Happy March! Sorry about the playlist being a few days late this month, I’ve been travelling up and down the country watching The Cribs (whose infectious first release from their forthcoming album is featured below) and Sleigh Bells rip shit up on their ‘Reign Of Terror’ tour. Since we last met, I also am an employee of Fac251 now serving vodka to the masses at the old Factory Records HQ, began blogging here and finally got Twitter. It feels like forever since my last playlist and little did I realise, all the previous ones have been themed so, this time round, I’ve mashed together a blend of EP’s, singles and full-lengths that have been in my life this month. No restraints just exceedingly good music! Also, feedback is not only encouraged but required so get in touch and let us know what you think of this month’s choices and send us anything that’s been capturing your attention lately. This is a two way street so, enjoy! L x
Vondelpark- ‘NYC Stuff and NYC Bags’ (EP)
Signed to Belgian (now London-based) R& S records and named after an urban Dutch park, Vondelpark are in fact three friends from down south making blissed-out, zoning electro. Think a positive James Blake that you can jam to, with more enchanting stage projections in a live show than you can shake a stick at and you’re almost there. Having already played a string of UK underground dates and released two EP’s previously, the band are set to play this year’s notoriously celebrated SXSW and anticipation within the music world is certainly growing for the trio to drop their next submission. ‘TV’, taken off 2011’s NYC Stuff and NYC Bags, starts deep and is easily recognisable as containing more lucidity and crispness, in fact, more elements of funk rather than leaving you in an eerie disposition as their predecessor release of ‘Sauna’ did, although that bassline on ‘California Analog Dream’ is one that cannot be faulted. Drop in some glockenspiels over the top of lapsing, galvanic drums- that bewitchingly manage to remain full of felicity and class- seasoned with spectral, almost pleading, vocals does not only make for an enthralling listen, but also leaves the audience elevated on a whole bed of paradise. The perfect antidote for the morning after a bender or just a Sunday stoner session, Vondelpark won’t be going anywhere off our radars’ in a hurry, that is for certain. (Also, don’t ask me why I didn’t put this on my ‘Albums of 2011’ playlist as I’ve managed to purchase three copies in three months from over-playing this beauty. My bad. Oh yeah, and can someone buy me this please? Cheers.)
Disclosure- ‘Tenderly’ (Single)
Howard and Guy Lawrence, also known under the guise of Disclosure, are two teenage siblings fresh off the road from supporting SBTRKT on his sell-out UK tour this month and really are the perfect pre-party soundtrack for such an event. Recently released fan-favourite, ‘Tenderly’, showcases warped bubbles of electronica fused with expediting vocals and dare I say it, a soulful edge. It’s reminiscent of the same genre of house music back in the 90s, yet all with a contemporary twist, making it sound more enterprising and forward-thinking than anything else of today’s apparent DJ/Producer scene. Anyway, it’s nice to just hear this drop in a club in lieu of Avicii at a dance clubnight…
Wavves-‘Life sux’ (EP)
The latest in a long list of Wavves releases, their Life Sux EP begins with ‘Bug’, a track saturated with skyscraper guitars that sound like they belong off the 90s soundtrack to Malcolm In The Middle, as Nathan Williams’s muffles declare that ‘You’re no fun’ and warbles of ‘You’re just dumb’, are executed in a Kevin-the-teenager (if he was an arsey American) style, yet still remain fun and rupturing with youth. Sure, it’ the typical aesthetic we’ve come to know Wavves for, yet it doesn’t seem tired but sets itself perfectly in between their grungier debut and poppy second release- come EP closer ‘Destroy’, Fucked Up’s Pink Eyes plummets the track into a Black Flag-esque work of fabulous, immense doom that I, for one, refuse to believe is an offering that comes too little, too late. Also featuring Best Coast and delivering itself as an unhinged offering throughout, Wavves are certainly breaking the rules and writing ‘summer’ all over them with a joint in hand when it comes to this contribution.
Grimes- ‘Oblivion’ (Single)
Grimes, or known better to her Mother and Father as Claire Boucher, has always been a tricky lady to pin-down. Constantly changing hair colours, numerous collaborations with friends and fellow artists (such as D’eon), along with mini releases here, there and everywhere, her next album ‘Visions’ is finally set for release on 4AD later this month. First single to be advanced from this is the bewitching ‘Oblivion’, sounding 80s-esque with added shoulder pads and seeming a lot less poignant then previous releases such as Vanessa, it still manages to retain an element of cleanliness thanks to permeating, floating vocals of ‘see you on the dark night’ (that upon first listen seem very Bat For Lashes until you realise how pumped up the use of creeping keys are evident), bring an oxymoron of packing a punch with elements of vulnerability, that make the track exciting rather than twee- presenting to the world that Boucher is advancing in her work, but not too far from her musical roots. Complete with an Americana themed video with nuggets of spontaneous football fans jumping in shot for their fifteen minutes of fame, it is convivial, courageous and just enough to make us fall right back in love with such a stimulating artist.
Mj Cole- ‘Sincere’ (Single)
Ok, ok, so I might have been aged six when this was released, BUT having a huge family full of Scousers makes you prone to hearing the odd club classic on a trip home- and this blasting down the motorway in the beautiful sunshine we have had lately, is just absolute bliss. Fortified with grooves of garage, thanks to being a veteran amongst the 90’s UK garage scene, Cole is observed as one of the prophets of the old school ‘2-step’ movement amongst the aforementioned generation and this laid-back piece, albeit amongst his more ‘commercial’ work, showcases this ideology without a glitch. Relaxed, cool, fluent and serene, fundamentally, Cole’s work is still influencing many artists coming out of the UK underground dub and production scenes of today. Also, his debut album of the same title was Mercury-nominated…like, hello, do you really need any more convincing?!
