Friday, December 20, 2013

Songs you may have missed: Santa Claus edition


I'm about to wrap up the blog for 2013, with just the annual Top 10s to come between now and New Year (unless something ridiculous happens like, say, Adele suddenly releasing a 24-track video album recorded on the moon with a backing band of hamsters on Boxing Day). So, for one last time, here's a round-up of songs you may have missed, interspersed with a few festive favourites.

1) James Brown - Go Power At Christmas Time
Not a sleigh bell in sight, but it's still a big shiny bauble of brilliance.

2) Busta Rhymes - Thank You ft. Q-Tip, Kanye West, Lil Wayne
Q-Tip and Busta have a long history of top-drawer collaborations, starting way back with A Tribe Called Quest's Scenario in 1992. Their latest, from Busta's forthcoming album E.L.E. 2 (Extinction Level Event 2), is no exception.

Based around a sample from Alicia Meyer's I Want To Thank You, it also features verses from Kanye and Lil Wayne who, frankly, sound a little intimidated by the competition.

And if you want more of the same, Busta and Q-Tip have just put out a free, collaborative mixtape, The Abstract and the Dragon, which is available here.

3) Disclosure - Help Me Lose My Mind (SOHN Remix)
If you thought Disclosure's Help Me Lose My Mind was minimalist before, wait til you hear what London-Austrian producer SOHN has done with it.

His hushed, stripped-back production makes a virtue of Hannah Reid's choral vocals, drawing you deeper and deeper inside the song as it unfurls like ink in water.

4) Kate Bush - December Will Be Magic Again
"Oh Saint NICK-o-lass, Up the CHIM-en-eee." Totally amazing.

5) Grouplove - Ways To Go
Grouplove are basically the indie-pop Scissor Sisters and this song, which has featured in an advert for GoPro cameras, looks like it'll be their breakthrough hit.

The video, in which a young Kim Yong-Un becomes a fan of the band and starts wearing Hawaiian shirts around Pyongyang, is a must-see:

6) Blood Orange - You're Not Good Enough (Holy Ghost bootleg)
Poor Dev Hynes (aka Blood Orange, aka Lightspeed Champion) lost everything - even his pet dog Cupid - in a New York apartment fire this week. The letter he published about the devastation ("It's my life. It's everything I've ever owned... loved... it's all gone") will break your heart.

At one point, he talks about going back on tour to give his life a sense of normality. I'm not sure that's wise - but whatever works...

In the meantime, handing over some cash for the music he's made could help him get back on his feet. Thankfully, that includes such classics as Solange's True EP, MKS's Flatlines and Sky Ferreira's Eveything Is Embarrassing and this, his new single, remixed by DFA's Holy Ghost. It's terrific.

7) Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You
Next time someone tells you "well, of course, objectively speaking Fairytale Of New York is the best Christmas song ever written" put this on at full blast and tell them to get a grip.

8) Angel Haze - A Tribe Called Red
Furious, thrilling, magnificent.

9) Vance Joy - Riptide
This was a huge hit in Australia earlier in the year, and I can see it doing the same in the UK in 2014.

Jammed full of pop culture references (Midnight Cowboy and Michelle Pfeiffer to name a few) it also carries a shrewd lyrical observation in the chorus: "I love you when you're singing that song - and I get a lump in my throat cause you're gonna sing the words wrong."

Warning: Riptide is a little bit like the Lumineers' Ho Hey played on a ukelele, so steer clear if that's the sort of thing to make you want to rip apart a cushion.

10) Otis Redding - Merry Christmas Baby
"Santa came down the chimney
Half past three y'all
Left only my good old present
For my baby and for me

The sound of a man in the recording studio after one too many sherries.

Hmm, looking back at it, that's quite an eclectic mix of styles and genres. Well done for getting to the end. And have wonderful Christmas, one and all, wherever you are.

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