Exclaim!

Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012:

Groove Page 5

Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012:
5. Santigold
Master of My Make-Believe
(Downtown)

Plenty of artists claim to draw influence from all genres and all corners of the world, but few, if any, manage to transform it into pop songs the way Santigold does. Reggae, dancehall, West African grooves, '80s prog pop a la Peter Gabriel, British electronics, American hip-hop, Bollywood melodies, even the dreaded dubstep of the post-Skrillex era: Santigold pens powerful pop songs to make sense of it all. And there's no half-stepping here, no lame genre tourism, no overshadowing collaborators: she owns this record. It's the sound of an assured artist with an elastic voice, an insatiable artistic appetite and — rarer still — a sense of dynamics that allows for poignant ballads, rock anthems, mid-tempo marimba pop and strobe-light techno tracks. Chameleons ranging from David Bowie to Lady Gaga are surely green with envy. And if Santigold is as smart as she sounds here, she won't return Madonna's calls.
Michael Barclay

4. Badbadnotgood
BBNG 2
(Independent)



If anything, BADBADNOTGOOD bring to light one simple fact: it's not that today's youth aren't interested in jazz, but jazz was never interested in today's youth. When the genre-traversing Toronto trio included in the liner notes to BBNG2, "No one above the age of 21 was involved in the making of this album," a line was drawn in the sand: this is music made by and for a new generation of listeners. Jazz snobs need not apply. BBNG2 may in fact, be an electric jazz album, but don't call it fusion, as tracks like the aerosol-piano sound-off "Rotten Decay" and the staccato waltz vs. 4/4 mashup "CMYK" have more in common with the spirit of Kind of Blue than Bitches Brew. While most jazz students are busy trying to nail that seventh chord, BADBADNOTGOOD were holed-up in their Humber College dorm rooms, studying J Dilla's minimal drum patterns, checking the hits on their YouTube page and returning Tyler, the Creator's emails. But no matter how interesting BBNG's story is on paper, it's infinitely more fascinating on wax. Yes, six of BBNG2's tracks are covers, as the trio put their spin on songs by James Blake, Gucci Mane, Kanye West, Odd Future and My Bloody Valentine, but those wary of calling BBNG2 a proper album are simply ignorant to the fact that reinterpretations have always been a part of most jazz musicians' repertoire, from Louis to Wynton. On BBNG2, BADBADNOTGOOD aren't making some grand statement, they aren't the great saviours of jazz; they're just three kids interested in and interpreting what their musical peers are really saying.
Daniel Sylvester

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