Tag: Vince Staples

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.

This Week Playlist

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After a few weeks off, here is the latest This Week Playlist, ten songs that are tickling our ears right now and are primed and ready for you to enjoy:

1. Kendrick Lamar – The Heart Part 4

So I confess that I don’t share the adoration for Kendrick’s work that seems obligatory for music fans in 2017. I’ve liked plenty of his work, but his status as – in his own words – the greatest rapper alive has eluded me so far. However when friend-in-exile Miceal (who I think may have given up his Catholic faith to follow the religion of Kendrick instead) messaged last Friday to say that The Heart Part 4 had dropped, I was excited to hear it. It 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.

The whole world goin’ mad

Bodies is adding up, market’s about to crash

Niggas is fake rich, bitches is fake bad

Blacks that act white, whites that do the dab

Donald Trump is a chump, know how we feel, punk

Tell ’em that God comin’

And Russia need a replay button, y’all up to somethin’

 

2. Gorillaz, Vince Staples  – Ascension

If you’re not a fan of the Gorillaz then it might be best you skip this blog for a few months. They’re one of those bands for me: an act that can go in any new direction and make it seem like it was the perfect choice. They combine hip hop, pop and indie in a way few other bands have ever managed, and with a new album on the way, it promises to be a big few months for them. On Ascension they’ve recruited one of the most exciting men in music Vince Staples for vocal duties. The result ends up sounding like a space age gospel infused pop track; it’s a little bonkers but that’s the fun of it.

 

3. Drones Club – Hurricane

Drones Club produced two of my favourite songs of 2016 and have delivered yet another stunning record. 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. I cannot wait for them to deliver an album.

 

4. HVOB – Deus

I only discovered Austrian dance duo HVOB (Her Voice Over Boys) recently but I’ve been impressed with that I’ve heard. Deus starts slowly, repetitive vocals coiled around intimidating synths; then the beat drops. I love dance music that is simple yet oh so effective, and Deus is absolutely from that mold. It conjures up feelings of space travel and loneliness; danger and claustrophobia. I like this more with every listen.

 

5. IDLES – Exeter

I blogged only this morning about seeing IDLES recently and Exeter was a massive highlight of their set. It’s full of anger and contempt; the frustration of growing up and living in a place where ‘nothing ever happens’. It somehow combines the sort of lyrical topic The Streets reveled in, matched by a raw punk aggression and elevated by a chorus that seems to satirize Britpop.

 

6. Honey Tower – Couture

Couture is the sort of industrial electro that would have been at home in the soundtracks of either the Matrix or – for those who remember it – Hackers. It’s a pretty bad ass track; rumbling, robotic and firmly underground in its sensibilities. This is my first exposure to Honey Tower, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for the German’s future works.

 

7. Sun Lil Moon – Bergen to Trondheim

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. It seems ever so much like Sun Lil Moon has had enough of celebrities and Twitter culture and their immediate – obvious, and poorly-considered – reactions to sad events as they globe-trot around the world. Complete with canned cheering and a refrain of “Me, we, me, we, me, we, me, we” I’m still struggling to come to terms with the boldness.

 

8. Father John Misty – Total Entertainment Forever

The joy of FJM is the numerous layers through which you can appreciate his work. There is the melody; 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. Then there’s the motivation, and the questions over where observation ends and sarcasm, satire and provocation begins. He is, for my money, one of the most important song-writers around at the moment and – with his new album out next week – we should all be excited.

 

9. Billie Eilish – Bellyache

I’ve been wanting to post this for a few weeks. 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.

 

10. HalfNoise – French Class

HalfNoise is Zac Farro, formerly the drummer in Paramore. French Class is from his recent The Velvet Face EP and combines indie sensibilities with a sunny uplifting – slightly disco-y – sound.

