Tag: A List

The A List (17th March 2019) – the ten best new music tracks right now

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A new number one this week, and it’s a good one too. Everyone I’ve played it to has fallen in love. It’s ably supported by four other new entries that are well worth your time. We say goodbye to four tracks in the A List this week, as Simon Curtis, James Blake, Dave and the Four Tet Remix of Headie One (which keeps getting better with every listen) all reach the three week limit. 

1. Rasharn Powell – Warm In These Blue Jeans [New Entry]

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.

2. Lily Byrd – Don’t Move [New Entry]

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.

3. Headie One (featuring Dave) – 18Hunna (Four Tet Remix) [Final Week]

Gentle jangles and echoed vocals set the tone at the beginning, and it just unfurls from there. The vocals flow smoothly and there’s even room for some birdsong in there.

4. Simon Curtis – Love [Final Week]

This tracks starts off sounding like The Weeknd 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.

5. Dave – Black [Final Week]

Fresh off a number one album in the UK, Dave’s Black is a hugely impressive exploration of racial identity.

6. Julia Jacklin – Pressure to Party 

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.

7. James Supercave – Alarm Will Sound [New Entry]

Gentle sweeping electronics, a pace that feels gentle but is deceptively quickening, vocals that feel a little jarring until you realise how perfect they are. This is a really solid effort, superbly catchy and a very welcome return.

8. The Chemical Brothers – We’ve Got To Try [New Entry]

With a stunning return to form, We’ve Got to Try sounds like an old soul record that has been bastardised (in a good way), because that’s exactly what it is. Taking The Halleluiah Chorus’s I’ve Got To Find A Way and giving it some electronic rocket boosters, this is a very funky track that sounds like they’re dipping into some of their earlier works.

9. James Blake, Andre 3000 – Where’s The Catch [Final Week]

With its unsettling, murky piano and deep beat, it questions whether the love and joy that Blake is experiencing is too good to be true.

10. Makthaverskan – Demands [New Entry]

Maja Milner’s vocals make this track. There’s plenty of urgency in the musicianship, but it’s her voice that defines the song and lets it soar and sweep down. There’s something slightly chaotic and punky in the track, despite the jangly guitars. Great stuff.

The A List (10th March 2019) – the ten best new music tracks right now

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Last week’s strong top three trade positions with Simon Curtis rising to the number 1 spot. It is incredibly hard to separate it from the James Blake and Dave tracks, which are both great. Four new entries make this week’s A List, and we have two tracks on their third and final week. Enjoy! 

1. Simon Curtis – Love 

This tracks starts off sounding like The Weeknd 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.

2. James Blake, Andre 3000 – Where’s The Catch 

With its unsettling, murky piano and deep beat, it questions 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.

3. Dave – Black

Brixton-born rapper Dave is releasing his debut album on the 8th March and Black is the first single from it. It’s a hugely impressive exploration of racial identity and the lyrics are well worth considering in full. 2019 may just be his year for the taking.

4. Julia Jacklin – Pressure to Party [New Entry]

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.

5. Headie One (featuring Dave) – 18Hunna (Four Tet Remix) 

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.

6. G Flip – Killing My Time [New Entry]

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.

7. Chaka Khan – Like a Lady [Final Week]

Like a Lady’s production is on point. Plenty of retro vibes without feeling in any way dated; in fact this takes a funky disco sound and makes it feel like it’s totally 2019. But the reason the Penguin loves this track is quite simply because it is full of joy.

8. ROMANS – Be Fine [Final Week]

Beautiful vocals mask the depths of angst and sadness in the lyrics, this is an absolutely cracking record.

9. Yuksek – I Don’t Have A Drum Machine [New Entry]

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.

10. Sigrid – Sight of You [New Entry]

A joyful four minutes of pop that could easily have been pinched from a musical. Monstrous strings swoop across the landscape, as the lyrics tell the tale of daily tribulations (“The airline lost my luggage, still got all this weight”) being overcome by the mere sight of her love.

The A List (3rd March 2019) – the ten best new music tracks right now

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Lots of change on the A list this week with 6 new and varied entries. It was hard to keep it to ten tracks this week, there’s so much good stuff around at the moment and the diversity of the music makes them hard to compare. Still, a top three of new entries and a third and final week on the A list for Fakear. Check out this cracking top 10. 

