Posts Tagged ‘Sigur Ros’

Dream pop is a term that has been thrown around the music industry since the 1970s. The exact definition is loose, because as with most genres of music, it can appear in many variations. For the most part though, it ties elements of pop and alternative rock together, while possessing a unique emotive quality to it. So much so, that the lyrics are typically profound and contemplative, while the ethereal vocals play a secondary role to the music itself, the real star of the show. The following bands have mastered the art of speaking through sounds, evoking feelings without saying anything, and sending listeners into the depths of their own imaginations.

Explosions in the Sky

They are a four man group from Austin, Texas, with six studio albums under their belt, who use primarily electric guitars and a drum kit to create their music. They have also appeared on soundtracks, including the movie/television show Friday Night Lights,  where they managed to tap into human emotions and elicit true sentiments out of a bunch of high school football players – now that is some powerful music. They differ slightly from other dream pop bands in the sense that they’re purely instrumental, which allows the listener to focus purely on the harmonies and collaborations between band members, without being distracted by a lead singer. Music for the ears.

Beach House

A dynamic duo from Baltimore consisting of Victoria Legrand on vocals and keyboard; Alex Scally on guitar and keyboard. They have released four studio albums to date, and their most recent, 2012’s In Bloom, garnered them rave reviews. Between just the two of them, they manage to create music that sounds almost magical, as if from a fantasy. Images constantly appear in one’s mind during their tracks, as though they are encouraging you to go beyond the depths of reality, into a completely surreal state. A fascinating experience for your musical soul.

Sigur Rós

This Icelandic trio is a cut above the rest. They use several different instruments, including guitar, keyboard, harmonica, banjo, glockenspiel and the ever-original bowed guitar (ie playing a guitar with a bow.) Starting in 1997, they have released seven studio albums; their sixth, 2012’s Valtari, arguably pushed them into more of a mainstream spotlight. Their lyrics are not even in English, yet their fans span worldwide; they even provided music for and made a quick cameo on an episode of The Simpsons. They carefully select how they combine their sounds together, creating mini-symphonies; the vocals are faint, but also necessary to add to the illusions created by the track itself. The end product is a sonic masterpiece. Even while witnessing them live, in a crowd of thousands, you can easily be taken away to dream.

If you are in the mood to be taken to a far away place, to get away from life for a while, to let your mind run free – forget the drugs. Just listen to some dream pop.

