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Chaque Chanson.

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1 | 31.12.2013 | 3 months ago

Top 10 Albums of 2013

I have to say, after all the anticipation over this year’s new releases, the albums that I loved this year didn’t quite reach the heights that they had in previous years. But then again, those were some heights. Not that 2013 hasn’t been another beautiful twelve months in the musical calendar, but anticipation maybe just isn’t what it used to be.

10) Deerhunter - Monomania


There’s nothing wrong with this Deerhunter album, but it just doesn’t have the drive that 2011’s Halcyon Digest had. In fact, it almost instills a sense of indifference. The thing is though, it stays in your head, and the gritty grunge of ‘Neon Junkyard’ really hits home when you least expect it. That, and the accessibility of some of the other songs on the album - ‘Dream Captain, take me on your ship!’, ensure that its a truly decent listen.

9) Ducktails - The Flower Lane


What a year for Ducktails! What a year for the new Ducktails! The old, lofi, guitar driven psychedelia of recent years has been tossed aside for a sultry smooth synth driven swing that’s catchy, refined and polished. The Flower Lane, doesn’t have a bad song on it and as such, makes a great background album, but its the standouts like ‘Under Cover’ which really sway and swoon you and make you wonder why Matt Mondanile hasn’t always been making this kind of music. The Wish Hotel EP hits home in exactly the same manner. More please.

8) Kurt Vile - Wakin On A Pretty Daze


After the knockout performance that KV delivered on 2011’s Smoke Ring For My Halo, it was always going to be a tough ask to demand betterment. Instead, what we got was a pleasant listen, but nothing really new. The solid riffs and grooves of the title - and standout - track, ‘Wakin On A Pretty Day’, never get boring, and tracks like ‘Snowflakes Are Dancing’ almost make you wish you were a dancing snowflake, but the pattern continues throughout the album, and as such, rarely impresses. What’s lacking is the raw authenticity and use of space that really distinguished KV in his previous work. It seems that the laziness that really defines this type of psychedelic rock can also be to its detriment, or maybe its just that the balance is hard to strike. But don’t let that put you off, if WOAPD isn’t to your liking, then there’s hours of back catalog to delve into.

7) Youth Lagoon - Wondrous Bughouse


I’m not ashamed of this album, but I am afraid to play it in a public space. Its just so eerie. I know that’s the point, but at times it definitely makes you feel uncomfortable, and the fact that nobody else seems to be using the same array of sounds it what makers Trevor Powers so distinctive, and makes for an excellent headphone record. Whilst it might be hard to introduce new Youth Lagoon listeners to the band with this record, the drive and depth of songs such as ‘Dropla’ and ‘Raspberry Cane’ are more accessible, and just about speaker worthy, whilst the rest is confined to a bizarre but enjoyable headphone experience.

6) Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II


Though UMO have produced a gorgeous set of ten psychedelic wonders on II, they haven’t quite made an album, in that it lacks progression. The majority of tracks, when taken alone, really show the band at the pinnacle of its progress so far, but when strung together seem a little lost. That said, its still a masterpiece of modern psychedelia and well worth your ear time. When the seven minute ‘Monki’ comes to an end, you’ll play it over and over again.

5) Washed Out - Paracosm


Where Paracosm lacks the boldness and drive that defined the bands early progress, it makes up for in maturity. The record, made from an array of rare and aged instruments is as smooth a listen as anything else you’ll hear this year, and makes for an upbeat journey away from your life and into your mind. Whereas 2011’s Within and Without did little for me, Paracosm is a more refined and grown up listen, showcasing what Ernest Greene can do with some obscure synths and a good dose of inspiration. 

