Things You Should Actually Listen To This Summer

 

Lana + emojis = life

Lana + emojis = life

 

Henry: Hey. Sorry for the absence; we both took a trip to Copenhahen (So. Much. Blonde), Michael is now interning to learn more about Capitalism and I am relaxing in Tuscany to learn more about Myself. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago we both compiled posts for your summer playlists (available here and here) and I’ve listened to those lists a good amount but now we’re heading into mid-July, we have perspective. Things change, so do people; we made those lists in the youthful days of May(!) I didn’t even know Itsu had a student discount at that time. So I thought we should compile a list of things we’re actually listening/have listened to this summer. Spoiler alert before we start: I’m kind of indulging in a maybe-bummer summer (there’s a lot of Coldplay on my Recently Played).

Michael: The times, they are a-changing. The men we were when we wrote those last pieces are but shadows of the men we are now. This is July and you need some records to enjoy in that sweet hayfever-less mid-summer air. I may have started in the corporate world but my heart still roams free. I just downloaded the Coldplay album yesterday so I kind of know what Henry is going through. P.S. I know this was pretentious but compare it to the words Henry wrote for me originally and hopefully you’ll understand my motives : “Totes agree with u 100 percent. love GSK. peace out.”

H: I thought I was being subtle.

M: You really weren’t.

Other things: You can follow Henry’s Instagram here, and Michael’s here. Also we have two new writers (they are both called Megan and both from the U.S). Check them out here and here.

 

Ultraviolence – Lana Del Rey

H: I used to think of LDR’s music as memorably disposable; I would listen to it, it would pretty much sum up how I felt right there, right then and then I’d probably forget it. You know that Maya Angelou quotation – ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel’ – that’s how I used to feel about LDR (see also: Coldplay. Quick, near impossible game: Reel off a few Coldplay lyrics. You can’t, but you can definitely remember how ‘Yellow’ makes you feel). But something’s changed; Ultraviolence is clever and lasting, thanks largely to the restrained-rock production by Dan Auerbach (of The Black Keys). I’ve listened to this album on planes, train, and my bed and it always feels atmospheric, just-this-side of indulgent but most importantly, right. Its narrative is clearer than Born to Die but it’s a knottier, more complicated and ultimately more satisfying experience than her first album. ‘Flipside’ breaks your heart, ‘Old Money’ chills it and ‘Sad Girl’ unexpectedly warms it. ‘Shades of Cool’ is the album’s stand-out; a buzz-single that’s moving, epicly proportioned and hints at an enduring future for a singer whom many confined to a YouTube hit single. Also while I’m talking about LDR, I feel it’s important to point out that – among all the internet chat about her authenticity and lips – it’s easy to forget that she’s really funny (and though a lot has been said about LDR and this second record, the best article I’ve read about her/the record is this piece from Time/Consequence of Sound which you should read right now). Lyrics from Ultraviolence make me laugh out loud (with her, not at her). On ‘Fucked My Way Up To The Top’ (which, c’mon: the title alone), she sings: ‘You got nothing, I got tested, / And I passed yes.’ And then on ‘Is This Happiness’: ‘You like to rage, don’t do that … Got your gun, I’ve got my dad.’ Is that sardonic wit enough to shake your Lana-is-a-downer attitude, Michael? ‘West Coast’ is almost definitely my Song of the Summer.

M: I’ll tell you who I love for my summer Henry, Best Coast, they’re a fabulous band. LDR? Not so much buttt (add the appropriate number of ‘t’s as you read this to build up to this plot twist) I do like this record. I feel like that the black storm clouds that must have loomed over her soul while writing Born to Die have drifted away and been replaced by beautiful blue skies. Actually, no. That’s way too big of a positive. Ultraviolence is like Lana under grey clouds but she’s laughing while holding an umbrella. She’s really funny! Who knew? And these songs are kind of fun: Even more surprising! Although not as much fun: ‘Is This Happiness’ is my favourite off the album. It’s smart, controlled and one of the best songs of the year so far. P.S. “I will try(yyyyyyy) to fix you”. That’s a lyric.

Better Popstars than Iggy Azalea 

H: I was less-than-zero surprised to wake up to a press release today about a few ‘Black Widow’ remixes (which is a fine song, we even featured it a couple of months ago) but I couldn’t help but sigh. I like Iggy Azalea; I liked ‘Work’ when it was released a couple of years ago, I liked ‘Fancy’ because Charli XCX is a consistently great artist. But somewhere along the road – maybe it was that NYMag article, maybe it was that Nicki speech – I got a little tired of it all. Find a better song for your summer, or at least a newer one. There is so much good stuff out there. Tove Lo is the obvious alternative. Allie X of ‘I listen to ‘Prime’ every morning and it makes my life seem a little better’ fame, just released a stop-in-your-tracks-kinda-great video for ‘Bitch’.

