The past few weeks have been a treat for new music – with new releases from the likes of Radiohead, James Blake and Red Hot Chili Peppers. However, the music news that got me the most excited this week was Metronomy’s announcement of their new album Summer 08, coming out July 1st, and the simultaneous release of their new single ‘Old Skool’. The album’s 10 song tracklist has also been confirmed and Robyn will feature on one of the tracks, which is very exciting news.
‘Old Skool’ is a funkalicious song that is irresistibly catchy and cool. With its nostalgic sounding DJ-scratching and typical Metronomy quirky hooks – it is quite simply a triumph. It also has one of the most perfectly suited music videos I’ve seen in a long time. Featuring the wonderful Sharon Horgan, the video showcases a suburban 70s house party full of tension and questionable dance moves.
This week’s Track of the Week is the new release from New Zealand’s Leisure featuring GoldLink. ‘Nobody’ is a beautifully smooth R&B/electro track that is perfect for lazy sunny days.
Since last year, Leisure have released a selection of laid-back tunes, including the gorgeous ‘Got It Bad’. (Think Tame Impala vibes but with more of an R&B twist.) This new song ‘Nobody’ combines those chilled out sounds with the smooth vocals of GoldLink – resulting in a beautifully mellow gem of a song. I love the sleekness of this track and how it effortlessly blends a range of influences into a modern and fresh sound.
American indie-folk rockers Band of Horses are back with their brand new track ‘Casual Party’ – a wonderfully upbeat indie track that I have had on repeat. The band’s fifth album Why Are You OK will be released in June.
As the band have not released a studio album since 2012, this new track is great news for fans. It’s made even better as the wait was definitely worth it – ‘Casual Party’ has a brilliantly tight and energetic sound. It’s a hugely catchy tune and I love the lyrics which wonderfully mock the suburban ‘American Dream’ and superficiality that often goes along with parties.
The track I have chosen for this week is from Formation, an electronic band made up of twin brothers Will and Matt Ritson from London. It is a powerful, beat-heavy and driven track called ‘Pleasure’ and I think it’s brilliant.
I featured Formation’s track ‘Hangin’ as one of my tracks of the week last year and was captured by the group’s cool take on electronic music. They bring in elements of punk, funk and pop to their music and it creates a very distinctive sound. Their latest single ‘Pleasure’ is no different and I especially love how it blends together a fun but gritty sound. Make sure to also check out their tracks ‘Back Then’ and ‘All The Rest Is Noise’.
This week I found it difficult to choose just one song, so have picked 3 of my favourite new tracks from the past week or so.
Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate
Kiwankua won the BBC Sound of 2012 poll and released his debut album Home Again the same year. Since then he has been pretty quiet so it was unexpected, but wonderful news when he announced last month that his second album Love & Hate is due to be released on May 27th. Last week Kiwanuka released the track ‘Love & Hate’, a soulful and rich 7 minute track that has got me very excited about the new album. Just like the album’s first single ‘Black Man In A White World’, it has a beautiful timeless quality to it. Everything about this song screams modern classic and I hope you fall in love with it as much as I have.
Tegan and Sara – U-Turn
I got into Tegan and Sara about 3 years ago with their catchy track ‘Closer’ and then fell in love with them even more when they collaborated with The Lonely Island for ‘Everything is Awesome’ from The Lego Movie soundtrack. Although some fans have been critical of their newer pop direction, claiming that they preferred the duo’s earlier releases, personally I think that too often the ‘pop’ genre has become tainted and misinterpreted. From their upcoming 8th album Love You to Death (released June 3rd), ‘U-Turn’ is exactly what great pop music should be. It is unbelievably catchy and addictive and I’ve had it on repeat for literally days. Before you dismiss it as just another ‘pop’ song, have a listen.
Gorgon City feat. Vaults – All Four Walls
Gorgon City are probably best known for their 2014 track ‘Ready For Your Love’ with MNEK, which is one of my favourite songs. Admittedly, I am not normally a huge dance or house fan but I do really like Gorgon City’s music. Now they are back with a new track called ‘All Four Walls’, featuring Vaults. I had high expectations for the track as I already love Vaults’ sound, especially their song ‘Premonitions’ and thankfully, ‘All Four Walls’ doesn’t disappoint. Yesterday, Gorgon City unveiled the song’s brilliant Brit-grit music video, which I think perfectly captures the energy and release that you feel by listening to the song.
On Thursday 31st March CHVRCHES played at London’s Royal Albert Hall as part of The Albert Sessions. I was equally as excited to see their support, Shura, as I was to see the band for the first time and both acts put on a brilliant show.
Shura opened with ‘Nothing’s Real’, the title track from her upcoming debut album, and her set list mixed in unreleased album tracks with single favourites including ‘Indecision’ and ‘2Shy’. Hearing new songs such as ‘What Happened To Us?’ made me even more excited for her album, which is released 8th July. As expected, it was a brilliant set, and a perfect opener for CHVRCHES. With her infectious 80s inspired synth-pop, I’m sure Shura gained many new fans that night. My highlights of her set included the gem ‘Just Once’ which was amplified into this gorgeous War On Drugs-esque stunner and of course, the flawless ‘White Light’. As her final song, it’s always good fun seeing Shura absolutely going for it during the instrumental of ‘White Light’, as you just see a blonde head of hair whizzing around. It was great to see her playing such a huge and iconic venue and you could tell she was very grateful to be there. I hope that as a result of this tour she has gained a new legion of fans and I cannot wait to see her again at her headline show at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire in May.
For the main event, CHVRCHES burst onto the stage with ‘Never Ending Circles’ and immediately I was taken aback. Don’t get me wrong, I was really excited to see them playing live and knew they had been touring almost non-stop for the past few years, but I just wasn’t quite prepared for how amazing they would be. Starting with that very first song, their whole set was just a beautifully lit, pitch-perfect party.
