So I finally got round to watching the Skins series finale today, and discovered this beauty of a song which was used in the emotional closing scene.
I didn’t find as much new good music as I usually do on this year’s Skins, but “Don’t Go” is definitely an exception to that trend. Written and performed Rae Morris, the track is sentimental piano ballad, which shows the Blackpool singer-songwriter in her rawest form. With a rich voice of a singer far beyond her years, Rae leaves me feeling pensive and reflective, with the sadness of this song really making me think.
With understated violins against the plain piano backdrop, it’s the quality of the songwriting which makes “Don’t Go” such a good song. It’s beautiful melody and emotional relief, make it something simple, yet special, as a song like this sometimes only comes about by chance. The song was released to Itunes on Monday - so get it, it really is gorgeous.
I’m not gonna lie, I’m still not used to Amerie having that extra ‘i’ in her name. I know she changed it due to her study of cymatics and the extra letter giving her name better vibrations, but in all honesty I think it seems a little pretentious to be honest (Plus it makes my Itunes library look super unorganised).
With the name change came a decrease in musical quality, with Ameriie throwing out a bunch of sub-par, almost cringeworthy demos and viral singles. The last properly good Ameriie leak was “Who’s Gonna Love You” yonks ago, but thankfully she’s back on track with “Every Time”, a song off her upcoming mini album, “The Prelude”.
Yesterday I said that I wished we had some more quality R&B like we had in the mid-2000s, and it seems like Ameriie heard me, as this track takes it back to basics. Produced by Focus, “Every Time” is a laidback R&B midtempo with hollow, 80s R&B style drum beats and a delicate piano loop. Ameriie’s vocals sound restrained, but yearning at times, as she gushes over her recently wed husband on the track. She has such a distinctive voice which is really underrated within R&B circles.
Another thing that’s underrated was Ameriie’s last album, “In Love & War”, which reached a disappointing #46 on the US album chart. It remains one of my favourite albums from 2009, filled with great R&B from start to finish - so needless to say it was annoying to see it bomb so hard. While I like the sound of the acid house material Ameriie is said to be working on, a lot of her attempts at dance music have fallen very short. With “Every Time” it seems that she knows where her strengths lie - when she merges old school R&B with Hip-Hop beats, it just sounds right.
A while ago I read an article in which Yasmin stated she was going to do a rendition of this song. I wasn’t expecting her to put a cover on her debut album, and asked on twitter if it was for her acoustic sessions. She told me it was, and I have been waiting ever since to hear her spin on this house classic from 2000.
"Finally" is Yasmin’s favourite house record of all time, so there’s no doubt that she has put her heart and soul into the song. With just a rich piano and an acoustic guitar to back her up, the purity in Yasmin’s vocals shines, as she expresses shades of both pain and joy in her vocal tone. The song ends on a poignant note, with simply Yasmin’s voice against a piano as she sings "and now I know paradise". Beautiful.
It’s great to hear house music with meaningful lyrics. I’m praying the current ‘put your hands up in the air/dance on the tables/drink to the sun comes up’ craze stops, as I’m sick of the likes of [insert name here] releasing the same meaningless urban/pop influenced dance music. Yasmin’s penchant for dub & drum ‘n’ bass will hopefully mean that there will be a few dance gems on her upcoming debut album, as she’s a perfectionist who always never puts out a track without meaning and relate-ability. And she’s even more amazing because she put this track up as a free download on her soundcloud right here.
As I was struggling to decide what to post tonight, this song came on shuffle and I just had to write about it. “Again” is such an underrated track which deserved more than it’s moderate success in the US. Although it remains her biggest hit in the UK after reaching #12, so at least it got some recognition.
I was such a sad child back was I was 11. There was a stage when I’d make my own personal music charts, based on what music I saw on the TV and the UK top 40. I’m sure if I found one of my many notebooks as a kid, I’d find the week(s?) that this reached #1 when I was pretty addicted to it. It’s just such a feel good throwback R&B-Soul track, which gives me similar vibes to The Game’s “Hate It Or Love It” and some of the work off Mary J. Blige’s “The Breakthrough” album. The mid-2000s was such a good time for R&B, I wish there was more of that at the moment.
The lyrics of this track are a key factor of what makes this so good. Faith addresses the media scrutiny of her 2004 drug possession arrest and puts down rumours of her alleged romance with 2pac in the verses, while giving us a ‘I’ve grown from my mistakes’ outlook on the chorus. It’s nice to hear a song which so explicitly refers to an artist’s life, and has a really positive message that ultimately makes you feel good.
