Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012:

Groove Page 5

> Dec 13 2012

Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012: - Groove Page 5
By Exclaim! Staff5. Santigold
Master of My Make-Believe

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

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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Not a big fan of the #1 choice, but I am glad to see BBNG on a year-end list!
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Enough with the stupid Frank Ocean already... It's really not that impressive. Miguel, also nothing much to speak of. But, yeah, after the first two, the rest of the list is great. Much love for BADBADNOTGOOD and Georgia Anne Muldrow.
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I'd love to hear a more detailed description of why you think Channel Orange isn't that impressive. I get the hype fatigue, but on a musical level, it's a very accomplished piece of composition and performance. I really don't care for that Miguel record though...
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Same, HankPond. I already addressed the Ocean overkill -- but aside from the hype, what's your aversion to the music?
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I don't think it's bad by any stretch. It's even good occasionally, "Pyramids" in particular. I just didn't find it to be all that revolutionary or cathartic, let alone consider it to be the greatest album of all-time, which its amount of #1 EOTY list placements would suggest. The album seems to be more of a success of marketing than actual music, which makes me sad for all the other artists being left off lists like this because they chose to keep their heads down and make good music rather than hone their social media skills. From where I'm sitting, Frank Ocean isn't that much different from Al Walser, though Ocean's music is clearly better.
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Fan of both the Ocean and Miguel albums and have no issue with either's placement at the top of this list but wish the Slakadeliqs album had been ranked higher. Was deeply disappointed and bored by Santigold's album though and question its worthiness to even be charted. Also thought Glasper's album was a tad overrated but it had its moments. Wasn't even aware that Neneh Cherry had put an album out last year but after checking out that meandering avant garde-jazz nonsense, can't say I was that impressed tbh.
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