The Week’s New Releases – Vol. 1

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Ammar: Welcome to the first of (hopefully) many weekly features where I shepherd you musically-inclined folk to the tastiest gems of the past week’s new releases. I’ll try and cover as broad a range of music as possible, as long as I actually listen to the stuff, and traverse across the popularity spectrum (from Rihanna to ‘that amazing post-punk-grunge ’90s band that were overshadowed by Nirvana’). Oh and I’ll try and abuse some of the week’s most hotly anticipated releases (because I like doing things like that).

1) Earl Sweatshirt – “Hive”

I know what you’re thinking – ‘holy fuck Earl has ginormous lips!’ – and indeed he does, but it’s those wonerous taste-flaps that give Earl Sweatshirt the best delivery, rhyme schemes and story telling capability of the whole Odd Future gang. Tyler, The Creator’s raps about rape and drug blitzes are getting old and it’s looking like Earl is the only saviour for Odd Future (he always has been). “Hive”, then, is an absolute beast; laying a super dragged back beat under a filthy bassline which leaves ample room for Earl, Vince Staples and Casey Veggie’s verses to breathe.

2) IAMNOBODI f/ Stacy Epps – “LoveLite”

Time for some feel-good hip-hop/soul now to remind you of the golden days when R Kelly wasn’t a suspected paedophile and everyone (I mean everyone) was wearing baggy pants. On “LoveLite” German producer IAMNOBODI channels some classic J Dilla energy on the production front with a choppy beat and squelchy bass/synth line. Adding to the instrumentation, R&B songstress Stacy Epps layers her effortlessly silky vocal on top, creating a sound reminiscent of only the best Slum Village/Badu ’90s R&B. Having already worked with Hip-Hop giants such as Madlib, MF Doom and OH NO, Epps puts her collaborative experience to good use, helping to create a track that is, just as its title suggests, light and perfect for some summer radio-play.

3) Sango f/ JMSN – “Affection”

Let’s make things a little more sexual now (it’s that time in the column) with a quality electro slow jam from Seattle-based producer Sango, featuring difficultly-named vocalist JMSN. With it’s glacial synth and percussion backing, “Affection” is a slow-moving yet subtly engaging electro/R&B song. The introduction of a soul-grooving bassline halfway through the track is also a genius move and puts Sango ahead of his contemporaries in creating genre-straddling, aurally-pleasing songs. Get yo’ groove on:

4) Arca – “&&&&&”

Ok, I’m cheating with this one a little bit because it’s more of a continuous mixtape rather than a single track, but because the whole thing is so great I just had to include it. Arca is an electronic producer who recently collaborated with Kanye West on Yeezus and on &&&&& he lays down some hip-hop heavy, ominously sparse beats meanwhile making sure to include influences from the wider realm of electronic production, most notably Aphex Twin, whose terrifying sample-based sounds can be felt in Arca’s use of acid synths and bass-heavy vocal sampling. &&&&& is an experimental and brave piece of work through which Arca shows his ability to produce a wide range of uniquely forward-thinking music without the need to accompany other artists and their visions. Stream and download below.

5) SZA – “Euphraxia”

SZA is a soulful female singer/songwriter/producer on the rise, following the independent release of two free EPs, and See.SZA.Run. “Euphraxia” is taken from See.SZA.Run and is a floaty, bass-laced R&B number. SZA stands out from her contemporaries with her intelligent lyrics, referencing existentialism and the merits of soy milk all in one song, and quality minimalist production (“Euphraxia” is produced by the relatively unknown Dot). I highly recommend both of her EPs as they’re a far more creative take on the sound that The Weeknd perpetuated with his previous releases.

So, that’s all for now folks. Congratulations to those of you who made it to the end of this column and if you liked what you read/heard then check back next Friday for a fresh set of choons. If you didn’t like it, please make no attempts to comment/contact me…

Henry: If you do want to contact Ammar, you can on his twitter: @AmmarKalia2

 

Interview: Seasfire

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Hey guys, first and foremost your new single Oh… Lucifer has come out. That must be exciting! What has the response to this single release been like in comparison to others? Do you feel like people are more excited about it?

Well it has been fantastic to get a very positive response from those that have heard it, yes. I think people realise a progression from Falling and We Will Wake in this new song, they can tell that our sound has grown.

Having been a big fan of your music for some months now, I can safely say that I really can’t find anything else like it. How did Seasfire come to exist and how did you choose that name?

Thank you! That’s obviously great to hear. We work hard and although we are proud of what we do and the music we create, having other people say they connect with it too is perhaps the most rewarding thing.

SEASFIRE came to exist from a mutual desire to create music in a way we hadn’t before. It started with me, Joe and Dave creating beats together, using electronics in a way we hadn’t before and producing a few rough demos. That was right at the end of 2011 and so once we had a handful of songs we got James, our drummer, involved to start playing live with us. That turned out to be pretty easy, although over the course of 2012 the way we approach playing live has changed quite a lot.

As for the name that came fairly easily, it was designed to represent an imbalance and of two opposing elements coming together as one. That was the way I thought about our approach to music in the early stages – I wanted it to contrast with the way I had done things before.

It seems like you’ve been getting a lot of experience with performing. How do you feel on stage and what is the best show you’ve done so far and why?

Yeah we’ve done quite a few live shows but no touring or anything as yet. I think in time that will hopefully happen. On stage we just try to give it our all. I’m not one for talking much, we all try to let the music and songs convey how we’re feeling. We want our audience to move with the music, to feel its ups and downs. It’s why I’ve always said we have to be careful with dynamics when we play live.

