Category Archives: Music

90s/00s Spotlist

Early 90s loved up, happy dance music is a well-trodden path of nostalgia but for good reason – this Spotlist pretty much compiled itself, such is the wealth of day-glo, jump-up 90s/00s tunes that tug on musical memories. There may be a few that you’d forgotten here. There’s everything from dark dance to undeniable mid-noughties RnB; drum and bass to dream-pop classics; the garage-pop majesty of SFA (Sweet Female Attitude) to Southern hip hop. Fancy a trip down memory lane?

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This Week’s Spotlist

The second Spotlist is a rangy and in-your-face affair. We have the Chemical Brother’s signature metallic dance on new track Sometimes I Feel So Deserted. There is dark trance from fellow EDM Grandads Leftfield on Bilocation. We have the mournful oriental sound of Major Lazer; jazz I could actually get on board with from Ninja Tune’s Jaga Jazzist; delicate guitar from Toro Y Moi; the freak-out of Holly Herndon; the jumping sound of Sylvan Esso; beauty from teenager Billie Marten; laconic reverb from Willie J Healey; plus tracks from Paul Weller’s and Hot Chip’s new albums; and a bit of Ravel. Enjoy!

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New Feature: Albums of the Week

A new feature which ideally belongs on a Monday but has had its inaugural publication pushed back due to the fact it takes a while to listen to a crop of albums enough to give any sort of valid opinion on them! Next week should see the feature nestling into a more appropriate publication day.

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Holly Herndon – Platform

A producer hailing from Tennessee and based in San Francisco, Herndon makes music that would make a Coldplay fan shit their pants. It has more in common with unpredictable sonic art than a sing-along such as Come on Eileen, say. The album features Arca-like swoops and jerks – basically it sounds like the future. Sometimes it is heart-clingingly beautiful, sometimes it sounds like a vocoder and a shredder making unholy love. The tracks with talking through them are not really for me but you cannot deny the invention and I respect that she is the auteur of her own sound – it is her vocals she’s mashing up. She’s her own FKA Twigs and Arca in one. This is for those who like their music to function as a cheap and legal way to alter their consciousness.

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Hot Chip – Why Make Sense

The sixth album from the sunny dance pioneers. They don’t seem to have tickled the mainstream much but for urbanites with discernment they are the go-to band for dance music with a heart. Alexis Taylor’s fragile, smitten falsetto imbues their sound with a charming warmth but they also know their way round a tune – single Need You Now is infectious throwback house. The album closes with the urgent title track asking “why make sense when the world around refuses?” Indeed.

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Paul Weller – Saturns Pattern

Weller shows that success and advancing age needn’t mean flabby complacence, as his 12th solo album finds him in a pleasingly experimental mood. That title is a massive fuck you to grammatical pedants, mind.

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Snoop Dogg – Bush

Does Snoop like to smoke weed? I never knew, he’s so tight-lipped about it. I jest, of course, he never bloody shuts up about it. The new album is slinky and star-studded. Pharell produced, Stevie Wonder inflected Bush may not offer much in the way of musical or lyrical invention but the Dogg’s rapping is as hypnotic as ever.

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Tove Lo – Queen of the Clouds

The Swedish hot mess produces a 21- track epic of a debut. It is a masterful and beguiling collection of confessionals about being a hedonistic disaster area. Never has being drunk and heartbroken looked so perversely appealing.

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Maurice Ravel – Daphnis et Chloe, La Valse 

We are not restricted to one genre here and classical music can be just as fresh and inventive as any other type, especially to the uninitiated. The lack of lyrics mean that it is a good choice for concentration. Maurice Ravel (1875 – 1937) was a French composer associated with impressionism and Daphnis et Chloe, composed for a Michel Fokine ballet debuted in 1912, is his longest work. Performed by the Paris Opera orchestra, conducted by Philippe Jordan, this new release is a swirling, immersive piece with lush arrangements, glimmers of harp and wordless vocals that sound almost sci-fi. Its tone constantly varies, swooping from crescendos to hush and back again. I gave it a listen on an off-chance and it has quickly insinuated itself into my affections and garnered repeated listens. Listening feels like more than just passive consumption.

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Renegade Mistress

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Disco bobbles

Let us celebrate the release of Roisin Murphy’s new album by admiring some of her most appealingly edgy looks from over the years. The powerhouse of glacial disco appeared on Sunday Brunch this weekend to promote her album in a joyously kitsch dress and a vicious necklace, with which I quickly became mesmerised. Unfortunately, you cannot see the necklace in the photo of this appearance but I was struck enough for this to be the start of a quest to find its provenance. It also lead me to look back over Roisin’s sartorial archive and, boy, did it not disappoint. The problem was narrowing it down to only the 26 pictures I’ve included here.

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In Gareth Pugh at the Dior S/S 2009 show in Paris

LONDON - NOVEMBER 25:  Singer Roisin Murphy attends the British Fashion Awards 2008 held at The Lawrence Hall on November 25, 2008 in London, England.  (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

LONDON – NOVEMBER 25: Singer Roisin Murphy attends the British Fashion Awards 2008 held at The Lawrence Hall on November 25, 2008 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

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Dolce & Gabbana dress at the Serpentine Gallery party, 2009

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Seven months’ pregnant in a Viktor & Rolf tutu jacket at their show in Paris, 2009

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2010 – Modelling her Linda Farrow Vintage golden frames.

