Tag: The Black Madonna

The A List: the 10 hottest tracks right now – 12th February

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Here’s the A List for this week: my favourite 10 tracks at the moment.

Here is this week’s A List: the ten tracks I’m loving the most right now.

Every Sunday I update and post a new A List, and the tracks featured here will either have been previewed on the blog beforehand – either on the This Week Playlist or as a Track of the Day – or come from albums I’m listening to at the moment. Tracks can stay on the A List for a maximum of four weeks (so that I don’t overplay them).

There’s lots of good music around at the moment and this week there are four new entries in the top ten.

Later in the week I’ll be posting the Bonus List – an extension of the A List with the 10 songs that just missed out on the A-List.

So let’s get to it. Here is this week’s A List:

1. Jamiroquai – Automaton (Non-mover; 2nd week)

An electro pop masterclass with euphoria, menace, and a playful 90’s pop-meets-hip hop breakdown. Automaton sounds as fresh and innovative as anything released so far in 2017.

2. The Black Madonna – He is the Voice I Hear (Non-mover; 4th week)

The fourth and final week on the A List for this monster of a track. He is the Voice I Hear is a rollercoaster ride with strings, jazz piano and disco-influences.

3.  Vince Staples – Bagbak (New Entry)

Hip hop is rediscovering it’s political voice and Bagbak is Vince Staples’s contribution on racial identity and politics. Staples is one of the most exciting men in music right now and the last 60 seconds of this track could have come straight from Yeezus, such is the anarchic quality.

4. Allan Rayman – 13 (New Entry)

 

13 is an r’n’b inflected track that could easily have felt at home in Prince’s mid-80’s era work. 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 me breathless; in 13 he drops his voice and almost whispers some of his hoarse, sorrowful judgements.

5. Parcels – Allaround (Down 1; 2nd week)

With beautiful vocals that sound like they’ve been borrowed from Kings of Convenience, layering them onto a track that plays with disco and funk – a la Jungle – and delivering some stunning musicianship along the way, this is a superb piece of music. Parcels have released a steady series of hugely impressive singles, and this is my favourite so far.

6. Future Islands – Ran (New Entry)

Driving bass, keyboard euphoria and heartbreaking vocals, Future Islands have returned with their winning formula and a track that will undoubtedly make many festival fans happy again this summer.

7. Otzeki – All This Time (New Entry)

A track that sounds like it was designed to be the theme tune for one of those big budget HBO thriller/horror programmes. 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.

8. Husky Loops – Fighting Myself (Down 3; 2nd week)

This track is a spring of menace and insecurity wound way too tight; it’s initially menacing – with traces of art rock – before building to a frantic and thrilling finish. I had the pleasure of seeing Husky Loops on Thursday and I think they’re really special and very exciting.

 

9. Tiga – Eye Luv U (Down 1; 2nd week)

Canadian DJ and producer Tiga has a pretty stunning back catalogue, creating some of the most innovative of off-beat electro bangers. Eye Luv U finds all of his favourite hallmarks, an infectious beat, weird and slightly off-kilter vocal snippets and a playful approach to melody.

10. Priests – Jj (Down 3; 2nd week)

A post-punk quartet, Priests have delivered their second single from new album Nothing Feels Natural. It’s like being trapped in the getaway car from a bank robbery in the wild west: country-twinged, all action, energy and attitude.

 

 

The A List: Sunday 5th Feb

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Here’s the A List for this week: my favourite 10 tracks at the moment.

Every Sunday I post a new A List,  an insight into what I’m loving right now. Tracks featured here will either have been previewed on the blog beforehand – either on the This Week Playlist or as a Track of the Day – or come from albums I’m listening to at the moment. Tracks can stay on the A List for a maximum of four weeks.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting the Bonus List – an extension of the A List with 10 songs that just missed out on  the A-List – as well as the This Week Playlist – seven new tracks that will tickle your ears. George will also be posting an album review tomorrow, and I’ve got a couple of gigs this week that I’m very excited about – more later this week.

So let’s get to it. Here is this week’s A List:

1. Jamiroquai – Automaton (New Entry)

What an extraordinary return from 90’s superstars Jamiroquai. An electro pop masterclass with euphoria, menace, and a playful 90’s pop-meets-hip hop breakdown. I’m not sure anyone realised the world needed a Jamiroquai return, but Automaton sounds as fresh and innovative as anything released so far in 2017.

2. The Black Madonna – He is the Voice I Hear (Down 1; 3rd week)

He is the Voice I Hear is a rollercoaster ride with strings, jazz piano and disco-influences. Fresh from the – incredibly exciting – news that she’ll be taking over the residency at London’s XOYO, the best DJ in the world right now looks set to build on all her numerous successes of 2016 and take over the world in 2017.

