Sunday, 31 May 2015

Recommended music: 'In Colour' by Jamie xx

In Colour

Possibly the most hotly-anticipated album of the year is here, and the question is - is it a full colour representation of British dance music, or just a black and white copy?

You'll have probably heard some of these tracks by now, including opener 'Gosh' - deep and powerful, it's a great scene-setter for the album. Like a lot of the tracks here it's full of noticable xx-isms but sounds fresh as hell. 'Sleep Sound' is mid-paced  with a great vocal sample, and is followed by the first of the tracks featuring his xx bandmates, 'SeeSaw'. This is a great, stupid grin on your face, dancing as the sun comes up track that really shows off his ear for a good dance tune, with vocal snatches from Romy. However, he's not always bang on the money, and 'Obvs' is the album's weak spot - it's a bit too much like painting by numbers, and the keyboard sound he uses is, frankly, pretty irritating. 

Fear not though, as coming up next is a run of great tracks. The atmospheric 'Just Saying' sets the mood for 'Stranger In A Room', which features Oliver Sim's best vocal performance yet. In some ways this reminds me a bit of Bronski's Beat's 'Smalltown Boy' - it has the same kind of feel and emotion to it. You get to the end of the track before you realise there aren't actually any beats on it. 'Hold Tight' has plenty though, and picks the street vibe of 'Gosh' back up - it kinda feels like queueing in the street waiting to get into the club, with things a bit edgy and capable of going either way. Once you get into the club though, 'Loud Places' shows you've come to the right place. Definitely an album highlight, Romy sings a brilliant vocal over this sensual house track which also features a great sample and a drum break I can't help tapping along to every time I hear it.

'Good Times' is a summer smash featuring Young Thug and Popcaan, although apparently the three of them never met and this was constructed online. At first it feels a bit out of kilter with the rest of the tracks on the album but give it  few plays and you can see that it inherits the same spectrum as the others. Last but one track 'The Rest Is Noise' is another proper uplifting tune that makes me think of Orbital, and then the album finishes with the Freez sampling 'Girl'. This kind of sums up what Jamie xx does and is about - a sample from Channel 4's gangster drama 'Top Boy' with a reference to Hackney, a sample from a long forgotten track and some brand new beats and bass combined in a perfect package.

Overall then, maybe not a 10/10 (unless I grow to like 'Obvs') but a definite 9, and a shoe-in for a Mercury Prize nomination as well I reckon.

Remix of the Day: 'Teach Me (Château Marmont Remix)' by Joey Bada$$ feat. Kiesza

Fresh from France and fly as fuck, this sultry, sexy remix slows down the beat but turns up the heat. The dancefloor filler becomes a bedroom thriller as they change the mood and make 'dancing' a euphemism for a much more intimate behaviour. If you play this out in a club its hard to believe that people won't actually be having full on sex by the end of it, It's hot and horny as hell. Even better, you can download this slice of sexiness for free if you follow the link below.

Friday, 29 May 2015

New music: 'Heaven & Earth' by Pete Rock

A classy slice of instrumental hip-hop from Mello Music Group and Pete Rock. This is (appropriately) mellow, kicking back music with a killer piano riff and some great strings attached to it. There's an album, called 'Petestrumentals 2', coming next month but until then you can grab this sample track for free below.

Track of the Day: 'Atheist Money' by Adam Stafford

Although we've got to wait until October for Stafford's new album 'Taser Revolutions', the lovely people at So, by Toad Records have seen fit to bestow this taster track upon us. I loved the last album 'Imaginary Walls Collapse', and this sounds like it heralds another great record.

The deceptively gentle start is soon rudely interrupted by some abrasive electronic rhythms. As first Stafford's guitars and then his vocals come in the song starts to build to something rather epic. Melodies and harmonies soar, like Coldplay or U2 when they still had all the tunes but none of the pretension. This man knows how to write a tune, that's for sure, and if he keeps putting out belters like this he'll deserve the chance to play them on festival stages in the early evening sun.

Grab yourself a free download below.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Track of the Day: 'Young' by Kins

The lead track from the new Kins EP 'Cyclical', this brilliant track has a pounding, hypnotic rhythm driven by crisply effected drums. Over the top come squalling, distorted guitars which suddenly give way to reveal the clear, crisp vocals of the lead singer. With a touch of Wild Beasts about him, he swoops and soars above the progressively wilder backing. It's the most amazingly unhinged thing I've heard all week, and I love it.