4) Nils Frahm - Spaces


Reluctantly, I have to admit that I haven’t actually listened to this album. My moral dilemma over illegally hunting for the free mp3s and the fact that the album version of the album - which I will actually buy - doesn’t actually come out until April 2014. But having seen first hand what Frahm does - with one hand on a synthesizer and the other on a grand piano - at Primavera Sound, and listening to some of the live cuts that made it onto Spaces, I am confident that this record would be a top 5, perhaps even higher. Nils Frahm works on the very fringe of where classical music meets electronica, and with his awe inspiring live performances - where Frahm appears to play to within an inch of his life - he pushes the very limits of where music is going these days. That’s something that should be listened to. That’s something that should be recognized.

3) Arcade Fire - Reflektor


If you missed the relentless - yet original - campaign behind the Arcade Fire’s fourth full length this year then you were certainly in the minority, but when the album did eventually emerge, it was met with a certain level of disappointment. Its too long. Its too dancy. Its not as good as Funeral. Some of which may be founded. But you fear that the people who were quick to criticize it didn’t give it a full listen, and thus didn’t really give it a proper chance. Maybe that’s the problem with this internet-led world these days, that attention spans are limited and so much anticipation only means less time for actual appreciation, because when you do give Reflektor the time, it really is good. Its upbeat, its original and its a damn good listen. The only disappointment I felt - aside from the fact that yes, alas, its not as good as Funeral - was that the soft synths of ‘Supersymmetry’ gave way to five minutes of noise, instead of continuing for the rest of eternity.

2) Volcano Choir - Repave


Justin Vernon has done it again. But he can’t really take all the credit. The Bon Iver meets Collections of Colonies of Bees collaboration released its second effort this year, resulting in a gorgeous 10 track exploration of grandeur, and what is almost undeniably stadium rock. Vernon leaves the instrumentation to the CoCoB bunch and focuses on emotive vocals, leaving his hands to occupy themselves with depictive gestures which only helps to entertain. Whilst not as bizarre as 2009’s Unmap, Repave retains the quirky authenticity that defines the band, whilst coming off as a more polished and fun effort than the previous. Moments such as ‘Take note, there’s still a hole in your heart' on 'Dancepack' and 'We’ll all be alive when…all of this is over…and all of us are sober' on 'Almanac' are surely what every musician strives for; with Vernon they're ever plentiful.

1) Darkside - Psychic


There’s not getting around it, Psychic is a very serious record. But then when you’re pushing musical progress to its very limit it pays to be serious, and with Darkside’s first full length cut, seriosity has certainly paid off. Most people squirm when you tell them that Darkside is like Pink Floyd meets electronica, but there really isn’t a better way to put it. Dave Harrington’s reverberated guitar leads Nicolas Jaar’s solemn synths and beats in a mariage that’s produced the most progressive album of the year, and really set the tone for the future of ‘dark dance’. Its an introspective yet energenic record and a psychedelic journey through eight seamless pieces that haunt, swing, sway and drive you into the depths of your mind, but at the same time you’d relish the opportunity to hear it on a dancefloor. As far as this genre of electronic music is concerned this is progression, and progression towards perfection. 

8 | 1.11.2013 | 5 months ago

Courtney Barnett - ‘Avant Gardener’

Quirky psych pop with some hilarious lyrics from Melbourne’s latest songstress.

Avant Gardener  is a current favourite and has barely been out of my ears (and mind) for the last week or so. 


(Source: pionears / Courtney Barnett - Milk!)

1 | 15.10.2013 | 6 months ago

So yesterday was four years to the day that I first started a music blog, and although Chaque Chanson has ceded its place to PIONEARS, here’s (hear) what I’m currently digging. 

Colourwheel - ‘The Dreamer’

It’s a gorgeous piece of folk-pop that stands out from Brady Daniell-Smith’s varied and wonderful collection.


2 | 1.10.2013 | 6 months ago

PIONEARS - A Mix For Midnight Matters

So we made a video mix for our April Midnight Matters mix.

Hope you enjoy.

Download audio here: http://pionears.tumblr.com/post/49023735089/the-midnight-matters-mix-a-mix-for-midnight

0 | 30.8.2013 | 7 months ago

Gold Panda - ‘Same Dream China’

Fan video, directed, edited and shot by: César Martínez

9 | 6.8.2013 | 8 months ago

Moderat - ‘This Time’

This song makes me imagine floating on top of a warm field on a summer night, spinning slowly while staring at the stars.