3.  Mixhell, Joe Goddard – Crocodile Boots (Soulwax Remix) (Down 1; 2nd week)

This is a five minute industrial revolution. Full of dancing percussion samples and snippets, the spoken word sections only add to these feeling like it has transported 1980’s electronica and transported it to the future. It’s a fine record, and one I’ve enjoyed every listen of.

4. Parcels – Allaround (New Entry)

With beautiful vocals that sound like they’ve been borrowed from Kings of Convenience, layering them onto a track that plays with disco and funk – a la Jungle – and delivering some stunning musicianship along the way, this is a superb piece of music. Parcels have released a steady series of hugely impressive singles, and this is my favourite so far.

5. Husky Loops – Fighting Myself (New Entry)

This track is a spring of menace and insecurity wound way too tight; it’s initially menacing – with traces of art rock – before building to a frantic and thrilling finish. I’m very excited about seeing these guys on Thursday.

6. LOYAL – Moving As One (Down 3; 3rd week)

LOYAL’s Moving As One has plenty of layers that span different genres and enough musical ability to bring it together seamlessly.

7. Priests – Jj (New Entry)

A post-punk quartet, Priests have delivered their second single from new album Nothing Feels Natural. It’s like being trapped in the getaway car from a bank robbery in the wild west: country-twinged, all action, energy and attitude.

8. Tiga – Eye Luv U (New Entry)

Canadian DJ and producer Tiga has a pretty stunning back catalogue, creating some of the most innovative of off-beat electro bangers. Eye Luv U finds all of his favourite hallmarks, an infectious beat, weird and slightly off-kilter vocal snippets and a playful approach to melody.

9. Esther Joy Lane – Ever Ever (Down 5; 3rd week)

Ever Ever starts off on familiar terrain for Grimes fans, which is certainly no bad thing. But it then takes a different path; meandering between synth pop, electronica and dance

10. Bonobo – No Reason (Down 5; 3rd week) 

Mournful vocals are matched by elegant electronic touches; it’s a claustrophobic listen that leaves you wanting to curl up in a blanket and hide away from the world.

 

 

Ramblings: on illness, catching up plan and the Black Madonna residency

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A week ago I put together the A List and said I’d be back the following day with the This Week column and the Bonus List. I lied.

I was feeling pretty terrible at the time – so I should have known better – and I’ve been suffering with a chest infection for the week. I’m feeling better now, but apologies that blogging had to stop for a period.

We’ll be back on track this week. George has three album reviews to post, I have some cracking songs to share and we’ll be back on form.

The A List will go up as normal this evening. I’ll also post the songs that would have been on the This Week Playlist later today, as well as a new one – as normal – tomorrow. That seems like the easiest way to get back up to speed.

Finally I mentioned last Sunday that the Black Madonna was teasing a new UK announcement; she’s announced a residency at XOYO in East London. Given I live about ten minutes away from that club, I’m pretty excited. I’ve already bought three sets of tickets. If you get the chance to go and see her, you should. It’s going to be awesome.

Until later…

Mark

 

 

The A List: 29th January

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Here’s the A List for this week: my favourite 10 tracks at the moment.

Every Sunday I post a new A List,  an insight into what I’m loving right now. There’s a strong dance feel to the list at the moment, with four of the top five representing the genre’s different forms. There are three new entries this week, and one track is celebrating a third week on the A List.

Quite simply, there’s a lot of good music out there right now. It was tough to get it down to 10 tracks this week, so I’ll be posting the B-List tomorrow – the 10 songs just below the A-List – that I’ve christened the Bonus List. I’ll also be posting the This Week Playlist tomorrow, seven tracks that will tickle your ears. I warn you in advance: it’s a strong list this week.

So let’s get to it. Here is this week’s A List:

1. The Black Madonna – He is the Voice I Hear (Non-Mover; 2nd week)

A lot of people are dismissive of dance music. The world of EDM bangers and superstar DJ’s has – over the past few years – led to a perception of formulaic dance-by-numbers tracks. But then every now and then a dance song comes along that completely changes what dance music can be; He is the Voice I Hear is one of those tracks, a rollercoaster ride with strings, jazz piano and disco-influences. It’s a masterpiece, and it rightly stays at number one.

2.  Mixhell, Joe Goddard – Crocodile Boots (Soulwax Remix) (New Entry)

This is a five minute industrial revolution. Full of dancing percussion samples and snippets, the spoken word sections only add to these feeling like it has transported 1980’s electronica and transported it to the future. It’s a fine record, and one I’ve enjoyed every listen of.

3. LOYAL – Moving As One (Non-Mover; 2nd week)

LOYAL’s Moving As One has plenty of layers that span different genres and enough musical ability to bring it together seamlessly.

