Premiered last night on Annie Mac's increasingly brilliant Radio 1 show, here's the first single from Rudimental's new album.
Called Never Let You Go, it's more of a mood piece than Waiting All Night or Feel The Love. Where those songs were 100% crescendo this seems content to ride a groove, with a telescoping vocal hook and an occasional splatter of drum and bass.
I'm not saying that's a bad thing - it's just not the balls-out barnstormer I was expecting.
Currently filed under undecided. What do you reckon?
I wouldn't normally post this sort of thing, but I find myself drawn to this new song by Alex Burey - a 19-year-old singer-songwriter from that London.
First the bad news: Alex is a Brit school graduate making languorous, confessional piano ballads. But it's easy to forget the Brit school gave us Imogen Heap and Jamie Woon as well as Jessie J and Katie Melua, and it's with those former graduates that Burey is more easily classified.
He created his debut EP in his bedroom last year; and won comparisons to 70s soft-rock legends Scott Walker and Lee Hazlewood (of whom he said, "some of his stuff reminds me of an old man pub, but some of it’s beautiful".)
His new single Come Over is delicate and unfurling; intricately detailed but light of touch. What seems like a muted palette becomes, on further listening, a richly coloured soundscape. It's far too mature for a 19-year-old, to be frank.
To help us mark the time before Pretty Girls - Britney Spears' forthcoming collaboration with Iggy Azalea - hits the internet, here's a little cover version she's done with Giorgio "quite literally the king of electronic music" Moroder.
Tom's Diner was originally an a capella album track by Suzanne Vega, before dance act DNA turned it into a club smash in the 90s. The lyrics are a vignette, with Vega sitting in a cafe reading a newspaper and observing the people around her.
The mundane subject matter seems like an odd fir for the singer who brought us "Work Bitch" and "Slave 4U" - but it turns out that Britney's limited, husky voice is a good match for Suzanne Vega's deadpan delivery. Although you have to suspend disbelief when she sings "I pour the milk". Britney has a team of people to do that for her.
I'm not so sold on the backing track, mind you. Maybe we can go back to the a capella?
A semi-regular round-up of all the music I couldn't squeeze onto the blog in the last seven days.
Here's this week's selection...
1) Jessie Ware - Tiny Desk Concert
The brilliant Tiny Desk series on US radio network NPR requires musicians to play a no bells and even fewer whistles acoustic set in their offices.
Jessie Ware is the perfect artist for this sort of thing. Her gorgeous, complex alto is enough to keep you captivated, even when the backing track disappears.
She performs Say You Love Me, Wildest Moments and Champagne Kisses. The best 15 minutes you'll spend all week.
2) Rihanna - James Joint
Released in celebration of cannabis enthusiasm day 20 April (420 in American calendar-speak) this is a brief interlude from Rihanna's forthcoming LP.
Suitably laid back and hazy, it's easily the best thing she's released this year.
3) Raury - Fly
Written immediately after news broke that police officer Darren Wilson was not being indicted for murdering unarmed teenager Mike Brown, Raury's heartfelt, complicated plea for a peaceful revolution was a sucker punch to the gut when it premiered in January.
It's even more powerful now that it has a video, which takes an animated trip through the highs and lows of black history in America.
4) Wolf Alice - Bros
Sadly not a tribute to Matt, Luke and Ken, the new single by Wolf Alice is instead a sentimental ode to childhood best friends.
It's been re-recorded since the 2013 original, much to the anger of fans, who seethed on Soundcloud: "Another great song completly ruined by the record business".
I think both versions approach perfection.
5) Natalie Imbruglia - Instant Crush
A Mad Men-inspired video for Imbruglia's acoustic take on the Daft Punk / Julian Casablancas track. What's not to love?
6) Hudson Mohawke - Ryderz
Hudson Mohawke sounds like a Hoxton clothing brand, but actually it's Scottish producer Ross Birchard. He's the backroom boffin behind many of Kanye West's more sonically adventurous productions. In fact, it was to his studio that West fled after this year's Brits to finish off All Day.
He's got his own album, Latern, coming out very soon and this song - which samples D.J. Rogers' Watch Out For The Riders - is one of its many highlights.
7) Chemical Brothers - Sometimes I Feel So Deserted
Back after a break of five years and sounding exactly the same as they did in 1998, here are the Chemical Brothers doing a song that goes bleep and bloop with the sort of computer generated visuals that make stoned people think they're in hyperspace.
