Saint Saviour excels at making spooky, grown-up art-pop, and she’s been honing those skills by recording covers and giving them away on her Soundcloud. Among her latest is a tongue-in-cheek dubstep-ified cover of infamous ’80s power ballad “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. The Groove Armada collaborator has also provided her own lilting take on Mazzy Star’s ’90s shoegaze classic “Fade Into You”.
On the original-material front, her new single “Tightrope” is a beautiful heartbreak lullaby that would make Kate Bush proud. The chord progression also reminds me of Radiohead’s “Creep”, does it not? It’s by far one of her strongest tracks. Here’s the official video for it.
STREAM: Saint Saviour – Tightrope (Radio Edit)
Ellie Goulding‘s sophomore effort “Halcyon” is out this week, and you should probably have it already because it’s definitely one of the strongest pop releases this year. “Anything Could Happen” was a red herring, as the album is a big step forward – bold, experimental, and bombastic, without losing the pop charms of her debut. She shows real growth and progression as an artist. At the moment, I’m all about “Only You”, “My Blood” and the massive “Figure 8” (which has to be the next single).
Her cover of Active Child’s “Hanging On” got a wicked bass remix by London-based producer Ahadadream, which is only available on the Spotify edition. But you can now download it for free! Have a listen below.
Just in time for Friday night, here’s the Hercules and Love Affair remix of Bat For Lashes‘ latest single “All Your Gold”. It’s a no-brainer union, since I always thought his throwback Chicago house sound would mesh well with her voice. Check it out below!
STREAM: Bat For Lashes – All Your Gold (Hercules and Love Affair Remix)
And if you haven’t seen its music video yet, please do. For me, it’s an instant classic that begs for repeated viewings. It’s beautifully choreographed, performed, filmed and edited, and those vaguely ritualistic moves Natasha Khan pulls are so captivating. This has become my second favourite video of hers beside that one. Stunning.
A lot is happening in First Aid Kit‘s world. First, the Söderberg sisters will be featuring on several tracks of the new album “The Fire and The Flame” by Blood Music, aka fellow Swede Karl-Jonas Winqvist. The lead single, “Glad That You Called”, is a charming, laidback twee-folk duet, with a cute music video of the three frolicking about in a big greenhouse.
STREAM: Blood Music feat. First Aid Kit – Glad That You Called
Secondly, the indie-folk duo has recently released a iTunes Sessions live album, featuring this harmonious cover of Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot.”
STREAM: First Aid Kit – Dancing Barefoot (Patti Smith Cover)
Last but not least, their excellent album “The Lion’s Roar” will get a Limited Edition boxset edition come October 2, with 2 bonus b-sides and one brand new track/single, “Wolf”. Here’s the kaleidoscopic, forest-based video for it.
STREAM: First Aid Kit – Wolf
Have I mentioned the girls are performing in New York tonight and tomorrow too? As I said, a lot is happening in First Aid Kit’s world, and deservingly so.
Madonna‘s 2003 politically-charged album “American Life” is one of her more polarizing works, but it’s not without highlights, one of which is fan-favorite album track/Europe-only single “Nothing Fails”. The track was co-written by British electronic producer Guy Sigsworth and Welsh singer Jem. Originally called “Silly Thing”, the demo was recorded with Jem’s vocals back in summer 2001 and had never surfaced before… until last week, when Sigsworth finally reached into his vault and sneakily put it on Soundcloud. Though claimed a “work-in-progress demo” and “over ten years old”, the demo is achingly beautiful, even in its raw form. Jem’s pristine, light-as-air vocals carry an ingenue quality, in contrast to Madonna’s seasoned delivery on the finished track. In fact, it wouldn’t sound out-of-place on her excellent debut album “Finally Woken”, which makes me wonder if she ever worked with Guy on her own tracks. I am seriously in love with it, it makes me feel nostalgic for what I call “The OC age”. Oh how I miss her voice. To most people she might have been a poor man’s Dido, but I’d love for her to come back and give it another shot. Thank you, Guy, for sharing with us this lovely gem.
