This week’s Astral Penguins A List has four new entries, but last week’s entries continue to dominate the top of the chart. The tracks by the Plastic Mermaids, Dua Lipa and Gary Clark Jr. are truly exceptional and likely to feature highly in the end of year top 50. This is the last week for the James Blake track as it reaches its three week limit.
1. Plastic Mermaids – Floating in a Vacuum
My favourite track of 2019 so far. From the orchestral introduction to the playful synths, this is a track that grabs your attention. But it’s the vocals and the chorus that really gets me. There’s something deeply sad and realistic living within the simple words, well beyond the alien visuals and space vibes.
2. Dua Lipa – Swan Song
For my money, this is the best Dua Lipa song since 2015’s Be The One. From the tribal percussion and vocal snippets, this is a song of defiance and power “this is NOT a Swan Song”.
3. Gary Clark Jr. – This Land
This Land is venomous. You can feel the frustration and anger pour out of every single note. The video is superb. The lyrics are hard-hitting and personal. And the energy is off the chart.
4. The Cinematic Orchestra – A Caged Bird/Imitations of Life
Featuring the unmistakable vocals of long-term collaborator Roots Manuva, A Caged Bird/Imitations of Life is an emotional journey that only gets better with every listen. “Why would you hide from yourself, Belief is here to find you” Manuva sings, over the soaring sonic landscapes underneath.
5. Sunflower Bean – Fear City [New Entry]
Fear City has an assured swagger. It sounds timeless; it could easily have been made in the 1990s or the 1970s, and it takes the essence of Veruca Salt and Joan Jett (and many other pioneers) and simply builds on that legacy. The guitars subtly drive the track, the chorus is instantly familiar and ready to be sung by audiences everywhere, and the underlying message is of empowerment and breaking away from fear.
6. Jenny Lewis – Red Bull & Hennessy
Jenny Lewis has returned with her first single in five years and it is giving me seriously good Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks/Lyndsey Buckingham vibes – possibly with a little dose of Kate Bush thrown in towards the end – which is just about the highest compliment I can give.
7. James Blake, ROSALIA – Barefoot In The Park [Final week]
There’s something magical about the track. It feels so enticing, but never quite real. You don’t want to move in case the spell is broken.
8. Anna Clendening – Dead End [New Entry]
Sometimes pop music can be devastating. Sometimes lyrics just jump out of a song and into you, where you feel every emotion the songwriter felt. North Carolina native Anna Clendening has penned some masterful lyrics for Dead End. Simple, effective, devastating. The sense of guilt, the shame the desire to be stronger – better – shine through in every line.
9. Lil Peep, iLoveMakonnen, Fall Out Boy – I’ve Been Waiting [New Entry]
It’s a summer song through and through, with breezy instrumentation and laid back vocals. I particularly like Patrick Stump’s vocals and the pre-chorus refrain from Lil Peep, which is just drawled vocals at their finest.
10. Tarantina – Hunter [New Entry]
An incredibly assured track where everything feels essential. The drama and intrigue only grows with every listen.