The EP is out at the start of July but you can grab this track for free now, just follow the download link below.

Video of the Day: 'Shake and Tremble' by Django Django

With their appearance at the mighty Field Day just over a week away the Djangos have released this video for the latest single from 'Born Under Saturn'.

The band play in some sort of nightmarish rain forest, populated by carnivorous plants, insects and goodness know what else. I must admit to being surprised that they all made it out alive as I was expecting at least one of them to be swallowed up by whatever was lurking in the forest!

Things that remind me of other things #3: 'Dead Fox' by Courtney Barnett and 'Rock'n'Roll' by The Velvet Underground

Another in this occasional series of tracks that sound like each other. Here's the video for 'Dead Fox' by Courtney Barnett.

Get past the introduction and after about 12 seconds the main part of the song starts. Listen to that, not only the chord structure but the vocal line and delivery, and then give The Velvet Underground a spin.

Pretty similar huh? Both great songs, about 45 years apart.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Remix of the Day: 'I Wanna Know (Seven Davis Jr Midnight Remix)' by Beat Spacek

First released in February, 'Modern Streets' by Beat Spacek has just received the 'deluxe' treatment and is now available with three extra remixes. This choice version of 'I Wanna Know' comes courtesy of Seven Davis Jr, who looks set to become one of 2015's stars himself. He sprinkles his dub-funky magic over the track to make it even more of a winner.

You can get the deluxe version in all the usual places, but the best is here at Ninja Tune.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Track of the Day: 'God Emoji' by Silicon

If you've not heard of them before (I hadn't until last night), Silicon is the band of Kody Nielson, whose brother Ruban fronts Unknown Mortal Orchestra. This slice of smooth electro-funk is their first offering for Weird World Records, and hopefully there's an album on the way later in the year.

By the way, if you get the chance to see them live then grab the opportunity, they were brilliant last night.

Live review and pictures: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Silicon and Moon King, Islington Assembly Hall, London 21st May 2015

A brilliant evening at the Islington Assembly Hall kicked off with Toronto band Moon King. Lead singer and driving force Daniel has a great voice and is a powerful frontman. At times they rocked out pretty hard and at others they mellowed out a bit, but overall they had a lot of energy, and anyone who claims that their 2 favourite songs are 'Halcyon and On and On' by Orbital and 'Harvest Moon' by Neil Young is alright by me.

Moon King live at Islington Assembly Hall, London
Next up was Silicon. Fronted by Ruban UMO's brother Kody, this was a performance and a half that enthralled and mystified the audience in equal measure. After spending the first song onstage Kody very quickly jumped into the audience and spent most of his set there. Dancing, prowling, posing, walking along the edge of the balcony and even stroking some hipster beards, he packed his set full of spiky energy. He even performed a cover of UMO's 'Can't Keep Checking My Phone' while Ruban watched and sang along from the side.Personally I loved it and I'll be watching out for them next time they're on town.

Silicon on stage at Islington Assembly Hall
And so to headliners Unknown Mortal Orchestra. From Ruban Neilson's solo project UMO have evolved into one of the tightest and together live bands I've seen for a while. Ruban is a brilliant guitarist and a thoroughly engaging frontman and together with the rest of the band he plays a brand of soulful and funky indie music that doesn't really exist anywhere else.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra live at Islington Assembly Hall, London 21/5/15
New and old songs mixed together well and were given the chance to breathe, expanding through some great flourishes and solos. No need to pick out highlights as the whole set was one big smile on my face from beginning to end. I can only imagine how great this stuff is going to sound on sunsetting stages through the festival season.

Ruban Nielson, Unknown Mortal Orchestra live 21/5/15
Unknown Mortal Orchestra are back in the UK in October for another tour and you really should go and see them, because they're ace.

Recommended music: 'Multi-Love' by Unknown Mortal Orchestra


The third album from Ruban Nielson may well just be the summer soundtrack you've been looking for. From the opening bars of the now somewhat notorious title track you can tell that you're in for a full on blast of shimmering grooves and good vibes. There's been a lot of salacious talk about the subject matter - Ruban & his wife both fell in love with the same girl, she moved in but then the whole thing sort of fell apart - but to focus on that is is to do the rest of the album a disservice. As Ruban has said "there are more references to holograms than polyamory" on the record, so my advice is just to accept the song for what it is, don't judge the story or the storyteller, and move on.

