Considering they have done a remix for Lana Del Rey before, White Lies‘ cover of the demure songstress’ single “Ride” seems like an obvious move. It first started out a bit Celtic, and just as I almost expected some bagpipe action, the cover took a turn into funkier territory with a more electronic arrangement. Why do I have a feeling they might have recorded this with tongue firmly in cheek?
DOWNLOAD: White Lies – Ride (Lana Del Rey Cover)
In other news, the band just kickstarted their US tour promoting their new album “Big TV” last night in New York. I happened to be at the show, so hopefully more on that later… In the meantime, check out their remaining US tour dates below.
October 3 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
October 4 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom (SOLD OUT)
October 5 Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
October 7 Chicago, IL @ Cabaret Metro
October 9 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
October 10 Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre
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.
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?
It’s been a while since Daley was longlisted for BBC Sound of 2011, and the British R&B/soul vocalist has yet to release his debut album, despite his fantastic Gorillaz collab “Doncamatic” and the Jessie-J-assisted moderate hit “Remember Me”. As frustrating and out-of-control these things are, he soldiers on with a brand new single entitled “Broken”. Probably his most commercial work to date, the soaring string-laden track follows that ’90s trip-hop/drum-and-bass throwback template that’s so on-trend right now, thanks to Naughty Boy, Emeli Sandé and Rudimental. He even travelled to the Seven Sisters cliff for the music video, so you know he means business.
He’s undoubtedly got an amazing voice, I wouldn’t mind more songs in this direction really.
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.
We might not’ve been exactly vocal about this in the past (apols) but we love Summer Camp, aka UK power duo of Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley. They wrote some very listenable pop tunes.
Now that they’re back for another round with album no. 2, the band has stepped their game up. Current single “Fresh” is what you get when you put the following ingredients in a blender and press “Mix”: Disney string samples, Beach Boys ghost harmonies, funky disco bassline, ’90s Britpop, Tumblr irony, and of course, ’80s John Hughes teen angst. A delicious smoothie, you’d agree.
The charming and colorful music video directed by Lucy Needs is one of those performance videos where the artist has to learn to lip sync to their song backwards. Watch as Elizabeth reiterate Jarvis Cocker’s question “Do you remember the first time?” (can you spot the other Pulp reference?).
More than 2 years after its release, Birdy‘s cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” is still hovering around the lower end of iTunes Top 100. Clearly, the 17-year-old alt-pop interpreter would do just fine living off the royalties of that hit. She bravely soldiers on with a sophomore effort of original tunes anyway. “Wings” is the lead single from her upcoming album “Fire Within” (no easy poultry puns, please), and if it’s an indication of quality, then she’s got nothing to worry about stepping away from the covers.
Sonically, it’s pleasingly stuck in 2005, when the likes of Snow Patrol, Keane and Coldplay were hugely popular with their brand of sensitive indie stadium-pop. You can even sing the chorus of “Yellow” on top of it if you like. Not that I’m complaining, it’s been long enough to feel nostalgic for those days. “Wings” is stately, immaculately-produced Radio 2 pop and an immense grower of a song.
In the music video directed by the legendary Sophie Muller (who previously worked with her on “Skinny Love” and “Shelter”), Birdy seems to find herself at an ennui-laden costume party, but even I’d be pretty down too if my dress sleeves were fashioned out of steamer baskets. Watch the lovely video below.
Ever the samaritan, Birdy has also offered an MP3 of trip-hoppy album cut “All You Never Say” for the price of your email address. Go for it, it’s worth it. The instrumental middle eight is particularly beautiful.
DOWNLOAD: Birdy – All You Never Say
I look forward to adding this album to my music-for-rainy-days category.
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)
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!
White Lies are back with a brand new beat! Nah jk they’re still the same old demure chaps. In fact, the frontman’s sporting a new beard so they’re probably even more serious about their craft this time around etc.
Jokes aside, as far as stadium rock bands go, they’ve had a pretty strong listenable single run, and now that Muse are inching further towards self-parody territory, we need new bleak-but-catchy British indie rock to fill up our quota. “Getting Even”, the first track from their upcoming third album “Big TV”, introduces the addition of synths, which make it sound not a mile away from The Killers’ output. I find the “I can forgive/ And we can forget” bits irritatingly catchy too. Best of all, it’s a guilt-free download!
The proper lead single is called “There Goes Our Love Again”, and it’s not half bad either.