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Elle Style Awards, 2008

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Richard Young / Rex Features ( 766542E ) Roisin Murphy Jake and Dinos Chapman 'If Hitler Had Been a Hippy, How Happy Would We Be' exhibition, White Cube, London, Britain - 29 May 2008

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Richard Young / Rex Features ( 766542E )
Roisin Murphy
Jake and Dinos Chapman ‘If Hitler Had Been a Hippy, How Happy Would We Be’ exhibition, White Cube, London, Britain – 29 May 2008

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Sunday Brunch

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This week’s Spotlist

The songs I’m listening to this week on – old and new – collected on a handy playlist, should you want to do the same.

The Prodigy – Warrior’s Dance 

Because, why not?

The Gap Band – Burn Rubber On Me 

For those feeling let down by the election results, feel hard done by in a funky way with this irresistible classic about being hurt and disappointed.

Snoop Dogg – Awake 

The Lion is dead, long live the Dogg. The laconic rapper ditches reggae and returns with an album of slinky rap tunes in Bush, produced by Pharrell and featuring Stevie Wonder, Kendrick Lamarr and Rick Ross, amongst others. This track features the Dogg in particularly slinky mood.

Tink – Ratchet Commandments 

The 20-year-old rapper hooks up with Timbaland for this brutal sermon announcing her arrival in the big leagues. Expect a debut album this year.

Tove Lo – Habits (Stay High) 

Raw, bruised electro-pop from the Swede’s debut Queen of the Clouds. Her explicit and honest lyrics and husky voice straddle this 21-track opus, making an addictive, huge album. As she sings, “sometimes I’m charming as f***.”

Roisin Murphy – Uninvited Guest 

Glassy, languid, slightly menacing disco from the queen of such. On her new album, Hairless Toys.

Susanne Sundfor – Insects 

More Scandiness in this psychedelic closer to the singer’s latest album, Ten Love Songs, which provides what it says on the tin with innovation and Beethoven.

Rozi Plain – Friend City 

A cheery, chirpy song, from the London based singer-songwriter’s album Friend.

Nancy Sinatra – Lady Bird

Dark blue treasure from the iconic 60s singer.

Bop English – Falling at Your Feet 

James Petralli, the lead singer of White Denim, unleashes his debut solo album as alter ego Bop English. Fans of the band will like this, though it is a looser, more experimental take on his usual style.

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Off the Beaten Tracks

The soundtrack to my life this week, old, new, new-ish or new to me…

Fantasma – Sefty Belt feat Josiahwiseistheserpentwithfeet

This is from this South African collective’s joyous debut album, Free Love. Its intricate, lacy playing and affectingly tremulous vocals deserve more listeners.

Daniel Johns – Aerial Love

A google search reveals this guy was once the lead singer of a rock band, Silverchair. I don’t know their music, but I do know that this single and the EP of the same name feature some serious Jamie Woon-style slink that has shimmied its way to the top of what I want to listen to right now.

Elliphant – One More feat MO

Why do Scandinavians make such great electro-pop? I don’t know but here’s more evidence of it with a London-based, dubstep-influenced Swede making this righteous banger with a Danish partner in crime.

The Do – Despair, Hangover & Ecstasy

Sticking with the Scandi theme, here’s a track from a duo of which half is Finnish (singer Olivia Merilahti). Their album Shook, Shake, Shaken, is dangerously addictive.

Flume & Chet Faker – Drop the Game

Back to Oz for this masterful melancholy from these artists’ collaborative EP, Lockjaw.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love

Taken from the American/Kiwi collaboration’s upcoming third album, of the same name, available on 26th May.

Tame Impala – Let it Happen

This is the first song from the Aussie purveyors of classy psychedelia after their mammoth 2012 album, Lonerism. The 7-minute evolving track features Kevin Parker’s pearlescent vocals and rangy sound, but arguments have already erupted in YouTube’s comment section on whether it is psychedelic enough. Hint: it is.

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Off the Beaten Tracks

The tunes – old and new – making our ears prick up this week…

Major Lazer – Lean On (feat. DJ Snake and MO)

This is a side project from American uber-producer Diplo. He’s a bit commercial for me but the presence of MO’s vocals means I’m there. This song is nowhere near as good as anything on her debut album but it’s good to hear her vocals reaching a bigger audience.

Therapy? – Still Hurts

New single from the long-lasting Northern Irish alternative metallers.

Dio – Stand up and Shout

Vintage heavy metal with guitar solo that sounds like it was hewn from Satan’s own frets.

Nadine Shah – Fool

The Pakistani-Norwegian singer/songwriter from South Tyneside has an Anna Calvi vibe about her.

Dan Deacon – Feel the Lightning

Beguiling electronica from the American composer’s latest album, Gliss Riffer. The sweet female vocals are actually him.

Romare – Motherless Child

Spooky little addictive tune. The London beatmaker’s debut album, Projections, released on Ninja Tune, uses musical collaging of samples of African-American music to great effect.

Brodinski – Need for Speed (feat. Louisahhh!!! & Bloody Jay)

His album Brava is way too hard for me and the lyrics too generic and annoying, but this is quite cool.

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Off the Beaten Tracks

Hot Chip – Huarache Lights

I first listened to this and thought “meh” but by the second listen it started to give me that fizzy, happy feeling that Hot Chip is so good at creating.

Emile Haynie – Come Find Me feat. Lykke Li and Romy

The producer’s album is a bit of a non-entity, despite the huge roster of talent used. However, this track features the sherbet vocals of Lykke Li, instantly marking it out as worth a listen.

Blur – Go Out

Blur’s back! New album The Magic Whip is out on 27th April.

The Staves – Black and White

The folk trio of three sisters from Watford have a new album out, If I Was.

Sylas – Shore

James Blake-style ambience.

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