Friday, August 22, 2014

A rag tag grab bag of new swag*

So, as predicted, parenthood is thinning out the blog posts a little but DO NOT FEAR - I'm still getting my lugholes around the latest pop discs and groovy new tunes (as well as taking a crash course in dad speak).

Here are a few that caught my attention in the midst of the biggest and most rewarding learning curve of my life.

1) Labrinth - Let It Be

Steeped in a steamy soup of classic soul, Labrinth's comeback single starts out like an unnecessary Aloe Blacc pastiche. But you know young Timothy McKenzie will have a secret weapon in his production tool belt, and so it proves on the slightly mad, definitely brilliant, spaghetti western chorus.

2) Haim - My Song 5 (ft A$AP Ferg)

My Song No. 5 showcases the more experimental, riff-tastic side of the Haim sisters, but it's an odd choice for a single when My Honey & I is still waiting to be cherry picked from the album.

The video doesn't do the track any favours, either, with it's dated Jerry Springer Show parody bearing scant relation to the lyrics. Odd - but worth it for the Ke$ha cameo.

3) Juce - Burning Up

When I last wrote about this song in early July, it wasn't scheduled to be a single. But either someone has seen sense, or Juce's record label fancied writing off some money against their tax bill - because top summer jam Burning Up now comes with it's own "visual".

Mind you, it looks like it cost about £20 with change left over for a packet of Jaffa Cakes, but the London-centric tune ("Big Smoke is burning up") survives intact.

4) Laura Doggett - Phoenix

This may only be her debut single, but Laura Doggett is the first artist I'm calling for the BBC Sound of 2015 list.

Produced by SOHN, the track is barely there - a minimal, stuttering click track and a mournful piano - all the better to showcase Laura's pitch-black vocals. She sounds like Tracy Chapman or Nina Simone dragged into the sewers, and it's captivating.

5) Bondax - All I See (ft Tanya Lacey)

Just when you thought 2014 had enough killer dance anthems, along comes another one. Bondax (terrible name, sounds like a drain cleaner) are Adam Kaye and George Townsend, and the video for their tropical take on deep house was shot in Corsica and Lancaster. See if you can guess which is which.

That's all for now. I'm off to do some dad dancing.

* Sorry - I ran out of time to think up a better headline.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Video: Tove Lo - Not On Drugs

It's no secret that I love Tove Lo, the beat-wielding wild child of Swedish synthpop. Her Truth Serum EP is as a illy mixed cocktail of awesome - full of stomach-plunging drama and choruses so megalithic you couldn't destroy them with a truckload of Semtex.

So it's a crying shame that the video for that EP's standout track, Not On Drugs, is so undercooked. The weird editing, the weirder haircuts, the cheap effects and cheaper locations are a woeful disservice to the song's gutsy declaration of love ("There’s always the happy part before the broken heart," says Tove. "Come join me in my little love trip…")

It kind of comes together for the final chorus when someone sets off a powder paint grenade in Tove's face but it's too little, too late (this may be the first time someone has described a hand grenade as 'inadequately exciting for a pop video' but I call 'em like I see 'em).

Maybe just close your eyes and enjoy the song, which is a solid gold 9/10

Tove Lo - Not On Drugs

To counterbalance the disappointment of that Swedish video, here's another, better Swedish video, filmed at Stockholm Pride last weekend.

Yes, that's a genuine cop.

PS Tove Lo's album Queen Of The Clouds is out on 30 September in the US and "TBC" in the UK. :(

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Here's a free gift from Katy B

Most people assume Katy B's excellent, progressive second album Little is so-called because she is petite and a ginger. They're partly right - although that hair colour is definitely from a bottle - but there's another reason, too.

Speaking to the Metro last year, the singer mentioned her album was named after a song called Little Red Light, about a cheating boyfriend, whose Blackberry gave him away. The blinking red "message received" light was flashing a little too frequently and when Katy checked it out... Well, you can guest the rest.

For some reason, the song never made it onto the final tracklisting but Katy has just given it away as a free download, ahead of her appearance at the Notting Hill Carnival this weekend.

Spiced with a dancehall/reggae flavour, you can see why it wasn't a good fit for sophisticated dance-pop of Little Red: The album, but on its own it's still a proper little gem.

