The hype surround Cloud Nothings‘ second album “Here and Nowhere Else” was so big I had to check it out myself. While the album as a whole wasn’t entirely to my taste, I can’t deny this irresistible punk-pop gem “I’m Not Part of Me”. Let’s not beat around the bush, this belongs in a ’90s teen flick soundtrack. Proper jump on your bed, sing into your hairbrush, dance like nobody’s watching stuff. The music video even features teenage girls having a weird slumber party. They’re in on it.
It helps that the frontman Dylan Baldi openly talks about his appreciation for Taylor Swift’s songcraft. Check out the Ohio-based indie rock’s single below, and good luck getting it out of your head.
On paper, The Horrors are the kind of band I wouldn’t be bothered with, and yet I keep liking bits and bobs of their output. Plus Cat’s Eyes, Faris Badwan’s side-project with Rachel Zeffira, was far from terrible. With their fourth album “Luminous” arriving soon, it’s safe to say they have become reliable mainstays for panoramic post-punk shoegaze goodness. Their latest single “So Now You Know” is what I’d call one of their accidental pop songs, and I can confirm it sounds fantastic on a sunny day. Turn on the volume!
STREAM: The Horrors – So Now You Know
Watch the desert-based music video for the track here. New album drops May 5 on XL Recordings.
Giorgio Moroder is the latest to join disco greats like Nile Rodgers and Cerrone to resurface after the renewed interest thanks to Daft Punk & Pharrell. The Italian legend lent his magic touch to Coldplay‘s recent single “Midnight” and turned it into a 9-minute intergalactic trip, complete with French-singing robot vocoders, violin strings and delicious synth sequencers. Leave it to the master to bring on good times.
STREAM: Coldplay – Midnight (Giorgio Moroder Remix)
You can check out the original, co-produced by Paul Epworth and Jon Hopkins, via its unintentionally hilarious video here.
Coldplay’s 6th album “Ghost Stories” drops on May 16.
After a week of relentless teasing, this morning Lana Del Rey finally premiered “West Coast”, the lead single off her highly-anticipated sophomore album “Ultraviolence”. The multi-layered, slow-burning midtempo ballad is something of a departure for her. It’s not like she has gone trap or anything, but it’s still a fairly new territory for her, sound-wise. To be honest, I was hoping for something on the poppier side (à la “National Anthem”), still, as I let it marinate a bit more, here are a few keynotes:
- It’s produced by The Black Keys‘ Dan Auerbach. So credible.
- A video has been shot with director Vincent Haycock (Calvin Harris, Florence + The Machine). Expect it to be a serious narrative affair
- I wonder if they deliberately sampled The Beatles’ “And I Love Her” opening bar? Listen to 1:04 and compare.
- Hello, “Pure Shores” synth pads!
- Basically it’s something you can swing from side to side to in the pale moonlight.
- Perpetua tweeted that it sounds like “she merged Portishead and Mazzy Star”, which I can actually hear.
Have a listen below:
STREAM: Lana Del Rey – West Coast
What do you make of the ‘queen of Saigon”s new direction?
Nina Persson‘s debut solo album “Animal Heart” has been a Pop Labyrinth favorite since its release in February. Now that the sun is out, it feels like the right time to revisit the soaring title track. “Animal Heart” sees The Cardigans/A Camp frontwoman at her ’80s synth-pop new wave mode, and rest assured, it’s a fantastic song injected with wildlife metaphors, heartfelt melodies, and of course, her unmistakable voice. The one-shot music video filmed at her Harlem neighborhood features back-up dancers, confetti, and costume changes, all in one quick walk to grab some milk! It looks like great fun without appearing too rehearsed. And her belting at the last chorus – she’s still got me after all these years.
WATCH: Nina Persson – Animal Heart
Nina Persson is playing a show at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn this Wednesday, 4/16, for which you can buy tickets here.
Does the name Plastiscines ring a bell to you?
