Friday, December 16, 2011

2011 Countdown - #12

In the words of the wise and great Rebecca Black, it’s Friday, Friday, Friday – and this post will conclude the countdown mentions for this week! After chatting about two of today’s new-age crooners, cool guys and trendy tunemakers, we’ll take (as they say) a brief hiatus and return after the weekend with the second week of 2011 favourites. So, enjoy your weekend – reflect on a week of delicious albums that this wonderful year spawned, relax with a new playlist and celebrate the sounds. Glass of wine, cup of coffee, decadent Christmas dessert optional and encouraged.

Happy Friday, songbirds! Here are the new kids on the block that we couldn’t get enough of this year:

Raphael Saadiq
RAPHAEL SAADIQ – Stone Rollin’: Charles Jay Wiggins, born in ’66 to a hard knock life in Oakland, presumably was a neo-soul star even before he transformed into his alter-ego Saadiq – the multi-Grammy nominated funk brother and producer who has performed on some of the most influential international stages alongside names like Stevie Wonder. Despite being in the business for over two decades, popular airwaves might have only heard his resurgence in 2008 with the single “Big Easy” and the groovy impossible-not-to-dance “100 Yard Dash”. His newest album, however, was critically acclaimed by almost every tough-to-please publication. It’s the definition of classic soul revival – packed with two-stepping Motown throwbacks like the title track, which tosses in some dangerously heated harmonica and enough instruments to break the tip off a stage. And then there’s the phenomenal “Good Man”, a song decorated with sultry female back-up and a soulful kickdrum; a song that could part crowds for a hip-swaying slow dance between too pasted together bodies, just like the good ol’ days. Highlight songs: “Stone Rollin’”, “Good Man”, “Just Don’t”, and “Heart Attack”.

James Blake
JAMES BLAKE – James Blake: James, baby – sing another one. This electro-producer and closeted milky-voiced singer-songwriter only emerged from the background of production in 2010 with a shot at Feist’s swanky “Limit to Your Love”, before releasing his highly anticipated eletro-soul debut this year. His ability to seamlessly blend suave electronic beats with throaty old-souled vocal ability is breathtaking for a 23 year-old – one whose established music career and unique producing abilities already prove he’s far beyond his age – and I can only imagine what will be next from this breakthrough star. Featured on tracks with Bon Iver, having covered timeless Joni Mitchell classics and nabbed the position of runner-up to BBC’s Sound of 2011 poll – something tells me this old soul is going to get better with age. Highlight songs: “The Wilhelm Scream”, “A Case of You”, “Lindisfarne II”.

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