Saturday, 29 December 2012

Top 50 Songs of 2012

Even though I get the impression that the only people reading 'best of' lists at the end of each year work in those respective industries (film, music, sexy celebs, whatever) I couldn't resist the urge to share my top songs of this year.

2012 has been freaking insane, and this bunch of songs has provided the soundtrack to some of its most ridiculous/amazing moments. My playlist features everyone from Metz, A$AP Rocky and the Luyas to MS/MR, Azealia Banks and Lapalux (twice, 'cos he's bad-ass like dat).

Top 40 pop music really outdid itself in terms of copycat production, cookie-cutter formulae and that horrific Guetta-inspired sound. Regardless, creative musicians shone over the last 12 months. From Frank Ocean's cross-genre seduction of the listening public to Lianne La Havas' rich vocal tone and spot-on songrwriting, it's been quite the year for the fearless composers and risk-takers who dared to venture beyond the verse-chorus-verse-dubstep-break-chorus structure that restricted so many of radio's A lists.

Click here for my full Spotify playlist (done in no particular order), and let me know which tracks you've fallen in love with in 2012 on the blog's Facebook page

As ever, there are a handful of songs not released officially through labels (and thus not on Spotify) that I want to show my love for too. Ah, Soundcloud, you wonderful thief of hearts and provider of precious gems, thank you for bringing these songs by Sky Ferreira (New York Mag's song of the year!), the Hood Internet, Eagles For Hands and more into my life. See those Honourable Mentions below, and Happy New Year to all of y'all.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Song of the Day: Beach Fossils - Careless

This little sun-drenched gem appeared almost a whole month ago, but I've only recently struggled to get it out of my head. Blame the holidays, and having enough free time to obsess over three minute snapshots of addictive pop-writing, but here we are.

The Brooklyn-based band are set to release album Clash the Truth through Captured Tracks on February 19th, 2013. In the mean-time, they're playing a New Year's Eve show at the Irving Plaza in New York City, opening for Blonde Redhead. They'll probably be debuting a bunch of new material, so if you're already a fan of their lo-fi slacker pop then I hope you've nabbed yourself a ($44) ticket: it's likely to get busy.

If you're living anywhere besides the Big Apple, they don't seem to have other tour dates listed yet. I'll keep y'all posted if I hear otherwise, since they'll no doubt be on the road to promote the upcoming LP soon.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

FREE SHIT Part 42: Sweet Valley - Jenova

Wavves' Nathan Williams has got into the Christmas spirit and released a new sample-heavy album of sorts as his new side project, Sweet Valley. Working with his brother Kynan, he's crafted this 17-track ode to stoner-wave goodness. Or, as the band have dubbed it on their Facebook page: "A soundtrack to getting drunk."

Whatever your addictive substance of choice (or if you wanna go all straight-edge on enjoying this), they've hit us with over 140 samples throughout the record and appear to be carrying on in a similar vein from their mixtape that dropped earlier this year. Instrumental, groove-driven and hazy tracks are the order of the day, so fans of Wavves (obvs), Thundercat and The Flaming Lips will probably be into this.

Head to Bandcamp to stream and download this new offering. And happy holidays to err'body; I'm back in London for the break and have been doing an amazing job of ignoring the internet for the past five days. Apparently the £1 fish guy from earlier this year now has a higher-quality video where he wears a suit? Wow.

Aw shucks, I may as well go all out on the festive niceties: to everyone who's liked this blog's Facebook page, reached out to send me their music or simply shared links from the site with people they know, THANK YOU. You are awesome.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Darwin Deez Unveils New Single, "Free (The Editorial Me)"

Remember how amazing 2010 was? When Darwin Deez songs would come on Shuffle on your iPod Classic and you'd start busting out the angular moves that perfectly fit his jagged guitar refrains? I sure do.

And it fills me with joy to see that Team Darwin are back, not only with this new Ninian Doff-directed video for "Free (The Editorial Me)", but a full-length album pegged for a February 2013 release on Lucky Number Music. Judging by what we heard on the band's eponymous release all that time ago, frontman Darwin Smith has seemingly always had an ear for a tight pop melody balanced with just the right amount of scuzzy guitar. 

Hopefully the nine other tracks on Songs for Imaginative People will inspire dance breaks as passionate as those gig-goers would launch into when Darwin Deez toured their debut album two years ago. For now, sink your teeth into "Free", and its deja-vu, space and time continuum-bending video.

If you're in London, the band are playing a show at XOYO on Wednesday night (November 28th, 2012). Um, hopefully you already have a ticket if you want to go because it's definitely sold out by now.

Album tracklisting:
1. (800) HUMAN
2. You Can’t Be My Girl
3. Moonlit
4. No Love
5. Good to Lose
6. Alice
7. Redshift
8. Free (The Editorial Me)
9. All In the Wrist
10. Chelsea’s Hotel

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Reviewed: Cold Specks at Mercury Lounge - Nov. 8, 2012

While outside metal police barriers and lines of street cones hinted at the damage superstorm Sandy wreaked on New York's lower east side, it was business as usual at Mercury Lounge on Thursday night. Al Spx took to the stage with her 6-piece band, effortlessly sailing their way through a set of her so-called doom soul. If that's what doom sounds like, sign us right up.