Their eighth album, Born In The Echoes, will feature vocals from St Vincent (hooray!), Q-Tip (huzzah!) and Beck (Beck!).
8) The Go Team! - Ya Ya Yamaha
This Record Store Day exclusive is described as "a French girl on a motorcycle song," whatever that means.
All I know is that it's bloody racket, and all the better for it.
9) Sia - Fire Meet Gasoline
Starring Heidi Klum and Game of Thrones' star Pedro Pascal, this video tells an age-old story: Boy meets girl, boy falls in love, boy murders someone with a rock, boy shows girl the murder weapon, boy and girl have sex, boy and girl burn a house down.
Don't say it hasn't happened to you, too.
10) Tove Lo - Elastic Heart
Earlier year, Tove Lo had to cancel a bunch of performances to have vocal surgery - and doctors warned her she may never sing again.
After coming round from the anaesthetic she "couldn't say anything for five days," the singer told Billboard. "I almost choked on a spring roll because I wasn't supposed to cough! My voice started coming back a little; it sounded very different at first, which is scary."
But judging by this Sia cover, her voice is better than ever. Welcome back, Tove!
11) Young Wonder - Sweet Dreaming
Irish electro-pop duo Young Wonder have been biding their time while they piece together their debut LP. Rather than rush out a half-finished record to capitalise on the success of their eponymous 2013 EP, they've spent 24 months getting it just right.
The delicate production buoys Rachel Koeman's overlapping vocals to create something people are going to be very, very fond of.
12) Jones - Indluge
A gentle love song that's as wickedly indulgent as clotted cream.
13) Adam Lambert - Ghost Town
I've never warmed to Adam Lambert's music - whose lack of originality runs in direct proportion to the intensity of his eyeliner.
But teaming up with Max Martin seems to have solved all of that. Ghost Town is unexpected and unusual, combining guitar-pop and house beats with a surprisingly catchy whistled hook.
14) K Stewart - Keeping You Up
KStewart says she's influenced by Mariah, Whitney and Christina - but thankfully it's only the restrained, pop-centric moments she's interested in, as evidenced on this bubbly, 90s-style slice of harmonic pop.
Self-released on her own imprint Cherry Jam Records, it is one amazing remix away from being the sound of the summer.
Summer vibes abound on the new single from Lianne La Havas - whose shoulder-rubbing exploits with Prince and Stevie Wonder have clearly paid off.
Produced by Paul Epworth, Unbreakable finds the singer soaring through space, trying to repair a relationship she has ended. Lianne's voice flutters around an orchestral backdrop, punctuated by harp glissandi and a funky finger-picked guitar.
If you've got a field nearby - stand in the middle of it, stick this on, throw your arms out and spin around in the sun. Perfect.
Unbreakable is taken from La Havas' second album, Blood, which is out in July.
As well as Epworth, it features collborators such as Aqualung's Matt Hales, Disclosure's Howard Lawrence and Jamie Lidell.
Hot off the presses from De La Soul, here's a song to cover the wait for their crowdfunded eighth album.
Although it's not intended for the new record, it's no stopgap. Featuring Nas on the hook, God It features a chopped and spliced horn section, giving the track a pleasingly hefty retro vibe.
Here's what the band had to say about it: "While busy at work, we also like to play. This song is not on the new album, but an indication of good music to come. The song was produced by G_Force and you may recognize our featured guest. We're still in Atlanta recording and it sounds amazing! We can't wait to get this new album to you."
With their Kickstarter page now 10 times its original target (and more than a week left to go), it's safe to say the album won't suffer any unnecessary delays.
It's six long days since I last posted something here - but not for the want of trying. I simply haven't found anything I liked enough to make me want to bash out the usual 200 words of drivel.
Well that changes now - with the premiere of Peanut Butter Jelly by Galantis. The band comprises leather jacket enthusiasts Linus Eklöw, "known for his solo work as Style of Eye" (according to the press release) and Christian Karlsson, aka Bloodshy of Bloodshy and Avant.
More importantly, this track was co-written by jolly good pop outfit Dragonette. And it sounds like a tidal wave of candy smashing into Tony Blackburn's Pick Of The Pops. Listen to it, then enter a diabetic coma, below.
Having spent the best part of 1993 crushing on Juliana Hatfield, I am predisposed to like jangly, female-fronted indiepop.
So it is with great delight that I stumbled across two new songs by Honeyblood (pictured above, left) and Best Coast (above right).
Honeyblood's newest song is The Black Cloud - a Record Store Day exclusive that's also the band's first single since drummer Shona McVicar was replaced by Cat Myers.
