Author: astralpenguins

This Week Playlist – 7 cracking new songs to feast your ears on

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A slight difference to the playlist this week. I’ve had a few songs lurking for a while that I haven’t had a chance to post. They’re all great songs, just some of them were released in January and early February. Hope you enjoy.

Tallies – Mother 

Toronto indie-poppers Tallies released their self-titled debut album in early January, and Mother comes from that. It’s all jangly guitars and has a very catchy chorus. It reminds me very much of the La’s, but I think you can also hear The Smiths in the guitars and bass as well.

Makthaverskan – Demands 

More indie pop with female vocals, but this time from Sweden. 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.

James Supercave – Alarm Will Sound 

A few years ago The Penguin got absolutely obsessed with Half Moon Run’s Trust, and Alarm Will Sound has so many of the same esquisite touches. 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.

Yot Club – take care 

The Penguin was a big fan of Yot Club’s debut EP aquarium, which covered five songs in twelve minutes. take care was my favourite track on the EP, it’s full of hazy vibes and gentle instruments; it’s like the sun is setting on the best day of your life.

Ingrid Andress – Lady Like 

The Penguin hasn’t featured a lot of country music so far this year but this is rather good (and is also more towards the pop end of the country spectrum). This is Ingrid Andress’s debut release, although she’s written tracks for some big hitters, and it has a somewhat ironic title. I like the lyrics (Sometimes I forget not to talk ’bout politics, When I’m in the middle of me getting hit on) and the vocals are really interesting; they remind me in parts of Lorde. She’s currently touring on the C2C show.

The Chemical Brothers – We’ve Got To Try  

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.

Lazybones – Fashion Victim 

“You!, You’re a Fashion Victim, Well what d’ya think about that” The Penguin isn’t known for being a trendsetter in the sartorial sense, but even he’d think twice if he had this song written about him. Fun, thrash-tastic and to the f*cking point, this is punk-influenced and all the better for it. The Brighton three piece recently released their Bang Bang EP, if you fancy listening to more.

 

The A List (10th March 2019) – the ten best new music tracks right now

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Last week’s strong top three trade positions with Simon Curtis rising to the number 1 spot. It is incredibly hard to separate it from the James Blake and Dave tracks, which are both great. Four new entries make this week’s A List, and we have two tracks on their third and final week. Enjoy! 

1. Simon Curtis – Love 

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; modern r’n’b influenced pop, and 80s pop with wispy backing vocals and programmed drums.

2. James Blake, Andre 3000 – Where’s The Catch 

With its unsettling, murky piano and deep beat, it questions whether the love and joy that Blake is experiencing really has a catch; whether it’s too good to be true. For anyone who isn’t known to be wildly positive – which I think is a category we can classify Blake in, given his previous releases – it’s an understandable and relatable feeling.

3. Dave – Black

Brixton-born rapper Dave is releasing his debut album on the 8th March and Black is the first single from it. It’s a hugely impressive exploration of racial identity and the lyrics are well worth considering in full. 2019 may just be his year for the taking.

4. Julia Jacklin – Pressure to Party [New Entry]

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.

5. Headie One (featuring Dave) – 18Hunna (Four Tet Remix) 

There’s almost nothing urgent in the music. Gentle jangles and echoed vocals set the tone at the beginning, and it just unfurls from there. There’s a beat in the background, but it’s a gentle ‘nod your head’ rather than a knock your socks off beat. The vocals flow smoothly and there’s even room for some birdsong in there.

6. G Flip – Killing My Time [New Entry]

This song is just effortlessly cool. The vocals are gorgeous, and whoever produced it was wise enough to make sure they stay front and centre, but there’s some nice production touches in the background. Superbly catchy, this is pop music that you can just sit back and enjoy.

7. Chaka Khan – Like a Lady [Final Week]

Like a Lady’s production is on point. Plenty of retro vibes without feeling in any way dated; in fact this takes a funky disco sound and makes it feel like it’s totally 2019. But the reason the Penguin loves this track is quite simply because it is full of joy.

8. ROMANS – Be Fine [Final Week]

Beautiful vocals mask the depths of angst and sadness in the lyrics, this is an absolutely cracking record.

9. Yuksek – I Don’t Have A Drum Machine [New Entry]

French producer Yuksek has put together an absolute knockout of a tune with I Don’t Have A Drum Machine. It’s an upbeat disco track that effectively narrates you through its own production. Fun, retro and extremely catchy, it absolutely makes you want to dance.

10. Sigrid – Sight of You [New Entry]

A joyful four minutes of pop that could easily have been pinched from a musical. Monstrous strings swoop across the landscape, as the lyrics tell the tale of daily tribulations (“The airline lost my luggage, still got all this weight”) being overcome by the mere sight of her love.

Track of the Day: G Flip – Killing My Time

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G Flip – Killing My Time

Melbourne-singer G Flip recently a four track EP called Drink Too Much, and Killing My Time is the third track on it. It was actually also released in 2018, but I’m overlooking that as I’ve only just heard it…

This song is just effortlessly cool. The vocals are gorgeous, and whoever produced it was wise enough to make sure they stay front and centre, but there’s some nice production touches in the background. Superbly catchy, this is pop music that you can just sit back and enjoy.

Track of the Day: Yuksek – I Don’t Have A Drum Machine

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Yuksek – I Don’t Have A Drum Machine

This track has been putting me in a good mood all week…

French producer Yuksek has put together an absolute knockout of a tune with I Don’t Have A Drum Machine. It’s an upbeat disco track that effectively narrates you through its own production. Fun, retro and extremely catchy, it absolutely makes you want to dance.

