the xx

Some albums Ricky enjoyed in 2009 (and when to listen to them)

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | 1 Comment

Toronto – Albums are such a funny thing. For an album to sound right, you need to have

a) the appropriate amount of time
b) the right mood
c) mark’s crazy stereo system

most of the time, I do not have choice #c, so I rely on my headphones instead. I use:

1x1.trans Some albums Ricky enjoyed in 2009 (and when to listen to them)

Grado SR60 when I’m at work. This is because it’s very comfortable, and it also bleeds music, so I can subliminally affect peoples music tastes around me. Sometimes people can hear me from 2 cubicles away. Awesome. Maybe this also makes me an ass, but I have yet to hear anyone complain openly. While I am on the streets representing, I’m styling the Denon AHD1001‘s

1x1.trans Some albums Ricky enjoyed in 2009 (and when to listen to them)

These babies also double as ear muffs in the winter. Sure they look big and clunky, but definitely you feel a good sense of superiority as some idiot struts onto the subway with their 30$ skullcandy headphones thinking they are all hype and shit. No fool, you are not. On the flipside, I bet someone in 500$ headphones is looking at me the same way “poser! you claim to like music, but can’t spend 500$ on a pair of headphones! fool!”. I am however reminded that people with 500$ headphones probably don’t take the subway, so it’s okay. The point is, I highly recommending getting headphones for good music enjoyment while not at home.

Back to albums. There were a lot of records vying for people’s attentions this year, and if you have read a lot of music blogs, you will probably have a faint idea as to what these albums are. I’ll take a different approach and give you a good time to listen to each of these albums, as the right album and the wrong time can mean a very different experience. For example, you wouldn’t want to play Dizzee Rascal at a funeral. Unless it’s Dizzee Rascal’s funeral.

So without further delay, here are some albums I enjoyed in 2009

1x1.trans Some albums Ricky enjoyed in 2009 (and when to listen to them)

Suede – Dog Man Star – OF COURSE I enjoyed this album in 2009. I’ve enjoyed this album in all previous years too. Haha. I just put this down to annoy Josh and probably the rest of the writers. Anyways, when would you want to listen to this? always. However, probably not on a sunny day, or when there’s a lot of people at a party having a good time..unless you want them to go home.

okay, on to the real 2009 albums I’ve enjoyed and when to listen to them.

The album for listening to really late at night when you are driving on a city highway
1x1.trans Some albums Ricky enjoyed in 2009 (and when to listen to them)

The XX – XX – Something different is always good, in this case, it was the XX’s dark, melodic and minimalistic album about love and other stuff. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t really pay attention to the lyrics on this album, so I’ll be damned if I know what ‘Crystallized’ is about other then maybe some sort of scientific process that Gary or Tom may or may not have written essays about. It’s good.

Listen to this when you are doing some last minute coding before a 3 and a half week vacation, desperately trying to make it so your employers will not call you in case something catastrophic happens at work (I just did this)

1x1.trans Some albums Ricky enjoyed in 2009 (and when to listen to them)

Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest – For the longest time I resisted this album, simply because I have rarely really enjoyed albums from bands named after North American animals. Caribou, Panda Bear .. wait a minute. Anyways, that was my assumption, until I realized I can’t name any others. There are definitely others, I just can’t think of it right now. Panda Bears don’t even reside in North America. So I guess it’s only Caribou. There’s also a band named Moose, now that I think about it… We Are Wolves? Foxy Brown? Anyways, once I put away my North American Animal band name bias and started listening to the album, it’s actually quite good in a “listen to it because it’s mellow and doesn’t really distract me” kinda way. I even find myself enjoying Two Weeks more and more.

Listen to this album when you see a mix race couple making out on the streets

1x1.trans Some albums Ricky enjoyed in 2009 (and when to listen to them)

Emmy the Great – First Love – ahh, the mixed race children. As we head into the future, and the technology known as ‘airplanes’ and ‘make shift rafts’ continue to allow people from different countries and cultures to move all around the globe, we will see more and more people from different cultures getting together and producing children of mixed race. We even have one (or more?) on our blog, and just like Emmy the Great, they had a great advantage of having two different cultures and influences shape their minds growing up. East vs West, North vs South, whatever it is, the results are overwhelming. More to the point, whites and Asians seem to produce very cute females. Remember China Chow from the Big Hit? every Asian does. This all somehow in a very superficial way brings me to Emmy the Great. Her album First Love is a smartly written and catchy record. She also have a strong singing voice. It’s very singer songwriterish, but when done right (like this album) its a pleasure to listen to.

