Janelle Monáe // Q.U.E.E.N. (feat. Erykah Badu)
Janelle Monáe is bringing the groove back with this new cut from the long awaited next installment of her Metropolis series.
The Electric Lady teams up with Neo-Soul queen Erykah Badu to deliver an empowering uptempo that will no doubt get you up on off-ah that chair and moving just about everywhere. You know those places you never thought you’d be moving? Yep, even there.
Starting with a deep guitar riff which procedes some glitzy 80s synths and a nice orchestral arrangement, Janelle has managed to do what she does best by providing a great track with various layers. It has that vintage vibe she does so well, but with a crisp modernity to remind us that she’s on the cutting edge of basically everything. Okay, some things.
Add an excellent outro from Erykah Badu and I gotta say is that the booty don’t lie. Shakira told us that 7 years ago, true; but the message is still just as powerful to this very day.
Disclosure // You & Me [feat. Eliza Doolittle]
After the success of ‘Latch’ and ‘White Noise’, Disclosure take it back to basics with new single ‘You & Me’, released April 28.
In an unlikely collaboration with Eliza Doolittle, the duo embrace the garage sounds that made us fall in love with their earlier material. While it may not be quite as immediate as the aforementioned singles, it only takes a couple of plays for the fast paced chorus to sink in and do its magic. Combined with a slinky beat that sounds like it could have come straight out of 2001, and Disclosure have hit that sweet spot yet once again.
Disclosure // White Noise [feat. AlunaGeorge]
Following up ‘Latch’ was always going to be difficult. I mean, it was that song. So what better to do than hook up with one of the most hyped bands of 2012?
Well, it could have been awful. Disclosure could have been teaming up with some bland band that were hyped up by some bland magazine as pioneers of some indie/post-indie/post-future-rock/turtlewave revolution. Thankfully that’s not the case though. They’ve team up with AlunaGeorge, so without even hearing the song we pretty much know it’s amazing. Plus it’s Disclosure, enough said.
With two of my favourite acts of 2012 teaming up this could have been one of those massively disappointing hyped collaborations. It’s not. ‘White Noise’ is everything it should have and could have been - and more. Even on top of a massive 80s techno influenced instrumental Aluna’s vocals are unmistakeable. The production is precise without sounding calculated, with the euphoria of the pre-chorus with it’s looped vocals and hollow core being my favourite part of the track. That’s all before the massive chorus comes in, resulting in something close enough to perfection.
Aaliyah // Quit Hatin’
Despite Drake acting like an idiot by putting a Chris Brown diss in a posthumous release, ‘Enough Said’ was one of my favourite tracks of 2012. Aaliyah’s “came too far to give up, gotta try” riff helped to remind me what I love so much about her music, easily meriting the release of some new material. Her effortless, haunting vocals sounded sublime on top of a sparse instrumental and left me begging for more unreleased material.
'Quit Hatin' isn't technically new as there's been a low quality version of the Knotch & Dre Sinatra track floating about the net for years; but bar some slight tagging we've now got it in all of it's high quality glory. You can hear the yearning in Aaliyah's voice now, as she pleads with her friends to quit hating on her man, whom she loves despite the fact that she knows he's nothing but bad for her.
Cascading snares form the basis of the instrumental, which sounds tense thanks to an off-kilter piano riff and some unnerving sirens in the background. Combined with slow, aching synths, this is another atmospheric Aaliyah track which reminds us just how much she’s missed in today’s music industry.
Jessie Ware // If You’re Never Gonna Move (Two Inch Punch Remix)
Can we all just forget that whole Big Pun legal drama thing ever happened? Despite what his estate may want, this track will always be known as ‘110%’. Forever. That’s just how it is.
For now we’re going to have to call it ‘If You’re Never Gonna Move’ though. Sure, it may not have the same mystique about it, but that’s what Jessie’s new American EP is called, so call it that we will.
'110%', with it's pulsating beats zig-zagging all over the place, fits in perfectly somewhere in that space between Björk's 'Hyperballad' and Kelis and André 3000's 'Millionaire'. Basically it's brilliant. The Two Inch Punch remix turns the track a sexy electronic slow jam, complete with heavy bass and cascading snares. It's a complete transformation, but everything just sounds so effortless as if it were meant to be. Brilliant.
Justin Timberlake // Suit & Tie [feat. Jay-Z]
Futuresex / Lovesounds. 2006. An impressive record. 7 years. It was always going to be a tough one to follow up. After a while it seemed like we’d all just accepted that the third album would never happen. Then Justin appeared with this 'I'm Ready' video and we all got very excited. Well, at least I did.
