Tag: Bonobo

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.

 

 

 

This Week Playlist (31st January)

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I’m a bit late with this as I meant to post it yesterday, but I wanted to share some of the records that I’m completely loving at the moment. I’ll be back tomorrow with an excellent Track of the Day.

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”.  The lyrics are motivating and heavily influenced by HIV and AIDS activists in the 1980s.

Jenny Lewis – Red Bull & Hennessy 

With a fourth album – On The Line – due out on the 22nd March, Jenny Lewis has returned with her first single in five years. Red Bull & Hennessy 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. A really good pop track.

Bonobo – Ibrik

Si Green (aka Bonobo) has crafted his reputation for excellence over several stunning releases. 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.

The Cinematic Orchestra – A Caged Bird/Imitations of Life

The Cinematic Orchestra’s first release from new album To Believe (due out on the 15th March) is absolutely monstrous. 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.

Florence + The Machine – Moderation

“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. Produced by James Ford, I think this track sounds like an evolution from ideas across all of her previous albums and I’m intrigued to know if she’ll keep following this path.

Foals – Exits 

I’ve blogged before about my excitement for the forthcoming Foals album, and the first single Exits is an intriguing prospect. Returning to the staccato sounds that shaped some of their earlier releases, it’s not the immediate banger that preceded their last two records (Inhaler and What Went Down), rather it’s the sound of a confident band willing to stride off in their own direction.

The A List: Sunday 5th Feb

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Here’s the A List for this week: my favourite 10 tracks at the moment.

Every Sunday I post a new A List,  an insight into what I’m loving right now. Tracks featured here will either have been previewed on the blog beforehand – either on the This Week Playlist or as a Track of the Day – or come from albums I’m listening to at the moment. Tracks can stay on the A List for a maximum of four weeks.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting the Bonus List – an extension of the A List with 10 songs that just missed out on  the A-List – as well as the This Week Playlist – seven new tracks that will tickle your ears. George will also be posting an album review tomorrow, and I’ve got a couple of gigs this week that I’m very excited about – more later this week.

So let’s get to it. Here is this week’s A List:

1. Jamiroquai – Automaton (New Entry)

What an extraordinary return from 90’s superstars Jamiroquai. 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. The Black Madonna – He is the Voice I Hear (Down 1; 3rd week)

He is the Voice I Hear is a rollercoaster ride with strings, jazz piano and disco-influences. Fresh from the – incredibly exciting – news that she’ll be taking over the residency at London’s XOYO, the best DJ in the world right now looks set to build on all her numerous successes of 2016 and take over the world in 2017.

3.  Mixhell, Joe Goddard – Crocodile Boots (Soulwax Remix) (Down 1; 2nd week)

This is a five minute industrial revolution. Full of dancing percussion samples and snippets, the spoken word sections only add to these feeling like it has transported 1980’s electronica and transported it to the future. It’s a fine record, and one I’ve enjoyed every listen of.

4. Parcels – Allaround (New Entry)

With 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, this is a superb piece of music. Parcels have released a steady series of hugely impressive singles, and this is my favourite so far.

5. Husky Loops – Fighting Myself (New Entry)

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 very excited about seeing these guys on Thursday.

6. LOYAL – Moving As One (Down 3; 3rd week)

LOYAL’s Moving As One has plenty of layers that span different genres and enough musical ability to bring it together seamlessly.

7. Priests – Jj (New Entry)

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.

8. Tiga – Eye Luv U (New Entry)

Canadian DJ and producer Tiga has a pretty stunning back catalogue, creating some of the most innovative of off-beat electro bangers. 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.

9. Esther Joy Lane – Ever Ever (Down 5; 3rd week)

Ever Ever starts off on familiar terrain for Grimes fans, which is certainly no bad thing. But it then takes a different path; meandering between synth pop, electronica and dance

10. Bonobo – No Reason (Down 5; 3rd week) 

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.

 

 

The A List: 29th January

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Here’s the A List for this week: my favourite 10 tracks at the moment.

Every Sunday I post a new A List,  an insight into what I’m loving right now. There’s a strong dance feel to the list at the moment, with four of the top five representing the genre’s different forms. There are three new entries this week, and one track is celebrating a third week on the A List.

Quite simply, there’s a lot of good music out there right now. It was tough to get it down to 10 tracks this week, so I’ll be posting the B-List tomorrow – the 10 songs just below the A-List – that I’ve christened the Bonus List. I’ll also be posting the This Week Playlist tomorrow, seven tracks that will tickle your ears. I warn you in advance: it’s a strong list this week.

