Category: THIS WEEK

This Week Playlist

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After a few weeks off, here is the latest This Week Playlist, ten songs that are tickling our ears right now and are primed and ready for you to enjoy:

1. Kendrick Lamar – The Heart Part 4

So I confess that I don’t share the adoration for Kendrick’s work that seems obligatory for music fans in 2017. I’ve liked plenty of his work, but his status as – in his own words – the greatest rapper alive has eluded me so far. However when friend-in-exile Miceal (who I think may have given up his Catholic faith to follow the religion of Kendrick instead) messaged last Friday to say that The Heart Part 4 had dropped, I was excited to hear it. It chops and changes in style, and certainly suffers from the braggadocious spirit that blights a lot of hip hop, yet spending a few minutes with the lyrics of this track is hugely rewarding.

The whole world goin’ mad

Bodies is adding up, market’s about to crash

Niggas is fake rich, bitches is fake bad

Blacks that act white, whites that do the dab

Donald Trump is a chump, know how we feel, punk

Tell ’em that God comin’

And Russia need a replay button, y’all up to somethin’

 

2. Gorillaz, Vince Staples  – Ascension

If you’re not a fan of the Gorillaz then it might be best you skip this blog for a few months. They’re one of those bands for me: an act that can go in any new direction and make it seem like it was the perfect choice. They combine hip hop, pop and indie in a way few other bands have ever managed, and with a new album on the way, it promises to be a big few months for them. On Ascension they’ve recruited one of the most exciting men in music Vince Staples for vocal duties. The result ends up sounding like a space age gospel infused pop track; it’s a little bonkers but that’s the fun of it.

 

3. Drones Club – Hurricane

Drones Club produced two of my favourite songs of 2016 and have delivered yet another stunning record. Straddling the fence between dance and indie, the electronic chorus soars into the sky. Every listen feels familiar – it’s rooted in an early 90s baggy feel – and yet it feels absolutely fresh. I cannot wait for them to deliver an album.

 

4. HVOB – Deus

I only discovered Austrian dance duo HVOB (Her Voice Over Boys) recently but I’ve been impressed with that I’ve heard. Deus starts slowly, repetitive vocals coiled around intimidating synths; then the beat drops. I love dance music that is simple yet oh so effective, and Deus is absolutely from that mold. It conjures up feelings of space travel and loneliness; danger and claustrophobia. I like this more with every listen.

 

5. IDLES – Exeter

I blogged only this morning about seeing IDLES recently and Exeter was a massive highlight of their set. It’s full of anger and contempt; the frustration of growing up and living in a place where ‘nothing ever happens’. It somehow combines the sort of lyrical topic The Streets reveled in, matched by a raw punk aggression and elevated by a chorus that seems to satirize Britpop.

 

6. Honey Tower – Couture

Couture is the sort of industrial electro that would have been at home in the soundtracks of either the Matrix or – for those who remember it – Hackers. It’s a pretty bad ass track; rumbling, robotic and firmly underground in its sensibilities. This is my first exposure to Honey Tower, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for the German’s future works.

 

7. Sun Lil Moon – Bergen to Trondheim

This is a song that skirts ever so close to being beyond the pale. Maybe I’ve listened to far too much Father John Misty, but to my ears this is one of the darkest, sarcastic and satirical songs I’ve heard in a very long time. It seems ever so much like Sun Lil Moon has had enough of celebrities and Twitter culture and their immediate – obvious, and poorly-considered – reactions to sad events as they globe-trot around the world. Complete with canned cheering and a refrain of “Me, we, me, we, me, we, me, we” I’m still struggling to come to terms with the boldness.

 

8. Father John Misty – Total Entertainment Forever

The joy of FJM is the numerous layers through which you can appreciate his work. There is the melody; Total Entertainment Forever is a catchy pop song with a familiarity that comes from a sound that has produced countless hits before; it’s sure to leave foots tapping. Yet then there’s the lyrics, and the biting take down of modern life. Then there’s the motivation, and the questions over where observation ends and sarcasm, satire and provocation begins. He is, for my money, one of the most important song-writers around at the moment and – with his new album out next week – we should all be excited.

 

9. Billie Eilish – Bellyache

I’ve been wanting to post this for a few weeks. The outrageously young Billie Eilish has delivered a stunning piece of electro pop that seems to be about, well… murder. From the stunning production to the simple yet oh-so-effective vocals (a la Lorde) Bellyache is just a joy from start to finish.

