Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What AlunaGeorge mean when they say they mean what they mean

After a couple of edgier, underground tracks, AlunaGeorge have announced the arrival of their second album with their poppiest song since You Know You Like It.

Mean What I Mean has an irresistible house bounce, while Aluna alternates between a diva croon and bluntly brushing off a man who won't take "no" for an answer.

It turns out the lyric is based on a real-life encounter, with someone who accused Aluna of "playing hard to get" when she turned down his advances. "I freaked out," the singer told Annie Mac on Radio 1. "I was like, 'Oh My God, I've got to get out of here.'"

Asked about turning the situation into a song, Aluna explained: "You go through these situations and, at the time, I personally don't think to myself 'oh, this is going to be great material'.

"Then you're in the studio and you've still got those feelings that you didn't resolve quite as well as you'd like to have done. And that's where I really pull my lyrics from. Like, 'OK, if I went back to that situation, what would I have needed to handle it better?'"

The song also features up-and-coming MCs Dreezy and Leikeli47. Listen to it below, and prepare yourselves for AlunaGeorge's second album, I Remember, this September.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Banks returns with the warped and NSFW anthem I F--- WIth Myself

Banks - the queen of emo R&B - is back with a frankly disturbing new song, called Fuck With Myself. It premiered on Zane Lowe's show earlier today, swiftly followed by a creepy video from Philippa Price - the visual artist behind Rihanna's Brits performance.

It's... well, take a look.


I've watched that a couple of times now and a few moments really stick: the choke-hold, the tongue, the dismembered head, the careless application of make-up. But I'm still not really sure what to think about the song.

So I turned to the internet, to see if anyone could speak my brain. Turns out, they're all as confused as I am.

:: "Holy Shit" - Vice
:: "Ultra creepy" - DIY
:: "She's baaaaaack" - Idolator
:: "Demented-looking" - Fuse
:: "FKA Twigs meets American Horror Story" - Breaking More Waves
:: "Deeply fucking horrifying" - Baebel
:: "Very reassuring" Dots and Dashes
:: "Her best yet" - Sidewalk Hustle

So congratulations for creeping everyone out with the video. But what about the actual song?

It's heavy but minimal; with icy, stabbing synths underscoring Banks's brutal vocals. The hook ("I fuck with myself more than anyone else") is instantly indelible, but it's not exactly "sing it in the lift" material.

Perhaps people were underwhelmed - although I found the song improved when I stopped watching the video. In particular, I like the sentiments of strength and self-confidence from an artist whose previous songs have frequently touched on other people's ability to dictate her state of mind.

She explained the song's genesis on Zane Lowe's show earlier today.


"This was the last song I wrote on the record. I was completely drained. I didn't think I had any more in me, and I was planing on working on a song I had already finished.

"I was diving into my fear of what could I put out first - I've changed a lot, I've developed a lot and I guess I was just venting.

"My dear friend and collaborator Tim Anderson was in the studio with me. After I was done on my little rant, he was like, 'Do you want me to read you some of the statements you just said?'

"And then he said I'd said, 'I fuck with myself more than anybody else.' It just felt so perfect for that day and I needed it so bad. So that's how the song was birthed."

The song is out now, and a new Banks album follows in September.

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Monday, July 11, 2016

The new Chvengers

That headline is terrible, isn't it? Objectively awful. Sorry.

Anyway, the point is this: Chvrches have an animated video for their new single Bury It, in which the band (and guest vocalist Hayley Williams off of Paramore) gain superpowers and soar into the sky like Marvel Synthpop Superheroes.

The big question is: Who else is signing up? Will there be an Adam Antman? Cee-Lo Green Lantern? Count Nefariana Grande? Carly Rage Jepsen? Tony Toni Toné Stark?

Oh, I give up. Here's the video.

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Put a little sunshine in your life

South London singer Jodie Abacus has been making waves over the last 12 months with a series of upbeat, life-affirming singles. Admittedly, they're tiny waves - but lots of tiny ripples can combine to make a tsunami. Probably. I never studied Oceanography, ok?

Songs like She's In Love With The Weekend and Good Feeling have earned the youngester comparisons to Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, ELO and Steely Dan. Which, let's face it, is an amazingly diverse set of references.

His latest single keeps up the happy vibes. Called I'll Be That Friend, it's bouncier than ten tiggers - although it turns out the song was inspired by a pretty bleak year in the singer's life, which started with a nasty bout of pneumonia and ended with a break-up from his long-term girlfriend.

"By the end of that year I wished I could still have the pneumonia instead of such bad heartache," he says in a press release. "I was crumbling, sitting in an empty room, just me and a bed and my keyboard. I started playing and crying at the same time. I felt like, if I was looking from the outside at this situation, I would give that person a really, really big hug and say it's all right. That's when I wrote I'll Be That Friend."

He doesn't document what prompted the lyric: "Where's my sandwich?"


By the way, if the start of that video seems familiar, it's a riff on the art project "People React To Being Called Beautiful", which went viral in 2013.

Shea Glover, who created that project, served as a consultant on Abacaus's video, alongside pop video veteran Ethan Lader (Bruno Mars, Cee-Lo Green, Mary J Blige).

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

New banger alert: X&Y Footprints

Now that Years & Years have rinsed their album to within an inch of its life, we need a new ampersand-utilising pop trio to lift our spirits.

Stepping into the breach with impeccable timing are X&Y - aka Ben Cork, Ash Howarth and Rhys Morgan. (That's them above, Is that a big chair, or are they midgets?).

Their new single Footprints is a galloping pop stomper with a rousing "HEY!" in the chorus, so people who don't know the words can pump their fists in the air and feel involved - which is great pop writing, as any fule kno.

The trio support Take That at the BST festival in Hyde Park later this week. Expect to hear them on a radio near you soon.



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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

First she was up, she was up...

Good old Courtney Barnett, the world's most unassuming rock star, has hired Aussie actress Magda Szubanski to star in her new video, Elevator Operator. If you don't recognise the name, you'll recognise her face: She played Esme Hoggett in the film Babe.

Without giving too much away, Szubanski plays a tower block tenant who causes all sorts of havoc for Barnett - the building's bellhop. Along the way, there are cameos for Sleater-Kinney, Jeff Tweedy and some other indie musicians you'll barely recognise. Among them is a band called Batpiss, who I will be checking out on the basis of their name alone.


As usual for Barnett, the lyrics have an interesting backstory - as she explained to Nothing But Hope And Passion.

"Elevator Operator is a story I wrote about a friend that likes to go to the top of this building to enjoy the view. One day he got into the elevator with this lady, and she freaked out because she thought he was going up to the roof to kill himself. He told me the story, and it seemed to be such a crazy kind of story to me, just a crazy situation. She must have assumed that something was wrong with him, because he was young and had scruffy hair or something – I don’t know."

You don't get that with "Fergie" now, do you?

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