The Week’s New Releases – Vol. 4

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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.

 

The Week’s New Releases – Vol. 2

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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.

Oh Sheit It’s X – Thundercat

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The sun is out (a bit) and Can You Hear This has been bombarding you with reasons to get drunk and dance in the sun so it seems about time for some capital-F funk from the man with a bass, Thundercat

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Demons – The National

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This is going to sound blindingly obvious, but if you like their genre, you just love the National. Granted it’s quite specific, it’s a slow-jamming-mournful-and-thoughtful-jazz sound. But if that’s your jam, there’s no way in hell that you won’t like The National. Go listen to like all their music now, and get excited for their latest album, Trouble Will Find Me which has a UK release date of May 20. In the meantime, you can listen to their new single ‘Demons’ which sounds pretty damn awesome.

Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin’ – Mayer Hawthorne

Good God, his edginess is just amazing.

Good God, his edginess is just amazing.

Yes there may be about 8000 apostrophes in that song title, but Mayer is back to the blog for some old school stuff off his 2009 album, and he’s keeping it funky as ever.

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Ife – Lionel Loueke

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Time for some world music methinks, and what better than some guitar-based African jazz courtesy of Blue Note artist Lionel Loueke:

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The Cooker – The George Benson Quartet

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I feel like there haven’t been enough sixties throwback be-bop organ-jazz quartets on Can You Hear This as of late, so in an effort to remedy this here’s one from one of my all time favourite groups, The George Benson Quartet

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