Tag: Chart

The A List – the best 10 new music tracks around right now (January 20th 2019)

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Three new entries this week and a new number 1 for the A List. 2019 has already produced some incredible new music, but you should really be prioritising the following tracks…

1. Lana Del Rey – hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it 

Pitchfork had an interesting article looking at some of Lana’s recent work this week that I recommended checking out.  hope is a dangerous thing (etc) grows on me with every listen. The lyrics are hard to digest and yet essential listening. A profoundly moving five minutes; from self-doubt to abuse to isolation, any song that has Sylvia Plath at its core will undoubtedly veer from weirdness to unimaginable suffering.

2. Billie Eilish – WHEN I WAS OLDER 

Down one place this week, WHEN I WAS OLDER is full of eery distorted vocals and minimalistic electronic production that combine to create a haunting tone that is really hard to shake off.

3. Lucy Rose – Conversation [New Entry]

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.

4. Goldie, James Davidson, Subjective – Rift Valley 

A track that is best played in the dark. It’s like you’re dreaming after smoking pot. Everything feels captivating yet entirely elusive. The album also became available on streaming platforms this week.

5. Sam Smith, Normani – Dancing With A Stranger 

A devastatingly simple pop track full of regrets. Sam Smith does heartbreaks better than almost anyone, and the simple production on Dancing with a Stranger leaves the listener to drown in the guilt and misplaced anger of a rebound one night stand.

6. Hot Flash Heat Wave – Sky So Blue [New Entry]

Friday’s Track of the Day, Sky So Blue is a lazy summer afternoon in a park, drifting off into reverie through the sheer fatigue of doing nothing at all. It’s a cocktail of synths, psychedelia and sunshine. Lots of sunshine.

7. D’Angelo – Unshaken 

Written for the Red Dead Redemption 2 soundtrack, Unshaken certainly conjures up the feelings of a western with its sparse production and solitary feel, and D’Angelo’s vocals sound superb in this lower range.

8. Chaka Khan – Hello Happiness 

Hello Happiness is a burst of energy, with a bass line straight from the 70s, electro vibes that belong in the 80s and a vocal performance that is positively timeless.

10. Catfish and the Bottlemen – Longshot 

Produced by Jacknife Lee (R.E.M., the Killers, U2), Longshot has a distinctly British optimism running through it, almost like they can’t believe something has succeeded. “Fiver says you’re wrong…”

10. Emily Brimlow – Hope [New Entry]

I don’t know if Emily Brimlow falls firmly into the ‘Christian music’ category, but it’s nice to hear a well-produced pop track speaking optimistically about God. The minimal r’n’b drum track leaves plenty of space for Brimlow’s voice and the really beautiful choral backing vocals to shine. This song is full of optimism and catchy as hell.

The A List: 12th March

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Every Sunday we post our top 10 favourite tracks around right now on what we call the A List. It’s our chart; and it reflects the full range of musical genres and styles around.

This week’s list is heavy on the dance and r’n’b; we’re still waiting for the first few big guitar records of the year to come and hit us between the ears.

So here it is for your listening pleasure: this week’s A List:

1. Todd Terje – Jungelknugen (Four Tet Remix) (New Entry)
As with Four Tet’s 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.

2. Jacob Banks – Unholy War (New Entry)

Birmingham-born R’n’B singer Jacob Banks provides his own stunning contribution t0 the soul/gospel/r’n’b revival that is underway. With a rich, deep and powerful vocal performance, excellent production and a more modern, electronic-laced chorus, Unholy War ticks all sorts of pleasurable boxes.

3. Daniel Trakell – Paradise (New Entry)

Australian singer-songwriter Daniel Trakell provides a slightly uncomfortable listen; for all it’s Simon & Garfunkel splendour, there is a layer of mystery that hangs over the melody. The song is both speaking of a paradise that is tangible and truly beautiful in the present, but also of a place that has yet to come in the afterlife.

4. Nightdubbing – Frontline

With perhaps the funkiest bass part of 2017 driving this track along, Frontline meanders between elements of house and disco to create what would be the perfect soundtrack to a day out in the sun. It’ll certainly work on the dance floor, but there’s enough to make this an excellent listen on headphones or – ideally -at a house party or barbecue.

5. Elliot Moss – Closedloop (New Entry)

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.

6. R I T U A L – Drown The Lovers

A sparse r’n’b inspired track with elements of hip hop, this time from London-based group RITUAL . On Drown The Lovers, the minimalist backing track allows the delicate and emotional vocals to flourish. Add in an impressive chorus that’s very much in keeping with the understated but stirring vibe, and you’ve got a pretty impressive track.

7. Denis Sulta – Dubelle Oh XX (JVIP) 

Young Glaswegian DJ and producer Denis Sulta’s track  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.

8. NoMBe – Young Hearts

Young Hearts is an unusual track; it could easily be classified as electro pop or r ‘n’ b. But its most baffling element is that – despite its title, luscious guitars, sensual synths and falsetto vocals – it’s a weirdly asexual track. In different hands this could have been a sexy affair, but the standoff-ish element only adds to its appeal.

9. Allan Rayman – Shelby Moves

Pointed lyrics, lurking, ominous beats and some awesome shifts in direction, this song beautifully captures Rayman’s unique selling points.

