Brooklyn-based trio Little Daylight is next on the list of synth-pop hopefuls, right beside my other faves like St. Lucia, CHVRCHES, Haerts, Ellie Goulding, and deservingly so. Initially cutting their teeth by doing remixes for the likes of Passion Pit, Niki & The Dove, Ra Ra Riot and The Neighbourhood, they moved on to producing originals and uploading them on Soundcloud. The band makes glossy, twinkly electronic pop with sticky hooks and toe-tapping beats, the type that would set blogs alight (and indeed they have in droves). Their current EP entitled “Tunnel Vision” is a great collection of danceable, infectious songs that fully showcase their potentials. “Restart”, “Glitter And Gold”, “Name In Lights” are among my favorites, but “Overdose” is the big one. Seriously, that one’s been in my head for days.
STREAM: Little Daylight – Overdose
I had the pleasure of seeing them live opening for Bastille last week and it was great fun. Lead singer Nikki put on a confident, flirty and playful performance, flicking through songs from their EP, as well as test-driving new tracks. One called “Mona Lisa” particularly stood out, I can’t wait to hear it again in studio form. Saving the best for last, they ended the impressive set with “Overdose” whose bassline really came alive. They have many shows coming up for CMJ so if you can make it, I highly recommend seeing them live.
STREAM: Little Daylight – Restart
Lately the music scene has witnessed the inevitable antithesis to EDM. A small wave of new acts makes music that is more likely to gently stroke a listener’s chin, rather than shout at one’s face threatening to ‘drop’. London Grammar are UK’s brightest new hope. Already scoring a #2 album across the pond, the band is making their way to America. A mix between The XX, Florence & The Machine and Sia, London Grammar’s sound is really as stately and deceptively modest as the name suggests. At times they also remind me of Trespassers William too.
I first got hooked on early single “Metal & Dust”, a gorgeous trip-hop throwback that knows when to hold and release. Follow-up single “Wasting My Young Years” is one of those ballads that might send a lump down your throat in an appropriate mood. It might actually rival the grandeur of Sia’s “Breathe Me”, and I don’t say that lightly. However, “Strong” is the one with mass appeal, landing them their first Top 20 single in Britain. The old-school drum-and-bass High Contrast remix confirms that they sound just as good over block rockin’ beats.
As nice as the electronic embellishment around their production is, it’s Hannah Reid’s powerhouse vocals that took center in every song. Her guest vocals on Disclosure’s “Help Me Lose My Mind” is a thing of sunset-in-Ibiza beauty. For such a new band, they’re really building up a solid discography.
STREAM: London Grammar – Metal & Dust
Check out their US tour dates after the jump.
Say hi to your new favorite emerging electro-pop starlet! Aussie Chela is attracting blog buzz left and right with her debut single “Romanticise” for reliably hip French label Kitsune Maison. “Romanticise” (English spelling and all) is a rollicking, electric ’80s pop number, in the tradition of CSS meets La Roux. Yes it’s a bit 2008, but who cares when it’s so damn catchy. Watch her throw some dance moves in the lo-fi video below.
Dancey guitary synth-pop is not her only mode though. She also showcased her softer side on midtempo nighttime ballad “Vegas Nights”. It’s chill and wistful in an ’80s adult-contemporary/quiet storm way, not unlike the output of Say Lou Lou. If you closed your eyes, you could almost see palm trees gently swaying by your windscreen. It really is quite lovely, not to mention it’s a freebie too!
FREE DOWNLOAD: Chela – Vegas Nights
Moving away from the lush, dreamy soundscapes of her second album, Oh Land returns with something a little more adventurous. For her third full-length entitled “Wish Bone”, the Danish songstress works with producer Dave Sitek (TV On The Radio). Her relocation to Brooklyn really shows in the new batch of songs. Lead single “Renaissance Girls” is a fun celebration of female empowerment in the form of an infectious synth-pop tune. The girl-power sentiment is cool in a post-Lilith-Fair way, and the immaculately choreographed music video is AMAZING. She really put her ballet dancer skills to good use!
There’s also a lovely new video for the quirky “Pyromaniac”. She’s really nailing it down on the visual side this era. Her hair alone is divine, I can’t tell what exact shade it is (light blue greyish blond?), but she rocks it.
You can now stream the entire album on New York Times. FYI, the track co-written with former tourmate Sia is “Green Card”.
Goldfrapp never cease to surprise. After their brief flirtation with ’80s synth-pop on Head First, Alison & Will revert to nature for their forthcoming sixth album Tales of Us. If you’re a fan of Seventh Tree and Felt Mountain, you’re bound to be pleased, the sound template this time is much inspired by organic textures, James Bond soundtrack, and ’70s Italian film scores, with a touch of grandiosity. Alison’s voice remains otherwordly and crystalline on the haunting “Drew”, which could well be the sequel to “A&E”. Those cinematic strings at the middle eight… they’re quite something.
STREAM: Goldfrapp – Drew
Every track on the album is named after a person, like a postcard to a ghost of past memories. The second short film for “Annabel” premiered yesterday, and it’s just as gorgeous. It’s clear they’re treating this project as a singular body of work.
Goldfrapp are performing a one-off show at Beacon Theater on 9/10 to celebrate the album release next week. Tickets are still available. See you there?