 

10. HalfNoise – French Class

HalfNoise is Zac Farro, formerly the drummer in Paramore. French Class is from his recent The Velvet Face EP and combines indie sensibilities with a sunny uplifting – slightly disco-y – sound.

 

This Week: 8 fresh songs to tickle your ears

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Our Tuesday begins with the This Week Playlist, some new songs that we’ve heard a couple of times and feel need a wider audience.

It’s a bumper edition this week: one of the songs was meant to be a Track of the Week last week but I ran out of time to post it. There’s also been some really interesting releases out this week, with – yet more – pretty impressive R ‘n’ B tracks.

So here it is. Enjoy. Let the music tickle your ears.

Tall Tall Trees – Being There

We’ve featured Tall Tall Trees before on the blog, and he released his album Freedays in February. Being There is a slightly different sound to former Track of the Day Freedays; I think this sounds more like an upbeat indietronica track with a Kings of Leon style chorus.  The psychedelic infused indie folk of Freedays does make a reappearance towards the end, in – my favourite section of the track – the playful breakdown that keeps meandering off in different directions.

NoMBe – Young Hearts

This was meant to be a Track of the Day last week but time escaped me. However I very much wanted to post it, if for no other reason than this track continues to elude my categorising brain. Young Hearts is an unusual track; it could easily be classified as electro pop or r ‘n’ b. But its most baffling element is that – despite its title, luscious guitars, sensual synths and falsetto vocals – it’s a weirdly asexual track. It’s a little like watching your auntie twerk at a party (sorry about that); in different hands this could have been a sexy affair. I like this track in part because it defies my expectations I’ve yet to work out how all the pieces come together.

Allan Rayman – Shelby Moves

I’ve written more than enough about Allan Rayman for one week. I’ve been loving his dark and intriguing new album Roadhouse 01 and Shelby Moves is one of the highlights from it. Pointed lyrics, lurking, ominous beats and some awesome shifts in direction, this song beautifully captures Rayman’s unique selling points. In his recent interview with Billboard, Rayman picked out this track as the one he most connects with:

Are there any songs that you’re particularly close to?

AR: “Shelby Moves.” It explains why I haven’t been doing many interviews and haven’t been all over social media; at the end of the day, I think fans build up these crazy ideas of celebrities or musicians or the people they’re listening to and watching and I think there’s a really dark undertone to that fandom and celebrity-ness. So “Shelby Moves,” I think, explains that at the end of the day. I’m a pretty average dude with a pretty boring story, but I can write some songs and I’m very creative — but I’m not going to wow you with my background. I often, especially recently when I’m at home, am wondering, “Why is this becoming so successful?” Because at the end of the day, I would say I’m just a regular dude, so why me? I still haven’t really figured it out.

R I T U A L – Drown The Lovers

Another sparse r’n’b inspired track with elements of hip hop, this time from London-based group RITUAL . On Drown The Lovers, the minimalist backing track allows the delicate and emotional vocals to flourish. Add in an impressive chorus that’s very much in keeping with the understated but stirring vibe, and you’ve got a pretty impressive track.

Lucy Rose, The Staves – Floral Dresses

I discovered Lucy Rose through her work with Bombay Bicycle Club – who I seem to be mentioning a lot on the blog recently; I think I’m missing them – and her obvious musical charm shines through on Floral Dresses. Nailing the gentle, minimalist folk sound that Laura Marling has perfected, Floral Dresses seems to hark back to some childhood tensions, seemingly with some female authority figure. As she sings: ‘I don’t wanna wear your floral dresses, And my lips won’t be coloured, I don’t want your diamond necklace
Your disapproval cuts through.’ 
GLASS – Vulnerable

London-based duo GLASS provide this week’s dose of electro-pop. With an incredibly catchy synth part running throughout the track, the stark contrast between what sounds like a heavier Keane style backing track and vocals that sing ‘Oh she’s vulnerable, really shouldn’t be alone’ leave an intriguing aftertaste.

Savoy Motel – Western Version Boogie

Savoy Motel caught my attention in the second half of 2016 with Sorry People, one of the most ill-fitting singles of the decade. Western Version Boogie is similarly baffling; sounding a little like Talking Heads had kidnapped both the female vocalist from Human League and a glam rock guitarist. The Nashville four piece are making music that absolutely doesn’t fit the mould of what you need to be successful in 2017, and more power to them.

Michael Kiwunuka – Cold Little Heart (Tom Misch Remix) 

Michael Kiwunuka’s Love & Hate was my favourite album of 2016; a real triumph of artistic integrity and coherence combined with beautiful song-writing. The opening track to Love & Hate is Cold Little Heart, a near-1o minute epic that truly sets the tone for what is to come. 2017 has seen the track given some – drastic – cosmetic surgery to get it down to a 3 minute radio version, and a reworking from Tom Misch. I like the way he’s helped to give it a new and slightly more carefree vibe whilst keeping that stupendous voice front and centre.