“OMGZ GUYS I TOTALLY GOT WATCH THE THRONE TICKETS!”,Er, yeah, well I never, so can we all just give it a rest now please?! Compared to their recently released single (I might just refer to it as ‘Dat shit cray’ for the purposes of this…) and much heavier tracks off their ‘Watch The Throne’ collaboration, these formidable maestros’ also have a softer side don’t you know, as detected on ‘Lift Off’. Commencing with an elegant build-up of synths and keys that only bring wave over wave of anticipation, Beyonce then steps in for a cameo to provide chief chorus duties, along with a dreamy melody of ‘We gon’ take it to the moon/ take it to the stars’ that flies high over pulsating punches of drums before we’ve even had a minute to register. Following B’s infectious offering, Kanye enters to drizzle over his distinguishing furnishing of rap, even if he can’t quite appear to step away from the auto-tune; all concluding into broken down, immersed drums and a sophisticated use of piano to tastefully wrap the whole thing up. An extravagant offering that doesn’t sound diluted amongst the whole record’s concept, full of attitude, charisma and a sure-fire future anthem.
Baths- ‘Cerulean’ (Album)
Baths, stage name and brain child of Will Wiesenfeld, whom like many before him, was classically trained as a child before delving into the séance of electronic music making, performs under the name of ‘Baths’- sculpting out exceptional loops of scarcely-heard synths and revolutionary chips of beats. As Wiesenfeld manages to engineer these profoundly over his sharp, falsetto vocals, It has been noted to many that this album is an underground hidden gem, with equipment such as clicking pens and the snapping of scissors being used to form shifting kinks and expeditious musicianship throughout the project. Uncomplicatedly, that is exactly what the album mostly is- instrumental- the vocals just happen to present themselves as a brilliant adjacent dish and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The guest vocals, of which are mainly spoken word throughout, remain tender and puerile as on ‘Animals’, a self-described ‘cute’ ode to youth as an infant is heard proclaiming ‘we love Giraffes’!’ over an animated, chunky beat. Charmingly poetic and emotional yet remaining on a lively blade of fun, Wiesenfeld has cracked the code to creating a piece of art that is both sensitive yet bubbling with exuberance.
The Cribs- ‘Chi-Town’ (Single)
Our favourite Yorkshiremen since, well, Jimmy Saville, (Too soon?) have been back high up on our radars’ this month with the infectious ‘Chi-Town’ taken from their upcoming fifth full-length, ‘In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull’. Complete with the heavy, northern drawl that we’ve loved over the years, the boys, minus a Marr, seem much more unrefined, rebellious and ultimately, raw again. An ode to Chicago with references to Logan Sq Underground (and the title, duh), ‘Chi-Town’ is crammed with shaggy guitars and blistering drums (love you, Ross) resulting in a tangled ball of raw, inflamed indie-rock (sorry, I shouldn’t have used the ‘I’ word, slap on the wrist for Leah…). Having watched the band live this past weekend (Thanks for a rad one #CribsForumMassive!), the boys really are back to their brotherly ways of delivering unforgiving, formidable songs, binded unbelievably well by pure talent and a cheeky charm. Oh, and their walk-on music was this. We’ve missed you boys!
Lil john- ‘Get Low’ (Single)
An oldie- but certainly a goodie- resurrects itself here from 2003, courtesy of Lil John bringing the dirtiest, darkest beats with a side serving of the Ying Yang Twins, to add their ever furtive rounds into the mix. Introducing itself with light blips of keys and a, well, average use of deep background vocals, the track then doesn’t lead you in another direction, but consciously chooses to plummet you head-first into an operation of deviance and insidious rhythms. A soon as Lil Jon’s proclamations of ‘3,6,9, standin’ real fine’ arrive, the track begins to swell to a whole other sinister abyss- And seriously, don’t even get me started on when the shouts of ‘TO THE WINDOOOOOOW’ come in, absolutely crunk in its grittiest form. Plus, Vampire Weekend referenced it back when they were exciting and had just dropped ‘Oxford Comma’, so who are we to argue?! Seriously, the amount of times I have heard/danced to/ enjoyed this track over the past month is unreal, I think having a job serving out drinks to the masses on a hip hop floor three nights a week has changed me, guys!
Bran Van 3000-‘Drinking in LA’ (Single)
Look out your window. Is it confusingly sunny for early March? I thought so. Bran Van 3000 (“who?!” I hear you cry? Don’t worry, I’ll hold your hand.) are a collective of producers hailing from Canada who fashioned this track way back when over a decade ago, bringing sunshine beats and a care-free nostalgia for our ears which still receives notable amounts of air-play to this very day. A true 90s classic, which also plays homage to Snoop’s ‘Gin’n’Juice’ come the second verse and chorus, still manages to provoke feelings of melancholia and plunges one into reminiscing about the Summers of my childhood, with some form of family reunion BBQ going on in the background. Now I’m 19, it reminds me of bloody good times in beer gardens and at festivals- just make sure you’re sitting on some grass with this playing LOUD and it will feel like it is August already…
Listen to the Spotify playlist here.
Words by Leah Connolly