Sneaky Charlotte Aitchison! Apparently a brand new Charli XCX track has been officially out since May, but no one noticed because she is uncredited! “Smile” is her collaboration with British dubstep producer Benga, and for unknown reasons, it was quietly put on his second album “Chapter II” without her name on it. The track sees her momentarily away from her brand of Tumblr-pop to a more commercial, radio-ready crossover sound, but the vocals are unmistakably hers, down to the infectious cheerleading chants “C.R.Y.S.T.A.L. LOVE.” It’s an above average addition to Charli’s list of collaborations, among those with Alex Metric and Starkey (and of course, that obscure Icona Pop one). Though as I took a glimpse at the Benga album tracklist, it is strangely missing a couple singles he released last year, so there might be more to this story behind the scenes…
Stream the track below and tell me what you think!
Keeping up with Charli XCX-related news, her debut album “True Romance” is without a doubt one of my favorite pop releases of 2013 so far. I had my reservations about it at first, but it eventually grew on me. At the moment, the track I keep coming back to is “Set Me Free (Feel My Pain)”, which needs to be a single at some point.
STREAM: Charli XCX – Set Me Free (Feel My Pain)
Jessie Ware‘s stunning debut album “Devotion” was finally released in the States earlier this month on Cherrytree Records, and today, the British pop star just casually chucked a new song on Soundcloud. “Love Thy Will Be Done” is originally a 1991 single for Martika (of “Toy Soldiers” fame), and it was produced by co-written by the one and only Prince. Apparently, this track was hidden away on the US vinyl pressing of “Devotion” all this time!
It’s yet another solid addition to her rich ’90s cover repertoire (including her sublime rendition of Brownstone’s “If You Love Me”, and her live-favorite version of Marvin Gaye/Madonna’s “I Want You”). Make sure to check out her classy reinterpretation below.
STREAM: Jessie Ware – Love Thy Will Be Done (Martika Cover)
DJ Koze is a name I’m familiar with, having listened to his countless remixes and productions during my IDM phase a few years back. Apparently, the German DJ/producer just released his first solo album in 9 years entitled “Amygdala” (bonkers artwork above), with help from an all-star cast of featured vocalists like Dan Snaith of Caribou, Matthew Dear, and crooner-du-jour Milosh of Rhye fame. However, much to my surprise, track 6 featuring Ada is actually a cover of Kings of Convenience! “Homesick” is a lovely cut on their 2004 album “Riot on an Empty Street”, and Koze’s version does not stray too far away from the original. Just don’t expect any radical rave-up, for it’s a simple, laidback groove with mellow hip-hop beats and robotic, yet organic vocals. It’s already at the top of my essential summer playlist. Check out the breezy cover below.
STREAM: DJ Koze – Homesick feat. Ada
Ironically, on another cool track called “Track ID Anyone?”, Caribou actually sounds a lot like Erlend Oye!
STREAM: DJ Koze feat. Caribou – Track ID Anyone?
Safe to say I need to queue up this album on Spotify, then. Love me some oddball European electronica.
As you know, Record Store Day is on 4/20 this weekend. and it’s a great date to support local record stores, buy exclusive new releases and just have fun appreciating music. One of the most coveted RSD releases this year is Astralwerks’ limited edition 20/20 Vinyl Box Set to celebrate their 20th anniversary. They’re one of my favorite labels, and this release is a great time capsule of all the great acts on their roster over the years. Included are exclusives or rarely heard tracks from Air, Hot Chip, Kings Of Convenience, The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, Basement Jaxx, Kraftwerk, Sia, Empire Of The Sun, Diamond Rings, Gold Fields and more, each pressed on 20 beautiful flexi discs. Only 1,250 copies were pressed and hand-numbered, so you know it’s strictly limited! Lucky for you, thanks to the nice people at Astralwerks, we have ONE copy to give away, in case they’re all sold out at your favorite local store.
Find out after the jump how YOU can win one of these amazing box sets.
Leave it to Empire of the Sun to build up a proper comeback. After an ridiculously epic next-level-Indiana-Jones-shit trailer, the Aussie duo has finally premiered their new single “Alive”. Effervescent and uplifting, the stomping track is the perfect re-introduction to Luke & Nick’s brand of youthful, summery electro-pop. And if the trailer is any indication for the music video, we’re in for a real treat. So get ready to soak up the sun, jump in the pool, and look out for the band’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort “Ice on the Dune” due in June.