I found myself continually being astounded by Lauren’s vocals and her stage presence, as well as her charming stand-up style stage talk. It was also great to see Martin take centre-stage as he performed ‘High Enough To Carry You Over’ and ‘Under The Tide’ (which is unbelievably awesome live). The band’s occasional pauses in between tracks to have a chat with the audience were funny and sincere, as they shared their gratitude for being able to play the venue and for the fans. And as for the fans themselves, the atmosphere was incredible. A lot of times when you go to gigs, there are people who are too loud, maybe even too aggressive and those who seem to be there just to catch up with their mates. But, there was none of that at this gig. Everyone was just having a great time and the crowd’s energy was infectious. From Shura’s opening set to ‘The Mother We Share’ finale, I was in absolute synth-pop heaven.
The whole night was just spot on and seeing thousands of people jumping around to ‘Clearest Blue’ with an awesome light display in the Royal Albert Hall was an unforgettable moment. I left the venue fully charged and immediately wanted to go and see them again. The Royal Albert Hall was already one of my favourite venues, but it was something very special indeed seeing artists such as Shura and CHVRCHES playing that iconic stage. And I have to admit it was one of the best, if not the best, gig I’ve ever been to.
At the end of last year, Pumarosa released their debut single, a hypnotic 7 minute track called ‘Priestess’, that caught the attention of pretty much every music blog and magazine going. The amount of hype that ‘Priestess’ single-handedly created for the band was something very special and since its release Pumarosa have featured in numerous ‘Ones To Watch’ lists (including my own) and have played festivals such as SXSW in Austin, Texas.
It is incredible how much excitement ‘Priestess’ created for Pumarosa and ever since I first heard it I have been eager to hear more. I was therefore very excited when their new single ‘Cecile’ was announced this week. On the first listen, I was struck by how much more concise it sounds than ‘Priestess’ but also how it still has the same captivating quality. Having listened to it countless times since, I love the slickness to ‘Cecile’, the tight vocals, the groove elements and the gorgeous jazz-infused ending. It reminds me at times of Arcade Fire and has definitely confirmed that Pumarosa are worth the hype.
In anticipation of their headline gig at London’s Royal Albert Hall on Thursday night (which is going to be one hell of a gig, especially as Shura is supporting), I thought I would share my favourite Chvrches’ tracks. As with any of your favourite bands, it is nearly impossible to limit your favourites, but I think this list gives a good overview of who Chvrches are as a band and why they’re so great.
5. Dead Air
Starting off with an example of Chvrches’ non-album releases, ‘Dead Air’ was featured on the Lorde-curated soundtrack to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (which is an awesome album, by the way). I absolutely fell in love with this track immediately and still listen to it on repeat.
4. Get Away
‘Get Away’ is one of Chvrches’ most slick tracks and perfect for night-time drives, which is appropriate as the track was released in 2014 as part of Zane Lowe’s alternative soundtrack to the cult film Drive. Personally I don’t really see why Drive needed an alternative soundtrack (Kavinsky and College were already perfect) but I’m glad it led to this track because I think it’s brilliant.
Even now, when I hear the start of this song I get chills. The Bones of What You Believe has so many brilliant tracks on it but ‘Lies’ will always be one of my favourites. It sounds a lot darker and deeper than other Chvrches tracks and it’s just so beautifully intense.
2. Clearest Blue
Every Open Eye is full of great tracks such as ‘Empty Threat’, but ‘Clearest Blue’ is definitely the highlight for me. A stadium-filler of a tune, ‘Clearest Blue’ is Chvrches at their biggest yet. A modern spin on the 80s synth-pop of New Order or Depeche Mode, the track is catchy, beautifully paced and just pure fun.
Another stand-out track from their debut album The Bones of What You Believe, for me ‘Gun’ is the ultimate Chvrches song. It’s infectious, stylish and empowering, and therefore epitomises the band.
This week’s track of the week is the leading single from Bat For Lashes’ upcoming fourth album. Bat For Lashes’ previous singles ‘Laura’ and ‘Daniel’ are firm favourites of mine, showcasing her haunting dreamy sound and I am very excited to hear her new album, her first since 2012.
Around a week ago, Bat For Lashes (aka Natasha Khan) announced her fourth album The Bride will be released July 1st and also released lead single ‘In God’s House’. A gorgeously dark and haunting song, it has set a very high standard for the album.
Today the video for ‘In God’s House’ was posted online and it perfectly matches the hypnotic and almost eerie sound of the track as we see Khan at an isolated grave in what looks like the American desert. I love the pulsating sounds throughout the song and Khan’s stunning vocals. Have a listen to this truly spectacular and atmospheric track.
There have been a lot of exciting new releases in the past week or so from the likes of M83 and Frightened Rabbit, but there was one track in particular that really gripped me. For this week’s Track of the Week I have chosen a gorgeous stripped-back gift of a song called ‘Only’ from Australian singer-songwriter RY X. If you’re a fan of Ben Howard, I’m sure you’ll love this.
RY X (real name Ry Cuming) released his first album in 2010 under his real name and returned in 2013 when he released the brilliant, atmospheric track ‘Berlin’ under the name RY X. He first came to my attention when I randomly discovered his track ‘Love Like This’ on Spotify last year, which is an absolutely wonderful song and well worth listening to. His music has that wonderful gift of bringing you to another state of mind, making you forget about what is going on around you.
Yesterday RY X announced that his album Dawn is coming out May 6th and shared the first song from the album, ‘Only’, which I fell in love with pretty much straight away. This is a truly stunning song which deserves some allocated time to go and find some quiet space, put on some decent headphones and press play. Trust me, you won’t regret it.