So here is yet another series-based thing which I’m really going to try and stay on top of this time – the Musical Masterpieces series became rather sporadic, but maybe there will be more of those to come…. I still have plenty of drawings!
Here, in this series of posts, I propose a list of 10 songs I’ve been listening to. Some are old, some are new, fresh and tasty talent that you may not have heard of. Some may be golden oldies that I’ve decided to dust off for a few more spins. You may not like any of them or you may like some of them or you may even like all of them! I’m just going to rattle off some tunes which I think are noteworthy, so I hope you’ll bear with me! I’ll try and span as many genres as possible in the vain hope that something will appeal to someone somewhere, so sit down, plug in and light up!
So the sun has started to come out here in Brighton, and everyone who owns a set of poi are clogging the Level, desperately trying not to knock themselves out whilst swinging their things about, so I decided to soundtrack those early summer barbecues where you nearly always end up getting rained on.
1 – Chassol – La Route de la Trace
Chassol is a French artist who makes music from field recordings he takes from around the world – his 2013 album Indiamore features his compositions on piano and synthesiser set to carefully edited samples that he recorded whilst staying in the city of Varanasi. This track however is taken off his most recent record Big Sun which uses the touchstone of his home-country, Martinique, as the main influence. This track is brilliant, with the relentless drumbeat underpinning the piano line, whilst almost chanted vocals ease themselves into the fray. Chassol has caught the attention of Gilles Peterson and more recently, it was reported he was working with Frank Ocean at Abbey Road studios for Ocean’s next record. So delve into Chassol’s brilliant back-catalogue and maybe get some idea of what Ocean’s new (and somewhat overdue) album might hold in store.
2 – Rome Fortune – FriendsMaybe (feat. ILoveMakonnen & Money Karlo)
This next track comes straight from Atlanta, Georgia, where there is a very healthy rap scene at the moment, including widely-acclaimed producers and rappers such as Father, OG Maco and Key!. Out of all of them, the two for me that stand out the most are Rome Fortune and ILoveMakonnen. Rome Fortune recently did a couple of tracks with Four Tet which are brilliant as well, and ILoveMakonnen had a track remixed by Drake, and they have a wide variety of albums, mixtapes and appearances to their names already. This kind of rap, which fuses R&B, trap and the classic sounds of Southern hip-hop, is, to put it in one word, very colourful. We have seen this kind of vibrant hip-hop with the work of Chance the Rapper and Childish Gambino, but it seems as if Rome Fortune et al are really pushing the sounds they create. It seems as if a huge amount was changed in the hip-hop world by Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, and it’s only going to continue changing – but for now, bend your ear towards this one.
3 – Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Necessary Evil
I will confess to having missed out on Unknown Mortal Orchestra first time round. I remember hearing one of their tracks and not being completely blown away by it so I put them to one side and left them be. Fast forward a few years, and you’ll find me, fervently cramming my brain with as much French information as possible, listening to French radio station Radio Nova (which is really, really, really good by the way) and this track trickled into my ears. Off their 3rd album MultiLove, this track definitely brings to mind Tame Impala, but there is something else here. I read a story about the singer recently which went into the inspirations for this new record, and to cut a long, confusing and rather bizarre story short, there’s quite a lot going on lyrically. The other albums are also brilliant, encompassing krautrock, baggy and funk as well as psychaedelic rock a la Tame Impala. Feast!
4 – LA Priest – Oino
I don’t think I was completely alone in being rather disappointed by the slow dissolution of one of the most interesting and exciting bands of the mid-2000s – the group in question are Late of the Pier, and the chap who produced this track was the former singer. Anyone who was familiar with Late of the Pier’s work will remember the squelchy synths, the Gary Numan-indebted rhythms and the general sense of fun and enjoyment infused into their music. All those things are traceable here, in this bizarre, synthesised electro epic. Oddball pop madness.
