Tag: Dave

The A List (31st March 2019) – the ten best new music tracks right now

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I’ve been  under the weather with a chest infection the past few days, so one of the three new entries in the top 10 hasn’t featured on the blog this week (apologies to Molly Tuttle, you were meant to be a Track of the Day on Friday but I was in my sickbed). There’s a new number one, and four tracks reach their three week time limit. Check these bad boys out… 

1. Dave – Psycho [New Entry]

The first track on Dave’s recent album Psychodrama, it starts by introducing the listener to the album’s thematic concept, namely that of a therapy session. What follows is a three part drama,   with Dave reflecting on where he is now, he talks about drug dealing and gang violence. The second section is an eruption of confidence and swagger reminiscent of Dizzee Rascal’s pop pomp. The second section ends as Dave starts to identify himself as “careful, humble, reckless, arrogant, extravagant” followed by a reference about how he’s probably battling manic depression. Dave may be peerless when it comes to structuring songs – with outstanding production – around emotional journeys.

2. Rasharn Powell – Warm In These Blue Jeans [Final Week]

Everything in Warm In These Blue Jeans oozes class and style. “If I had wings, I would touch the sky” he sings, and we can feel ourselves soaring with him.

3. Teddy Pendergrass – Life Is A Song Worth Singing (Jamie Jones Remix) 

A truly wonderful remix that can brighten up any day. Every time I listen to it I end up smiling and wanting to dance. It starts with the teasing synths, but from there it throws in all sorts of wildcards. Teasing hi-hats, cowbells, trumpets. They all make an appearance. And the vocals help to keep the track grounded whilst all the chaos happens around them.

4. Lily Byrd – Don’t Move [Final Week]

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.

5. The Chemical Brothers – We’ve Got To Try [Final Week]

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.

6. Mathame – Skywalking [New Entry]

Skilfully walking the line between earphone pleasure and crowd pleaser, Skywalking starts by building slowly. Like a young bird unsure how to fly for the first time, it stutters and teases and grows in confidence for nearly 90 seconds. And then we are off… From a similar mould to Four Tet’s remix of Opus, Skywalking eschews the standard ‘big drop’ trope so familiar to dance music, and instead takes the listener on a journey through the clouds. Impressive work indeed.

7. The Twilight Sad – Girl Chewing Gum 

Lyrically it uses the same lines on repeat, but when you consider what those lines say, it really hits home. These are accompanied with swirling guitars and feedback, which provide the unsettling backdrop. The slightly shouty chorus is accompanied by a guitar part that viciously cuts through the record and into your soul. Even the hint of solace after the chorus is snatched away as the track becomes claustrophobic.

8. Molly Tuttle – Take The Journey [New Entry]

Some stunning guitar playing underpins Take The Journey, yet the track is easily accessible and rather uplifting. The theme of overcoming adversity and persevering are universal enough, and by the end you feel empowered.

9. James Supercave – Alarm Will Sound [Final Week]

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.

10. Peer Kusiv – Tundra 

German music producer Peer Kusiv’s latest EP came out in early February, and this is the title track. Full of shifting sounds – both the bass line and top end melody constantly evolve throughout the track – this is an expansive track that sounds great on headphones in the dark.

Track of the Day: Dave – Psycho 

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Dave – Psycho 

Earlier this year i featured the lead single (Black) from Dave’s recent album Psychodrama. It was one of the most thought provoking songs I’ve heard in a long time and I couldn’t wait to hear the full album.

Well now the album is out, and I have many positive things to say about it (which I’ll get to at some point). But there are also two other tracks from the album  that I want to feature on the blog, the first of which is Psycho.

The first track on Psychodrama, it starts by introducing the listener to the album’s thematic concept, namely that of a therapy session. Dave’s therapist notes that this is their first session, stating that they’re here to talk about Dave’s background and asks “So, where should we start?”

What follows is a three part narrative told better than most best picture winners. We start with Dave reflecting on where he is now, asking ‘How do you stop all the pain?’. He talks about drug dealing and gang violence, interspersed with moments of reflection about feelings. The first section ends with pondering “So who am I?”

The second section is an eruption of confidence and swagger. It’s reminiscent of Dizzee Rascal’s pop pomp. The production – which is outstanding throughout – becomes playful and we get fifty seconds or so of partying. Dave himself effectively identifies this section as the ‘pop’ bit, noting:

I’m a hit maker, if you haven’t noticed 

I could be the rapper with the message like you’re hoping

But what’s the point in me being the best if no one knows it?

The second section ends as Dave starts to identify himself as “careful, humble, reckless, arrogant, extravagant” followed by a reference about how he’s probably battling manic depression. The mournful  piano starts, the record slows, the beat disappears and we start to peer into Dave’s insecurities and pain. He ends by noting “I ain’t psycho but my life is.”

Few rappers have the lyrical dexterity to produce Dave’s flow. Very few rappers have the emotional honesty to put true feelings – vulnerable feelings – at the heart of their work like he does here. And Dave may be peerless when it comes to structuring songs – with outstanding production – around emotional journeys, especially as Psycho seems to mirror the wild mood swings that manic depression can cause. 

This is an outstanding song from an outstanding artist. Check it out. 

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.

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.

This Week Playlist (25th Feb 2019) – 6 cracking new songs to feast your ears on

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It’s an eclectic mix on the playlist this week. We have some dark emotive pop, hard-hitting UK rap exploring racial identity, a mellow dance remix that’ll transport you away, some very direct pop-punk, dirty rock music from Yorkshire and a Bonobo-collaborator once again going solo. Here are 6 cracking new songs for you to feast your ears on. 

  1. Tarantina – Heal 

The Penguin previously featured Tarantina’s last release earlier this month, and she’s surpassed herself with new song Heal. 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.

2. Dave – Black 

This came out on Thursday and already has over a million views on Youtube. 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. Black Coffee, Guy Mantzur, Msaki – Wish You Were Here 

The Penguin loves a good sprawling 8 minute remix. Wish You Were Here is just a joy to listen to; mellow and meandering, you can lose yourself in the little refrains and laid-back vibes.

4. SWMRS – Trashbag Baby 

Taken from their second album Berkeley’s On Fire which came out on the 15th Feb, Trashbag Baby is full of jaunty jangling guitars and pop punk vocals. The conversational style duet is pretty direct, the opening line is “First off I hate you”.

5. Szjerdene – Restart

Bonobo-collaborator Szjerdene’s Restart is her first solo release since 2016. Her voice soars over a shifting landscape below, including some rather beautiful strings at one stage.

6. Blood Youth – Nerve 

It’s time for something a little heavier. 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.