Laura Marling is the Rihanna of folk. On to her fourth album in 5 years, the prolific Brit folk darling just unleashed her new single “Master Hunter” last week, and it’s a change of wind for her. It’s been a while since I heard something this upbeat from Laura, but that trademark visceral melancholy in most of her songs is not lost here.
STREAM: Laura Marling – Master Hunter
“Where Can I Go?” is another strong cut from her forthcoming album “Once I Was An Eagle”. After 3 solid albums, I have no doubt this next one will be yet another challenging but rewarding listen. Her albums always take time to marinate and grow, but once they do, oh boy do they do.
STREAM: Laura Marling – Where Can I Go?
You can also watch a nice trailer for her upcoming short film for another track, “When Brave Bird Saved”:
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
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.
I don’t know much indie-rock duo Foxygen, but I’m glad I didn’t let their questionable band name put me off. “San Francisco”, from their awesomely-titled album “We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic”, is a sweet throwback to ’70s AM rock, and also doubles as an out-of-context unofficial West Coast anthem. With its off-kilter, bookish charm, “San Francisco” sits comfortably somewhere between a Wes Anderson soundtrack and a pitched theme song for a non-existent The OC reboot. Its ’70s easy-going sunny vibe is certainly a pleasant distraction from the dreary East Coast weather lately. I haven’t checked out the album yet, but I do hope there’s a dozen more of these.
STREAM: Foxygen – San Francisco
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 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.
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.
Just in time for Friday night, here’s the Hercules and Love Affair remix of Bat For Lashes‘ latest single “All Your Gold”. It’s a no-brainer union, since I always thought his throwback Chicago house sound would mesh well with her voice. Check it out below!
And if you haven’t seen its music video yet, please do. For me, it’s an instant classic that begs for repeated viewings. It’s beautifully choreographed, performed, filmed and edited, and those vaguely ritualistic moves Natasha Khan pulls are so captivating. This has become my second favourite video of hers beside that one. Stunning.
By now you probably have heard and seen Solange‘s stunner of a single, the Blood Orange-produced “Losing You”. It’s chilled, it’s understatedly brilliant, it’s probably the best track/video she put her name to. “Sleep in the Park”, the b-side attached to it (how old-fashioned!) is also out now and featuring Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal on vocals. Between this and his back-and-forth collaborations with Janelle Monae, that man does love to work with alt-R&B ladies. Check it out below.
STREAM: Solange – Sleep in the Park (Feat. Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal)
And here’s the amazing video for “Losing You”. I love the path Solange chose for herself, out of Beyoncé’s shadow, and I expect her new album to amaze me.
It’s strange to remember that Joss Stone is still quite big in America. Despite being largely ignored in her homeland, her last 3 albums have all gone top ten here. 9 years after “The Soul Sessions” – the album that started it all, she just released Vol. 2, comprising a new collection of cover songs. The lead single is a stoned-soul rendition of Broken Bells’ “The High Road”, which is pretty much the 2012 equivalent of her White Stripes cover “Fell In Love With A Boy” back then. I actually find it quite agreeable, if a bit oversung. She’s obviously a very gifted vocalist, but I wish she would stop smoking pot for a second to give Eg White a call and go back to her “You Had Me” ways. Anyway, it’s quite nice to see her in a proper music video again. Watch the psychedelic video for “The High Road” below.
Mysterious Aussie/Swedish twin duo Saint Lou Lou managed to win me over with just one perfect little gem of downtempo dream-pop. “Maybe You”, their first and only song to date, is a sublime synth-pop ballad with an ’80s-indebted ‘quiet storm’ vibe. It’s melancholy yet hopeful, subdued yet tender. It’s the kind of track you can imagine yourself hearing on the radio in the back of a taxi cab on a rainy late-summer night. In fact, I’m surprised they didn’t add thunderstorm sound effects to the intro, so I guess I’ll make do with an open tab of Rainymood.com.
The music video is a gorgeous, sensually-shot black-and-white slo-mo affair. Watch it below, and check out some excellent remixes after the jump.
UK future-pop duo AlunaGeorge just unleashed their next single “Your Drums, Your Love”, and oh my god is it brilliant! It instantly won me over upon first play, with its pre-millenial R&B vibes, pitch-shifted vocal samples, heavy bass and some chiiill rhodes. It’s actually not a world away from Ellie Goulding’s output, either. I notice they are now signed to Island, which is good news.
Love, love, love this. Now onto my nth listen.
STREAM: AlunaGeorge – Your Drums, Your Love
“Your Drums, Your Love” is out on October 7.
Spector have gone ‘EDM’! In a somewhat unexpected move, the band got Benny Benassi to remix their fantastic single “Never Fade Away”, and the result is quite massive. It’s proper hands-in-the-air rave o’clock, with those post-chorus rave-off-your-tits bits so popular with the kids nowadays. I think this could easily pull a “Spectrum via Calvin Harris” with decent airplay.
STREAM: Spector – Never Fade Away (Benny Benassi Remix Radio Edit)
But no worries, they got your ‘IDM’ bases covered too, by enlisting Wolfgang Voigt, co-founder of cool German techno label Kompakt, to give his own sprawling synth-laden take on the track. It’s safe to say Voigt certainly has the motorways in mind. Or shall we say autobahns?
STREAM: Spector – Never Fade Away (Wolfgang Voigt Remix)
Spector’s excellent debut album “Enjoy While It Lasts” is out this week in UK, and if you enjoy anthemic indie rock of the early noughties’ kind, check it out.