5 – The Big Moon – Eureka Moment
The Big Moon are a group of English girls who make brilliant 90s-garagey surf rock. They released a new single, Sucker very recently, and have just come off a European tour with YAK. This track is a lot of fun, involving a sharp resolution from the almost foreboding guitar riff at the start of the track, plus it’s great to see an all-girl group. Warpaint springs to mind, and they certainly seem to be a touchstone here, but there’s more angst and Nuggets-y riffing going on here. Certainly one’s to watch.
6 – DJ Rus De Tox – Heavenly Body
So apparently jungle is a thing again! It couldn’t have had a proper resurgence sooner in my opinion. Ben UFO and Four Tet amongst many others have all been slipping the odd jungle track into their sets recently, and it’s great fun. In exploring the vast and percussive world of jungle, I found what I deem to be my favourite style of jungle and this track is a prime example of that. I find the use of soul samples in jungle really immense yet underused, as it often seems as if most jungle is structured around reggae samples. So I tip my cap to those who do slip in the odd soul or disco sample, and for those who also enjoy this ‘sort’ of jungle, have a listen to Brock Out Crew and Tom & Jerry. Great stuff.
7 – J Fernandez – Between the Channels
This young chap from Chicago is causing a fair few ripples both here and across the pond, and with Beatles-indebted psychedelia tracks like this, its easy to see why. J Fernandez really seems to tap into baroque pop for his newly released album (Many Levels of Laughter) as well as tapping into the warm familiarity of Elliott Smith’s work to create lush and melodic masterpieces that surely hold the promise of a bright future. There’s nothing brash or out of place about his music, nothing that smacks you in the face – it washes over you, caressing your eardrums and warming your cockles for the oncoming summer.
8 – Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment feat. Chance the Rapper – Pass the Vibes
Big ups to our dear leader Peter for this brilliant laid-back, atmospheric track. With a loping bassline, tropical drums and quasi-Motown vocals, this isn’t exactly what you would expect from something associated with Chance, who had more of a producing role for this project with Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment. As one of the rappers that kicked off the ‘acid rap’ scene, which Rome Fortune, Childish Gambino and others all seem to draw from, this smooth, beach-y slice of sunshine seems to mark a signpost down a not oft traveled path in the world of hip hop by presenting what is effectively a surf track. Donnie Trumpet and Chance really mesh well together on the appropriately titled Surf album, the rest of which is significantly more Hip-Hop. Nevertheless, ‘Pass the Vibes’ is essential for reflective evening cocktails during these summer months.
9 – Tame Impala – Disciples
One of the most hotly anticipated releases of this year is no doubt Tame Impala’s new record. Titled Currents, which is released on the 17th July, we’ve already heard a couple of cuts from it: the brilliant Let It Happen, the somewhat disappointing ‘Cause I’m a Man and the not-too-bad Eventually. And this track. This is an absolute corker, and coming in at only 1 minute 48 seconds, it feels all too short. Here, in contrast with the electronic pulses of Let It Happen, we have a big ol’ slice of classic Tame Impala. They really seem to be channeling the psych-pop grooves of Todd Rundgren here, with the crunchy 70s guitar riff bolstered by the sparkly synth line. This is going to be a great album if we have more greasy groovers like this one.
10 – Jamie xx – Gosh
Look at that! We’re at the end already! I hope you’ve enjoyed some of the variations in genre, style and substance across these 10 tracks. This last one is a stonker as well. Taken from In Colour, the debut album from Jamie xx (who is also in The XX for those who didn’t know), Gosh is a homage to the 90s dance scene. With jungle being a cornerstone for the vibe of this track, Jamie xx creates a relentless, garage-y beat and pulls samples from various 90s dance radio shows, giving the track its name. The submerged bassline gradually increases until it squeezes out a melodic drone/siren towards the end of the track which lifts it up and perhaps could go some way to ensuring its place at many a festival this summer. This may all sound like nonsense, so I can only encourage you, dear reader, to make your own mind up and give the tracks a listen. If you’d like to.