Album(s) to listen to while you are thinking of breaking away from your work/friends/club/posse/wrestling faction

1x1.trans Some albums Ricky enjoyed in 2009 (and when to listen to them)

Jarvis Cocker – Further Complications / Julian Casablancas – Phrazes for the Young – remember that Animals song “We gotta get out of this place” ? Probably not, it’s from the 60s and people born during that era don’t “get” “the internets”. Anyways, if you are ever feeling down or trapped because you are always with the same old friends from high school or elementary, and you feel like if only you can get out a little… you should listen to these two albums. Jarvis and Julian both prove there is life after “death”. The Strokes aren’t technically dead but you know what I mean. Both of these albums are very good in their own way and who would have thought Julian Casablancas would enjoy retro style 80s video game synth?

Album(s) to listen to before joining a Feminist rally secretly hoping that the amount of females in the crowd will eventually lead to two of them making out

1x1.trans Some albums Ricky enjoyed in 2009 (and when to listen to them)

Lily Allen – Self Titled, Little Boots – Hands, La Roux – La Roux, Florence and the Machine – Lungs, Marina and the Diamonds – Self Titled – Females vocalists just destroyed music this year. You could probably say that Lady Gaga was easily the most talked about act of the year, and even Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus crushed the teen crowd. Lets not however, focus on those acts. These four English ladies all made extremely catchy, listenable albums with enough beats for you to comfortably play them at a party. Sometimes people want deeper meaning in their music, but sometimes people just want to listen to really good danceable pop. For those moments, you can’t go wrong with any of these albums. Did you know that if Taylor Swift married Taylor Lautner, her name would be Taylor Lautner? haha

Album to put on if you got lads comin over for some fish n chips, drinking some pints ‘n lager and talking about birds who are fit

1x1.trans Some albums Ricky enjoyed in 2009 (and when to listen to them)

The Rifles – The Great Escape – This album came quite early in the year so it slipped under a lot of peoples radars when these lists came about. However, I’m doing this list more or less alphabetically, so nothing escapes me. If you read my review and ignore all the talk about poutine, you will realize that I think this is a really good britpop album and in 2009, a good 14 or 15 years after britpop hit its boon, beggars can’t be choosers.

Album to put on if you got some ballas comin over to watch the latest raptor game, and they ain’t down with dis dirty projectors shit

1x1.trans Some albums Ricky enjoyed in 2009 (and when to listen to them)

Wale – Attention Deficit – Straight out of DC comes Wale, who along with Kid Cudi and a few others, are trying to successfully rescue hip hop from all this guns n bling shenanigans that people like Jay Z still tout (despite the fact that Jay Z was at a Grizzly Bear concert and is 39 years old). There are some definite catchy tunes on this album and of course has the Mark Ronson approved “90210″ which appeals to indie kids due to the star producer credibility and the delicious irony of the song title. So yea, if you is meetin up with some boyz from the y and want to impress them with some dirty hip hop knowledge, drop this on them and maybe they’ll be so impressed they’ll invite you to a happening hip hop party, which in the end, is all we ever wanted.

Album to listen to if you want to tell people what album you are listening to, but have a stuttering problem

1x1.trans Some albums Ricky enjoyed in 2009 (and when to listen to them)

Joel Plaskett – Three – The former Thrush Hermit singer(?) came out with am ambitious triple cd this year, aptly entitled Three. To further this three theme, most of the songs are just one word, repeated three times, three times, three times. Perfect for those with a stuttering issue, you only have to say it once. In other news, I am going to hell. This album is pretty good, as with most triple albums, there’s probably quite a bit you can cut out, but most triple albums are about excess anyway.

I’m going to stop now. The last two albums are two of my favorites (along with the xx). I’m not going to write anything bout it cos there’s already a lot of press on them. Just know they are good and deserving of your attention.

Patrick Wolf – The Bachelor
Bat for Lashes – Two Moons

Thanks for reading, and looking forward to some good albums in 2010.

Year in Review: Alli’s favorites of 2009

Posted on by Alli in Everything | Leave a comment

1x1.trans Year in Review: Allis favorites of 2009

Texas – It probably would have been prudent of our fearless leader to introduce our little Top Whatever of 2009 series we’re doing here at the Panic Manual. Supposedly, each of our writers will contribute some sort of list regarding our favorites for this year. Considering the project has the word “whatever” in it, I guess it’s no surprise there wasn’t a formal announcement. That’s just how we roll around here. Somehow I wound up at the top of the list after our guest post from yesterday, so here goes! I should note that these are in no particular order.

