Recommended music to download this month…
Song: Slide (ft. Frank Ocean & Migos)
From album: Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1
On Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 Calvin Harris takes a sharp left turn away from one-dimensional house hits into much more interesting territory. Scottish DJ Harris slows down the tempo, and introduces a smorgasbord of hip-hop, soul, funk and dub, to intriguing effect. On an album chock-full of superstars, he enlists Frank Ocean for a vocal turn on opener Slide. Ocean’s languid, melancholic drawl is, as always, a soothing balm and introduces an album that starts that summer feeling a few months early. Oh, and just for good measure, current rap icons Migos throw in a few lines too.
(Also download these songs from the album: Heatstroke, Rollin, Feels)
Song: Big Picture
From album: Truth Is A Beautiful Thing
Thankfully, the era of the small pretty girl with a huge pretty voice rolls on (see also Florence + The Machine, Chvrches). Hannah Reid has the vocal range to win an entire season of The Voice with a single note. More impressive though is her and her band’s restraint. Big Picture, the second single off their second the album, Truth Is A Beautiful Thing, embodies this approach to perfection. Post break-up bitterness seldom sounded so sublime.
(Also download these songs from the album: Oh Woman Oh Man, Wild Eyed, Everyone Else)
From album: Witness
If your musical taste spans blues, gospel and punk, and you’ve always wondered why no-one had thought to combine all 3 at once, look no further. Benjamin Booker sings like he just polished off a pack of Marlboro plains followed by a nice cup of iron filings. A modern/retro reflection on racism in America straight outta New Orleans. Believe is the grit-infused and stunning third single (also check out title track Witness for a quick hit of current US reality via an amazing church-choir chorus from 78 year old Mavis Staples).
(Also download these songs from the album: Witness, Motivation, Right On You)
Song: In Cold Blood
From album: Relaxer
British band alt-J, spiral even further away from their Radiohead-mimicking math-pop beginnings to deliver Relaxer. This album, that allows the listener to do anything but relax with its remarkable twists and turns. In Cold Blood is the closest thing to a radio-friendly single here, and even it comes with a PG-rated Tarantino style promo video. Fascinating to imagine where they’ll go to next after having explored the very edge of what many of us would classify as modern rock music.
(Also download these songs from the album: Deadcrush, 3WW, House Of The Rising Sun)
Cigarettes After Sex
From album: Cigarettes After Sex
Bubble-bath-with-shiraz-music, preferably with a partner. New Yorker Greg Gonzalez delivers an album of modern love songs with a downbeat, laid back sound. Gonzalez throughout sounds like he’s on the verge of some sort of post-satisfaction sleep against a hazy, dreampop background. Apocalypse is not the calamitous end-of-the-world event suggested by its title but rather some fond memories of past young love – ‘Sharing all your secrets with each other since you were kids. Sleeping soundly with the locket that she gave you clutched in your fist…‘
(Also download these songs from the album: K, Each Time You Fall In Love, Sweet)
In case you missed it…
Song: Somersault (from 2004)
From album: When It Falls
In the midst of the Britpop era, two studio engineers got tired of the endless Blur v Oasis debates and mixing albums for others (Radiohead’s Kid A for one), and decamped to Mexico. They returned to London with a name (the English equivalent of the bar they had been frequenting) and a new sound (trippy, jazzy, late night pop). They co-opted the talents of a young singer from Australia (and also launched the career of Sia in the process). A series of albums was the result, best of which was their second offering When It Falls. Somersault and Home were the standout tracks.
(Also download these songs from the album: Home, Warm Sound, Passing By)