If you do you'll get to the brief blast of power pop that is 'Like Acid Rain' and then the funkier, almost Prince-like rhythms of 'UR Life One Night'. Most recent single 'Can't Keep Checking My Phone', a disco-driven beast of a tune with a brilliantly catchy chorus. It's followed by 'Extreme Wealth and Casual Cruelty' which feels like the most downbeat song on the album, although it has an unexpected and soulful saxophone solo in the middle that really brings the song alive. A minute before the end it steps up a gear with a dramatic instrumental passage, which then gives way to 'The World Is Crowded - a super smooth groove that's made for relaxing by the pool on your holidays.

As we move towards the end of the record 'Stage or Screen' probably sounds most like older UMO tracks, full of phase and a bit more lo-fi, while 'Necessary Evil' is a darker, moodier slice of funk with some great guitar pieces.

Album closer 'Puzzles' is an epic track that somehow manages to meld The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and George Clinton into seven minutes of epicness.

I can't really think of anyone else treading the same path as UMO right now; their brand of soulful, funky indie really is in a class of its own. I'm pretty sure this'll end up in the end of year 'best of' lists from many people, especially me.

'Multi-Love' is out on May 25th on Jagjaguwar Records.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Track of the Day: 'Where I'm From' by A La Sole feat. Domo Genesis

A new track from the Pro Era stable, this is the perfect mix of West and East coast. Let's hope A La Sole's album 'Elixir' drop sooner rather than later. And then maybe the time is right for a full-on Odd Future / Pro Era hook-up - imagine what a tour that would be...

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Track of the Day: 'Out The Trunk (Remix) feat. Busta Rhymes' by Fashawn

Freshly remixed from his great album 'The Ecology', this track from Fashawn now comes with an added dose of Busta Rhymes. "Turn the volume up and bang it out the trunk" are the instructions, and that's really all you need to do - it's a monster of a track so just turn it up and let it loose in your neighbourhood. You can get a free download by following the link below.

Recommended music: 'Gunnera' by Pfarmers


A supergroup of sorts, Pfarmers features Bryan Devendorf (The National), Danny Seim (Menomena, Lackthereof) and Dave Nelson (David Byrne, Sufjan Stevens). The seeds of the band were sown when Danny and Bryan toured together over 10 years ago. Since then they'd become friends, and Danny had made some drumbeats with Dave that he played to Bryan one day. Everything clicked and Pfarmers began to bloom. The record is apparently about a dream Seim had which involved drowning and being reincarnated as a giant Gunnera plant.

The first couple of times I tried to listen to this I didn't really get past the first track; a droning, ambient track which (I assume) represents the journey into a dreamlike state. This was my bad though, as once you're in the dream there's a whole lot more going on in the record. It's upbeat, almost poppy in places, and definitely takes you on a trip. Throughout the record there are hints of The National's melodies and rhythms, particularly on 'You Shall Know The Spirit'. Something about 'Work For Me' reminds me of Super Furry Animals (maybe the voice) - whatever it is it's definitely one of my favourite tracks on the record.

'El Dorado' finds Seim painting himself gold and sinking to the bottom of the river serenely and without panicking. The pace picks up for 'The Ol' River Gang' which features skittery beats and is underpinned by a John Carpenter-esque keyboard riff. Another of the album's highlights it has power and poise, and I could imagine it working really well live. 'How To Build A Tube' is intriguing, it sounds like there are layers and layers in it to uncover (I'd love to get my hands on the stems to remix it) and then the record closes with a track to slowly draw you back out of the dream state, as 'Promised Land' sails you back down the river to consciousness.

Overall this is an enticing and unusual record - it may be just a seedling compared to their other projects but it's one that's worth nourishing.

'Gunnera' is out now on Jurassic Pop Records, and you can stream the whole thing below.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Austerity Audio 2015.4

It's been longer than it should have been since the last Austerity Audio mixtape, so thanks for hanging on in there patiently. Here's the latest instalment, 10 diverse tracks to stimulate your ears.