M: I love how Charlie XCX and Allie X both feature in the above paragraph. Those two should be the women who are dominating if not your life, then your iPod this summer because damn are they amazing. That ‘Bitch’ video is super weird though.  Not sure if she and I are that compatible anymore after her supermarket antics. Typically I like to shop without sunglasses. My opinion on Iggy is pretty similar to Henry’s except I got tired of the endless hype when one too many people referred me to a Facebook page about her behind. Yay: It’s 2014 and misogyny in pop music isn’t slowing down!

The Sun – Parov Stelar

M: Is this song big this summer? I know it’s big across the pond but are we loving it here yet? If we’re not, we will be within a couple of weeks. This is too classic summer pop hit for us not to be. I like it. I don’t love it but I know it’s going to dominate radio-play so just get on it early my sweet English readers (insert joke about the English always being too slow to put sun cream on etc.). It’s about as simple as a pop song can be but that’s definitely to its benefit. Right down to the ‘oh oh oh oh’ bit, Parov Stelar has produced a song to sell records, but at least he’s also produced one that’s kind of fun and one that you won’t hate when it starts to outstay its welcome.

5AM – Kwamie Liv

H: Poolside reading includes the NYLON music issue which is pretty great. My favourite quotation is Rita Ora discussing her new album which is, according to her: ‘a celebration of life and love and being happy and talking about sex and talking about clothes and talking about appreciating people fully.’ Anyway, amongst the HAIMs and Lilys is Kwamie Liv who records in Copenhagen (topical) and comes across as a pretty cool girl. She records while floating on a yurt in Christiana which, if you’ve ever been to Copenhagen, is kind of hilarious. Even if you haven’t been to Copenhagen, that’s kind of hilarious. She’s covered The Weeknd (because of course) and has a lot of potential as a cross-over between Beach House, early Lykke Li and late Lana Del Rey. ‘Follow You’ is what’s attracting attention right now but delve into to another original track, ‘5AM’ and you’ll find what’s at the heart of Liv’s lyrics; uneasy isolation. Its gentle vocals carry sometimes-quite-remarkable lyrics –  the refrain starts: ‘everybody’s hiding in the neon lights’ – that suggest Liv’s got a bright future outside of the blogosphere.

M: This is kind of special. It’s stunningly delicate, with every word and beat so perfectly placed to create this all-encompassing tension. It’s utterly captivating and befitting of any early morning after the night before. Hopefully you’ll be a bit cheerier than this but you’ll inevitably have a night like this. We’ve already had ours in Copenhagen, Henry was really worried about too many carbs.

H: Carbs are the Maroon 5 of the music world; enjoyable – necessary, even – to many, but your life is better off without them (I secretly have the entire Maroon 5 discography on my iPod).

M: As do I.

Shiner – Indian Summer

M: This song is already up on around 15 YouTube channels in the space of a few days but don’t let that deter you (I write this knowing that it Henry is instantly deterred by such things) because this song is pretty bloody perfect for summer. I hate that The Sound You Need are the people that are out there trying to tell the world what makes this song so good when their writers clearly have no comprehension of the English language. Seriously, don’t read their comment about this song, it’s virtually unintelligible. This is a proper pop song and one that could easily be Allie X’s fourth (if her lyrics got slightly less brilliant) so needs a place in your summer, even if it’s not gonna be a top performer. Coldplay became global superstars of such medium-ness.

H: Sounds like a T-Mobile advert to me.

M: Why must you hate everything I love?

Half-Decent Sophomore Albums

H: I get easily invested in things; celebrities, television shows, Californian indie-pop bands. Grouplove promised so much on their debut, and offered so little on their follow-up. Young the Giant has fared better than Grouplove (though their debut wasn’t quite as consistently excellent as Never Trust A Happy Song) with their second effort, Mind Over Matter. It doesn’t match their arrestingly gentle self-titled debut, but it’s more than halfway there. It’s a slow album that you won’t love at first, but might just grow to. In other words, it’s perfect for lazy, hazy summer listening. Play ‘Firelight’ in the evening sun when you’re sipping a Corona.

M: I’m watching old Survivor seasons and trying to find out more about contestants that didn’t even win who played ten years. I think easily invested is a shared affliction. Henry is quite brutal on Grouplove’s second album but ‘Ways to Go’ is definitely still worth your time. Young the Giant’s sophmore, for me, is less so. This is perhaps more on me than it is on them but this is just a little bit too downy for July. If you can handle the somber tone, there is a beautiful sincerity to all of this album  though. One that I will more fully immerse myself in November time. It’s just not amahzing and that after all is more of a summer word (reference to a show I will never let go of. Ever.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA About Henry Wong

Sometimes, I write about music. Pretty cool. You can follow me on Twitter @henellenthorpe, find on Instagram @hennnners or even go old school and e-mail me at henry@canyouhearthis.co.uk

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