What about you?

Moderat = Modeselektor + Apparat. Their second effort is out today.


(Source: pionears)

6 | 21.7.2013 | 9 months ago

‘The Zinneke Mix’ (Happy Belgian National Day)


It’s the 21st of July. It’s Belgian National Day. And it’s time to recognize some homegrown talent.

This is The Zinneke Mix, a collection of songs from great Belgian bands you may or may not have heard of.



1) Great Mountain Fire - ‘It’s Alright’

2) Pale Grey - ‘Yellow’

3) Yuko - ‘Dolly Parton’

4) Ping Pong Tactics - ‘Pocahontas’

5) BRNS - ‘Mexico’

6) The Experimental Tropical Blues Band - ‘René the Renegade’

7) The Black Box Reveleation - ‘High on a Wire’

8) Goose - ‘British Mode’

9) Vive la Fête - ‘Assez’

10) Klaxons - ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ (Soulwax Remix)

11) Aeroplane - ‘Big Boys Don’t Cry’

(Source: pionears / PIONEARS)

2 | 29.5.2013 | 10 months ago

Album art from photos I took used for my band’s second EP, released under Creative Commons license by Higher Living Records.

mccandless - ‘Surprisingly Coherent’

Available for free download at:


(Source: shotbyacanon)

1 | 4.5.2013 | 11 months ago

The Midnight Matters Mix : A Mix for Midnight Matters

Here’s a homemade mix for Midnight Matters, featuring some standout picks from the last few years that are guaranteed to get your body movin’.


Sufjan Stevens - ‘Futile Devices’ (Shigeto Remix)
Washed Out - ‘New Theory’ (RAC Remix)
Toro Y Moi - ‘Still Sound’ (Vindata Remix)
Body Language - ‘Social Studies’ (Plastic Plates Remix)
Neon Indian - ‘Polish Girl’
James Blake - ‘The Wilhelm Scream’ (Poindexter Remix)
Niki & The Dove - ‘Mother Protect’ (Goldroom Remix)
Todd Terje - ‘Swing Star Pt. 1’
El Perro Del Mar - ‘Walk On By’ (Saint Etienne Remix)
Kelpe - ‘Answered’
DJ Koze - ‘Track ID Anyone’ (Feat. Caribou)
The xx - ‘Chained’ (John Talabot & Pional Remix)
Bonobo - ‘The Keeper’ (Banks Remix)

Download here.


2 | 17.3.2013 | 1 year ago

Greg Haines - ‘Azure’

Here at PIONEARS we’ve got time for all kinds of music, and after catching Greg Haines supporting the magical Ólafur Arnalds at the Barbican recently we were blown away. The mix of classical piano with synth, reverb and drum machines was cosmic.

He’s of the Olafur Arnalds / Nils Frahm ilk.


2 | 9.3.2013 | 1 year ago

Dave Dixon - ‘Stones’ (Live at Sofar London)

Caught Dave Dixon’s acoustic set at Sofar London #236 a few months ago, and was blown away.

Perfect music for a living room concert. Perfect music for a slow afternoon.

Bandcamp | Tumblr | Sofar Sounds

(Source: pionears)

1 | 7.2.2013 | 1 year ago

Todd Terje - ‘Swing Star (pt1 + pt2)’


We posted Todd Terje’s ‘Inspector Norse’ over on Midnight Matters a few weeks ago, but after watching a short documentary on the man that inspired the song, we felt that we better post that here too.

Here’s Whateverest:


1 | 31.12.2012 | 1 year ago

Twenty Twelve by PIONEARS


Take a journey through sixteen of our standout picks from this year in music.

Download here: https://soundcloud.com/pionears/2012-by-pionears

Tracklist to come next week.

Thanks for listening in 2012 and Happy New Year from PIONEARS.