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Taylor Swift lets the groove get in

Taylor Swift's new single Shake It Off premiered on a live stream last night, long after I'd started a 30 Rock marathon, so "apols" that this post is, like, 12 hours behind the curve.

But what a song, readers. What. A. Song.

Produced by Max Martin and Shellback (previous responsible for We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together) it's a big dumb dance song with a gargantuan drum loop they've plainly nicked out of Pharrell's big box of big beats for big songs.

A few things to note:

1) It's a grower, but a quick one. My first impression was "competent but generic". My second impression was "why are my feet moving in this uncommon manner? Is this what you humans call 'dance?'"

2) In accordance with 21st Century pop law, Taylor has a "calls out" the "haters". Yawn.

3) The video is terrific. Director Mark Romanek (99 Problems, Scream, Hurt) spent wads of cash hiring professional dancers for a ballet set-up, a street dance set-up, an interpretive dance set-up! etc. Then Taylor showed up and danced like an idiot in front of them all. Inspired.

4) A posse of Taylor Swift fans - chosen from Instagram, Twitter, fan letters and other places - also get to start in the clip. "They have kept the secret that they were in this music video for two months," Swift said. Imagine that. It's a wonder none of them burst.

5) The Toni Braxton / Gwen Stefani cheerleader rap breakdown is great, but there's no killer line á la "this is exhausting" in WANEGBT.

6) Less than a day after it's premiere, the song is already on target for the top of the Billboard Hot 100 (that's the proper music charts in the US, fact fans).

7) It's actually available on UK iTunes right now, too. Miracles will never cease..

8) Taylor totally misses the opportunity to sing "Bakers gonna bake, bake, bake, bake, bake" in the chorus.

So, without further ado, here it is... Enjoy!

Taylor Swift - Shake It Off</></ br>

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Monday, August 18, 2014

An important announcement & eight songs you may have missed

Alright then... This might be the last regular post in a while, as mrsdiscopop and I are about to become parents. I'll check in to the blog as often as I can over the next couple of months, but you'll understand if updates are a little patchy.

That aside, there's still plenty of quality music knocking about. For example...

1) Charli XCX - Break The Rules
"Going to the discotheque / getting high and getting wrecked." Marvellous.

2) David Guetta - Lovers on the Sun (ft Sam Martin)
Guetta, now officially in his late 40s, has clearly been listening to Avicii and making a few notes. This new single is cut from the same cloth as Avicii's adventures in country music - although the French maestro adds a few b-movie flourishes of his own. Surprisingly effective, and a welcome break from his well-worn template.

3) Ella Eyre - Comeback
WARNING: These vocal stunts were performed by a professional Ella Eyre. Do not attempt them at home.

4) Arcade Fire - Afterlife (Flume Mix)
The phrases "Arcade Fire" and "dance remix" go together like "emotion" and "Nicole Kidman's face" - but this 10-minute epic is the exception that proves the rule that lives in the house that jack built.

5) Michael Jackson - A Place With No Name
Top YouTube comment: "I thought he was dead?"

6) Stacy Clark - Figured it Out
One of those rare, unsolicited songs that pings into my inbox and isn't utter rubbish.

Stacy Clark brings a refreshing singer-songwriter sound to electro pop. Imagine Katy Perry as written by Ingrid Michaelson and you'll have a fair idea of where this is heading.

7) The Spinners - Rubberband Man
Huey Morgan played this on his incomparable 6 Music show two weeks ago and it's my new favourite song in the world, not least because of this ridiculously 1970s TV performance (I won't spoil the surprise but you must stick around to the three minute point).

The 70s funk song, from the same band who sang It's A Shame, was written for their producer's son who was being teased about his weight at school.

Now, I'm only just starting down the road to parenthood but I'm not convinced the lyric: "He's a big fat man who moves real good" would have helped.

8) Ella Henderson - Glow
Following up the almighty Ghost with a slower, but no less catchy single, here's the best singer ever to escape the clutches of X Factor.

And that's a wrap. Hope to keep this going amidst the madness... Mrdiscopop xx

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Video: Arcade Fire - You Already Know

Directed and filmed by frontman Win Butler, the video for Arcade Fire's uncharacteristically chirpy You Already Know is the epitome of charm.

Arcade Fire - You Already Know

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