Artist: Janelle Monae (ft. Miguel)
Album: The Electric Lady
Label: Wondaland Arts Society
Released: August 19, 2013
Here’s the thing: I don’t often listen to R&B. While I have a soft spot for Janelle Monae (and her insane live shows), I usually tend to drift towards the more upbeat tracks she releases. Because slow-jam R&B and me? Ha. But “PrimeTime” just hits that spot. It’s packed with emotion from Monae and Miguel, both holding their own in this smooth-as-the-smoothest-thing-you-can-think-of offering.
It’s enough to make you believe you’re in (or at least about to fall in) love. That or it’ll compel you to, I don’t know… embark on some sort of spiritual quest into Janelle Monae’s android world.
Band: Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Released: February 25, 2013
Okay, I love the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but man – I hated Mosquito. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I guess I should explain that I didn’t hate all of Mosquito. Namely, I adored its first single: this big, grandiose offering of “Sacrilege” that packed all the power you’ve come to expect from the New York City trio. When you compare the song to the snooze-fest that was the album (sorry, but I stand by this statement), it’s especially all the more powerful. It’s a big song and it showed the band evolving and reaching a new apex. Where they went once they got there I’m still not completely sure – but hey, I won’t hold it against them. Besides, when that choir kicks in? Damn.
Band: Arcade Fire
Released: September 9, 2013
Say whatever you will about the over-hype and Noel Gallagher swings and “oh god I don’t want to have to dress up for their show” controversy surrounding Arcade Fire, but it’s undeniable that the title track from their fourth studio album is fantastic. When they first released the song it made everyone pay attention – not just because it was new Arcade Fire, but also because it was just that good. No, the David Bowie appearance didn’t hurt. Neither did the James Murphy production. The only problem? When you release a song this good to get people talking, the rest of the album tends to pale in comparison.
Song: Stand On The Horizon
Band: Franz Ferdinand
Album: Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action
Label: Domino Records
Released: August 23, 2013
Franz Ferdinand it at their best when they sound like they’re having fun. They returned from a brief hiatus sounding refreshed and – dare I say – eager. Amidst a pretty wonderful album of upbeat pop tunes sits “Stand On The Horizon”, a song destined for dance floors. Really, try not to move when the chorus kicks in. By the time the disco-flavoured instrumental bit breaks in just past the halfway mark, you’re all but done for. So yes, I’ve had this one on repeat for a long, long time and it gets better: a) with every listen and; b) the louder it is. Plus when drummer Paul Thomson cuts in to sing the line: “I am the cruelest man you have known” you’ll start to wonder why he doesn’t interrupt Alex Kapranos more often.
Song: Tonight Again
Label: White Girl Records
Released: February 13, 2013
I spent a good chunk of time pre-CMW listening to every single band on the lineup. Most of it was painful. Truly, truly painful. But Toronto’s own Decades were this big, shining example of how great it can be to discover new things. I heard “Tonight Again” and was instantly hooked (slash convinced that the “Toronto” listing really meant “England”, because they’re so very steeped in that Joy Division meets Morrissey sound.) And now, even months past CMW – I’m still listening to “Tonight Again” and blissfully falling down a wormhole of 80s bands. Thanks for that, Decades.