One of the things I said I wanted to do in 2011 year was to listen to some new and different styles of music, and I thought it might be nice to share some of the fantastic tunes I discovered in 2012!
I made this list at the end of 2012, then was a bit overwhelmed by it’s depth – but I’ve got over it and here it is – my favourite tunes from… 2012.
I have intensely eclectic music tastes that change by the month, as can be witnessed on last.fm, and over the last year I’ve developed my taste for “Mashups”. For those to whom that means very little, a mashup is perhaps a little like a Medley – usually two or more songs being mixed together to produce a combination of more than one original thing. Usually this is done by a skilled “producer” – someone who takes the studio-released mixes of the song from the CD, and then reworks the songs together with audio editing software.
A good example of the genre at it’s best, this year might be this Mashup-Germany – I Did It My Way (Frank Sinatra / Simple Plan / Aerosmith + More)
One of the nice things about Mashup’s is that whilst sometimes they’re used to join similar songs together, it’s also a way of portraying a well known song in a different style – giving it new life to a different audience.
Skyrim is a popular video game with a varied and diverse, specifically composed, symphonic soundtrack. It’s got a great theme, but obviously symphonic music is hardly suitable for a club, and some attempts to make it clubworthy are quite enjoyable:
The Skyrim theme also been remixed with that of the Pirates of the Caribbean Series in a completely different, orchestral style, producing this Epic of Epics.
But it’d be wrong to assume that Mashups were all about contemporary music – Hughes de Courson’s Il Duello is a marvellous of Vivaldi and Irish Folk.
Whilst sometimes Mashups can be about taking a contemporary pop song, and making it actually enjoyable by playing in an electro-swing style as with The Puppini Sisters’ Crazy in Love (The Real Tuesday Weld REMIX):
Some musicians have really embodied the mashup style and done the full circle – Gotye did his own mashup of random people on Youtube playing his own hit track Somebody That I Used To Know:
This year definitely had a Pop/Dance lean to it and another track, Avicii’s Levels become another popular song to combine with various things:
To make it into a frenetic Irish folk style with The Irish House Party.
To make it into more of a club track (With the Knocks)
With PSY and Skrillex to produce a hard-electro track “Level Style”
But I’ve also enjoyed other hard dance tracks – such as this Nick Thayer remix of Tonight Only – Go
Another style I’ve really started to get into this year has been pop-influenced Dubstep (sometimes referred to as “Brostep”). This is a style is very misunderstood, by those who don’t enjoy it – probably in the same way that the Sex Pistols must have been. If you’re not familiar with this, this is well worth a watch:
Something that probably was kicked off by this ca7 mashup of Skrillex vs Adele, which in my opinion, is probably better than the two original tracks:
I really like multi-layered tracks and Ben Moon is a 15 year old, super talented orchestral dubstep producer who had created several wonderful tunes recently. Sadly, in the New Year, Ben announced a hiatus from his music to focus on his studies. Sad news, but fair play and best of luck to him!
The Turning Point:
The Neoteric Empire:
But I always enjoy seeking out folk-mashups and King of the Fairies is a traditional folk tune that I vividly remember my parents playing, what better way to keep it alive than with Voltage’s Dubstep version? (Actually I think it could have been done better – the wubs shouldn’t just come right at the end).
(Someone also did improvise some electric violin over the top of it if you’re interested.)
But that wasn’t the only folk-dubstep track from this year, there was also this cracker from ap3haus.
Whilst barely scratching traditional definitions of folk, it stretches the definition no less than the previous tracks and Amanda Palmers’ Ukelele Anthem is really a tremendous song… about Ukelele’s.
Whilst I’ve been introduced to these more traditional house/bass tracks (Mosca – Bax (Numbers – NMBRS16))
I’ve also been introduced to the world of Swinghouse -a fusion of Swing and House music.
