Tag: February 2019

Track of the Day: Rasharn Powell – Warm In These Blue Jeans

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Rasharn Powell – Warm In These Blue Jeans

This is the first single I’ve heard by Essex singer Rasharn Powell and it’s 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.

This is incredibly accomplished, and it’s worth noting that this is very reminiscent of early Frank Ocean (before he became too ‘good’ to bother with things like song structure and melody). It’s that good.

Enjoy!

 

Track of the Day: Yuksek – I Don’t Have A Drum Machine

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Yuksek – I Don’t Have A Drum Machine

This track has been putting me in a good mood all week…

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.

Enjoy!

Track of the Day: Julia Jacklin – Pressure To Party

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Julia Jacklin – Pressure to Party

Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin recently released her second album Crushing and Pressure To Party comes from that record. It’s a tale of coming out of a failed relationship, and how you feel forced to act in certain ways.

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. Take the first four lines:

Pressure to party, gonna stay in
Nothing good can come from me drinking
I would run, shoes off, straight back to you
I know where you live, I used to live there too

The Penguin was so impressed he sent it to a friend who lives close to the Antarctic (South London) and he – unusually – responded with an excellent review, which is probably better than anything I can write. He said:

This is great btw, lyrically so engaging and the juxtaposition between the upbeat music and the very much less so lyrics just makes it all the more intriguing. Ironically I’d imagine plenty of people will miss the lyrical content and take it as an upbeat ode to partying.

A really great track and I can’t wait to tuck into the album.

Enjoy!

Track of the Day: Simon Curtis – Love

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Simon Curtis – Love 

Former Nickelodeon star Simon Curtis returned on Valentine’s Day with his latest single, Love.

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.

Curtis has stressed that the song is about self-appreciation “It’s about looking in the mirror and thanking the universe, or God, and clicking into that frequency where you fully acknowledge how beautiful your own existence is”.

Let me know what you think of it: astralpenguinsmusic@gmail.com

 

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.

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.