Tag: Bicep

Track of the Day: Headie One – 18Hunna (Four Tet Remix)

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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.

Top 50 Songs of 2018 – 30 to 21

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  1. Bicep – Opal (Four Tet Remix)

Four Tet remixes aren’t generally known for simplifying records, but with Opal he’s given the track a more accessible beat and brought the melody front and centre. It sounds great and has had me bopping my head along for nine months now.

 

  1. Billie Marten – Mice

Yorkshire singer Billie Marten provided the year’s most beautifully aimless and introspective track. Mice fills the senses with countryside; it transports you to rural settings far away from towns and cities. It’s such an internal track, you can feel the frustration and lethargy in both the music and the vocals.

 

  1. Art School Girlfriend – Distance (Blank)

Art School Girlfriend’s Into The Blue Hour was one of my favourite EPs of the year and Distance (Blank) was the second track on the EP. Full of electronic rumblings, introspection and claustrophobia, Distance (Blank) is a hugely impressive outing from the singer from North Wales.

 

  1. Robyn – Missing U

What a comeback single. Missing U sounded instantly fresh and yet familiar, reminding everyone how good she really is. Somehow combining optimism with crushing sadness, Missing U merely whet the appetite for music fans around the world in anticipation for – in my opinion – was the album of the year.

 

  1. SG Lewis, AlunaGeorge – Hurting

A straight up banger dripping in lust from the Lewis and AlunaGeorge combination. “Hurting for your body,Hurting for your body and your soul, You really got me searching, Begging for a way to make me whole” Aluna Francis pines over the beautifully simple electronics.

 

  1. GoGo Penguin – Raven

The inclusion of GoGo Penguins necessitates me eating a bit of humble pie. I completely hated their 2014 v2.0 album, and was very surprised when George – who previously wrote for Astral Penguins – recommended their latest work to me. “The piano sounds like Sister Bliss” he said, and indeed it does. Raven borders on being a dance track, and has a beautiful mixture of space and urgency.

 

  1. Billie Eilish, Khalid – lovely

The somewhat ironically titled lovely combines two of the most brilliant and exciting voices in music right now. Full of sadness, despair and tenderness, the sparse production simply allows the two vocalists to sing their sad tale.

 

  1. Black Futures – Trance

Trance is an orgy of rage. Sounding something like the end of the world, the track feels relentless. Every time you get a brief respite from the onslaught of the guitars and drums, you know it isn’t going to last, so just enjoy the chaos. The last two minutes or so of this track are probably the best I’ve heard all year.

 

  1. ZAYN – Sour Diesel

Sour Diesel sounds like INXS. Sensual vocals, sparse drums and catchy hooks, it has all the hallmarks that made Michael Hutchence and co such massive superstars in the 1980s. Nothing any of the former One Direction boys have done has come close to the pop perfection that is Sour Diesel.

 

  1. Travis Scott – SICKO MODE

I was very underwhelmed by Astroworld, Scott’s hugely successful 2018 album, but there’s absolutely nothing on SICKO MODE that I don’t love. A three-part masterpiece, it’s a triumph of hip hop production and shows that the genre keeps finding ways to push itself to the forefront of music.

Monday’s Bonus List: 10 songs we’re still loving

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As an extension of the weekly A List – posted every Sunday – here is the Astral Penguins Bonus List, 10 songs that we’re still loving but just missed out on the Sunday list.

As with the A List, the Bonus List acts as a chart, with songs appearing in order of preference. Here it is for your listening pleasure, there’s some corkers in here:

11. HOMESHAKE – Every Single Thing (Up 1; 3rd Week)

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.

12. Cold War Kids – Love Is Mystical (Up 1; 3rd Week)

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.

13. Stormzy – Mr Skeng (New Entry)

Stormzy is – as George’s Word on the Street column laid out on Saturday – the centre of attention right now. With Mr Skeng it’s all about Stormzy; his voice, his lyrics and his moment. He’s not one to mess with.

14. The Attic Sleepers – Leopard (New Entry)

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.

15. Blood Youth – Reasons to Stay (Down 5, 2nd week) 

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.

16. Sub Focus – Lingua (New Entry) (down 9; 2nd week) 

Slower and more minimalist than a lot of his other works, Lingua sees Sub Focus straying closer to dancehall and hip hop than his usual drum and bass, but it’s a banger all the same.

17. Otzeki – All This Time (Down 7; 4th Week) 

From it’s opening hum and creeping bass, it has an eerie and agitating tone, which only increases as the organ noise and vocals kick in.

