Saturday, 31 October 2015

Track of the Day: 'Level Up VIP' by Kidkanevil feat. Orifice Vulgatron & Sean Play

This new version of a track from Kidkanevil's 'Rap Biscuits EP1' comes straight out of the blocks at 100 miles per hour and keeps up the pace throughout. It's the kind of track that makes you wish you had some sort of souped-up, lowered car with an unnecessarily loud soundsystem so that you could cruise by with the windows open while playing this song as loud as fuck.

Grab it for free below.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Recommended music: 'The Delta' by Brolin

The Delta

It's been a couple of years since I first wrote about Brolin, and since then his status has continued to grow, even of the facts we know about him haven't. The young man from Leeds with a passion for dogs originally donned a mask as he wasn't ready to face a clammering world wanting instant soundbite gratification. He might have kept up the cloak of mystery in person, but there are plenty of emotions laid bare on this fantastic début album.

Producer, musician, end even video director (his first stab at that was for Nightdriving below), he's retained complete control over the record and has spent the past few years polishing and honing it to great effect.

From 'NYC', the track that introduced him to the world, through latest single 'Nightdriving', the album is uplifting and heartening, as it wraps itself around you. Brolin himself has synaesthesia which he uses to creative effect as sound and vision become one, and he sees and feels atmospheres and places in his music. It's why songs like Reykjavik, Koln, Barcelona and NYC and named after places, as he matches the mood of the song with the city.

So what do we learn about Brolin from the lyrics? Here's a picture of him and his thoughts:

"I lie awake at night" - Nightdriving
"If the eyes are the windows to the soul you might see I lack control" - Kingston
"I won't leave the lights on if you ask me to stay, Follow me I'll guide you, I'll lead you astray" - Reykjavik
"I never thought I could feel so content in the shade" - Barcelona
"I will pull you under the waves, it'll soften the blow" - Koln

Thematically the album is a bit like a journey of discovery, different places and different feelings. If you're looking for a way of describing what this all sounds like, try imagining Jamie xx crossed with The Weeknd crossed with Caribou and you'll be somewhere on the way to arriving at the sound. But don't try and categorise it, it's pretty unique and it's actually bloody brilliant, so just buy it!

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Remix of the Day: 'Ene Nyame (Henrik Schwarz Blend)' by Ebo Taylor & Pat Thomas

Somehow this passed me by until the other day, which unfortunately means I missed out on playing it every day in the summer. I shall remedy the situation by playing it every day in the winter instead, thereby giving myself a slice of sunshine through the dark months. This epic remix manages to skilfully combine Afrobeat and Highlife with house music to stunning effect - the moment the bass kicks in you won't want to listen to anything else for the rest of the day.

Track of the Day: 'Humanize' by Lizzo

A change of pace and style for Lizzo on this track, the first to be released from her new album 'Big Grrrl Small World', which is out on December 11th. Here she gets to show of her impressive vocals on a song that manages to sound both classic and contemporary at the same time. Give it a couple of listens and the chorus will be swimming through your brain for days.

If the rest of the album's as good as this then we're in for an early Christmas present, especially as you can get the whole thing for free by signing up here.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Track of the Day: 'Ain't Nothing Changed' by Loyle Carner

It's probably no surprise to you to find me bigging up the new track from Loyle Carner - I do it every time he puts something out, but that's only because everything he releases deserves to be heard. This track's a surprisingly jazzy affair thanks to Rebel Kleff's production, while the lyrics tread Carner's familiar paths of growing up and life in London (also featuring his usual batch of swearing lol).

The single is out digitally today on all the usual platforms so have a listen to it below and then go out and buy it. If you wanna catch the by wonder live he's playing at Village Underground in London on February 16th next year.

Recommended music: 'Grey Tickles, Black Pressure' by John Grant

Grey Tickles, Black Pressure [Explicit]

OK, so this is a bit of a strange one. After a week of listening to this record I like it, and I love bits of it, but I couldn't say I loved the whole thing, at least not yet, not like I want to. Maybe that will come in time, but for now it kind of feels like there's half a brilliant album tucked away inside this whole one.