STREAM: Jem – Silly Thing (Demo For Madonna)
You can read the story behind it on Jem’s blog. Apparently, she’s working in film production now?
“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.
More than a year ago, a song called “Human Love” was uploaded on Sunday Girl‘s Soundcloud account, and then quickly removed, as the tentative single got cancelled. I was among the few lucky ones who got to hear it before it got pulled, and it remains one of her finest tunes. Fast forward to 2012 and she’s still stuck ‘in development’, bar from the sporadical one-off singles. Then a few days ago, a new version of the song magically appeared on Soundcloud. Apparently, it was put online by the management company of producer/mixer Adrian Hall, who worked on it. It’s unclear whether this mix is recent or not, but it does have different vocals, and a more ‘serious artiste’ rock edge. This is about as close as we get to something new from Ms. Jade. Check it out below.
STREAM: Sunday Girl – Human Love
And the wait continues…
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
Saint Etienne have become somewhat of a serial cover mount tribute CD contributor as of late. Roughly 2 months after their Beach Boys cover for Mojo, the band has once again lent their reinterpreting talent to Q’s Amy Winehouse issue. They picked “Just Friends”, their least favourite track on “Back To Black”, for fear of ruining the better ones, but I think they did an excellent job. I could be fooled into thinking it’s a St. Et. original had I not known better. As Louis Walsh would say, they really “made the song their own”.
Preview 30 secs of each track here, though I should warn you it features bits from ‘The Cribs’ and ‘The View’. View the full tracklist after the jump.
Danish songstress Fallulah is back with a brand new track, “He’ll Break Up With You When Summer Comes”. It’s a beautifully arranged, delicate alt-folk-pop number, with Fallulah delivering some choice words to Mr. Ex in the bridge in a rather calm manner. She makes summer postbreakup sound like a picnic by the lake, which is how it should be.
Here’s a lovely outdoor live performance for your viewing pleasure.
And while her new album isn’t coming out until 2013, us Americans can finally get a hold of her debut, as “The Black Cat Neighbourhood” is set to drop on August 21 on MBM Records, with fall tour dates to follow. I’d love to see her when she stops by New York!
British singer/songwriter Lianne La Havas will finally release her debut album “Is Your Love Big Enough?” on July 9 in the UK, and on August 6 in the US via Nonesuch Records. The title track will serve as the lead single here in America, and it’s an upbeat one akin to “Forget”, showing her versatility aside from her pretty acoustic ballad ones. “Is your love big enough for what’s to come?”, she sings, like it’s both a challenge, a come-on, and a warning. I’m not still not sure whether she sings “Ice cream on second avenue” or “I scream”, but the latter gives a slight curve to the sentiment. Download the track below, and watch the video if you fancy a look at what it’s like to be on tour with Lianne.
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)
Marina & The Diamonds‘ new single “Primadonna” is out this week on iTunes UK, and you should buy it and support an amazing pop star already. Need more incentive? Marina’s team has put all the remixes up for streaming on her Soundcloud. The most blog-friendly of the bunch is by rising British producer Evian Christ. For what’s possibly his first official remix, he deconstructs a dance-pop track and builds it from scratch with vocal samples and loops.
STREAM: Marina and the Diamonds – Primadonna (Evian Christ Remix)
British pop star Marina Diamandis and her diamonds premiered the new single and video “Primadonna” yesterday, and once again she’s in it to win it. The song is pure pop confection, with Marina’s distinctive deep voice and her lyrics about self-identity and ambitions adding some bite and character to an otherwise business-as-usual production by Dr. Luke. It really is just hook after hook, with a gorgeous, wistful chorus as well. She continues to add her own unique spin on the commercial chart-pop sound, and I actually like this better than “Radioactive”.
