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Arctic Monkeys, Kanye West among the year’s best albums

- December 28th, 2013

In 2013, the music world saw Miley Cyrus twerk her way into everyone’s living room, the polarizing figure that is Kanye West had tongues wagging once again with a new album (as well as a new baby), Beyonce shocked the industry by dropping a new effort out of the blue, and the Thin White Duke made a triumphant return after a decade-long absence.

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My best albums of 2013 include some of these artists, but there were plenty of other notable musical acts that served as my soundtrack this past year. You’ll also see a few big albums from Canadian superstars, while lauded by many, I took a pass on — you won’t see Drake or Arcade Fire’s latest efforts on this list. Please, don’t strangle me with the red and white flag.

Take a listen, and let me know what you think in the comments.

10. Chvrches
The Bones of What You Believe
(Universal)

’80s-influenced synth pop was back in a big way this year, and leading the charge was this Scottish trio, showcased by the sweet, catchy, melodic vocals of frontlady Lauren Mayberry. I dare you put this one down.

ESSENTIAL TRACKS: “The Mother We Share,” “We Sink.”

The Mother We Share by CHVRCHES on Grooveshark

9. Nine Inch Nails
Hesistation Marks
(Universal)

To my delight, Trent Reznor is just as dark, miserable and powerful as he’s ever been on NIN’s latest.

ESSENTIAL TRACKS: “Copy of A,” “Came Back Haunted.”

Copy of A by Nine Inch Nails on Grooveshark

8. Kings of Leon
Mechanical Bull
(RCA)

The Kings make a triumphant return after going on hiatus following lead singer Caleb Followill’s now-infamous boozy concert in Texas a few years back. Their best since 2008′s “Only by the Night.”

ESSENTIAL TRACKS: “Temple,” “Beautiful War.”

Temple by Kings of Leon on Grooveshark

7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Mosquito
(Universal)

The art-rock threesome — led by flamboyant singer Karen O — spent four years on a new canvas, and it turned out to be a picture of beauty.

ESSENTIAL TRACKS: “Sacrilege,” “Slave.”

Sacrilege by Yeah Yeah Yeahs on Grooveshark

6. David Bowie
The Next Day
(Sony)

He may have been away for almost 10 years, but judging by the power and range of “Next Day,” Bowie never lost a step. Let’s hope his follow-up is not titled “The Next Decade.”

ESSENTIAL TRACKS: “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” “Love is Lost.”

Love Is Lost by David Bowie on Grooveshark

5. Vampire Weekend
Modern Vampires of the City
(XL Recordings)

These Vampires have more than enough bite on their third try, and were a big highlight at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival back in April.

ESSENTIAL TRACKS: “Unbelievers,” “Diane Young.”

Unbelievers by Vampire Weekend on Grooveshark

4. A$AP Rocky
Long.Live.A$AP
(Sony)

Rakim Mayers, a.k.a. A$AP Rocky, took the rap world by storm by hitting No. 1 on the Billboard charts with some big hits and a pretty good guest list of stars.

ESSENTIAL TRACKS: “F***in’ Problems,” “Wild for the Night.”

Wild For The Night feat. Skrillex by A$AP Rocky on Grooveshark

3. Queens of the Stone Age
…Like Clockwork
(Matador)

A brush with death left the coolest guy in rock, Josh Homme, feeling like a mere mortal. What results is some of the most dark and beautiful tunes the band has ever put out.

ESSENTIAL TRACKS: “My God is the Sun,” “If I Had a Tail.”

My God Is the Sun by Queens of the Stone Age on Grooveshark

2. Kanye West
Yeezus
(Def Jam/Universal)

You see there’s leaders and there’s followers,
But I’d rather be a d*** than a swallower

Yup, Kanye made his mark in 2013 – and that’s even without the Kardashian sideshow. The most polarizing figure in modern music unleashes a torrent of firecrackers — from the kick-ass intro “On Sight,” you know the self-anointed rap god is about to back up his big mouth.

ESSENTIAL TRACKS: “Blood on the Leaves,” “Black Skinhead.”

Blood on the Leaves by Kanye West on Grooveshark


1. Arctic Monkeys
AM
(Domino)

One of the most consistently good rock bands in recent memory is finally getting tons of attention on this side of the Atlantic, even without a stand out hit track. Let’s hear it for the old school way of making it big — with great albums.

ESSENTIAL TRACKS: “Do I Wanna Know,” “Arabella.”

