Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New discovery: Jones

Jessie Ware, Banks, Tinashe, FKA Twigs: 2014 has been a great year for avant garde R&B.

But if you haven't had enough yet, check out impossible-to-Google London newcomer Jones, whose new single, You, is so experimental it should be housed in CERN.

"I'm only in it for you," she sings over a soothing electric piano, while a producer throws shopping trolleys at her head. Then Peter Gabriel's 1980s backing band drops by and "lays down" a fretless bass guitar line. Then a spaceship lands quietly in her garden.

To Jones's credit, the competing textures enhance the song's sense of smoky mystery. As it fades away, you feel like you've just heard the soundtrack to someone else's dream.

Highly recommended.

Jones - You

If you liked that, check out Jones's earlier single, Deep, which is a little more straightforward but no less seductive.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Can Charli XCX turn it back around?

It'll be interesting to see what happens to Charli XCX's career in the UK after Break The Rules flumped into the chart at 35 and disappeared without a trace.

To be honest, it wasn't her best effort - replacing Boom Clap's carefree abandon with a petulant lyric and sneery video - but the goodwill from Fancy and Boom Clap should have carried her a little higher up the charts.

It's not even a "young people don't buy music" problem: The video for Break The Rules has a disappointing, if not abysmal, 8 million views. Boom Clap has 84 million, while Fancy racked up an unbelievable 349 million (!).

I hope the poor performance is an aberration, because Charli is one of the thrillingest, killingest pop stars we have, as anyone who's seen her live show can attest.

Charli herself doesn't seem too flustered, telling Seventeen Magazine: "I'm going to build an empire. I'm always writing for someone else. I want to be someone who has her fingerprints all over the pop charts."

And, while she's contributing to the Hunger Games soundtrack and collaborating with Giorgio Moroder, that seems entirely possible.

But the proof will come when her album, Sucker, "drops" on the unforgivingly competitive date of 16th December (26th January in the UK).

To tempt you into purchasing a copy, she's just uploaded the new song Gold Coins to Soundcloud. Written with Robyn and Icona Pop collaborator Patrick Berger, it's pop with balls. Massive shiny balls.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Video: Mark Ronson - Uptown Funk

One week on, and this Mark Ronson / Bruno Mars single Uptown Funk is still strutting around my brain like a particularly funky peacock.

When it premiered last week, I noted its similarity to The Time - and their Purple Rain-era material in general. The video does nothing to dispel that notion, with Bruno and The Smeezingtons channelling the syncopated moves, comedic timing, and tidy threads of Morris Day and Co.

And, after an opening segment that's inspired by Guys & Dolls (or is itWe Could Have Been Anything We Wanted To Be??), it ends up in a facsimilie of the First Avenue Club, where the majority of Purple Rain was shot in 1984.

It goes without saying that this only makes it better.

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Tove Lo has cancelled her London show

SAD FACE EMOTICON HERE. Tove Lo has had to scrap her show in London this week because her vocal cords are distressed.

Now, I'm not a doctor, but I think she should reconsider her grape-eating technique.

Anyway, it's not all bad news, because the Swedish singer has left us with a brand new video by way of compensation. Confusingly, it's for Over - a track from her year old Truth Serum EP, rather than a new single from her (exquisite) album Queen Of The Clouds.

According to the blurb, the video was shot by noted fashion photographer Rankin on London's Hampstead Heath. "Watch the fearless singer brave the elements as she treks across the Heath," the blurb continues, "before ultimately submerging herself in Hampstead's ponds for an emotional climax."

The water looks disgusting. I hope she scrubbed her armpits with Dettol afterwards.

Tove Lo - Over

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Here is that Band Aid 30 video in full

Band Aid 30 - Do They Know It's Christmas?

How can they give two lines to Rita Ora and none to Jessie Ware?

Donate your feckin' money by downloading the single here or visiting the Band Aid site. It's the right thing to do.

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Songs you may have missed: A Lorde (and S Club) special

So it was back to work this week after a very generous (although partly-unpaid) 12 weeks' paternity leave. I won't say it was easy to leave the kids behind but on balance my wife has the harder job.

Anyway, the cogs of the music industry machine continue to turn despite my domestic arrangements. Here's a round-up of the songs I heard this week and couldn't find time to write up. NB: They're basically all by Lorde.

1) Lorde - Yellow Flicker Beat (Kanye West Remix)

2) Charli XCX ft Simon Le Bon - Kingdom
This one's from Lorde's hand-picked soundtrack to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.

Charli talked about it to Pitchfork earlier this week, using the following words: "I worked with Rostam [Batmanglij] on that song. We went to the Miley Cyrus show in LA and got really wasted. Then we went back to his house and I sat on top of his piano, and we wrote Kingdom. We sung it into his phone.

"I remember thinking in the morning, 'Ugh, this is going to be the worst thing ever,' but it was really good. So when Ella [Lorde] reached out to me about the soundtrack, I decided to send her that song even though it’s really different than my usual shit. She was really complimentary about it."

So there you go.

3) Lorde - Don't Tell 'Em (Radio 1 Live Lounge cover)

4) S Club 7 - Greatest Hits medley (from Children In Need)
A greatest hits medley featuring four songs isn't really worthy of the title but it's interesting to see what S Club look like in their mid-to-late 30s.

Paul Cattermole is the highlight, dancing like a drunk uncle at a David Brent lookalike competest.

5) Nicole Scherzinger - Run

6) Lion Babe - Jump Hi (ft Childish Gambino)
Possibly R&B's best-kept secret, Lion Babe have been on the Discopop radar since 2012. They've been quiet for a while but this song, the title track to a forthcoming EP, suggests they're getting their ducks in a row for a major push 2015.

Sample watch: The chorus uses a vocal hook from Nina Simone's interpretation of Mr Bojangles.

7) Ariana Grande - All My Love (ft Major Lazer)
Also from the Hunger Games soundtrack. A total racket, but in the good way.

8) Calvin Harris - Outside (ft Ellie Goulding)
Do you think Calvin regrets giving all his best material to Rita Ora?

9) Taylor Swift - Shake It Off (Tesher remix)
This is magnificent - reframing Taylor's pop hit as a dark and dirty club hit. If Lorde had written Shake It Off, it would have sounded like this.

Sample-watch: The backing track is based around the intro to Justin Timberlake's What Goes Around (Comes Around).

10) One Bit - Won't Hold Back
Superlative sunset grooves from Radio One's "Most Played New Act of 2014". For fans of Disclosure and Holy Ghost!

11) Fergie - LA Love
Featuring cameos from Hilary Swank, Chelsea Handler and Ryan Seacrest. Hardly Liberian Girl, is it?

12) Chvrches vs Bleachers - You Can Go Your Own Way
Featuring the worst live sound mix you have ever heard in your life, this is nonetheless a brilliant cover version. Lauren's vivacious vocals really bring a new dimension to Fleetwood Mac's kiss-off classic.

And that, readers, is that. Happy listening!

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