 

The A List: Our 10 biggest songs right now

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If you follow the Astral Penguins Blog closely, you’ll know three key things:

  1. Every Sunday we post our top 10 favourite tracks around right now on what we call the A List;
  2. That – as songs on the A List are limited to four weeks – there was bound to be a few changes this week as a number of last week’s A List were at that limit; and
  3. The songs in contention for the A List – those that appeared on the This Week Playlist and our Tracks of the Day were really strong this week. I mean, really strong.

With that in mind, and after a decent amount of head scratching, here is this week’s A List, complete with six – six! – new entries.

1. Jacob Banks – Unholy War (New Entry)

Our Track of the Day  on Wednesday, Birmingham-born R’n’B singer Jacob Banks provides his own stunning contribution t0 the soul/gospel/r’n’b revival that is underway. With a rich, deep and powerful vocal performance, excellent production and a more modern, electronic-laced chorus, Unholy War ticks all sorts of pleasurable boxes.

 2. Todd Terje – Jungelknugen (Four Tet Remix) (New Entry)
Four Tet’s journey from obscure electronica producer to master of the main stage has been one of the most brilliant and unlikely stories in the – relatively short – history of dance music, and here he’s on remixing duty for the ever brilliant Todd Terje. As with his 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.

3.  Vince Staples – Bagbak (fourth week; up 1)

Fourth and final week for Mr Staples on the A List, and we think this is one of the best records of the year so far. Bagbak is Vince Staples’s contribution on racial identity and politics. He has a lot to say and – with top level production and jaw-dropping lyrics – he’s earning himself a bigger platform from which to say them.

4. Allan Rayman – 13 (fourth week; up 1)

Another track that is in its fourth week on the A List, 13 is an r’n’b inflected track that – like a lot of Rayman’s work – doesn’t easily fall into one musical genre. 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 you breathless; in 13 he drops his voice and almost whispers some of his hoarse, sorrowful judgements.

5. Daniel Trakell – Paradise (New Entry)

Yesterday’s Track of the Day from Australian singer-songwriter Daniel Trakell is a slightly uncomfortable listen; for all it’s Simon & Garfunkel splendour, there is a layer of mystery that hangs over the melody. It is perhaps best described using the impressive dual quality of the vocals, they are both beautiful and eerie at the same time. 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.

 

6. Elliot Moss – Closedloop (New Entry)

New York singer-songwriter Elliot Moss finds himself firmly in the James Blake comparison zone with Closedloop, a creeping, discomforting, electro crawl of a pop track.

7. Brutus – Drive 3/4s (Second week; down 5)

Drive 3/4s is a stunningly good rock track; its impressive in its ambition alone, but the delivery of intricate melodies, shifts in style and epic chorus makes this track an absolute monster.

8. Denis Sulta – Dubelle Oh XX (JVIP) (New Entry)

Young Glaswegian DJ and producer Denis Sulta’s track  gets a reworking from his fellow Glaswegian – and stunningly good DJ – Jackmaster. Ripe for inclusion at every dance festival in 2017, this is a track that’ll get inside your head and stay there.

9. Code Walk, Smerz – Guess What (Second week; down 3)

This track is a collaboration between two Scandinavian duos, Norwegian pair Code Walk  and Copenhagen couple Smerz. Guess What revolves around shimmering techno beats and top line percussion. Everything about this track is ice cold. Simple and yet highly effective.

10. Destructo, E-40, Too $hort – All Nite (New Entry)

Destructo is LA based former A&R/record executive Gary Richards, who helped to bring Basement Jaxx to a mainstream audience. All Nite is an instantly-grabbing party track full of fun and frolics; it has, how to put it, more than a whiff of stoner fun about it. It’s a track that Bulldozes the line between hip hop and dance; my only reservation – and the reason why this isn’t higher on the list – is some of the lyrics are not exactly forward thinking in their portrayal of women.

The A List: Our 10 hottest songs right now

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Every Sunday the Astral Penguins Blog takes stock of the 10 biggest – and best – songs around right now.

There’s four new entries on this week’s list and three of this week’s top 10 have stuck around for four weeks, which is the maximum songs can stay on the A List.