Do I Wanna Know? by Arctic Monkeys on Grooveshark

The new and improved ultimate Halloween playlist

- October 29th, 2013

It’s trick or treat season once again, and it’s also time to clear the cobwebs off the rickety old Halloween playlist and hand out some new ear candy.

We went through the best of the best last year, so this time around, we’re going to go through some fresh spine-chilling 2013 titles to rock your bloody socks off.

And please, don’t chop our heads off if your favourite didn’t make the list — you can add your own spooktacular tune to the comment section at the bottom of the page.

halloweensuns

Nine Inch Nails, “Came Back Haunted”

What better way to kick off a scary crop of tunes then with the master of mope himself, Trent Reznor? This solid, spooky track from Nine Inch Nails’ latest disc, “Hesitation Marks,” sets the tone with lyrics such as: “Now I’ve got something you have to see/They put something inside of me/The smile is red and its eyes are black/I don’t think I’ll be coming back.” Yes, we’re ha-ha-haunted already.

The Neighbourhood, “Afraid”

You may be familiar with the California alt-rockers for their hit “Sweater Weather,” but their second single from their debut album, “I Love You,” will send you running for the hills with its dark hooks and edgy sound.

Cage the Elephant, “Come a Little Closer”

Three albums in, it’s about time we all got a little closer to the rockin’ Kentucky fivesome. Their latest, “Melophobia,” may mean a fear of music, but there really is nothing to be wary of in their case. Or is there? Muhahahaha.

New Beat Fund, “Scare Me”

This quirky and hair-raising track may have you either enthralled or completely annoyed. Either way, it has done its job.

Vampire Weekend, “Unbelievers”

Okay, we’ll admit that this won’t exactly have you shakin’ in your boots, but the band’s spooky name gives us free reign to give it a plug. Besides, it’s one of the great songs of ’13 and it’ll get the undead to come alive.

NONONO, “Pumpin Blood”

“It’s your heart, it’s alive, it’s pumpin’ blood,” shouts Nonono lead singer Stina Wäppling. Thanks for the tip. Anyways, this ridiculously catchy, yet melancholy debut song from the Swedish trio will have you whistling in your zombie costume.

Queens of the Stone Age, “Keep Your Eyes Peeled”

This creepy lead-off track to the Josh Homme-led band’s latest (and damn fine) “…Like Clockwork” sets the bloodcurdling theme for the rest of the album. There will be blood.

Kanye West, “Blood on the Leaves”

We know he wouldn’t be surprised that he made our list. Whatever side of the Kanye fence you sit on, there’s no denying the power and spell that this track holds. All bow down to Yeezus! Or not.’

5 craziest MTV VMA moments

- August 22nd, 2013

Unlike most of the boring, humdrum award shows out there, you can always guarantee that a Jerry Springer-type moment will happen at the MTV Video Music Awards.

And with the likes of Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Kendrick Lamar, Robin Thicke, Drake and Justin Timberlake all scheduled to appear at the Barclays Center in New York on Sunday, we’re pretty sure that this year will be no different.

The festivities get underway at 9 p.m. ET on MuchMusic.

mtvvmas

Here’s our picks for the top 5 craziest moments from the VMAs:

5. Lady Gaga’s meat dress, 2010

Never has an outfit that actually covered someone up caused this much controversy. The tongue-wagging pop star showed up on the red carpet dressed as a steak, and it made the front pages of every newspaper the next day.

4. Eminem threatens Moby, 2002

Their war of words came to a head when, after Slim Shady accepted the award for Best Male Video, (he) called the DJ a “little girl.” After hearing some cat calls coming from Moby’s seating area, Em then said, “I will beat up a man with glasses.”

3. Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley’s strange kiss, 1994

It will go down in history as one of the most uncomfortable award-opening moments on television. The newly-married couple attempted to show the world that they were indeed a legit pair, and it ended up working the opposite way. They lasted less than two years.

2. Kanye West ruins Taylor Swift’s moment in the sun, 2009

Kanye solidified his reputation as one of the biggest bad asses (or just an ass) around when he stormed the VMAs stage and hijacked (and overshadowed) Swift’s crowning achievement for Best Female Video that night. “Imma let you finish but…” became part of everyone’s vocabulary the next day.

1. Madonna & Britney kiss, 2003

Madonna attempted a phony “pass-the-torch” moment by locking lips with Britney Spears (as well as Christina Aguilera) at the 2003 VMAs that turned into tabloid fodder for months to come.