M.I.A. // Bad Girls (Desi Hits! Rishi Rich Remix) [Feat. Miss Pooja]
Ever since “Bad Girls” premiered, I just haven’t been able to stop playing it. It’s easily the most played song on my Itunes that I’ve addicted within the past two months. The song is that addictive.
The Desi Hits remix puts a new spin on things, while still keeping the elements that made the original so good. British-Indian producer Rishi Rich (remember the great stuff he did on Jay Sean’s debut album?) gives a particularly Bhangra feel to the track, which works well with the Hip-Hop beats of the original. The remix switches the tempo up a bit of well, with it’s bollywood beats making for an interesting (and good) listen.
Indian singer Miss Pooja gives a verse in Punjabi, which combined with her backing vocals throughout the song, makes this seem like a continuation of “Bad Girls”, instead of some lazy, half-done remix. Everything just works so well together, making this a refreshing take on what is definitely a highlight of M.I.A.’s career.
I’ve been pretty addicted to Kentucky singer Tinashe lately, after a friend recommended to download her “In Case We Die” mixtape. The mixtape is great in itself, but the track I most fell in love with was a buzz track called “Can’t Say No”.
Ever since Tinashe’s girlgroup The Stunners split up, she’s been creating some hype around herself by releasing an string buzz tracks, before her mixtape. “Can’t Say No” samples Britney’s “Blur”, putting a spin on the instrumental by chopping and cutting it a bit and making it a little heavier. She gives a very atmospheric sound on the track, which has a pretty chilled vibe that is heightened by Tinashe’s sultry, often breathy vocals.
Tinashe is like a more vocally capable Cassie meets The Weeknd, with her drippy beats and introspective lyrics. She’s a major talent too, having written, recorded and produced her “In Case We Die” mixtape in three weeks. She deserves as much hype as her male counterparts, hopefully she’ll get it soon. Grab “Can’t Say No” for free here (all you have to do is tweet about it), and while you’re at it download the amazing mixtape, which is also a catch at £0.00.
I really didn’t like Paloma Faith at first, after hating her debut single “Stone Cold Sober”. It took me a while to admit that she was actually rather good, but songs such as “Smoke & Mirrors” and “New York” eventually convinced me.
Now she’s back with her second album “Fall To Grace”, set for release May 28. “Picking Up The Pieces” is the lead single from the album, debuting on Fearne Cotton’s Radio 1 show earlier this morning. It’s a progression from the material on the Hackney singer’s debut album, as Paloma deals with having to pick up the pieces of her lover’s past relationships in the emotional mid-tempo number.
The Production takes a back-seat on the track, as Paloma’s stong, heartfelt vocals take the centre stage. That’s not to say the song hasn’t been excellently produced, they just don’t allow it to overshadow her beautiful voice. A chiming xylophone alongside the grandeur of a string arrangement make for a great introduction, before a catchy piano melody and some guitars arrive to make the track sound a lot fuller. It reminds me a bit of Emeli Sandé’s “Next To Me”, in the respect that it’s a light, yet powerful, soulful midtempo, with bags of emotion, that is perfect for UK radio right now.
"Picking Up The Pieces" has the broad appeal of a Natalie Imbruglia song ten years ago, in the sense that it’s very radio friendly, has an extremely melodic chorus, yet contains all sorts of melancholic emotions. Despite the song’s doubtful lyrics, there’s still a glimmer of hope in there as Paloma’s strong vocal delivery shows that she is still fighting for this relationship to survive. I guess it’s that ability to create various feelings within the listener, that can make a pop song so good.
OFWGKTA // Analog 2/Wheels 2 [Feat. Tyler, The Creator, Frank Ocean & Syd tha Kid]
"Analog 2" is an immediate highlight of Odd Future’s new record for me. The follow up to "Analog" off Tyler’s "Goblin" album, the song makes up half of track number seven on "The Of Tape, Vol. 2" tracklisting. Half way through the track everything goes quiet, before we hear some water droplets and "Wheels 2", the follow up to a song on Tyler’s debut album begins.
"Analog 2" sees Tyler spitting over sparse drum loops, muted keys and a hypnotic bass rhythm. There’s plenty of echo effects, and a lot of airy noises, which give the production a whole lot of depth. Frank’s chorus is nice and slow, but it’s his uptempo verses which make the track, giving it a lot a variation and tying things up nicely on "Analog 2".
"Wheels 2" sounds like it could be the same track as "Analog 2" to be honest. It seems like a continuation of the latter, with Frank’s (and later Tyler’s) "meet my by the lake" hook being looped and and manipulated against some nice brass instrumentation. The production in the second half of the track sounds like a Hip-Hop influenced R&B slow jam, which is something nice and unusual for Tyler.
