You know when a song comes onto your shuffle and you realise how much you need it?
Tin King is the work of electro-pop three-piece Ultraista (one of whom is Nigel Godrich, long-time Radiohead producer).
It has a feverish energy. No chorus/verse structure. Instead they go for continuous drumming, walls of sound and stream of consciousness lyrics depicting a disorientating high speed city life. It’s as bold as it is pretty.
I love the way that Sia transmits the power of emotion through her art. Elastic Heart is an incredibly visceral portrayal of a struggle with inner demons. The song is great, but in casting a pair of immensely talented performers in Maddie Ziegler and Shia LeBoeuf, she was able to create something really special. 1.1bn views later here we are…
P.S. when this video came out it created a decent amount of controversy. A grown man and a young girl in a cage in nude-coloured outfits – sure. But it is worth taking the time to understand it – you can watch a making of video in which Sia explains her intentions here
The inimitable Irish songstress Róisín Murphy back with her first album for 4 years.
The whole release has a really fun, chuggy, funky feel with heavy disco influences. As always, her vocals range from the sultry to the melodramatic in a way that only she can pull off.
There are some great tracks on the album (Simulation, We Got Together and Murphy’s Law are my picks) – but what really stands out is the quality of the package. The mixing has been given so much attention and love. Each track flows into the next in a natural, but original and exciting way. Maybe it is a bit of nerdy thing to call out, but it all comes together to create a very cool 54 minute experience that’ll give you a good lift.
Sidenote, she released this on her own label which is called Mickey Murphy’s Daughter. That has to be one of the best label names going.
The last real proper gig I went to was on the 14th March, to see these guys, and it was fucking awesome. (God I miss it so much). Since then Diva and Alex have been busy, and last week they came out with their second full album, Hyper Romance.
Since Melt Away a lot has changed. They have moved from London to Bristol. Gone are the masks and the alter egos – in comes stripped-back intimate honesty. Gone is the electro-pop sound they became known for – in comes a grungy style that occasionally borders on shoe-gaze. They built up their new sound in their basement studio, using cheap amps and distortion pedals. If nothing else, the album is a showcase of their enormous potential as a duo. Plenty of promise to keep developing and growing.
But are they living up to this potential in Hyper Romance? There are some notable highlights – Metal Violets and Burning Hour are up there with my favourite JD tracks – but in general I think the release falls short on spark. The creativity and originality of their former releases aren’t quite hit with the same regularity. Granted I’ve set them a high bar, but hey, I think they are good enough. Looking forward to the next one. Also I hope they don’t read this because I would like to be their friend.
Notable mention to the title track Hyper Romance which samples the 1984 documentary Streetwise (about homeless kids in Seattle) in a subtly beautiful and incredibly emotional way. Definitely worth a listen.
Put simply, Sylvan Esso are the band we all need right now. Let them take you to your happy place with their hotly anticipated third album Free Love which dropped on Friday. Ferris Wheel, Frequency, Free and Rooftop Dancing were all released before, but my pick is Numb (and Frequency is also bit nice).
To present the release they hosted a virtual album launch. It is full of live performances, behind the scenes content, bits of art, and little previews of things to come on the album. Also a sensationally dodgy DJ mix by one of their mates. But anyway, all wholesome. All lovable.
Over much of Europe lockdown may be easing (for now) but there is one thing that we are all still missing: live music.
This is a beautiful recording filmed in Sylvan Esso’s homestate of North Carolina in November of last year, with behind the scenes content that ramps up the intimacy. Live music at its tip-top, spine-tingling, goosebump-raising best. I honestly can’t recommend this enough.
Their third full album, Free Love, drops on the 25th. Two singles, Rooftop Dancing and Ferris Wheel are already out – check them out now.
The middle of a pandemic might not seem the best time to release a debut album, but Westerman’s Your Hero Is Not Dead feels like exactly the music we need right now. It’s full of uplifting, mesmerisingly beautiful songs that combine challenging and unusual textures with just the right amount of dopamine-inducing choruses to satisfy our simple animal brains. It’s an album that will leave you nodding in trance-like stupor one minute, curled up on the floor in the foetal position covered in snotty tears the next. Blue Comanche and Confirmation offer up sublimely accessible pop refrains, but the album is one that really deserves a full 40-minute sit-down listen. It’s raw and unflinchingly honest but fundamentally optimistic about the world; the best new music of 2020.
Jadu Heart’s first full length album is excellent. The masked duo are growing with every release – tightening their grip on their screwed-up electro-pop style, and casting a spell over the listener. The interplay between their voices (his rough and raw, hers sweet and tender) is perfectly measured; and the switches between moody and playful are perfectly executed. Even the album’s more straightforward rougher edges serve to increase its charm.
You can probably tell I like it. And it I like it more each time I put it on. Oh and boy you should see them live.
Most of the tracks have already been released so it might feel quite familiar. My star picks are Wanderlife and Harry Brompton’s Ice Tea, but in truth I could list half of the tracks on there.
Right so one of my mates is moving to Johannesburg. Which got me to thinking, what’s my favourite song called Johannesburg? Well it’s this one. What’s yours? It’s actually the only song I know called Johannesburg.