Tag Archives: lana del rey

EP’s of 2012

STARRED- Prison to Prison

Alice Jemima- All the Boyfriends

 Solange- True

HAIM- Forever EP

Hella Better Dancer- Living Room

Julia Stone- Let’s Forget All the Things That We Say

Lana Del Rey- Paradise

Lisa Mitchell- Spiritus

Matt Corby- Into the Flame

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Albums of 2012: A Conclusion

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Albums of the year is always an incredibly difficult list to compile. A lot of these albums were released early on in the year, and maybe some records which have only just been released or I’ve only just got round to listen to have been neglected from the list.

Also, as a student with little money or time, I do not own every album released this year, and I haven’t got the time to listen to every single one. So in lots and lots of ways, this list is fairly biased. 9 out of 10 of my albums were female fronted or had female singers, and 6 out of 10 were debuts. I am proud of both of these facts.

I hope you enjoyed reading my posts and I hope maybe you discovered an album is new to you. If you missed it, here are my top 10 albums of the year.

1. Hannah Cohen- Child Bride

2. Grimes- Visions

3. Sharon Van Etten- Tramp

4. Keaton Henson- Dear…

5. Lana Del Rey- Born to Die

6. Purity Ring- Shrines

7. The Civil Wars- Barton Hollow

8. Beach House- Bloom

9. Taylor Swift- RED

10. Jessie Ware- Devotion

Some albums narrowly missed out on a place on the list. Here are a couple of those records…

Tame Impala- Lonerism

Melody’s Echo Chamber- Melody’s Echo Chamber

Father John Misty- Fear Fun

First Aid Kit- The Lion’s Roar

Lianne La Havas- Is Your Love Big Enough?

Niki & The Dove- Instinct

Julia Holter- Ekstasis

Ellie Goulding- Halcyon

Tomorrow my Ones to Watch for 2013 will be starting!

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Albums of 2012 #5: Lana Del Rey- Born to Die

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When this album was released there was so much controversy around Lana Del Rey that I think the greatness of this album got lost. Now we are at the end of the year, it has appeared on many end of year lists so it is good to see it getting the attention it deserves.

This record is pop perfection. It’s interesting, catchy, full of hits, and it’s also got depth and darkness. Her voice is esquiaste and the lyrics are the most thought provoking of any pop artist I can remember in my lifetime.

I wrote a review back when the record was released about the lyrical meaning of the record and my interpretation of it, you can still read it here.

Best tracks: Video Games, Born to Die, Diet Mountain Dew, Radio

 

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Ones to Watch 2012 #1: Where are they now?

It’s the end of the year and the time when every music blogger and journalists goes mental over two things; the best of this year and predicting who is going to massive next year. In a few weeks both my lists will be starting, first my albums of the year and then my Ones to Watch for 2013. But what I thought I would do first is have a look at the list I wrote last year and have a recap to see where some of these artists are now. I chose 15 acts last year, and here is the first 5. You can see the original post from last year here.

1. Lana Del Rey

Something happened to Lana Del Rey at the end of last year that I have never seen happen before. Over hype. It got a bit ridiculous and completely backlashed on her. It was a shame because so much attention was put on her image and it detracted from the real reason she came into the limelight in the first place; the music. So it’s been an interesting year for Lana. Her debut album ‘Born to Die’ was released in January to mostly positive reviews and it hit No. 1 in the UK charts. I love the record. I think it’s smart and interesting pop music. She is releasing a ‘Paradise Edition’ of the record on Monday (basically it’s just a new album) which includes the wonderful ‘Ride’ and ‘Bel Air’. I honestly think Lana Del Rey is an artist that will be with us for a long time.

2. Alabama Shakes

Unfortunately the debut Alabama Shakes record failed to shake me but live they shake the whole room! This band give incredible performances and that is why so many people love them. I can see them going from huge stage to huge stage. A very exciting prospect.

3. Friends

Friends were maybe a bit too hyped based on only a couple of songs. Their debut album, like the Shakes record failed to cause a stir, receiving middle of the road reviews and their live capacity hasn’t grown too much either. However, I still really like their sound, and you can’t deny that ‘I’m his Girl’ isn’t a killer tune. So maybe when album No. 2 comes around, the pressure will be off a little allowing them to create a more well rounded record.

4. Ren Harvieu

The reason I liked Ren Harvieu so much this time last year was because I thought she had a bit of a dark side. We’ve had a Duffy, Adele and Rumer but I thought maybe Ren Harvieu would do something a little different. There was something quite rock chic-ish about her. Unfortunately  what I wanted to happen with her, didn’t take shape. It’s not that she hasn’t had a good year. Her debut album, although didn’t achieve much commercial success, received pretty good reviews and she played a headline show at Shepherds Bush Empire. But I feel now that she might just fade away…

5. Lianne La Havas

It’s been a great year for the lovely and very talented Lianne La Havas. A Mercury nominated album, slots at almost all the major UK festivals and supporting Bon Iver on tour. It was been the year of ‘polite music’ but this is the best kind of polite. It’s not staggering, but it’s not a step backwards. Lianne’s debut record mixed what Corrine Bailey Rae doing a few years ago with electronic sounds on songs like ‘Forget’ and breathtaking songwriting on the album highlight ‘Gone’. It’s not a great record, but it’s a good record. And I think she has more to come.

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Lana Del Rey- Ride/Blue Velvet

She is really quite spectacular. These two songs will be released on the ‘Paradise Edition’ of her debut album Born to Die which was released in January along with 6 other new tracks.