Lyrically you can see how these songs are a follow up to their predecessors. It does seem strange that they’re two separate songs, as they essentially segue from one to the other, and feature many similar elements. However I think it’s great how they’ve given the two halves of track number seven two very different vibes.
I’ve recently got my digital hands on Odd Future’s debut collective album/follow-up mixtape, “The Of Tape, Vol.2”, and I’m really liking it so far.
As you can probably tell from my blog, Frank Ocean is my favourite member of the gang. His music just resonates me ~ he’s such a genius songwriter. So it’s no doubt that the first track I’m posting is Frank’s only solo number on the LP.
At only two minutes in length, “White” is nowhere near as long as it should be. But what we get is simply beautiful. There’s no chorus. No verses. No structure. Just Frank singing in a particularly reflective tone, over soft, atmospheric piano notes. It’s beautiful. There’s also a nice sedated jazzy outro, with some bubbling drum beats and mellow strings. It’s all very peaceful, yet melancholic - something which Frank seems to be very good at. I can’t wait to hear his debut studio album, but until then there’s plenty of classic material to keep me going.
It seems like Beyoncé’s releasing another single, with Sony Music Italy confirming that “I Care” is the next track to be released from “4” over there. I’d take that with a pick of salt, since Sony posted that the track was the next song to be taken from, quote, “Beyoncé ‘s debut album 4”, but I’ll take any excuse to post about one of my favourite songs from that brilliantdebutalbum.
Co-wrote with Jeff Bhasker alongside Chad Hugo of the Neptunes, “I Care” opens with an ominous synthesizer, creating a very moody atmosphere, which links perfectly uinto the beautiful “I Miss You”. It’s this mood which really sets the tone for the album, as Beyoncé creates so much emotion not only through her voice, but through the album’s production and choice of instruments used throughout it.
Lyrically Beyoncé really hits the spot as well, with the opening line “I told you how you hurt me baby, but you don’t care”, as well as the song’s chorus being particularly blunt and cutting. With a handclap rhythm and a drum machine kicking in before the mammoth chorus, Beyoncé tackles neo-soul territory during the verses, before going into full R&B power ballad mode for the explosive chorus. This striving for musical quality, despite current trends is what pleased me most about Beyoncé’s album. She really brought those 80s funk and 90s R&B influences on this album. Combined with the lo-fi sounds of today, and I couldn’t be more happy that Beyoncé decided to separate herself from the pack.
The drums, percussion and piano on “I Care” are also a perfect example of the live feel Beyoncé was striving for with “4”. Combined with her more powerful, slightly more jagged vocals, everything sounds that bit more raw and natural to Beyoncé. And nothing shows Bee in her element than the final chorus. After that amazing guitar solo with Beyoncé giving it her all on the vocals runs, the final chorus is bigger than ever, with the choruses in general being very dramatic compared to the more subdued verses.
I’m not sure if Beyoncé will ever be able to top “4” for me. It’s a defining album, which represents everything that’s good about music, while highlighting everything that’s wrong about it right now. But whatever happens, this song is a testament to Beyoncé’s dedication to her art no doubt.
I’ve been hearing a lot some buzz around Bastille for a while, and have been meaning to give them a proper chance for a while now. So I thought I’d post the band’s debut single, instead of the numerous (amazing) covers and buzz tracks they have out there.
The London based band originally started out as a solo project for lead singer Dan Smith, gradually becoming a band as he gained more attention over the past year. And with songs as good as “Overjoyed”, they deserve all the attention they’re getting. Starting off with Dan’s soft vocals against a pensive piano, the song builds up with spacey synths and a fast drum beat, into the perfect alt-electro ballad.
Everything goes back to basics with just a simple piano after each chorus, with the following verse being more triumphant than the previous. With numerous layers of instrumentation and echoed backing vocals, the final chorus sees the song reach an ethereal climax before that beautiful piano melody arrives again. I can’t wait to get the single off Itunes on April 30, but if you can’t wait until then you can snatch the band’s “Other People’s Heartache” mixtape for free here.
I’m obsessed with the new Nas single right now. Produced by long-time collaborator Salaam Remi, Da Internz and the late Heavy D, “The Don” is the second song to be taken from the rapper’s upcoming LP “Life Is Good”.
With gritty, New York lyrics, Nas gives us his best with the delivery on this track. There’s a distinct reggae vibe about “The Don| due to a SuperCat Dancehall sample, which mixes perfectly with the hard drum beat and the song’s raw production.