It finds singer Stina Tweeddale (love that name) eulogising a friend who "fought my corner when I wouldn't open the door." As she emerges from her eponymous Black Cloud, the track opens up into sunny, hazy harmonising.
On first listen, Best Coast's Feeling OK seems similarly optimistic.
"I know it's love that's got me feeling OK," sings Bethany Cosentino. But that "OK" is telling: She's not going full Nina Simone on us... and, true enough, there's a melancholy undercurrent, as she observes: "I get so down, but I'll keep trying to stay this way".
Feeling OK is taken from Best Coast's third album, California Nights, from which we've already heard the title track and Heaven Sent. Those three songs seem more focused than their earlier work, while retaining the band's wispy charms.
According to the band, the record has been informed by 1990s grungepop (hello again, Juliana!), while trying capture LA's "epic sunsets" in musical form.
"When the sun sets, I feel like there is a large sense of calmness in the air, and I feel like everything that happened to me prior in the day, whether crappy experiences or good ones, at night, it all goes away and I sink deep into this different kind of 'world,'" said Bethany.
California Nights is out in May, pre-ordering fans.
I took a mini-break from the blog last week to help the kids survive the school holidays. OK, to help my wife survive the school holidays.
But plenty of great music found its way into the world in my absence. Here is a 15-track summary of that music.
1) Madonna - Ghosttown
The best video Madonna's made in over a decade, for her best single since Sorry.
Co-starring Terence Howard (Iron Man, Empire), it depicts the Queen of Pop one of the last survivors of a nuclear apocalypse. Which finally explains why she has the face of a 30-year-old Drew Barrymore.
2) Florence + The Machine - Ship To Wreck
More mellifluous than the previous releases from Florence's upcoming third album, this still finds the singer wracked with doubt. "Did I drink too much? Am I losing touch? Did I build this ship to wreck?" she hollers over the deceptively upbeat, glockenspielly backing.
The video, directed Vincent Haycock, follows the narratively-driven clips for St. Jude and What Kind of Man, and was filmed at Florence's house.
3) Brandon Flowers - Still Want You
It seems like Brandon's having a lot of fun with his new solo album.
I mean, A LOT of fun.
The second single from The Desired Effect is a wonky rock/gospel hybrid that hammers home its chorus with a bejangled mallet; while the video finds Brandon in a playful, flirty mood - looking eerily similar to Bryan Ferry doing David Bowie on Stars In Their Eyes.
4) Shura - 2 Shy
I championed this Janet Jackson sound-alike a couple of weeks ago, and now it has a moody and windswept (and largely unnecessary) video to accompany it.
5) Michael Calfan - Treasured Soul
This has been bubbling around on specialist dance shows since the start of the year, but it's getting a proper release in time for the summer. A soulful, uplifting dance anthem, it's powered by steel drum hook that owes a huge debt to Duke Dumont's I Got U. Which is no bad thing.
6) Chloe Black - Cruel Intentions
I wasn't a big fan of Chloe Black's last single, 27 Club, in which she revealed an ambition to die young, at the same age as Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin. It was a terrible, attention-seeking lyric with a casual disregard for those tragically curtailed lives.
Her new single seeks to make amends ("I won't try to defend all of my crazy") and suggests the London-based singer-songwriter could be this year's Lana Del Rey. Distinctive and dramatic.
7) Clean Bandit ft Marina and the Diamonds - Disconnect
Premiered live at Coachella, this is apparently from Clean Bandit's "eagerly anticipated" second album, which is coming out later this year.
As Marina later noted on Twitter, her stage outfit made her look like Ali G.
9) Kiesza - Sound of a Woman
It's ballad time in Kiesza world, which means less dancing, and more emoting. Bah.
10) Mark Ronson ft Mystikal - Feel Right
Live on the Ellen Show, this is a peach of a performance.
11) Snoop Dogg - So Many Pros
Produced by Pharrell, this creamy-smooth jam finds Snoop drawl-singing an ode to the "pretty people". Progressive it isn't, but the funkadelic chorus (featuring vocals from The Gap Band's Charlie Wilson) is delicious.
12) MO - Preach
Like SWV combined with Little Mix, while never reaching the peaks of either. Now on the Radio 1 playlist, where it's a refreshing change from James bloody Bay.
13) Lykke Li, Kanye West and Lil Wayne - Never Gonna Love Again
Eminem's producer has mashed up Lykke Li's Never Gonna Love Again with Lil Wayne and Kanye' Lollipop remix, for no reason other than he could.
