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
Chances are not many are overly familiar with the name Amel Larrieux. The former Groove Theory member/neo-soul musician has always kept a relatively low-key profile as opposed to her then contemporaries like Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, or her successors like India Arie, Janelle Monae. However, she’ll forever be cool in my book on the strength of her underrated ’90s R&B gem “Get Up” along with its amazing Floria-Sigismondi-directed video.
Over the last decade, she still quietly released new music under her own label Blisslife Records, and “Afraid” is her first new single in 4 years. Not surprisingly, she hits all the sweet spots with this breezy, bright summer groove.
“Afraid” is a track that glides, gradually, gracefully building up to a cocoon of harmonies that descend like a flock of seagulls down by the seaside. It’s such a breath of fresh air to adult contemporary R&B/soul, and I’m glad to have her back on top form.
It’s been two months since I last made a Lana Del Rey post, for that I apologize. It’s hard to keep up with her millions of leaked demos. Yesterday, another one surfaced online, and it’s such a gem it warrants its own post. “TV In Black & White” feels like (and probably was) a work in progress; the chorus is not as strong as the verses. But against Lana’s (very high) standards, this might actually be among her best leaks. She certainly knows her way around a tune. For a song about consoling your ex who’s spending the night in jail, it comes across as a lovey dovey song. Her crooning voice evokes all kinds of feelings: wistful, nostalgic, dreamy. I keep coming back to it like a recurring dream of a summer midnight drive. Lovely, just plain lovely.
STREAM: Lana Del Rey – TV In Black & White
For some reasons, I used to mistake Mayer Hawthorne for a punk/emo band, and for that false impression, I steered clear of their music. Not until I found out Jessie Ware did some vocals on the new single “Her Favorite Song” did I finally have a listen and to my surprise, Mayer Hawthorne is actually a white American guy singing blue-eyed soul!
“Her Favorite Song” is a throwback to the heyday of adult contemporary soft rock à la Sting. Mayer Hawthorne proudly wore his influences on his sleeves, as he tapped into this uncool ’80s genre and shook it up with a bit of Prince. It’s an ultra-smooth, cosmopolitan jam, but it’s Jessie Ware’s (uncredited) sultry vocals during the chorus that add an extra touch of class and elevate this track beyond Bruno Mars/Robin Thicke MOR territory. And if the music alone is not enough to win you over, there is now a glossy music video featuring models and dogs that dress like humans. Dogs that dress like humans! Good move, not-an-emo-band Mayer Hawthorne.
Check out the Large Professor remix after the jump.
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)
Lissie is back, and she means business. After having her great Fleetwood Mac cover featured on a Twinings advert and guest starring on Robbie Williams’ last album, she is readying the release of her second LP with a new single, the no-nonsense “Shameless”. An honest take on the fame game and celebrity culture, it shows Lissie in a raw, rockier direction, but that powerhouse voice of hers is still present. Her first album has quite a few solid songs so I’m curious how she’s going to follow it up. Check out “Shameless” below and let me know what you think!
STREAM: Lissie – Shameless
It oughta happen. Lana Del Rey & Baz Luhrmann is such a match made in heaven that it comes as no surprise she’s doing the main theme song for his big-budget, potentially hot-mess adaptation of The Great Gatsby. The Rick-Nowels-produced “Young & Beautiful” is no grand departure for Lana. It’s practically an aural equivalent of her gazing forlornly at her reflection in the pale moonlight in her red dress on a Friday night etc. etc., but fortunately her schtick hasn’t worn out for me yet. It’s vapidly beautiful, bewitching pop-noir and I won’t have it any other way. Right now, I might prefer the Dan Heath Orchestral Version just a little bit more, ’cause I’m a sucker for strings. Check both versions below and tell me what you think.
STREAM: Lana Del Rey – Young & Beautiful
STREAM: Lana Del Rey – Young & Beautiful (Dan Heath Orchestral Version)
Buy the single on iTunes.
The Great Gatsby soundtrack features new tracks from Florence + The Machine, The XX, Fergie, Emeli Sande, Sia, Nero and loads more. And for some reasons, a trap-style cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Back To Black” by Beyoncé and Andre 3000.
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.