(I think this ‘Paradise Edition’ thing is a bit of a scam, because basically I have to re-purchase Born to Die to get the new 8 songs when I already have the Deluxe Edition of the album and now I have to spend a lot of money on the ‘Paradise Edition’. Bit silly if you ask me. But Lana just about makes up for it with these gorgeous offerings.)

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Album Review: Lana Del Rey- Born to Die

Every person in the modern world seems to have an opinion about Lana Del Rey. I have already declared my love for her in various other posts, and that love continues on the release of her (sort-of) debut album, Born to Die. However, after receiving this album earlier this week, and pressing play, something unexpected happened. I didn’t know how I felt about this record. I’ve spent a long time thinking about it, trying to work out if she is a genius, a puppet or just a bit fucked in the head. Since everyone else is sharing their opinions, I thought I would too.

The first thing that grabbed me about this album is the melodies. Golden, golden melodies and brilliant pop song writing that is about ten thousand times more interesting than any pop record that’s come out, at least in my life-time. But despite the melodies, one thing you can’t ignore is the lyrics. It’s the lyrics that has caused people to question the brilliance of this album, and I think for some people, it’s just a bit too much. It’s not just that the lyrics are dark, they are beyond that. They are somewhat disturbing and if anyone was wondering why Lana Del Rey has been called ‘controversial’ listen to what she is singing about.

One third of what Lana is singing about is materialism, how it controls society and how we are all driven by money. In National Anthem she sings ‘Money is the reason we exist / Everybody Knows it / Kiss Kiss’. The other third is about men, how men control women and how far in love you can fall. But everyone writes love songs right? No, not like this. Lana sings about how love can drive death, as she sings on Dark Paradise ‘Your soul is hunting me / And telling me that everything is fine / but i wish i was dead’. It’s taking love and obsession to the next level.

The other third of this album is about fame. How fame can destroy you, something that was first glimmered at in the clip of the actress falling over in the video for Video Games. This is the third I find the most interesting and makes me think that Lana has a whole lot more genius than certain people are giving her credit for. Lana Del Rey has been one of the biggest victims of sudden fame, criticism and hate more than any musician I can remember. She has become unavoidable over the last 4 or so months. Every move she makes, every comment in an interview, and every note she sings live has been criticized, mocked and written about in someway or another. The character of Lana Del Rey has become music’s No. 1 fame game.

While you could say that Lana may be being naive about love and money, I don’t think you can say that about fame. Which makes me think that maybe she is just being extremely clever about the whole thing. Money, love to the point of obsession, and fame are three things which are fundamentally wrong with modern culture. Maybe Lana is trying to open everyones eyes to that. She has become everything that is wrong with modern culture, but it’s purposeful, and maybe the whole ‘Lana Del Rey’ phenomenon is just trying to teach us something about our obsessions with fame, money and love and then more fame, money and love.

She may be as manufactured, as blank and puppet-like as everyone wants to make out. But maybe the girl who went to university to study metaphysics, who can write melodies as beautiful as these, has a little more substance to her then we are all making out.

Now, because no one is talking about the music on this album. I shall. The production is exquisite. Luscious strings and orchestration mixed with hip hop beats and Lana’s truly unique swooping voice. Each song is a star in it’s own right. Video Games is the strongest but I don’t think anyone expected anything to top that. Off to the Races, Diet Mountain Dew and National Anthem seem to come directly from Lana’s more urban NYC influenced side whereas songs like Radio, Carmen and Million Dollar Man have a more torch song influence with stunning fairytale-ish melodies. Lucky Ones, a bonus track, is also a highlight for me, and I think works as a perfect end to the album.

I think the Lana Del Rey character is a landmark in pop music, she actually makes the genre interesting. This album, if taken in the right way, is really quite stunning. Just don’t play it to your 11 year old daughter. A reader commenting on the Independent’s review of the album, calls to mind Jessica Rabbit’s words ‘I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way’. Take it as that, if you will.

Best Tracks: Video Games, Born to Die, Million Dollar Man, Radio, Lucky Ones.

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Been Listening #1

Hope everyone has had a great Christmas period and are looking forward to starting 2012. I have decided to start lots of new features for the new year, more info on that coming soon. But here’s a taster of one of them. It’s called Been Listening, and its basically a summery of what I’ve been listening to recently.

How To Dress Well- Just Once EP

How to Dress Well usually do electro/indie sort of stuff, which is pretty good. But then they made this EP which is stunningly good. Its orchestral versions of some of their songs. Some of it is quite heartbreaking, the song above is my highlight and you can listen and download the whole thing here.

The War On Drugs- Slave Ambient

A lot of people listed this in their Albums of the Year so I thought I’d check it out. Really good record, reminds of of Arcade Fire mixed with bits of the 70’s/80’s.

Needle- Oceans

I got send this lovely song from a San Francisco band called Needle, super dreamy. A little Daughter ish too. You can download this for free.

Rickie Lee Jones- On Saturday Afternoons in 1963

Rickie Lee Jones made music in the 80’s mostly, but its got a 70’s feel about it, this song is a lot slower and simpler than her other stuff i’ve listened to, and I’ve found a lot of love in it.

Stumbleine

Shura recommended this one to me. Stumbleine‘s music is sort of chillwave, ambient, electronic etc. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a beautiful take on electronica. You can listen to a couple of EP’s and download them for free at the Bandcamp page.

Lana Del Rey- Driving in Cars with Boys and A Star for Nick

Been exploring all the Lana Del Rey songs hanging around YouTube. These two are my favourites. Listen to Driving in Cars With Boys here. The track about was apparently from when she was 17, its incredibly haunting and dark.

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