Tag: New Music

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. 

Track of the Day: Mathame – Skywalking

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Mathame – Skywalking

Italian brothers Amedeo and Matteo Giovanelli are better known as Mathame, and their latest single is ready to tear dance floors up.

Skilfully walking the line between earphone pleasure and crowd pleaser, Skywalking starts by building slowly. You get a good beat instantly, followed by some hi hats, but there’s a murky texture, with teasing sounds rumbling in and out for the first minute. It then starts to take off, 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.

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

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Sofi Tukker – Fantasy 

Back in 2016 (man, how time flies) I fell in love with Sofi Tukker’s Drinkee. Since then they’ve released a fair few tracks, but none have really worked for me. But Fantasy is all sorts of fun; a dash of Euro pop, a smidgen of late nineties dance, a dollop of Lana Del Ray and hey presto: it’s a winner.

SYML – Wildfire

Seattle’s SYML releases his debut album in early May, and in anticipation has released the Wildfire EP. I’ve heard the track Wildfire before (I think it came out last year but in a different form) but it’s a very impressive track. Its classy pop music; beautiful, tender vocals – high pitched and very near falsetto – with oozing electronic production.

LEFTI – All Night 

Well this is a party. Somehow finding the sweet spot between the classic sounds of disco and funk, Brooklyn’s LEFTI gives us some proper slap bass, cowbells and a guitar part Nile Rodgers would be proud of. It’s like 1978 just wandered into your headphones and now you can’t stop smiling.

Tame Impala – Patience

The keenly anticipated return of Tame Impala is finally here and they don’t sound like anybody else. There’s a timeless quality to their music; this track could concievably have come from any of the past five decades. Patience sounds to me like you’re sat on a beach and there’s a shack not far away playing dance music; you get all of the vibes but there’s no heavy beat and the sun is just washing over you.

Strand of Oaks – Visions

Philadelphia-based Tim Showalter (aka Strand of Oaks) released his latest album (Eraserland) on Friday. Visions is one of the tracks on Eraserland and reminds me a lot of Foals in their slower more brooding work. It’s quite haunting with it’s eery backing vocals and menacing guitars; you find yourself clinging to the constant drumbeat for relief.

Vesper Wood – Descend 

From her recently released Instar album, Descend is an ethereal track that feels delicate and sad, yet entirely captivating. It’s the kind of track that, when you’re really listening, you don’t want to move or you’ll break the spell. There’s some lovely strings on there, but the production is suitably low-key to allow that rather splendid voice to take centre stage.

 

The A List (24th March 2019) – the ten best new music tracks right now

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No change at number 1 this week but five new entries, which isn’t that surprising given four tracks reached their time limit last week. Rasharn Powell continues to sound immaculate, but the Jamie Jones/Teddy Pendergrass track is an early contender for dance track of the year.  We lose only one track this week due to the three week time limit, the excellent Pressure to Party by Julia Jacklin. 

1. Rasharn Powell – Warm In These Blue Jeans 

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. Teddy Pendergrass – Life Is A Song Worth Singing (Jamie Jones Remix) [New Entry]

Tuesday’s Track of the Day, this is 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.

3. The Twilight Sad – Girl Chewing Gum [New Entry]

Wednesday’s Track of the Day and from the album I reviewed this week, this track has really stayed with me. 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.

4. Lily Byrd – Don’t Move 

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.

5. Julia Jacklin – Pressure to Party [Final Week]

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.

6. James Supercave – Alarm Will Sound 

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.

7. The Chemical Brothers – We’ve Got To Try

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.

8. Peer Kusiv – Tundra [New Entry]

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.

9. Tones and I – Johnny Run Away [New Entry]

Tones and I is a singer hailing from Byron Bay Australia and this is her debut release. The song was inspired by her best friend coming out to his dad when he was younger, and in Johnny Run Away she speaks of young love and the negative reaction that receives from those that are meant to love unconditionally. I don’t know whether the title is a reference to the classic Bronski Beat track Smalltown Boy, but it certainly deals with the same theme of a young man feeling isolated by his sexuality.

10. Grand Pax – Lapse [New Entry]

From the opening note Lapse feels claustrophobic. With a beat in the background that sounds heavily inspired by Darth Vader, the close and dense electronics are matched by the vocals until the chorus, when Grand Pax’s voice is allowed to shine. This doesn’t feel a million miles away from the kind of music that Massive Attack produce.

Track of the Day: The Twilight Sad – Girl Chewing Gum

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The Twilight Sad – Girl Chewing Gum

In recent weeks I’ve been listening to The Twilight Sad’s IT WON/T BE LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME a lot to try and bring together a review. It’s not an easy record from which to distill my thoughts into a blog post; musically it’s incredibly accomplished but the lyrics detail such pain and raw emotional honesty. Given the album came out in January and I’ve had it on rotation pretty much ever since, I don’t think it’s a massive spoiler to say its my favourite album of the year so far.

The lead single from the album (I’m Not Here [Missing Face]) was my favourite track of 2018 and it’s an album with several highlights, but one track that has really stayed with me is Girl Chewing Gum. Lyrically it uses the same lines on repeat, but when you consider what those lines say, it really hits home:

I’m leaving now
Won’t see you again
I’m leaving now
Won’t see you again

Put me in the ground
I don’t wanna be here anymore

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.

In recent weeks the band’s YouTube channel have been uploading song-by-song explanations with the lead singer James Graham. Although they haven’t reached Girl Chewing Gum yet, I’d highly recommend the series as a way of gaining an insight into the background of the album. The way he speaks of the pain he’s channeling in the songs is really remarkable and very moving. And he also goes some way to explaining the somewhat odd track names that they use.

Track of the Day: Teddy Pendergrass – Life Is A Song Worth Singing (Jamie Jones Remix)

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

American soul singer Teddy Pengergrass is more synonymous with the 1970s than 2019, but earlier this month Mixmag released an EP with five remixes of his songs to coincide with the release of a film about his life. The EP features some big name producers doing the reworking, including Damian Lazarus and DJ Pierre, but it’s the Jamie Jones remix that has really grabbed my attention.

A couple of years ago my favourite track of the year was He Is The Voice I Hear by the Black Madonna, and this track has a lot in common with it. Both owe a tremendous debt to Giorgio Moroder and the outstanding synthesiser-led dance music he inspired, both sprawl and meander their way over their 8 minute+ running time, and both blend old and new to create something that is timeless.

This is 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.

Give this a spin. It’s well worth your time.