We’ve been talking about Years and Years for literally … well, only a year actually. But they’ve blown up lately and even if King doesn’t quite quite demand the same intensity of heart-break anthem Real, it’s a worthy single to push in their (record label’s) quest for chart dominance in 2015. The original song pulses along with one of the band’s trademark choruses but PACES really drives that home. I played King at an after party the other day and it was pretty fun but this remix may have made more people dance. All Years and Years is good Years and Years.
Henry: Remember this? From 2013! Femtronica has come a long way. Any comment on how the genre has evolved since your last post? Has anyone blown up in a way you didn’t expect? Looking back some artists went in a sound-direction I didn’t love (Haim) but some have surprised me in a really great way (Grimes).
Michael: It’s actually amazing how big a sound this has become and I am totally, totally thrilled for it. Femtronica has gone mainstream (the music not the term unfortunately) and actually produced some pretty great results. I think the reality is that Femtronica is as much a part of me as Look See Proof are and I am pretty stoked about that.
Michael: Good morning everyone and apologies for our absence from the blogging game for the last couple of weeks but we been busy yo! I’ve been sick and umm.. Henry?
Henry: I almost wish I could have kept what Michael had written here originally but I don’t want to be arrested.
M: Okay cool thanks for that mate. This post is a few days late as a result of me being bed bound from all the clubbing I’ve been doing (JK, it was the infection and tonsillitis).
H: This post has been a few days late because I am physically and emotionally drained from Summertime Sadness. And like, the thought of clubbing.
By now, I sound stuck-on-repeat about Ghost Beach. But I remain staunchly unapologetic because this band is so damn good. They’ve released their debut EP, Modern Tongues this week which is as good a time as any to dive into their music. We’ve reviewed Been There Before, Miracle and Tear Us Apart extensively on the site before (here, here and here) so let’s see how the other two tracks match up. Hint: Well.
For most of us September means school. Which means work. Which means a lot less fun. We can however take comfort in the fact that this month could be one of the most fruitful months for music in recent memory. With The 1975 already having released their debut album and The Weeknd providing us with his sophomore effort, some people (like me) might actually have the problem that every music fan yearns for: too much to listen to.
Apologies for my absence last week (I was in Berlin sampling the finest that eardrum-splitting German techno has to offer), but I’m back in sunny London now, albeit slightly damaged of hearing, and ready to fire off another round of this week’s best new slices of aural bliss.
1) Drake – “Hold On We’re Going Home”
OK, so this song has been out for a little bit but I keep meaning to put it into this column because it’s a rare example of the things that Drake is capable of when he takes his head out of his moody arse. Much of the song’s excellence is owed to the production provided by newcomers Majid Jordan. Their soft-flowing synth washes and ’80s disco drum beat sits perfectly under Drake’s singing and provides a welcome change from his recent outpourings of self-pity and a return to the intelligent lyrics and arrangements of his debut.
2) Atu & Asante – “Prototype (The SanteJazz Remix)”
Electronic producer Atu and vocalist Asante remix the melodic Outkast track by completely altering the arrangement and groove of the original. Gone is the squelchy bassline and André 3000′s falsetto top-line delivery, instead the song begins with an ambient and calming synth-build before slowly melding into a majestic wash of Asante’s vocals. The arrangement initially feels muffled and out of reach, akin to the recent work of virtuoso bassist Thundercat through its prioritising of the vocal line. Two thirds through the track, though, Atu shows his true skill as a producer, effortlessly introducing a weighty drum beat and bassline which hark back to the original and which grab your attention as the track plays out leaving you wanting more.
3) Captain Murphy f/ Victor Vaughn & Earl Sweatshirt – “Between Villains”
There’s a serious amount of stage names going on in this track; Captain Murphy is the rapping alter-ego of producer Flying Lotus and Victor Vaughn is hip-hop pioneer DOOM. “Between Villains” is a stellar collaboration from some of hip-hop’s finest for the theme song of an Adult Swim cartoon. The track begins with a minimal yet terrifying beat that trips uncomfortably under DOOM’s rhyme-entangled verse before leading into a bass-heavy Earl Sweatshirt drawl and then finishing on some surprisingly mature lines from FlyLo who showcases that he can pretty much do anything when it comes to music. One for the fans of the art of rap, not just production:
4) Hiatus Kaiyote – “Nakamarra”
I’ve been very excited by Australian neo-soul/jazz quartet Hiatus Kaiyote for quite some time now, and so have the likes of Questlove, Erykah Badu and Salaam Remi it seems. Having started performing around their native Australia they soon created a huge buzz with video posts of their energetic live performances and have just this summer signed to Salaam Remi’s new label and set forth a worldwide release of their debut LP Tawk Tomahawk. “Nakamarra” is one of my favourites from the album, combining some subtle jazz instrumentation from the band and lead singer Nai Palm’s signature formless vocal flow to create a head-nodding hommage to the likes of D’Angelo and Robert Glasper.