So let’s get to it. Here is this week’s A List:

1. The Black Madonna – He is the Voice I Hear (Non-Mover; 2nd week)

A lot of people are dismissive of dance music. The world of EDM bangers and superstar DJ’s has – over the past few years – led to a perception of formulaic dance-by-numbers tracks. But then every now and then a dance song comes along that completely changes what dance music can be; He is the Voice I Hear is one of those tracks, a rollercoaster ride with strings, jazz piano and disco-influences. It’s a masterpiece, and it rightly stays at number one.

2.  Mixhell, Joe Goddard – Crocodile Boots (Soulwax Remix) (New Entry)

This is a five minute industrial revolution. Full of dancing percussion samples and snippets, the spoken word sections only add to these feeling like it has transported 1980’s electronica and transported it to the future. It’s a fine record, and one I’ve enjoyed every listen of.

3. LOYAL – Moving As One (Non-Mover; 2nd week)

LOYAL’s Moving As One has plenty of layers that span different genres and enough musical ability to bring it together seamlessly.

4. Esther Joy Lane – Ever Ever (Non-Mover; 2nd week)

Ever Ever starts off on familiar terrain for Grimes fans, which is certainly no bad thing. But it then takes a different path; meandering between synth pop, electronica and dance

5. Bonobo – No Reason (Down 3; 2nd week) 

George reviewed Bonobo’s album this week and rightly picked out No Reason as a highlight.  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.

6. Army of Bones – Don’t Be Long (Down 1; 3rd week) 

I’m still loving this unexpected indie treat. Strong pulsing guitars and a polished melody makes this a fine January listen.

7. The XX – Dangerous (New Entry)

A tremendous statement of intent to kick off new album I See You. I struggle to think of another band who have so effectively stated a change in direction and a stepping-up of their sound as The XX have with Dangerous.

8. The XX – Performance (New Entry)

A heart-dropping, mournful and gripping track 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.

9. Dan Croll – Away From Today (Non-Mover; 2nd week)

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.

10. Tall Tall Trees – Freedays (New Entry)

Our Track of the Day on Thursday, this is psychedelic-infused indie folk – with a banjo. It sounds like a product of vast and hazy country landscapes, and would comfortably sound at home alongside records by Fleet Foxes and Jonathan Wilson.

You can listen to all ten tracks here:

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

 

 

It’s Album Time: Bonobo – Migration

It’s Album Time: Bonobo – Migration

British producer Simon Green, aka Bonobo, returned this month with the release of his sixth studio album, Migration. As you’ll soon hear, it’s a welcome comeback for his first release since 2013’s The North Borders.

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Opening with the title track, there’s an otherworldly feel, almost as though it could have been recorded in a secluded forest. There are hints of Mogwai in their more mellow moments, and following the first few listens it seems the perfect introduction to what will follow. “Break Apart” provides more of the same, adding Bon Iver style vocals from R&B duo Rhye, and building to a horn-fuelled finale.

Unfortunately the album isn’t without fault. I could personally take or leave the next track, “Outlier”. At almost 8 minutes long, I’m not convinced it adds anything to the album, and it comes across as a Four Tet knock off. It just sounds a little too familiar. “Grains” does its best to regain momentum with male and female chanting, giving off a spiritual and atmospheric aura – the beat that is finally introduced at the halfway point lends a more expansive and cinematic feel.

There then follows an interlude of sorts in “Second Sun”. It’s more modern classical than electronica, featuring piano and strings woven around each other, but is a welcome break from the usual bleepy synth. However, this feeling of relief is tempered as it is followed by the other damp squib on this release, “Surface”. Nicole Miglis, of the band Hundred Waters, provides a vocal which is hardly worth shouting about, and I can’t help but think that the instrumental alone would have been a more worthwhile contribution.

All is not lost though, as the album builds further to its summit. “Bambro Koyo Ganda” takes vocals from North African collective Innov Gnawa and adds a subtle bassline and sampled drum pattern. These beats made from everyday sounds are present throughout the release, and lend a semblance of uniqueness to each track. I say semblance, as it’s a tried and tested method, as used by many of Green’s contemporaries.

