Saturday, December 31

Tracks of the Year!

10. Glass Candy - Warm in the Winter
This song proves that all a great song needs is four great chords to hook you in. Taking you on a much needed vacation to (insert tropical local here), Glass Candy leaves you feeling hopeful, excited, and yes, a little warm, too. Layering synth tracks is nothing new to Anthony Jewel, but never has he so successfully created a feeling of serenity than has with Warm in the Winter. It's not trying to be uberly sexy like tracks on "Night Drive" and "Beat Box" were, its sound is fresh and wholesome. Beach Sounds can't wait to hear this whole album when it comes out in 2012.

9. The Antlers - No Widows
What? No ethereal or surf references? No dancey interludes? That's about all the negatives we could mentions about The Antlers dark album Burst Apart. This song, however cold and eerie, is too infectious to ignore. Peter Silbermans sweet, if haunting, voice leaves you with goosebumps and your finger on the repeat button.
The Antlers, No Widows (Daytrotter Session 11/23/11) by Danceyrselfcleaner

8. The Rapture - How Deep is Your Love?

After a hiatus that lasted a few years too long, it was reassuring to finally hear the first single off the Rapture's latest LP, and even more so, it was great to hear how fresh it sounded! In a time when the few remaining dance-punk acts around have taken more to punk than dance, it's great to hear "In the Grace of Your Love" loaded with danceable tracks. How Deep is Your Love? is a song like nothing they've done before, yet it's still characterized by everything their known for: blazing sax solos, free flowing bass rifts and Luke Jenner's distinctive Falsetto. In an album that's missing their x-bassist's irresistibly dancey bass rifts, How Deep is Your Love? proves that bands can come back from the dead, and apparently dance their way into heaven while doing so.

7. Beirut - East Harlem
Who doesn't love a good swoon? It's nice to take a moment out of the our busy city lives to feel foolishly in love. And when you need something to spark that heavy hopeless sigh, Zach Condon and the talented members of Beirut arrives to help. Off their recently released "The Rip Tide", Beirut's single East Harlem captivates listeners with a short story of a distant love, followed by long drawn trumpet blows that invokes at the very least a little sway in the body from any hopeless romantic.

6. The Decemberists - This Is Why We Fight
Let's all take a moment to remember the band's preceding album Hazards of Love.
Now that our recollection's brought on shudders of disappointment, we can all feel all the more appreciative of the solid work on "The King is Dead." We chose This is Why We Fight for a number of reasons. One is it's undeniably American folk influences that makes you feel like you've joined the ranks with muskets in hand to ward off the English Parliament. But Meloy's combination of strong lyrics and stronger strumming is what truly won us over. It was enough to make one us fans again.

5. Cold Cave - The Great Pan is Dead
If the four horsemen had an intro song, this would be it. Kicking you down before you even got up, Cold Cave intro their sophomore LP, "Cherish the Light Years", with one hell of a song. It's fast, it's epic, and it's just startling enough to make you play it again. Laying the foundation for one of Beach Sound's favorite albums this year, The Great Pan is Dead is just a piece of the story. The brilliance of this song isn't based on it trying too hard to create a new sound, it's based on Wesley Eisold's abilitiy to dig deep into his musical past and find inspiration in his previous hardcore bands. 
The Great Pan Is Dead by BitCandy

4. Lana Del Ray - Born to Die
Blending the soul of Hip Hop with the poise of a movie soundtrack, Lana Del Rey knows exactly how to create a truly satisfying sound. Born to Die has everything you could possibly want from a song: an ethereal string arrangement, a subtle yet sweet hip hop drum beat, and tender lyrics fronted by music's newest bad ass. Check it out.
3. Phantogram - Don't Move
A definite progression from their previous LP, the New York duo resurfaced with a Beach Sounds favorite. The track begins with an indistinguishable voice meshed with synth that's sure to satisfy anyone's electro-pop cravings. Sarah Barthel then enters with her almost whispering voice, though her lyrics are fare from timid. Take a listen below, and we dare you not to move.

dont move // phantogram by sexmusic

 2. Tune Yards - Bizness
This bay area native knows how important it is to stay connected with her community. Her first single Bizness was just a taste of how she tries to amplify how those around her feel. Kicking off the track with loop machine beats that she always records live (sup Beach House?), Merril Garbus commands listeners to pay attention with her loud and powerful vocals on the first verse. 