Let me jog your memory: back in 2009, the all-girl French rock band became the first to sign to NYLON magazine’s record label, released their second album “About Love”, and even nabbed a guest spot on Gossip Girl. Since then, the group downsized to a trio, added synths to their sound and continued to release new music. Their most recent release is a covers EP sponsored by Paco Rabanne perfume Black XS. It’s an eclectic collection of slick and stylish reinterpretations of Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans”, Air’s “Sexy Boy”, Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s “Murder On The Dancefloor”, Caroline Loeb’s ’80s hit “C’est la ouate”, and an acoustic version of Wham!’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”. If you like your bands to consist of guitar-rocking ladies (The Like, The Donnas, HAIM etc.), you should dig into this pronto. You can’t go wrong with some fun rock n’ roll with a French accent.
Listen to their new-wave take of Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans” below. Cowbells included!
STREAM: Plastiscines – Blue Jeans (Lana Del Rey Cover)
I also quite enjoy their 2013 French single – the groovy “Comment faire”, whose video is a fun retro homage to American ’70s cop shows à la Charlie’s Angels.
WATCH: Plastiscines – Comment Faire
Last weekend, Aussie psych-pop wizards Tame Impala casually chucked a cover of Michael Jackson‘s 1996 single “Stranger In Moscow” on Soundcloud. The track’s arrival might be unexpected, but its gorgeousness is no surprise. Generously doused with swirling psychedelia, comfy synth pads and layer upon layer of reverb, it’s an effortlessly superb re-imagining that sounds fresh and retro at once. Honestly, if they hadn’t put “MJ Cover” in (double) parentheses, I would have totally bought it as a new unreleased Tame Impala song.
Out of curiosity, I launched Youtube right after to check out the original, which turned out to be a beautiful ’90s relic. Then I ended up at the track’s Wiki page and found out UK duo Alpines also recorded another lovely version which was put up on their Myspace back in 2010. I’ve unearthed that and uploaded it for your convenience below. Have a listen while I lean back and congratulate myself for such a productive day.
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
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?
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:
- THAT ARTWORK. Loud is the new quiet!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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)
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
Ever want to hear a Björk song covered through a David Lynch filter? For 20-year-old Aussie singer/songwriter Georgi Kay has done exactly that. Choosing to reinterpret the Icelandic songstress’ 1997 single “Jóga”, she adds a touch of tranquility and road trip melancholia to the song. It’s a sparse, beautifully understated reading, and her voice reminds me of fellow Australian artist Sarah Blasko. I first heard the cover on “Top of the Lake”, a Sundance/BBC miniseries in which Georgi herself played a supporting role, and it sent chills down my spine.
STREAM: Georgi Kay – Jóga (Björk Cover)
Georgi, to my surprise, already had a big club hit down under, featuring on Ivan Gough & Feenixpawl’s “In My Mind” , which I used to hear all the time not knowing who the vocalist was. She also recorded her own stripped down version of it, which was released on 7″ vinyl for Record Store Day this year.
STREAM: Georgi Kay – In My Mind
Georgi Kay may take hairspiration from Frankie Cocozza, but don’t hold it against her. She’s already signed to Parlophone in the UK and is in London recording, so do expect to hear more from her soon.
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
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”:
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.
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
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
My favorite Canadian indie-pop band Stars were responsible for one of the most infectiou songs of 2012, with the equally amazing title “Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It”. The Montreal-based quintet just generously put up a free EP entitled “Far From Hold”, featuring alternate “Breakglass” versions of album tracks from their latest “The North”, as well as a cover of The Smiths‘ b-side “Asleep”. The latter was actually recorded back in 2010 for a charity children’s music album called “Sing Me To Sleep – Indie Lullabies”. Suffice to say their intimate, low-key take on the song won’t just appeal to hip babies!
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)
British rock duo Noisettes recorded a cover of James Brown’s “Living In America” a while ago to give away as a free download, which was sadly overlooked, as was their lovely new album “Contact”. It’s a fantastically funky effort, with an amazing pure-joy section that only starts at 2:25. And yes, there’s some serious cowbell action going on here too, which is always a good thing. I found Shinghai Shinowa to be a total star and one of the most fascinating frontwomen the UK has offered in recent years. I hope a tour on this side of the pond is in the planning.
Coincidentally, it’s Election Day in America! *pause for suspense* Have you done your part yet? Don’t just sit there now, GO OUT AND VOTE!