Here are Dinnertime's top 5 albums of the year:
5. Jai Paul - (no title)
You can't accuse Jai Paul of being a fame hungry artist who's only in it for the money, attention and record company hors d'oeuvres. He's released two songs in the last 2.5 years, and is so low profile that ever since creating a Twitter account either his face looks a lot like the default Twitter egg or he hasn't bothered to change his profile picture. He's also only Tweeted just once, which was when these demos were leaked on the net earlier in the year. Thankfully this 'release' is an exception to the rule that when an artist is coy about releasing work it means the work is shit - these are a bunch of expertly crafted songs, eccentric and unique but soulful - a surprise in more ways than one.
4. James Blake - Overgrown
James Blake - the man who, with his first album, started a raft of pointless genre debates, starts a few more with this album by creating something even more diverse. Hip hop, rnb, jazz, folk, dance and yes, dubstep - everything except Aussie pub rock gets a reference. Genre is important for armchair wise crackers like me because we need things to compare things to, but here all comparisons seem contrived. The man in other words is without peer, and on Overgrown he hits it out of the park, whatever it is.
3. Drake - Nothing Was The Same
There is a lot of derision out there for Drake - amongst the hip hop intelligentsia he's about as popular as Nickleback. Why? From what I can gather it's mainly because he's perceived as a boring melancholy sensitive pussy. Honestly, if Drake is a boring melancholy sensitive pussy then I'm pretty much Ryan Gossling in the Notebook. How many girls does he need to treat like shit before the man is taken seriously! Or more specifically, how many dope albums does he need to make before the man is taken seriously. On this his raps are hard to fault, the production is quality and the beat selection is all class - what a pussy.
2. Kanye West - Yeezus
If I ever meet Kanye I'm going to say 'Bro ... I hate being the one person at the dinner party who defends you!' YES I AM THAT GUY - the Kanye Apologist. And I must say, albums like this one, no matter how great they are, make the job of defending Kanye even harder. This album is essentially a resignation letter to the mainstream - an album by a man who has earned the cachet to do what he wants and so yes, he's doing what he wants, by creating an album of bold purpose and intent with a mission statement that should be the mission statement of all albums - to be new and different.
1. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
Look at the circumstances surrounding this album and tell me if you don't think this is the recipe for letting down your fans Chinese Democracy style: long hiatus leading to rabid fan anticipation; concept album of electronic artists using 'real' instruments'; album with a lofty message about the emotional vacuum of contemporary music. However instead the album is a triumph - Daft Punk's Thriller moment - the album they will be remembered for. Masterfully executed, not just in terms of music but in terms of their ability to control the zeitgeist. They have succeeded in giving mainstream music back its emotional backbone, and as a result created an album so thorougly unattainable and beyond imitation that I can hear all the electronic musicians crying into their midi contollers. EMOTIONS.
Am I betraying my patronage of gentlemans' websites if I say this is the coolest lyric video ever? GET ME A FREAKIN TISSUE. Childish Gambino back on point, in a big way. For such an absurd concept the video does a great job of putting the lyrics into context - 'When I'm alone I'd rather be with you; fuck these other niggas I'll be right by your side'. Wow. DD
I'm going to call it early but production of the year must go to Arca's efforts on FKA Twigs' EP2. Sometimes when production is intricate and ornate it detracts from the vocals, but here it's spot on. When I listen to this I feel like an art student must feel when they go somewhere like the Louvre, like how the fuck is anyone supposed to compete with this! If only Arca would come over to mine on a Friday night and watch me plough 4 cones and play FIFA '14, he would undoubtedly feel the same way. DD
I've definitely got a thing for artists that don't Tweet a lot - Jai Paul, Frank Ocean, Adele, post-Kim Kanye. Add Sampha to that list, a man whose earnest and understated voice is not only a deadset giveaway to his online persona but also his musical one. There's a noble simplicity in only communicating when you need to. So the message is YES KIDS you can be direct and to the point without having to dance naked behind a red THICKE. DD