A wrap up of this year’s highs and lows in music, as I heard it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Best Americana Album – The Lumineers by The Lumineers
Americana is a musical genre that encompasses traditional American style, including country, bluegrass, folk, etc. With a surge of artists entering this field recently, The Lumineers stood out most this year. Their self-titled debut was infectious from beginning to end. Well done.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Best Dream Pop Album – Valtari by Sigur Ros
Dream pop is a music genre that is rapidly becoming more and more popular. It blends rock, pop and ambient music and is mostly instrumental with faint vocals (if any) which tend to blend in with the music more than stand out in front of it. The perfect combination to send you into a dream and Icelandic band Sigur Ros took it to the next level on their sixth studio album. Just listen.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Best Canadian Album – Hello Hum by Wintersleep
A great rock ‘n roll album, with a distinct east coast feel to it. On repeat for several months.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Worst Thing to Happen to Canadian Music – Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger’s Engagement
She used to sing about “Sk8er Bois”. He fronts Nickelback. She married Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 and dated Brody Jenner. He sings the same song over and over. She’s 28, he’s 38. On their own they’re embarrassing enough to our country but now they’re joining forces, tying the knot and becoming one. God help us all.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Best Thing to Happen to Canadian Music – The Weeknd
It’s no secret Canada lacks in representation in the hip-hop/R&B genre. Drake has been doing his best to keep the genre afloat, but he can now take a breather and let The Weeknd do some of the work. A soulful voice guaranteed to reel you in, is all over his three-disc debut album Trilogy. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Female Album of the Year – Born to Die Lana Del Rey
Her songs are beautiful, soulful and her vibe is a throwback to the 60s with a touch of modernity. Her voice is sultry and able to grab anyone’s attention with all its subtleties. This whole album says so much with so few words. Just breathtaking.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Artist Whose 15 Minutes are Up – Lady Gaga
Her antics are played out: her male alter ego Jo Calderone turned no one’s head; sexual ambiguity is so last year. Her unusual fashion sense is tired: shock for shock sake stops being shocking pretty quickly. Though she has had several hit singles, they’re interchangeable. Gaga, it’s about time you got over yourself. We all have.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Douchebags of the Year – Green Day
Green Day planned to release three albums over the course of four months starting in November 2012. Relax guys, you’re not that popular. At a music festival in Vegas, lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong threw a hissy fit/temper tantrum claiming the band’s set got cut short. He yelled out profanities and smashed his guitar on stage, while his bandmates followed suit. It always surprises me how they made it past the 90s.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Biggest 90s Comeback – The Cranberries
This year saw album releases by several 90s bands, including No Doubt, Soundgarden, Counting Crows, Smashing Pumpkins and Our Lady Peace. The Cranberries win because not only did they reappear after an 11-year absence, but they have neither toured since then nor has any band member gone solo or formed other bands. A true comeback.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  English/Irish Boy Band Most Likely to Succeed – The Wanted
Most band members are in their 20s, therefore a fan base past pre-teens and they co-wrote some of their songs. One Direction, their toughest competitors, are much younger (late teens) and were discovered on the UK version of the X-Factor. They’ll be famous but it will be short-lived. The Wanted may not rise as fast, but will last much longer.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Most Unfortunate Band Break Up – Foo Fighters
Foo Fighters announced an indefinite hiatus earlier this year. It’s technically not a break up, more like a separation or a pause in their music careers. As of now they have every intention of getting back together, but only time will tell. Here’s hoping.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Most Fortunate Band Break Up – INXS
80s band INXS lost their lead singer Michael Hutchence years ago. Eight years later, the remaining band members appeared on Rock Star in search of a new lead singer, and found one in JD Fortune. Aside from releasing one mediocre album, and a little touring, not much else was accomplished by them, so they finally announced their break up this year. Some things are better left untouched.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Band Who Should Break Up – Maroon 5
The band should be renamed the Adam Levine Show because he is seemingly the only member. Every video stars him, he’s a judge on The Voice and often lends his whiny voice to other musicians on their tracks. The band might as well cease to exist because Adam Levine can do exactly what he’s doing with any band. So why not just break up already and put us all out of our misery?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Best Collaboration Track – “Sweet Nothing”  by Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch
Calvin Harris collaborated with several musicians this year including Rihanna, Ne-Yo, Tinie Tempah and Kelis. He’s a talented dude, whose music consistently makes you want to let loose. But what sets this track apart from the rest, is the fierceness of Florence’s voice – there’s no contest.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Worst Collaboration Track – “Good Time” by Owl City feat. Carly Rae Jepsen
Take Owl City’s shrieking teenage girl voice, add Carly Rae Jepsen  – the 27-year-old responsible for the unforgivable “Call Me Maybe.” Combine with cheesy lyrics (ie “Hands up if you’re down to get down tonight) and a super lame video. The result is a track eerily similar to 2004’s cringe-worthy Shania Twain/Mark McGrath collaboration, “Party for Two.” I’ll post both for comparison but just a warning: no good time will be had.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Most Able to Pull Off Dating a 25-Year-Old – Madonna
