Tag: Four Tet

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.

This Week Playlist (5th March 2019) – 5 cracking new releases to tantalise your ears

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Sigrid – Sight of You
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.


Jonas Brothers – Sucker
I’ll be honest, I originally only listened to this song because of a curiosity of how bad it would be. How foolish I am. Sucker is well produced and takes the Motown sound we all know and love and gives it a sight modern tweaking, very much in the mould of Bruno Mars. They’ve even thrown in some whistling as well, and it’s damn catchy. Welcome back JoBro.


Art School Girlfriend – Bending Back
Art School Girlfriend released one of the best EPs of last year (Into The Blue Hour), full of electronic landscapes and superb vocals. She recently released a live EP with three tracks on, including this track (a single from 2017), recorded at the St Pancras Church in London (which is an amazing and intimate venue). I really like how Bending Back has space to grow and develop, how it all feels essential but never rushed. I can’t wait to hear more from her.


Four Tet – Only Human
A couple of weeks ago Four Tet teased on Twitter that the Nelly Furtado sample was cleared. Now we get the results. With a tempo and beat that would easily sit alongside his Eric Prydz remix, Only Human is a house track with all of little Four Tet tweaks and twists. The basic beat sits in the background as the vocals and other sounds get chopped and deployed at random intervals.


Catz ‘n’ Dogs, James Yuill – There
From the outside this has a melancholic vibe that brings to mind the Stone Roses. As it develops, you get some prominent acoustic guitar and more subtle keys in the background. But it’s the hypnotic percussion beats that help you drift along with the track.

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.

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.

The A List: 3rd April

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The A List is where we round up our ten favourite songs right now. It’s been on hold for a couple of weeks, but its back with a bang. Here they are for your listening pleasure:

 

1. Drones Club – Hurricane (New Entry)

Straddling the fence between dance and indie, the electronic chorus soars into the sky. Every listen feels familiar – it’s rooted in an early 90s baggy feel – and yet it feels absolutely fresh.

2. Gorillaz, Vince Staples  – Ascension (New Entry)

Ascension ends up sounding like a space age gospel infused pop track; it’s a little bonkers but that’s the fun of it.

3. Billie Eilish – Bellyache (New Entry)

The outrageously young Billie Eilish has delivered a stunning piece of electro pop that seems to be about, well… murder. From the stunning production to the simple yet oh-so-effective vocals (a la Lorde) Bellyache is just a joy from start to finish.

4. Daniel Trakell – Paradise (New Entry)

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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. Sun Lil Moon – Bergen to Trondheim (New Entry)

This is a song that skirts ever so close to being beyond the pale. Maybe I’ve listened to far too much Father John Misty, but to my ears this is one of the darkest, sarcastic and satirical songs I’ve heard in a very long time.

8. HVOB – Deus (New Entry)

Deus starts slowly, repetitive vocals coiled around intimidating synths; then the beat drops. It conjures up feelings of space travel and loneliness; danger and claustrophobia. I like this more with every listen.

9. Father John Misty – Total Entertainment Forever (New Entry)

Total Entertainment Forever is a catchy pop song with a familiarity that comes from a sound that has produced countless hits before; it’s sure to leave foots tapping. Yet then there’s the lyrics, and the biting take down of modern life.

10. Kendrick Lamar – The Heart Part 4 (New Entry)

The Heart Part 4 chops and changes in style, and certainly suffers from the braggadocious spirit that blights a lot of hip hop, yet spending a few minutes with the lyrics of this track is hugely rewarding.