It works surprisingly well.
14) Charles Hamilton - New York Raining (ft Rita Ora)
Here's a stunning, Selma-esque video to accompany New York Raining, Charles Hamilton's collaboration with Oscar nominee Rita Ora.
Set in a monochromatic 1960s New York, we see Charles amongst a group of civil rights protestors, joining arms as they square off with police. Rita stays clear of the politics, preferring to gaze wistfully through a rainy window.
15) Madonna - Bitch, I'm Madonna
We finish back where we started - with Madonna back on form, despite the creative disarray of her Rebel Heart album.
This is how you do a chat show performance in the YouTube age - playful and self-deprecating while cramming in tons of "content" and some killer dance moves. It's just a shame the song is so cringeworthy.
So there you go. Seems like I was the only one who had a quiet Easter. So spare a moment to remember the PR people who had to manage the YouTube uploads and email out the links. Let's hope they had tons of chocolate to compensate.
Yoga, the new track by Janelle Monae and her protege Jidenna, has been on repeat ever since I put it on last week's "songs you may have missed" list.
A proper grower, it finds Janelle in relaxed (and saucy) humanoid mode. It's refreshing to see her cutting loose from all the high concept Cyndi Merriweather stuff ... And it's a theme that's thankfully continued in the sprightly video.
Happy Easter, everyone! The sun is out and spring has sprung - and we all need new songs to sung. Hark a listen at this week's round-up of newbies.
1) Jamie xx - Loud Places
Taken from Jamie's first solo album, Loud Places begins with the downbeat cool of an xx track (not least because it features his bandmate Romy on voals). But the majestic, gospel-inspired chorus takes you to unexpected places. Lovely stuff.
2) Madeon - You're On (ft Kyan) - live session
Madeon makes the process of hitting buttons on a samplepad seem like the most exciting form of live performance ever invented, even though it's just... well, pressing some buttons on a samplepad. How does he do that?
3) Girlpool - Chinatown
Girlpool are Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker, two musicians from Philadelphia whose main selling point is that they make punk music without feeling the need for drums.
Their new single is a bit of a departure, though: A bluesy, meandering ballad that borrows the riff from Sheryl Crow's Leaving Las Vegas, it's shot through with a hesitant vulnerability most punks would sniff (glue) at.
4) Beyonce - Die With You
Sitting behind a piano, her hair braided and tucked into a baseball cap, here's pop megastar Beyonce singing a ballad for her husband on their seventh wedding anniversary.
I don't know about you - but if my wife had done this for me, I'd have taken her straight to the bedroom for a jolly big smooch. Jay Z just filmed it and put it on his new streaming site for some reason (money).
5) Rihanna - American Oxygen
A surprisingly mournful hymn to the American dream, Rihanna's latest song is a soulful antidote to the obnoxious (and obnoxiously catchy) Bitch Better Have My Money.
You have to sign up to Tidal to hear it properly - but here's a live version, performed at the March Madness concert over the weekend.
6) Janelle Monáe, Jidenna - Yoga
Ever wondered what Janelle Monae would sound like if she stopped pretending to be an anti-establishment robot from the future? Well, you're in luck.
The R&B star cuts loose on Yoga, a new track with rising MC Jidenna that will appear on The Eephus, a compilation EP starring the artists she's signed to her Wondaland label.
And it's pure filth... as Janelle Monae repeatedly instructs her lover: "Baby bend over, let me see you do that yoga."
The track also contains the best / weirdest lyric of the year: "You cannot police me, so get off my areola." Crikey.
7) Alesso - Cool (ft Roy English)
Perfectly acceptable Radio 1 daytime fodder, this is only notable for the video, in which Alesso plays a nerdy schoolkid who seduces his teacher. Wish fulfilment much?
8) George The Poet - Wotless
Another thought-provoking rap-poem from George The Poet, who charts his evolution from prodigal schoolboy to successful musician. It's an unflinching sketch of how black kids (especially those in a predominantly white, middle class environment) can feel pressured into becoming stereotypes.
9) Mirror Talk - 1/M/T
Posted by the ever-reliable Nicola Roberts on her Tumblr page, this is shimmering, 80s-inspired synth pop from LA quartet Mirror Talk.
Produced by Tony Hoffer (M83, Beck), the title stands for One More Time.
10) Wax Tailor - Que Sera
I fell in love this sampladelic cut-up as soon as I heard it yesterday. Then I discovered it's a decade old... But what the hell. This post isn't called "songs you may have missed" for nothing.