Here are the best 10 songs around:

1. Jamiroquai – Automaton (Non-mover; 4th week)

Fourth and final week – and a fourth week at number 1. Automaton is an electro pop masterclass with euphoria, menace, and a playful 90’s pop-meets-hip hop breakdown. Come December, this is destined to be high in the top 50 of 2017 list.

2. Brutus – Drive 3/4s (New Entry)

A new entry from Belgiun post-hardcore trio Brutus. They’re led by Stefanie Mannaerts, who acts as both vocalist and drummer, and their debut album came out this week. Drive 3/4s is a stunningly good rock track; its impressive in its ambition alone, but the delivery of intricate melodies, shifts in style and epic chorus makes this track an absolute monster.

3. Parcels – Allaround (down 1; 4th 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.

4.  Vince Staples – Bagbak (down 1; 3rd week)

Hip hop is rediscovering it’s political voice and Bagbak is Vince Staples’s contribution on racial identity and politics. Staples is undoubtedly one of the most exciting men in music right now.

5. Allan Rayman – 13 (down 1; 3rd week)

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 you breathless; in 13 he drops his voice and almost whispers some of his hoarse, sorrowful judgements.

6. Code Walk, Smerz – Guess What (New Entry)

This track is a collaboration between two Scandinavian duos, Norwegian pair Code Walk  and Copenhagen couple Smerz. Guess What revolves around shimmering techno beats and top line percussion. Everything about this track is ice cold. Simple and yet highly effective.

7. Sub Focus – Lingua (New Entry)

Slower and more minimalist than a lot of his other works, Lingua sees Sub Focus straying closer to dancehall and hip hop than his usual drum and bass, but it’s a banger all the same.

8. Priests – Jj (down 3; 4th week)

There’s great fun nestled within this track; it’s like being trapped in the getaway car from a bank robbery in the wild west: country-twinged, all action, energy and attitude.

 

9. Ibeyi – Lost In My Mind (down 2; 2nd week)

A sparse, beautiful and affecting track that speaks of loneliness and isolation. It’s a track that lingers with you. It ends with a more positive – or is it pleading? – feel, but throughout you feel there’s a deep sadness that inspired it.

10. Blood Youth – Reasons to Stay (New Entry)

Melodic hardcore trio Blood Youth have produced a real balls-to-the-wall track in Reasons to Stay. A tale of a relationship ending in a complicated way, this will be an absolute monster live.

The A List – our 10 favourite songs right now: 19th February

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Every Sunday the Astral Penguins Blog takes stock of the 10 biggest – and best – songs around right now. There’s only two new entries this week, which reflects the strength of the songs currently occupying the A List.

Here it is for your listening pleasure:

1. Jamiroquai – Automaton (Non-mover; 3rd week)

This still sounds absolutely massive. Whilst the second single from the new album is nowhere near the same standard, Automaton is still an electro pop masterclass with euphoria, menace, and a playful 90’s pop-meets-hip hop breakdown.

2. Parcels – Allaround (up 3; 3rd 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.

3.  Vince Staples – Bagbak (Non-Mover; 2nd week) 

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 (Non-Mover; 2nd week) 

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 you breathless; in 13 he drops his voice and almost whispers some of his hoarse, sorrowful judgements.

5. Priests – Jj (Up 5; 3rd week)

Priests have delivered their second single from new album Nothing Feels Natural and its full of energy and excitement. There’s great fun nestled within this track; it’s like being trapped in the getaway car from a bank robbery in the wild west: country-twinged, all action, energy and attitude.

6. Future Islands – Ran (Non-Mover; 2nd week) 

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. Ibeyi – Lost In My Mind (New Entry)

French-Cuban sisters Ibeyi are back with a sparse, beautiful and affecting track that speaks of loneliness and isolation. It’s a track that lingers with you. It ends with a more positive – or is it pleading? – feel, but throughout you feel there’s a deep sadness that inspired it. It’s great to have Ibeyi back and here’s hoping for more material in 2017.