18. Bicep – The Game (Catz N’ Dogz Interpretation) (New Entry)

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.

19. Electric Guest – Back For Me (Down 4; 3rd week)

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.

20. Pumarosa – Dragonfly (Down 6; 2nd week) 

Creating etherial music with elements of pop, indie and dance, there’s a mystique to their work that few acts achieve.

 

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.

 

 

Ramblings: On Field Day, Films, Foals and Black Foxxes

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No sooner am I done getting excited about getting tickets to see Run The Jewels than Field Day release the awesome news that RTJ will be closing the main stage on the 3rd June.

Field Day is an interesting festival; every year the lineup feels a little obscure and unfamiliar but they have a tremendous habit of sensing where music is going, rather than celebrating where it is right now. Last year’s festival was unbelievably wet and muddy, but sets by the Black Madonna, Bicep, Yeasayer, Four Tet, John Grant and Jackmaster were too good for any weather problems to leave me feeling anything other than elated.

This year they’ve consolidated the festival into one day, and the line up largely has that familiar ‘music to be discovered’ feel. I’m a big fan of Haelos and Run The Jewels, and I’m looking forward to Clams Casino, Moderat and Algerian rockers Imarhan. But the great thing about Field Day is the trust you can have in the bookers; whatever stage you end up watching you’ll be seeing something interesting and fresh.

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January seems to be the season for festival lineup announcements. I saw Leeds & Reading Festival(s) post on Twitter today that they’re due to announce some acts this week, SW4 have announced Deadmau5 – in addition to the recent revelation that Pendulum will be reforming – as headliners and Citadel today announced Foals in a UK festival exclusive. I’m not sure I’ll be able to avoid the lure of Foals…

Onto domestic matters and I’m delighted that Antonia and George have made their debuts on the site. Antonia’s excellent review of Manchester by the Sea can be found here and George has the world of LPs covered; It’s Album Time will be a regular feature and kicks off with Bonobo’s Migration here.

Astral Penguins will – initially – primarily be a music blog, but I’d love it to become a place where those who love culture and want to read thoughtful opinions and passion about different fields can visit. George and Antonia bring with them lifetimes of passion and knowledge and it is my pleasure to give them an outlet.

Finally I got a Songkick notification today telling me that Black Foxxes are supporting You Me At Six at their forthcoming Alexandra Palace gig. I’m a big fan of BF and had the pleasure of seeing them last year. Their debut album was one of the most assured and interesting first releases of 2016 and I’m delighted that they’re getting the opportunity to play to a wider audience. Good luck to them.

I’ll be back this evening with a Track of the Day and tomorrow we’re debuting a new feature on cover songs. Until later…

Mark

 

 

Friday Feeling Playlist: A tribute to the Buggedout Weekender

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It’s Friday. Woo-hoo!

One of the regular features I’d like to add is a feel-good playlist to power us through Friday afternoons/help shake off the hangover/get ready for a big night out [choose the most appropriate for you]. There will be a theme to each week’s playlist – which I’ll briefly explain – and there has to be an upbeat feel to the song for it to be included.

This week’s theme is the Buggedout Weekender. By way of background, almost a year ago to the day my – then fiance, now – husband and I went to Butlins in Bognor Regis with 20-odd of our friends for a weekend of dancing, laughter and joy.

That weekend was incredibly special; it was one of the best of my life. To be with such good friends, far away from anywhere we know yet surrounded by people who were having a good time was just amazing. We partied hard. Some of my friends were still messaging a couple of weeks later saying they hadn’t recovered. But there were so many moments – highlights – that I think we’d all admit it was worth it.

Buggedout’s slogan is that its ‘just a big disco’. And it was. But it was also something a little life altering. Last week I watched a documentary on the rave culture in the early 90’s and those who attended said it felt non-judgmental, safe and free. It struck me that it was similar language to the hippy movement. And what’s most surprising to me is that, when I think back to the Buggedout Weekender, I felt like it had those elements as well, and they’re not always easy to come by.

So here is the first Friday Feeling playlist.

  • Bicep – because they were brilliant that weekend, closing the event on the Sunday.
  • Daniel Avery – because he was my gateway into the world of Buggedout, and I shall forever be grateful.
  • Armand Van Helden – because he headlined the Saturday night and played pretty much every 90’s dance classic I can think of.
  • George Fitzgerald – because his set on the Friday night was the main reason I couldn’t get out of bed on the Saturday. I went way too hard and heavy.
  • Tame Impala (Soulwax Remix) – Heidi played this at the end of her set and it was magnificent.