 

Fans, critics react to Kanye West’s ‘Yeezus’

- June 18th, 2013

Holy Yeezus, Kanye’s new album has a lot of tongues waggin’ and fingers tappin’ today.

Now that it has officially dropped, fans and critics alike are chiming in across the world – some calling it “an abrasive ode to himself,” while others are dubbing it “erratic.”

RE_2012_04_05T190635Z_01_SIN101_RTRMDNP_3_KANYEWEST_KIMKARDASHIAN

We’ve heard it, and we can simply say that his fans will love it, while his detractors will continue to go east instead of West.

Listen to the album in its entirety below and tell us what you think. (For the record, Kanye posted up the full version of Yeezus himself on YouTube).

Meanwhile, here’s a sample of reviews from various music outlets and amateur reviewers:

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The most memorable Grammy performances

- February 7th, 2013

Rihanna. Frank Ocean. Taylor Swift. Alicia Keys. Jack White. These are just a few of stars that are set to potentially shine on stage for the 55th annual Grammy Awards Sunday night.

So what better way to prep for the biggest night in music than by running down some of the most notable performances ever on the big awards show.

grammyperf

As you will see, not all of the infamous ones on this list were because the artist killed it. Some lip-synched. Some (soy) bombed. Some were jaw-droppers. And some just plain awesome.

Here’s ten that made the grade for differing reasons:

Madonna/Gorillaz/De La Soul, “Feel Good Inc.”/”Hung Up,” 1996

If anyone asks what the first ever hologram band was, you can tell them it was Gorillaz. The cartoon group teamed up with De La Soul (who aren’t even mentioned) and Madonna for a mish-mash of musical samplings which culminated in an unforgettable Grammy showing.

Radiohead, “15 Step,” 2009

Thom Yorke and co. pulled out all the stops by bringing along the USC Trojan Marching Band for the 2009 Grammy Awards. With all the people on stage, it could have been a disaster but turned out to be a match made in heaven.

Bob Dylan, “Love Sick,” 1998

Bob Dylan was in his glory after taking home the 1998 Grammy for Album of the Year for “Time Out of Mind,” but it was an attention seeker that will always be remembered during his performance. A shirtless man with the words “Soy Bomb” painted on his chest began gyrating around the stage in a bizarre dance, while an unfazed Dylan played on. The man, later known as Michael Portnoy, was escorted away by security after about a minute. It was later revealed that he was hired to dance behind Dylan during the performance, but changed the plan. So what does “Soy Bomb” mean? “Soy represents dense nutritional life,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “Bomb is, obviously, an explosive destructive force. So, soy bomb is what I think art should be: dense, transformational, explosive life.”

Alrighty then…

Marvin Gaye, “Sexual Healing,” 1983

It was the year and moment that soul legend Marvin Gaye’s comeback was complete. After being hitless for years, Gaye turned up the heat on this night, putting in a stellar performance of “Sexual Healing” (despite some feedback), and taking home two Grammys to boot. Sadly, a year later, he was shot and killed by his own father after an argument at the family home.

Milli Vanilli, “Girl You Know It’s True,” 1990

They’ll always have their night in the Grammy sun. They “sung” in front of millions and right after, took home the award for Best New Artist. You know the rest.

Trust me, watching the video is worth the effort once you see the priceless reaction on Ozzy Osbourne’s face after it’s over.

Michael Jackson, “Man in the Mirror,” 1988

Michael Jackson was known for his over-the-top performances, but on this night, it was a stripped down and moving rendition of his hit song had the audience on their feet.

Eminem/Elton John, “Stan,” 2001

This much-hyped (and gripping) duet had tongues wagging at the time. Slim Shady was being targeted by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation due to his homophobic lyrics, and had actually protested outside the Grammy Awards in 2001 because of his participation. What’s the best way of thumbing your nose at the protests? Get Elton John to help you out.

Tina Turner/Beyonce, “Proud Mary,” 2008

Tina Turner and Beyonce teamed up for a blistering rendition of the Creedance Clearwater Revival song, blending two different generations of soulfulness. No Ike needed.

Pink, “Glitter in the Air,” (2010)

Pink gets her Cirque on by getting wrapped up in a sheet, getting soaked in water, and getting high in the sky.

Kanye West/Jamie Foxx, “Gold Digger,” 2006

The twosome get the usually conservative star-studded audience out of their seats for this high-energy version of a tune that usually gets the party hoppin’.

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