Enjoy!

Track of the Day: Julia Jacklin – Pressure To Party

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Julia Jacklin – Pressure to Party

Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin recently released her second album Crushing and Pressure To Party comes from that record. It’s a tale of coming out of a failed relationship, and how you feel forced to act in certain ways.

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. Take the first four lines:

Pressure to party, gonna stay in
Nothing good can come from me drinking
I would run, shoes off, straight back to you
I know where you live, I used to live there too

The Penguin was so impressed he sent it to a friend who lives close to the Antarctic (South London) and he – unusually – responded with an excellent review, which is probably better than anything I can write. He said:

This is great btw, lyrically so engaging and the juxtaposition between the upbeat music and the very much less so lyrics just makes it all the more intriguing. Ironically I’d imagine plenty of people will miss the lyrical content and take it as an upbeat ode to partying.

A really great track and I can’t wait to tuck into the album.

Enjoy!

This Week Playlist (5th March 2019) – 5 cracking new releases to tantalise your ears

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Sigrid – Sight of You
A joyful four minutes of pop that could easily have been pinched from a musical. Monstrous strings swoop across the landscape, as the lyrics tell the tale of daily tribulations (“The airline lost my luggage, still got all this weight”) being overcome by the mere sight of her love.


Jonas Brothers – Sucker
I’ll be honest, I originally only listened to this song because of a curiosity of how bad it would be. How foolish I am. Sucker is well produced and takes the Motown sound we all know and love and gives it a sight modern tweaking, very much in the mould of Bruno Mars. They’ve even thrown in some whistling as well, and it’s damn catchy. Welcome back JoBro.


Art School Girlfriend – Bending Back
Art School Girlfriend released one of the best EPs of last year (Into The Blue Hour), full of electronic landscapes and superb vocals. She recently released a live EP with three tracks on, including this track (a single from 2017), recorded at the St Pancras Church in London (which is an amazing and intimate venue). I really like how Bending Back has space to grow and develop, how it all feels essential but never rushed. I can’t wait to hear more from her.


Four Tet – Only Human
A couple of weeks ago Four Tet teased on Twitter that the Nelly Furtado sample was cleared. Now we get the results. With a tempo and beat that would easily sit alongside his Eric Prydz remix, Only Human is a house track with all of little Four Tet tweaks and twists. The basic beat sits in the background as the vocals and other sounds get chopped and deployed at random intervals.


Catz ‘n’ Dogs, James Yuill – There
From the outside this has a melancholic vibe that brings to mind the Stone Roses. As it develops, you get some prominent acoustic guitar and more subtle keys in the background. But it’s the hypnotic percussion beats that help you drift along with the track.

A tribute to Keith Flint

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I don’t quite know how to process this. It has been announced this morning that Keith Flint, the unmistakeable singer in the Prodigy, has passed away.

The Penguin has tears in his eyes. The Prodigy are a band of almost unrivalled brilliance in my mind. One of the greatest live acts in the world; a band who helped to make dance music pre-eminent in the album and singles charts, as well as headlining festivals around the world. The blend of energy, rock, punk, dance – of various forms – and yet more energy appealed to fans of so many types of music.

I remember my mum buying Fat of the Land. It’s never great when your parents are cooler than you – well, one of them at least, my dad stopped following popular culture in 1977 – and whenever she drove home you’d hear her long before you saw her, so loud was the album blaring out. It was unlike anything I’d ever heard before. It was a seminal album for lots of people, but for me it was a gateway into a world I never wanted to end.

The first festival I ever went to was Leeds Festival in 2002. The Friday night had three major acts playing, with the Offspring and Guns and Roses either side of the Prodigy. I think about that set every week. The band were struggling at the time, having toured for years and struggling to get on. But for a 16 year old fan seeing them for the first time, it was absolutely magical. The energy. I’ve never seen a crowd bounce in unison for so long. The tunes. The bass. It was unforgettable.

Maxim would scream ‘where the fuck is Leeds?’ and we’d go crazy in response. Keith Flint would swagger around the stage, delivering the words to songs that were now part of our DNA. I don’t know if any manager looking to put a band together would ever think of bringing those three men in the same room; but their chemistry was undeniable. They leave a live crowd reeling, but desperately wanting more. It was absolutely addictive.

Which may explain why I’ve been back to see them so many times. I’ve lost count of the exact number, somewhere around ten. My first solo trip to London in 2004 involved watching them at Brixton Academy. There was the hilarious time they headlined the second stage at V Festival and – according to the rumour that went around – refused to go on stage unless the volume was turned up. The main stage headliners the Scissor Sisters had to apologise for the bass that kept wafting across. That was the gig where I’d said I was going to take it easy; then the riff to Their Law started and I was on the third row by the end of the first song. I’ve had my phone stolen at one of their gigs, and didn’t notice because the crowd were bouncing so much. You always came away with sore ribs and legs, but smiling from ear to ear.

Flint was not the music man. On some Prodigy albums he wasn’t even involved in the recording. But he was the heart and the ethos of the band. The stage got a little more electric when he came on. He embodied the attitude of the band and it was his face that became synonymous with their mainstream success and number 1 singles.

I’m so very sad right now that I won’t get to experience it again. But I’m so very grateful for what he did. He made a young kid from Yorkshire fall in love with whatever he did. And I hope he knows how much I – and so many others – appreciate that.