Last month, rumours surfaced that the Kate Bush had filmed a video for a new version of “Running Up That Hill” with Jude Law for London 2012. It turns out those weren’t untrue at all! A “2012 Remix” of the ’80s classic has just been released digitally today. The new mix actually isn’t all that different from the “12 mix, which is a relief as it’s perfect the way it was, but the sheer prospect of Kate Bush possibly performing on the Closing Ceremony is too good to be true. I guess we have to tune in tonight to find out. In the meantime, check out the RUTH ’12 update below.
Potential summer blog hit alert! Aussie indie duo Gypsy & The Cat are back with a brand new single “Sorry”. And if you expect more sun-kissed, feel-good, catchy hipster-pop, you won’t be disappointed. File this under the same category which the likes of MGMT, Passion Pit and Miike Snow frequent. A music video for the track has just been released, and you can see it here if you don’t mind a bit of gross-out weird-for-the-sake-of-being-weird humor.
“Sorry” is out on August 17.
More on Gypsy & The Cat.
Every now and then I come across a gem from out of the blue, and this is definitely a keeper. Kasper Bjørke is a Danish DJ/producer who has done remixes for the likes of Moby, Trentemøller and The Ting Tings. He also happens to look like Erlend Øye’s doppelganger. His latest single “Deep Is The Breath” is a fantastic pastiche of ’80s synth-pop in the veins of Human League, down to the male/female “call and response” -styled vocals handled by Jacob Bellens and Emma Acs. The melodies sound odd at first, but will eventually worm their way in. It’s retro-minded pop done so well, it could have easily come out 30 years ago and become a hit. Sweet one.
STREAM: Kasper Bjørke – Deep Is The Breath (with Jacob Bellens & Emma Acs)
There’s a music video too but it’s quite boring, unfortunately.
Danish songstress Fallulah is back with a brand new track, “He’ll Break Up With You When Summer Comes”. It’s a beautifully arranged, delicate alt-folk-pop number, with Fallulah delivering some choice words to Mr. Ex in the bridge in a rather calm manner. She makes summer postbreakup sound like a picnic by the lake, which is how it should be.
Here’s a lovely outdoor live performance for your viewing pleasure.
And while her new album isn’t coming out until 2013, us Americans can finally get a hold of her debut, as “The Black Cat Neighbourhood” is set to drop on August 21 on MBM Records, with fall tour dates to follow. I’d love to see her when she stops by New York!
British singer/songwriter Lianne La Havas will finally release her debut album “Is Your Love Big Enough?” on July 9 in the UK, and on August 6 in the US via Nonesuch Records. The title track will serve as the lead single here in America, and it’s an upbeat one akin to “Forget”, showing her versatility aside from her pretty acoustic ballad ones. “Is your love big enough for what’s to come?”, she sings, like it’s both a challenge, a come-on, and a warning. I’m not still not sure whether she sings “Ice cream on second avenue” or “I scream”, but the latter gives a slight curve to the sentiment. Download the track below, and watch the video if you fancy a look at what it’s like to be on tour with Lianne.
Would you like some new Lana Del Rey remixes while we’re all patiently waiting for the “National Anthem” video to drop? The legendary Todd Terry delivers a splendid rework for the summer nights, while Afterlife opts for the afterhours chillout/lounge treatment, which I’m surprised hadn’t been done before. The 4th single from “Born To Die” will be released July 8 in the UK.
STREAM: Lana Del Rey – National Anthem (Todd Terry Radio Remix)
STREAM: Lana Del Rey – National Anthem (Afterlife Remix)
And if you’ve got 35 minutes to spare, her beautiful Hackney Weekend set is watchable in its entirety here.
New anthem alert! Spector has unleashed their fifth single “Celestine”, and it is HUGE! Produced by Trevor Horn, it’s an epic arena-sized monster without any pretense of what it’s set out to be: an epic arena-sized monster. Now that I found a proper audio version to replace the Zane Lowe radio rip, my obsession will only grow stronger. Seriously, this is so glorious I don’t know whether to fist pump or cry, or both. I picture a sea of thousands of hands in the air and the crowd chanting along as the drums drop out on the last chorus. It’s safe to say “Celestine” has eclipsed “Grey Shirt & Tie” as their best track to date, and right now it is very much a strong contender for song of the year. Spector has proved themselves to be the most exciting new guitar band in a while. The Vaccines who?
Celestine is out May 21 in UK on Fiction. If this couldn’t score a number one, I’d be livid.
For her new single, British songstress Delilah goes back to the beginning with “Breathe”, a track previously given away as a free download last year, and now gets a revamp for its single status. At first I wasn’t sure about this single choice, since both “Go” & “Love You So” were so brilliant, but the new mix added the bells & whistles while still keeping the subtleties of the original demo. The demo sounded like Zero 7 to my ears, but this new version is closer to the Portishead school of hopelessly sombre and bleak night music. Those haunting strings at the end are just masterful.
The suitably moody video reflects the urban decay in the song. And is it only me who never noticed the scar on her left cheek before?
I kept half-expecting the song to drop into a drum & bass breakdown. Thankfully, the Sub Zero remix does just that while maintaining the atmostphere. There are few cases where I prefer a remix over the original but this might be one.
STREAM: Delilah – Breathe (Sub Zero Remix)
And if you prefer to put a womp on it, there’s Emalkay dubstep take, which you can download for free below.
MP3: Delilah – Breathe (Emalkay Remix)
A fan of duets? There’s one with fellow Chase & Status collaborator Liam Bailey. She really covers all bases, doesn’t she?
STREAM: Delilah – Breathe (Duet Version feat. Liam Bailey)