As per the usual modus operandi, each of these tracks is available for free (and legal download) from within the wonders of the internet. You might have to search harder for some than others, but that's part of the fun. And if you find something you like then why not spend a few pence or cents on actually buying one of that artist's seems only fair since you've got these 10 for free. To download the mixtape just right-click on the picture above, or left-click to just kick back and listen to it. Here's the tracklisting:

  1. When Will I Stop Dreaming - Cadenza (feat. Kiko Bun & Loyle Carner)
  2. Belong To The World - Oddisee
  3. 2Shy (Warpaint Remix) - Shura
  4. Ariam (Bizzeea Remix) - Eskimo Twins
  5. Lighthouse (Daedelus Remix) - Bass Sekolah
  6. Clean (Chris Allen Remix) - The Acid
  7. God It - De La Soul feat. Nas
  8. Total Recall - Dfalt
  9. Planes (Remix) - Jeremih feat. Chance The Rapper
  10. Vernon - Show Me The Body

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Recommended music: 'Ripe 4 Luv' by Young Guv

I hadn't heard of this record until the postman delivered it on Wednesday. It was my first selection from vinyl subscription service Wax and Stamp, and a damn fine selection it is too. If everything they send through is as good and as unusual as this we're going to get along just fine.

Some background on Ben Cook - he's the guitarist on hardcore band Fucked Up. But his punk credentials haven't stopped him ghostwriting pop hits for the likes of Taylor Swift, Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson.

It's retro styling mines a different vein to the standard electronic dance/pop references. Opener 'Crushing Sensation' sounds a lot like Split Enz (ask your dad) while title track 'Ripe 4 Luv' has got hints of 'My Best Friend's Girl' by The Cars (ask your uncle). 'Aquarian' meanwhile steps up the soul quotient as he hits the drum machine and shuffles his way across the dancefloor. When 'Kelly, I'm Not A Creep' jangles into life you think it's going to be a lost Byrds classic before turning into more of a lost indie guitar anthem that blends The Lemonheads and Teenage Fanclub into a melodic milkshake. 'Living The Dream' really sounds like he is, driving down the hiway in Los Angeles as the sunsets. It's hard to be certain whether closer 'Wrong Crowd' oversteps the boundary between affection tribute and kitsch, especially when the sax kicks in, but if you can forgive him the slight excess it's a great, upbeat way to end the album.

It kind of reminds me of Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) in the way he can turn his hand to any genre and make a really good job of it. It's all disarmingly casual and slightly lo-fi, but hidden within it are a set of fantastic tunes. It's a beach barbecue blow-out kind of album that demands some hot sun and cold beer to help it take its place in your affections.

'Ripe 4 Luv' is out now on Slumberland Records, and if you get the vinyl it comes in a lovely shade of blue.

Remix of the Day: 'Clean (Chris Allen Remix)' by The Acid

The Acid's debut album was one of my favourites from last year. This new version of 'Clean' steps up the dance quotient but retains the dark, brooding menace of the original. It's definitely one to play during the hedonistic peak of the evening.

You can grab the download for free below.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Recommended music: 'The Good Fight' by Oddisee

The Good Fight cover art

It's hard to know where to start with Oddisee, without expressing equal measures of anger and surprise that he's not one of the biggest rappers in the world. The beats he puts together are some of the best in the business - soulful, funky, surprising and sexy, Meanwhile his lyrics are intelligent, knowledgeable, heartfelt and full of quality and positivity. The breadth of the music on this record is wider than before, partly due to the guests (including Gary Clarke Jr and Tranquil) and partly because he (Amir Mohamed in real life) sings more than he has before.

The fact that he makes all of his own beats (he producers other rappers too, but it certainly sounds like he keeps the best for himself) gives him the opportunity to shape and create the album as a whole. In doing so he's produced a cohesive, soulful record that, while undoubtedly still hip-hop, stretches into r'n'b and soul to great effect. You can feel the workmanship and effort seeping out of every track, and you get the sense that his quality-control level is set so high that anything he doesn't feel is a 10/10 gets left behind.

Stand-out tracks on here include 'Counter-Clockwise', 'Belong To The World' and 'A List Of Withouts', while closer 'Worse Before Better' (featuring the afore-mentioned Tranquil) is a definite change of style for him that works surprisingly well. But really you'd be hard pushed to dislike anything on here, the standard is so high. 'The Good Fight' in the title refers to the battle to produce real and uncompromising art, on the the evidence presented it's definitely a fight that Oddisee is winning.