My favourite part of the track is when it all slows down for a few bars, as Nas raps over a smooth beat, giving the track a slight R&B feel. That smooth beat is actually a sample of Nas’ own “The World Is Yours” ~ very clever indeed. It’s those moments of genius mixed with Nas’ raw passion, that make him so good. With songs like this and the equally great “Nasty”, I can’t wait to get my hands on the new album.
You only have to check the amount of posts I’ve tagged “Delilah” to know that I’m in love with this girl’s music. Her ethereal voice and poignant songs make her one of the most promising new artists of 2012.
When I heard that a song called “Breathe” was being released as a single I was confused, as I’d already posted about a beautiful track of the same name that was featured on the “Go” EP months ago. But when I heard that it was duet with Liam Bailey and noticed that “Breathe” was removed from Itunes, I put two and two together and realised that it was a re-worked version of the same song.
I guess it makes sense to release “Breathe” at this point as well. With the debut album “From The Roots Up” set for release late April, Delilah needs something strong to lead it all off. With it’s climaxing strings and haunting atmosphere, “Breathe” is a bit of a masterpiece. It recalls the sounds off Portishead, mixed in with a little Massive Attack and late 90s R&B. Liam Bailey’s soulful vocals mix well with the purity of Delilah’s, although I do think her solo version is a little bit better as it captures the track’s emotion a little bit more. But nevertheless, “Breathe” is truly spine tingling.
Sorry that I’ve only been able to put a few songs up over the past week, I’ve been struggling to keep up in school and am pretty exhausted both mentally and physically at the moment. I feel like I have no control as everything just seems to pile on top of me, with life seeming pretty unorganised at the moment. But enough with the feeling sorry for myself, I’m going to try and put at least one good song up each day this week until I’m back on track.
And here’s the first of those, in the form of Joe Goddard’s remix of Nneka’s “Shining Star”. Bar “Heartbeat” and it’s amazing Chase & Status remix, which was recently sampled on Rita Ora’s “R.I.P”, I’ve never really paid that much attention to Nneka. But that’s all going to change now, as I listened to the previews of her new album “Soul Is Heavy” on Itunes and it sounded really promising.
"Shining Star" is a great soulful song, which Joe Goddard puts a nice chill-out spin on with this remix. After the amazing "Gabriel" and his remix of Delilah’s "Love You So", this Hot Chip member has been putting out some really good work on his own. He manages to blend the German-Nigerian singer’s soft, soulful vocals perfectly against progressive, hollow drum beats, resulting in something which has a minimalistic 90s house feel about it.
The track’s slight calypso make everything so uplifting. It’s light and breezy, with a precise production that makes the moment seem so much better. Hopefully this will be a slow burner on radio, and become a minor hit at least. It’s the perfect prelude to the great summer ahead.
This collaboration from Twista and Kanye is a perfect example of why early 2000s Hip-Hop and R&B is so good. It also serves as one of my earliest memories of Kanye, who has gone on the become a musical legend in my eyes.
"Slow Jamz" pays tribute to classic soul artists, name-checking well over a dozen influential musicians throughout the track’s five minutes in length. With a classic Kanye production featuring sped up vocals from Luther Vandross’s version of "A House Is Not A Home", the song has a rich, laidback R&B vibe about it, which still sounds fresh to this day despite having such a 2003 sound.
Jamie Foxx’s vocals are smooth, while Kanye’s verses are great as usual on “Slow Jamz” (especially the part about the two Michael Jacksons). But the best part of the track is the hilarious skit, when Kanye’s girl wants him to go faster, serving as a lead in to Twista’s verse. Twista sure gives it to us fast, proving that he has one of the best deliveries in the game with ease. This version of the song which featured on Kanye’s classic “The College Dropout” is no doubt a Hip-Hop classic, and a song which brings back many fond memories.
It’s been a while since “Radioactive” debuted (6 months in fact!), but after a few a snippets and album tracks to keep us going Marina has finally dropped “Primadonna”, the lead single from her “Electra Heart” album.
When some fans saw the words Dr Luke on the production credits, no doubt there were some worries that we’d end up with another “Price Tag” or “Teenage Dream” knockoff. But Marina being the headstrong woman she is, hasn’t let her individuality get lost in the production. Trust me when I say that the song isveryMarina.
"Primadonna" doesn’t sound anything like indie Marina however. It’s very pop. And I don’t mean pop in the Ellie Goulding sense. No, this is more like pop in the sugary and sweet, I’m going to give you way too many cavities way. But Marina’s always been pop; and very dramatic - so the song is nothing too drastically different for her.
