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J▲M: The Pierces – Kings / Believe In Me

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The Pierce sisters have returned with not one, but two brand new songs! I was a big fan of the singles from their last album “You & I”, so new Pierces music now requires mandatory coverage. “Kings” is the catchy stomper with sweet harmonies, sweeter hooks and a Carole King reference, while lead single “Believe In Me” is the MOR midtempo ballad for Radio 2 listeners to slow dance to. Both tracks are a taster of their upcoming fifth album “Creation”, out June 2 in the UK. If the album maintains this level of quality, then it’s safe to say it should be quite a pleasant listen.

 

W▲TCH: The Pierces – Kings

 

One thing I’m not so sure about is the visual aesthetics this era. On one hand it’s nice that they’re leaving behind the ’70s boho look which has become a bit lazy, on the other hand, judging by the ironically ‘lo-fi’ videos, it now looks like they’ve been spending time at dated mall photo booths.

 

W▲TCH: The Pierces – Believe In Me

 

Pre-order the album to get “Kings” as an instant track.
More on The Pierces.


J▲M: Stine Bramsen – Prototypical

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Stine Bramsen of Alphabeat has officially kickstarted a solo career with her debut single “Prototypical”. Released worldwide last January, the toe-tapping track sees her leaning towards a more mature singer-songwriter direction, but worry not, the hooks are still very much present. A music video will be coming soon, until then you can stream the track right below.

 

 

I also made a late discovery of her collaboration with alt-rock band/labelmate Carpark North on their single “32” last year. I don’t know much about the fellow Danish rockers beside their striking Martin De Thurah-directed videos in 2005 for “Human” and “Best Day”, both of which were admittedly quite good Depeche Modesque tunes. It’s good to know the band still releases music in that same vein. In fact, I find myself liking “32” much more than I expected, thanks to Stine’s star-turn vocals. Then again, the Danes have always excelled at cold water music, like this subtly anthemic synth-rock jam (see also: Mew). Watch the moody video featuring a girl with superpowers.

 

W▲TCH: Carpark North – 32 feat. Stine Bramsen

 

Buy “Prototypical” now.
More on Stine.
More on Carpark North.


Video

Popforward: Kiesza

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At the moment I’m properly obsessed with the ’90s house revival, and so is Britain apparently. Kiesza‘s debut single ‘Hideaway’ happens to capitalize on this trend, but still feels fresh and 100% ready for Radio 1’s A list.
High on joy and energy, ‘Hideaway’ is an uplifting, big-lunged dance-athon with positive vibez for days. Gorgon City are already on board for a remix so this has the potential to blow up very soon.
The accompanying video is a DIY one-take affair with appropriately anachronistic attire and choreography. It looks like something Lady Gaga circa ‘Stefani Germanotta’ could have done for kicks had she remembered to have fun.
Kiesza is Canadian, but spent some time in New York and now resides in London. Ladies and gents, say hi to your new fave globe-trotting pop star!

 


 

‘Hideaway’ is out March 23.
More on Kiesza.


Popforward: Little Daylight

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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

Buy their EP.
More on Little Daylight.


LISTEN: Ane Brun Covers Beyoncé’s “Halo”

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Norwegian singer/songwriter Ane Brun managed to bring out the subtleties in Beyoncé‘s gargantuan ballad “Halo”. Her chamber-folk rendition is a pared-down, understated acoustic affair with Swedish cellist Linnea Olsson on strings duty. It’s a nice break from the drum-heavy bombast of Ryan Tedder’s original production.

STREAM: Ane Brun feat. Linnea Olsson – Halo

You can find “Halo” on her latest double album “Rarities”, collecting her rare tracks from over the years.

Make sure to check out her lovely cover of Amerie’s R&B classic “1 Thing” streaming at Clash Music, and another reinterpretation of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” available at The Guardian.

Pre-order “Rarities” on Amazon, out Oct 8 on Balloon Ranger Recordings.
More on Ane Brun.


White Lies Cover Lana Del Rey’s “Ride”

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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

More on White Lies.