11) Brandon Flowers - Can't Deny My Love
The only video you'll see this week that's based on the Puritan short story Young Goodman Brown, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1835. And that's a guarantee.
So there you go. Hope you haven't overdosed on chocolate during the course of this blog post.
Oh, and I'm taking the rest of the week off. See you on April 13th.
Carly Rae Jepsen popped up on SNL last night, playing the second single from her upcoming third album. All That, which is its name, starts boldly by stealing the fractured drumbeat from the intro to Prince's The Beautiful Ones.
It never reaches the histrionic heights of that Purple Rain track (and Prince would never countenance a lyric as cheesy as "I'll be your lighthouse when you're lost at sea") but it's such an accurate pastiche of 80s pop ballads you can imagine it playing while Kelly LeBrock gets her perm tangled with Matthew Broderick. In slow motion. On the bonnet of a DeLorean.
Listen to the official audio and watch the (very good) SNL performance below.
Wow. By the end of that list, everyone's just given up haven't they?
"Look, here's a new song. We know you're going to skip the write-up and go straight to the video, so we could literally put anything here. Hmm, let's see what we can get away with. I once ate Alabama trouser meat. Lady Gaga's right nipple resembles a porcupine of dandelions. Your best friend is an octagonal Ted Danson. Blah blah blah blah lemon bollock custard blah blah blah sock rotation blah blah I coughed my foot off. You didn't see any of that, did you? The clip was directed by Shynola. Watch it below."
Over the last year, 12-year-old dancer Maddie Ziegler has become the public face of Sia, appearing in the singer's trademark blonde bob in the videos for Chandelier and Elastic Heart.
The pair's collaboration began when Sia reached out to the youngster on Twitter, having seen her on the reality TV show Dance Moms.
"She said she wanted to meet me and she wanted me to dance to her song," Ziegler told Pigeons and Planes. "She was pretty much telling me how she doesn't want to be famous. She wants to be known for her songs, but she doesn't want to really show her face anymore... It was so cool."
Ziegler's stage directions for that first video were "to be overdramatic," she recalled. "So there I am crazy eyes and everything." The clip for Chandelier is certainly unnerving, and Ziegler took the crazy up a notch when she starred alongside Shia LeBeouf in Elastic Heart.
"It was such a big change for me, because I’m not used to doing that style in normal dance competitions," Zeigler told EW. "It was definitely very different for me, but I love being able to do that kind of style."
Now she's at it again, in the video for Big Girls Cry - which is being billed as the final act in her Sia trilogy. This time, the camera is (mostly) locked off on Ziegler's face - which once again conveys the turmoil of Sia's inner monologue in deranged, demented detail.
Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly is a confounding album. Profound and puerile in equal measure, it finds the rapper tackling poverty, depression and race relations while still finding time to eulogise his girlfriend’s vagina. Not that I’m judging. Who hasn’t written a Valentine’s card like that?
Throughout the album, Kendrick stakes his claim to Kanye’s throne by becoming his negative image. Where Kanye is all ego, Kendrick is wracked with self-doubt. Where West pushes the boundaries of music, Lamar delves into its past, co-opting jazz, funk and psychedelia into his restless, constantly-evolving songs. Never before has a hip-hop album contained so much clarinet.
It’s not an easy record to digest. And it’s at least 20 minutes too long. But one of the most accessible tracks is King Kunta, accurately described by Pitchfork as “G-Funk with the screws loosened”.
On first impression, it’s a swaggering “I'm top dog” diss track - as Lamar drawls “I was gonna kill a couple rappers, but they did it to themselves." But there’s a tension in the lyrics, as the star questions whether he even wants to be hip-hop's top talent.
Even the title, King Kunta, is an oxymoron. Kendrick is calling himself dominant, like a king, while comparing himself to Kunta Kinte - an heroic 18th Century slave, who fought to maintain a sense of freedom and cultural identity despite having his foot cut off to prevent him escaping the plantations. It’s a theme that’s echoed throughout the album – as a successful black man in America, Lamar is simultaneously powerful and powerless.
Anyway, this is turning into a thesis rather than a preamble to a music video. So let’s get on with it. The promo clip finds Lamar back in his hometown of Compton, sitting atop a gold throne in the driveway of his home, and hanging out at famous landmarks in the LA suburb with his “crew”.
At times, it looks like the whole city has turned out to watch, as Lamar declares: “Stuck a flag in my city, everybody's screamin' ‘Compton’ / I should probably run for Mayor when I'm done, to be honest.”