Starting out with a mellow harmonica and acoustic laced chorus, electronic blips prepare us for the heavy bassline during the verses. It’s the reverse of what I expected, as the chorus seems to be the calmer part of the track in all it’s acoustic glory. I really like that though, the mixture of sweet acoustic licks of guitar and the bass is just perfect.
A build-up of electric guitar and progressive drums make way for the final chorus, which goes all the way, combining the acoustic elements with that dirty bassline. It’s simple, fun pop, in which Marina admits her self absorbed ways, all wrapped up in an extremely catchy package. Hopefully it will fare a little bit better than “Radioactive” on the charts, she certainly deserves it.
Covering a Beyoncé track is never an easy task. With one of the best voices in the business, it’s normally her vocals which make her songs her special. Florence + the Machine received a polarized response with their cover of “Halo”, which was oft praised for being a unique take on the song, but similarly criticised due to her Marmite vocals in the live lounge. So how have Sleigh Bells fared with their version of “Irreplaceable”?
Luckily the duo have some experience with the woman herself, after she wanted to work with them after loving their track “Kids”. The collaboration, which was put together never really worked out, but needless to say both artists are big fans of eachother’s work. But despite gaining praise from Beyoncé, Sleigh Bell’s cover of “Irreplaceable” is wildly different from their usual work.
Gone are the frantic pop noise and metal riffage, replaced by an acoustic and a watery, muted guitar. The watery vibes from the electric guitar give the song a very downbeat, 90s Nirvana-esque sound, which somehow works against Alice’s soft vocals. It’s a pretty subtle take on the song, but somehow they put a new twist on it without creating an abomination.
Nobody’s Beyoncé, I mean how could you be? But this is a darn good version of one of her tracks. It sounds nothing like the brilliant “Comeback Kid”, which I’ve been absolutely addicted to lately, but this Maida Vale performance shows a more mellow side to Sleigh Bells, which I surprisingly like.
I’ve been pretty addicted to Plan B’s lead single “ill Manors”, off his third upcoming third album of the same. The track sees him go closer to his roots, with something a lot harder than the soulful releases off “The Defamation of Strickland Banks”.
With a genius sample and extremely clever lyrics, the UK singer is back with a solid return. And this remix from The Prodigy only adds to that. With a heavier bassline and drum n bass beats, it has that real classic Prodigy sound. It sounds a lot more subtle and closer to the original than I thought it’d be, but it’s genius nontheless.
Describing his upcoming album as having a more “bass-line, soul, hip-hop” feel with “the lyrical depth of my first record but a musical composition light years ahead,” it sure sounds promising. And with an upcoming film also called “iLL Manors” to match the album title dropping 3 days before the album on May 4, it seems like he’s really put his heart and soul into this LP.
Man this song takes me back. Just like my post on Oasis’ “Supersonic”, I remember “Waterfalls” being used in one of the many episodes of Top Gear I watched on repeat from I was two years old.
It was used during the JD Power Survey of 1996, when Quentin Wilson was talking about a either the Peugeot 106 or 306 having leaking problems. That was pretty fitting considering the song’s title, with images of the car going through car washes and the like being shown as the song was playing. It’s strange how you remember all the little those little things as a child, and that great nostalgic feeling you get when you remember or rediscover it.
Anyways, less about my childhood oddities and more about this TLC classic. The slinky, laidback R&B vibes of this track really resonate with me. I love the slight hint of jazz it gives, with those muted horns that, which combined with the song’s lyrics remind me of water somehow.
And those lyrics are pretty impacting. The trio warn against chasing your desires which will ultimately lead to harm. Giving examples of a mother’s reaction to her drug dealing son’s murder and a man’s lust leading to his health fading due to AIDS, “Waterfalls” is a truly cutting track with an equally memorable video to match.
T-Boz’s smoky vocals give the lyrics real meaning, with everything combined making this a definite highlight of the 90s. However it’s Left Eye’s rap which is my favourite part of track, with her quirky delivery containing clever lyrics that bring a message of truth. “Dreams are hopeless aspirations, in hopes of coming true, believe in yourself, the rest is up to me and you”.
As I’ve previously mentioned, I don’t think much of the band known as the Sugababes right now. They were producing great music when founding members remained in the group, but ever since Keisha was kicked out before the dreadful “Sweet 7” was released it’s been downhill from then.
I’d always thought Amelle was the member with the most potential for a solo career. Sure, she may not have to artistry to make the Sugababes what they once were - but she’s an attractive, marketable pop star, with just a little bit of that much needed grit thanks to her numerous meltdowns and brawls she always seems to be getting into. And with “Freedom” flopping so hard they gave it away for free and the band seemingly going on temporary hiatus, now seems like a better time than ever for her to release some solo stuff.
