. Equinox (unreleased) (J. Coltrane)
9. (Big Joe and) Phantom 309 (out of print) (T. Faile)
10. 1985 (Marathon Boombox Demo)
11. Fabricoh (Marathon Boombox Demo)
12. Nostalgia (Marathon Boombox Demo)
13. Let the Loser Melt (Vee Vee 4-Track Demo)
14. Underdogs of Nipomo (Vee Vee 4-Track Demo)
15. Nevermind the Enemy (Vee Vee 4-Track Demo)
16. Don’t Believe the Good News (Vee Vee 4-Track Demo)

Download: Harnessed In Slums

Thursday, December 1, 2011

You've Got That Turnpike Glow

Turnpike Glow
started life in Italy but are now UK based, bringing their sunny, quirky Phoenix influenced sound to Britain’s rainy shores.

Sandro Schiena (vocals / guitar / keys) and Giuseppe La Mela (vocals / bass / keys) started the band in Rome, in a scene marginalised by glossy Italian mainstream pop and insider trading. However, with their Pavement / Phoenix inspired sound, they soon found themselves supporting acts like Cooper Temple Clause, The Futureheads and The Constantines.

It wasn't long before Sandro and Giuseppe, the songwriting core of the band, moved to London armed with only their guitars and a bag full of European plug adaptors! One rainy Sunday, they bumped into Anthony J. Hutchinson (drums) and Jeremy Levy (guitar) busking on the tube in giant sombreros. They talked, they laughed and eventually, they joined forces to become… Turnpike Glow!

An official single will be released in early 2012, along with their debut EP but in the meantime...enjoy The Turn, The Pike And The GlowDownload: The Turn, The Pike, The Glow

Metallic Havoc N Deed

Ok...if you're like me, you're an old fan of metal.  Yeah electro is great...but nothing beats Slayer's "Raining Blood."

Long before The POP! Stereo came into existence, I used to do a fanzine (Cerebral Holocaust) that covered death metal, grind, and thrash.  I used to be somebody back then!  Ha.  Anyway, while I don't listen to new stuff that frequently, I always have time for the classics.

So, when HavocNDeed sent this mix to POP! Stereo HQ today, it was like Satan himself presented us with a Christmas present (get the irony) of epic proportions.

This is like amazing beyond all amazing and has so many thrash classics on it that it makes me feel like I'm 18 again. Laaz Rockit even makes an appearance! Holy Hell...they only ever had like five fans to begin with!

Anyway, download this like now and praise the goat!  Speaking of the goat...nice "cover version" of the Venom classic for the cover art.

Bound By Metal Mix by HavocNdeeDsounD

You'll Break The Internet

Odd Future's The Internet (Syd The Kyd & Matt Martians) will release their debut album Purple Naked Ladies featuring "Love Song -1", "They Say" and "Cocaine" on Odd Future Records digitally on December 20th. The physical version featuring 3 bonus tracks and exclusive art and packaging will be in stores Jan 17th. Digital release track listing below.

DEC. 20, 2011 (Digital)
1. Violet Nude Women
2. They Say/Shangrila (ft. Tay Walker)
3. She Dgaf
4. C*nt
5. Cocaine/Tevie (ft. Left Brain)
6. Ode to a Dream (ft Kilo Kish & Coco O.)
7. Gurl (ft. Pyramid Vritra).
8. Love Song -1
9. Lincoln (ft. Mike G & Left Brain)
10. Web of Me
11. She Knows
12. Fastlane
13. Visions (ft. Coco O.)
14. The Garden

Until the release enjoy a smattering of tracks from The Internet including a Little Dragon remix.

Download: Cocaine (Little Dragon Kåkejn remix)
Listen: The Say
Listen: Love Song - 1