Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012:

Groove Page 3

Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012:Groove
9. Dr. John
Locked Down

Where many of Dr. John's contemporaries are still cruising on autopilot — or no longer cruising at all — the 71-year-old night tripper proves with Locked Down that age, ego, fame and Baron Samedi did not do him in. His most recent opus on Nonesuch confirmed that the spirits who channelled the aural delights and heavy shakers he signed during the late '60s are still as manic as they were 40 years ago. Production-wise, Locked Down is the work of avid music fans first and foremost. Similar to what the folks at Daptone have accomplished for the likes of Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley, Dan Auerbach has applied his flair for soulful musicians (Max Weissenfeldt, Leon Michels, Nick Movshon, Brian Olive and the McCrary Sisters) and his love of juke joint boogie to these ten timeless songs by the voodoo priest of hoodoo blues. But how much of Dan Auerbach is on that record? How much of Dr. John is in Dan Auerbach? How much of Professor Longhair is in Dr. John and how much of New Orleans, Nigeria, and the entire history of the shamanic use of music is there on the album? Not finding a definitive answer is perhaps central to appreciating this exercise in cross-pollination that is sure to tickle pink even the most aching purists of the genre.
Ralph Elawani

8. A Tribe Called Red

A Tribe Called Red had a phenomenal year. Having released one single prior to this year, albeit with an authoritative and frequently refreshed Soundcloud library of further tracks and remixes, 2012 saw them achieve a status unique in Canadian music and also in the world at large. "Popular" doesn't even begin to describe their global significance; they are connecting with a potentially gigantic audience who appreciate the international aboriginal perspective the group upholds. They are an audio-visual, cultural phenomenon. In releasing a conventional full-length album, minus the visuals and their Red Bull-approved mixing wizardry, they invited people to judge them solely on their intense pow wow step and moombahton constructions. (That's right, moombahton — remember six months ago? Good times.) The fleeting nature of cool might have sunk an album of mashups and flavour-of-the-moment rhythms. But there's so much more to their method, their meaning and the global implications of their musical philosophy, which keeps revealing the substance behind their constructions even months after release. These aren't just disembodied samples over hype beats. ATCR's album is an expertly paced one that starts strong and builds to a barely controlled frenzy before dialling back ever so slightly. This is world music from a Canadian Aboriginal perspective, where familiar sounding pieces are put together in a way that makes them sound less, not more, homogenous. The sky's the limit for these guys.
David Dacks

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