First things first – well done all of you for making it to the end of the week! You’ve endured sweaty school children on their summer holidays attacking you in the street like bunches of rabid zombies experiencing catastrophic sugar-highs, humid trains and buses and a relentless barrage of news updates on the Royal baby. But, you survived and as a small end of the week treat, here’s yet another batch of superlative new releases:
1) Phlo Finister – “Killer On The Road”
It seems like 2013 is fast shaping up to be the year of avant garde R&B; we’ve had SZA, Jessy Lanza and now Phlo Finister to name just a few of the bevvy of female artists that have been expanding and developing the genre. The daughter of strict Californian parents, as a youngster Phlo Finister was banned from listening to any R&B or Hip-Hop. Thankfully, though, she soon rebelled by dropping out of school, moving to LA and working for Def Jam Records. Once there she started to develop her sound and soon released her debut EP in 2011. August 2013 sees a new EP from the singer, and the first of all-original material. Entitled Poster Girl it is a study in nocturnal minimalism and mechanical beats. Produced by Benny Cassette and Andrew Dawson, “Killer On The Road” is a highlight of the selection, incorporating ethereal vocal effects, synth-washes and a solid groove to back up Finister’s floating delivery.
2) José James – “Come To My Door”
Summer tends to have a strange effect on me. Rather than cynically enjoying my generally aggressive and esoteric tastes, I long for saccharine melodies that I can slow-mo run through sun-soaked fields to, preferably in montage. Now, José James is an excellent jazz singer and no saccharine pop-maker, but “Come To My Door” is a beautifully soft acoustic number that showcases James’ beautifully smooth and emotive vocal delivery. The track is symptomatic of James’ signature sound, fusing soul, R&B, electronic and even hip-hop elements into jazz, creating songs that groove steadily with added complexity beneath the surface. Having been written by Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Emily King, the track is a highlight from his latest album, No Beginning, No End.
3) Quasimoto – “Catchin’ The Vibe”
I’ve long been a fan of hip-hop production pioneer Madlib and his animated rapping alter-ego Quasimoto. Through the caricaturing of the Quasimoto character, Madlib manages to trivialise the normally offensive and dangerous elements of the genre, reminding the listener of the skill and respect that the music deserves, rather than endless controversy and artists’ show-boating. “Catchin’ The Vibe” is the latest single to be released from his new album Yessir Whatever and merges a steady vocal flow with some crunchy ’90s beats and a bouncing groove. Plus the video is an awesome parody of a vinyl-dealing (read drug) woolen creature:
4) Earl Sweatshirt – “Burgundy”
OK, so I know Earl was in last week’s list but I can’t help the fact that the entire hip-hop world is beyond excited for his debut release, Doris, and that’s because he keeps releasing cuts from the LP that are as amazing as this week’s “Burgundy”. Produced by hit-makers The Neptunes (Pharell’s production outfit) “Burgundy” mixes some choice word-selection about the pressures of conforming to the hip-hop scene with depression and typical Pharell-style upbeat key stabs and chopped beats. It’s simplistic and minimal but insanely infectious and just right.