Whoever has been commissioning remixes for Lana Del Rey deserves accolades. They always take risks and reach out to less obvious acts. The results don’t always pay off but when they do, they do! The latest coup is to get the holy Four Tet to remix her brand new single “West Coast”. Something about the drums on this one reminds me of Björk’s “Human Behaviour”. Très cool.
STREAM: Lana Del Rey – West Coast (Four Tet Remix)
Ten Ven has their eyes on the disco ball, William Carl Jr uses new vocals not in the original mix, and Camo & Krooked dreams up a more leftfield spectral soundscape. Definitely an interesting batch of remixes so far (you just know there will be more).
STREAM: Lana Del Rey – West Coast (Ten Ven Remix)
STREAM: Lana Del Rey – West Coast (William Carl Jr Remix)
STREAM: Lana Del Rey – West Coast (Camo & Krooked Remix)
The Pierces have put their sisterly harmonizing powers to good use with a folked-up version of Lorde‘s commoner anthem “Team”. Absent are the glitches and pitch-shifted vocal samples, as the duo winds the song back four decades, when Fleetwood Mac reigned supreme. It’s a pretty acoustic cover that replaces teen angst with knowing wisdom. Check it out below.
STREAM: The Pierces – Team (Lorde Cover)
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.
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)
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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)
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
It oughta happen. Lana Del Rey & Baz Luhrmann is such a match made in heaven that it comes as no surprise she’s doing the main theme song for his big-budget, potentially hot-mess adaptation of The Great Gatsby. The Rick-Nowels-produced “Young & Beautiful” is no grand departure for Lana. It’s practically an aural equivalent of her gazing forlornly at her reflection in the pale moonlight in her red dress on a Friday night etc. etc., but fortunately her schtick hasn’t worn out for me yet. It’s vapidly beautiful, bewitching pop-noir and I won’t have it any other way. Right now, I might prefer the Dan Heath Orchestral Version just a little bit more, ’cause I’m a sucker for strings. Check both versions below and tell me what you think.
STREAM: Lana Del Rey – Young & Beautiful
STREAM: Lana Del Rey – Young & Beautiful (Dan Heath Orchestral Version)
Buy the single on iTunes.
The Great Gatsby soundtrack features new tracks from Florence + The Machine, The XX, Fergie, Emeli Sande, Sia, Nero and loads more. And for some reasons, a trap-style cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Back To Black” by Beyoncé and Andre 3000. 😦
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.
Empress Of is the moniker of Lorely Rodriguez, Brooklyn-based songstress signed to Terrible Records, label home of Solange and Chairlift. Considering the label’s pedigree, it should come as no surprise that her new track “Hat Trick” is a total dream-pop choon. It’s subdued, ethereal ’80s synth-pop at its smoothest, with slick production and silky sweet vocals. In a nutshell, it sounds like St. Vincent produced by Dev Hynes (Blood Orange). The only flaw I can find is that it’s too damn short! With this, Empress Of has unofficially joined the like-minded crystal-ball pop league of Twin Sister, Class Actress and Glasser. Now excuse me while I go hit repeat one more time.
STREAM: Empress Of – Hat Trick
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
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)
The Beyoncé PR machine is running on overload. $15 million Pepsi endorsement deal, rumored H&M campaign, Destiny’s Child reunion, new HBO documentary, the inaugural concert, and of course, the Superbowl Halftime show! Her team deserves a gold medal for pulling out all the stops this time. She literally CANNOT fail can’t she. Since there’s little we know yet about the lead single, let’s focus some attention on the one that started her solo career, the horn-blazing, Rich-Harrison-produced “Crazy In Love”. Did you know Beyoncé features a bootleg dubstep remix on the trailer of her forthcoming HBO documentary “Life Is But A Dream”, one that only has about 6,000 views on Youtube prior to this? A Google moment and it turns out this remix is made back in 2010 by a guy called Sebastian Nahi, aka FeelX, who now goes by the name VÄRT. It’s actually quite impressive for an unofficial remix, it’s very “now”, with dark undertones, slightly sinister pitched-down vocal samples and of course, some big ol’ silly wobble-wobble bass.
One question remains unanswered: Does Queen B look up fan made remixes in her spare time when Blue Ivy’s asleep?
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)
How many ways can you remix Lana Del Rey? Just how many producers got sent the stems every time she readies a new single? I have a feeling there must be a plethora of unreleased mixes not making the cut, when they always releasing a mixed bag of tricks. For her new Rick-Rubin-produced single “Ride”, Active Child and Photek step up to the task and deliver two of the best rejigs so far. Do check them out below!
STREAM: Lana Del Rey – Ride (Active Child Remix)
Active Child adds some seriously funky basslines and pretty harp chords with an ’80s finish.
STREAM: Lana Del Rey – Ride (Photek Remix)
Props to the legendary Photek for not turning in a token drum n’ bass mix (Special Request has filled that slot instead), and for keeping the melodies intact, making it one of the more tamed offerings from him. I still would like to hear a proper old-school jungle take on Lana though.
By now you probably have heard and seen Solange‘s stunner of a single, the Blood Orange-produced “Losing You”. It’s chilled, it’s understatedly brilliant, it’s probably the best track/video she put her name to. “Sleep in the Park”, the b-side attached to it (how old-fashioned!) is also out now and featuring Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal on vocals. Between this and his back-and-forth collaborations with Janelle Monae, that man does love to work with alt-R&B ladies. Check it out below.
STREAM: Solange – Sleep in the Park (Feat. Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal)
And here’s the amazing video for “Losing You”. I love the path Solange chose for herself, out of Beyoncé’s shadow, and I expect her new album to amaze me.
“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.
It’s strange to remember that Joss Stone is still quite big in America. Despite being largely ignored in her homeland, her last 3 albums have all gone top ten here. 9 years after “The Soul Sessions” – the album that started it all, she just released Vol. 2, comprising a new collection of cover songs. The lead single is a stoned-soul rendition of Broken Bells’ “The High Road”, which is pretty much the 2012 equivalent of her White Stripes cover “Fell In Love With A Boy” back then. I actually find it quite agreeable, if a bit oversung. She’s obviously a very gifted vocalist, but I wish she would stop smoking pot for a second to give Eg White a call and go back to her “You Had Me” ways. Anyway, it’s quite nice to see her in a proper music video again. Watch the psychedelic video for “The High Road” below.