New Music You Should Hear…

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Just a quick upload of new tracks that I heard this week, a little all over the map..

First up, Sydney, Australia’s The Preatures.  This group really wowed me last year with their impressive single Is This How You Feel?  They are back in early 2014 with a new single entitled Better Than It Ever Could Be, and I think this song is even more excellent than the last one.  If they continue to release songs of this caliber, than I would expect that this band will no longer stay a secret.  Expect to hear big things from this group over 2014 and beyond…

Second.  Well, that didn’t take long.  One would think Interscope already had this one ready to go.  No, while I think Radioactive is/and always has been catchy as sin – it has still been just a tad overplayed (Is it just me, or does Demons sound extremely similar? I guess that explains it’s choice as single #2).  That aside, kudos to Imagine Dragons and their success this year.

Here’s the thing, I pretty much love everything Kendrick Lamar (and TDE), so I had to include this one.   Furthermore, I completely agree that this was the best performance at Sunday’s 56th Annual Grammy Awards.  Anyway, here’s the official remix of one of last year’s more popular songs.  This one includes the new verse written by Mr. GKMC (Best Rap Album of the Year, sorry Macklemore), and he kills it.  I apologize, however, as I’m sure you weren’t trying to go out of your way to hear Radioactive again.

Finally, and most importantly, I have included the second single of off Broken Bells’ new album After The Disco, aptly title After The Disco.  The album is one of my most anticipated to be released in 2014 as I can’t lie, I think Brian Joseph Burton aka Danger Mouse is an absolute genius.  He’s got the Midas Touch as far as I’m concerned.  I just listened to the free iTunes stream of the album today and it’s so totally sick – it’s met and exceeded my expectations even on the first listen.  While they just released the third single, called Leave It Alone, I actually prefer After The Disco out of the three released so far.  And that’s saying a lot because there isn’t one song on the album I don’t like….

Bonus: TDE’s newest signee Isaiah Rashad put out his first mixtape/album/EP today entitled Cilvia Demo earlier today.  It’s another great effort out of the camp – he truly fits in well with Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q and King Kendrick (not to forget SZA).  I expect him to develop over time in the same way as the rest of the members, and if this today’s release is anything to go by, we’re all in good hands going forward.  Trust the TDE, I know I do.

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SFP’s Old-Timey Song of the Week!

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This week’s song comes courtesy of Mother Russia and one of the country’s Germany’s greatest exports of the early 1980s*, Dschinghis Khan.  With the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics right around the corner, I thought it rather appropriate.

Let’s face it,  the Sochi Winter Olympics remain controversial no matter how you look at them.  From homophobia, to the threat of terrorism, to Putin’s support of neighbouring Ukranian Oligarchs – this Winter Olympiad is steeped with contention.  Hell, the price tag is over ~US$50 BILLION to have the Winter Olympics take place in a region known for palm trees and warmer climates oft enjoyed by rich Russian vacationers; one would think that the money could have better been spent on helping many Russians who I am sure are in need, and won’t be attending any of the events at Sochi.

And don’t even get me started on the Orcas – horrible stuff. (See Blackfish…)

But this isn’t a political blog, it’s about the music, so moving on…

I thought I would harken back to a simpler time, when Russia’s The USSR’s most famous city was (apparently) all about laughter, love, music, disco, and rainbow outfits (the outfit colour scheme is now strangely ironic, yet appropriate given that the Germans are expected to attend Sochi in multi-colour rainbow garb in support of equal/gay rights just because….)

Take it away, Dschinghis Khan!

English Version Here:

Original German Version Here:

Oh, the first time I heard this song was off a Peruvian guy’s USB stick of “American Music” plugged into his car stereo in high-altitude and the middle of nowhere in the mountains of Peru on our way back from a copper project tour (the drive was 8-10 hours and only covered ~110 km of total distance, 4×4 was a must…).  Anyway, thanks That Guy!

*Oh BTW, I’ve heard that German exports have improved dramatically since 1980….Ha ah ah ah ah ah! Hey!

Concert Night: St. Lucia at The Hoxton

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On Thursday January 23rd, I headed out to the house that Kenny built to a St. Lucia performance for the second time in the past 7 months.  The difference this time? Oh about 40°C to the negative. Nevertheless, the frigid temperatures (thanks Polar Vortex) didn’t stop St. Lucia’s ever increasing Toronto fan base from turning out for what turned out to be a great concert.