In terms of what was the best live show, it is really extremely hard to say, we have done so many awesome ones. S.W.N. Festival in Cardiff was nuts, as was supporting King Charles and then Bastille at the end of last year. But the best two for us were our headline shows in Bristol, especially the first one in December last year. We’ve seen so many bands at The Louisiana, so to sell it out, knowing that the crowd were there for us…. that was big. We gave it everything and I think people appreciated that, but not as much as we appreciated them buying tickets!

What inspires you to write your music and how do you go about the songwriting process? Is it a real collective effort or not?

Inspiration comes in a variety of ways. Music and film are pretty key. Real life experience is obviously the main thing though, I’m always dreaming of escape.

The process is mostly collective, yes. Most songs start from a piano idea Joe has and layers will be added.

My favourite songs are probably You Won’t Be and Falling. Is there a story behind either?

Weirdly those are the first two songs that we wrote! You Won’t Be is a fairly simple break up song but we were using the concept of light and dark as a metaphor for two people growing apart, as the night time closes there is that realisation that you are nearing the end with that particular person, that you are growing tired of the relationship. Then as the day comes you get to terms with the ending and you can clearly see and reflect on all the shit you had to put up with.

Falling is about the dragging of time, of feeling trapped by your surroundings and longing for something better. It often feels to me like I am constantly mourning the loss of something I never had, or haven’t actually obtained yet. It can be quite dark and depressive at times. I suppose that alludes to what I said earlier about dreaming of escape. I hope the dynamic and space of the song help tell that story along with the lyrics.

Your music at times really seems to bridge the gap between rock and electronic, and you have also released a remix of Lana Del Rey’s National Anthem. Did you release that remix under the Seasfire name with no hesitation? Who out of the band contributed to the remix?

There was no hesitation at all. I came across Lana midway through 2011 and fell in love with her instantly. I love her music, her production, her aesthetic. It sounds like she is nuts but I think she has some interesting things to say about existence. When we got the opportunity to do the remix we just tried to make the track grittier, give it more of an edge. We all contributed little bits and pieces that made up the whole thing. When you’re remixing you are constantly trying out ideas, going off on tangents and seeing if it works. My favourite part, though, was chopping the vocals so it sounded like she was saying she wanted someone to fuck her – I’m pretty sure that was Dave’s idea. I think a few diehard fans weren’t too keen on that when they heard it on her soundcloud…

Have you seen an increase in the number of fans you have? Do you feel any pressure to live up to expectations now that people are starting to take more notice of you?

Yeah things are constantly ticking over on Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud etc. That’s always good to see, as it means that people want to stay in touch with what we are saying, listening to and the music we are making.

We feel no pressure at all because we are still operating on a very small scale really, when you compare us to a lot of other bands we get likened to. We’ve only been around for 18 months but I think people sometimes see us as old timers. I mean I’ve even seen blogs comparing new music to ours?! That’s a little bit odd I think, maybe we just jumped the gun… But anyway, this band is still growing, I suppose it always will be as long as we can afford to feed ourselves. But we are in this for the long haul, we are in no rush to get where we want to go, we just want to keep building SEASFIRE, releasing new music, creating videos, playing shows and meeting new people.

What can Seasfire fans expect in the near future?

We have some festival appearances coming up. The new single is out on July 1st, and the video has just dropped. We’ll probably follow that up with some more live dates at the end of the year and another EP. We may also mess around and do some covers, collaborations or remixes too.

I think you guys have a somewhat dark image that goes really well with your music. It’s great to see that you compliment your sound so well aesthetically. Do you have a large say in the ‘look’ of your band? Do you always enjoy the melancholy and dark image?

Although it can often be subconscious, images and music always need to compliment each other. It helps the understanding of those listening or watching, I think. So yes, it is important to us. We try to have continuity in the way we present ourselves. But having said that, I wouldn’t say that in the flesh we come across as melancholic or dark – anyone who meets us or knows us will know that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. It’s not as if we can play live shows in black and white. Maybe that is something to aim for in the future!

Thanks guys, hoping to make it to one of your shows later in the year. Would be great to catch up there if you’ve got the time. Take care and good luck with everything!

No problem. We’ll catch you at a show sometime then.

Airglow Fires – Lone

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He may look like he works at PC World, but Lone is one of England’s  finest producers, and after the noodly odyssey that was 2012’s ‘Galaxy Garden’, he’s back with a follow up on old favourites R&S.

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After Monday comes Tunesday: Songs Recently on Repeat

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The gorgeous Emi Meyer

I understand if you’re upset with me, really I do. I don’t deserve you. How can I expect to leave for so long and come back like nothing happened? The answer is: health. Sometimes health has to take a priority over music (shocking I know), but I hope you can forgive me as with my return I am convinced you will find some gorgeous new tunes to help you get over pain in your heart that my absence created.

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Julian – Say Lou Lou

auto_a5c7f132-1b31-c271-6a6c-d12514b50b33saylouloumainI’m excited by these two lovely ladies. The two Swedes have just released their new track Julian, and I’ve already played it… let’s see… 36 times. Following the success that Bastille and The 1975 are currently experiencing after we knew it would happen all along, perhaps it’s best to listen to us, eh?

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Fall Over – Banks

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There’s something unusual here, and you’ll probably get what I’m talking about within the first 15 seconds of this song. You think you can predict it, but all of a sudden there’s a note that makes you think twice or a lyric that provokes a double take. Fall Over is what I almost did when I saw this video because I was so in love with it. You’d best take a look.

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Heartbeat (feat. Colin McLoughlin) – Vicetone

urlAs we are so devastatingly close to Easter holidays (or “spring break” as I’ve learnt to call it), why not start them off a little early? Vicetone teamed up with the talented Colin McLoughlin to produce what is one of my favorite party songs of the year so far.

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