STREAM: White Lies – There Goes Our Love Again
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.
Perfect summer indie pop alert!
The Proper Ornaments are my new favorite Soundcloud discovery. Their new single “Waiting For The Summer” is everything I wanted in a song with that title. The UK band lovingly crafts that timeless jangle-pop sound: dreamy, short and sweet, and more than ideal for a sunny day in the park. This was so good I immediately searched for all their past releases to listen. Apparently, one of the band members James Hoare is also in Veronica Falls, another favorite English indie band of mine, so I shouldn’t be surprised. Take my word for it, press play and enjoy.
STREAM: The Proper Ornaments – Waiting For The Summer
And here’s the equally lovely b-side “Candy”:
STREAM: The Proper Ornaments – Candy
Bonus points for the band name, which I presume to be an homage to a Free Design song of the same name.
“Waiting For The Summer” is out now on Lo Recordings. Their album is expected for a late summer release. In the meantime, grab a free download of a track from 2011, “Shining Bright”.
We first posted about them for our Popforward feature in 2011, and since then The Staves have gone on to release a sublime folk album entitled “Dead & Born & Grown”. Now the British sibling trio are embarking on a US tour, and we want you to hear their gorgeous harmonies live FOR FREE. If you happen to live in Oregon and are a fan of the band, today’s your lucky day! You can stand a chance to win ONE pair of tickets to see them perform live in person at Mississippi Studios in Portland on June 18. All you need to do to enter this giveaway is to follow the steps below.
1. Become a fan of The Staves and Pop Labyrinth on Facebook (if you haven’t already).
2. What’s your favorite Staves song? Comment below to tell us, and don’t forget to leave your name and email address so we can contact you if you win!
The contest ends on Monday, 6/17. A winner will be picked at random and contacted via email.
In case you don’t totally trust your luck, tickets for the show are still available here.
In the meantime, check out the video for their beautiful new single “Facing West” below.
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)
Way back in 2005, British duo The Boy Least Likely To released “Be Gentle With Me”, a perfect indie pop song with an adorable video featuring animal puppets playing instruments and a pre-Office Rashida Jones playing the manic pixie dream girl. 8 years later, for their third studio album “The Great Perhaps”, Owen & Pete Hobbs are still hopelessly twee, quietly chucking out little pop gems about the woes of love and growing up. New single “It Could’ve Been Me” is one of its (many) highlights. A duet with the ever-lovely Gwenno Saunders from The Pipettes, it finally got a suitably meet-cute music video which you can view right below. Just try not to grow anime eyes all over afterwards. You’ve been warned.
I love it when a song/artist came out of nowhere and elicited a strong response in me. The mysterious London-based Oscar Scheller only has 3 songs on his Soundcloud, but “Never Told You” is the one to check. By first listen, I was taken aback by how it all feels so instant and familiar, down to the rave piano chords. It took me right back to 2006, the height of my twee pop phase, during which there was a resurgence of these fey indie kids making catchy C86-inspired bedroom pop with Morrissey and Sarah Records as their blueprint. I still have fond memories of discovering that scene for the first time, and “Never Told You” sounds just like it came from that period, like it belongs on Labrador Records beside Suburban Kids With Biblical Names. Twee-pop has that nostalgic yet ageless quality. You can try to grow up, but the twee it stays, waiting for a nice sunny day to pop back in for a cup of tea. Lovely, lovely stuff.
STREAM: Oscar – Never Told You
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)
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”:
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.
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)
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.
It’s not Christmas at PLHQ without Theoretical Girl‘s annual Musical Advent Calendar to look forward to every day, and this year’s proves to be an extra jolly season. Taking song requests from Facebook fans, the English indie-pop maven adds her own charming lo-fi touch to a widely eclectic range of choice selections from The Cardigans, The Strokes, Francoise Hardy, Neil Young, Dusty Springfield, The Carpenters, Ronettes, Buddy Holly and more (and even a forgotten Longpigs classic)! Her sweet voice makes everything sound lovely and festive. For this post, I pick four of my favorites. Make a cup of tea, get comfy, and enjoy them below.
Theoretical Girl – Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Neil Young)
Theoretical Girl – Erase/Rewind (The Cardigans)
Theoretical Girl – Someday (The Strokes)
Theoretical Girl – All Over The World (Francoise Hardy)
You can stream and download all covers for free , including those from previous years, at her Soundcloud. Theoretical Girl is currently working on her second album.