If you thought Ragtime could never Rock, then you never heard Scott Joplin’s Maple Rag set with a house beat:
This live act was fun to watch:
But there were also some banging tracks like this one from Chiloux (Diggy doo, I luv U (Original mix)) that I learnt about:
If they’ve all sounded a bit too hous-ish/in-your-face-electronic, then this set from Boost Music/Jimmy Day/Justin Langlands/Mike Potter may be just the remedy:
One of my favourite rap/metal songs was Jay-Z’s collaboration with Linkin Park and so what could be better than a remix that adds Eminem, 50 cent and other collaborators to that Numb/Encore track?
The Real Slim Shady this may not be, but this remix of 2pac vs Thomas the Tank Engine is probably one of the best Rap mashups I’ve heard:
Dan Bull, the legendary geek rapper’s touching song “Dream Girl” shows that actually, love songs can be conveyed in the form of a rap:
Sometimes, you don’t want to party, you want to relax, and the Govinda remix of Thievery Corporation’s Satyam Shivam Sundaram is quite awesome:
If you wanted something downtempo, but a little less new age-y, then Monetrik’s On A Clear Day is great.
Back in the day I used to listen to Chiptunes (well, well after their day, but still some years ago!) and towards the end of the genre, I found some more intricate tracks taking advantage of the advances in tracker technology.
Estrayk & Evelred / Hive of guitars or “hive.mod” as I knew it for years, is a classic example of this – a funky upbeat chillout tracker.
Lounge and Smooth Jazz
I really like smooth jazz and some lounge jazz tracks and The Rippingtons’ track “She Likes to Watch” is quite brilliant:
Equally, Ronny Jordan – The Jackal is one of those tracks you just have to listen to to understand why people like it:
Scott Bradlee is probably one of the best contemporary pianists I’ve heard improvise on a range of popular tracks in a rather unique style in his Mashups By Candlelight:
Lastly, no listing of these style of tracks would be complete without a reference to Scott Bradlee and friend’s collaboration – “Friday – Niia Swings the Rebecca Black Songbook”
Symphony of Science is a great project – remixing and autotuning great science communicators with remarkable respect and intricacy to produce magical pieces of music. Our Biggest Challenge is no different.
If you’re familiar from Manchester, then you’ll be aware of a suburb called Didsbury… and you’ll love this local song – I think I’m in Didsbury
When you troll Comedians on Youtube… well, you should be careful, you might get patronised… or worse, turned into an catchy song: Thank You Hater! – by Clever Pie and Isabel Fay
A number of my friend’s make music and I was priviledged to help Dan Bull with his Facebook Rap / Sharing is Caring campaign – with this cracking video:
Also, a friend of mine, Joe Henthorn released this annoyingly catchy filk song all about StreetFighter: You Had Me at Hadouken!
If you read this far, well done! If you listened to every track to this point… well I don’t believe you did… but you probably have a really great taste in music now!
Thanks for stopping by!
Obviously, “Think of the Children” and “Protect Us from the Terrorists” are continuing themes in government attacks on the internet but David Cameron’s affection for Porn Blocking has been rationally critiqued, talked about by pudits, heartfeltly written about, politically critiqued, analysed for hypocrisy and embarrassed.
Obviously, Porn is a minefield of ethical dilemmas, but Dan Bull, has also given this some thought, and it isn’t so black and white:
Morris Dancing – middle age men with white hankies and bells? Ladies with silly frilly frocks? I contest these brave men and women are an underground punk music scene, the scale of which, is yet to be fully realised.
For many over 35, “the system”expects them to submit to braincell-removing evenings of TV-absorbtion, whilst working pay off the mortgage and spending any other waking hours being a child-taxi.
One can see how dressing up in silly clothes, humiliating your children, and [mentally] saying “fuck it” just doing it because its fun.
Then when you need to sound respectable, you can explain it in terms of ‘keeping alive a living do-it-yourself tradition of making music and dancing’.
The Punk and Morris Dancing movements are almost identical. Punk music isn’t complicated – it’s not embellished, it’s not fussy, it’s not polished, and neither is music in Morris Dancing. In Morris you have one or two simple folk tunes almost anyone can pick up, in punk rock you have one or two guitars that anyone can pick up, playing some simple chords.
Morris Dancing is technically a form of display dancing, but compared to other display forms of dance, the emphasis is not on a perfect display, on empowering almost anyone to get involved.