With production from British producer DBX, Amelle has got everything right with this one. From the get-go, with its piano led intro “God Won’t Save You Now” is on the money. With a heavy drum beat and dubstep driven verses, the track sees Amelle go hard on this soon to be urban-dance anthem. Her rough, almost strained vocals have are filled with character, against pounding the synths of the mahoosive chorus.
It all gets even better in the last sixty seconds, with the tempo switching up for one final stab at the chorus. Amelle’s given us a ‘told you so, right back at ya’ type aggressive track, which is as well produced as it is catchy. I wasn’t expecting much from her, but man this is good.
The Pretty Reckless released their new “Take It Like A Man” EP today. With “Light Me Up” receiving its UK release only a few months after he band’s self titled EP dropped, hopefully this one means that there’s a new album coming pretty soon.
With live versions of “Make Me Wanna Die” and “Since You’ve Gone”, along with three new songs arriving just weeks after the “You” music video, the band really are treating us. It’s a really good EP too, with my immediate favourite being track number three, “Under The Water”.
Starting off on a pensive acoustic note as Taylor sings “lay my head under the water, lay my head under the sea”, it all gets a bit fuller around the 30 second mark as the drums and wailing background singers enter. The first verse is moody, but still relatively chilled, with 90s style distortion hinting that something bigger is coming. And something bigger does come, as the chorus makes for something more of a heavy rock feel.
The song builds up with increasingly heavy instrumentation, emotional vocals and some screaming, until the third verse hits. After a stellar guitar solo, the band give the chorus one final go, before calming things down for the song’s beautiful outro.
Overall “Under The Water” treads the middle ground between songs like “Just Tonight” and some of the band’s heavier stuff. It’s a gut wrenching song, which hits all the right mellow parts, while still remaining feisty. That all sounds like pretty promising news for the band’s second album.
From my blog you wouldn’t have noticed that I loved The Veronicas. That’s mainly because they’re third album has been ‘coming soon’ for the past three years, but it looks like we’re finally getting it in 2012 thank goodness.
With live footage of songs such as “Baby I’m Ready” and “Cold”, which is one of the best of their career online, it’s safe to say I’m pretty ecstatic about a new album coming. But until then I thought I’d post some of their past material in the form of the brilliant “Insomnia”.
"Hook Me Up" was probably my favourite pop album of the 2000s. The Veronicas were way ahead of the electro-pop trend in 2007,as the album juxtaposed rock sounds with hard electronic beats, all wrapped up in some excruciatingly emotional pop melodies. "Insomnia" never made the cut for the album, despite being better than many of the tracks that made the tracklist. Don’t get me wrong, I love every song on the album - but this is better than a good chunk of the songs on "Hook Me Up".
With quick breakbeats and a pulsating electro rhythm, “Insomnia” is a great slice of dark pop, which is sure to take you into the night. The brash guitars on the chorus take away from the coldness and severity of the verses, adding to the distraught which is conveyed by the Jess and Lisa’s emotive vocals.
We all get those nights when it gets to 4am and we’re still lost in our thoughts, hoping that our eyes won’t open after the next blink. That’s what makes this song so relateable, as we all want to escape our darkest thoughts in the wee hours and distract ourselves with whatever we can to do so.
Thankfully the brilliance of this track was not lost on us, as it made the “Untouched: Lost Tracks” EP, despite not making the album. And if I hadn’t heard the song it wouldn’t have taken me 30 listens to realise that the word “I-N-S-O-M-N-I-A” is spelt out in this chorus. Oh dear.
The Bloody Beetroots // Church Of Noise [Feat. Dennis Lyxzén]
This track from Italian dance-punk outfit The Bloody Beetroots is way too crazy. Teaming up with Swedish punk singer Dennis Lyxzén, it bridges the gap between hard rock and dance, that we never really thought of to be honest.
With its revolutionary message, “Church Of Noise” is sure aggressive. With screamed vocals over a massive instrumental it is sure that - but it’s also euphoric and inspiring, forcing you to release yourself and have a moment of freedom for a while. I don’t really have much more to say on this, but I think that you should listen to this, even if it’s not your normal thing.
"Child Of The Ghetto" is a brilliant track I just came across from Liverpudlian rapper/singer-songwriters KOF. Already getting some support from Radio 1xtra, there’s surprisingly little buzz about this track, especially considering it’s so good.
KOF paints a picture of pain and sadness on this song, as he describes a few individual cases of troubled kids growing up in the ghetto. His lyrics are particularly raw and cutting, yet there’s still a hint of joy in the rough of his voice.