STREAM: Empire Of The Sun – Alive
Watch the album trailer:
Empress Of is the moniker of Lorely Rodriguez, Brooklyn-based songstress signed to Terrible Records, label home of Solange and Chairlift. Considering the label’s pedigree, it should come as no surprise that her new track “Hat Trick” is a total dream-pop choon. It’s subdued, ethereal ’80s synth-pop at its smoothest, with slick production and silky sweet vocals. In a nutshell, it sounds like St. Vincent produced by Dev Hynes (Blood Orange). The only flaw I can find is that it’s too damn short! With this, Empress Of has unofficially joined the like-minded crystal-ball pop league of Twin Sister, Class Actress and Glasser. Now excuse me while I go hit repeat one more time.
STREAM: Empress Of – Hat Trick
Brit band Delphic paid tribute to the late Amy Winehouse by uploading their 2013 update of “Rehab” on Soundcloud a few days ago. It’s a blog-happy trap beat exercise that takes some fun turns during its 5-minute span, and is bound to go down well at house parties. This reminds me how I used to be obsessed with their massive tune “Halcyon” back in 2010, and that I still need to listen to their new follow-up. Grab a free download of the remix below, and check out the video for their current single “Baiya”.
WATCH: Delphic – Baiya
Bat For Lashes’ Laura was a deeply gorgeous, haunting chamber-pop ballad, the kind that doesn’t need any enhancing. Nevertheless, San-Francisco-based electronic outfit Bachelors Of Science tried to put their own twist, resulting in a beautiful downtempo reading. They pair the track with ’90s trip-hop beats and buzzsaw synths, but keep the original piano melodies in the mix. This is going straight to my late night playlist! Well done guys.
STREAM: Bat For Lashes – Laura (Bachelors Of Science Remix)
You can watch Bat For Lashes’ new video for the next single “Lilies” below – a visual feast of impressive stop-motion animation.
WATCH: Bat For Lashes – Lilies
It took him a while, but Vincent Frank is finally back to making music under his original moniker Frankmusik. And the hyper J-Pop sounds of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Perfume are what inspired him to make pop tunes again. I must admit I lost track of him after the misguided ‘Americanized’ sophomore effort, but the new tracks on his self-released new EP show that I shouldn’t have written him off just yet. On “Far From Over”, Frankmusik flirts with dubstep on “Captain”, croons on synth-ballad “The Line”, and revisits his early sound with “Thank You”, but it is “Map” that’s the definite highlight. Boasting a soaring monster chorus, the break-up track has a ’90s electronica vibe that’s perfect for listening on trains. Now that Frank’s got his groove back, there’s always room for one more male pop star. Welcome back Frankmusik.
Proper POP Alert! Aussie newcomer Betty Who is the latest potential pop gal on our radar. Her single “Somebody Loves You” has been on mad repeat, and we only just discovered it yesterday! Inspired by Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, the track was written after a failed long distance relationship as told by her, but you wouldn’t know giving its infectiously joyous nature. The straight-up ’80s jam is pure unadulterated pop: bouncy, sprightly, and unabashedly catchy. Betty also exudes charm and charisma in spades in the music video (embedded below). She’s currently unsigned, but not for long I bet. If you like Alphabeat, or old-school Madonna/Whitney/Janet, this should be right up your street. Seriously, if this song doesn’t have you grinning like an idiot by the end, then you sir need to cheer up a bit.
That was great fun wasn’t it? Did I mention it’s out now as a free download too?
Download remix stems of “Somebody Loves You” if you fancy having a go at it, or grab another free track “Fire With Fire” at her Soundcloud.
Shout-out to the always excellent Singles Jukebox for turning me on to this.
It’s been a while since I last heard of Japanese folkster/multi-instrumentalist Shugo Tokumaru, but he has returned with a gorgeous stop-motion video for his lovely new single “Katachi”. Clearly a lot of time and effort was put into this labour of love, and the visuals work so well with the beautiful soothing harmonies. That it’s sung in Japanese probably adds to its warm, earthy charm. Make this your required Sunday morning viewing, then grab a free download of another track “Decorate” right below.
A Disclosure and AlunaGeorge collaboration??
That bang you just heard is the buzz-blogging collective imploding.
Fresh off its radio premiere, here’s the synth-frenzy “White Noise”. No word yet on whether this will be on Disclosure’s album or AlunaGeorge’s. Either way, 2013 will be a big year for both. Wicked.