Frida Sundemo reunites with fellow Swedish DJ Rasmus Faber on the his new single “Indian Summer”. The two has previously worked together for an EP back in 2011, and the chemistry continues on this uplifting EDM number, with Frida’s vocals cleverly chopped, screwed, and entwined in the ‘drop’. American radio might be playing that generic remix of Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness, but I’d rather hear this blast loud in a car. This needs to blow up!
The single is out in the UK on September 16.
Funny hat-wearer Eliza Doolittle is a puzzle. One minute, she turned heads on the flawless Disclosure collab “You & Me”. Then she followed up with “Big When I Was Little”, a cynical attempt at prepackaged nostalgia. Then out of nowhere, she delivered another winsome performance on veteran UK garage producer Wookie’s laidback house groove “The Hype”. Then she wasted no time and went back to unleashing a plodding acoustic ballad. I know it’s a fine line between collaborations and being an ‘artiste’ but she is just so damn good at this dance vocalist thing. Maybe one day she might rethink her strategy and become a full-time chill house diva? One can dream.
For now, this Wookie jam will do.
Postiljonen is the next big Swedish export, and they have delivered a stunning debut album in “Skyer”. I can only describe the Stockholm-based trio’s music as panoramic, multi-textured road-trip synth-pop. The ’80s synth and sax riffs are larger than life, while wispy, murmuring vocals are mixed like an afterdream, hazy and unobtrusive, interspersed with dialogue samples from unidentified, possibly non-existent films. As is the case with shoegazing dream-pop, due of its unique construct, you probably won’t remember much of the lyrics or melodies, but there’s enough ear candy to keep coming back and peel at the layers. The 10-track album is short and sweet, with the more upbeat numbers (Supreme, We Raise Our Hearts, Skying High) sequenced in between ambient, filmic ones (Rivers, Plastic Panorama). There is also an unlikely, spectral cover take on Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know”, gloomily retitled as “All That We Had Is Lost”. “Atlantis” – the current single – makes a perfect album closer, thanks to its monster saxophone action and a nocturnal, melancholic back-of-a-taxi-cab mood. If you like M83, or The Naked And Famous, then Postiljonen’s widescreen after-hours pop is for you.
Check out the music video for Atlantis below, and album highlight “We Raise Our Hearts”.
STREAM: Postiljonen – We Raise Our Hearts
Cloaked in mystery, Solomon Grey is the latest signing to Black Butter Records. There’s next to nothing about him/them online, but that he’s on the hottest UK dance label right now is a coup in itself. The gorgeous artwork depicting nighttime cityscape just piqued my curiosity even more. So I clicked play.
And I hit repeat, again and again.
“Gen V” is an exquisite piece of widescreen downtempo electronica. With cascading synths and soulful vocals, the beautifully produced track operates within a nocturnal solitary world. “Inside it’s raining… always”, the male protagonist sings in melancholy. The song is a cross between Rhye, Air, and the Drive soundtrack. It’s a total stunner.
STREAM: Solomon Grey – Gen V (Edit)
Here are SIX facts you need to know about our latest Popforward act Rebeka.
1. Rebeka are Iwona Skwarek and Bartosz Szczęsny. Those happen to be Polish names. You can see why they settled for Rebeka instead.
2. Their current single is “Melancholia”. You can’t go wrong with a song called “Melancholia”.
3. If you quite like Goldfrapp, Ladytron, The Knife and other bands from Europe that make modern/spooksome synth-pop, you will like this.
4. The music video features some very nice plants.
5. You can grab a FREE mp3 of the track right here!
Actually, you can download a free Moullinex remix too.
6. Their debut album “Hallada” is available to buy in all the usual places. If you’re more of a streaming type, find it on Spotify.
Not complacent about “Motorway” being one of her finest tracks to date, British disco siren/DJ Little Boots has expanded the atmospheric Nocturnes opening track to a swirling 7-minute epic joy ride. Billed as the “Little Boots Discotheque Edit”, the eargasmic extended version should please any fan of disco beats, bongo drums and vintage synths. To sweeten the deal, Victoria is kind enough to offer it up as a free mp3 download, so you can sync it to your iPod, add it to your getaway playlist, blast it in your car and driiiive away.
Seriously loving this.
And just in case you haven’t heard the original, it’s still available as a free download too!
Here’s one for the hot summer nights. Fiona Apple‘s music was never the kind that would necessarily call out for remixes, but Brooklyn-based producer MeLo-X manages to give “Every Single Night” a refreshing workout, mixing African drum rhythms, dreamy guitar riffs and a bonus rap verse with her impassioned chants. It’s a sweat-inducing jungle fever dream, but the fiery tension of the original remains. A fantastic Soundcloud find.
MP3: Fiona Apple – Every Single Night (MeLo-X APT Basement God Mix)
British future-pop duo AlunaGeorge continues their hot streak by teasing another new track on Lauren Laverne’s BBC 6 Music radio show 2 weeks ago. Album track “Bad Idea” is a sassy kiss-off number with major ’90s Timbaland vibes. Production-wise, it’s probably their most straightforward R&B throwback so far, with mad catchy hooks and a beautiful spacey middle eight. Those onomatopoeic doo-doos shall haunt my head for days. So so good.
And in case you haven’t seen the glossy new video for the re-release of “You Know You Like It”, watch it below:
Body Music is out on July 29.
More on AlunaGeorge.
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.