-M.A. Jules & D.

1 | 31.12.2012 | 1 year ago

My Top Ten Albums of 2012

Album-wise I certainly haven’t been overly enamored by 2012. There’s no doubt that it’s been another fantastic year for music, and if you have managed to ignore the likes of Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Skrillex this year then you’ve surely discovered some of the same gems that I have: quality progressive bands that continue to produce the kind of music that’s dripping in authenticity, that keeps your head nodding and that more-often-than-not, really makes you smile. A quick glance at my PIONEARS selection would tell you what really got me ticking this year.

That said, posterity, or maybe just my desire to categorise the present, calls for an album list, and though it may not contain the same levels of quality as my only ever previous one (2011 was somehow omitted, I guess efforts were concentrated on PIONEARS), there are certainly some things to take note of, and some albums to cherish, from this year in music. Here goes:

10) Chairlift - Something


Chairlift are the band that are OK to like because they’re cute. It’s a French girl with a gorgeous voice / American guy combination that make irresistibly good pop, with an eighties feel to it. It’s energetic, catchy and shamelessly danceable that has lifted Chairlift into the heights of alt-pop fame this year, even if at times it is a little kitsch.


9) Daphni - Jiaolong


At this point there is very little doubt in my mind that everything that Dan Snaith (a.k.a. Caribou / Manitoba / Daphni) touches turns to gold. And 24 carat gold at that. After the success of 2010’s Swim (recorded under the Caribou moniker), and perhaps influenced by both his friendship with Kieran Hebdan of Four Tet as well as other forms of EDM, he ventured even deeper into his previous realms of electronica to create a hard-hitting dance record that not only shows the tell-tails of classic Snaith, but also delivers on the dance-floor. It’s housy, it’s big and it’s not something you can listen to quietly.

Ye Ye

8) Balmorhea - Stranger


The great thing about instrumental music is that it doesn’t have to stick to a script. It’s free to move in any which way it wants, without the limitations of verses, choruses and solos. Balmorhea really take this to heart, meeting at the junction of classical music and Explosions in the Sky to produce a moving, heartfelt second album that will move you through most of the moods you know, and maybe a couple you don’t.


7) Chromatics - Kill for Love


Chromatics make the sexiest kind of music. They call it ‘Italo-Disco’ and it’s smooth, dark, precise and a little haunting in it’s use of synth. It’s an album that needs to be listened to at night either on a late night city drive, or in a disco just before closing. The mystic keys and the soothing vocals giving the listening experience a dauntingly eerie vibe.


6) Amateur Love - It’s All Aquatic (reissue)


Like Dan Snaith (above), everything Justin Vernon touches turns to gold (Bon Iver / GAYNGS / Volcano Choir), so when I heard he was starting his own label (Chigliak Records) I was undoubtedly excited to hear the first release. A reissue of Amateur Love’s 2003 album It’s All Aquatic. The first track ‘Con / A Sewer / Cat’ is more than enough to convince you that this is something special, but the album as a whole - a poppy, soppy, lovesick affair - is enough to affirm that some albums deserve a second chance.

Con / A Sewer / Cat

5) Julia Holter - Ekstasis


It’s always refreshing to hear something different, and even the briefest of listens to Julia Holter’s debut albumEkstasis will allow you to encounter something not only different, but remarkable in it’s difference. It’s electronic in it’s production, classical in it’s heritage and eclectic in it’s sound, with Kraftwerk-esque synths and layers and layers of vocals. Perhaps it doesn’t make for an easy first-time listen, but a little persistence is duly rewarded, and then some.

Our Sorrows

5) Grizzly Bear - Shields


Unfortunately for Grizzly Bear, after 2009’s excellentVeckatimest, the band has been burdened with the heavy weight of expectation, luggage that any band would rather not carry. Fortunately for them they’re incredibly competent and progressive musicians: talents that really shine through onShields. With big hitters such as ‘Sleeping Ute’, more contemporary indie-rock songs like ‘Yet Again’ and ballads like ‘Sun In Your Eyes’ the inquisitive listener certainly won’t be disappointed. But it’s the attention to detail, the real composition of the tunes and the movements that each song goes through that really separate Grizzly Bear from your average band, as well as makingShieldsone of 2012’s real standouts.

