A return to quiet folk.
Sufjan Stevens’ seventh album called Carrie & Lowell due on March 27th. The album is named after his mother and stepfather and addresses his mother’s death in 2012. It strips back his sound to arrangements that would be more akin to the folk style of Seven Swans than the bombastic busyness of The Age of Adz.
‘No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross’, the first song is an indication of that, a contemplative finger-picked song.
The album will be played for the first time at listening parties and the Dublin one will take place where Stevens’ first Irish gig took place in October 2004 – the Douglas Hyde Gallery. On Tuesday March 10th, a very limited number of fans will get to hear the album two weeks before hand. To gain access to the party, pre-order the album on CD or vinyl from Tower Records on Dawson Street (also online) and you will get two wristbands to the event where the album will be played through wireless headphones.
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2. Yumi Zouma – ‘Song For Zoe & Gwen’
Breezy NZ synth-pop.
The New Zealand band are really pulling their sound up by the bootstraps and making a formerly crowded dreamy Balearic pop space all their own. ‘Song For Zoe & Gwen’ is from the band’s new EP II, and it also features a recent track of the week, ‘Alena’.
Factual song note: Zoe, the track’s protagonist, was Charlie Ryder’s (from Yumi Zouma) date to the 7th form ball.
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New album Hairless Toys is inspired by NY ’80s drag ball culture.
The love for Roisin Murphy has remained undiminished in recent years if my social network friends are any judge. Last year, the Italian pop covers EP gave us something different from the singer but we all want to hear Murphy do her thing in original format.
So joy then as Roisin will be releasing a new solo album called Hairless Toys, out in Pay on PIAS, inspired by the documentary Paris Is Burning a 1990 film which looked at the LGBT drag ball culture in New York clubs.
“I was deeply moved by this film. ‘I had to run this far from home’ – it’s about the outcasts who could never fit into mainstream society and how they created a safe place in the drag ‘Ball’ scene of New York in the ‘80s. ‘Will we live on? The children of La Beija’ refers to the ‘house’ of Pepper La Beija, who was one of the most notable figures on the scene, Pepper is also quoted in Malcolm McLaren’s song on the same subject ‘Deep In Vogue’. The culture was a flamboyant reaction to persecution and disillusionment, the imagination and bravery of these kids is simply awe-inspiring. I envisioned ‘Gone Fishing’ almost as a song from a Broadway musical version of this story. The making of one’s own world, a safer world and the creation of a new, better family in music or youth culture is a theme I touch upon elsewhere on my album Hairless Toys.”
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4. Jack Garratt – ‘Chemical’
Edgy Radio One pop.
This song could go either way but Garratt, who sounds a bit like Ed Sheeran being conducted by Pharrell at points, but I’m guessing the song works because Garrett is both author and creator, and while it’s a bit weird to hear dubstep-style synth rides in 2015, Garrett’s “artistry” shines through with his impassion falsetto and a second-half of pleasing digital exploration and vocal layers that wouldn’t be on most pop songs.
The track is featured on his EP The Synesthesiac out in April. ‘The Love You’re Given’
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5. Action Bronson – ‘Terry’
Queens rapper goes larger than he already is.
It’s taken me about three years to let go of the fact that Action Bronson sounds a lot like Ghostface with a whooping cough but his upcoming major label album Mr Wonderful might be the one to convince me. It started with that freestyle, the artwork by and then ‘Terry’ an The Alchemist-produced track with a beach-bluesy synth vibe and lines about the Iron Chef’s secret ingredient because Bronson has a cookery show with Vice called Fuck, That’s Delicious.
6. Heems – ‘Home’ feat. Dev Hynes/Blood Orange
Das Racist rapper moves forward.
The pairing of occasional jokey rapper Heems and Dev Hynes might seem like an odd one but it sounds like Heems is going into new emotional territory for his debut Eat Pray Thug out in March. “All I got is the sweater that you left, the letters that I kept,” begins the track to an unmistakable smooth, late-night Dev Hynes production before Heems spills his guts to a former lover by singing rather than rapping. “Shawty, listen, quit your bitching / be my remix to ignition,” is one way of winning someone back.
And yes, you’re right he DOES look like Matt Berry in that pic.