Friday, July 14, 2017

FYI: The Mura Masa album is dead good

Mura Masa releases his self-titled debut album today and, as the headline above suggests, it's got more smashes than a bottle bank.

If you're not familiar with his ouevre, here's a potted biog: Mura Masa is 21-year-old Alex Crossan. He comes from Guernesy, and named himself after 16th-century Japanese swordsmith Muramasa Sengo. Being raised on a "small, isolated haven" halfway between Britain and France meant he wasn't swayed by prevailing music trends, and so he delved into the weird and wonderful delights of world music, which means his own productions are peppered with non-Western sounds like Trinidadian steel drums, African kalimbas and Indonesian gamelan gongs. It's trop-house with a genuine understanding of its roots.

More importantly, he makes dance music that's infused with genuine emotion, via collaborations with fellow outsiders Damon Albarn and Charli XCX.

Here's a sample of what you can expect.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Lana Del Rey gets busy with A$AP Rocky

Lana Del Rey has always had hip-hop elements in her songs, but she's never had a rap star contribute a verse... until now.

Yesterday, she unveiled two new songs: Summer Bummer and Groupie Love, both featuring A$AP Rocky (and on the former, Playboy Carti), and both continue the star's current hot streak.

Summer Bummer is, despite the bollock-awful title, my favourite of the pair. It starts off as a prototypical Lana Del Rey song, with barely-bothered lyrics like "hip-hop in the summer, babe... be my undercover lover, babe."

But then something interesting happens - after A$AP's verse (which he shares with Playboi Carti) the song starts to deconstruct, dissolving into digital noise, with Lana's haunting upper-register holler barely holding the song together.

Groupie Love is a more straightforward, string-drenched ballad, with a chorus that sticks like flypaper.

Speaking to Zane Lowe last night, Lana revealed she'd recorded a bunch of songs with A$AP Rocky but they're mostly just languishing in a cupboard somewhere.

"He travels a lot but sometimes he’s in town for a month and, when he is, I’ll come to the studio and hear what he’s working on and do background vocals on his tracks," said Lana.

"There probably are a lot of tracks somewhere that we’re both on over the years. We do 'em and forget em and if one's better than all of them, like this one, we try to put it out."

Lana then proceeded to FaceTime A$AP Rocky while he was on the toilet, which is a classy move.

Still, with these two tracks alongside Love and Lust For Life, her new album is shaping up to be one of the year's best releases. It's out next Friday on Polydor.

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Kesha is a motherfudging woman

Last week, Kesha poured all the anguish and horror of the last five years into a (frankly stunning) new song called Praying. You can read about / listen to it here, should you desire.

With that out of her system (in song form, at least, the mental scars will be with her for life), she's free to make a gargantuan, ball-busting pop song. And here is that song.

Woman is powered by the same brass section who played on Amy Winehouse's Back To Black; and it shares some of that album's "don't give a fuck" attitude.

The lyrics are all pretty boilerplate "I'm a strong independent woman" stuff until Kesha gets the giggles in verse two and fluffs her lines. It's a brilliant, humanising moment - one in which the singer becomes three dimensional. She's not just a female warrior, she's self-aware, capable of levity. She's Just. Like. Us.

Whoever made the decision to include that outtake instead of the other, more polished, vocals Kesha undoubtedly recorded is a genius.

Incidentally, can you think of any other songs where the narrator breaks character? Michael Stipe does it in The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite. Janet Jackson has a giggle in Runaway. Any others???

UPDATE: According to Popjustice, this whole song was inspired by Donald Trump's "Grab them by the pussy comments."

"That made me so infuriated, as a hardcore feminist," said Kesha at a recent playback event I couldn't go to because I had to pick my children up from school.

"Ever since I was a kid and knew what a feminist was, I was a feminist. [I was] raised by a feminist. Once I heard that [comment] I was like, okay, well, I’m going to write this song about being a badass motherfucking woman who you don’t want to fuck with."

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Selena Gomez - Fetish

With Bad Liar finally climbing up the UK charts, Selena Gomez has decided to kill its momentum by releasing another single. Pop music, eh?

Anyway, Fetish is a worthy replacement. It doesn't have the quirky wordplay or musical slinkitude of its predecessor, but the chorus is a humdinger.

"You got a festoon for my love," sings La Gomez. "I push you out and you come right back."

"Don't see no point in blaming you," she continues. "If I were you I'd do me too."

The video, meanwhile, is fetishistic in its own way. A lingering, borderline intrusive, close-up of Gomez's lips, it also gives you an appreciation for the clinical excellence of American dentistry.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Stop everything and watch this

Haim playing Selena Gomez's Bad Liar with a fork and a spoon, in Radio 1's Live Lounge, is the only video you need to watch today.

They also did a passable version of their own single, Want You Back, without the aid of kitchen utensils. If you have time for a second video, this is also a 10/10.

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Demi Lovato: Sorry Not Sorry

Here it is. Sorry Not Sorry: The song that Swish Swish aspired to be... A fierce riposte to [persons unknown] that rises above petty payback with a wry sense of wit.

"I'm on fire and I know that it burns," sings Demi Lovato in full-on foghorn mode. "It'd be nice of me to take it easy on you but... nah."

"A lot of people hear this song and they think it's about an ex-boyfriend," the singer told Amazon Music, "but it's actually a song about the haters."

Actually, I'd argue it's a song about realising that haters are simply acting out their own inadequacies, and learning to take pride in your own achievements. Which is a great lesson for us all, is it not?

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