That's not to say that it doesn't piss all over most of the dross that's been released this year. John's lyrics are at their most barbed and cutting throughout - here's a selection of my favourites:

"You and Hitler oughta get together, you oughta learn to knit and wear matching sweaters"
"There are children who have cancer, so all bets are off, cause I can't compete with that"
"Global warming is ruining my fair complexion, augmenting all my imperfections"

Musically it's all over the place, which is sometimes good and sometimes less so. From the glam-rock stomp of 'You and Him', through dark electro like 'Black Blizzard' and 'Snug Slacks', into the 80s disco of 'Disappointing' and onto the lush sounds of 'Geraldine', there are plenty of ideas on display here. But part of me wishes he'd just crack on and make a full on electro-assault on our senses, maybe under an alias, for one album and them come back with a piano / acoustic epic for the next.

High points for me are the verse and clarinet on 'Down Here' and the Wichita Lineman-esque ending to 'Geraldine'. And having seen most of the album performed live at Rough Trade last week I'd say some of the songs have more power and hang together better live than they do on record.

Grant is still one of the most original voices making music today, and it's great that he's given such artistic freedom by Bella Union. I just feel that his ship might benefit from the occasional steer every once in a while.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Recommended music: 'Foam Island' by Darkstar

Foam Island

On their new album for Warp the electronic duo have created an electronic reflection on northern Britain (specifically Huddersfield) in 2015. It's a brilliant encapsulation of the thoughts and emotions of young people in the town, showing both the good and bad sides without passing judgement on either. The theme allows the band to create possibly their most cohesive album to date - as it takes you on a journey through various rhythms and styles, from the upbeat to more ambient tracks, it never loses its focus or sense of purpose.

The titular 'Foam Island' (a euphemism for this once green and pleasant land) is definitely one of the highlights, full of deft electronic touches, while 'Stoke The Fire' is a brilliant slice of electro-pop with an ultra-catchy melody that showcases the best of their song-writing. The most abrasive track here is closer 'Days Burn Blue', which I guess is what you'd expect from a song that was written while the votes were being counted for the bastard Conservative Party's victory in the last election.

I've listened to this record a number of times over the past week and can honestly say that it still gets better and better with each hearing. Concept albums (for that's effectively what this is) can be a hard thing to pull off, but they've done it with aplomb here.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Recommended music: 'Paper Trail Records presents: Thanks For Listening'

Paper Trail Records Presents: Thanks for Listening cover art

Charity records are nothing new, but sometimes the idea is better than the product. Fortunately that's not the case with this new release from Paper Trail Records. Released for World Mental Health Day, the album is raising money for Console, Ireland's National Suicide Charity. It's a many and varied collection of sounds and styles from the label's friends, including the likes of Cloud and Beach Moon/Peach Moon. My personal favourite is 'Rock and Roll (An Elegy In Eb Major)' by Shrug Life, which actually reminds me a bit of Barenaked Ladies with its mix of melody and wry humour. I'm not sure about the efficacy of including a band called Teen Suicide on the album, but that rare bum note aside there's very else wrong with it.

A good release for a good cause - have a listen and buy your copy using the link below.

Track of the Day: 'Winter Sun' by Sarah Williams White

A beautiful tribute to the awesome eternity of the sun, and in some ways a direct descendant of 'Everybody Loves The Sunshine' by Roy Ayers, this trippy, soulful little number is a taster for the forthcoming mini-album 'Of The New World'. Sit back and let its rays wash over you.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Recommended movie: 'Rubble Kings' (and free mixtape)

A fantastic documentary about gang wars and gang culture in New York in the early 1970s, and how the eventual peace that settled over the streets saw the subsequent rise of hip-hop. Dance battles and rap battles replaced armed warfare (at least for the most part) as the gangs chose peace over war. Directed by Shan Nicholson, it really gets under the skin of the socio-economic conditions of the time and pulls together the story of how their circumstances shaped the lives of the kids in the gangs ad how they overcame the struggle. If you're a fan of hip-hop or 'The Warriors', or want to understand how modern-day New York was formed then this is a movie you'll want to see.

