Lily Byrd – Don’t Move
From her Number EP released in January, New Hampshire’s Lily Byrd does something rather magical with Don’t Move. It is simultaneously familiar, sad, and hypnotic.
The gentle strumming of the guitar and soft vocals are beautiful, but the distorted saxophone (at least I think its a sax) keep disturbing the slumber of the track, the paralysis of sadness that the song speaks of. “Hypnotised by a lack of love” she sings at the end, and you realise you’re living every heartbeat with her.
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.
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.
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.
James Blake, Andre 3000 – Where’s The Catch
The Penguin recently reviewed James Blake’s latest album, Assume Form. It’s an album that benefits from repeated listens, and helped to clarify the quality of some of the songs on the album.
The track that most obviously shone following repeated listens is the collaboration with Andre 3000, Where’s The Catch. Although it’s not obviously a single release compared to other Assume Form tracks, it really anchors the album and gives an otherwise generally upbeat album a gritty and striking moment.
With its unsettling, murky piano and deep beat, it turns the positives of the album on their head and questions if this really is too good to be true. 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.
Add in a sweet verse from Andre 3000 and you end up with a track that sounds good and makes you think.
Simon Curtis – Love
Former Nickelodeon star Simon Curtis returned on Valentine’s Day with his latest single, Love.
This tracks starts off sounding like The Weeknd. Seriously, it’s a little unnerving. The sweeping falsetto vocals completely deceived my ears. 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.
Curtis has stressed that the song is about self-appreciation “It’s about looking in the mirror and thanking the universe, or God, and clicking into that frequency where you fully acknowledge how beautiful your own existence is”.
Let me know what you think of it: firstname.lastname@example.org
Headie One (featuring Dave) – 18Hunna (Four Tet Remix)
A few years ago the Penguin’s best friends – not other penguins, don’t be racist – went crazy for Four Tet’s remix of Opus by Eric Prydz, with its sensation three-minute build in the middle. Then last year he released a remix of Bicep’s Opal, which was – if anything – a simplifying of the original and adding a four four beat. That reworking made the Penguin’s Top 50 of 2018. The thing is, with Four Tet remixes, you don’t necessarily know where he’ll crop up; his eclectic taste make it equally as likely that he’ll be reworking a jazz record as anything you’ll hear in a club or in the charts. What you do know is that the results are usually very good.
Now he’s back on remixing duty for London rapper Headie One on 18Hunna, a track that also features Dave who cropped up on the blog yesterday. I liked the original version and nearly featured it on the blog, but it came in a period when I just had an outrageously large amount of good music to share. But I’m sort of glad I didn’t, because I think the remix – which completely shifts the vibe of the original – is even better.
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.
Britain’s rap scene feels hugely exciting right now. The demarcation lines between grime, garage, drill and rap feel more blurred than ever, and instead quality acts are coming forward confidently and with a lot to say. This remix, I feel, is simply a sign of how confident Headie One and Dave are about pushing what they do forward, and Four Tet plays his role perfectly. Check it out.