And of course, it helps that the Casper Balslev-directed video is nothing short of stunning, with Marina doing her own Cindy Sherman editorial thing. My favorite moment is probably the rather poignant car wash scene.
STREAM: Marina & The Diamonds – Primadonna
And here’s another cut from the new album, “Homewrecker”:
STREAM: Marina & The Diamonds – Homewrecker
“Primadonna” is out April 16, while the new album “Electra Heart” drops April 30 in the UK, and May 8 in the US.
Meanwhile, you can grab a free download of album track “Homewrecker” here.
I stumbled upon Cœur De Pirate‘s music in passing before, but the Canadian chanteuse’s new single “Golden Baby” is possibly my new favorite song of hers. It is sleek and lush retro-pop, set to a cool music video that’s like Teenage Dream gone supernatural. Among the things featured are exploding candies, flying plates, man on fire and the Northern lights. That it’s in French and I don’t quite understand what she sings just gives it that extra foreign appeal. “Golden Baby” is from her second album, “Blonde”, released last year.
STREAM: Cœur De Pirate – Golden Baby
Susanne Sundfør is no rookie to the indie music scene, but I only just discovered the Nordic singer/songwriter via her latest single “White Foxes”. And what a first impression it was! Susanne possesses a haunting, theatrical voice, with a sorta operatic delivery style that reminds me of Austra. If you’re into eerie, cerebral indie electronic pop, you’ll like this. Clocking slightly over 4 minutes, the song still feels short to me – I wanted her to belt out that strange chorus once more. Notably, the contrast between the warmth of the piano and the iciness of synths is an interesting choice. Practically, it’s music tailor-made for long, dreary winters.
The unsettling music video also build ups the mood to great effect, with footage of her playing the piano in the middle of a forest in snow, a mysterious kid carrying a dead fox, and a disturbing brain surgery scene that’s not for the faint of heart. “White Foxes” is the lead single off Susanne’s 5th album “The Silicone Veil”, scheduled to drop March 26. Thanks to Wears The Trousers for the heads up.
STREAM: Susanne Sundfør – White Foxes
Intense, striking, dramatic – those are words often associated with UK songstress Anna Calvi‘s music, and the same applies to her covers. Last week, she paid a visit to Radio 1’s Live Lounge and delivered an impressive take on Beyoncé’s “Naughty Girl”. Through her crimson filter, what was otherwise an innocuously seductive Middle-Eastern-tinged R&B track now drips with dark, menacing undertones. There’s no doubt she can sure rock a mean guitar. Check out her interpretation below, and see the performance in motion here.
Frida Hyvönen is known as the serious indie artist type, but for her comeback single “Terribly Dark”, the Swede singer/songwriter has decided to turn to intergalactic disco and ABBA for inspiration. The risk paid off, in the form of properly amazing Scandinavian pop. Somehow she managed to make the infamous Swedish winter sound so fun and effervescent. “It’s so terribly dark here. I’d put myself on fire if I find a spark,” she grimly sings, in contrast to the shoulder-shaking disco beats and vintage synths. The song starts off slow but trust me, by the time it’s over, that hook will NOT leave your head. The music video is a simple, Fever-Ray-ish black-and-white performance-based piece, and it looks like she’s channeling Madonna in “Nothing Really Matters” with those herky jerky moves!
STREAM: Frida Hyvönen – Terribly Dark (Radio Edit)
The single is out now in Sweden. The new album “To The Soul” drops April 18.
British newcomer Emeli Sandé made her debut Live Lounge session last Tuesday on BBC Radio 1 with Fearne Cotton. Instead of choosing to cover a current chart-topping hit like most would do, she picked the old school 1995 Blur single “Country House”, and it was a lovely moment. With some clever chorus swapping, she turned the jaunty original into a brooding affair, beautifully sung and interpreted.