As well as the movie there's a brilliant mixtape that's been put together evoking the different musical styles and tribes of the time. It's brilliantly put together in 4 parts, include some dialogue from the film (as well as a snatch of 'The Warriors') - just click on the cover below to download it.

Track of the Day: 'Gold Coat (feat. Cuushe)' by Iglooghost

While most teenage boys are sitting in their bedrooms masturbating and playing XBox, Iglooghost has quietly been stockpiling sounds (he may have been doing those other things as well, who can say?). The result of this endeavour is that the 18 year old from the UK now has a deal with Brainfeeder Records, as run by Flying Lotus, and his first release 'Chinese Nu Yr' will be out at the end of this month.

From it comes 'Gold Coat', a full on electronic assault on the senses. See what you make of it below.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Video of the Day: 'Heard 'Em Say (Kanye West Cover)' by Loyle Carner

Check out this extremely laid-back cover of the Yeezy classic from my boy Loyle Carner. He puts his own spin on the lyrics over a stripped-bare piano accompaniment and a well-sung chorus. The track was recorded for Radio 1's Piano Sessions in London yesterday.

If you want to check Loyle out live you can catch him at Village Underground in London on February 16th next year - get your tickers here.

Track of the Day: 'Rubble Kings (Dynamite On The Street)' by Run The Jewels

The latest instalment in the Adult Swim Singles series for 2015 is also the the first track to be released from the soundtrack to the  Rubble Kings documentary. The film tells the story of how hip-hop culture arose from the gang era in New York City, and features. As well as RTJ the soundtrack, which is out on October 30th on Mass Appeal Records, will also feature the likes of Bun B and Mr Muthafuckin Exquire.

Musically the vibe is similar to 'Crown' off last year's RTJ2 album, with a driving rhythm and a stuttering vocal sample. You can listen to it below and download it for free here.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

New music: 'Twenty Fifty Three' by L'Orange & Kool Keith

Taken from the album 'Time? Astonishing', which came out in July and is apparently a concept album about time travel and insanity, which certainly makes a change from lame-ass rappers spitting about bitches and hoes all day long. The backing reminds me of that old track 'You Showed Me', and the whole thing is a great example of how diverse hip-hop can be if it tries.

Listen & download for free via the link below.

New music: 'Wilkes Booth' by Verbal Kent feat. Skyzoo

A free cut from Kent's recent Anesthesia album, which is out via Mello Music Group. Over a great backing which sounds like a 60s movie soundtrack he spits rhymes at speed, producing an upbeat & positive vibe.

Listen & download for free below.

New music: 'The Revival' by Finale feat. Invincible & Pierre Anthony

From the new album 'Odds & Ends', which came out in August. The quality of Oddisee's production shines through on this track, from the jazzy drum break at the start to the catchy guitar melody. With great guest verses as well this is quality hip-hop of the highest order.

Listen & download for free below.

New music: 'Who's That' by Apollo Brown feat. Maffew Ragazino & Freddie Gibbs

Taken from Brown's new album 'Grandeur', which came out last week on Mello Music Group, this is a proper hard as nails slice of hip-hop. Over a backing Jay-Z would kill for the trio trade verses about how good they are, in the process proving, well, how good they are.

Listen & grab it for free below.

Track of the Day: 'Israel (Sparring)' by Chance The Rapper feat. Noname Gypsy

This laid back and smooth slice of hip-hop is further proof that Chance is one of the hottest properties around. Powerful words that float well over the mellow music, and some great guest verses from Noname Gypsy, who I've not heard before but will be checking out based on her performance here.

Grab yourself a free download below.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Track of the Day: 'Aim High' by Joey Bada$$

Exclusively available via ScionAV, this fresh track features a minimal, dark backing and over which Joey spits stories of struggling to exist. Weirdly he seems to be censoring all the swear words out himself, but apart from that it's a great track, less pop-sounding than some of the stuff on his recent album and all the better for that.

Listen and grab it for free below.

Recommended music: 'Music Complete' by New Order

It's a funny thing when bands have a massive break and then come back with a new album. You wonder why they're doing it, and if they should've bothered. Some (like The Stone Roses) don't even get as far as making a record. When the band is question is one of your favourite acts of all time the questions become all the more demanding - what's the new stuff like? Does it '"desecrate the grave" (to quote John Squire) of their previous material, or add something worth hearing to their catalogue?