Spx opened the show with an a cappella rendition of "The Mark". It's the opening track on the band's album, I Predict A Graceful Expulsion, and she sang it tenderly before backing herself on guitar as the song built. She flitted between raw honesty during songs and a dry humour in the spaces between them, openly admitting she's “no good at all this banter stuff" as the crowd giggled.

For such a new rising star, Spx played with a quiet confidence. She commanded the center of the stage. Somehow she managed to appear both shy and totally nonplussed by the reality of playing her hugely intimate and personal songs to a packed room. Her raspy and textured voice was the anchor that held every one of the songs together but by no means does that imply her band didn't pull their weight. They're older than the usual barely-in-their-twenties buzz band, and looked at ease as they launched into tracks like "Blank Maps" and "When the City Lights Dim".

Guitarist Pete Roberts swayed to and fro during the slow dynamic build of album stand-out "Winter Solstice". His plucked guitar line flowed over keyboard player Thomas Green's simple melody. Between them, Spx breathed out that smoky tone of hers with ease as she looked directly into the audience.

The band were tight, well-rehearsed and at points almost sounded exactly as they do on the record. From time to time band members exchanged glances and smiles across the stage, and it was clear that their recent slew of gigs around Europe has turned them into something of a well-oiled machine.

Single "Hector" was a highlight, as any fan would expect. A group near the front of the stage whooped politely as Spx plucked the opening lines on her guitar, and then laughed as she kicked off her vintage heels and started to sing.

The band also debuted some new material, in the form of a song that has been tentatively named "All Flesh is Grass". Delicate 3-part harmonies laced into the song’s melancholy but kept it from wavering into the ‘moody singer-songwriter’ territory that Spx herself has said she tries to avoid.

At the end of "Send Your Youth" she swung away from the microphone and leaned forward towards the crowd, singing out a cappella into the silent room. At moments like those we were reminded what fundamentally makes Cold Specks a great band: not only can Al Spx really sing, but she can back up that voice with true songwriting chops. The band have kicked off the North American leg of their tour with gusto.

originally published on Nov. 9, 2012 on Addict Music, which for whatever reason appears to be having server issues right now.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Preview: Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival 2012

After what feel like months of indecisive behaviour, I've decided to check out this year's Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival. It's on this weekend (November 9th and 10th) in five venues around Williamsburg and looks like it's going to either be the best time ever or a total shit-show of lining up to get into said venues.

Promoters Mean Red Productions released the full schedule earlier today via their Facebook page. As far as I know tickets are still available for both days, and a few venues have agreed to lower their age limits to 18 + (yup, feeling pretty good about not going to those shows but this is the time for teenagers to rage).

I've found that urban festivals depend more on the promoting team's organization than anything else (ahem, Bloc 2012) so Mean Red will have their work cut out for them. They're behind this two-day extravaganza of glitch-pop and post-whatever dance music, running the event in its fifth year. Given grad school commitments I'll only be going on Saturday, primarily to catch xxyyxx and Baths at Glasslands Gallery. I'm pretty hugely excited about seeing them both in one night.

Friday festival highlights include Brenmar, Jackmaster and Gold Panda (highly recommend his live show - he puts in so much energy for a dude-behind-laptop setup). On Saturday the clash between Nicolas Jaar, Shlohmo and Baths will likely break the  most hearts. I'd be keen to check out Pearson Sound's late set at Cameo too.

As is always the case with these kinds of events (anyone who's been to the Great Escape in Brighton, Bristol's Simple Things Festival or Camden Crawl in London knows) getting there early matters. If you've already got a ticket, click here for info on where to pick it up.

Then come find me partying in (the line at) Glasslands. I've made a little Spotify playlist of acts I'm most interested in  too.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Song of the Day: Foals - Inhaler

This new Foals single isn't half bad, is it? There's nothing quite like a pre-chorus that tricks you into thinking it's the chorus, before the real deal comes in and blows your face off. The element of surprise: I like it.

In case you were either in a coma or deserted island sans internet in 2010, you're probably already aware of them from all the hype that built around their record Total Life Forever (ok, that only really counts if you were living in the UK). Their much-loved sophomore effort cropped up on tons of 'best of 2010' lists in England, and got a little indie love from Pitchfork State-side too. The general consenus was that they'd stepped it up from 2008's Antidote.

In any case, they seem to be growing and moving their sound in a heavier direction if this track is anything to go by. It's coming off LP Holy Fire, set to be released in February 2013 on Transgressive Records. Head to their site for more info on that. And if you're in the UK at the moment, they're on a sold out tour at the end of the month before they skip down to Australia for more dates into the new year. Click here for the details.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Listen: Atoms For Peace - What the Eyeballs Did

Thom Yorke is becoming almost hilariously good at controlling when and how his music is shared online. Apparently not even the likes of Spin magazine could get hold of a version of this new single that doesn't include a radio DJ talking over the end of the track. Awesome.

So I won't feel as embarrassed to share this, what seems to be the only version of "What the Eyeballs Did" currently available to stream online. On it Yorke's vocal takes a backseat to Flea's jaunty and lively bassline. The result is a punchy and seemingly restless track that no doubt we'll all be able to buy as soon as the Atoms For Peace supergroup decide the time is right.

For now, enjoy it here (up until the 3:46 mark). Keep up with the band on their site too.

Watch: The Luyas - Montuno

For whatever reason, The Luyas only just made it onto my radar. This is the new mini-film for their single "Montuno", off album Animator (Paper Bag Records, October 16, 2012).

They do that whole dreamy and other-worldly thing like a couple of pros, on both the record and in this video. Indulge in all 8 minutes of its glory if, like me, you're still reeling from some of the knock-on effects of Hurricane Sandy and just want to look at something pretty for a while. The duo are meant to be playing a free show at Cake Shop in the lower east side on Saturday night, if the venue gets their electricity back by then. Plan B acoustic show by candlelight, anyone?

To anyone reading from the east coast and Caribbean who was also affected by the storm, I can only hope you and your loved ones weren't hurt. It feels like an empty gesture to throw a comment like that out into the internet's ether, but even a cynic like me can't pretend not to be a part of that whole post-disaster-solidarity feeling.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Song of the Day: Pandr Eyez - Physical Education

Can we talk about how great this new Pandr Eyez single is for a a second? Ok, cool.

I don't know about you guys, but I was not expecting the curve ball of Ferren Gipson rapping on a track. Verdict: it's a winner. When she switches back to sing, her vocal flows smoothly as she seems to effortlessly lilt over each cooing melisma. 

As they showed us on B-side "Again and Again", the duo are diving headfirst into their r'n'b influences on their new material and coming up trumps as a result.

This latest single is due to be released on Double Denim Records, so check back to their store over the next week or so for more on that. If you can't resist owning the song before you get your hands on a physical imprint, then it's available on iTunes as a digital download as of today (in the widget above). Be right back, just gonna go learn the rap now.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

FREE SHIT Part 41: Lazyeyes - Forever

Lazyeyes are a New York-based four-piece whom I don't know a whole lot about yet but craft the sort of textured, hazy indie pop that makes me happy inside. File them next to Beach Fossils, Sauna Youth (in their calmer moments) and DIIV. 

This track "Forever" is due to be released on an upcoming EP, according to one of the band members. For now, get it as a free download while I get the scoop on the details of said release. 

The band are playing three New York shows this week too (some as part of CMJ, some not), so if you're around you should head on down. I think I'll be at the XPO 929 show on Thursday; come holla if you see me.

Wed, Oct. 17: EP Release Party at Webster Hall (Marlin Room)
Thurs, Oct. 18: Surprise Attack! Un-CMJ Party at XPO 929
Fri, Oct. 19: at Brooklyn Fireproof

Monday, 15 October 2012

Watch: El-P - Stay Down

Here's the brand-new video for El-P's latest single, "Stay Down".

It features the Brooklyn rapper himself, Jaleel Bunton of TV On The Radio and Mr Killums the Squirrel Face meeting a rather gory fate. You may remember Killums from such critically acclaimed performances as this green-screen driving and mischievous bottle-throwing in the video for "The Full Retard" (also an awesome song).

There's not really much to be said about El-P in my opinion: his flow delivery is both acidic and forceful, yet slips in the odd literary device to good effect without sounding pretentious. If you haven't already sunk your teeth into album Cancer 4 Cure, I'd highly recommend it.

Cop it on iTunes and Amazon now. It's worth it. 

Listen: Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man sampler

Natasha Khan first burrowed her way under my skin with Fur and Gold, her twinkly and ethereal debut offering in 2006. She's now back with The Haunted Man, out today (October 15) in the UK and next week (October 23) in the US.

This is the album that almost didn't happen, and sees her take on a more angular sound than fans may be used to. 

You can listen to six tracks from the album in this little taster above, and use it to get the full record for yourself. If you haven't yet seen her awesome video for "All Your Gold", that probably needs to happen now too.


  1. Lilies
  2. All Your Gold
  3. Horses of the Sun
  4. Oh Yeah
  5. Laura
  6. Winter Fields
  7. The Haunted Man
  8. Marilyn
  9. A Wall
  10. Rest Your Head
  11. Deep Sea Diver
  12. Lumen (iTunes bonus track)
  13. Daphne (iTunes bonus track)

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Album Stream: Tame Impala - Lonerism

The kaleidoscopic trip-out jams Kevin Parker makes as Tame Impala explode all over this new LP, released via Modular Recordings on October 8th (UK/EU) and 9th (US).

While the band members around him may change with each record, Parker sits at the center of this one - it was recorded over months on the road in planes, hotels and the odd actual studio here and there.

If you're already a fan of Tame Impala's psychedelic and uplifting brand of power pop, then get stuck right in. They still sound like the Beatles and the Flaming Lips when they started to get down with real drugs but have injected even more synth-driven euphoria into this collection of tracks than before. Give it a listen, then head to iTunes, Rough Trade or The Mod Shop if you want to support them by paying for your own copy. I figure they'd like that.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Song of the Day: "New York" - Angel Haze vs Jamie xx (The 83rd Mashup)

So this happened a few days ago, and I must've been so knee-deep in reporting for school that I missed it. Bad times. 

Angel Haze, new rap girl on the scene and moody interviewer, is mashed up with a Jamie xx beat on this distorted remix of her single "New York", done by producer The 83rd.

The result isn't too far away from the four-to-the-floor magic made by My Panda Shall Fly and Benjamin Jackson on "JS8", a part of their collaborative effort released earlier this year. As far as mash-ups go, I think it's a strong effort. Listen for yourself, and check out the official video for the original version below.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Watch: Azealia Banks - Luxury

This sparkly ode to New York City beach partying and summer mischief is one of my favourite tracks off Banks' Fantasea mixtape, and now has its very own video. Directed by filmmaker Clarence Fuller, the clip features NYC in all its rooftop glory, more of Banks' weave-swinging and awesome 90s-style choreography.

Get into it.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

FREE SHIT Part 40: Pandr Eyez - Again and Again

Ferren Gipson and Tom Lloyd are several things: a talented duo, lovers of Prince, very fun dinner guests and responsible for this new feel-good single, "Again and Again" as Pandr Eyez. It's been almost a year since I first met them to chat over Turkish food in Dalston, and a good few months since I last saw them play, at Cargo in Hoxton.

Since then they've buckled down and essentially reinvented their sound. They've moved from the moody days of EP Eyes On You (released on Cacsine) and taken up an aesthetic that nods more definitively at their hip hop leanings and breaks out of the near-claustrophobic shell of the minimal and understated production we heard from them last year. It sounds like they're ready to throw a dance party now, and according to Ferren, we should all brush up on our TLC "Creep" dance in anticipation.

Upcoming A-side "Physical Education" is coming out on Double Denim Records in early November and is meant to be even better than this tasty jam, according to the gossip mill that is online music writing (see here and here). The band will be likely playing some of this new material at The Nest's second birthday party in London, on Friday October 5th (I hear Juan Maclean's one of the special, secret guests!). Get excited. And get this tune as a free download now.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Watch: Jessie Ware - Night Light

With another track out from what's proving to be a stand-out record of the year, Jessie Ware gets all sultry on "Night Light". 

Her 90s aesthetic continues in this video too, with elements that wouldn't have looked out of place in some Sade b-roll from the late 80s. Watch the video above, and check out the rather stellar Star Slinger remix of "Wildest Moments" that's lodged itself firmly in my head for the last month or so.

Album Stream - Dum Dum Girls: End of Daze EP

California's Dum Dum Girls are at it again, and Dee Dee croons all over this new moody and emotive EP. It's out on Sub Pop Records next Tuesday (Sept. 25), but you can obviously listen to it here in the meantime thanks to an exclusive stream organized by Stereogum and Sub Pop.

Pre-order it here, and see the girls in a town near you on their autumn tour.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

FREE SHIT Part 39: Simian Ghost - Wolf Girl (Slow Magic Remix)

I last spoke to the guys from Simian Ghost about six months ago, when I covered them for Don't Panic magazine and for an 'Emerging Artists' feature on Addict Music. Since then they've been on a monster tour of the UK and Europe, played a bunch of festivals and earned critical nods from the likes of The Guardian, the Times and Drowned in Sound, amongst others.

Plainly put, they make good pop music. They're Swedish, but haven't gone down the pop-electronica route with their last album, choosing instead to incorporate more live guitar amongst their smattering of melodic hooks. The end result makes for rather pleasant, summery listening and this remix from Slow Magic slots in well with the transition to autumn that's starting to nip at our (bare) heels. He's turned their single "Wolf Girl" into more of a brooding and bassy track than its original but maintains the Simian Ghost aesthetic throughout. 

Get it as a free download from Soundcloud now, using the widget above. And excuse my rambling, rather nonsensical English in this post: I've been wading through a ton of research for school and my brain's feeling spectacularly mushy at the moment. 

Watch: Frank Ocean - Pyramids (NSFW)

Frank Ocean has just shared the video for one of the stand-out tracks on his album, Channel Orange. 

frank ocean [pyramids] from christopher francis ocean on Vimeo.

"Pyramids" is normally an epic 9-minute journey through a love affair on the run, via imagery from ancient Egypt and many a delicious key change. 

In this video version Ocean and co. have cut the length down while slipping in a solo from John Mayer (to add to his appearance on smooth guitar number "White" on the album) and added all sorts of awesome visuals. If you haven't already given this album a go, I'd highly recommend it. Beyond all the 'is he, isn't he?' hype surrounding Ocean's sexuality after he published this blog post, he is quite simply a gifted songwriter with a great ear for melodic hooks and the power of repetition in pop formats. 

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Album Stream: How To Dress Well - Total Loss

Falsetto fiend How To Dress Well (born Tom Krell) releases his second album  next Tuesday (September 18th) on Acephale/World Weird Records. For those not aware of his work, he's an r'n'b-inpsired producer and singer who first made waves on the internet in 2010 with an LP of dreamy, echoey and melancholy tracks.

Since then he's featured on Active Child's 2011 album You Are All I See (and in a parody-like slow-mo video for the song in question), played a bunch of tour dates and spent time crafting this next full-length offering. As ever, he wears his influences boldly on his sleeve: Total Loss at points sounds like B-roll tracks from a 1998 JoDeCi record but when he gets it right, he gets it really right. Krell relies heavily on his falsetto as a motif, so you've got to keep an open mind about that affectation to really dig into this album.

As a Brooklynite making this kind of album, cries of 'hipster fraud' will probably bounce around rooms where this type of music is discussed. Like The Weeknd, Krell makes this album a hard sell for the kind of people who believe r'n'b can't be made as well by white guys from the suburbs and somehow loses its authenticity when it is. I'll leave that choice up to you. If you're already a How To Dress Well convert, check out his upcoming autumn tour dates below.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

FREE SHIT Part 38: Lapalux - The Hours

Photo by She is Frank
A day with a new release from Lapalux is a good day in my books, no questions asked. The Essex producer is due to share details about a new upcoming EP on Brainfeeder Records next week, so keep an ear to the ground via his publicist team at Pictures Music. From what I've heard so far it's pegged to be named Some Other Time and will drop on October 16th (though "The Hours" isn't going to feature).

The Pictures roster is solid and inspiring, so I'd suggest checking some of them out if you're a fan of Lapalux's richly textured and wonderfully fidgety beats. This new track is available as a free download in exchange for an email address, which I reckon is totally worth it. Up there with Frank Ocean, Lapalux's is one of the few records I've handed over money for recently, even when given the option to have a free press copy. He's just that good.

Song of the Day: "Telephone Cables and Trees" - Glare

Glare is the DIY project of a devoutly lo-fi producer from England's South-east who so far only goes by 'Michael' elsewhere on the web. One way or another we ended up following each other on Twitter last year, and he shared some tracks with me that made my day at the time.

Glare released a self-produced album last May, made using found sounds, his 808 and some old cassette recordings which you can listen to here. In any case, if's great to hear a new tune from this anonymous beatmaker. For that reason, he gets song of the day with "Telephone Cable and Trees", all whining old samples, subtle tape hiss and that slightly off-kilter effect from an overplayed tape when the notes are no longer perfectly pitched. Yum.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Album Stream: The xx - Coexist

Since their breakthrough about three years ago, The xx have lost a band member (Baria Qureshi), won a Mercury Music Prize and garnered a reputation as that moody band restaurants play when they want to show they've got a finger on the edgy pulse.

I've never been a huge fan of Romy Madley-Croft, Jamie Smith and Oliver Sim's work -- not because it isn't well put together, but because I just find myself underwhelmed by their approach to minimalism. And when Romy's vocal slides off-pitch I tend to find it more irritating than endearing, but that's probably just a residue of my training as a singer when I was younger. My opinion aside, their new album Coexist is now streaming everywhere online before it comes out next Monday on XL Recordings/Young Turks.

When they shared the single "Angels" a couple of months ago the internet basically went ape-shit, so I'd be pretty surprised if you haven't already given the album a go. Whatever stage of listening involvement you're in, let me know your thoughts, and feel free to share the stream: the band are tracing how far it travels via email, Twitter, Facebook and embeds so don't hold back if you're dying to tell a friend about it!

Q & A with Bear In Heaven

L-R: Jon Philpot (vox, keys), Joe Stickney (drums), Adam Wills (gui)

Bear In Heaven are a NYC-based guitar/synth trio whom I hung out with in London before one of their summer shows earlier this year. I pulled guitarist Adam Wills aside for a chat outside Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen and we covered everything from on-tour homesickness and artistic control to why streaming their record at 40,000% of its original speed made for both a hilarious and telling stunt.

Overall these guys are awesome. And perhaps more importantly, their recent album I Love You, It's Cool is a beautiful piece of work, all pulsating rhythms and swelling repetitive surges of layered synths. Headphones or quality speakers for this one, please: it's the best way to enjoy it.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Album Stream: Toy - Toy

Toy, the long-haired five-piece thrust into the new music spotlight earlier this summer, are now streaming their debut album. The eponymous record drops on Heavenly Recordings next Monday (Septemner 10th), but thanks to some generosity on Soundcloud the part-psychedelic, wholly indie act are letting fans and soon-to-be-converts listen to the album in its entirety now.

They sound a little bit like The Horrors on more drugs, and employ that whole woozy, lazy-voiced aesthetic to its full effect. If you were one of those kids who grew up skulking around campus with their hair in their eyes and Primal Scream or New Order on their headphones, chances are you'll enjoy this. If you weren't one of those kids, give it a try anyway if you enjoyed recent work from Cat's Eyes, My Bloody Valentine and other such moody but richly produced ilk. 

Click here to see the list of their extensive October UK tour, and on one of these links (Amazon, Rough Trade, iTunes, to pre-order the record if you like what you hear.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Watch: Azealia Banks - 1991

Miss Banks has been hype-tweeting this video for a good couple of days now, so I'm happy it's been unleashed unto our screens at last. She's channeling some sort of 90s Aaliyah crossed with Madonna vibe in the video, and sporting the plum MAC lipstick created in her honour (and released later this month).

With her album release date being pushed ever further into the future, she's done well to keep people interested by releasing the odd video here and there, and dropping a guest verse on Shystie's latest single (as a nice reciprocal gesture in return for Shystie's verse on "Neptune", off the Fantasea Mixtape). Check out this month's Spin magazine cover feature on her for more of an insider's look. I'm hoping there'll be more great things to come from this girl.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Song of the Day: "Murda Bizness" - Iggy Azalea

Iggy Azalea seems to constantly be releasing her own singles or featuring on tracks by  other rappers and producers. This little gem, which dropped at the end of July, initially didn't dazzle me. Then I don't know what happened - one day I just couldn't get its intro hook out of my head and it's officially song of the day today.

For those who don't know, Iggy's a rapper from Australia who became a Tupac fanatic as an adolescent and moved to the USA as a teen. Fast forward a few years later and her home-video freestyles garnered enough attention to get her a major label deal, studio time with her mentor/producer T.I, and a modelling contract with Wilhelmina Models. Not too shabby.

She's currently on the Closer to My Dreams tour with Tyga and a bunch of guys I've never heard of, then should be heading back to the UK for some dates towards the end of the year. If you're in America and are already a fan of her stuff, the tour promoters are giving away a pair of tickets to each and every show, via this trivia app on the tour's Facebook page. 'Like' it to find out more and enter.

Head here to download Iggy's Glory EP, from which "Murda Bizness" is the lead single. In the meantime, I'll be body-rolling to this jam. I love the video, even with the awkward child actor moments where they don't quite get their comic timing right.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Album Stream: Cat Power - Sun

Here's Chan Marshall's latest full length offering, which sounds like it was made in the aftermath of her getting over a shit-ton of heartbreak and emotional baggage. Check out her recent interviews in this last Sunday's New York Times and the Observer's music section from the week before.

Then, of course, listen to the album if you're keen to hear what she's been up to for the last couple of years. It's going down pretty well on a first listen for me.

UPDATE: We're back in business. As you were, please. (August 28th, 16:12pm, EST)

UPDATE: For reasons I don't yet understand, this stream seems to have broken (as of 12:31pm EST). I'll try to get it up and running for later. In the meantime, NPR have been streaming the album since Monday too.

Watch: The Flaming Lips and Amanda Palmer - The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (NSFW)

So in case you missed all the drama almost three months ago, The Flaming Lips had originally recorded this beautiful song with Erykah Badu for their Record Store Day 'Heady Fwends' release (FYI: that album is awesome and you should find ways to own it).

However, things quickly turned sour when the band shared a draft version of the (also NSFW) video with Pitchfork. It features Erykah and her sister Nayrok nude in two separate bathtubs. Nayrok gets splashed and sprayed with everything from glitter and corn starch to what I can only hope was imitation blood and semen. In short, it makes a statement.

When the video was leaked, Badu was clearly not impressed though, calling out Wayne Coyne and co on Twitter for exploiting her sister and their working relationship by 'selfishly' releasing the video. And hey, now it looks like they've just decided to replace her altogether. The new version is a whole lot more calm but in my opinion doesn't vocally compare. I mean, Badu's voice all reverby and whatnot compared to Palmer's? It's a no-brainer.

I will say that Palmer pulls it together at the end, when she really kicks into her chest voice and opens up. You can compare the two versions for yourself though, by watching the original below.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Song of the Day: "New Love" - Southern Shores

There's nothing quite like a Balearic-tinged late summer track to help me pretend I'm chilling on a beach somewhere and not grinding my own ass into a fine powder during Columbia Journalism School boot camp. Between the sprained ankle and one hour journey to my neighbourhood 'beat' in Queens (welcome to the world of journo jargon, make yourself right at home) any other activities are being side-lined.

Sadly this means I'm almost never online to listen to awesome new music any more. As in I literally only got round to listening to the Passion Pit album like four days ago: this backlog is straight-up stupid. But, as is always the case, another Cascine gem slid its way into my speakers and again confirms how strong their roster is shaping up to be with every release.

Southern Shores are Jamie Townsend and Ben Dalton, the Toronto two-piece behind this breathy, smooth and almost yacht rock-like single. It's due to come off their upcoming New World EP on October 2nd and will likely please all the fans of Keep Shelly In Athens, Ditt Inre and Grimes who were two young to do the real deal Balearic clubbing in the 90s. Enjoy, and um I'll probably blog again in about three and a half weeks since I apparently don't have enough time for the internet any longer. 

(That makes me sad).

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Reviewed: Wild Nothing - Nocturne

Although this album isn't out in the UK and US until Tuesday August 28th (via Bella Union Records and Captured Tracks, respectively) I got so into it that my review's already up on Addict Music. Multi-instrumentalist and singer Jack Tatum plays on this record under the Wild Nothing moniker, adding new dimensions to the fairly on-trend and aptly lo-fi songs his Golden Haze EP initially served us.

Now it sounds like he's all grow'd up, layering luscious guitar refrains over vocals with less whimsy and more lyrical prowess. While building on his post-punk roots, he's pulled together an album that slots in with the best of his contemporaries (Twin Sister, Beach Fossils, Toro Y Moi et al) and proves he's more than a one-trick pony. I'm pretty sure somewhere in the review I refer to the album as a 'swathe of gossamer-like indie' so, um, read on for the justification of such unabashed self-indulgence.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Q & A with Icona Pop

A few months ago I posted some photos I snapped of the two lovely ladies of Icona Pop, when we hung out  in Hoxton at the start of the summer.

Since then they've jetted all over Europe and are currently in the US (and blogging here, where you can keep up with their updates). Both Caroline (right) and Aino (on the left) are sweet, affable and engaging; over drinks we chatted about everything from the inherent sexism in DJ culture to what still makes Paris such a magical city. The full interview's running in this fortnight's edition of Don't Panic Online magazine, so head over there to read the full spiel. 

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

NYC-Induced Hiatus (#Sorry)

So it's commonplace to find when you move from one major city to another, some things tend to get left behind. In my case, those things include all my CDs and records (boo), one of my favourite backpacks (double boo), and this blog.

I've been in Hamilton Heights for the last week now, living a life sans internet yet suddenly filled with all the madness of living on that teeny island we call Manhattan. Normal posting should resume soon, though I've just started orientation for my Master's at the Columbia Journalism School so um, that'll be time permitting.

Big apologies go out to anyone who might've happened upon the site over the last few weeks and wondered where the hell its author had disappeared to: I feel like a bad mother or something. In consolation I offer up the gift of a listen to South London producer and multi-instrumentalist Halls' latest single, coming from LP Ark (out on No Pain In Pop Records in October). It's called "White Chalk" and is quite the beauty. Enjoy, and please continue to send me songs and pretty things that inspire you to this inbox.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Watch: Dan Deacon - True Thrush

From an amazing title to an even more amazing video, this latest visual offering from Dan Deacon does not disappoint. The video for "True Thrush" was co-directed by Ben O'Brien and Dan himself, and features the use of a video-making variation on the childhood game 'telephone'. The ensuing results are hilarious and also a worrying sign of just how unobservant most of us are to the fine details we see.

The video features the TEETH band logo, members of Future Islands, a host of Baltimore creative types and other members of the Dan Deacon Ensemble: by the three-minute mark I love how things just get totally ridiculous.

Song of the Day: "Total Carnage" - Sweet Valley

Yesterday Fool's Gold Records unveiled a tasty little treat for all fans of Nathan Williams' fuzz-pop outfit Wavves: his Sweet Valley side-project, made in collaboration with his brother Kynan (that is a great name, by the way). The sibling duo have taken the Wavves signature summer stoner sound and slowed it down, lathered it in a bubbly layer of tape hiss and conjured up what just might be the slacker soundtrack for the sticky warmth that oozes in when August heats up.

Though we've only got a two minute track as a teaser here it'll be interesting to see what the rest of the Stay Calm mixtape has in store, especially in terms of hearing the Williams Bros play with synthesisers and old cut-and-pasted samples. The mixtape comes out on August 7th, so keep an eye on the label's site and the band's new Facebook page for more info.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Danny Brown and araabMUZIK Collaborate on "Molly Ringwald"

Last Tuesday the folks at Yours Truly shared a behind-the-scenes video documenting the in-studio chemistry of rapper Danny Brown and weird-ass producer araabMUZIK making a track together. Filmed as part of their 'Songs From Scratch' series, both Danny and araab let viewers into the sacred space occupied by on-the-spot songwriting and production.

The result is embedded above, and is a two minute rip-roaring tirade of the sort Danny has made his staple. Something about his gap-toothed, crazy-haired look encasing a total 'shucks, I'm just a nice guy who wants to rap' persona is just endearing. Check out the full Yours Truly video below, and head to their label imprint Love Letters Ink for info on when this single will drop.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

#LongReads: Buzz Bands RIP

I haven't done any free-form writing on the blog for a while, but now that I've said bye bye to Don't Panic I feel I have the time to do so again. And the topic that's been cropping up in conversation with fellow music-loving friends time and time again over the last few weeks has been that of disappointing gigs played by buzz bands. Specifically, these tend to be those with blog-hyped bands scraping together thirty minute sets, sounding little like the mp3s that initially showed promise and performing with either a hint of arrogance spawned by said hype, or a quivering nervousness.

Needless to say, these shows are rarely fun. The last one I went to was headlined by a young Nordic act whose shimmering swells of synths, samples and sighing vocals have left me hitting repeat on my iPod for months. I'm not going to name names, but they burst their way into my top 50 tracks of 2011 last December based on their keen ear for a pop melody and are also signed to one of my favourite labels.

Regardless, when I found myself shoulder to shoulder with other eager fans packed into the room the spreading disappointment was palpable by approximately the third song. And mind you, most people there were baffled that the entire set only stretched to another three songs or so on top of that: I couldn't shake the feeling that this band just weren't ready for the platform they'd been given. It seemed like a combination of nerves and lack of live experience were going to swiftly turn a dream gig into a patchy affair that, while still lukewarm, did little to ignite an impassioned performance from the band or rapturous reception from the crowd.

But online, their track record is still so strong. So should their inability to deliver the goods in one London showcase negate all the previous praise thrown their way? And, leading on from there, are we now living in a world where capable and talented bedroom musicians should be allowed to call themselves performers? Has the very hype machine that sets out to propel them away from anonymity cursed them into a rushed burn-out career?

One bold case that goes against this concept of bands who can't live up to the hype and should stick to GarageBand is Brooklyn's Friends. This four-piece, fronted by the devastatingly sexy and undeniably charismatic Samantha Urbani have only been making music together for a couple of years but showed their flair for performance (and then some) on their first-ever string of UK dates last autumn. They demonstrated the tight-knit cohesion of a band that use live instruments and don't rely on pre-recorded samples or the booming bass of drum machines to lend their songs gravity in a live setting.

Both Friends and the average Nordics played the same London venue on different nights, but had the crowd feeding off their energy and skill in ways that lean dangerously close to polar opposites. In the case of Urbani's band, they sat below the radar for a good year or so before the blogosphere took note of them, and in that time hashed out rehearsals and DIY recording sessions together - the fruits of their labour can be seen now, in harsh contrast to the watered-down vocals and timid show I stood through earlier this year.

As hype acts get snapped up faster and faster by PR representation, record deals and international management teams, more pressure is placed on new artists to get straight out on the road and play those much right-click-saved songs to baying crowds. This new model is spinning faster than it seems anyone can control. That includes the bands, the press spin doctors, the avid music news sites always keen to know about The Next Big Thing first and the bemused gig-goers. I worry the industry is compromising on quality in a bid to stay up to speed. And every time I watch another nervous new act stumble their way through a few songs onstage, that worry grows.

It'll be interesting to see how the new music industry, which is increasingly based online and becoming a self-congratulating exclusive club of writers, publicists and tastemakers, keeps up its quality control. A balance needs to be struck between having faith in new acts when they're still finding their feet, and jumping on the hype bandwagon of a song or two before the band responsible has actually become a band. An act that's never played live is not a band. It's that simple. And while a really good set on Soundcloud is still something to be proud of, those songs automatically lose staying power if they haven't been torn apart in hours of rehearsal and tested on a few audiences first.

It's a cliché, but practise makes (the closest thing to) perfect.

Song of the Day: "Ridin'" - ASAP Rocky feat. Lana Del Rey

Even though I know this version of "Ridin" was leaked a good few weeks ago without A$AP's consent (and inspired a barrage of all-caps rage tweets and retweets), I am still totally into the production and hook that hold this track together. From Lana's saccharine sweet coos of "pick me up after school, you can be my baby" to that insatiable bassline, this is one nice slice of funk-influenced hip-hop. 

This was originally dropped from the Kickdrums mixtape earlier this year, so I look forward to hearing whether it makes it onto any of A$AP's solo material this summer after being leaked so hilariously. For now, enjoy body-rolling to this while fanning the coals beneath some barbeque chicken/steak/veggie burgers or whatever: it's what this song was pretty much made for.

Reviewed: Twin Shadow - Confess

For one reason or another, I managed to fall out of love with this album in a record-breaking number of days. I partially blame the brilliance of "Five Seconds" for blinding me with its beauty and convincing me the rest of the record was as good; I partially blame my own often irrational love for Twin Shadow (there, I said it).

Most of all, I blame the songwriting on this collection of tracks. Somehow it just comes off sounding like a cobbled-together tangle of clichés and a world apart from the heartfelt sense of lovesick confusion that made Forget so awesome. While I enjoy the ton-up biker branding that George Lewis Jr's gone through great lengths to stamp Confess with, beyond some well-choreographed music videos and an effing beautiful leather jacket, the album's concept doesn't actually show up from song to song.

I reviewed the album for Addict Music, so go check out an extended version of this resigned sadness there.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Watch: Nite Jewel - Clive

West coast moody synth songstress Nite Jewel (born Ramona Gonzalez) has just shared her new minimal video for single "Clive". The track wraps up her beautifully-produced and polished record One Second Of Love, released earlier this year on Secretly Canadian.

She's on UK shores now for a set of dates, and I'm looking forward to catching her London show next Wednesday the 18th at XOYO. Check out my interview with her for Don't Panic from March, and scroll below the video for details on the UK leg of her tour.

Thursday 12 - Erics, Liverpool

Wednesday 18 - XOYO, London

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