Her album “Her Version of Events” drops this week in the UK, and is set to be number one come Sunday. If you are hoping a whole album in the style of “Heaven” and “Daddy”, then prepare to be disappointed, for they are red herrings. I guess either “Heaven” was meant to be the buzz “tastemaker’s single” that unexpectedly became her big break, or she and her team decided to go after Adele’s market rather than Katy B’s. It was not the album I expected, but it still is a strong, solid effort. I’ll save the details for a later post, as the album will reach our shores on June 5. For now, watch the video for her latest single “Next To Me” below.
Rising UK popstrel Delilah must be feeling quite charitable at the moment, for she is offering a free mixtape entitled “2 – 4am”, consisting of EIGHT new songs, in glorious 320 bit rate. If I were you, I would try to nab it asap, before she changes her mind! Get a preview with my favorite track from the lot, “The Gospel”, then download the whole shebang below.
MP3: Delilah – The Gospel
To be honest, I am still on the fence about Delilah and her music. While her two singles are 100% brilliant postdubstep pop/r&b, most of her other tracks tend to teeter on the side of MOR cheese, with occasionally naff lyrics. She’s undoubtedly got a great voice, but her sound’s still a work in progress at this point. To take more time to experiment and refine it is fine by me, though, no hurry.
For her new single “All Bets Are Off”, singer/songwriter Nerina Pallot once again teamed up with her husband/producer Andy Chatterley for a “We Are The Chatterleys” alternate mix. Having tried ’80s disco before, this time they paid tribute to the ’90s, which results in 3 minutes and 29 seconds of trip-hoppy loveliness.
STREAM: Nerina Pallot – All Bets Are Off (We Are The Chatterleys Alt Mix)
In other news, Nerina recently re-released her last album under a new title “New Year Of The Wolf”. Unfortunately, it’s zodiacally incorrect as 2012’s supposed to be the year of the dragon, but we will overlook that for Nerina’s sake. The new edition includes a bonus assortment of her live covers over the years, including takes on Beyonce, David Bowie, Radiohead and more. Watch her wistfully sit on a white horse and sing as snow falls in an abandoned facility – just another day in an artist’s life, then – in the music video for the original “All Bets Are Off” below.
Danish pop princess Oh Land just unleashed a jolly music video for her brand new single “Speak Out Now”. Shot in Copenhagen, the Sebastian-Birk-directed video has the songstress frolic through a beautiful botanical garden, flaunt her cheekbones in a forest, and ends with an evening dance by the lake, all in a day’s work. The gorgeously filmed, nature-themed visuals are a perfect match for the sprightly tune. Plus, who needs a comb when you’re a pop star!
“Speak Out Now” is out now digitally, and also available as a free download.
MP3: Oh Land – Speak Out Now
Back in late 2010, when Lana Del Rey was still relatively unknown and blond, she made what was possibly her first European TV appearance on Mandio Diao‘s MTV Unplugged show. Backed by the Swedish rock band themselves, Lana gave an acoustic rendition of “Chet Baker”, an obscure 2007 b-side named after the jazz legend. The show was later released on CD/DVD, and footage of her segment has been floating around since, but I only managed to discover it a couple days ago. Her voice was a good fit for the jazz-tinged track, and it was certainly fascinating to witness the soon-to-be pop star in progress, just a year before the big break. Not that much has changed, vocally and aethestically. A lovely listen, anyhow.
What I find interesting is that Juliette Lewis, who previously tweet-bashed her SNL performance, was also a guest star on the same show. I wonder if she remembers that they might actually have met before?
“Born To Die” is out now worldwide.
Last week, Jack Peñate unveiled a video for new song “No One Lied”, shot and recorded in one take at his home. Now, the UK singer/songwriter has kindly offered the track as a free download. The song is a stripped-down, poignant, heart-on-sleeve moment that’s sombre and tender at once. I hope this means a new LP is on its way soon. His last full length, the Paul-Epworth-produced “Everything Is New” was such a fantastic but overlooked record.
Now excuse me while I go blast out “Be The One” again. That was a choon!