8. Husky Loops – Fighting Myself (Non-Mover; 3rd week) 

Three weeks in and the menace, insecurity and playful dark-humour hidden within the lyrics still sounds great. Fighting Myself is initially menacing – with traces of art rock – before it builds to a frantic and thrilling finish.

9. Otzeki – All This Time (Down 2; 2nd Week) 

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.

10. HOMESHAKE – Every Single Thing (New Entry)

Every Single Thing is a shimmering r’n’b track with a disconcerting lo-fi meets synths dynamic. The vocals are impressive in their range and delivery, and yet it’s the cold aesthetic of the track that makes me want to keep this on repeat.

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.

 

 

This Week Playlist: Seven new songs to tickle your ears

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I’m struggling to limit myself to only posting 10 new songs a week at the moment. Good music seems to be coming from everywhere: returning legends, acts that I’ve grown to love over the past couple of years and new bands that I’m admiring. The This Week Playlist is once again very strong with a combination of all the above.

The idea of this playlist is simple: here are seven songs I’ve heard a couple of times that have really impressed. This playlist is my ‘go to’ for music over the next week, and stuff from here – and our tracks of the day postings – are what then go onto the A List every Sunday if I’m loving them enough.

So without any more chatting, here is the This Week Playlist: seven new songs to tickle your ears.

1.Vince Staples – BagBak

If you asked me to name the most exciting man in music right now, I’d – hopefully – make a strong case for Vince Staples. His Prima Dona EP last year was the best I heard, and BagBak again finds him on top form. Straying into racial politics, Staples manages to say a lot whilst ensuring every other element in the song is damn near perfect.

2.Future Islands – Ran 

Future Islands’s Waiting on You was my favourite song of 2014 and so – after lead singer Samuel T Herring’s foray into hip hop – I’m pretty damn happy to have them back. They’ve returned with Ran, which is made up of their usual brilliant formula. Driving bass, keyboard euphoria and heartbreaking vocals, they will undoubtedly make many festival fans happy again this summer.

3. POOLCLVB – Waiting for You

Sydney producer POOLCLVB released his You + Me EP in early January, which is where Waiting for You comes from. Waiting for You sounds very much like the child of the nu-rave scene, with memories of Delphic and Klaxons coming flooding back.

4.Father John Misty – Ballad of the Dying Man

If you haven’t come across FJM yet then you’re missing out. He writes beautiful songs that hark back to blue-eyed soul with hints of folk, country as well as rock and pop. But the most enjoyable part of his songs is unpicking the irony and sarcasm that weaves throughout his lyrics, trying to extrapolate who is really the target of his fire. Here in the Ballad of the Dying Man, he’s found himself back at his mischievous best:

So says the dying man once I’m in the box
Just think of all the overrated hacks running amok
And all of the pretentious, ignorant voices that will go unchecked
The homophobes, hipsters, and 1%
The false feminists he’d managed to detect
Oh, who will critique them once he’s left?

5.Lowly – Prepare the Lake

This is my first introduction to Danish quintet Lowly, with Prepare the Lake falling somewhere in the indietronica/electro-pop bracket. They have a new album [Heba] coming soon and the band have said of Prepare The Lake: “We’d been playing it for quite some time live before recording it and the form sort of grew out of us during concerts, so perhaps it has more of live feel to it than the other songs on the album.”

6.King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Sleep Drifter

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Field Day line-up saying there were plenty of bands I hadn’t heard of, but was looking forward to checking out. Here we have our first example; King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – what a name – are an Australian psych-rock band. Sleep Drifter is the musical equivalent of being awake for 48 hours; everything is there but you’re not sure you can piece it all together.

7.Tourists – Masquerade 

Tourists definitely fall into the ‘ones to watch’ category in my world. 2016 singles Cut and Run and Quiet Room both got a lot of listens, and this five-piece from Torquay make a strong start t0 2017 with Masquerade. Synths, bass, guitars, drums and vocals come together like the five Power Rangers – yeah, I went there – to create a grand and ambitious record that sounds both fresh and vintage.