Author: astralpenguins

Track of the Day: The Twilight Sad – Girl Chewing Gum

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The Twilight Sad – Girl Chewing Gum

In recent weeks I’ve been listening to The Twilight Sad’s IT WON/T BE LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME a lot to try and bring together a review. It’s not an easy record from which to distill my thoughts into a blog post; musically it’s incredibly accomplished but the lyrics detail such pain and raw emotional honesty. Given the album came out in January and I’ve had it on rotation pretty much ever since, I don’t think it’s a massive spoiler to say its my favourite album of the year so far.

The lead single from the album (I’m Not Here [Missing Face]) was my favourite track of 2018 and it’s an album with several highlights, but one track that has really stayed with me is Girl Chewing Gum. Lyrically it uses the same lines on repeat, but when you consider what those lines say, it really hits home:

I’m leaving now
Won’t see you again
I’m leaving now
Won’t see you again

Put me in the ground
I don’t wanna be here anymore

These are accompanied with swirling guitars and feedback, which provide the unsettling backdrop. The slightly shouty chorus is accompanied by a guitar part that viciously cuts through the record and into your soul. Even the hint of solace after the chorus is snatched away as the track becomes claustrophobic.

In recent weeks the band’s YouTube channel have been uploading song-by-song explanations with the lead singer James Graham. Although they haven’t reached Girl Chewing Gum yet, I’d highly recommend the series as a way of gaining an insight into the background of the album. The way he speaks of the pain he’s channeling in the songs is really remarkable and very moving. And he also goes some way to explaining the somewhat odd track names that they use.

Track of the Day: Teddy Pendergrass – Life Is A Song Worth Singing (Jamie Jones Remix)

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Teddy Pendergrass – Life Is A Song Worth Singing (Jamie Jones Remix)

American soul singer Teddy Pengergrass is more synonymous with the 1970s than 2019, but earlier this month Mixmag released an EP with five remixes of his songs to coincide with the release of a film about his life. The EP features some big name producers doing the reworking, including Damian Lazarus and DJ Pierre, but it’s the Jamie Jones remix that has really grabbed my attention.

A couple of years ago my favourite track of the year was He Is The Voice I Hear by the Black Madonna, and this track has a lot in common with it. Both owe a tremendous debt to Giorgio Moroder and the outstanding synthesiser-led dance music he inspired, both sprawl and meander their way over their 8 minute+ running time, and both blend old and new to create something that is timeless.

This is a truly wonderful remix that can brighten up any day. Every time I listen to it I end up smiling and wanting to dance. It starts with the teasing synths, but from there it throws in all sorts of wildcards. Teasing hi-hats, cowbells, trumpets. They all make an appearance. And the vocals help to keep the track grounded whilst all the chaos happens around them.

Give this a spin. It’s well worth your time.

This Week Playlist (18th March 2019) – 8 cracking new songs to feast your ears on

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An eclectic bunch this week, featuring dance, folk (with a country-twinge), folk without any twinges, several electro-pop tracks and even a bonus garage track. I’ve also got some cracking tracks of the day coming up, so keep your eyes peeled….

Peer Kusiv – Tundra

German music producer Peer Kusiv’s latest EP came out in early February, and this is the title track. Full of shifting sounds – both the bass line and top end melody constantly evolve throughout the track – this is an expansive track that sounds great on headphones in the dark.

Bedouine – When You’re Gone 

Originally hailing from Aleppo, Syria and moving to LA via Saudi Arabia and several US cities, Bedouine has an unorthodox background. When You’re Gone came out earlier this month and it has a folk heart – it brings to mind Kings of Convenience – with snippets of country music thrown in. It’s the kind of track that just washes over you; it feels incredibly sincere and moving, yet never feels overstated.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – In The Capital 

Aussie rockers RBCF had a monster 2018 as their debut album Hope Downs got a huge amount of critical – and fan – acclaim. In The Capital comes only a few months after their album, and feels less urgent and striking than most of Hope Downs, but in this instance it really works. Catchy guitars and measured vocals are really the recipe for In The Capital.

ViVii – Pick Me Up 

ViVii’s self-titled debut album came out on Friday and Pick Me Up is from that album. This track is really rather beautiful; electronic pop that feels like a dream. It gradually rises into a chorus that explodes into reverie.

Lucy Rose – Treat Me Like A Woman

Lucy Rose is really smashing it out of the park at the moment. Her new album is out on Friday and this is the third track that has been pre-released, and all three have been covered on this blog. Treat Me Like A Women is – as she details in this interview – inspired by personal experiences of sexism, and hits back in the most striking way. The sound may be stripped back, but that allows her voice and lyrics to really shine.

Grand Pax – Lapse 

From the opening note Lapse feels claustrophobic. With a beat in the background that sounds heavily inspired by Darth Vader, the close and dense electronics are matched by the vocals until the chorus, when Grand Pax’s voice is allowed to shine. This doesn’t feel a million miles away from the kind of music that Massive Attack produce.

Art School Girlfriend – Come Back To Me 

The Line of Best Fit did a brilliant piece last week on Margate-based Art School Girlfriend  that is well worth checking out. I blogged recently about how her Into The Blue Hour EP was one of my 2018 favourites, and Come Back To Me is a very assured follow up. More sensual and lustful, there’s loads of little electronic touches that really tantalise the ears.

Wes Thomas – Believe – Tuff Culture Remix 

I don’t think I’ve ever featured a garage track on the blog before, but this remix has taken me back to 1999 with its vibes. I like the fact that the remix isn’t linear, you get a few shifts in direction and melody but the essential bits keep coming back and pleasing the ears.