1. James Blake, Andre 3000 – Where’s The Catch [New Entry]

With its unsettling, murky piano and deep beat, it questions 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.

2. Dave – Black [New Entry]

Brixton-born rapper Dave is releasing his debut album on the 8th March and Black is the first single from it. It’s a hugely impressive exploration of racial identity and the lyrics are well worth considering in full. 2019 may just be his year for the taking.

3. Simon Curtis – Love [New Entry]

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.

4. Jessie Ware – Adore You

Produced by Metronomy’s Joseph Mount, Adore You is full of cold electronic shudders that – shouldn’t but somehow do – aid the sensual and devoted lyrics, Adore You is a pretty impressive coming together of Ware’s excellent vocals and production that really develops throughout the track.

5. Chaka Khan – Like a Lady 

Like a Lady’s production is on point. Plenty of retro vibes without feeling in any way dated; in fact this takes a funky disco sound and makes it feel like it’s totally 2019. But the reason the Penguin loves this track is quite simply because it is full of joy. It captures the dizzying joy and elation when you meet someone who sets your heart on fire.

6. ROMANS – Be Fine 

Halfway through the second verse London-based artist ROMANS sings ‘How I wished we could turn back time’, which feels particularly fitting given the classic soul vibe he’s producing in this monster single. Beautiful vocals mask the depths of angst and sadness in the lyrics, this is an absolutely cracking record.

7. Tarantina – Heal [New Entry]

Delicate and fragile vocals barely hover above piano. There’s an almost claustrophobic sense of pain, as she repeats over and over ‘its hard for me to heal’. Tarantina will soon be hosting her first headline show at the Slaughtered Lamb in London, and you should check it out.

8. Headie One (featuring Dave) – 18Hunna (Four Tet Remix) [New Entry]

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.

9. Fakear – Nausicaa [Final week]

Listening to Nausicaa you’re transported away to a forrest, far from everyday life and surrounded by intrigue.

10. Blood Youth – Nerve [New Entry]

Yorkshire rockers Blood Youth released their second LP earlier this month, and Nerve is one of the tracks on it. Full of disgustingly large guitars that’ll knock your false teeth out, there’s menace in this track from the opening notes. It brings to mind the kind of rock that I loved in the early 2000s, notably Korn and Rammstein. Great stuff lads.

The A List (24th February 2019) – the ten best new music tracks right now

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Five new entries – including a number one – in this week’s A List, with Jessie Ware and Chaka Khan leading the charge. In addition, a few tracks have shot up the list including Sunflower Bean (in their final week) and Maggie Rodgers. This is also the final week for Anna Clendening. There’s a strong bunch of tracks ready to challenge the A List next weekend; remember to check out the This Week playlist on Monday and the Tracks of the Day to find out what could be number one next week. 

1. Jessie Ware – Adore You [New Entry]

Wednesday’s Track of the Day and produced by Metronomy’s Joseph Mount, Adore You is full of cold electronic shudders that – shouldn’t but somehow do – aid the sensual and devoted lyrics, Adore You is a pretty impressive coming together of Ware’s excellent vocals and production that really develops throughout the track.

2. Sunflower Bean – Fear City [Final week]

Fear City has an assured swagger. It sounds timeless; it could easily have been made in the 1990s or the 1970s, and it takes the essence of Veruca Salt and Joan Jett (and many other pioneers) and simply builds on that legacy.

3. Fakear – Nausicaa 

French producer Fakear has produced a collage of sounds that feel tribal, spiritual, enchanting and uplifting in equal measures. Listening to Nausicaa you’re transported away to a forrest, far from everyday life and surrounded by intrigue.

4. Chaka Khan – Like a Lady [New Entry]

Tuesday’s Track of the Day, Like a Lady’s production is on point. Plenty of retro vibes without feeling in any way dated; in fact this takes a funky disco sound and makes it feel like it’s totally 2019. But the reason the Penguin loves this track is quite simply because it is full of joy. It captures the dizzying joy and elation when you meet someone who sets your heart on fire.

