My favourite songs of the past month – all in one place.
Leon Bridges – Bad Bad News
When the Texan singer Leon Bridges first appeared in 2015, his old-fashioned Texan soul music in the mould of Sam Cooke, was so well-executed, it was easy to forgive the throwback style he wore like a fine suit. Bad Bad News is one of two tracks previewing his forthcoming second album Good Thing and it roughs up the notion that Bridges is content to stay in the past completely, by embracing a live low-slung soul-funk sound and callback backing vocals. It’s like a cross between a bluesy Anderson .Paak and a smooth Bruno Mars.
DJ Koze – Illumination (feat. Róisín Murphy)
There was a time where Roisin Murphy seemed to feature on someone else’s track every other week, but no matter the volume or situation, the Wicklow singer’s voice has been a treat for the ears since the days of Moloko and Sing It Back. On Illumination, she adds some human soul to the German producer’s glacial and mechanical dance production. “I need a bit of light here,” Murphy quips on the track as if narrating her presence.
American Utopia, the newest solo album (with about 25 collaborators behind that fact), revels in the bright and boisterous, while flitting between some of the the 65 year-old former Talking Head’s best work and some of his most clunkiest. Of the former category, is this stomper about the displacement of professional people caught up in refugee camps. The elder rock’n’roll thinker is still taking risks. Take a bow.
In 2014, Caroline Rose was pegged as an Americana folk-rock youngling with a debut album I Will Not Be Afraid, that was in thrall to past predecessors. Four years later, Rose, the self-described “queer feminist” has put her real experience into her invigorating new album Loner, which she says is equally inspired by Kate Bush, Justin Timberlake and punk from the ‘70s. Loner is a dark-edged album of manic and millennial modern pop, drawing on indie-rock, surf music, synth hooks and bright production, which Rose herself was responsible for. ‘Jeannie Becomes A Mom’ is my current fav.
1000 times better than any song made for a commerical has any right to be but that’s Anderson Paak for you. He uses some of the tropes of dubstep to great effect here. It was also surprising to find out that FKA Twigs had to audition for the Spike Jonze-directed spot via the behind the scenes video.
British producer Jon Hopkins seems intent on developing his own signature variant of electronic music with this new single ‘Emerald Rush’. The track retains much of the sonic entropy on his 2013 album Immunity but finds the artist adding elements of contemporary art music. The track is the first single from his forthcoming album Singularity, due for release on May 4th.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays
It’s never easy to predict where Ruban Nielson will take his UMO project next. The New Zealander’s last album Multi-Love was a sprightly collection of psych-pop about a married couple’s shared infatuation with another. New album Sex & Food dropped yesterday with styles that range from rip-roaring rock to oddball ballads. Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays is the album’s lilting yacht-rock track and an immediate highlight.
Zhu & Tame Impala – My Life
Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker knows his value as a vocalist over songs which bend, billow and float beneath his soft-edged timbre. It’s a technique he employed to great effect on his breakthrough album 2015 album Currents. On this latest collaboration with the Chinese American dance producer ZHU, Parker adds a smudged psychedelic quality to this metronomic synth stomper.
Edinburgh-based hip hop outfit Young Fathers have seen a return to form with their new album Cocoa Sugar and this fine track.The album recently featured on our 6 new albums to hear list. ‘Toy’ feels like a spiritual homage to the punk energy of the group’s debut long-form release Dead.
Throughout Yous, the newest singer-songwriter record from David Kitt, the Dubliner excels at the small moments of rumination. Like Lightning is a tale of the aftermath of missing the last bus from Galway home and it twinkles appropriately faraway synths, drum machine beats and Margie Lewis’ string playing that conjures a good time in the West.
With a title inspired by Pat Butcher from Eastenders and a sound that is nocturnal and lo-fi, London rapper Casisdead’s ‘Pat Earrings’ will creep up on you.
English producer George Fitzgerald has released ‘Roll Back’ as the lead single from his new album All that must be. The single, featuring English producer and DJ Lil Silva, is a slow burning thoughtful electronic track. Fitzgerald has stated that the new album intends to give more focus to the piano, a statement backed up by the patiently and attentively crafted ‘Roll Back’.
Berlin-based producer Annegret Fiedler or Perel is releasing her Hermetica EP on April 20th. ‘Alles’ is the second track from the new EP and features an extraterrestrial electronic production melded in a sombre tone with vocal deliveries auf Deutsch.
His latest release ‘Caught Up’ is layered with a fruity synth driven ambience that sends out radiant vibrations.
The Swedish-Gambian artist’s first song in three years is an empowering low-slung track about not bowing to the pressure or demands of others. “I don’t have to walk for you / I don’t have to talk to you / See, I’m not on display / Never was, never will ever be for you,” Sey sings. Rather than go for the righteous anger of Caught Out There, the Kelis song that inspired it, Sey goes high with some gospel choir backing vocals only succumbing to the low via deep sub-bass.
Dublin-native Paul Alwright who previously went under the name Lethal Dialect, is set to release his album Hungry on May 11th which will feature collaborations with Maverick Sabre and Damien Dempsey. This release ‘Seeds Of Doubt’ is dedicated to the musician and poet Paul Curran who passed away earlier this year.
Krystal Klear – Neutron Dance
Dec Lennon returns with a new one on Running Back that takes its name from a Pointer Sisters song and its sound from an Italo Disco track.
My Irish Times’ new artist of the week. On the Canadian’s latest release, the EP Stone Woman, she utilises the voice to sing chronologically about a relationship heading towards break-up. To either downbeat jazz chords or ambient R&B blues backing, Wilson shines as the keeper of a flame, a torch-bearer for music of a timeless nature. Stone Woman finds her suspended in stirring strings and twinkling notes.
Norwegian singer-songwriter Sigrid’s track ‘Raw’ is reflective of its name and presents her angelic qualities as a pop star even further with pure vocals and an infectious melody. It gets better with repeated plays.
A highlight from the rising Dublin rapper and Soft Boy Records cofounder’s new EP Deli Daydreams. To see him pack out a sold-out show on a Wednesday night in Dublin was a joy that is rare in this game.
20-year-old Bristol-based Fenne Lily is releasing her debut album On Hold on April 6th. The title track as a follow on from ‘What’s Good’ and ‘Three Oh Nine’ retains the emotional sentiment to be felt from her music and is a response the warmth from world that she felt while at a low point in life.
She plays The Sounds House, Dublin on April 15th. Tickets priced at €13+ are available from ticketmaster.ie.
Fresh from their self titled album release in 2017, Bicep have quickly established themselves as one of the most exciting dance music producers in the scene. With a reputation for innovation is English musician Four Tet, who here superbly remixes ‘Opal’. A match made in musical heaven.
American experimental R&B and Gospel singer serpentwithfeet has released ‘bless ur heart’ as the lead single from his upcoming LP Soil. Having recently featured on Bjork’s ‘Blissing me’,’bless ur heart’ is sweet yet sombre thank you note to a lover. The artist seems to have been working on perfecting the nu-R&B school of sound, Soil is due for release on June 8th. The album will be released under the joint supervision of Secretly Canadian and Tri Angle Records.
Hookworks – Opener
From the UK band’s album Microshift that has slowly crept up on my listening habits since it was released several weeks ago, ‘Opener’ is a centre-piece of an excellent album. It’s eight minutes of psychedelic motorik bass and building organ sounds that combined with the vocalist ‘s anthemic vocals that are somewere bwetween The Rapture and Passion Pit.