Punk rock – technically a display art but more about trying yourself – has two forms of dancing, both of which are high energy, and both of which are instantly possible to pick up.
Morris Dancers dress provocatively in their subculture, in styles that would seem strange those outside it. Men with sashes, white hankies and bells?
Punks dress provocatively in their subculture, in styles that would seem strange those outside it. Men with spiky green mohawks?
Both Morris and Punk are outsider movements with outsider music. The mainstream cannot deal with them. Punk had its commercial day in the 70s and has largely been sent back to the underground. Morris has never been discovered as an underground scene.
In some senses, this sounds ridiculous – Morris has been around since the 1900s (or 1448 depending on how much historical speculation you wish to engage in) but as a mainstream street dance, it’s never been there. Yet for its proponents, and the people who feel apart of it, this is probably a good thing. When a movement goes mainstream, often many original members feel betrayed when things change, poseurs arrive and the underground feel turns into something more mainstream.
As legendary punk rock journalist John Robb explains,
Punk is about feeling alive
and strangely, it seems, so is Morris.
I actually really enjoy listening to June Tabor’s “The Dancing”:
It’s very mellow and the sentiment is quite cutting – a moment of escape from a hard work life.
But the sadly delivery is rather demonstrative of several things that somewhat confuse me.
June Tabor is an Oxford educated singer, and I’d bet 20p that she usually pronounces the “g” on the end of a verb – so why go out of her way to accentuate a rustic-sounding accent she doesn’t usually have? It just seems silly – I don’t put on a fake Irish accent to sing The Wild Rover, or a comedy Scottish accent for Au Lang Syne – why do any different?
In addition, I find it hard to understand why there is such a tendency to write about heritage – I mean, the song above The Dancing – is not explicitly about old days, yet the clear references to Flaxworks, looms clearly place the song in the past, despite it being a contemporary piece. Why? Why is there such a tendency to look to topics in the past, when writing new folk songs? It just seems shortsighted – there are great modern folk songs – why such a retrospective vision? If folk music is supposed to be a historical re-enactment, that’d be different, but as far as I can understand, folk music is largely meant to be music “of the people, by the people” – surely there’s more on people’s minds than the industrial revolution?
What can we do to separate heritage music from folk music?
One thing that I don’t talk about that much is my tendency to fall in love with fusions of traditional and contemporary.
Take something awesome and traditional. Mix it with something awesome and contemporary. The result will be doubly awesome!
This post is about a band who certainly seem to be taking the “let’s just double that awesomeness” recipe to heart, but lets start from the beginning!
Last week I went to Manchester Ceilidhsoc – the university affiliated Ceilidh society who run regular events. Playing was a band I didn’t think I’d heard of, The Monster Ceilidh Band, but from the moment I walked in and heard the bassist going out of his way to lay down funky grooves, I could tell I was going to enjoy it. For unspecified reasons, I had about 70 glowsticks on me (as you do), and the hall was coincidently a bit darker that usual so I decided now was a good a time as any and handed out free glowsticks to anyone who’d take them… most people I danced with… the band… and the caller. From then on in, I didn’t stop the dancing and they didn’t stop dropping super-funky beats over killer tunes.
Afterwards I bought an album off them and, as they offered to sign it for me, I was very pleased to learn that disk two of their double album “Mechanical Monster” is “Monsters vs The Touch” – a collaboration with Tyneside DnB DJ “The Touch“.
If you thought Drum’n'Bass and Ceilidh could never meet, prepare your ears!
Can you buy reasonably priced, DRM-free MP3′s of their work without tears?
A few days after the gig, I was listening to Disc 2, whilst browsing their Youtube channel and realised I was already subscribed to it. Hmm, how could that be? Well it turns out that actually I’d crossed threads with them before.
Their mandocello-player appears to be a semi-active redditor and so actually I’d come across them, way before the gig on reddit and even went as far to suggest that they come and play in Manchester. This is the same fiddle player who doesn’t seem to have a personal website worth linking to from the bands about page.
Instead their name has been linked to the Urban Dictionary definition of “awesome” and for this band, I think that’s about as fitting as one can get.