5. Maggie Rogers – Burning 

Full of the joy of being in love, Burning combines the quirky dance of acts like Tune Yards and combines it with the power pop that Dua Lipa and others are banging out. It’s a winner.

6. The Amazons – Mother 

A cracking piece of grandiose rock and roll. With a similar stuttering start to Audioslave’s Cochise and a guitar riff that is big, dirty and rough enough to knock your teeth out.

7. ROMANS – Be Fine [New Entry]

Halfway through the second verse London-based artist ROMANS sings ‘How I wished we could turn back time’, which feels particularly fitting given the classic soul vibe he’s producing in this monster single. Beautiful vocals mask the depths of angst and sadness in the lyrics, this is an absolutely cracking record.

8. Cherry Glazerr – Ohio [New Entry]

Ohio’s scuzzy rock is reminiscent of the Pixies – possibly with a sprinkling of Nirvana – and the delicate vocals – so delicate they’re almost out of the mix –  remind me a little of Grimes. If that’s not enough, wait until your ears get walloped by the guitar…

9. Anna Clendening – Dead End [Final week]

Simple, effective, devastating. The sense of guilt, the shame the desire to be stronger – better – shine through in every line.

10. Foals – On the Luna [New Entry]

Foals have merged their earlier sound with the rockier numbers of recent albums. With strong guitars and repetitive keyboards, this is a track full of energy. Originally called End of Days, this is a tale of generational blame; trying to break out of this world – Trump references and all – a world he feels the previous generation have a lot to answer for.

The A List (17th Feb 2019)

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Five really good new entries on the A List this week, but still nothing has topped the pop behemoths that are the Plastic Mermaids and Dua Lipa tracks. They’ve reached their three week time limit now, as has Gary Clark Jr, so this is their last week here. I expect all three of those tracks will feature highly on the Penguin’s Top 50 tracks of the year though…

1. Plastic Mermaids – Floating in a Vacuum [Final week]

My favourite track of 2019 so far. From the orchestral introduction to the playful synths, this is a track that grabs your attention.

2. Dua Lipa – Swan Song [Final week]

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”.

3. The Amazons – Mother [New Entry]

Thursday’s Track of the Day is a cracking piece of grandiose rock and roll. With a similar stuttering start to Audioslave’s Cochise and a guitar riff that is big, dirty and rough enough to knock your teeth out.

4. Fakear – Nausicaa [New Entry]

Well this is just an absolute delight for the ears. French producer Fakear has produced a collage of sounds that feel tribal, spiritual, enchanting and uplifting in equal measures. Listening to Nausicaa you’re transported away to a forrest, far from everyday life and surrounded by intrigue.

5. Sunflower Bean – Fear City 

Fear City has an assured  swagger. It sounds timeless; it could easily have been made in the 1990s or the 1970s, and it takes the essence of Veruca Salt and Joan Jett (and many other pioneers) and simply builds on that legacy.

 6. Gary Clark Jr. – This Land [Final week]

Venomous.

7. Anna Clendening – Dead End 

Simple, effective, devastating. The sense of guilt, the shame the desire to be stronger – better – shine through in every line.

8. Nick Mulvey – Moments of Surrender [New Entry]

A cover of U2’s – frankly awful – Moments of Surrender from 2009’s No Line On The Horizon. Mulvey has given it a gorgeous and delicate folk twist that sounds warm and genuine. It’s amazing that Mulvey has managed to get passed Bono’s ‘one too many sherries to hit a high note’ warbling and bring together something really rather beautiful.

9. Maggie Rogers – Burning [New Entry]

Rogers released her album Heard It In A Past Life in mid January and Burning is one of the tracks on it. Full of the joy of being in love, Burning combines the quirky dance of acts like Tune Yards and combines it with the power pop that Dua Lipa and others are banging out. It’s a winner.

10. Frankie Wah – Get Me High  [New Entry]

One of the biggest dance tracks of 2019 so far, Get Me High has strong Bicep vibes – which is meant very much as a compliment – with its trance-y melody and big beats.