STREAM: Disclosure – White Noise (feat. AlunaGeorge)
And while we’re at it, revisit the bangin’ AlunaGeorge collab with Rustie too.
STREAM: Rustie – After Light (feat. AlunaGeorge)
The Beyoncé PR machine is running on overload. $15 million Pepsi endorsement deal, rumored H&M campaign, Destiny’s Child reunion, new HBO documentary, the inaugural concert, and of course, the Superbowl Halftime show! Her team deserves a gold medal for pulling out all the stops this time. She literally CANNOT fail can’t she. Since there’s little we know yet about the lead single, let’s focus some attention on the one that started her solo career, the horn-blazing, Rich-Harrison-produced “Crazy In Love”. Did you know Beyoncé features a bootleg dubstep remix on the trailer of her forthcoming HBO documentary “Life Is But A Dream”, one that only has about 6,000 views on Youtube prior to this? A Google moment and it turns out this remix is made back in 2010 by a guy called Sebastian Nahi, aka FeelX, who now goes by the name VÄRT. It’s actually quite impressive for an unofficial remix, it’s very “now”, with dark undertones, slightly sinister pitched-down vocal samples and of course, some big ol’ silly wobble-wobble bass.
One question remains unanswered: Does Queen B look up fan made remixes in her spare time when Blue Ivy’s asleep?
You might have known Rachel Zeffira as one half of Cat’s Eyes, the unjustly underrated ’60s-pop side project of Faris Badwan of The Horrors fame. Now the classically-trained Canadian multi-instrumentalist/singer is ready to venture on her own solo debut “The Deserters”, out this March in North America on Paper Bag Records. First single “Here On In” is ethereal dream-pop lushly crafted, with a certain Gallic cool that recalls Air or Charlotte Gainsbourg. Her airy, bewitching vocals float weightlessly above a bed of strings, synths and spectral harmonies. It’s beautifully arranged nocturnal music for fans of shoegaze and retro-minded indie pop. Therefore, it makes total sense that she chose to cover My Bloody Valentine’s “To Here Knows When” for the flip side. Check out both tracks below, and keep a close watch for more to come. The owls are not what they seem.
STREAM: Rachel Zeffira – Here On In
STREAM: Rachel Zeffira – To Here Knows When (My Bloody Valentine Cover)
Frida Sundemo ended 2012 on a high, having got the blogosphere a-buzzin’ with the brilliant single “Indigo”. Now she’s ready to kickstart 2013 with another taster, “Snow”. However, for now “Snow” is only available on Spotify in Scandinavia (damn those pesky region restrictions!). Fortunately, Swedish postrock band Immanu El have uploaded their beautiful slow-burning remix of the track for us non-Swedes to enjoy. It showcases another side of her – melancholy, downbeat, but blissful, not unlike her compatriot Lykke Li. And of course it’s only natural for a Swede to sing about snow. I wonder what the original sounds like, is it a electro stomper, or an introspective downtempo number à la Royksopp?
Electronica godfather Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim recently gave away a rollicking mash-up of Adele & Donna Summer on his Soundcloud for free. Retitled “I Feel Love Rollin’ In The Deep”, it was made for his DJ sets, and finally offered the answer to the question “What if Adele unleashed her inner Giorgio Moroder disco diva ?”. The mash-up surprisingly works, making it one strong addition to your NYE party playlists. Check it out below.
Frida Sundemo was previous known as simply Frida in Japan. The breezy-cutesy bossa-nova-tinged songs from her 2010 debut album “Dear, Let It Out” managed to strike a chord with the Japanese audience. Granted, she was not the first Swede indie girl to conquer Japan. Two years later, she has stunningly reinvented herself as Frida Sundemo, the next big Swedish synth-pop starlet.
“Indigo” is the kind of song that came out of nowhere and catch you by surprise. Her sweet vocals against the aggro synth backdrop made for a striking combo. It’s clear she has graduated from the same School of Pop as Robyn, Lykke Li, and Tove Styrke. It’s electro-pop perfection that only the Swedes can effortlessly offer in spades.
And here’s a different side from her early career, the sweet lounge ditty “Towers”:
One of the most promising acts for 2013? I think so.
How many ways can you remix Lana Del Rey? Just how many producers got sent the stems every time she readies a new single? I have a feeling there must be a plethora of unreleased mixes not making the cut, when they always releasing a mixed bag of tricks. For her new Rick-Rubin-produced single “Ride”, Active Child and Photek step up to the task and deliver two of the best rejigs so far. Do check them out below!