The triptych that follows forms, undoubtedly, the peak of the album. “Kerala” takes a Burial-style, broken, 2-step beat and adds harp samples. The soothing sounds draw you in, only for a vocal to introduce itself like a Destiny’s Child offcut. Everything blends perfectly, to provide one of the highlights of the album. Hot on its heels comes “Ontario”. Often used in electronica, the trusty sitar makes an appearance to add a global feel. It winds around piano chords and a melody is formed that occasionally lifts to the most glorious heights. Completing the hat-trick is “No Reason”. Already singled out by Mark in his A-List column on Sunday evening, the best vocal on the album (supplied by Nick Murphy, otherwise known as Chet Faker) is enveloped by a great drum track, and gentle staccato synths, perfectly straddling the line between melancholy and euphoria.

The album draws to a close with “7th Sevens” and “Figures”, both of which are very pleasing, but feel a little like electronica by numbers. Nonetheless, they provide a fitting conclusion to the album.

Not without its drawbacks, the release as a whole is a fine piece of work. Historically I’ve always favored albums that leave the best until last – Michael Jackson’s Bad always springs to mind with its closing gambit of “Dirty Diana”, “Smooth Criminal” and “Leave Me Alone” – so with each listen the first half of the album is growing on me, while the anticipation of what is yet to come builds.

As with any electronica, don’t expect to hear it in the clubs, but I could imagine it would be well-suited to a live performance, just as it is to soundtracking your daily commute, or your Sunday morning in bed with the papers. I’d recommend you give it a go – you won’t be disappointed.

HIGHLIGHTS: “Kerala”, “Ontario”, “No Reason”.

The A List – the best 10 tracks around – 22 January

logomakr_0q2tabHere’s the A List for this week: my favourite 10 tracks at the moment.

Every Sunday I post a new A List,  an insight into what I’m loving right now. This has been a ridiculously good week for new music so there’s a fair bit of change from last week. I try not to be too hype-tastic about music – as the blog goes on there will be weeks when I’m less sure about stuff or periods where I feel there isn’t a huge amount of quality music – but I feel the stuff I’ve posted since Monday has been of a very high standard.

So let’s get to it. Here is this week’s A List:

1. The Black Madonna – He is the Voice I Hear (New Entry)

A lullaby for insomniacs. The Black Madonna has brought created a musical cosmic masterpiece that weaves in jazz, disco and strings. It’s a stunning record that has a hugely cinematic quality; bold in design and divine in execution. Well worth reading this interview with her from Mixmag.

2. Bonobo – No Reason (New Entry)

The Bonobo album is giving a lot of my friends a lot of pleasure, and No Reason is a real highlight.  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.

3. LOYAL – Moving As One (New Entry)

Last Wednesday’s Track of the Day, LOYAL’s Moving As One has plenty of layers that span different genres and enough musical ability to bring it together seamlessly.

4. Esther Joy Lane – Ever Ever (New Entry)

I was a little unfair to Esther Joy Lane on Thursday when this was Track of the Day, as I hadn’t heard her debut EP from 2015, which is well worth checking out and has a different sound to the two tracks I’d heard. Ever Ever is a cracking song that – as I said on Twitter – gets better with every listen.

5. Army of Bones – Don’t Be Long (Down 4) 

An unexpected indie treat. Strong pulsing guitars and a polished melody makes this a fine January listen. It struck me this week that this sounds an awful lot like Richard Ashcroft’s Song for the Lovers, which is no bad thing at all.

6. Harlea – You Don’t Get It (New Entry)

Our first ever Track of the Day on the site, You Don’t Get It has a sturdy blues rock base and adds in a splash of rock and roll and a small pinch of pop. It’s confident, familiar and distinctive, not an easy combination to pull off.

7. The XX – Dangerous (New Entry)

A tremendous statement of intent to kick off new album I See You. I struggle to think of another band who have so effectively stated a change in direction and a stepping-up of their sound as The XX have with Dangerous.

 

8. Ed Sheeran – Shape of You  (Down 6) 

A straight up pop banger originally written for Rihanna. This is perfectly simple, yet highly effective. He’s still blowing away streaming and download records, and with a new album due soon, he’s could make 2017 his year.

9. Dan Croll – Away From Today (New Entry)

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.

10. Code Orange – Bleeding in the Blur  (Down 7) 

A nice chunk of dirty rock and roll, with waves of feedback and a dark, menacing vibe. This is my first introduction to Code Orange, but I look forward to hearing more of their stuff.

You can listen to all ten tracks here: