I love finding good coffee, and I also love supporting independent cafés. Good thing Montréal has both, and some of my favourite cafés can be found downtown, in the Plateau, and the Mile End. Le Hip-Hop Café is a relatively new addition to the Mile End neighbourhood and I had been meaning to drop by and check out the place since it opened in February. Mind you, the establishment situated at the corner of avenue Parc and rue Villeneuve is not just a café but more of a business with a concept — one that happens to offer good coffee and eats but operates for the purpose of promoting hip hop culture in Montréal.
Was anyone else really sad when Adam Yauch died just over a year today in May 2012? I love The Beastie Boys and Adam Yauch (MCA) was my favourite as he was what I considered the most talented of the trio. Just last week, however, they renamed a park in Brooklyn, New York as Adam Yauch Park, located in the borough where Yauch grew up. To commemorate, here is the group’s 1994 video for Sabotage, directed by none other than the venerable director Spike Jonze. Sabotage is very much worth revisiting as it remains a classic music video and one I still love watching today. Plus, they all wear awesome moustaches.
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, is on day two of three for Weekend One, and I am assuming that if you are reading this you are not there.
I definitely am not, but instead weathered the storm of snow and freezing rain all day yesterday here in Montréal. (That is right. We had a snow storm in April.) Misery loves company so what is the best way to take part in Coachella when you are not there? Through Songza, of course.
It is the end of December and I keep forgetting that it is also the end of the year. So to commemorate the last days of 2012, I have put together a list of several music favourites that is a bit of an atypical listicle instead of a traditional end of year music blog post. Here are the musicians and their albums that were inspiring, addictive, and my favourites for 2012.
ALBUM THAT MAKES YOU BELIEVE IN MUSIC AGAIN
Grimes was everywhere in 2012 and for a good reason. Her fourth effort since 2010, Visions, is utterly fantastic and hypnotic, aptly described as “witch house.” Visions sounds like no other album before but with its lo-fi dance beats and girlish vocals it is still catchy and, in my opinion, very accessible. I can honestly say that her work makes me have hope that talented musicians can still reach the masses without the requirements of booty shaking and Nickelback replications. Other than Nightmusic (video above), also check out Genesis and its wacky Japanese anime and samurai inspired video.
BEST ALBUM FOR PRODUCTIVE DAYS
I love finding musicians and their albums that serve as background music for work days, and Burial makes quite a few great tracks for this purpose. His Kindred EP came out earlier this year with three strong tracks, and Loner (above) is the highlight of this issue. The Mercury Prize nominated artist has two full albums and several EPs, including collaborations with Thom Yorke and Four Tet, and as I am big fans of both Radiohead and Four Tet I am not surprised that the resulting works are solid.
Listen to more tracks and read my previous posts about music for productivity in these November and December posts: Things That Go Bump in the Night Part One (electronic tracks) and Part Two (alternative tracks). Look out for Part Three for instrumental jazz music and Part Four, to conclude the series, in the new year.
One of my favourite albums released this summer is Nas’ 13th effort, “Life is Good.” Just about every single song on the album is a gem — it really is that kind of album, bound to be a classic — but I would say my favourite is “Cherry Wine.” The songs vocals feature the late-great Amy Winehouse, whose death at the age of 27 is now just over a year ago.
The album’s tracks have a steady, upbeat rhythm with the philosophical bent that is expected from Nas. But this album adds a scattering of optimism and musings of personal acceptance, from subjects that include his blossoming teenage daughter and fame. Such positivity and repetitive refrain of the album’s title makes “Cherry Wine” especially bittersweet. The video itself has a slick and cool aura from the vintage bar setting, but Nas’ presence is introspective and Winehouse’s projected image is haunting. Click the video above to watch.