Song Exploder

Something a little different for you to dive into today. Song Exploder is a podcast that gets artists to open up about a track they have made. It goes deep on why and how they made it. It will honestly add a whole new layer of appreciation to some of your top tracks and artists.

At the time of writing there are 194 episodes, each at about 20 minutes in length, so plenty to choose from. Scroll through to find your favourites, including: Phantogram, Fleetwood Mac, Tame Impala, Robyn, Bon Iver, Little Gradgon, Gorrilaz, Bonobo, DJ Shadow, Mobb Deep, and whole load of others. The best I’ve listened to so far was Caribou, explaining both the message behind Home, and the techniques he employed in the production.

You can subscribe via your favourite Podcast provider here. Shout out to Ollie Lyth for the recommendation.

Hyper Romance – Jadu Heart

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.

Free Love – Sylvan Esso

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.

More of my gushings on the band here, here and here. ❤

Thin Skin – Pèt Nat

Remember New Navy? Well the producer from that (James Chave-Dubois) is back on the airwaves. He has combined with singer Jazz Barry to create Pèt Nat. Probably your new favourite Australian indie electronic duo. Their debut single is Thin Skin, it’s out now, and it’s lovely. Keep your eyes out for more soon.

Bonus track: fun fact, I once convinced a random American that I was on tour as a part of New Navy. Just about obscure enough to get away with…

 

 

placeholder – Hand Habits

A bit of a change of pace here – something to nurse your Sunday heads. Meg Duffy’s Hand Habits was my most-played band of 2019; I’m slightly hooked on their particular brand of wistful folk . Lead singer Meg Duffy’s vocals waver in a fragile kind of way that draws emotion right to the surface. It’s beautiful, it’s calming and feels real. I hope you like.

Bonus album: placeholder is her second album, but the first, Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void), is just as nice. Enjoy.

There’s a lot more to say about Meg Duffy, but I don’t really feel qualified. If you want to read more about how her album is “staging queer stories against a wistful Americana backdrop” then read this Pitchfork review.

i,i – Bon Iver

I feel pretty well qualified to write about this one. I’ve given it a few listens on the headphones, I’ve seen them play some of it live, and now I’ve listened to it in the Dolby Sound Studio with a blindfold on. So here’s what I think.

First up, if you love Bon Iver because of For Emma, Forever Ago or Bon Iver then you will continue to be disappointed. They have seemingly left that simple folky magic behind them forever. On the other hand, if 22, A Million is more your bag then you’re likely to be falling in love all over again.

The album mixes some experimental and hard-hitting set-pieces with your (slightly) more traditionally composed tracks that will inevitably be the main hits (including Hey, Ma and my favourite, Naeem). But, to be fair even these tracks are pretty amazing, and unique – they are unmistakably Bon Iver.

Fair to say that there are also some weaker tracks; U (Man Like) strikes an odd quasi-gospel tone and Salem could legitimately be a Coldplay track. It also goes on for one track too long – Sh’Dia is an awesome final track mash-up, but then it gets followed by RABi which sounds pretty pedestrian in comparison.

All in all, it’s pretty good. And on top of that, Bon Iver albums always grow on you. Listen to it enough and it’ll form a part of you.

Strange Pleasures – Still Corners

Everyone has a dream-pop mood right?

Still Corners are a British/American duo that make the kind of indie that transports you through time and space – embracing you, picking you up and taking you on a journey. Here is my favourite album (their second) from 2013.

They have a lovely back-story too – the duo (Greg Hughes and Tessa Murray) met by accident on a random train platform in London. If its possible, I think you can kind of hear it in their music…

Like what you hear? They are on tour right now.

Photo credit: Bernard Bur