Yet Again

3) Tame Impala - Lonerism


With Lonerism, Tame Impala’s second full length record, Kevin Parker - the front man who records all the music himself - has asserted himself as THE modern day pioneer of psychedelic rock. The riff’s are big, bold and tight, the jams are powerful, the effects are reminiscent of the genres most famous era, but not in a copycat fashion. The album, and the live show are incredible listening experiences, and the complexity and the overall finish of the songs are sometime so good that you really think he’s toying with you. Maybe he is.

Feels Like We Only Go Backwards

2) ∆ Alt-J - An Awesome Wave


∆ Alt-J are definitely not the kind of band to go half-hog on their debut album, in fact they did quite the opposite, producing a first effort that scarce a critic can not include in their albums of the year list. Complete with an Intro and three interludes the album is a journey through the depths of talent that this breaking band has to offer. The songs are moody and charged, the vocals often reserved, and the sounds are at times bizarre, but never overbearing, resulting in a masterful record that only leaves the listener impatient with anticipation of what may be to come.


1) Efterklang - Piramida


really was the surprise of the year. In anticipation of it’s release I was relistening to 2010’s acclaimed Magic Chairs and I have to say, I wasn’t enjoying it nearly as much as I used to. This meant I leapt into Piramida with the lowest of expectations, expecting the meager-est of rewards, but boy was I rewarded. From the very first notes the attention to detail rings true. Every sound is gorgeous, and seems so carefully planned out that the album is less of a classic song by song record, but more a compilation of it’s parts, and what beautiful parts they are. Piramida shows that the Danish band aren’t like your ordinary band: they don’t write songs, they write compositions, and luscious ones at that.

Hollow Mountain’, ‘Dreams Today

For the best tracks of this year look out for the annual PIONEARS playlist.

12 | 30.12.2012 | 1 year ago

Evidently Chickentown by John Cooper Clarke

The best English poet you’ve never heard of. Punk, poet and pop personality: John Cooper Clarke.

    the fucking cops are fucking keen
    to fucking keep it fucking clean
    the fucking chief’s a fucking swine
    who fucking draws a fucking line
    at fucking fun and fucking games
    the fucking kids he fucking blames
    are nowhere to be fucking found
    anywhere in chicken town

    the fucking scene is fucking sad
    the fucking news is fucking bad
    the fucking weed is fucking turf
    the fucking speed is fucking surf
    the fucking folks are fucking daft
    don’t make me fucking laugh
    it fucking hurts to look around
    everywhere in chicken town

    the fucking train is fucking late
    you fucking wait you fucking wait
    you’re fucking lost and fucking found
    stuck in fucking chicken town

    the fucking view is fucking vile
    for fucking miles and fucking miles
    the fucking babies fucking cry
    the fucking flowers fucking die
    the fucking food is fucking muck
    the fucking drains are fucking fucked
    the colour scheme is fucking brown
    everywhere in chicken town

    the fucking pubs are fucking dull
    the fucking clubs are fucking full
    of fucking girls and fucking guys
    with fucking murder in their eyes
    a fucking bloke is fucking stabbed
    waiting for a fucking cab
    you fucking stay at fucking home
    the fucking neighbors fucking moan
    keep the fucking racket down
    this is fucking chicken town

    the fucking train is fucking late
    you fucking wait you fucking wait
    you’re fucking lost and fucking found
    stuck in fucking chicken town

    the fucking pies are fucking old
    the fucking chips are fucking cold
    the fucking beer is fucking flat
    the fucking flats have fucking rats
    the fucking clocks are fucking wrong
    the fucking days are fucking long
    it fucking gets you fucking down
    evidently chicken town