Just when you think there’s little left of the ’90s electronic music scene to mine, along comes Real Lies, a hotly-tipped London trio who manages to tap into a less-referenced part of the ’90s. Comparisons so far include Mike Skinner (The Streets), Pet Shop Boys, Underworld. Their poppiest single to date is “World Peace,” which sounds like ‘normcore’ Hurts meet Unicorn Kid (RIP). It’s amazing how it sounds so fresh, considering it was first released in 2013!
“Seven Sisters” is their latest track, certainly one for a lads’ night out. It contains this great line: “No first kiss could explain love, in a decade with no name.”
It really feels like the band is on the cusp of something exciting. They make music that can appeal to both NME, tastemakers and pop bloggers; cool, but not at the expense of melodies. Real Lies are totally the type of band that can be key players in the next BBC Sound Of poll, but I don’t think we’ll have to wait that long for new music!
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.
From the Soundcloud vaults of Arbutus Records (Grimes’ label) comes this lovely little gem, a lo-fi acapella cover of The Beatles classic “And I Love Her” by Eola aka Brooklyn-based musician Edwin Mathis White. Surfaced in October 2012, it’s just a simple take drenched in reverb and tape loops, but it’s the naked simplicity that emits a sort of moonshine hypnotism. He even made the effort to riff on the “Meet The Beatles!” cover!
STREAM: Eola – And I Love Her (Beatles Cover)
One year has passed since I raved about Oscar’s “Never Told You”, and the London-based bedroom pop artist is back with another perfect pop song. “Sometimes” is instant love at first play, generous with riff-laden hooks and the scruffy charm of the lo-fi indie pop ethos. Wearing its Blur-isms on its sleeves, the track harks back to the golden days of early-’90s Britpop. Oscar Scheller certainly has a way with catchy melodies, and he doesn’t hold them back. On a sunny spring day, I ask for nothing more. Irresistible.
STREAM: Oscar – Sometimes
Oscar is now signed to Smalltown Supersound’s new sub-label Brown Rice, and his debut EP “146b” drops next month.
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
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.
You can find “Halo” on her latest double album “Rarities”, collecting her rare tracks from over the years.
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.
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
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”.