Category: THIS WEEK

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.

 

The missing This Week Playlist

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As explained here, I didn’t post the This Week playlist last Monday, despite having it ready. However, in the interest of full disclosure, here are the ten tracks I’ve been listening to on repeat this week.

1. Jamiroquai – Automaton 

What an extraordinary return. An electro pop masterclass with euphoria, menace, and a playful 90’s pop-meets-hip hop breakdown. I’m not sure anyone realised the world needed a Jamiroquai return, but Automaton sounds as fresh and innovative as anything released so far in 2017.

2. Parcels – Allaround

This was nailed on to be one of my tracks of the day. Taking beautiful vocals that sound like they’ve been borrowed from Kings of Convenience, layering them onto a track that plays with disco and funk – a la Jungle – and delivering some stunning musicianship along the way. Parcels have released a steady series of hugely impressive singles, and this is my favourite so far.

3. Rationale – Reciprocate 

Back in 2015 I fell in love with The Mire, a track from Rationale’s Fuel to the Fire EP. I’ve kept an eye on his stuff since then and Reciprocate finds him back on form; a rich and distinctive voice elevates this r’n’b track.

4. Priests – Jj

A post-punk quartet, Priests have delivered their second single from new album Nothing Feels Natural. It’s like being trapped in the getaway car from a bank robbery in the wild west: country-twinged, all action, energy and attitude.

5. Tiga – Eye Luv U

Canadian DJ and producer Tiga has a pretty stunning back catalogue, creating some of the most innovative of off-beat electro bangers. The ridiculously titlted Eye Luv U finds all of his favourite hallmarks, an infectious beat, weird and slightly off-kilter vocal snippets and a playful approach to melody.

6. IDLES – Stendhal Syndrome

IDLES are one of my favourite up-and-coming bands. Back in August 2015 I saw them in London and, for lack of a better word, it was frightening. Delivering aggressive post-punk, these Bristolians are gearing up for another tour and possibly world domination. Stendhal Syndrome is brash, loud and hilarious.

7. Brett Gould – Say It Loud

East London DJ and producer Brett Gould has been steadily releasing great tracks over the past eighteen months. Say It Loud is surely designed for a small, sweaty club with a good sound system at 4am; it’s all about the menace lurking in the bass lines.

8. Skott – Glitter & Gloss 

Scandinavian pop songstress Skott would – had the blog existed – been one of my tips for 2017. Since her debut single around seven months ago she’s released some stunning pop tracks; Glitter & Gloss is a little bit like eating a chocolate bar that you’ve taken from a communal fridge; it’s sweet and satisfying, but there’s a lurking sense of guilt and troubles to come.

9. Allan Rayman, Jessie Reyez – Repeat

Gig-buddy Matt sent me a Jessie Reyez track late in 2016 that I liked very much. However I’d never heard of Allan Rayman, and the first google hit is ’10 Reasons Why Allan Rayman Is The Most Mysterious Man in Music’, which is good work. His voice is extraordinary; it elevates what is a slightly off-kilter r’n’b meets indie pop track into something very compelling.

10. Husky Loops – Fighting Myself

Rock and roll newcomers Husky Loops offer an intriguing and eccentric new single in Fighting Myself. This track is a spring of menace and insecurity wound way too tight; it’s initially menacing – with traces of art rock – before building to a frantic and thrilling finish. I’m seeing these guys this week and I’m hugely excited to see what they do live.

This Week: seven new tracks to tickle your ears

logomakr_76k0fbI meant to get this out yesterday, but an unforeseen work crisis kept me in the office. Annoying, but it happens. If you’re super angry about the delay, here’s a cute picture of Max to pacify you:

Beyond these seven tracks we have three additional tracks lined up this week as ‘Tracks of the Day’, the First of which will appear this evening.

Anyway here is the This Week playlist; seven songs that I’ve given a couple of listens to, like, and are here to tickle your ears. Let me know what you think.

Naives – Crystal Clear 

It’s a little early to be predicting the songs that will send crowds bonkers at summer festivals, but I’m pretty confident anyone seeing Naives will remember Crystal Clear. Sitting in a ‘indie meets pop meets dance’ bracket occupied by Friendly Fires and Late of the Pier, this is a shapeshifting track that sounds carefree and playful.

Anna of the North – Oslo 

It’s bloody freezing in London right now, and the icy electronics of Oslo pretty much mirrors that sensation. There’s a strong Chvrches comparison to my ear, and a mournful euphoria at points in this record. It is certainly simple, but more than merits a few listens.

The XX – Performance

For the second week in a row there’s a track from The XX on the playlist. But whereas last week there was the bombastic Dangerous – a complete change in direction for the band – this week we have Performance, a heart-dropping, mournful and gripping record that finds The XX back on familiar ground. Romy’s vocals are – as usual – emotional in a way so few other singers can manage; elevated by the strings and stripped back guitar. I’ve listened to I See You a fair few times in the past week, and Performance is the track that grips my insides more than any other.