The last time I saw these guys was at NXNE at Wrongbar, a similar type venue.  It was a Saturday, however and they didn’t go on until midnight.  The crowd, including myself, had certainly had a few drinks at that point – St. Lucia seemed wise to that fact and kept their songs performed in the uptemo category.  The crowd ate it up, and I couldn’t find anyone who wasn’t dancing/jumping/arm-waving etc.

This time around, the band had a significantly deeper repertoire given the release of their/his(?) criminally underrated and overlooked album, When The Night back in September of 2013.  While most of the songs remain uptempo and catchy as shit, the crowd did seem a little bit more subdued this time.  That didn’t last long, by the end there was jumping, there was singing, and above all, general merriment abound.  Thanks to Jean-Philip Grobler and crew, mission accomplished. That said, the concert was fantastic (not epic, mind you), and if you have a chance to see them before they eventually hit the big-time (they were recently on Kimmel and will be soon opening for Foster The People on their upcoming 2014 tour (I’m going to try to make it for this as it will be at Toronto’s legendary Massey Hall)), do so as the tickets are still cheap and St. Lucia’s music is soooo “feel good” and ear-wormy, it can make anyone forget about the Polar Vortex and think they were actually IN St. Lucia.

Also, get your hands on When The Night if you can.  And tell your friends about it. It’s amazing. Here’s a taste if you don’t believe me…

My next concert will be Phosphorescent (Matthew Houck) on February 1st.  While likely to be more subdued, I’m expecting good things…

Rap You Need To Know Right Now! Kevin Gates and Schoolboy Q

Talk about two guys who couldn’t have more hype heading into 2014. Momentum indeed.

First, Kevin Gates released not just one, but two excellent “mixtapes” last year, if you could call them mixtapes.  The way I see it is that they were both pretty much two excellent ALBUMS.  If you haven’t yet listened to either The Luca Brasi Story or Stranger Than Fiction, stop what you are doing, download these albums FOR FREE and realize you’re listening to one of the best in the game right now.  Baton Rouge, Louisiana: respect.  I’m not going into any of his specific cuts from last year, as I’m here to focus on the now and on the future.

KG has come hard out of the gates in 2014 with recent street single, Don’t Know.  He expertly works autotune without making you roll your eyes. Could this be the song that pushes Gates into the mainstream?  I think it has a chance, but we’ll have to wait and see. If he never blew up and just kept on keeping on, I’d be happy, but that’s selfish so here’s to a successful 2014 for Kevin Gates – if anyone deserves it, he does. I’m expecting a new mixtape album announcement in the near future.

Next, do I really need to inform on you on Schoolboy Q? Didn’t think so.  Surf the web and it will take you NO TIME to find out that Oxymoron is on everyone’s most anticipated album list of the year – look near the top.  Anyway, he’s been patient and waited for Kendrick to shine (and boy did he ever) – and he’s officially the next up out of the (amazing) TDE camp.  His string of singles in 2013 was fantastic (see “Yay Yay,” among others) and it seems that having pushed out the album a few times (now expected on February 25, 2014) has only added fuel the the fire that is Q.  On his most recent single, Break the Bank, he’s teamed up with Alchemist for another street banger.  His best yet? Could be.  But if you need an education, make sure you check out his previous independently released albums Setbacks and Habits and Contradictions.  On to the show!

Oh by the way, here’s the deluxe edition album cover of Oxymoron:

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It reminds me a lot of Young Buck’s deluxe edition Straight Outta Cashville album cover released almost 10 years ago (damn!) in August 2004.  I loved that album, so I’m going to take the similarity as a good omen…

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Artist to Watch For 2014: MØ

Over the past year, the music biz has seen no shortage of female vocal talent on the pop music scene.  While it didn’t capture me at first, the recent pioneers for a style that now seems to be ubiquitous on the pop and indie, were modern-day icons like Florence + The Machine and Adele.  The style has started to seriously grow on me over the past 12-18 months and if you had a chance to look my Top 2013 lists you would have noticed that I included names such as London Grammar, MS MR, Vaults, Chvrches and Susanne Sundfør.  In the previous year, you would have for sure seen LDR,Grimes and Purity Ring on the same list there as well.