Madonna is 53. Boyfriend Brahim Zaibat is 25.
J-Lo is 42. Boyfriend Casper Smart is 25.
You do the math.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Most Surprising Song – “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift
Swift’s songs are usually predictable, overplayed and an after thought. She has the squeaky clean, girl next door, goofball image. But this song is clearly a jab at an ex-boyfriend (apparently Jake Gyllenhall), and she manages to pull it off by making him look like a complete idiot, in a very tasteful way. Surprising because it’s unexpected and pretty ballsy, especially for Swift.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Best New Artist – Alex Clare
Clare went from releasing a debut album in the UK that nobody heard, to an overnight sensation in North America due to his single “Too Close” appearing on a Microsoft commercial. He wins this category for ingenuity. In his music: fusing electronic, rock and pop together with heartfelt lyrics and endearing vocals. And in his music videos: they’re odd, confusing and definitely make you think.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Best Live Show – Garbage, Osheaga Music Festival, Montreal
                                         Ben Harper Acoustic Tour, Massey Hall, Toronto
                                         The xx, Massey Hall, Toronto               
Garbage for returning after seven years away and showing up like no time had gone by. Ben Harper for demonstrating true musicianship through his instruments and his voice, while performing all by himself. The xx for making it impossible to sit still and leaving every fan awe struck for days.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Worst Album of the Year – Wild Ones by Flo Rida
For spawning tracks like: “Whistle Baby,” easily the dumbest song of the year; “I Gotta Feeling” and “I Cry,” both sampled from other artists; “Wild Ones” which features Sia, who also appeared on David Guetta’s hit “Titanium” released about a week earlier. Bottom line: Flo Rida wins this category for making an album of the most unoriginal music.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Album of the Year – Coexist by The xx
There aren’t enough words to describe how incredibly beautiful, heart wrenching, soulful and musical this album is – it makes you want to sigh, love and cry all while having a dance party. Once you hear it, you can’t un-hear it and that’s a wonderful thing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Worst Song of the Year – “Starships” by Nicki Minaj
Minaj got out-rapped by an eight-year-old on live TV on her own track “Superbass”. She has decided to dress as either a cartoon or Lady Gaga in public. She is also responsible for songs like “Stupid Hoe” and “Beez in the Trap.” But of all the ridiculous and tacky things Minaj has brought to the music world this year, “Starships” wins: the video is unwatchable, the lyrics easily written by a ten year old sci-fi enthusiast and whenever it plays, I run for cover.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Song of the Year – “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye featuring Kimbra
This song first took off when Burlington band Walk off The Earth did a cover and put it on YouTube. It immediately went viral and drew heavy attention to the original track by Belgian-Australian musician Gotye. The music is light and fun despite the sadness and anger that runs through it. Kimbra’s vocals take the song to the next level and pull even harder at the heartstrings. Couldn’t get enough of it all year.
Montreal has played host to Osheaga Music Festival since its start in 2006. Every year it grows in size and popularity – this year they hit 120,000 fans over three days- thereby attracting a broader range of musicians and fans alike. This year was no exception.Parc Jean Drapeau on St. Helen’s Island was the venue, and the minute I got there the sun was beating down and the humidity was so intense it was just absurd, but that didn’t stop anyone from having a good time. There were five stages (one entirely dedicated to DJs) spread across the park, simultaneously featuring different bands. It’s impossible to see every band, but the beauty of music festivals is that there are so many options – even if you’re walking from one stage to another, you get exposed to music on the way.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           First stop was to see Halifax’s Wintersleep who were participating in War Child’s “Busking for Change” event, where they play a stripped down version of their music in return for donations to the charity. Luckily, I was able to experience them as up front as humanly possible – three of the band members were sitting on chairs, I was sitting on the grass right in front of them. From Vancouver, Hey Ocean! also played for War Child. Their music is a mix of folk and indie pop and their performance started out well, but things quickly went amiss: they were having issues with their sound and somehow couldn’t really get it together and kept complaining. No offense guys, but no one’s heard of you so it’s way too early for you to be having a diva moment.

The day continued with performances by Of Monsters and Men to a huge crowd, Franz Ferdinand who ignited everyone’s dancing shoes, the Weeknd whose bass was way too loud that it completely drowned him out. Headliners that day were Icelandic sensation Sigur Ros, who managed to generate goosebumps on every human being around; French electronic duo Justice, and the one and only Florence + the Machine. Not surprisingly, her performance was flawless. She was so energetic, free spirited and dedicated to her music, backed by an incredible band including a harpist. I would even go so far as to say she was almost like a fairy godmother turning all of us into Cinderellas and making us feel as happy as anyone could be. I realize the ridiculousness of what I just said, but for anyone who has seen her live, you know what I mean; for those of you who haven’t, you will.

Day 1 came to an end and the combination of constantly standing, dancing around, singing along, eating overpriced mediocre food, baking in the heat, using outhouses and standing my ground in large crowds, left me exhausted. Day 2 was up next.

For photos check out Me vs. the Music Blog Page
For official video footage check out Osheaga 2012