Such discourse brings us to 'Music Complete', a possibly ironic title given that bassist Peter Hook has left / been cast aside (depending who you believe) in a well-documented split. To counterbalance that Gillian Gilbert has returned, having not been part of the band since 2001, and her influence is keenly felt here. I'm not sure I ever gave her the credit she was due for her contribution to the band, but the keyboard-led tracks here must surely be partly due to her input.

So how does it sound? As I've said, it's definitely more keyboard focussed, dancier, and harks back more the 'Brotherhood' and 'Low-Life' era of the band (ironically, those are the 2 albums Hooky is currently touring with his band, playing mammoth sets each night to a rapturous welcome), and overall it's a pretty successful compilation of all best type of New Order songs. There are dancefloor bangers like 'Plastic', and more traditional songs like 'Academic'. La Roux's Elly Jackson contributes guest vocals to three of the songs and enhances these, rather than taking them over. The other guests are less successful though; Iggy Pop's spoken word effort on 'Stray Dog' reminds me of the track he did with Death In Vegas as few years ago and disrupts the flow of the record. Meanwhile Brandon Flowers undoubtedly came in his pants the moment he was asked to to sing on 'Superheated', but it's the least New Order-ish and therefore the weakest track here, a disappointing way to end the record. On the other hand Tom Rowlands from the Chemical Brothers manages to inject some contemporary rhythms into 'Singularity' and 'Unlearn This Hatred', which somehow results in these 2 sounding simultaneously sounding like the best bits of both bands at once.

I reckon it's a solid 8/10 type of record. I've certainly heard worse efforts from reforming acts (or those who refused to go away in the first place). I'm tipping them for a slot at Glastonbury next year - you heard it here first!

Remix of the Day: 'Here I Am (Wolfram Remix Edit)' by The Juan Maclean

Grab yourself a free download of this satisfying dark and moody piece of electronica. Sounding a bit like the soundtrack for some sci-fi blockbuster when it starts it soon heads for the dancefloor while still remaining rather menacing.

It's all up to the usual high DFA standards so have a listen and download below.

Video of the Day: 'It's Over' by Golden Rules

Directed by Ryan Synder, I guess this is not one to watch if you're a fan of happy endings. Still, it's for one of my favourite tracks of 'Golden Ticket' so you really should give it a watch, if only to understand the significance of the goldfish...

Recommended music: 'Faith In The Future' by Craig Finn

Faith in the Future

Craig Finn's second solo album is a successful attempt to present some gentler, and more personal songs than he normally presents via The Hold Steady. Dedicated to his mother Barbara who recently passed away, there's a definite air of death and melancholy about this record. That's not to say that it's depressing though, rather it's just accepting of the fact that death is a part of life that comes to us all in the end.

In amongst the trademark character-led songs ('Sarah, Calling From A Hotel' being my favourite) you'll find one of the few listenable songs to have ever been written about 9/11; 'Newmyer's Roof' telling how Finn & his boss at the time watched the fall of the World Trade Centre while drinking beer on a rooftop at 9:30 in the morning. "I saw the towers go down from up on Newmyer's roof, Yeah we were frightened, yeah we were drinking, it was all so confusing". If you see Finn play this live he'll tell the story of how his present-day girlfriend was actually in one of the towers at the time of the attack and managed to escape, making this an even-more personal story than it already was.

There's also 'Going To A Show', which could be as much about performing a gig as watching one; "Some nights it just seems like the same old thing, some nights it feels like a new frontier". Meanwhile people and places come and go - Christine goes to Memphis, Sandra stays in Scratton, Maggie's husband goes to Colorado and Arizona, and St. Peter hangs out in New York.

Musically it's not particularly adventurous but there's a warmth to the arrangements and a familiarity that allows them to stay in the background so you can focus on the crystal-clear delivery of the lyrics. Overall, as with all of Finn's output, you're left with a sense that despite the world being a bit shitty at times, things will work out in the end.