Tag Archives: 2012 albums

Top 18 Albums of 2012: #2 Hot Chip – In Our Heads

In Our Heads represents the moment when everything i want in music comes together in one package. The sublime confluence of rock and electronica. The English techno sound done right. Keyboard mastery and an epic beat. The nerdy singer who rocks like he belongs in a different body and is just plain cool as hell. The sound that pays homage to the 80’s, 90’s and beyond. It’s a band demonstrating that they haven’t fallen off on their 5th studio album. This was the sound i expected from Hot Chip on this go around and they delivered in a major way.

I remember when i first heard this album, i was sitting at my kitchen table and the sheer epicness of In Our Heads’ opening track, ‘Motion Sickness’ was fucking gripping:

What a way to start an album… What a way to come back from your first release in two years. I was hooked. I still am. This is the band that changed the dance rock game with the unforgettable ‘Over and Over’ …flipped it upside down and made it really fucking clear that this shit doesn’t need to be pop. They haven’t dropped off A SINGLE BIT.

There’s a certain pattern to a Hot Chip album that i’ve come to love and they executed it to a tee on In Our Heads. The slow jams you can’t quite shake, like ‘Look At Where We Are’, with the trippy re-verb droplet sound in the background….it’s the song that breaks you down early on the record and takes you away from their infectious dance beats..makes you wanna bring that someone closer…before resuming regularly scheduled dancing; With a classic upbeat love song in ‘These Chains,’ that borrows dubstep, old drum and bass beats and the signature Casio keys subtly placed in the background.

While Hot Chip warms you up with ‘These Chains,’ you’re violently eased (how that’s possible, i don’t know, but they pull it off) into the albums signature dance floor track, ‘Night and Day’:

LOVE the Reggie Watts cameo singing the very 80’s deep robot-o-tronic voice:

Let’s sweat, let’s sweat
Let’s sweat, let’s sweat
Let’s sweat, let’s sweat
Let’s sweat, let’s sweat
(You know I’m thinking about you) — Watts
Night & day & night
(You got me working) — Watts
Night & day & night
(You got me working) — Watts
Night & day & night
(You got me working) — Watts
Night & day & night

But the most spectacular moment on In Our Heads is ‘Flutes’. The most perfectly repetitive track i’ve ever heard. You gotta know your shit to pull this off. It’s flawlessly progressive as Alexis Taylor’s sultry voice guides us through the beat into the impeccable grand finale…..“One day you might realize…………That you will need to open your eyes!”:

After seeing the video, i always feel like the room is spinning around me when i hear this song…and i love that feeling. Of getting lost in a song and just surrendering to the beat for a moment.

Can you tell that i LOVE this band? Full disclosure, i’m a huge fucking fan. (Almost as big of a fan as this girl is.) Largely because they never disappoint me. In fact, they’ve been not disappointing me since The Warning changed the game in 2006. They’re one of the best damn bands on the planet, bar none…and they just put out my 2nd favorite album of 2012.

Hot Chip

Top 18 Albums of 2012: #5 Liars – WIXIW

I had to walk outside to reflect on this album. I had to put my headphones on and go for a walk. I had to be by myself and let this album seep into my core… WIXIW (pronounced wish-you) is a loner album. For me, it’s the best loner album of the year. It’s an album about complexity of sound. It’s an album about being a loner and about the difficulties and nuances that human beings experience in communicating and coexisting with each other. Make no mistake about, this is some dark shit.

On, ‘Who is the Hunter,’ singer Angus Andrews presents us with power struggles in relationships. “I never meant to run…I only blew my gun to watch which beast still runs”:

He speaks of the beast within. And the beast that we all have inside of us. Man or woman. Again, its dark…but there’s nothing else like it. The sounds are incredibly haunting and Andrews’ spooky voice only adds to the haunt. The progression on ‘Who is the Hunter’ sees new sounds being introduced on top of other sounds and again and again, until we’re left with an extravagant opus.

And now, i’ll go out on the proverbial fucking limb and compare how this band makes music to what Radiohead does. Whew….im sweating…this is hard… i know i’m contradicting what i’ve said in the past, but i mean this….Stay with me…. They’re industrial synth reminisces of Jonny Greenwood’s cryptic melodies. Like Thom Yorke, Andrews has a similar “eyes be closed, my mind is somewhere else besides here” style of singing, but his voice is deeper, like Nick Cave…. In fact, Liars previously opened for Radiohead. They push boundaries of sound, often venturing into the unknown….But i’ll stop it right there…and not go any further with the comparison, because Liars aren’t as accessible as Yorke and Co….And i’m ok with that. This is what makes them unique.

On the flipside though, the most accessible track on the album, is ‘No. 1 Against the Rush’…Here’s a live peek at them performing the song on KEXP:

The last effects push at the 4:23 mark into the songs closing crescendo just kills me.

The albums title track ‘WIXIW’ starts with spiraling stringed sounds and a drum beat, as Andrews sings into the distance:

“and now i see it’s not enough…..i wish you were here with me…..I can’t no longer take it all… Wish you would not come back to me.”

Lyrically, everything about WIXIW is as complex as the music that accompanies it. This is one of the most haunting albums i’ve ever heard. Intense themes and a defining style that refuses to be categorized. It’s a weird album, made by weird people, but i love that….It’s a work of art and keeps me guessing from start to finish. WIXIW breaks me down and that’s a mind altering feeling with music. No album did this in 2012 quite like WIXIW and the next four that you’ll read about from me in the coming days. With that:

#5 Album of 2012: Liars – WIXIW


Top 18 Albums of 2012: #7 The Walkmen – Heaven

Hey! Look who has a new domain name!  EverythingEcstatic.net is now the official domain of this page and that’s cool (Might take a day or two for the new domain to pop up on some browsers tho :-/). Also, if you’ve been following along with the list, take a second to Follow my blog either through WordPress (top of this page) or by e-mail (bottom of righthand column.) Thanks! Ok, enough babble, here’s today’s album:

It’s hard to believe that The Walkmen have been together for 10 years. It’s even harder to believe that Heaven marks the first time that they’ve brought in a producer to oversee the making of their album. And they didnt just get any producer, they brought in the legendary Phil Ek, who’s produced albums for Built to Spill, Fleet Foxes and The Shins to name a few. The guy’s resume speaks for itself. What ensued, is easily the band’s most mature album. This is a fine production and the essence of a timeless rock band, who are growing up. There’s no better way to understand what “growing up” means for The Walkmen than the video for the album’s title track, ‘Heaven’:

At the front of this band, is Hamilton Leithauser and what a frontman he is. The guy has serious style and stage presence. His bravado commands that you pay attention to him, but the feeling that this band is together as one is never lost. They put on a stellar performance at the Outside Lands Festival this year and there was the tall, slender Leithauser with his skinny black tie on, leading the band as they churned jam after jam off of Heaven an album that boasts so many awesome tracks…I can’t tell you how many times i’ve zoned out, listening to the melancholy ‘We Can’t Be Beat’, it’s one of the most beautiful songs i’ve ever heard.

The epic ‘Nightingales’, shows the expanse of Leithauser’s range above the bass drum kicks and woozy guitar strums, as the carefully placed tambourine clangs in the background. They pick up the energy on ‘The Love You Love’ and even though Heaven represents their most polished and mature work, this is one of the moments when you just wanna jump around, dance and lose control:

“What it is and what it should be! Baby I want everything…What it is and what it should be!”

The Walkmen made all the right moves on this album. None were bigger than bringing in Phil Ek to re-invent, but ultimately define the style that has carried this awesome band for a decade.