This is a gorgeous acoustic led urban track, with tight drum patterns mixing in with the soft guitar just about right. Listen to the song right to the end and you’ll hear Radio 1xtra’s Gemma shouting about national pie week, but not even that little piece of entertainment can take away from this gem.
I’ve always been a massive fan of Pharrell. As well as producing some of the finest tracks of the 2000s as part of The Neptunes, he’s just so cool (as I’m sure you’ll notice in this hilarious popworld interview). Add to the fact that he’s one third of the amazing N*E*R*D and I pretty much love the guy.
"Frontin’" is yet another one of those tracks that was around when I was getting into music. At first I thought Pharrell’s voice was really funny when I heard the track, but I grew to love the song and his falsetto as well. On this laid back R&B track with its great Neptunes production, Pharell’s vocals are in fact the highlight along with Jigga’s verse, which always amuses me with the ‘for-real’ wordplay (Because it sounds like ‘Pharrell’, geddit?).
I was always disappointed that this only ended up on The Neptunes “Clones” album, and we never got a solo album at the time - but I’m glad that Pharrell did what he said he wouldn’t and released his debut solo album “In My Mind” in 2005. It’s a pity we didn’t even get this as a Japanese bonus track on the LP, but as a standalone song it’s pretty great in its own right and pretty darn underrated.
If you want to hear another take on the song check out the Jamie Cullen version. It’s way different, but I love it as well.
I first thought I’d come across Charli XCX when I saw the video for “Nuclear Seasons”, which I thought was quite nice but nothing too special. But when I finally got a new ipod a few weeks ago, I realised the UK singer was on it and I’d actually played “Stay Away” a few times.
I got the song as part of a compilation in August and probably ended up listening to it because I couldn’t be bothered choosing a new song. Either that or I was sleeping, but the point is that this song is great and I’ve been addicted to it for the past few weeks.
A dark 80s inspired piece of synth pop, “Stay Away” explores the darker side of love in a song with manages to display a lot of emotion with a lot of restraint. With an extremely catchy melody backed by a heavy drum pattern and pulsating synths, Charli’s 2011 debut deserves a re-release along with the video treatment, now that she’s building a little more hype. I even saw her posters’ on the side of Nick’s wardrobe in Skins, so hopefully that’s a sign that this self-described goth-popper is going somewhere.
By now you’ll probably know that I love a good old musical rant. I don’t mean to be negative (okay, I do, but still…), but it just irks me when certain songs go under the radar when some utter tripe is flying up the charts.
Don’t get me wrong, I never expect all the indie and more unknown artists that I love to do well. Knowing that their music won’t be heard by the majority of people is pretty much certain right from when I first hear the song. And while I didn’t expect this song to do that well, I thought it might scrape the top 40 instead of sitting at #612 on Itunes.
Yes, you read it right, SIX HUNDRED AND TWELVE. While that awful “7 Nation Army” cover courtesy of Marcus Collins is sitting at #11 on the Itunes chart, this sophisticated slice of modern R&B is only a few places above the devil’s number. Ugh.
Rebecca’s record label can be partly to blame however, since she’s still performing “Nothing’s Real But Love” on TV shows, and almost ignoring this song’s existence. I guess it makes sense since that song is being used on a Nescafé advert and will sell more copies of her album, but I hate how this track is just being swept under the rug like that.
But enough with the ranting. “Too Good To Lose” is a great mid/uptempo number with a rich piano and string composition, and plenty of percussion to give the song a nice full production. I didn’t think it was a great single choice at first, but it’s a grower alright. Rebecca’s smoky vocals alongside the trip-hop-lite synths which build up before the final chorus, would be the highlights of what has become one of my favourites off “Heaven”. Hopefully she’ll score an X Factor performance this Winter and “Teach Me How To Be Loved” will sell in the bucketloads.
I randomly came across ††† aka Crosses last month when my laptop was broke and I was banished to the home computer without my Itunes for a week. I was forced to use Spotify due to my Ipod also giving up the ghost for good back in January. It sounds torturous, I know.
Anyways, during that turbulent time in my life I came across “EP ††" by †††. And despite the hideously hipster name (which, by the way, looks amazing in your Itunes library), they actually make really good music. A collaboration between the Deftones singer Chino Moreno and guitarist Shaun Lopez, the EP has a distinctively atmospheric mood, which was I wouldn’t have expected had the artwork not been suitably moody.