This Week Playlist: 7 Cracking New Tunes

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Tuesday morning is the new home of the This Week Playlist. These are the songs I’ve heard a couple of times and rather like the sound of. They’re here for your pleasure: to tickle your ears and to soundtrack your week.

There’s a distinctly dance-heavy vibe to the playlist – that’s not intentional nor particularly reflective of what I’ve been listening to of late; I simply go where I think the quality is right now.

 

Destructo, E-40, Too $hort – All Nite

Destructo is LA based former A&R/record executive Gary Richards, who helped to bring Basement Jaxx to a mainstream audience. With All Nite he achieves a similar feat to many of Jaxx’s back catalogue; it’s an instantly-grabbing party track full of fun and frolics. Bulldozing the line between hip hop and dance, this is stoner-inspired party music that’ll put a smile on your face.

Todd Terje – Jungelknugen (Four Tet Remix) 

Oh man, Four Tet just keeps getting better. His journey from obscure electronica producer to master of the main stage has been one of the most brilliant and unlikely stories in the – relatively short – history of dance music, and here he’s on remixing duty for the ever brilliant Todd Terje. As with his Opus remix, Jungelknugen refuses to go where you expect it to, but continues to delight throughout. Building synths, layer upon layer of electronic waves and some out and out hands-in-the-air moments; stonkingly good.

Denis Sulta – Dubelle Oh XX (JVIP)

Young Glaswegian DJ and producer Denis Sulta is beginning to make serious waves in the house scene. Here Dubelle Oh XX gets a reworking from his fellow Glaswegian – and stunningly good – DJ Jackmaster. Ripe for inclusion at every dance festival in 2017, this is a track that’ll get inside your head and stay there. Complete with a baffling breakdown in the middle, this is basically a Jackmaster set in a nutshell: danceable, memorable, often bonkers and very bloody good.

Stormzy – Mr Skeng

His debut album Gang Signs & Prayer came out on Friday and – following his show-stealing cameo at the Brits with Ed Sheeran last week – Stormzy is the centre of attention right now. I could have picked two or three tracks from the album for this list but I love the rawness of Mr Skeng. It’s well-produced and there’s plenty in the background, but ultimate its about Stormzy; his voice, his lyrics and his moment. If you missed his recent interview in the Guardian, I highly recommend you go and read it.

Bicep – The Game (Catz N’ Dogz Interpretation) 

Bicep’s 2013 track The Game gets a facelift for 2017 courtesy of Catz N’ Dogz. This sounds like the kind of track that would soundtrack a video game in your dreams, where you’re driving around all night without any sort of destination in sight. It strays into some 80’s sounds, but still feels pretty timeless.

The Attic Sleepers – Leopard 

This is just a beautiful piece of indie-pop from Danish duo The Attic Sleepers. Straying into the kind of upbeat sunshine sound – complete with brass – that Bombay Bicycle Club mastered, Leopard will leave you feeling both vulnerable and optimistic.

Elliot Moss – Closedloop 

New York singer-songwriter Elliot Moss finds himself firmly in the James Blake comparison zone with Closedloop, a creeping, discomforting, electro crawl of a pop track.

 

 

This Week Extended…

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Blogging has been frustratingly light this week (from me at least, George and Antonia delivered awesome columns) but work somewhat overtook my life and I never got the chance to post the four tracks that were intended to be our Tracks of the Day. This is particularly annoying as they’re pretty damn good this week.

By way of apology, please find them here:

Pumarosa – Dragonfly 

Pumarosa have generated a wave of hype in the past twelve months and – to be honest – it’s not hard to work out why. Creating etherial music with elements of pop, indie and dance, there’s a mystique to their work that few acts achieve. Dragonfly was released on the same day the band announced their debut album – The Witch – will be out in May. I’ve seen them live a few times now and highly recommend you catch them now; these guys – and gals – are unlikely to be playing smaller shows for much longer.

Code Walk, Smerz – Guess What 

This track is a collaboration between two Scandinavian duos, Norwegian pair Code Walk  and Copenhagen couple Smerz. Its a track that revolves around shimmering techno beats and top line percussion. Everything about this track is ice cold. Simple and yet highly effective.