1. M83 - Midnight City
And just like wine, Anthony Gonzalez seems to only get better with time. Setting the bar to a new standard with Midnight City, the first single off "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming", Anthony left you feeling nostalgic for an unremembered past, he left you excited for what was going to play next, and most importantly, he left you dancing while doing so. Grabbing your attention with one hell of a synth loop, Midnight City proves that even the Track of the Year doesn't have to make sense (what is he saying again?). It's 1 part 90's rave and 2 parts 80's arena rock. Midnight City is fresh, compelling, engaging, and yes, it's a little epic, too. It'll get you through this year and send you off to the next. Enjoy.

Honorable Mentions:
Active Child- "Hanging On"
Britney Spears feat Nicki Minaj & Ke$ha- "Till The World Ends" Remix
Chad Valley- "Now That I'm Real"
Cut Copy- "Need You Now"
Destroyer- "Kaputt"
Drake feat Rihanna- "Take Care"
Fleet Foxes- "Helplessness Blues"
Fool's Gold- "Wild Window"
Fucked Up- "The Other Shoe"
The Horrors- "Still Life"
Kisses- "Kisses"
Lykke Li- "Get Some"
M83- "Steve McQueen"
Mountain Goats- "High Hawk Season"
Nicki Minaj- "Super Bass"
The Oh Sees- "The Dream"
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart- "Heart in Your Heartbreak"
St. Vincent- "Cruel"
The War On Drugs- "Baby Missles"
Wild Beasts:- "Bed of Nails"

Friday, December 30

Shows of the Year SF

Rx Bandits Farewell Show @ The Regency Ballroom

Farewell shows are tough. Of course everyone's psyched to be a part of the band's last hurrah before they call it quits, but the indefinite mood shift towards the final song is never easy to digest. That is, unless the band happens to be Long Beach shred savants Rx Bandits. Where is there room to feel sad when four strapping men tear away at their instruments to produce political ska gone alternative gone jam band with a touch of prog rock? Hecklers found time in between songs to say their goodbyes and the band got noticeably morose, but as Matthew Embree concluded, "What can you do except play on?"

Sleigh Bells/ Neon Indian @ The Independent
Starting the night off on a low key, Neon Indian dazed the crowd with their bedroom pop and left everyone just wanting to dance. Too bad since once Sleigh Bells took the floor they had remind everyone that this was a rock show.  Their set started with Black Sabbath and encapsulated everything from Treats, it's safe to say that there was a lot of head banging that night. Testing the amount of distortion that could possibly come out of 4 stacks of Marshall Amps, Derek Miller left everyone's ears buzzing for days.        

Cut Copy/ Holy Ghost @ The Regency Ballroom
Leave it to Cut Copy to turn a night that started out as a 9 into a 15 . Openers Holy Ghost proved that their sexy time new wave sound could not only iterate into an entertaining show, but also leave a crowd wanting me. Wanting to show that their sound isn't stuck in the '80s, they even pulled out their ole' trusty iPad to play a synth loop. Niftey!
But enough of the openers, when Cut Copy took the floor they were ready to command the stage. And command they did. With the help of a glowing door and the most satisfying version of "Saturday" I've ever heard, they made you dance like it was your first time.

Outside Lands
I've seen people try to work a loop machine. Merril Garbus worked the loop machine like she invented it. A still body was seldom found among the pools of swaying, jumping and interpretive dancing that ensued as Garbus called out with lyrics beckoning for togetherness and wanting to be a "gangsta."


In case readers weren't aware, the bloggers at Beach Sounds love Beirut. So we missed them the last time they were in the city (damn you work!). We were thankfully able to watch them at this year's Outside Lands, and were pleasantly delighted with their performance as well as song choices. From heart wrenching favorites like "Postcards From Italy" to surprising additions like "The Concubine" and the solo encore performance with "The Penalty," Condon and crew know how to keep their fans dreamily happy with warm vocals and harmonizing horns.

Erykah Badu
Wherever Erykah goes, her A game is sure to follow. This time it was closing the Sutro stage in Golden Gate park. Showing up more than 30 minutes late (thanks to Big Boi's catastrophe), Erykah played a set that proved just how talented and relevant she still is. Delving heavily into Baduizm, her 1997 debut, Erykah satisfied everyone's inner soul diva that night. But Misses "Afro Girl of the Digital World" was just half the story, it was her backing band, The Cannabinoids, that demanded to be heard. Their on key, neo-jazz, sucka-free sound definitely enabled more than a few smoke clouds that night.