The album is out now through Mello Music Group and via all your favourite outlets. You can stream the whole thing below.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Recommended music: 'The Gaslamp Killer Experience - live in Los Angeles' by The Gaslamp Killer

Recorded live at the Mayan Theatre in LA, this awesome experience really brings out the musical diversity in the GLK's music. If this is your introduction to his work you'd be hard-pressed to actually work out what genre his music belongs to, while if you're familiar with the original versions of these tracks, which are on his excellent album 'Breakthrough', you'll be amazed at how they come alive with this 14 piece band.

The record is even more impressive given that the performance came while William Bensussen a.k.a. GLK was still recovering from the near-death skateboarding accident he had while on the way home one night (there's plenty of photographs on the internet of the line stapled all the way up the front of his torso if you really want to see what happened).

The genius of this records is taking the mix of styles, breaks and beats from 'Breakthrough' and turning it into an epic, jazz / classical hybrid that would sound as good in a concert theatre as it would stoned on your couch. It's engrossing and absorbing, and as the tracks are stretched and expanded they seem to suck you in to GLK's enlightened world. The best example of this is the monumental closer 'Keep It Simple Stupid', which started life at less than 2 minutes long but here flows out over 13 fascinating minutes.

It's worth noting that the tenor sax on this record is played by none other than Kamasi Washington, whose own epic album comes out on Brainfeeder next week and who also played a major part in the creation of Kendrick Lamar's brilliant 'To Pimp A Butterfly' album.

The Gaslamp Killer is bringing his experience to London this summer - he'll be at Koko in Camden on June 25th, and I'll most definitely see you there! In the meantime you can stream the whole album below, and if you want to get the extremely cool looking blue vinyl version of this the best place is at Bleep.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Video of the Day: 'Can't Do Without You (live at Brixton Academy 2015)' by Caribou

If you're won of those people who think electronic music doesn't work live, and it's just a man pressing buttons on a laptop, then this is just the thing to change your mind. Taken from their excellent show in Brixton on March 14th, this captures the brilliance of a Caribou live show. Starting and finishing with synchronised drumming, the best song of 2014 (as voted for by me) swoops and flies in the swirling lights as thousands of ecstatic fans feel the vibe.

If you were there you'll know how good it was, and if you missed it then make sure you get a ticket for Field Day in June - just imagine how awesome this will sound as the sun sets in Victoria Park.

Recommended music: 'Urals' by Walls

The third (and sadly final) album from Walls, on their own Ecstatic Recordings label, is a beast of an electronic album. From the John Carpenter-esque title track, through the cyclical, spiralling 'Moon Eye' and on to the squelching, pulsing 'Altai' this is a record that explores all corners of the electronic multiverse. 'Voluta' has a krautrock feel to it, while 'Tongue Pad' provides a calm moment when it starts and is a modular feast in the James Holden mode. 'I Can't Give You Anything But Love' meanwhile is a swaggering, cocksure number full of 90s acid and 80s electronic drum beats. Album closer 'Radiance' is an end-of the-film, sunset-on-a-distant-planet kind of track that perfectly draws to a close this part of their career. With both members of the band having their own solo projects (Not Waving and Primitive World, and their label putting out the likes of Pye Corner Audio, we'll still hear plenty from them I'm sure.

If you can still track it down there's a limited edition on grey vinyl with a hand-numbered art insert (I got mine from Bleep). It's definitely one of the best electronic albums of the year so make sure you get a copy.

Track of the Day: 'Auntie Pearl's House' by Golden Rules

If you've looked through this blog in the past you'll know that I'm a big fan of Paul White. Everything he gets involved with always sounds great to me, and his solo album last year was one of my favourites of 2014.

Golden Rules is a new project from White and vocalist / rapper Eric Biddines from Florida. They've got an album coming later in the year on Lex Records, and the first fruit of their labours is 'Auntie Pearl's House'. It's a quirky tale of Eric's rural upbringing and how he used to look forward to his visits to his Aunt's at the weekend.

If you want to see the duo live they're makking their debut supporting BadBadNotGood & Ghostface Killah at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, London on May 15th