Sohn – Harbour 

There’s a lot of good things to say about Rennen, Sohn’s recently released album. I shall hopefully be blogging about it in the next few days. I was a big fan of 2016 singles Signal and Conrad. Harbour is the album closer and has an eery opening; like the beginnings of a science fiction movie. But then it begins to explore the electronica landscape, evolving into something that Caribou would be proud of. Sohn has an interesting habit of writing songs that have two distinct parts, and Harbour is a fascinating idea of what future Sohn albums could sound like; expansive, eery and electrifying.

Black Map – Ruin 

Time to shake away those wintery feelings and embrace the world of rock. Hailing from San Francisco, this trio all feature in other bands but have come together to make some stonking rock music of their own. Ruin starts ominously and has an early 00’s vibe to it. The internet (read: Google) tells me they’ve an album coming out in March, which I’ll certainly check out.

Mixhell – Crocodile Boots (Soulwax Remix) 

I don’t really know how to succinctly describe this record. A robot disco travelling in Doctor Who’s Tardis with Kraftwerk to a distant planet in the future? It’s the best I’ve got. Soulwax remain one of the most interesting acts in music and following a few years doing their Despacio  project it certainly seems like they’ve found their groove in the long-forgotten vinyls of 1982.  It’s certainly distinct and if you can get through it without wanting to sing ‘These are my rules’ then you’re made of sterner stuff than I.

Stage Van H – Orange Beach (Marko Melo Remix) 

I love dance tracks that make me feel like I’m on a long train journey, with scenery flying by the window and the sun setting. Orange Beach has a top-line that constantly teases you; dangling melodies and noises but withdrawing then before you get too comfortable and drawing your ears and imagination back to its dynamic underbelly.

This week: 6 new tracks to tickle your ears

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This is a little later than I intended, but today was my first day back at work (not as horrendous as I thought it would be) and then my new puppy (Max the Yorkiepoo) decided I wasn’t allowed to blog until I’d played with him. A lot. He’s adorable, so its all good.

Anyway, here are six new tracks to tickle your ears. These are songs I’ve only listened to a couple of times but liked a lot; this playlist acts as my main listening guide for the week and hopefully they’ll appear on Sunday’s A List 

Let me know what you think of the tracks and/or if there’s something you think I’ve missed. Astralpenguinsmusic@gmail.com.

 1. The XX – Dangerous 

The XX released their third album I See You on Friday, and Dangerous is the opening track. It’s a tremendous statement of intent; ‘I won’t shy away’ they sing, ‘I’m going to pretend that I’m not scared’. It could easily be the band discussing their own shift in style; here is a brave and rather brilliant track – horns and all – that verges on a dance track. I’m slightly blown away by their ambition, execution and all-round brilliance.

2. The Black Madonna – He Is The Voice I Hear 

The Black Madonna became the DJ to see in 2016. She brought the party like no other; her eclectic picks were more than matched by her superb dancing and extensive knowledge of all dance music ever. But as this (brilliant!) Resident Advisor film shows, life on the road can take its toll. So when I first heard He Is The Voice I Hear, I wondered if this was her ode to the journey she took last year; a weird and wacky ride that takes in strings, disco-beats that could easily come from a Moroder track and a jazzy piano part. This sounds like creativity meets exhaustion; the kind of song that can only be written/produced in the small hours when there’s no one else to relate. It sounds to me like a lullaby for insomniacs. I could be entirely wrong, but I’m refusing to read anything else about it because, well, I like my explanation and I’m sticking to it.

3. Dan Croll – Away From Today 

Every Friday I get an email from Communion telling me what they think is awesome. I have waited patiently. And finally, here is a track I rather enjoy. Away From Today is a slightly disorientating indie pop track that could easily have been take from Bombay Bicycle Club’s back catalogue. It plays with the senses a little, never quite settling. But for the ridiculously abrupt ending, I rather like this.

4. FREAK – Cake 

Loud, thrashy and suitably angry, FREAK came onto my radar in the second half of 2016. Hailing from Chelmsford, this young man has bags of talent and he kicks off 2017 with a bang: Cake sticks to his – very solid – formula. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to see him live in the next few months.

5. The Paper Kites – Breathing Fighting Love 

The Paper Kites released their last album – twelve four – all the way back in 2015. The album’s concept was to write in the early hours of the morning (hence the name) and it produced – in parts – a creeping and slightly disconcerting edge to their work; in particular I was a big fan of album opener Electric Indigo. Now they’re back with two track that evidently didn’t make the cut for twelve four. Breathing Fighting Love is a very solid track that reminds me of some of the darker Fleetwood Mac tracks.

6. Bonobo – No Reason 

We finish with a superb piece of electronic music. Back in December 2015 I became slightly obsessed with a track by Rufus called Innerbloom; so much so that it was one of my three most listened to tracks in 2016 (according to Spotify). No Reason is from a very similar mould; mournful vocals are matched by elegant electronic touches; it’s a claustrophobic listen that leaves you wanting to curl up in a blanket and hide away from the world.