Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ibeyi in session at Radio 1

French-Cuban duo Ibeyi are twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Díaz. They're the daughters of Buena Vista Social Club percussionist Anga Díaz. And, more importantly, their debut album Ibeyi (it means "twins" in Yoruba) is spellbinding.

A fusion of Lisa-Kaindé's favourite jazz singers (Nina Simone, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald) and Naomi's hip-hop fandom. Simultaneously traditional and innovative, it's a meditation on family, love and history - bound together by the sisters' other-worldly harmonies and a superb use of percussion and atmosphere.

The band descended on the BBC's Maida Vale studios last night for a session with Huw "Hoooo" Stephens. You can listen to it in full below - unless you're on this page after 31 March, in which case it's gone forever :(

If the embedded player above has expired, here are the band doing a session for someone else, but with slightly worse production values.

Ibeyo - River

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Marina gets forgetful on Froot no.5

The fear with the long, slow trickle of releases from Marina and the Diamonds' third album, Froot, is that each track will get progressively less interesting. But having had the privilege of hearing the whole thing, I can vouch that the fruit is satisfyingly juicy throughout (do you see? DO YOU SEE?!!).

If you've heard the title track and the current single, I'm A Ruin, you'll know that Marina's abandoned Electra Heart's "throw 25 producers at the wall and see which one sticks" approach for a more stripped-back, mature style. And that continues across Froot's 12 tracks, written solo, produced by David Kosten and recorded with a helping hand from art-pop lunatics Everything Everything.

The result is a record that's coy about revealing its bounty. You need a few listens to appreciate it, partly because the production is so subtle. It's not constantly screaming "here's the bloody chorus, dummies", leaving you to navigate the music's peaks and troughs on your own. As Marina mentioned to me in a (forthcoming) interview, it works better if you listen to "a track a day" while you acclimatise to the new style.

All of which means the the record's unconventional release strategy - Marina's released a song a month for the last five months - makes much more sense.

The latest "froot" came out at midnight... Called Forget, it's one of the album's bigger foot-stompers, with a chunky guitar riff that balances an introspective lyric about Marina's inability to let go of the past.

Marina and the Diamonds - Forget

You can pre-order the album now, and get all of the "froots" instantly. Delicious.

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Hear what the Brits were bleeping out of Kanye West's perfomance

Deranged quote machine Kanye West has just unveiled the studio version of his new single, All Day - aka the one that had The Brits playing whack-a-mole with the mute button.

Unsurprisingly, it comes across a lot better when you actually get to hear the words (and the bass, and the lyrics). What's more surprising is how long it took the song to come together.

West first mentioned it in a GQ interview last July, saying it had the sort of lyrics "Jay would normally say". But speaking to Radio 1 last week, Sam Smith said: "You know he hasn't even finished that song?"

"I said to him [at The Brits], 'what are you guys doing after?' and he said, 'I've got to go to the studio and finish that song I just performed.' I thought that was amazing."

Perhaps the extra work went into sampling Paul McCartney whistling, which is how the song ends. According to Rolling Stone, the section appears to be a re-recording of a song McCartney wrote in 1969 that was inspired by a Pablo Picasso painting of a guitarist. I kid you not.

Here's the song in full. You can buy it on iTunes now.

Kanye West - All Day | Listen for free at bop.fm

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Solved: The Carly Rae conundrum

Call Me Maybe is one of the defining pop songs of our times. Not because it's particularly strong lyrically or thematically but because it proved the earworm wasn't dead.

As much as today's pop stars posture and preen and hire cutting-edge producers to shape their sound, Call Me Maybe was proof that a good song, well sung could conquer the world. Before Call Me Maybe, Katy Perry would have rejected Roar as "too obvious". Without Carly Rae Jepsen, a record label might have thought twice about releasing a song as simple and joyous as Happy, in case it damaged Pharell's urban brand.

Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe

The problem for Jeppo was how to follow that single up. It sounded like a one-hit wonder. And, with the exception of her guest spot on Owl City's Good Time, it remains her only hit.

Until now.

The Canadian star's new single, I Really Like You, was released to retail last night* and, while the chorus doesn't quite have the toffee pudding stickiness of Call Me Maybe's syncopated strings, the melody is practically indelible.

That's because Carly Rae sings the word "really" 67 times - as in, "I really really really really really really like you." It's as dumb and sweet and memorable as her breakout song. And, interestingly, it was co-written by Peter Svensson from the Cardigans, who are the second best Swedish band ever (after Roxette, obviously).

If it's not a hit, I'll eat my hat.** Listen here.

Carly Rae Jepsen - I Really Like You

Or watch her perform it adequately in a live scenario here.

Carly Rae Jepsen - I Really Like You (GMA Live)

* in the US. In the UK, it's not out until 14 June. Yes, you read that right. Fucking hell.

** My hat is made out of Cadbury's animal crackers

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Aluna George + Diplo + Skrillex = VG

Jack Ü is a joint project between speaker-bothering dubstep dons Diplo and Skrillex. It was announced years ago, but they only got round to relasing material last week. A whole album of it, to be precise, featuring contributions from Kiesza, Justin Bieber and Missy Elliot (together at last!)

The release "dropped" via a marathon 24-hour DJ set last Thursday - which, according to Billboard, didn't go exactly to plan.

"Instead of dancing, many guests had their smartphones held high," reported the magazine. "Eventually Diplo cut out the music in disgust. 'No, for real, put your phones away because you look like an idiot,' he ranted. 'If you want to be on Snapchat all night, make some noise. OK, you're a dickhead.'"

Oh dear.

Anyway, the music is as ridicubonkers as you might expect. My favourite so far is the collaboration with AlunaGeorge - first previewed two years ago. Called To Ü, it wobbles like Mr Jelly on a see-saw in an earthquake.

Jack Ü - To Ü (feat. AlunaGeorge)

But you should also check out the Kiesza / Missy Elliot track - if only for Missy namechecking a whole bunch of Salt-N-Pepa tracks in the first of her two guest verses.

Jack Ü - Take Ü There (feat. Kiesza) (Missy Elliott Remix)

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Iggy Azalea arrested

Not really, of course. This is just the crime-themed video for her new single, Trouble - in which Azalea gets caught up in a bank heist. The cop is played by Jennifer Hudson, who you will recognise as the woman who broke your ears screaming AND I AM TELLING YOU I'M NOT GOING... NO, NO, NO, NO, NOOoOowowowoowieeeeeoeooOOOOO.

A cute little piano-driven ditty, Trouble is taken from the repackaged version of Iggy Azalea's debut album. It's probably the most mainstream she's ever been - recalling the sunnier, poppier hip-hop of Monie Love or Salt-N-Pepa. And that is no bad thing.

Iggy Azalea - Trouble (ft Jennifer Hudson)

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