Half the world’s entertainment media seems to have been at SXSW recently but not us, sadly. We’ve still been here, working away, looking for the best of music to tempt your taste buds into sample some not-so-forbidden musical fruits.
Speaking of which, our first track comes from America in the guide of Jenaux’s Give It Up. The New York based musician and producer is on fine form here, edgy synths and samples duelling with a funked up guitar to create an electrifyingly tight and sensual slice of digital 80s meets 90s soul. Add in Boy Matthews’ vocal magic and it all adds up to make Give It Up an infectious and upbeat modern take on a retro-inspired sound. The track also streaming on Spotify.
Here come the Swedes! ORKID, aka Matilda Melin does a sublime line in indie-infused electropop and has seen each release gain more her more exposure and fans, something that is sure to continue with Wasted which is her fourth single. Initially sombre tones to the vocals and arrangement don’t last long, as the track emerges from the shadows to a rather fuzzy morning light. It sounds like a love song, but don’t be too sure that the lyrics are saying what you think they are, as she sings ‘We’re better off when we’re wasted’. You can download the track via iTunes and of course it can be streamed on Spotify!
Melbourne artists Wayfarer// and Aphir have team up on the darkly imperious Trust which you can get now as a free download. Becki Whitton (Aphir) supplies the vocals, at times mirroring the bubblegum pop of Madonna and at others the dramatic dexterity of a young Kate Bush. The result is a performance that is beguiling and unsettling, further reinforced by a catchy yet ominous arrangement. You’ll feel like you’re waiting for a shoe to drop, or a big reveal and the fear is in the waiting.
Kasbo’s (more Swedes!) debut album will soon be upon us and what better way to get us all excited than by dropping Over You; a track that features vocals by the wonderfully angelic Frida Sundemo. Her vocals are used sparingly here, which serves to showcase not only her unique and enchanting voice, but also to let the melancholic joy of the wilfully downbeat arrangement really shine. If you’ve told someone you no longer loved them but it was a lie, Over You is the soundtrack to that moment. The Places We Don’t Know will be available on March 23rd and you can find out more about the new album and his upcoming tour on Kasbo’s Facebook page.
New York-based elegant slims certainly makes an impression with her debut track Not Human. Unholy and engaging in its musical take on a reimaging of grand Guignol, the track has nuances of Ladytron’s reserve and Grimes’ pop sensibility, but the vocals and lyrics have a very different sound. Dark and at times melodramatic, they fuse with uneasy synchronicity with an arrangement that sounds tailor made for a vampire movie. There’s a raw sensuality to the track but be careful: it might bite!
Rachel K Collier played twice at this year’s SXSW, appearing on the BBC Introducing stage and headlining the Focus Wales showcase. When you listen to Darkshade it’s not hard to see why they both picked her. The track is a perfect fusion of classic British synthpop with the more wistful yet upbeat Scandi sound, but also with a hint of the dancefloor. It’s her voice that blows you away though: rich, dark and sensual it draws the listener as it echoes Lauren Mayberry and Stevie Nicks in its playful spikiness and dark, powerful tones. Topped off with an insanely catchy chorus and enough hooks to please the giddiest electro fan, Darkshade is sophisticated pop at its finest and whets the appetite for Collier’s upcoming debut album which is due out this September.
San Junipero has quickly become a major cultural milestone, so it’s no surprise that its influence is now showing itself in the music. Calton Kelly perfectly captures that feeling of a retro unreality on Breathing, as the track uses the kind of broad musical brushstrokes that were popular in 80s ballads but pairs them with more delicate modern electronic sounds to great effect. Lyrically it’s about ‘seizing the moment and taking every second’, and Kelly’s voice brings a real sense of pathos to overwhelm the listener with memories of the ecstasy of love. The track is from his recently released Paradise EP which is well worth a listen!
Life In Sweatpants is probably the best name I’ve heard for a band in years, but don’t let the seemingly flippant name fool to as to the quality of their music. Are We On The Same Road takes inspiration from downtempo, RNB and Scandipop but gives all that a melancholic but majestic feel, like the sound of bedroom pop opening its windows to the world. Warm and engaging, it’s sure to win a place in your heart!
Satin Jackets and David Harks will be familiar to you are for their own works as well as their joint release from last year called Northern Lights. They’re back again with a new track via Eskimo Recordings, and they’ve really hit the jackpot with Through The Night. An orgasmic take on nu-disco, chilled beats softly take you by the hand as Hark’s vocals hit the giddier heights of sensual abandon. Slow, methodical, rhythmic and sexual, the track feels like a soundtrack to the more intimate moments in our lives – and I suspect that for some it will become just that!
Alternative-pop trio PLYA have been on a roll recently, quickly releasing pop gems in the form of Thinking of You and Adrenaline. For their third single Feast My Eye the trio have been picked up by Atlantic Records’ imprint Taste & Tone and they have surpassed themselves. The track has a warm and expansive feel, with synths prowling like a caged tiger whilst Julia Sykes’s vocals dominate the track like a mesmerising huntress. Brooding and with a hint of danger, Feast My Eye could be the track that sees PLYA become king and queens of the jungle.
Well that’s our ten tracks for this week, I hope there was something there to entice you to explore the artists previous releases and maybe throw them a ‘like’ on social media. I’m sure they’d appreciate the internet love. Until next week then!