10. Brutus – Drive 3/4s (Second week; down 5)

Drive 3/4s is a stunningly good rock track; its impressive in its ambition alone, but the delivery of intricate melodies, shifts in style and epic chorus makes this track an absolute monster.

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.

 

The A List: Our 10 biggest songs right now

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If you follow the Astral Penguins Blog closely, you’ll know three key things:

  1. Every Sunday we post our top 10 favourite tracks around right now on what we call the A List;
  2. That – as songs on the A List are limited to four weeks – there was bound to be a few changes this week as a number of last week’s A List were at that limit; and
  3. The songs in contention for the A List – those that appeared on the This Week Playlist and our Tracks of the Day were really strong this week. I mean, really strong.

With that in mind, and after a decent amount of head scratching, here is this week’s A List, complete with six – six! – new entries.

1. Jacob Banks – Unholy War (New Entry)

Our Track of the Day  on Wednesday, Birmingham-born R’n’B singer Jacob Banks provides his own stunning contribution t0 the soul/gospel/r’n’b revival that is underway. With a rich, deep and powerful vocal performance, excellent production and a more modern, electronic-laced chorus, Unholy War ticks all sorts of pleasurable boxes.

 2. Todd Terje – Jungelknugen (Four Tet Remix) (New Entry)
Four Tet’s 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.

3.  Vince Staples – Bagbak (fourth week; up 1)

Fourth and final week for Mr Staples on the A List, and we think this is one of the best records of the year so far. Bagbak is Vince Staples’s contribution on racial identity and politics. He has a lot to say and – with top level production and jaw-dropping lyrics – he’s earning himself a bigger platform from which to say them.

4. Allan Rayman – 13 (fourth week; up 1)

Another track that is in its fourth week on the A List, 13 is an r’n’b inflected track that – like a lot of Rayman’s work – doesn’t easily fall into one musical genre. The standout element of the track is Rayman’s smoky soul voice is rich, pure, fragile and honest – often all in the same note. In 13 his rasping delivery of the opening verse is formidable but it’s the quieter moments that leave you breathless; in 13 he drops his voice and almost whispers some of his hoarse, sorrowful judgements.

5. Daniel Trakell – Paradise (New Entry)

Yesterday’s Track of the Day from Australian singer-songwriter Daniel Trakell is a slightly uncomfortable listen; for all it’s Simon & Garfunkel splendour, there is a layer of mystery that hangs over the melody. It is perhaps best described using the impressive dual quality of the vocals, they are both beautiful and eerie at the same time. The song is both speaking of a paradise that is tangible and truly beautiful in the present, but also of a place that has yet to come in the afterlife.

 

6. Elliot Moss – Closedloop (New Entry)

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.

7. Brutus – Drive 3/4s (Second week; down 5)

Drive 3/4s is a stunningly good rock track; its impressive in its ambition alone, but the delivery of intricate melodies, shifts in style and epic chorus makes this track an absolute monster.

8. Denis Sulta – Dubelle Oh XX (JVIP) (New Entry)

Young Glaswegian DJ and producer Denis Sulta’s track  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.

9. Code Walk, Smerz – Guess What (Second week; down 3)

This track is a collaboration between two Scandinavian duos, Norwegian pair Code Walk  and Copenhagen couple Smerz. Guess What revolves around shimmering techno beats and top line percussion. Everything about this track is ice cold. Simple and yet highly effective.

10. Destructo, E-40, Too $hort – All Nite (New Entry)

Destructo is LA based former A&R/record executive Gary Richards, who helped to bring Basement Jaxx to a mainstream audience. All Nite is an instantly-grabbing party track full of fun and frolics; it has, how to put it, more than a whiff of stoner fun about it. It’s a track that Bulldozes the line between hip hop and dance; my only reservation – and the reason why this isn’t higher on the list – is some of the lyrics are not exactly forward thinking in their portrayal of women.

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

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Every Sunday we post the Astral Penguins A List: our 10 favourite songs right now. It works like a chart and it’s always bloody hard to limit it t0 10 songs every week.

Which is where the bonus list comes in. These are the songs that we’re still loving, but have either dropped out of or fell slightly short of the A List.

Here are numbers 11 to 20 for your listening pleasure.

11. Otzeki – All This Time (Down 2; 3rd 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.

12. HOMESHAKE – Every Single Thing (Down 2; 2nd 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.

13. Cold War Kids – Love Is Mystical (Down 1; 2nd 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.

14. Pumarosa – Dragonfly (new entry) 

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

15. Electric Guest – Back For Me (non-mover; 2nd 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.

16. Vnusamr – Runnin (new entry) 

A debut single rooted in modern r’n’b, but brave enough to incorporate touches of rock and pop. The sensual vocals are great, it’s superbly produced with teasing melodies throughout.

17. Incubus – Nimble Bastard (new entry) 

Nimble Bastard sees Incubus on strong ground; driving riffs and very little pissing around.

18. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Sleep Drifter (up 2; 3rd week)

Sleep Drifter is the musical equivalent of being awake for 48 hours; everything is there but you’re not sure you can piece it all together.

19. Rudie Edwards – Lover Like You (down 3; 2nd week)

 

Lover Like You is an infectiously catchy disco pop track that immediately grabs you with its gripping bass and 80’s style production.

20. High Contrast – Shotgun Mouthwash (down 2; 2nd week)

Shotgun Mouthwash is a corking piece of electro punk. It’s full on from the get-go and is stacked full of attitude.