Your tears don't shake my world like Britney Spears.

Downtempo

LISTEN: Róisín Murphy – Ancora Tu

Roisin Murphy By Ami Barwell
Only Róisín Murphy can get away with making her first official solo material in 8 years a 6-track EP of Italian covers. “Mi Senti” (“I Feel” in English) is a collection of electronic renditions of 5 classic Italian tracks from the ’60s and ’70s by the likes of Mina, Patty Pravo, Lucio Battisti and Gino Paoli (nope, me neither), plus one original penned by the former Moloko star. The project is a joint effort with her partner and Milanese producer Sebastiano Properzi. You can now stream “Ancora Tu”, a laidback, moody post-Italo-disco number that might be indicative of the overall sound of the EP. I like the stylized ’80s vibe, but shall reserve my judgement ’til I hear the whole thing in context.

 

STREAM: Róisín Murphy – Ancora Tu

 

The EP drops May 28, digitally and physically on special gatefold double white vinyl, strictly limited to 1000 copies with the first 500 hand signed by Róisín herself. It will cost you £40 a pop. Let’s justify it as an investment.

Pre-order the limited-edition vinyl at VinylFactory.
Like Róisín on Facebook.

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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: 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.


DJ Koze Covers Kings of Convenience’s “Homesick”

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DJ Koze is a name I’m familiar with, having listened to his countless remixes and productions during my IDM phase a few years back. Apparently, the German DJ/producer just released his first solo album in 9 years entitled “Amygdala” (bonkers artwork above), with help from an all-star cast of featured vocalists like Dan Snaith of Caribou, Matthew Dear, and crooner-du-jour Milosh of Rhye fame. However, much to my surprise, track 6 featuring Ada is actually a cover of Kings of Convenience! “Homesick” is a lovely cut on their 2004 album “Riot on an Empty Street”, and Koze’s version does not stray too far away from the original. Just don’t expect any radical rave-up, for it’s a simple, laidback groove with mellow hip-hop beats and robotic, yet organic vocals. It’s already at the top of my essential summer playlist. Check out the breezy cover below.

STREAM: DJ Koze – Homesick feat. Ada

 

Ironically, on another cool track called “Track ID Anyone?”, Caribou actually sounds a lot like Erlend Oye!

STREAM: DJ Koze feat. Caribou – Track ID Anyone?

 

Safe to say I need to queue up this album on Spotify, then. Love me some oddball European electronica.

“Amygdala” is out now on CD & LP via German label Pampa Records. Buy it on iTunes.
More on DJ Koze.


REMIXED: Bat For Lashes – Laura (Bachelors Of Science Remix)

BatForLashesbyEliotLeeHazel

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

 

More on Bachelors Of Science.
More on Bat For Lashes.


Popforward: Rachel Zeffira

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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)

 

Watch the music video for “Here On In”.
Buy the single/ Pre-order the album.
More on Rachel.


LISTEN: Frida Sundemo – Snow (Immanu El Remix)

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Frida Sundemo ended 2012 on a high, having got the blogosphere a-buzzin’ with the brilliant single “Indigo”. Now she’s ready to kickstart 2013 with another taster, “Snow”. However, for now “Snow” is only available on Spotify in Scandinavia (damn those pesky region restrictions!). Fortunately, Swedish postrock band Immanu El have uploaded their beautiful slow-burning remix of the track for us non-Swedes to enjoy. It showcases another side of her – melancholy, downbeat, but blissful, not unlike her compatriot Lykke Li. And of course it’s only natural for a Swede to sing about snow. I wonder what the original sounds like, is it a electro stomper, or an introspective downtempo number à la Royksopp?

 

 

More on Frida.


NEW SINGLE: Delilah – Breathe

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)

Pre-order the single, out May 13 in UK.
More on Delilah.


REMIXED: Lana Del Rey Remixed By Alpines, Blood Orange

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)

 

Their new EP Gold is out now on iTunes UK, including this fab Carly Simon cover.

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)

 

Pre-order “Blue Jeans” remix EP.
More on Lana.


Covercentric: Hooverphonic Reinterprets Massive Attack

Who would’ve thought that Hooverphonic‘s still got it, 17 years plus into their career? I thought Geike’s departure marked the end of the Belgian band, but I was surprised at how easily the new vocalist Noemi fits into the band and holds the fort admirably. It seems they did well with some young blood, as their last album “The Night Before” was certainly one of their strongest efforts. On the strength of that album’s success, Hooverphonic just released “Hooverphonic With Orchestra”, with re-workings of old and new songs since the beginning. I always have a soft spot for well-crafted orchestral pop music, and the album made a lovely listen indeed. The string arrangements were wonderfully grandeur, especially on “George’s Cafe” and the lush new version of “Mad About You”. They even breathed new life into what was one of my least favorite singles, “Expedition Impossible”. Beside a new track “Happiness”, the album also contains a fantastic stripped-down cover of Massive Attack‘s classic “Unfinished Sympathy”, which you can check out below. I highly recommend this album if you’re not quite familiar with the band’s catalogue, or in need of a soundtrack for spring evenings.

 

STREAM: Hooverphonic – Unfinished Sympathy (Massive Attack Cover)

You can stream their recent liveset for Studio Brussel in full length on Soundcloud.

More on Hooverphonic.