I don’t mean to copy our good friend from Indie Kid vs Dance Kid (his list is here), but my list includes twelve albums… my idea is more related to the cliche “12 days of Christmas” than twelve months of the year, though. I guess. The other parameters included at least twelve listens on my work computer, though since a couple were late entries, that wasn’t the case.

Ida Maria – Fortress Round My Heart
Ida Maria first came into my life with a crash and a bang and a spray of water at SXSW in March. I haven’t been the same since.. she is badass. This is dance around your apartment drunk when nobody’s watching music.

Richard Hawley – Truelove’s Gutter
“Ashes on the Fire” is one of those songs that makes you cry upon hearing it the first time. Well, it did that to me. This album’s feel is perfectly described by its title – pardon me for getting too real for a moment – it has gotten me through some pretty rough moods.

Andrew Bird – Noble Beast
Even though it came out in January, this was the soundtrack to my late spring and it was the background of many hilarious afternoons at my family’s with beer and BBQ. I also enjoyed listening to it in the car, it’s very all-purpose like that.

Franz Ferdinand – Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
The concept album that wasn’t meant to be a concept album.. it made me a fan of this band, whom I have been pretty “meh” about ever since they made it big in 2004. This record really is like a whirlwind, crazy night with its highs and lows and I adore it.

Little Boots – Hands
Summertime dance party. I really loved this one, it’s also good for workouts.

The xx – xx
I don’t really know what to say about the xx that hasn’t already been said. They’ve got a unique sound that I definitely didn’t hear anywhere else this year.

The Boxer Rebellion – Union
I really slept on this one; the album came out in March but when I finally listened to it a month or so ago. The fact that it made this list despite only coming into my life a month ago should tell you to LISTEN TO IT, because it’s really good. I probably would have reviewed it if baseball hadn’t taken over my life in the spring.

White Lies – To Lose My Life
Another product of SXSW for me. There had been a buzz about White Lies leading up to it and seeing them live blew me away. This album was on repeat for a month after. I’ve sat here for about 20 minutes now trying to come up with a way to describe why I love them, but all I can really say is that they give me goosebumps and that’s all that matters.

Bat For Lashes – Two Suns
I listen to this album in the bath with the lights off and candles lit. I think that’s all that I need to say.

Morrissey – Years Of Refusal
I’m gonna say it: as a huge Morrissey fan (almost 40 gigs and counting, tattoos related to him covering my left wrist, arm, and beck of my neck), this album is nowhere near my favorite. It’s Morrissey, though. It’s got some good tunes on it. And this is my list.. so there.

Röyksopp – Junior
Another album I slept on, it’s full of the usual awesome Röyksopp jams you’d expect plus one of those stuck-in-your-head-for-days tracks with the always awesome Robyn. I’m excited for Junior’s counterpart, “Senior” to come out next year. They’re one of those rare groups that does both dance and ethereal music really well.

We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls
I missed this band at SXSW. I missed them over the summer when they came back through Austin. I WILL NOT MISS THEM NEXT TIME. This album sneaked up on me. It has a lot more depth and flow to it than I expected it to and I love it. Plus, they’re Scottish. What’s not to love?

IK VS DK 2009: Year in Review

Posted on by guestwriter in Everything, Year End Reviews | 3 Comments

1x1.trans IK VS DK 2009: Year in Review

Thanks to Panic Manual for the special guest invite to post my best of 2009.
12 months and 12 singles – my favourite releases of each month in 2009.

Click on You Tube links to see/hear videos.

January
Kid Cudi – Day or Night
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVb_t_ao9gw

The Data Records anthem that had the clubs slammin during the holiday season

February
CFCF – You Hear Colors
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkcmvELP_tU

Fantastic downtempo track from this Canadian outfit. I hear everything from Art of Noise Moments of Love to Running Up That Hill By Kate Bush borrowed for this chill out track. CFCF went onto release the brilliant full length Continent on Paper Bag Records in November

March
Big Pink – Velvet
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OA3twi3iSNQ

Grinding sonic noise on 4AD. Went on to follow up the track with further singles Stop The World and Dominoes to support the release of the full length album A Brief History Of Love

April
Jack Penate – Tonight’s Today
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SfrVnYsu1c

Excellent first single from Jack Penate from the album Everything is new. Jack is definitely channeling some Vampire Weekend with a very worldly sound going on in this song. Nice indie rock off the XL Recordings Label

May
Dub Pistols – Back To Daylight
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwitrOosutQ

Funky head nodder track from the Dub Pistols. Taken from the summer anthem and my favorite album of 2009 Rum and Coke. An Album full of funked up, skaful, reggae tinged grooves. Full of all sorts of guest vocalists. Lindy Layton (of Beats International fame) lights up the second single I’m In Love.