Brutus – Drive 3/4s 

Belgiun post-hardcore trio Brutus started life as a Refused tribute act, before starting to write their own material. They’re led by Stefanie Mannaerts, who acts as both vocalist and drummer. Drive 3/4s is a stunningly good rock track; its impressive in its ambition alone, but the delivery of intricate melodies, shifts in style and epic chorus makes this track an absolute monster. Easily my favourite track of the week.

Vnusamr – Runnin 

A debut single from Miami-based Vnusamr, and she’s immediately grasped my attention with a track rooted in modern r’n’b, but brave enough to incorporate touches of rock and pop. The sensual vocals are great, it’s superbly produced and I love her teasing melodies throughout. More like this please.

 

 

THIS WEEK PLAYLIST: 6 new tracks to tickle your ears

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We kick off another week of music here on the Astral Penguins Blog with six new(-ish) tracks. There’s a much heavier feel to the tracks this week, with three rock tracks and a Sub Focus track with a dirty bass line. Hope you enjoy!

Jealous of the Birds, Ryan Vail – Love Is a Crow

“Love is a Crow that I hit with a stone”. That’s not your average lyric, and this collaboration between Ryan Vail – providing the pulsing electronic beats – and Jealous of the Birds – aka Armagh’s Naomi Hamilton – is a detour just off the main musical highway. It starts off feeling like a modern art project, before developing into the kind of dance music that would make sense if you’ve partaken in magic mushrooms for twenty years.

Sub Focus – Lingua 

Hey Sub Focus is back! This always welcome development is only enhanced by the fact that he’s returned an absolute tune in Lingua. Slower and more minimalist than a lot of his other works, Lingua sees him straying closer to dancehall and hip hop than his usual drum and bass.

Creeper – Black Rain

I’ve been keeping my eyes fixed firmly on Creeper, one of the most promising bands in the UK right now. They swap between pop, punk, rock and emo is seconds, and Black Rain sees them in regular shapeshifting form. One minute driving punk-ish guitars, the next a chorus that sounds like its from a rock opera.

Incubus – Nimble Bastard

Hey Incubus are back! One of the best live bands in the world – and a constant reminder of my teenage years – it’s always cracking to hear new Incubus material. Nimble Bastard sees them on strong ground; driving riffs and very little pissing around. They’re back to rock and that’s welcome in the Astral Penguins world.

Blood Youth – Reasons to Stay 

Melodic hardcore trio Blood Youth have produced a real balls-to-the-wall track in Reasons to Stay. A tale of a relationship ending in a complicated way, this will be an absolute monster live.

Halia Jack – Lover 

Hey, so you know when a friend – who never sends you music – all of a sudden drops you a Soundcloud link? and then in turns out they know the artist? man you really want it to be good if only to avoid an awkward conversation… that was me last week when the link to Lover came into the inbox.

And it is good. A distinct and impressive voice sings over searing strings on Lover. Halia Jack straddles the line between pop, r’n’b and a more soulful music rather expertly. Certainly one to keep an eye on. And my friendship still intact.

 

 

 

This Week Playlist: 6 new tracks to tickle your ears

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Every Monday we start the week as we mean to go on: six new(ish) tracks that we think are worth a few listens over the next seven days.

This week we have six tracks on our playlist. There are also four intriguing songs coming up as Tracks of the Day.

Here’s our This Week Playlist – enjoy!

Electric Guest – Back For Me

LA duo Electric Guest have a new album out in early March and this is the second single from it. Back for Me skips along with a relentlessly upbeat tone, propelled by beating percussion and one of the funkiest bass parts around. Simple, catchy and really rather good fun, this is an impressive little pop song.

 

HOMESHAKE – Every Single Thing

[Wikipeadia tells me] HOMESHAKE is the solo musical project of Montreal-based singer-songwriter and musician Peter Sagar. Every Single Thing is a shimmering r’n’b track with a disconcerting lo-fi meets synths dynamic. The vocals are impressive in their range and delivery, and yet it’s the cold aesthetic of the track that makes me want to keep this on repeat.

 

Khalid – Location (London Remix)

This is a re-released track from 2016 in which London MC Little Simz has added a few bars to what was already an impressive track. Khalid is blessed with one of those great soul voices that could be from any era of music. Location showcases that voice with silky moments of warmth mixed with the chilled out electronics underneath. Simz – fresh from her Sound of 2017 Longlist Nomination – is more tranquil than some of her other releases, but still sounds impressive – particularly in her second contribution.

