Brooklyn twee-pack The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are readying a remix EP companion to their 2011 album “Belong”. To be released on limited edition colored vinyl for Record Store Day, “Acid Reflex” consists of 2 previously released mixes by Twin Shadow and Violens, as well as new ones by chillwaver Washed Out and UK indie-pop legend Saint Etienne. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart have always made excellent music for cold sunshine days, but Saint Etienne went for a more dancefloor-friendly take on album track “Too Tough”. Interestingly, this marks the second time the two bands aligned, as Saint Etienne also did their magic on “Higher Than The Stars” back in 2009. Check out both Saint Etienne mixes below.
STREAM: The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Higher Than The Stars (Saint Etienne Visits Lord Spank Remix)
Intense, striking, dramatic – those are words often associated with UK songstress Anna Calvi‘s music, and the same applies to her covers. Last week, she paid a visit to Radio 1′s Live Lounge and delivered an impressive take on Beyoncé’s “Naughty Girl”. Through her crimson filter, what was otherwise an innocuously seductive Middle-Eastern-tinged R&B track now drips with dark, menacing undertones. There’s no doubt she can sure rock a mean guitar. Check out her interpretation below, and see the performance in motion here.
Frida Hyvönen is known as the serious indie artist type, but for her comeback single “Terribly Dark”, the Swede singer/songwriter has decided to turn to intergalactic disco and ABBA for inspiration. The risk paid off, in the form of properly amazing Scandinavian pop. Somehow she managed to make the infamous Swedish winter sound so fun and effervescent. “It’s so terribly dark here. I’d put myself on fire if I find a spark,” she grimly sings, in contrast to the shoulder-shaking disco beats and vintage synths. The song starts off slow but trust me, by the time it’s over, that hook will NOT leave your head. The music video is a simple, Fever-Ray-ish black-and-white performance-based piece, and it looks like she’s channeling Madonna in “Nothing Really Matters” with those herky jerky moves!
The single is out now in Sweden. The new album “To The Soul” drops April 18.
British newcomer Emeli Sandé made her debut Live Lounge session last Tuesday on BBC Radio 1 with Fearne Cotton. Instead of choosing to cover a current chart-topping hit like most would do, she picked the old school 1995 Blur single “Country House”, and it was a lovely moment. With some clever chorus swapping, she turned the jaunty original into a brooding affair, beautifully sung and interpreted.
Her album “Her Version of Events” drops this week in the UK, and is set to be number one come Sunday. If you are hoping a whole album in the style of “Heaven” and “Daddy”, then prepare to be disappointed, for they are red herrings. I guess either “Heaven” was meant to be the buzz “tastemaker’s single” that unexpectedly became her big break, or she and her team decided to go after Adele’s market rather than Katy B’s. It was not the album I expected, but it still is a strong, solid effort. I’ll save the details for a later post, as the album will reach our shores on June 5. For now, watch the video for her latest single “Next To Me” below.
Ever since she arrived on the scene in 2006, Cassie Ventura, professionally known as Cassie, has unexpectedly garnered a cult online following. Beside her model looks, her glassy, detached voice is a producer’s dream, as its limit is just ripe for studio tweaking trickery. She’s gained so much goodwill on the strength of her only major hit to date, the stone cold classic “Me & U”, and a string of underperformed subsequent singles and leaks. After numerous delays and setbacks, the R&B ice princess is finally ready for a proper comeback. I hereby present you her new single “King Of Hearts” in its complete, official form.
STREAM: Cassie – King Of Hearts
At first listen, it sounds like a very current “club banger”, albeit with a fresh twist, and unconventional structure. She comes across as cool and edgy without trying too hard, and the frosty, frenzied electro-pop production laid atop just oozes class. “King Of Hearts” surely makes for a blazing reintroduction. Welcome back, Cassie.
The video and the song will be available to buy on Valentine’s Day next week.
Rising UK popstrel Delilah must be feeling quite charitable at the moment, for she is offering a free mixtape entitled “2 – 4am”, consisting of EIGHT new songs, in glorious 320 bit rate. If I were you, I would try to nab it asap, before she changes her mind! Get a preview with my favorite track from the lot, “The Gospel”, then download the whole shebang below.
MP3: Delilah – The Gospel
To be honest, I am still on the fence about Delilah and her music. While her two singles are 100% brilliant postdubstep pop/r&b, most of her other tracks tend to teeter on the side of MOR cheese, with occasionally naff lyrics. She’s undoubtedly got a great voice, but her sound’s still a work in progress at this point. To take more time to experiment and refine it is fine by me, though, no hurry.
For her new single “All Bets Are Off”, singer/songwriter Nerina Pallot once again teamed up with her husband/producer Andy Chatterley for a “We Are The Chatterleys” alternate mix. Having tried ’80s disco before, this time they paid tribute to the ’90s, which results in 3 minutes and 29 seconds of trip-hoppy loveliness.
STREAM: Nerina Pallot – All Bets Are Off (We Are The Chatterleys Alt Mix)
In other news, Nerina recently re-released her last album under a new title “New Year Of The Wolf”. Unfortunately, it’s zodiacally incorrect as 2012′s supposed to be the year of the dragon, but we will overlook that for Nerina’s sake. The new edition includes a bonus assortment of her live covers over the years, including takes on Beyonce, David Bowie, Radiohead and more. Watch her wistfully sit on a white horse and sing as snow falls in an abandoned facility – just another day in an artist’s life, then – in the music video for the original “All Bets Are Off” below.
Danish pop princess Oh Land just unleashed a jolly music video for her brand new single “Speak Out Now”. Shot in Copenhagen, the Sebastian-Birk-directed video has the songstress frolic through a beautiful botanical garden, flaunt her cheekbones in a forest, and ends with an evening dance by the lake, all in a day’s work. The gorgeously filmed, nature-themed visuals are a perfect match for the sprightly tune. Plus, who needs a comb when you’re a pop star!
“Speak Out Now” is out now digitally, and also available as a free download.
MP3: Oh Land – Speak Out Now
Back in late 2010, when Lana Del Rey was still relatively unknown and blond, she made what was possibly her first European TV appearance on Mandio Diao‘s MTV Unplugged show. Backed by the Swedish rock band themselves, Lana gave an acoustic rendition of “Chet Baker”, an obscure 2007 b-side named after the jazz legend. The show was later released on CD/DVD, and footage of her segment has been floating around since, but I only managed to discover it a couple days ago. Her voice was a good fit for the jazz-tinged track, and it was certainly fascinating to witness the soon-to-be pop star in progress, just a year before the big break. Not that much has changed, vocally and aethestically. A lovely listen, anyhow.
What I find interesting is that Juliette Lewis, who previously tweet-bashed her SNL performance, was also a guest star on the same show. I wonder if she remembers that they might actually have met before?
“Born To Die” is out now worldwide.
Last week, Jack Peñate unveiled a video for new song “No One Lied”, shot and recorded in one take at his home. Now, the UK singer/songwriter has kindly offered the track as a free download. The song is a stripped-down, poignant, heart-on-sleeve moment that’s sombre and tender at once. I hope this means a new LP is on its way soon. His last full length, the Paul-Epworth-produced “Everything Is New” was such a fantastic but overlooked record.
Now excuse me while I go blast out “Be The One” again. That was a choon!