Friday, July 29, 2016

New Music Friday: Five of the best

New Music Friday... Sounds exciting, doesn't it? But it's the middle of summer and the release schedules are looking a little thin, so you can probably give it a miss. EXCEPT, of course, for these songs. Which are all at least a 6/10.

1) Jason Derulo - Kiss The Sky

Jason Derulo never met a bandwagon he didn't like, so here he is with his Uptown Funk rip-off tribute. It's from a greatest hits album, if you can believe such a thing exists.

2) Nao - In The Morning
Nao's debut album is out today, which is good news for anyone who likes woozy, murky R&B. This song, a staple of her live set for over a year, starts like a million other gloomy pop songs but stick around for the climax. OMG.

3) Offaiah - Trouble
Just a great, upbeat dance track, straight out of Argentina. It's been creeping up the dance charts since May - but gets its official release today.

4) JoJo - Fuck Apologies (feat Wiz Khalifa)
Former America's Most Talented Kids contestant JoJo proves she's all grown up by swearing unnecessarily on what is otherwise a perfectly-serviceable pop song.

5) Skott - Wolf
Lorde-endorsed, dreamy Scandanavian pop.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Video: AlunaGeorge - Mean What I Mean

Some serious Neneh Cherry vibes going on in this video - which was shot in an abandoned waterpark.

That means it gets to continue an AlunaGeorge theme of dancing in empty swimming pools, which is probably a metaphor for something deep that I'll never understand.

Interestingly, Aluna's French record label has posted a second video for Mean What I Mean, after holding a competition to find dance crew who could create choreography for the song. It's pretty impressive.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Get your ears around the new single from Muna

Twenty years after the Spice Girls, here's a more realistic look at Girl Power, courtesy of LA power pop trio Muna.

Loudspeaker "deals with using one's voice to recover from different forms of abuse," say the band, and it includes punchy, direct lyrics like: "I've seen many a friend be silenced /
Thinking nobody would believe them... But every time I don't shut up, it's revolution". So stick that up your zig-a-zig-ah.

The video carries a more metaphorical take on the song's message, as the trio break into a building and claim it as their own. The clip ends with the band and their friends dancing around in the street - because some Girl Power clichés are too good to abandon.

If you want to know more about Muna - they're former USC students Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin and Naomi McPherson, who started off jamming in hotel rooms before morphing into a sort of goth version of Haim. They have the usual social media pages for you to follow.

They can also "cut it" live, as this video confirms.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Songs you may have missed

Back once again like a renegade master. Here are 12 songs you might have missed if this blog is your only source of new music in the universe.

1) Father John Misty - Real Love Baby
Harmonies abound on this one-off single from Father John Misty, which includes the unforgettable couplet: "I've got real love baby / Wait until you taste me."

2) Major Lazer - Cold Water (feat. Justin Bieber & MØ)
Apparently this will be number one on Friday, making Justin Bieber the Whigfield to Drake's Wet Wet Wet.

3) Blossoms - Charlemagne
The best indie-pop single of 2016 is actually a re-release, but that's the sorry state of guitar music in the second decade of the 21st Century.

4) Regina Spektor - Bleeding Heart
After a few years off to start a family, Regina Spektor is back... and it was worth the wait. Bleeding Heart reflects on an awkward childhood, sitting at the back of the bus and avoiding the school dance - and how, even as a confident, successful adult, those feelings are never far from the surface.

By turns a bubbly pop song, a raucous rock banger and a plaintive piano ballad, it's an expectedly unexpected pleasure.

5) Britney Spears - Make Me (feat. G-Eazy)
Pedestrian verses, beatific choruses. Not too shabby.

6) Katy Perry - Rise
Pedestrian verses, pedestrian choruses. Pretty shabby. (Although the "oh ye of little faith" line is a masterstroke).

7) SG Lewis - Holding Back (feat. Gallant)
Smooth, funky house from Liverpool's SG Lewis - endorsed by Pharrell as a "white boy with soul". The vocals from R&B wunderkind Gallant are the icing on this particularly sticky cake. Yum.

8) The Divine Comedy - Catherine The Great
Any song that includes the lyric "she looked so bloody good on a horse" is alright with me.

9) Glass Animals - Youth
A quietly political song, about a family torn apart by war - sung from the perspective of a mother who sent her child away in the hope of a happier life.

Frontman Dave Bayley says the track was inspired by a conversation with a stranger. "It was one of the saddest things I'd ever heard, and she was on the verge of crying," he told NPR, "but she also had a sense of optimism and calm. Something in her face said she'd found a way to be happy again."

10) Opia - Shadow Dances
Staccato guitar lines and shimmering harmonies propel this smart, summery pop song from Yale University students Jacob and Cole, aka Opia. Reminds me of Friendly Fires and Passion Pit, back from the golden era of music blogs.

11) Jagwar Ma - OB1
A swirling, psychedelic masterpiece - which the band describe as being "designed for nocturnal road trips and foraging through forests for morning fresh champignons." Er, ok then.

12) Enrique Iglesias - Duele El Corazon (feat. Tinashe, Javada)
Every so often, Enrique Iglesias appears out of nowhere with an above-average pop smash (I'm not talking about Hero). This is one of those occasions. Just try to ignore the lecherous lyrical content.

That's your lot. I didn't include the new 5SOS single. Apols.

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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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