4. Esther Joy Lane – Ever Ever (Non-Mover; 2nd week)

Ever Ever starts off on familiar terrain for Grimes fans, which is certainly no bad thing. But it then takes a different path; meandering between synth pop, electronica and dance

5. Bonobo – No Reason (Down 3; 2nd week) 

George reviewed Bonobo’s album this week and rightly picked out No Reason as a highlight.  Mournful vocals are matched by elegant electronic touches; it’s a claustrophobic listen that leaves you wanting to curl up in a blanket and hide away from the world.

6. Army of Bones – Don’t Be Long (Down 1; 3rd week) 

I’m still loving this unexpected indie treat. Strong pulsing guitars and a polished melody makes this a fine January listen.

7. The XX – Dangerous (New Entry)

A tremendous statement of intent to kick off new album I See You. I struggle to think of another band who have so effectively stated a change in direction and a stepping-up of their sound as The XX have with Dangerous.

8. The XX – Performance (New Entry)

A heart-dropping, mournful and gripping track that finds The XX back on familiar ground. Romy’s vocals are – as usual – emotional in a way so few other singers can manage; elevated by the strings and stripped back guitar.

9. Dan Croll – Away From Today (Non-Mover; 2nd week)

A slightly disorientating indie pop track that could easily have been take from Bombay Bicycle Club’s back catalogue. It plays with the senses a little, never quite settling. But for the ridiculously abrupt ending, I rather like this.

10. Tall Tall Trees – Freedays (New Entry)

Our Track of the Day on Thursday, this is psychedelic-infused indie folk – with a banjo. It sounds like a product of vast and hazy country landscapes, and would comfortably sound at home alongside records by Fleet Foxes and Jonathan Wilson.

You can listen to all ten tracks here:

Ramblings: new monthly column, Black Madonna intrigue, Kasabian and Cortes News

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Yesterday we unveiled our new monthly column: Word on the Street. George has for many years been a passionate follower of beat-driven music (he hates the term ‘urban music’) and if you have an interest in grime, garage, dance, hip hop or r’n’b, then the column is going to be a ‘must read’. I think its a fantastic read and I’m very grateful to George for pulling it all together.

On Friday evening George sent me an intriguing Black Madonna-related link; you can find it here. What does it mean? a UK tour? a residency? an album? I guess we’ll find out on Tuesday, but any new Black Madonna news is welcome in my world.

Speaking of welcome news, there was a distinct whiff of 2002 about two of this week’s biggest new releases; new singles from Missy Elliott and Jamiroquai. The latter has also announced a gig at the Roundhouse in London. Both of these artists were huge influences on my music taste in my teens so I’m pretty chuffed that they’re back.

The Astral Penguins blog is growing in content and readership, and over the next couple of weeks we’ll be unveiling some new regular features. (at least) One of those features revolves heavily around the festivals coming up over the summer, and on a related note Kasabian were announced as the second of three headliners lined up for Leeds and Reading Festivals (the third is rumoured to be Eminem).

I confess I have a massive soft spot for Kasabian. I first saw them supporting the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at the Leadmill in Sheffield many years ago, and it was obvious then that they were supremely talented. They’re one of the few British guitar-heavy bands to ascend to the top of festival line ups and stay there in the past decade, and with a new album on the way, this could be – yet another – big year for them.

Kasabian gigged day in and day out to hone their craft, and another British band who are following a similar approach is Cortes. I first saw them a couple of years ago as a support act and have seen then around five times since then. They posted two things on Facebook this week; (1) they’ve passed a million streams on Spotify – congrats! – and (2) they’ve been in the studio recording new music. Every now and then you see a band and think ‘these guys could – and should – be massive’; Cortes are one of those bands and I only hope Radio 1 and others continue to give them the support and air-time they need.

I’ll be back later on with the A List and tomorrow with the This Week Playlist. Until then…

Mark

 

 

Ramblings: On Field Day, Films, Foals and Black Foxxes

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No sooner am I done getting excited about getting tickets to see Run The Jewels than Field Day release the awesome news that RTJ will be closing the main stage on the 3rd June.

Field Day is an interesting festival; every year the lineup feels a little obscure and unfamiliar but they have a tremendous habit of sensing where music is going, rather than celebrating where it is right now. Last year’s festival was unbelievably wet and muddy, but sets by the Black Madonna, Bicep, Yeasayer, Four Tet, John Grant and Jackmaster were too good for any weather problems to leave me feeling anything other than elated.

This year they’ve consolidated the festival into one day, and the line up largely has that familiar ‘music to be discovered’ feel. I’m a big fan of Haelos and Run The Jewels, and I’m looking forward to Clams Casino, Moderat and Algerian rockers Imarhan. But the great thing about Field Day is the trust you can have in the bookers; whatever stage you end up watching you’ll be seeing something interesting and fresh.