Popforward: London Grammar

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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.

 

STREAM: London Grammar – Strong (High Contrast Remix)

 

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.

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Popforward: Chela

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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

 

Buy Romanticise EP.
More on Chela.


NEW VIDEOS: Oh Land – Renaissance Girls & Pyromaniac

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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”.



“Wish Bone”
drops September 24 on Federal Prism.

Pre-order.

More on Oh Land.


LISTEN: Goldfrapp – Drew

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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?

“Tales of Us” is out on 9/10. Pre-order on iTunes.
More on Goldfrapp.


NEW SINGLE: Daley – Broken

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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.

Download a free EP on his website.


LISTEN: Amel Larrieux – Afraid

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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.

 

 

Buy the single on iTunes. Her new album “Ice Cream Every Day” is scheduled for October 1.
More on Amel Larrieux.


LISTEN: Rasmus Faber – Indian Summer (feat. Frida Sundemo)

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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.

More on Rasmus Faber.
More on Frida Sundemo.


LISTEN: Wookie feat. Eliza Doolittle – The Hype

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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.
 

 

Buy a DJ version on Beatport.
More on Wookie.
More on Eliza.


NEW VIDEO: Erlend Øye – La Prima Estate

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My favorite Norwegian Erlend Øye has returned with his first solo outing in 12 years. It’s a single called “La Prima Estate”, it’s in Italian, and it’s amazing in the most unexpected ways. Let me count the ways of its amazingness:

  1. THAT ARTWORK. Loud is the new quiet!
  2. How amazingly random it is. Apparently, the one half of Kings of Convenience is now living in Italy, and the song is his homage to ’70s Italo easy-listening folk-pop, popular in Norway at the time. He did his research, and it showed. It’s a totally unexpected re-introduction, but for a man whose past repertoire ranges from acoustic folk to Berlin indie techno, I shouldn’t be so surprised.
  3. Even though I don’t understand a word, it still sounds like the giddiest piece of jet-set-ready summer music. Jens Lekman would be proud.
  4. THE VIDEO, shot on location in Siracusa Sicily. Who are all these twee geeks dancing like fools, bursting with unadulterated joy? Prepare to grin like an idiot.

 

Simply wonderful.

As a bonus, here’s a video of Erlend Øye casually performing a cover of Pet Shop Boys‘ 1996 single “Se a vida é (That’s the Way Life Is)” on an abandoned rooftop. So chill.

Buy the single.
More on Erlend.


NEW VIDEO: Summer Camp – Fresh

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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?).

 

 

Pre-order the self-titled album, out September 9 on Moshi Moshi.
More on Summer Camp.


Birdy Returns With “Wings”

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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.

“Fire Within” drops September 23.
Pre-order the album.
More on Birdy.


Popforward: Postiljonen

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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.

You can stream the entire album for free on Soundcloud.

Check out the music video for Atlantis below, and album highlight “We Raise Our Hearts”.

 

 

STREAM: Postiljonen – We Raise Our Hearts

 

Buy their music, out on Best Fit Recordings.
More on Postiljonen.


LISTEN: Lana Del Rey – TV In Black & White

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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

 

More on Lana.


Popforward: Solomon Grey

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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)

 

More on Solomon Grey.


Popforward: Rebeka

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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.

MP3: Rebeka – Melancholia (Moullinex Remix)

 

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.

Buy the album.
More on Rebeka.


REMIXED: Little Boots – Motorway (Little Boots Discotheque Edit)

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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.

 

MP3: Little Boots – Motorway (Little Boots Discotheque Edit)

 

And just in case you haven’t heard the original, it’s still available as a free download too!

MP3: Little Boots – Motorway

 

Buy “Nocturnes”.
More on Little Boots.


NEW VIDEO: Mayer Hawthorne – Her Favorite Song (Feat. Jessie Ware)

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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.
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REMIXED: Fiona Apple – Every Single Night (MeLo-X APT Basement God Mix)

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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)

 

More on MeLo-X.