Read about our 5 favourite new music releases for the month of October, plus some classic trip hop from 1998. Listen to the tracks at the end of the post or download these songs this month…
Christine And The Queens
Song: 5 Dollars
From album: Chris
Christine And The Queens is Héloïse Letissier (as ‘Christine’) plus a handful of drag artists (the ‘queens’ in question). Letissier was born and lives in France and latest album Chris is available in both English and French language versions. She describes her style as freakpop but in this she sells herself horribly short. The French seem to have an effortless way of producing elegant and mature pop music, and Letissier comes over like a modern Madonna with just a twinge of a lovely Gallic accent. Particularly so on lead single 5 Dollars. The masculine truncation of her stage name to just ‘Chris’ was the result of a body transformation after months of hard dancing on stage (check out the video for more evidence). Identifying as pansexual, Letissier never shies away from tackling robust sexual themes. Despite this she remains in a zone that is refined and subtle. She also recognises the independence that fame and wealth afford her as a woman and she treads sensitively on behalf of those less fortunate.
(Also download from the album: Doesn’t Matter, What’s-Her-Face, Girlfriend)
Song: Nervous Tics
From album: Kingdoms In Colour
‘Musical magpie’ is a term used to describe artists who grab snippets from widely disparate styles and mash them together into a seamless whole. London-based producers Chris Davids and Liam Ivory travelled the globe as Maribou State on the back of their successful 2015 debut album Portraits. Along the way they gathered numerous sounds for the triumphant follow up. With musical styles ranging from as far afield as Japanese classical music and afropop, Kingdoms In Colour still somehow presents itself as a cohesive whole. There is terrific use of sampling throughout, incorporating a Texan school band from the 70s and Belgian jazz. The result is never less than gorgeous. The tunes may be mostly downtempo but the atmosphere is pure technicolour joy. Single Nervous Tics features frequent collaborator Holly Walker on vocals. Stick this album on for a balmy late Spring evening and just let it play right through.
(Also download from the album: Turnmills, Feel Good, Part Time Glory)
From album: Lilac Everything
We live in the era of fake. Fake friends, fake news, fake Facebook likes. Yet the same digital tools that enable these falsehoods to predominate has also produced higher degrees of tolerance. The choices and beliefs of the few are thankfully now more openly discussed and have thus become more understood and accepted. Take sexual preference as an example of this. So, how about combining these two? That’s what Emma Louise has done on her latest album. She’s pitch-shifted her vocals down to the point where the tone sits smack in the middle of what is generally recognized as either a female or male voice. While she herself doesn’t identify as gender fluid, this approach yields a uniquely warm experience and is a far cry from her previous offerings. Her vocals are paired with a diverse backing created by producer and gun-for-hire Tobias Jesso. Together, Louise and Jesso present the listener with a classic, old style palette, ranging from jazz, soul, country and even to mariachi! On Gentleman she upends the current men-are-bad narrative of the #MeToo movement, refreshingly singing of a kind and loving guy. Sadly, nothing can be done about that godawful album cover though.
(Also download from the album: Wish You Well, Just The Way I Am, Mexico)
Song: Song For A Seagull
From album: Family Of Aliens
Quintessentially British. Arch, deadpan vocals sung in a sweet higher register. Meticulously crafted danceable synth pop. Vignettes about ordinary life. Must be the Pet Shop Boys right? Well, Teleman’s 3rd offering, much like the 3rd album from their forebears, is a great stylistic leap forward. Song For A Seagull stretches the Pet Shop Boys influence even further – imagine the Killers borrowing from the most New Order sounding tune in the PSBs back-catalogue and you’d be close. The Sanders brothers have quietly crafted an album of sheer brilliance, which ought to be massive. Sadly they most probably won’t find an audience in an over-cluttered world.
(Also download from the album: Cactus, Family Of Aliens, Submarine Life)
Song: As A Man
From album: Hunter
Much like new superstar St Vincent, Anna Calvi’s perceived greatest strength lies in her guitar playing. No question she’s a virtuoso, but also in common with St Vincent, her real strength lies in gutsy lyrics and a power voice. On latest offering Hunter, Calvi has softened the operatic style of her vocals but without diminishing her impact. As should be self-evident from the album cover, lust is a significant source of inspiration for Calvi. Her dark power-pop is all the better for it and single As A Man imagines sex from a masculine point of view. It opens the album with a riff not a million miles from Eye Of The Tiger whereafter the beat arrives in the form of a thumping snare. Calvi has also often been associated with the fashion industry, collaborating with brands such as Gucci, Fendi, Paul Smith, Chloé and Chanel. Lucky girl…
(Also download from the album: Wish, Don’t Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy, Hunter)
In case you missed it…
From album: Mezzanine (from 1998)
Trip hop as a genre emerged from Bristol in the UK in the early 1990s. Hip hop beats and sampling methods formed the base, but the vocal tone was predominantly downbeat (i.e.: trippy). Massive Attack were the movement’s chief flagbearers. What was originally a quartet comprising of 3D, Mushroom, Tricky and Daddy G, found themselves pared down to a trio early on after Tricky headed off to pursue a successful solo career. Following 2 genre-defining albums – 1991’s Blue Lines and 1994’s Protection – the band sensed that trip hop was beginning to run its course and elected to swerve left and produce an album that was arguably the pinnacle of the entire movement. But one that also really stretched the limit of what trip hop was. Mezzanine was released to an unsuspecting audience in 1998, and the soft, jazzy, urban soul sound of the past was replaced with a menacing, brooding bass-led beast that delighted and confounded in equal parts. Generally regarded, both then and now, as a classic, Mezzanine spawned 4 singles, each of them fundamentally different. The Horace Andy fronted Angel opens affairs with a dark and heavy sound lightened only moderately by Andy’s high-pitched reggae vocals. Risingson follows next and is all dubby reverb, while 4th track Inertia Creeps ups the paranoia quotient to almost unbearable levels. But its 3rd track Teardrop that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Featuring the Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser ethereal singing over a simple harpsichord melody, this haunting track is an ode to the then recently drowned Jeff Buckley, who was a good friend of Fraser’s.
Mezzanine was a high watermark for both band and genre. So much so that it took them 5 years to release a follow-up (2003’s 100th Window) and then a further 7 years to release 2010’s Heligoland. Mezzanine proved impossible to follow however, and Massive Attack were never again able to scale its critical or commercial heights.
(Also download from the album: Angel, Inertia Creeps, Risingson)
(RELATED POSTS: Read more of our music review here.)
LISTEN TO OUR PLAYLIST
You can listen to previews of each track by clicking on the icons next to the song titles below.
If you have iTunes and an Apple Music account, you can listen to the full songs and add the playlist to your library. Simply click on the Apple Music icon on the right.