With such a build-up there were always going to be high expectations. Pressing play on the new Justin Timberlake single was always going to be a big moment. So I found a youtube clip, clicked on the red triangle, and this sound erupted from my laptop speakers. I was horrified. It sounded dated and lacked any sort of melody whatsoever. There were tears. It was a very emotional moment.
Then all of a sudden the beat changed and turned the whole track on its head . I suddenly had this revolutionary idea to ditch the crappy laptop speakers and give my headphones a try. It was at that moment that I finally found true happiness.
'Suit & Tie' might not come close to the singles off 'Futuresex / Lovesounds', but that was 2006 when mainstream music was generally in a much better place. This is still a good song. The intro starts off deep. The bass pounds against your ears. Underwhelming, maybe; but still nice. Then this groovy drum pattern enters and it gets very good. Justin's quick paced vocals sound perfect against 70s horns, creating an atmosphere not to dissimilar to that in Snoop Dogg collaboration 'Signs'. Refreshing to say the least.
The chorus is a typical Timbaland affair, but it’s his best work in forever so I won’t go ape on him for that. In fact, Timbaland did a pretty good job on the production. Sure, it may not have been as forward-thinking as I’d hoped, but I love the way it all slows down and the beat drops out during Jay-Z’s verse. Plus the outro is killer. Justin didn’t given us the revolutionary material we’d hoped for - in facr ‘Suit & Tie’ could well end up among his weakest singles in retrospect. However it’s a good song, and for that, I’m happy.
Destiny’s Child // Independent Woman ($irOJ Remix)
Destiny’s Child are amazing. So is this remix. Need I say more?
Gorgon City // Used To Be Real [Feat. Yasmin]
It’s been a while since we’ve heard the gorgeous voice of Yasmin. It’s also been a while since we’ve heard from me, but I’m not gorgeous so we’ll get round to that some other time.
Gorgon City is the collaborative project between Foamo and Rack n Ruin, and it seems like they’re gelling together pretty well if their set on Radio 1’s Diplo & Friends show is anything to go by.
"Used To Be Real" is a track they premiered on the aforementioned show. I’m not sure if it’s going to be a single or not, but if either Foamo or Rack n Ruin end up reading this, please release it. Yasmin sounds like one of those cool mid-90s dance vocalists on the bass heavy, throwback tune. Everything from the production to the melody is irresistible, plus it’s nice to hear Yasmin again.
Brandy // Slower [Review]
Brandy’s “Two Eleven” was released in Europe today, so I thought it would be only fair to give you a teaser to tempt you into buying the LP. Except I can’t give you a teaser since Brandy’s team don’t want the song online until the album is released worldwide, so enjoy the Rugrats theme tune for now.
From the snippets it was track number four, “Slower”, that stood out the most to me from the R&B singer’s sixth effort. With low-slung synths riding upon a slick early 2000s reminiscent drum pattern, “Slower” takes me back to the days of “Full Moon”, while also reminding me of many an atmospheric R&B hit of today.
However, Brandy’s unique tone makes the track a lot sweeter than the likes of “Motivation”, while the subtle production makes it a lot more unique than the Jim Jonsin joint. There’s a bit in the track when these swirling synths, reminiscent of those in Crystal Castle’s “Courtship Dating”/”Ayo Technology” come in. Combined with the slick production and a slight touch of the piano it all works so well. After the disappointment of lead single “Put It Down”, it seems like Brandy might bring the goods with “Two Eleven” after all. Make sure you cop the LP when it’s released next week, it sounds like it could be a lot better than 2008’s “Human”.
For the benefit of RCA Records & Brandy I am posting some websites that confirm illegal downloads of “Two Eleven” that are spreading. Semi-popular website BrandySource seems to be the main source of the link, with confirmation of illegal activity available here and throughout this topic.
AlunaGeorge // Watching Over You
Annie Mac released her “Annie Mac Presents 2012” compilation today. Featuring some of the hottest tracks of the past year, alongside new ones, this is definitely the best of the fresh cuts on there.
AlunaGeorge just keep on giving. Ever since Deluzan linked me to this track last week I’ve been addicted. The moment I heard the piano intro and sped up vocals I knew I’d love it. From the perfectly crafted verses to the sweet chorus, “Watching Over You” is an impressive piece of glitchy electro-R&B.
It turns out that Aluna and George make quite a team then. I know you already knew that, but I just wanted to remind you. Make sure you support them by downloading “Your Drums, Your Love” from Itunes. It’s not like you won’t be getting some great music with that £1.99 after all. Look out for their debut album next year as well, I can’t wait for that.