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January seems to be the season for festival lineup announcements. I saw Leeds & Reading Festival(s) post on Twitter today that they’re due to announce some acts this week, SW4 have announced Deadmau5 – in addition to the recent revelation that Pendulum will be reforming – as headliners and Citadel today announced Foals in a UK festival exclusive. I’m not sure I’ll be able to avoid the lure of Foals…

Onto domestic matters and I’m delighted that Antonia and George have made their debuts on the site. Antonia’s excellent review of Manchester by the Sea can be found here and George has the world of LPs covered; It’s Album Time will be a regular feature and kicks off with Bonobo’s Migration here.

Astral Penguins will – initially – primarily be a music blog, but I’d love it to become a place where those who love culture and want to read thoughtful opinions and passion about different fields can visit. George and Antonia bring with them lifetimes of passion and knowledge and it is my pleasure to give them an outlet.

Finally I got a Songkick notification today telling me that Black Foxxes are supporting You Me At Six at their forthcoming Alexandra Palace gig. I’m a big fan of BF and had the pleasure of seeing them last year. Their debut album was one of the most assured and interesting first releases of 2016 and I’m delighted that they’re getting the opportunity to play to a wider audience. Good luck to them.

I’ll be back this evening with a Track of the Day and tomorrow we’re debuting a new feature on cover songs. Until later…

Mark

 

 

The A List – the best 10 tracks around – 22 January

logomakr_0q2tabHere’s the A List for this week: my favourite 10 tracks at the moment.

Every Sunday I post a new A List,  an insight into what I’m loving right now. This has been a ridiculously good week for new music so there’s a fair bit of change from last week. I try not to be too hype-tastic about music – as the blog goes on there will be weeks when I’m less sure about stuff or periods where I feel there isn’t a huge amount of quality music – but I feel the stuff I’ve posted since Monday has been of a very high standard.

So let’s get to it. Here is this week’s A List:

1. The Black Madonna – He is the Voice I Hear (New Entry)

A lullaby for insomniacs. The Black Madonna has brought created a musical cosmic masterpiece that weaves in jazz, disco and strings. It’s a stunning record that has a hugely cinematic quality; bold in design and divine in execution. Well worth reading this interview with her from Mixmag.

2. Bonobo – No Reason (New Entry)

The Bonobo album is giving a lot of my friends a lot of pleasure, and No Reason is a real highlight.  Mournful vocals are matched by elegant electronic touches; it’s a claustrophobic listen that leaves you wanting to curl up in a blanket and hide away from the world.

3. LOYAL – Moving As One (New Entry)

Last Wednesday’s Track of the Day, LOYAL’s Moving As One has plenty of layers that span different genres and enough musical ability to bring it together seamlessly.

4. Esther Joy Lane – Ever Ever (New Entry)

I was a little unfair to Esther Joy Lane on Thursday when this was Track of the Day, as I hadn’t heard her debut EP from 2015, which is well worth checking out and has a different sound to the two tracks I’d heard. Ever Ever is a cracking song that – as I said on Twitter – gets better with every listen.

5. Army of Bones – Don’t Be Long (Down 4) 

An unexpected indie treat. Strong pulsing guitars and a polished melody makes this a fine January listen. It struck me this week that this sounds an awful lot like Richard Ashcroft’s Song for the Lovers, which is no bad thing at all.

6. Harlea – You Don’t Get It (New Entry)

Our first ever Track of the Day on the site, You Don’t Get It has a sturdy blues rock base and adds in a splash of rock and roll and a small pinch of pop. It’s confident, familiar and distinctive, not an easy combination to pull off.

7. The XX – Dangerous (New Entry)

A tremendous statement of intent to kick off new album I See You. I struggle to think of another band who have so effectively stated a change in direction and a stepping-up of their sound as The XX have with Dangerous.

 

8. Ed Sheeran – Shape of You  (Down 6) 

A straight up pop banger originally written for Rihanna. This is perfectly simple, yet highly effective. He’s still blowing away streaming and download records, and with a new album due soon, he’s could make 2017 his year.

9. Dan Croll – Away From Today (New Entry)

A slightly disorientating indie pop track that could easily have been take from Bombay Bicycle Club’s back catalogue. It plays with the senses a little, never quite settling. But for the ridiculously abrupt ending, I rather like this.

10. Code Orange – Bleeding in the Blur  (Down 7) 

A nice chunk of dirty rock and roll, with waves of feedback and a dark, menacing vibe. This is my first introduction to Code Orange, but I look forward to hearing more of their stuff.

You can listen to all ten tracks here: