Friday, March 27, 2015

ESSENTIAL INDIE TRACKS FOR MARCH 2015: HÆLOS, Halflife, Son And Thief, Jimmy Whispers,….

Choosing the best new tracks heard in a month, I am taking this to heart. And this month of March was all about that: heart. And heart is essential like the 10 downtempo tracks, in the player below or directly from pleer, here. I will put aside “Let It Happen, Tame Impala’s first new single in years for another playlist!
1- A bit of Jungle (same funky choruses and high pitch vocals than in Jungle slow- burner “Son of a Gun” ) a bit of Massive Attack, Bomb The Bass, Alpha trip-hop/swaying electronica of the mid 90’s, make HÆLOS trio sonic identity, appearing last October with the single “Dust.London trio dropped another one this month “Earth Not Above”, slowly building something for an EP. Referring to the art cover, it’s a “Total Eclipse Of The Heart”!

2- British rapper and actor Riz Ahmed, already made one album in 2011 and for a second forthcoming one, he is pairing with the dubstep producer Distance on a duo called Halflife.“Rip Me feat.Aruba Red ” is the second single: heart sick Gonjasufi voice like.

3- “Suddenly” is an exception among the rather dance driven tracks of 20 year old London singer- songwriter- producer, Uzoechi Osisioma Emenike aka MNEK on his first EP “Small Talk” out this March, and it’s his personal favourite song. Love hurts!

4- Another rapper getting sentimental on his debut solo album “Eat, Pray, Thug” out this month: Heems (real name: Himanshu Suri) once representing one third of the now defunct American hip hop group Das Racist. “Home” with Devonté Hynes a.k.a. Blood Orange adding his smooth chorus. Even the snakelike guitars are there to recall Heems’ Indian origin. Home is where the heart is!

 5- London electronic duo, zERo7’s EP1 was issued in 1999. An EP2, 12s” and 4 full lengths in between, 2015 is time for the EP3 to be released in April, on which they enrolled long-time collaborator José Gonzalez since "The Garden" album in 2006 on the track and first single “Last Light”. “Sound of love leaving”leeds to lonely hearts!

6- Anyone who wants to think out loud “I Gotta Get Out” should listen to “Drifting” (2:50 timecode), the new single from Minneapolis trio, On An On, already featured here. Last January, they announced the title of their second release “And The Wave Has Two Sides”, performed brand new material at SXSW, but the only new song on line for the moment is this heartrending track.

7- Rory Graham aka Rag'n'Bone Man, also singer in the hip-hop UK collective Rum Committee, has the word “soul” tattooed on his right fist, and a soulful voice, he definitely has. On “Perfume” (inspired by the movie), the different variations of his sublime voice are just phenomenal. Since he is planning to get as many tattoos he can on his next tour passing by Glastonbury, he might end up like the title of his last EP out in March : “Disfigured” worth listening as a whole on his soundcloud.Heart and soul!

8- “A Forest Of Arms”, sixth album from Toronto/Canada folk-rock band, Great Lake Swimmers out in April, has the peculiarity of having the 12th and last ballad track “Expecting You” echoing the Mexican tempo of the first one “Something Like a Storm” with the same lyrics, warming the cockles of our heart.

9- Athens/Georgia indie rock quartet, Son & Thief, can be proud of being in the March "Top EPs & Singles" section for the Alternative genre on iTunes with their debut EP,“Cardinal”. “High & Low” was the first single out of the 6 tracks, also available on soundcloud, and still a favourite for the fluidity and nonchalant voice.

10- Chicago street artist and musician, James Cicero, aka Jimmy Whispers, finally released this month 10 tracks under the title “Summer in Pain. On “Heart Don't Know”, his fragile, Daniel Johnston-esque voice over speedy organ notes recorded with an iPhone, makes one feels he is  singing his heart out. Check this Chicago Reader article.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

ESSENTIAL INDIE TRACKS FOR FEBRUARY 2015: Portico, Young Fathers, Other Lives, All We Are,…

You know how rudimental it works on internet with new songs: one music blog is posting a new single, then another blog borrows it, and so on. Same song on repeat, whatever the quality of it is. Fortunately, this monthly “Essential Tracks” is a constructive step back, giving time to several listening to singles and other songs on a full forthcoming album, for then building a conducting thread, other than being fresh songs (no more than one month). The (many) leftovers are either tracks that don’t come up with something really new, just empty and endless renditions of fashionable sounds (think electro R&B), or will reappear in another themed playlist (for instance, Alabama Shakes  Don't Wanna Fight)or in the year end lists.
Like in January, the essential indie tracks of February 2015 are also all about Indie Pop and quite dominated by UK bands, I must say. In the below player or directly from pleer, here!
1- This is a complete new debut for London/UK band Portico, ex Portico Quartet. Shorter name to reflect that they are now a trio, new sound, new label, Ninja Tune, same one than Jono McCleery who already posted last November “ Bright Luck”, this track being on Portico’s fourth album “Living Fields  out in April, and more importantly songwriting, for they we’re playing mostly instruments before (check back the tracks “Ruins or “Lacker Boo”) .9 new gorgeous vocal tracks that will certainly give Portico more visibility on the music scene, with Jono McCleery (4 tracks), Jamie Woon (1), and 3 with Joe Newman (from Alt-J) including “101”. Should have been named “103” since he is singing “With a temperature of 103”!

2- Scott Matthew, not to be mistaken for Scott Matthews, English singer songwriter, both having distinctive voices, quite tormented for the Australian native and now living in Brooklyn. “Skyline” is the melancholic second single of his fourth album, full of grace, “This Here Defeat” out in March.

3- In addition to the already long list of Manchester/UK bands , here comes another four member band: Shinies. After a serie of singles and one EP, getting a bit of hate for the “Ennuivideo, they released their debut album “Nothing Like Something Happens Anywhere” this February. Rumbling drums and of guitar reverbs is their definition of a slow jam and it’s all in “Waves”. Check the rest of the 9 tracks.

4- We were familiar with the beautiful sonic landscapes of the first 2 albums of American trio from Stillwater/Oklahoma, Other Lives, ex Kunek. “Reconfiguration”, the first single of its third, 14 tracks LP “Rituals” out in May, is definitely in line with “Dead Canon the “Mind The Gap” EP, which already showed a more electro side of Other Lives compositions.

5- Edinburg based trio, Young Fathers, one of my favourite bands, released a single “Soon Come Soon ” last December, in the same alternative hip-hop vein than its Mercury prize winning album “Dead”, out last year, that won’t be part of the 12 tracks third album due in April, controversially named “White Men Are Black Men Too”. The first single is a more poppy track “Rain Or Shine” as powerful as the band is live.

6- Funky tracks like first single “Feel Safeare still present in the eponym debut album of Liverpool/UK based band All We Are, but half of the 11 tracks are also catchy synth-pop songs. Since every blog already posted the Scissor Sisters-esque single, “Keep Me Alive, let’s lend an hear to “Ebb/Flow” which stands out with a deep metallic beat.

 7- Birmingham/UK quartet Peace’s second album out this February, “Happy People” has 18 tracks in it! Away from the Vampire Weekend tone of its debut, Peace now found its own way into the sound of the 90’s UK indie styles, especially on "World Pleasure". Not ashamed to say: Give Peace a Chance

8- Indie Pop/Rock music in the 90’s was at his best in UK: along with The Stone Roses , The Charlatans appeared on the music scene in 1990 with “The Only One I Know” and later “Weirdo. Despite the years and losses, their 12th latest album, “Modern nature” out end of January and packed with great tracks, is a good demonstration that this band is always alive and kicking along with singer Tim Burgess new oxidized haircut. “So Oh” was an early standout and has also a remix by Anton Newcombe (Brian Jonestown Massacre).

9- Skipping tune, “Where The Sky Hangs”, second single in a row taken from Massachusetts /USA band, Passion Pit third album “Kindred” set for an April release, is announcing a promising set of catchy synth-pop songs like the band is used to.

10- Guitarist Graham Coxon is back again in English band Blur, so a single like “Go Out” taken from a long awaited eight album (12 years!) “The Magic Whip” to be released in April, is always good news. To illustrate thearduous relationship between Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon, in 2006 Coxon released a song  called “I Don’t Wanna Go Out” !

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

ESSENTIAL INDIE TRACKS FOR JANUARY 2015: Iain Woods, C Duncan, BC Camplight, Petite Noir,…

Don't seek further! The new indie tracks of January 2015 you have to hear are playlisted here.
Among hundreds of new releases, the essential ones this month are all about Indie Pop music. Sophisticated pop music, not the one you could find in the pop charts. Classic songwriting style, experimental, creative or simply melodious, all highlighted in this January 2015 playlist. With exceptionally 11 tracks, since Björk was rushed to release her new album this month instead of March, in the below player or directly from pleer, here!
1- Multi-instrumentalist Christopher Duncan aka C Duncan comes from Glasgow/Scotland/UK. Since this angelic little track “And I”, B- Side of the single "For" out last December, might not be on his forthcoming LP due to be released in summer 2015 on FatCat Records, here it is! With “Saythe second single, it is sounding like a very promising debut album.

2- It’s not with her ninth album, “Vulnicura”, that Björk is back into the pure pop world of her first albums: with the help of Venezuelan producer, Alejandro Ghersi, aka Arca whose debut album “Xen” came out last November, she is deeply into the experimental pop world. “History of Touches” is the shortest and most harmonious track.

3- Fan of Björk, British Art-Pop artist Iain Woodsfirst LP “Psychologist” issued 1 month ago on his soundcloud, was once a project called “Autophobe”, under his moniker name “Psychologist. After a few EPs (Stanislavsky, Waves of OK , Propeller EP in 2011 with a strange video) Psychologist, at that time, described his LP as “A trash-pop romp through an existential crisis” which is still the case after the releasing of "Psychologist" under his real name: it’s an Unidentified Flying Object.11 tracks as diverse as the featured Massive Attack-esque track “When Particules Collide”, the only one from his previous works who made it on the album, extracts of speeches( Panic Over), Timbaland-esque beats(The Dirty Movement), jazzy (Fiend), bluesy(Smoke), rock (Bella).Certainly intriguing.

4- It’s with a pinch of psych-pop that Canadian musician Alex Calder, once a collaborator of Mac DeMarco’s outfit Make out Videotape, released his debut album “Strange Dreams” this month, after 2 EPs in 2014. “Strange Dreams”, the first single, and “No Device” are examples of his dazed sound and vocals.

5- In UK, the young (under 25) generation of pop musicians, is over publicized with the guitar boys (Ed Sheeran, George Ezra,..) and the blue eyed soul ones (Sam Smith, John Newman,…) but there is an alternative approach that could be led by South London singer songwriter Alex Burey. His “Inside World” debut EP is out next February on bandcamp and he already delivered 2 tracks on soundcloud, last one being “The Intimidator”. Definitely intimidated by his talent!

6- The first single “Bored in the USA”, doesn’t reflect the variety of the 11 songs on the second album “I Love You Honeybear”, out next February, of Joshua Tillman under the Father John Misty moniker he is using since 2012 : folk, country, rock and pop. “True Affection” is the most sophisticated pop track with the synth beats.
7- Trying to understand Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) lyrics has always been a difficult task unless he repeats several times “Are You Mad ?” like in the track “Come To Your Senses”, the poppiest song of his fifth solo album “Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper” issued this month.

8- With 3 albums and several EPs, how come Fuji Kureta  remains quite unknown? Certainly because the synth-pop duo made of Deniz Öztürk, Şahin Kureta is coming from… Istanbul/Turkey. “Yetunde” EP is the latest release with the single “Open Up”. Oddly enough to mention, Deniz, has a deeper voice sounding like Björk, and also sings in French

9- Cape Town-based Yannick Ilunga aka Petite Noir's single in 2012, “Pressure, was labelled as Noirwave sound, but since “Noirse”, Petite Noir is close to the “neo” Kwaito sound, with exotic percussive loop samples, and his 5 tracks EP “The King of Anxiety” out this month and single “Chess” is a good taste of it. 

10- UK indie darlings Belle and Sebastian might find a younger generation of fans with their more playful ninth album “Girls in Peacetime Like to Dance” out in January. Among the 12 tracks, classic pop is still here along with "not so nice" dance pop tracks. “Perfect Couples”, that reconciles the 2 rhythm orientations, is quite an unusual track with its exotic percussions.
11- Despite the name of his third album, “How To Die In The North”, and after eight years since his last album, it’s a resurrection (from depression) for New Jersey’s pop songwriter Brian Christinzio, aka BC Camplight, and a relocation (in Manchester/UK) that lead to this 9 tracks album out this January. With a little help from 5 musicians on “You Should've Gone To School” he delivers a catchy tune full of sunshine-pop of the 60’s.