The A List (17th March 2019) – the ten best new music tracks right now

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A new number one this week, and it’s a good one too. Everyone I’ve played it to has fallen in love. It’s ably supported by four other new entries that are well worth your time. We say goodbye to four tracks in the A List this week, as Simon Curtis, James Blake, Dave and the Four Tet Remix of Headie One (which keeps getting better with every listen) all reach the three week limit. 

1. Rasharn Powell – Warm In These Blue Jeans [New Entry]

An absolute knock out. Everything in Warm In These Blue Jeans oozes class and style. The laid-back groove kicks in immediately, the silky smooth vocals follow. There’s some lovely electronic touches and counter vocals, and the chorus feels majestic. “If I had wings, I would touch the sky” he sings, and we can feel ourselves soaring with him. The extended outro is also a winner.

2. Lily Byrd – Don’t Move [New Entry]

From her Number EP released in January, New Hampshire’s Lily Byrd does something rather magical with Don’t Move. It is simultaneously familiar, sad, and hypnotic. The gentle strumming of the guitar and soft vocals are beautiful, but the distorted saxophone (at least I think its a sax) keep disturbing the slumber of the track, the paralysis of sadness that the song speaks of. “Hypnotised by a lack of love” she sings at the end, and you realise you’re living every heartbeat with her.

3. Headie One (featuring Dave) – 18Hunna (Four Tet Remix) [Final Week]

Gentle jangles and echoed vocals set the tone at the beginning, and it just unfurls from there. The vocals flow smoothly and there’s even room for some birdsong in there.

4. Simon Curtis – Love [Final Week]

This tracks starts off sounding like The Weeknd but then Love develops an 80s pop obsession and as a wave of synths floats across the track we end up with a hybrid between those two sounds.

5. Dave – Black [Final Week]

Fresh off a number one album in the UK, Dave’s Black is a hugely impressive exploration of racial identity.

6. Julia Jacklin – Pressure to Party 

The Penguin has to be honest, lyrically this may well be my favourite track of the year so far. It is just so brilliantly constructed and hard-hitting. It makes you sit up and take notice.

7. James Supercave – Alarm Will Sound [New Entry]

Gentle sweeping electronics, a pace that feels gentle but is deceptively quickening, vocals that feel a little jarring until you realise how perfect they are. This is a really solid effort, superbly catchy and a very welcome return.

8. The Chemical Brothers – We’ve Got To Try [New Entry]

With a stunning return to form, We’ve Got to Try sounds like an old soul record that has been bastardised (in a good way), because that’s exactly what it is. Taking The Halleluiah Chorus’s I’ve Got To Find A Way and giving it some electronic rocket boosters, this is a very funky track that sounds like they’re dipping into some of their earlier works.

9. James Blake, Andre 3000 – Where’s The Catch [Final Week]

With its unsettling, murky piano and deep beat, it questions whether the love and joy that Blake is experiencing is too good to be true.

10. Makthaverskan – Demands [New Entry]

Maja Milner’s vocals make this track. There’s plenty of urgency in the musicianship, but it’s her voice that defines the song and lets it soar and sweep down. There’s something slightly chaotic and punky in the track, despite the jangly guitars. Great stuff.

Track of the Day: Red Rum Club – TV Said So

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Red Rum Club – TV Said So

Ages ago I wrote a review of Red Rum Club’s debut album Matador, an album that really took me by surprise with its (excellent) style and pop sensibilities. At the time I was really struggling to decide what my favourite track on the album was, there were plenty of good ones to pick from. Well, now I’ve decided…

TV Said So really reminds me of the Lightning Seeds (one of my favourite bands of the 90s), with its gentle swagger, catchy vocals and subtle-but-striking lyrics. On the surface, this is a catchy and upbeat pop track, but lurking just below are questions about conformity (“I’ll take my medicine, I’ll stand in line, Now take your pills coz the TV said so”) society (“I like the clothes she said, the ones in the magazine, She’ll pay the pounds for her self-esteem”) and the distorting impact that television can have (“Nothing’s ever gonna be as it seems when you see it through a television screen”).

At a time when the impact of fake news and social media is under the microscope, I think this track sits rather nicely alongside the more serious news stories. It is, for lack of a better comparison, a Coronation Street style storyline examination of the issue, rather than a Panorama documentary film, in that it focuses on the people and the emotions rather than the technicalities or politics.

Oh, and did I mention its catchy?

Track of the Day: Rasharn Powell – Warm In These Blue Jeans

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Rasharn Powell – Warm In These Blue Jeans

This is the first single I’ve heard by Essex singer Rasharn Powell and it’s an absolute knock out.

Everything in Warm In These Blue Jeans oozes class and style. The laid-back groove kicks in immediately, the silky smooth vocals follow. There’s some lovely electronic touches and counter vocals, and the chorus feels majestic. “If I had wings, I would touch the sky” he sings, and we can feel ourselves soaring with him. The extended outro is also a winner.

This is incredibly accomplished, and it’s worth noting that this is very reminiscent of early Frank Ocean (before he became too ‘good’ to bother with things like song structure and melody). It’s that good.

Enjoy!

 

Track of the Day: Lily Byrd – Don’t Move 

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Lily Byrd – Don’t Move 

From her Number EP released in January, New Hampshire’s Lily Byrd does something rather magical with Don’t Move. It is simultaneously familiar, sad, and hypnotic.

The gentle strumming of the guitar and soft vocals are beautiful, but the distorted saxophone (at least I think its a sax) keep disturbing the slumber of the track, the paralysis of sadness that the song speaks of. “Hypnotised by a lack of love” she sings at the end, and you realise you’re living every heartbeat with her.