Category: THIS WEEK

Track of the Day: Anna Clendening – Dead End

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Anna Clendening – Dead End

“I don’t know whats worse
That you walked in my room smelling like her perfume
Or that I called you first”

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. I was particularly struck by:

“You lie in my sheets then lie to my face
I lie through my teeth and say I’m okay”

Dead End is a pithy two and a half minutes and the minimalist production lets the lyrics shine. She also has an EP ‘waves’ out on the 22nd February, which I’m very much looking forward to.

Enjoy!

 

This Week Playlist (5th Feb): 7 corking 2019 releases to light up your week

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Soccer Mommy – Be Seeing You

21 (!) year old Sophie Allison (aka Soccer Mommy) dug back into her archive last week by  releasing a demo of Blossom from her 2018 album Clean along with Be Seeing You, a b-side that was only previously available physically. I really like the fuzzy vocals and melancholic tone. It’s all very lo-fi but the melody will absolutely get stuck in your head.

Billie Eillish – bury a friend 

bury a friend is yet another winning track from this ridiculously talented young lady. With a pounding beat, creeping synths and distorted vocals, there’s a constant sense of menace and urgency. I cannot wait for the album.

Tarantina – Hunter

According to her website “TARANTINA is a self-taught singer, producer and videographer who creates dark polished pop within the confines of her home studio in Camden Town.” Hunter is certainly dark and it’s most definitely pop, but it’s also an incredibly assured track where everything feels essential. The drama and intrigue only grows with every listen.

Martha – Love Keeps Kicking 

Love keeps Kicking takes me back to the pop punk tracks that I dined out on in my teenage years. Simple effective melody? tick. Catchy chorus? tick. Fun guitar bits? tick. (if I were more computer savvy, I could probably have used a tick graphic, but no such luck). This is what summer should sound like, and if you aren’t humming and foot-tapping away on the second listen then there’s nothing I can do to help you. Martha are from Durham (although I swear the singer has a Scottish lilt) and have a new album out on the 5th April.

Vera Blue – All The Pretty Girls (Mahogany Sessions)

I’m a big fan of Vera Blue’s work and I really like this new and stripped back version of 2018 single All The Pretty Girls. It strips away all of the production from the original and leaves a delicate guitar and Vera’s luscious and vulnerable voice. In my humble opinion, it runs rings around the original.

ViVii – And Tragic

And Tragic has enough melodrama and tension to make Lana Del Ray cast jealous glances. At times it feels grandiose but then it dips out, like a fading dream. I really like the twin vocals and the guitar is a constant star, but by the end of the track you really have no idea where you’ve just been.

James Blake, Travis Scott, Metro Boomin – Mile High 

One of the highlight’s from Blake’s recent album Assume Form, Mile High is just a great blend of top notch beats, the silky smooth flow of Scott and Blake’s soaring falsetto.

This Week Playlist (31st January)

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I’m a bit late with this as I meant to post it yesterday, but I wanted to share some of the records that I’m completely loving at the moment. I’ll be back tomorrow with an excellent Track of the Day.

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”.  The lyrics are motivating and heavily influenced by HIV and AIDS activists in the 1980s.

Jenny Lewis – Red Bull & Hennessy 

With a fourth album – On The Line – due out on the 22nd March, Jenny Lewis has returned with her first single in five years. Red Bull & Hennessy 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. A really good pop track.

Bonobo – Ibrik

Si Green (aka Bonobo) has crafted his reputation for excellence over several stunning releases. Ibrik is the first track from the forthcoming ‘Fabric Presents Bonobo’ record, due for release on the 22nd February. As you’d expect from Bonobo, it’s full of intricate beats and an excellent melody, but there are so many layers and snippets throughout to tantalise your ears.

The Cinematic Orchestra – A Caged Bird/Imitations of Life

The Cinematic Orchestra’s first release from new album To Believe (due out on the 15th March) is absolutely monstrous. 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.

Florence + The Machine – Moderation

“Want me to love you in moderation, Do I look moderate to you?”  Florence returns with a cracking single encompassing superb lyrics, a bluesy-pop vibe and her usual stunning vocals. Produced by James Ford, I think this track sounds like an evolution from ideas across all of her previous albums and I’m intrigued to know if she’ll keep following this path.

Foals – Exits 

I’ve blogged before about my excitement for the forthcoming Foals album, and the first single Exits is an intriguing prospect. Returning to the staccato sounds that shaped some of their earlier releases, it’s not the immediate banger that preceded their last two records (Inhaler and What Went Down), rather it’s the sound of a confident band willing to stride off in their own direction.

This Week Playlist [January 21st]: 5 brand new tunes

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Another Sky – Tree (Live at Hackney Road) 

I saw former Goldsmith Uni students Another Sky listed on a few websites and blogs I respect as a band to keep an eye on, so last week I checked them out. This live track was released on New Year’s Day and oscillates between haunting and enchanting. The most striking feature of the track is Catrin Vincent’s voice, which sores (?) above the – mostly – mellow instrumentation. Its a hugely impressive voice, and having spent a few hours pondering I can’t immediately think of an obvious comparison. Irrespective, this is a really intriguing track that reminds me of early London Grammar and I look forward to future works from the band.

Mindchatter – Trippy 

Trippy is probably the most apt song title of the year so far. This track has some wonderful production throughout, taking modern hip hop and r’n’b production, inverting it and giving it a low key vibe, not unlike what HOMESHAKE produces. Trippy reminds me of scuba diving, where time slows down and you simply marvel at everything around you. I can’t find much biographical info on Mindchatter but this seems like a debut release, which makes it all the more impressive.

Priests – The Seduction of Kansas 

Post-punk four-piece Priests have featured on the blog before, all the way back in February 2017.  They’re back with the riotously danceable The Seduction of Kansas, which brings back memories of the LCD Soundsystem/The Rapture era of indie music. An album of the same name is due to be released in April.

Grimes, HANA – We Appreciate Power (BloodPop Remix) 

I’m a huge fan of Grimes and there’s little in her back catalogue that I don’t enjoy. Yet towards the end of 2018 she was involved in two songs, a duet on Poppy’s album and her own We Appreciate Power. Both were rockier than most of her previous work, and they didn’t quite click with me. The rock element seemed a little faux, not a feeling you associate with Gimes, who is usually so good at the authenticity of whatever she’s doing. My anxiety increased when I saw that she’s a guest star on the forthcoming Bring Me The Horizon album, out on Friday.

BloodPop have taken the original We Appreciate Power and given it a very different spin. Gone are the gruff guitars and the vocals are brought to the fore. I feels it’s a much clearer insight into Grimes’s vision, of a dystopian AI controller world (“Pledge allegiance to the world’s most powerful computer, Simulation is the future”). And I think the dance twist makes this a much stronger track than the original.

Alfredo Rodriguez, Pedrito Martinez – Super Mario Bros 3 

Something a little bit different to finish on. The Cuban duo of jazz pianist Alfredo Rodriguez and percussionist Pedrito Martinez have taken on a classic theme tune for any gamers out there and given it a pretty awesome spin. It’s well worth three minutes of your time, whether you’ve owned several Nintendo consoles or not.

 

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.