June
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Young Adult Friction
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4itzHRpltQ

Great twee buzz indiepop track from this great band called The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. Its taken from their full-length self-titled first album off Slumberland Records, The album is full of 80s reminiscent dreamy low-fi buzzpop singles. Nice

July
Reverend and The Makers – Silence is Talking
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDRS3uNN_Zg

A little bit of tequila from Reverend and The Makers off the Wall of Sound label. Funky electro Britpop.

August
Pitbull – I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2tMV96xULk

Massive beats and catchy lyrics made this the club track of the summer. All I have to say is one word. Rumba!

September
Get Back Guinozzi – Low Files Tropical
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZkacNjfQXE

Cut and paste pop ala Avalanches almost. Also, quite the weirdest video. There was to be a full length coming out soon in October called Carpet Madness. They hail from London or France or both.

October
The Drums – Let’s Go Surfing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OsTUnkqSi4

Using the PBJ whistle strategy the band kicks out this indie pop anthem.

November

Alphabeat – The Spell
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwH0BxtbeEA

Although the list so far would speak differently, I’m definitely a sucker for the nice pop hook sugar coated single with female vocals. Clever Infectious pop music once again from this Danish outfit. Taken from their second album The Spell.

December

The XX – Islands
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjcKXBFLOeo

Nice eerie duet from the XX out of the UK. Simple but explosive; the formula for the whole self-titled album.

Concert Review: the xx, Friendly Fires, Phoenix, December 2

Posted on by Allison in Concerts, Everything | 3 Comments

1x1.trans Concert Review: the xx, Friendly Fires, Phoenix, December 2

While we were at The XX / Friendly Fires show last night I found myself pondering this question the entire time the xx were on stage: What the hell was I doing when I was 20 years old? If memory serves correctly, I would’ve been getting blitzed every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, and trying not to fail my Greek and Roman Classics 101 course. I also went to a lot of formal dances with my boyfriend at RMC, but lord knows I wasn’t penning albums of the year or putting out the most wicked basslines heard since David Lynch scored Wild at Heart.

OK…to be fair here…If you were to ask me if the xx put on an energetic show last night the answer would be a resounding NO. The trio looked as if they’d been visited by some energy-sapping vampires the night before and the drama of having a member drop out due to exhaustion might make that theory more fact than fiction. I’d say the only limbs that moved onstage was during their last song…sort of an extended ‘Infinity’ when vocalist/bassist Jamie Smith started banging the bejesus out of a pair of cymbals to end off on. Romy Croft wins the mannequin-performer prize for moving only her fingers while strumming the guitar, though. You might think this was a shitty disappointment for us seeing as their debut album is near the top of our picks for 2009 but there was one thing that redeemed them…the music. This is an amazing album with some amazing guitar / bass work and it is something else to hear something of this caliber, live. The vocals were right on save for some wavering from Romy during Shelter. But shit, they’re 20! This is their first North American tour and comparing them to someone like say, Passion Pit, they at least delivered the goods of sounding on key even if they completely lacked showmanship.

Showmanship is what the Friendly Fires are for anyway. If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that these guys are consistently entertaining, and that lead singer Ed MacFarlane’s hips are consistently limber. I thought the vocals were a little off because of his gyrating jimmy arm-movements but his enthusiasm sure as hell was infectious. Their handsome bearded guitarist also got into the act, jumping on a speaker trying to drum up clapping and such..and you know what? It worked. It always does. You can’t go to see these guys and NOT holler. They also went through the effort of mixing up their live act with some saxophone accompaniment..when they were at Lee’s Palace in the spring it was more of a conga-ish feeling. Also, they played Kiss of Life, which what Ricky was waiting for.

Since these guys have about an album a piece I’m not going to bother going through their setlists (but post them here if you have them). One thing I would like to say though, is that if you’re going to pay to go to a show and bother to stand close to the stage…STOP FUCKING TALKING. For the love of god, stand near the back if all you want to do is dis the opener. No one wants to hear it and at risk of sounding like a school marm, it’s just plain disrespectful.

That is all.

1x1.trans Concert Review: the xx, Friendly Fires, Phoenix, December 2