STREAM: Lana Del Rey – Ride (Active Child Remix)
Active Child adds some seriously funky basslines and pretty harp chords with an ’80s finish.
STREAM: Lana Del Rey – Ride (Photek Remix)
Props to the legendary Photek for not turning in a token drum n’ bass mix (Special Request has filled that slot instead), and for keeping the melodies intact, making it one of the more tamed offerings from him. I still would like to hear a proper old-school jungle take on Lana though.
Saint Saviour excels at making spooky, grown-up art-pop, and she’s been honing those skills by recording covers and giving them away on her Soundcloud. Among her latest is a tongue-in-cheek dubstep-ified cover of infamous ’80s power ballad “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. The Groove Armada collaborator has also provided her own lilting take on Mazzy Star’s ’90s shoegaze classic “Fade Into You”.
On the original-material front, her new single “Tightrope” is a beautiful heartbreak lullaby that would make Kate Bush proud. The chord progression also reminds me of Radiohead’s “Creep”, does it not? It’s by far one of her strongest tracks. Here’s the official video for it.
STREAM: Saint Saviour – Tightrope (Radio Edit)
Ellie Goulding‘s sophomore effort “Halcyon” is out this week, and you should probably have it already because it’s definitely one of the strongest pop releases this year. “Anything Could Happen” was a red herring, as the album is a big step forward – bold, experimental, and bombastic, without losing the pop charms of her debut. She shows real growth and progression as an artist. At the moment, I’m all about “Only You”, “My Blood” and the massive “Figure 8″ (which has to be the next single).
Her cover of Active Child’s “Hanging On” got a wicked bass remix by London-based producer Ahadadream, which is only available on the Spotify edition. But you can now download it for free! Have a listen below.
Chart Music is the new joint project of Le Prix and Roger Gunnarsson, both of whom have worked with Sally Shapiro, Johan Agebjörn, Cloetta Paris and Queen of Hearts. If you don’t know any of those names, educate yourself. If you do, then you probably know what to expect. The first song from the Stockholm-based duo is “When You Lied”, featuring Viktor Ginner on vocals, and it’s a gorgeous piece of melancholy heart-on-sleeve anorak twee-pop blub-a-thon. Influences include italo disco, ’80s synth-pop and John Hughes films. If you don’t feel something when the middle eight’s instrumental breakdown glides in, then you sir need to check your pulse!
STREAM: Chart Music – When You Lied
An accompanying video was made of clips from obscure 1986 teen flick Lucas. Prepared to get your sad eyes on.
Madonna‘s 2003 politically-charged album “American Life” is one of her more polarizing works, but it’s not without highlights, one of which is fan-favorite album track/Europe-only single “Nothing Fails”. The track was co-written by British electronic producer Guy Sigsworth and Welsh singer Jem. Originally called “Silly Thing”, the demo was recorded with Jem’s vocals back in summer 2001 and had never surfaced before… until last week, when Sigsworth finally reached into his vault and sneakily put it on Soundcloud. Though claimed a “work-in-progress demo” and “over ten years old”, the demo is achingly beautiful, even in its raw form. Jem’s pristine, light-as-air vocals carry an ingenue quality, in contrast to Madonna’s seasoned delivery on the finished track. In fact, it wouldn’t sound out-of-place on her excellent debut album “Finally Woken”, which makes me wonder if she ever worked with Guy on her own tracks. I am seriously in love with it, it makes me feel nostalgic for what I call “The OC age”. Oh how I miss her voice. To most people she might have been a poor man’s Dido, but I’d love for her to come back and give it another shot. Thank you, Guy, for sharing with us this lovely gem.
STREAM: Jem – Silly Thing (Demo For Madonna)
You can read the story behind it on Jem’s blog. Apparently, she’s working in film production now?
“Something In The Way You Are” is easily the best of the batch of new songs on Kimbra‘s US release of “Vows”. It’s a straightforward, catchy midtempo pop number that makes good use of a recycled Lil’ Mama beat. What I didn’t see coming is a remix from Nordic space-disco wiz Prins Thomas. Have a listen below.
STREAM: Kimbra – Something In The Way You Are (Prins Thomas Discomiks)
Watch the literally bonkers video for her latest single “Come Into My Head” after the jump.