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
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
I love me some ’60s-loving duo side projects. I can name a handful off the top of my head: The Last Shadow Puppets, Cat’s Eyes, Scarlett Johansson & Pete Yorn, Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs, James Levy & The Blood Red Rose. Now Adam Green (The Moldy Peaches) and Binki Shapiro (Little Joy), are the latest to channel the Nancy/Lee dynamic with a self-tiled LP out January 29. The opening track “Here I Am” is a playful and sweet love song, with the tried-and-true deep-voiced-male/honey-voiced-female combination that guarantees an immediate spot on your local Starbucks playlist. Expect more loveliness like this when the album drops. Enjoy it while you can, since these kinds of projects hardly last beyond one album.
STREAM: Adam Green & Binki Shapiro – Collage (James Gang Cover)
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)
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.
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.
“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.
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.
Chrysta Bell is David Lynch‘s mysterious new muse, who self-released her debut album “This Train” in 2011. Even though her new video for album cut Bird Of Flames was not directed by Lynch, it certainly shares a few thematic influences. It’s an otherworldly, colorful, sensual cabaret performance piece that’s a perfect visual match for the song, which I would describe as ‘Goldfrapp goes android’ – eerie, hypnotic, trippy, late-night mood music. If the production reminds you of Lynch’s own “Crazy Clown Time” stuff, you’re not far off since the auteur did produce it indeed. Have a peek at the beautiful video below.
STREAM: Chrysta Bell – Bird Of Flames
Lana Del Rey‘s world has been certainly busy lately, what with the touring, fronting H&M fall campaign, readying the “Paradise Edition” of Born To Die, not to mention spoiling fans with countless leaked demos. Meanwhile, I’m digging this breezy eastern-flavored hip-hop Cashmere Cat remix of “National Anthem” – which in its original form is a major summer anthem on all counts. Now how about some more US tour dates Lana?
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.
Diplo is full of surprises isn’t he? Responsible for the most unexpectedly brilliant mainstream R&B song this year, the producer adds a new touch to Usher‘s blissed-out “Climax” with a subtle but “bouncier” alternate mix. It’s sounding especially awesome for this rainy Sunday afternoon. Who’d have thought that a collaboration between Usher, Diplo, and Nico Muhly would be possible, let alone so utterly inspired? “Radiohead quiet soul”, indeed.
STREAM: Usher – Climax (Diplo Bouncier Climactic Remix)
If you want to bring the tears to the dancefloor, check out the Flosstradamus & Diplo remix below.
STREAM: Usher – Climax (Flosstradamus and Diplo Remix)
For some reasons, I am not too fussed about the new Scissor Sisters single “Only The Horses”. The band roped in producer-of-the-moment Calvin Harris for the collaboration, and his signature sound is all over it but Scissor’s. This could have been a Mika track even! I don’t know if this is their attempt to conquer the (UK) chart again, or just the safe for-the-masses one to pave the album sales the way “Fire With Fire” was? Maybe some extra bits and bobs from the extended mix may sway your opinion?
STREAM: Scissor Sisters – Only The Horses (Calvin Harris Extended Mix)
For the record, I think “Shady Love” was the better one. It was different, but still fun & silly.
STREAM: Scissor Sisters vs Krystal Pepsy – Shady Love (Extended Mix)
“Only The Horses” is out May 13.
The latest Lana Del Rey remix comes from Alpines, the moody pop duo previously responsible for this great Emeli Sande remix. Their rework of her new single “Blue Jeans” follows a similar palette, with postdubstep beats and some nice piano bits. They are quite good at this remixing thing, aren’t they?
STREAM: Lana Del Rey – Blue Jeans (Alpines Remix)
Even though the Alpines one is not on the forthcoming remix EP (outrage!), Blood Orange‘s is and can be streamed in full now. I would describe it as something to soundtrack an ’80s movie montage.
STREAM: Lana Del Rey – Blue Jeans (Blood Orange Remix)
Welcome back, Shirley & co.
It took them a 5-year break and a shelved solo project, but Garbage is finally back together making sweet music again. On their own without a major label this time, they are so kind to give away their first comeback release to the fans for free! “Blood For Poppies”, the lead single from the new album “Not Your Kind Of People”, is like catching up with an old friend from high school. It has a whiff of that classic Garbage sound we’ve known and loved, and but it is also very current, as in I can actually imagine this playing on American radio and become a hit on the Modern Rock stations. And very catchy and arms-aloft it is, too. I am just so goddamn excited about this reunion. Alongside No Doubt, Fiona Apple, Pulp, Blur, and the original Sugababes, 2012 is set to become the best year for ’90s nostalgia yet. Watch out for the music video out soon, and get your tickets for the tour!
Get your free mp3 here, at the cost of your email address.