Monday, December 30, 2013

Best of 2013 - Strike Gently

Best of 2013

Song: Wheel of Fortune
Artist: The Virgins
Album: Strike Gently

It's that time of year again where I take a look back at my favorite tracks and albums of the past year...

In a year filled with louder, more in-your-face music than ever before, it was nice to discover a subtle, throwback rock record in a sea of... well wrecking balls.  New York City-based band The Virgins took five years to follow up their self-titled 2008 debut, and Strike Gently was worth it, a Tom Petty-meets-Dire Straits moody record that really grabbed me, despite how un-attention-grabbing it was.

Many would write the band off as a Strokes look-and-sound-alike but I hear more "classic" rock influences from The Virgins, and when compared to the Strokes album from this year, The Virgins come out on top.  "Impressions of You" is still my favorite song here, but this is a great album, starting with the great one-two punch of "Prima Materia" and the lost-classic sounding "Wheel of Fortune," which seems built for meditative, soul-contemplating drives through the desert.  Actually, it's a classic driving record through and through and a different sort of 80s-leaning record than we've heard lately, less focused on birth-of-electronic New Wave and more toward Talking Heads/Elvis Costello art rock.  I really love it.

I got to see The Virgins open for The Killers this past May and they were great, despite playing for a fifth of a half-paying attention crowd.  I'm a little crushed this AM as I discovered that the band has in fact split up, just this past November.  Founder and lead singer-guitarist Donald Cumming is apparently starting a solo career, so if he was the main creative force behind this record, we possibly have more to look forward to.  As it stands, "Strike Gently" could be looked back as a forgotten classic.  Yet I haven't seen it mentioned in any year-end lists... making it important to highlight here!


Wheel of Fortune
Prima Materia
Impressions of You

Friday, December 13, 2013

F*ck Santa Claus

Song: F*ck Santa Claus
Artist: Wendy Ho
Album: Ho for the Holidays

This is disgusting.

If you know about Wendy Ho you should know what you're getting into here.  Ho for the Holidays is a Christmas Mixtape that you'll be able to play in very few places.  Lewd, disgusting, and yet pretty fucking funny in moments.  Wendy Ho subverts a handful of holiday classics with her brand of "ghetto fabulousness."  Buckle up.

Epic track titles "Proud Virgin Mary," "Whose Child is Dis?," and "O Come on My Face, Y'all," are well... yeah.

My favorite is the Erykah Badu"Tyrone"-biting "F*ck Santa Claus," which turns a kiss-off slow-jam into a seduction/kiss-off of the annual chimney-sliding Saint.  Bonkers.

The album is being offered as pay-what-you-like download on her site.  You can get it here.


No new videos on YouTube, this is from 2011.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas in L.A.

Song: Christmas in L.A.
Artist: The Killers
Album: Christmas in L.A.

Melancholy holiday single from The Killers, who have turned it into an annual tradition.  (This is their eighth in row.)

"Christmas in L.A." comes after the release of their first greatest hits album this year Direct Hits which feature single "Shot at the Night," which was a bit of a slow-burn track for me, much like the Killers recent material.  

"Christmas in L.A." like the other Killers holiday singles, has it's proceeds going to AIDS charities as part of the Project Red campaign.  The video features actors Owen Wilson and Harry Dean Stanton. (see below)


Christmas in L.A.
Shot at the Night

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

4 Carats

Song: 4 Carats
Artist: Kelly Clarkson
Album: Wrapped in Red

Above-average Christmas album from pop vocalist Kelly Clarkson, Wrapped in Red is the singer-songwriter's first holiday collection containing a little over half traditional tracks as well as a handful of originals, mostly co-written by Clarkson.  The album is solely produced by Greg Kurstin, whom had worked on Kelly's recent Greatest Hits as well as previous album Stronger.  It's the second time she's worked with a sole Producer since '07s My December (w/David Kahne) and the third time Kurtin has produced a full album for an artist after Lily Allen's It's Not Me, It's You (2009) and Sia's We Are Born (2010.)

Clarkson used Bing Crosby & Rosemary Clooney's soundtracks to the 1954 film White Christmas as inspiration, while Kurstin cited Vince Guaraldi Trio's A Charlie Brown Christmas and A Christmas Gift from Phil Spector and his famous "wall-of-sound" technique as touchstones.  The album is a mix of jazz, country, pop, and soul and does a pretty remarkable job of keeping things fresh over it's just-under-an-hour running time.

First single "Underneath the Tree" as well as opening, title track "Wrapped in Red" have a classic, yet modern feel that recalls Mariah's "All I Want for Christmas," no-doubt another inspiration as I'm sure they'd love a hit that size.  Both sound very 60s girl-group inspired, I'm also digging "Winter Dream (Brandon's Song)" and "4 Carats," which sounds exactly as you'd expect a Clarkson Christmas song would.  ("4 Carats" is co-written by Cathy Dennis & Livvi Franc.)

Enjoyed this and got me into the spirit a bit early this year.


4 Carats
Underneath the Tree
Wrapped in Red

Monday, December 09, 2013

And Anyways it's Christmas

Song: And Anyways it's Christmas
Artist: !!!
Album: And Anyways it's Christmas

One-off Christmas limited edition single (just 100 7's" pressed) from !!!.  Released as "an addendum" to this years' fifth and pretty excellent album Th!!!er.

Th!!!er was in contention for one of the years best here at WeCastMusic, and while it didn't make the top 10, here's a nice way to remind you of their pretty excellent record and have another groovy track for your upcoming holiday party.


And Anyways it's Christmas