That said, a new artist who should fit quite well in the arena, and, if all goes well, should make quite a bit of noise in 2014 should be , real name Karen Marie Ørsted, straight out of Denmark. She had released a few singles over the course of 2012-2013 in addition to putting out a short, but quality, four-track EP last year entitled Bikini Daze.  All of this hard work should culminate in the next month or so with her debut album, No Mythologies To Follow, due out on February 24th.

This past weekend, MØ released her first single which proves to be solid, lead-off pop-py single called “Don’t Wanna Dance.” In a short period of time, she’s proven to be more than just another Scandinavian pop-princess and SFP believes she’s an artist to watch for in 2014.

Here’s a couple of her previous more popular singles from last year.

What do you think – is she going anywhere this year?  Feedback and comments always welcome!

SFP’s Old-Timey Song of the Week!

On a relatively-regular basis I hope to update SFP’s readers with one of those old-timey songs that we all know.  There will be no rhyme or reason to the songs chosen.  And what time period or era that the song is from will also be completely arbitrary and chosen by me…probably nothing beyond 1980.

Without further adieu…SFP”s first Old-Timey Song of the Week:

Runaround Sue by the immortal Dion Dimucci, enjoy!

Best of 2013

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Well, 2013 was another solid year for music…I kept finding myself always forced (albeit with much delight) to catch up with another great album, band, group, song or whatever.Last year, I was able to narrow my favourites down to a Top 30 (give or take) in both the Hip-Hop/Rap and Non Hip-Hop/Rap categories.  This year, I wasn’t as choosy, so the number of songs on my list has expanded (umm…pretty significantly).  You’ll notice that each list might even contain several songs by the same artist, or off the same album; long story short, I didn’t want to, and maybe even couldn’t bring myself to choose as I found merits on all the songs on each list – sue me. The way I see it, we all come out on top.  Dropbox links to each playlist are below, ENJOY!

stressfreeparking’s Top (90?) Non-Hip Hop Songs of 2013:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/zf84b0zpaiecwxd/Top%20Non-Rap%202013.zip

stressfreeparking’s Top (68?) Hip-Hip Songs of 2013:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ij60bpl940dtzsh/Top%20Rap%202013.zip

That said, if I were to to pick my jam of the year in each category, it would have to be the two three presented below:

RAC or Remix Artists Collective finally produced some original content this year, and the results were stellar.  Not only was this my song of the summer, but no other track “did it” enough for me over the course of the year to de-throne this tune.  Great bassline, a catchy hook, an overall delight and my Song of the Year 2013. I strongly suggest you check out the rest of RAC’s Dont’ Talk To EP, it’s phenomenal.

Speaking of thrones, I love Shawn Corey Carter (always have and always will) and while MCHG might not have been my favourite Jigga album of all time (probably The Black Album, if you wanted to know – and we can discuss this at a later date if you are so inclined), this beast of a release, which came out in early July, just in time for another summer of Hov, grew on on me (very) quickly. While critics (and fans) still appear to be divided over MCHG, I have to say it ranks relatively high for me (at least for the time being) when considering his entire album catalogue.   There are several stand-out tracks on the album (see my list above), but nothing tops this one: Hip-Hop Song of the Year 2013 for me. I just landed in EUROPE! Bawse!

I must confess that we have tie with Hova.  I really, really like what Juicy J is doing these days.  Quite frankly, after the rapid rise (and rapid fall) of Acedemy Award winners Three 6 Mafia, I thought both J and DJ Paul would be written off into history.  Boy, was I wrong – they are both back and in fine form, however it is safe to say that Juicy J has been making a lot more mainstream noise these days than his previous partner(s) in crime. There were many great  cuts on Juicy’s 2013 standout album Stay Trippy, but oddly enough, this wasn’t one of them. I guess it was more of a promotional single prior to the album’s release; either way both the Taylor Gang veteran and Toronto’s the Weeknd knock this one out of the park.  Couldn’t get this out of my mind if I tried.  Another Song of the Year 2013 for me.

Now that I have this blog, feedback is more than welcome.  What was/were your favourite tracks of 2013? Post your comments after the jump!