This week: 6 new tracks to tickle your ears

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This is a little later than I intended, but today was my first day back at work (not as horrendous as I thought it would be) and then my new puppy (Max the Yorkiepoo) decided I wasn’t allowed to blog until I’d played with him. A lot. He’s adorable, so its all good.

Anyway, here are six new tracks to tickle your ears. These are songs I’ve only listened to a couple of times but liked a lot; this playlist acts as my main listening guide for the week and hopefully they’ll appear on Sunday’s A List 

Let me know what you think of the tracks and/or if there’s something you think I’ve missed. Astralpenguinsmusic@gmail.com.

 1. The XX – Dangerous 

The XX released their third album I See You on Friday, and Dangerous is the opening track. It’s a tremendous statement of intent; ‘I won’t shy away’ they sing, ‘I’m going to pretend that I’m not scared’. It could easily be the band discussing their own shift in style; here is a brave and rather brilliant track – horns and all – that verges on a dance track. I’m slightly blown away by their ambition, execution and all-round brilliance.

2. The Black Madonna – He Is The Voice I Hear 

The Black Madonna became the DJ to see in 2016. She brought the party like no other; her eclectic picks were more than matched by her superb dancing and extensive knowledge of all dance music ever. But as this (brilliant!) Resident Advisor film shows, life on the road can take its toll. So when I first heard He Is The Voice I Hear, I wondered if this was her ode to the journey she took last year; a weird and wacky ride that takes in strings, disco-beats that could easily come from a Moroder track and a jazzy piano part. This sounds like creativity meets exhaustion; the kind of song that can only be written/produced in the small hours when there’s no one else to relate. It sounds to me like a lullaby for insomniacs. I could be entirely wrong, but I’m refusing to read anything else about it because, well, I like my explanation and I’m sticking to it.

3. Dan Croll – Away From Today 

Every Friday I get an email from Communion telling me what they think is awesome. I have waited patiently. And finally, here is a track I rather enjoy. Away From Today is a slightly disorientating indie pop track that could easily have been take from Bombay Bicycle Club’s back catalogue. It plays with the senses a little, never quite settling. But for the ridiculously abrupt ending, I rather like this.

4. FREAK – Cake 

Loud, thrashy and suitably angry, FREAK came onto my radar in the second half of 2016. Hailing from Chelmsford, this young man has bags of talent and he kicks off 2017 with a bang: Cake sticks to his – very solid – formula. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to see him live in the next few months.

5. The Paper Kites – Breathing Fighting Love 

The Paper Kites released their last album – twelve four – all the way back in 2015. The album’s concept was to write in the early hours of the morning (hence the name) and it produced – in parts – a creeping and slightly disconcerting edge to their work; in particular I was a big fan of album opener Electric Indigo. Now they’re back with two track that evidently didn’t make the cut for twelve four. Breathing Fighting Love is a very solid track that reminds me of some of the darker Fleetwood Mac tracks.

6. Bonobo – No Reason 

We finish with a superb piece of electronic music. Back in December 2015 I became slightly obsessed with a track by Rufus called Innerbloom; so much so that it was one of my three most listened to tracks in 2016 (according to Spotify). No Reason is from a very similar mould; mournful vocals are matched by elegant electronic touches; it’s a claustrophobic listen that leaves you wanting to curl up in a blanket and hide away from the world.

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