The A List (10th Feb) – the best 10 new songs in the world right now

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This week’s Astral Penguins A List has four new entries, but last week’s entries continue to dominate the top of the chart. The tracks by the Plastic Mermaids, Dua Lipa and Gary Clark Jr. are truly exceptional and likely to feature highly in the end of year top 50. This is the last week for the James Blake track as it reaches its three week limit. 

1. Plastic Mermaids – Floating in a Vacuum 

My favourite track of 2019 so far. From the orchestral introduction to the playful synths, this is a track that grabs your attention. But it’s the vocals and the chorus that really gets me. There’s something deeply sad and realistic living within the simple words, well beyond the alien visuals and space vibes.

2. 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”.

3. Gary Clark Jr. – This Land 

This Land is venomous. You can feel the frustration and anger pour out of every single note. The video is superb. The lyrics are hard-hitting and personal. And the energy is off the chart.

4. The Cinematic Orchestra – A Caged Bird/Imitations of Life 

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.

5. Sunflower Bean – Fear City [New Entry]

Fear City has an assured  swagger. It sounds timeless; it could easily have been made in the 1990s or the 1970s, and it takes the essence of Veruca Salt and Joan Jett (and many other pioneers) and simply builds on that legacy. The guitars subtly drive the track, the chorus is instantly familiar and ready to be sung by audiences everywhere, and the underlying message is of empowerment and breaking away from fear.

6. Jenny Lewis – Red Bull & Hennessy 

Jenny Lewis has returned with her first single in five years and it 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.

7. James Blake, ROSALIA – Barefoot In The Park [Final week]

There’s something magical about the track. It feels so enticing, but never quite real. You don’t want to move in case the spell is broken.

8. Anna Clendening – Dead End [New Entry]

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.

9. Lil Peep, iLoveMakonnen, Fall Out Boy – I’ve Been Waiting [New Entry]

It’s a summer song through and through, with breezy instrumentation and laid back vocals. I particularly like Patrick Stump’s vocals and the pre-chorus refrain from Lil Peep, which is just drawled vocals at their finest.

10. Tarantina – Hunter [New Entry]

An incredibly assured track where everything feels essential. The drama and intrigue only grows with every listen.

 

 

 

The A List – the best 10 new music tracks around right now (3rd February 2019)

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It’s all change on this week’s A List, with a whopping 6 new entries including a brand new top 3. We’ll be losing the Lucy Rose track this week as it has reached its three week limit, but next week’s new entries will struggle to compete against this list.

1. Plastic Mermaids – Floating in a Vacuum [New Entry]

Tuesday’s Track of the Day is my favourite of 2019 so far. From the orchestral introduction to the playful synths, this is a track that grabs your attention. But it’s the vocals and the chorus that really gets me. There’s something deeply sad and realistic living within the simple words, well beyond the alien visuals and space vibes. “the gravitational pull, only gets stronger, and every time that we fall, it hurts even longer, somewhere up in the sky, we float like a feather, but we just live out our lives, trying to hold it all together.” It’s a message of quiet stoicism. And it really, really gets me.

2. Gary Clark Jr. – This Land [New Entry]

Friday’s Track of the Day, This Land is venomous. You can feel the frustration and anger pour out of every single note. The video is superb. The lyrics are hard-hitting and personal. And the energy is off the chart.

3. Dua Lipa – Swan Song [New Entry]

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”.

4. James Blake, ROSALIA – Barefoot In The Park 

Down four places this weekend, but it still sounds enchanting. There’s something magical about the track. It feels so enticing, but never quite real. You don’t want to move in case the spell is broken.

5. Bonobo – Ibrik [New Entry]

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.

6. Lucy Rose – Conversation [Final week]

Conversation is full of atmosphere with some beautiful strings. Simple and yet hard-hitting, there’s an air of strength and finality surrounding the delicate vocals.

7. The Cinematic Orchestra – A Caged Bird/Imitations of Life [New Entry]

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.

8. Jenny Lewis – Red Bull & Hennessy [New Entry]

Jenny Lewis has returned with her first single in five years and it 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.

9. Florence + The Machine – Moderation [New Entry]

“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.

10. Me & My Toothbrush – Just Release Me 

A supremely catchy dance track that builds and dips, the guitars keep it bopping along and the vocals sound properly old school.