 

Cold War Kids – Love Is Mystical

California 5-piece Cold War Kids are back with a new album due for release in April, and boy have they whet the appetite. Love Is Mystical is a cracking blues-inspired indie pop record that explodes with excitement. From it’s opening piano to it’s awesome chorus, everything is a little off-kilter and distorted; like it’s pounding out of a vintage jukebox where one of the speakers hasn’t quite stood the test of time.

 

Joe Goddard – Music Is The Answer

Joe Goddard – of Hot Chip fame – has already had one song appear on the blog this year, the awesome Soulwax remix of Crocodile Boots. Music Is The Answer is his latest single and it’s at the pop-end of the dance spectrum. Although it’s an immediately accessible track, there’s a depth to this track that I haven’t quite put my finger on: is there a sadness lurking behind the synths? I like how this track continues to evolve and find new elements to subtly shift the sound as it progresses.

 

Omni – Flashback

Something a little bit different to finish this week’s list. Montreal DJ and producer Omni put together an EP (Lunar) to feature in his recent performance at the Eclipse Festival (Lunar, Eclipse, geddit?) and Flashback is the second track on that EP. It’s dark, heavy and fairly relentless. Designed to blow minds in dark sweaty clubs at 3am, you’ll need a good set of headphones to take in quite how comprehensive the layers of sound are in Flashback.

This Week Playlist: Seven new songs to tickle your ears

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I’m struggling to limit myself to only posting 10 new songs a week at the moment. Good music seems to be coming from everywhere: returning legends, acts that I’ve grown to love over the past couple of years and new bands that I’m admiring. The This Week Playlist is once again very strong with a combination of all the above.

The idea of this playlist is simple: here are seven songs I’ve heard a couple of times that have really impressed. This playlist is my ‘go to’ for music over the next week, and stuff from here – and our tracks of the day postings – are what then go onto the A List every Sunday if I’m loving them enough.

So without any more chatting, here is the This Week Playlist: seven new songs to tickle your ears.

1.Vince Staples – BagBak

If you asked me to name the most exciting man in music right now, I’d – hopefully – make a strong case for Vince Staples. His Prima Dona EP last year was the best I heard, and BagBak again finds him on top form. Straying into racial politics, Staples manages to say a lot whilst ensuring every other element in the song is damn near perfect.

2.Future Islands – Ran 

Future Islands’s Waiting on You was my favourite song of 2014 and so – after lead singer Samuel T Herring’s foray into hip hop – I’m pretty damn happy to have them back. They’ve returned with Ran, which is made up of their usual brilliant formula. Driving bass, keyboard euphoria and heartbreaking vocals, they will undoubtedly make many festival fans happy again this summer.

3. POOLCLVB – Waiting for You

Sydney producer POOLCLVB released his You + Me EP in early January, which is where Waiting for You comes from. Waiting for You sounds very much like the child of the nu-rave scene, with memories of Delphic and Klaxons coming flooding back.

4.Father John Misty – Ballad of the Dying Man

If you haven’t come across FJM yet then you’re missing out. He writes beautiful songs that hark back to blue-eyed soul with hints of folk, country as well as rock and pop. But the most enjoyable part of his songs is unpicking the irony and sarcasm that weaves throughout his lyrics, trying to extrapolate who is really the target of his fire. Here in the Ballad of the Dying Man, he’s found himself back at his mischievous best:

So says the dying man once I’m in the box
Just think of all the overrated hacks running amok
And all of the pretentious, ignorant voices that will go unchecked
The homophobes, hipsters, and 1%
The false feminists he’d managed to detect
Oh, who will critique them once he’s left?

5.Lowly – Prepare the Lake

This is my first introduction to Danish quintet Lowly, with Prepare the Lake falling somewhere in the indietronica/electro-pop bracket. They have a new album [Heba] coming soon and the band have said of Prepare The Lake: “We’d been playing it for quite some time live before recording it and the form sort of grew out of us during concerts, so perhaps it has more of live feel to it than the other songs on the album.”

6.King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Sleep Drifter

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Field Day line-up saying there were plenty of bands I hadn’t heard of, but was looking forward to checking out. Here we have our first example; King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – what a name – are an Australian psych-rock band. Sleep Drifter is the musical equivalent of being awake for 48 hours; everything is there but you’re not sure you can piece it all together.

7.Tourists – Masquerade 

Tourists definitely fall into the ‘ones to watch’ category in my world. 2016 singles Cut and Run and Quiet Room both got a lot of listens, and this five-piece from Torquay make a strong start t0 2017 with Masquerade. Synths, bass, guitars, drums and vocals come together like the five Power Rangers – yeah, I went there – to create a grand and ambitious record that sounds both fresh and vintage.