Category: Track of the Day

Track of the Day: Dave – Psycho 

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Dave – Psycho 

Earlier this year i featured the lead single (Black) from Dave’s recent album Psychodrama. It was one of the most thought provoking songs I’ve heard in a long time and I couldn’t wait to hear the full album.

Well now the album is out, and I have many positive things to say about it (which I’ll get to at some point). But there are also two other tracks from the album  that I want to feature on the blog, the first of which is Psycho.

The first track on Psychodrama, it starts by introducing the listener to the album’s thematic concept, namely that of a therapy session. Dave’s therapist notes that this is their first session, stating that they’re here to talk about Dave’s background and asks “So, where should we start?”

What follows is a three part narrative told better than most best picture winners. We start with Dave reflecting on where he is now, asking ‘How do you stop all the pain?’. He talks about drug dealing and gang violence, interspersed with moments of reflection about feelings. The first section ends with pondering “So who am I?”

The second section is an eruption of confidence and swagger. It’s reminiscent of Dizzee Rascal’s pop pomp. The production – which is outstanding throughout – becomes playful and we get fifty seconds or so of partying. Dave himself effectively identifies this section as the ‘pop’ bit, noting:

I’m a hit maker, if you haven’t noticed 

I could be the rapper with the message like you’re hoping

But what’s the point in me being the best if no one knows it?

The second section ends as Dave starts to identify himself as “careful, humble, reckless, arrogant, extravagant” followed by a reference about how he’s probably battling manic depression. The mournful  piano starts, the record slows, the beat disappears and we start to peer into Dave’s insecurities and pain. He ends by noting “I ain’t psycho but my life is.”

Few rappers have the lyrical dexterity to produce Dave’s flow. Very few rappers have the emotional honesty to put true feelings – vulnerable feelings – at the heart of their work like he does here. And Dave may be peerless when it comes to structuring songs – with outstanding production – around emotional journeys, especially as Psycho seems to mirror the wild mood swings that manic depression can cause. 

This is an outstanding song from an outstanding artist. Check it out. 

Track of the Day: Mathame – Skywalking

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Mathame – Skywalking

Italian brothers Amedeo and Matteo Giovanelli are better known as Mathame, and their latest single is ready to tear dance floors up.

Skilfully walking the line between earphone pleasure and crowd pleaser, Skywalking starts by building slowly. You get a good beat instantly, followed by some hi hats, but there’s a murky texture, with teasing sounds rumbling in and out for the first minute. It then starts to take off, like a young bird unsure how to fly for the first time, it stutters and teases and grows in confidence for nearly 90 seconds. And then we are off…

From a similar mould to Four Tet’s remix of Opus, Skywalking eschews the standard ‘big drop’ trope so familiar to dance music, and instead takes the listener on a journey through the clouds. Impressive work indeed.

Track of the Day: Tones and I – Johnny Run Away 

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Tones and I – Johnny Run Away 

Tones and I is a singer hailing from Byron Bay Australia and this is her debut release. The song was inspired by her best friend coming out to his dad when he was younger, and in Johnny Run Away she speaks of young love and the negative reaction that receives from those that are meant to love unconditionally.

It’s a quirky – and oddly moving – track that reminds me of some of the earlier songs from Marina and the Diamonds (it may be the quirky voice). I don’t know whether the title is a reference to the classic Bronski Beat track Smalltown Boy, but it certainly deals with the same theme of a young man feeling isolated by his sexuality. 

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.

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!