This week has seen Egypt descend into a political-hatred fuelled war zone and Jeremy Paxman grow a beard, so if you’ve had enough of all these gruesome images and coverage then here are five pieces of pure joy in aural form to get you through the next seven days:
1) Kwes – “36”
I like to think of Kwes as a musical teddy bear; singing in his soft falsetto and producing ethereal yet comforting beats that make me feel all warm, fuzzy and happy inside. Following the release of his debut EP Meantime last year, the xx, Bobby Womack and Damon Albarn collaborator and singer-songwirter is gearing up for his first full-length release ilp. Lead single “36” is a beautiful soundbed of flowing keys, compressed hip-hop drums and a grooving bassline all sitting underneath Kwes’ own delightful falsetto. Take a listen and smile (a lot).
2) Kaytranada – “Seeu Enni Way”
20 year-old Montreal-based producer Kaytranada is a relative newcomer, but he’s building his chops in a big way with the release of his latest track, “Seeu Enni Way,” a laid back Hip-Hop number that takes its cues from ’90s R&B samples and jerky J Dilla beats. Beginning with a fractured drum-beat intro, the groove soon settles under a flowing bassline, splaying in funk-inflected vocals, synths and some twisted EQing. In a typically unpredictable style, Kaytranda also showcases a Motown-inspired influence in the last thirty seconds, fading out with a soulful funk breakbeat. It’s a surprising yet easy to listen to offering and will sound excellent with the addition of some choice verses laid on top.
3) Chase & Status f/ Moko – “Count On Me”
I’m not normally one to champion the pop/dubstep/drum n’ bass/electro sounds of Chase & Status and their swarm of Pendulum-esque followers, but I have to admit that they have always had a knack for mixing production value and a love of genre-defining classic dance music with easy appeal and memorable tunes. With “Count On Me” they deliver once again, taking cues from the house and acid scene of the 1990s with the track’s shuffling 2-step drums and synth stabs whilst adding an infectious falsetto vocal hook and forceful delivery courtesy of singer Moko. The song brings to mind a heavier Robin S thanks to the bass-heavy backing for the vocals and will be a perfect addition to the late festival season and those cold winter club nights ahead.
4) Kelela – “Enemy”
Some like to divide time Before Christ and After Christ, I however prefer to measure mine as pre and post R&B goddess Aaliyah. Someone else who shares my horological fetish is up and coming experimental R&B singer Kelela. With her esoteric production tastes and floating vocals, Kelela seeks to emulate the Aaliyah-Timbaland golden age of commercial R&B that still used unusual arrangements and tasteful instrumentation. She says herself that “the music’s not just weird, it’s deliberately offputting, it’s designed to interrupt the space. I want people to be, like, ‘What the fuck is going on?” With production credits from the likes of Night Slugs founder Girl Unit, her debut mixtape, Cut 4 Me, straddles electronic and urban genres, making for an unusual yet satisfying listen. “Enemy” is all grime breakbeats and Wu-Tang inspired Japanese string-lines combining to create a track that’s just as welcome in a club or in the car.
5) FKA Twigs – “How’s That”
This is just a beautiful song, pure and simple. Twigs’ soft vocals sit on a Massive Attack-inspired production arrangement and combine to create the most blissful listening experience. Close your eyes and you might even reach a higher level of conciousness. Open them for a bit, though, only to check out the wonderfully strange yet appropriate animated visuals for the video. Twigs, who is signed to the xx’s Young Turks label, is most definitely one to watch, mixing a pure visual aesthetic with some cleverly arranged production, she’s set to give The Weekend and his imitators a serious run for their money.
That’s all for this week. If there’s any aspiring musicians out there, send me a link to your stuff (through comments or Twitter) and I’ll give it a shout if it’s worthy.