"Prurien†" was my immediate highlight from the EP. A big synth power ballad which has a hint of soul amongst some great guitar moments, the track is a lot more melodic than I was expecting. What’s perhaps even more surprising is how a song that started off as a metal track ended up like this. With cutting snares and drumkicks, giving an almost ice cold early 2000s R&B vibe in places, this song couldn’t be any further away from where it started off.
While Calvin Harris finally looks set to be getting some success in the US with “Feels So Close”, it’s been ages since that song was released over here. I was wondering when Calvin was finally going to give us a follow up to the aforementioned track, and finally we’ve gotten it in the form of Ne-Yo collaboration “Let’s Go”.
I know a lot of people have been branding Calvin as ‘generic’ and fear of him selling out for teaming with Ne-Yo, but bar the overplayed “Give Me Everything” and Ne-Yo last album (let’s all forget about that), he’s been a more than solid R&B singer-songwriter. And his vocal contribution to “Let’s Go” shows that Ne-Yo is a far more suitable collaboration than the likes of Chris Brown, whose harsher tone wouldn’t sound as smooth against those synths.
And yes, the synths are good. Calvin Harris seems to be able to produce them that little bit better than most others, giving his songs that extra oomph needed to stand out in a sea of pop-dance tracks, with their dance breaks after the chorus.
Now with a new album in the pipeworks, I can’t wait for his new material as “Ready For The Weekend” and especially “I Created Disco” had some great moments on them. “Let’s Go” doesn’t quite live up to the brilliance of Calvin’s previous three singles, but as long as he keeps on putting out good music and producing great records I’ll be satisfied.
Oh Estelle. It pains me to see how much you’ve snubbed the UK in your search of US stardom. Yes it’s nice that Urban AC are embracing your latest single, but you haven’t hit top Hot 100 since “American Boy”, and it’s maybe just a little too late to come back to the UK.
Sorry for the rant, but it just annoys me when UK artists do a Natasha Bedingfield and forget the market that made them in search of US stardom. Estelle hasn’t promoted in or paid much attention to the UK in years, as she’s been releasing music to appeal to the US R&B charts. And while she may be finding her niche over there, she’s not doing that much, and has been gone for too long to retain any sort of relevance in Britain.
But despite all that, Estelle’s latest record “All Of Me” is rather good. Okay, so one third of the album is made of Miseducation-like interludes, leaving only ten proper tracks tracks on “All Of Me”; but most of them are pretty good. Apart from a couple of mediocre songs earlier on in the record, “All Of Me” is filled with top quality contemporary Hip-Hop tinged R&B tracks, which see Estelle find a distinctive, albeit American sound.
"Do My Thang" is the album’s closer, seeing Estelle team up with the wonderful Janelle Monáe. Along with "Thank You", "Break My Heart" and "Wonderful Life", it would have to be among my favourites off the LP right now. Mixing doo-wop and reggaeton, the track is a fun up-tempo number which sees the women embrace their individuality. Estelle’s British accent sounds sweet when she rings and spits, while Janelle’s energy cranks the whole thing up another notch.
I wasn’t expecting Estelle to deliver that much after reading comments about her album on the internet, but it’s actually quite a good album. It does like the hard hitters like “American Boy”, but Estelle still manages to deliver some great track, such as this quirky slice of pop-soul.
After the gorgeous “Evening’s Kiss”, here is another taster of Willis Earl Beal’s upcoming debut album in the form of “Monotony”.
The song’s title is pretty suitable given the constant chord structure throughout the song, but that by no means makes “Monotony” a boring song. Willis’ soulful vocals make the song moving, taking prominence against the stripped back lo-fidelity instrumental.
I can’t wait for the XL released “Acousmatic Sorcery” to drop on April 3. Beal’s music is just so distant, yet atmospheric, that a full LP of songs one after another would make for quite the experience. It’s strange how something so simple can evoke such a complex range of emotions.
I’ve never really paid much notice to Melanie Fiona before. I’d downloaded a few of her songs - and they were good; but she never really grabbed my attention to have me go and listen to her debut album.
Well that’s all changed with her new single “This Time”. With a heavy, military style beat, bluesy guitars and rich vocals, the track is a gorgeous piece of hip-hop inspired soul. With J. Cole providing a stellar verse, it’s great to see someone giving us a great R&B record now that Jazmine’s Sullivan’s out of the spotlight forever :( for a bit.
With collaborations with Nas and B.o.B on her upcoming sophomore album, “The MF Life” (don’t worry, I cringed at the title too), it seems that Melanie is blending a lot more of this Hip-Hop influence into her upcoming ‘stadium soul’ record. And with “This Time” overtaking “Monday Morning” as my favourite song from her, it seems like that ain’t a bad thing too.