Sunday, 20 July 2014

Bill Withers - Hello Like Before

I recently discovered there’s more to Bill Withers than Ain’t No Sunshine, Lean On Me and Lovely Day. They don’t make them like this anymore. The song was written by Bill and John Collins, but it sounds like it could have been by Stephen Sondheim.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Kina and Sissy Nobby - Sabotage Part II AKA Girl From The Gutter

Joe writes: I heard this on some random Tumblr and it took me ages to figure out what it is – according to Shazam it's Sabotage Part II by Sissy Nobby, but essentially it's a remix of Girl From The Gutter by Kina. Kina was in Brownstone, then once solo was one of those artists who didn’t stick when a big US label (in this case DreamWorks) threw her at the wall. According to Wikipedia, Sissy Nobby is an "overtly queer practitioner of bounce music". This mix just has such great energy.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Watermät - Bullit

Joe writes: It's relatively unusual to find a dance instrumental that could be a proper hit without the addition of a topline but there are a few around at the moment - the two Ten Walls singles and the excellent Bullit by Watermät from France. Wonderfully uplifting.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Amadou & Mariam - Chérie

Joe writes: I heard this at a friend’s BBQ. I always thought there must be an Amadou & Mariam track out there for me and here it is. Lovely guitar part and it sounds like they had a lot of fun making the track.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Kiesza - Giant In My Heart

Joe writes: I wasn't 100% on Kiesza's follow-up until I saw the video. Now I'm sold - great video and big tune.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Daniel Avery - Drone Logic

Joe writes: This is the track that made me realise what all the Daniel Avery fuss is about. It reminds me of Underworld in the era of dubnobasswithmyheadman (one of my favourite albums).

Saturday, 21 June 2014

NONONO - Hungry Eyes (Tontario Edit)

Joe writes: Tontario is from Finland and is hot on the blogs thanks to his remix of James Bay. NONONO are from Stockholm and write catchy tunes like Pumpkin Blood. But they've never sounded bigger or more current than on this Tontario Edit of Hungry Eyes.

R.I.P. Gerry Goffin

When you look at the list of great lyrics Gerry Goffin was responsible for it's mind-blowing (especially as, by all accounts, his mind was blown for much of the time).  So it's difficult to pick out favourites. This is certainly one of the most enduring Goffin and King songs:



This is perhaps my favourite, a perfect match of music and lyrics and a very 'grown-up' song for its time. Though many people have done it justice, I still love Carole King's own version, with James Taylor and Joni Mitchell on backing vocals:



Although it seems very much a woman's song, it has been recorded by a number of male artists including Bruce Springsteen and Neil Diamond. And the one and only Smokey:

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Ten Walls

Joe writes: I love Ten Walls, who with Requiem and Walking With Elephants, has come up with two of the freshest, coolest electronic tracks of recent years.

Ten Walls is Marijus Adomaitis from Lithuania, who I suspect also makes (made?) music under the name Mario Basanov.

Here's Requiem:



Requiem might end up being bigger but I’m starting to think Walking With Elephants is even better:

Allie X - Bitch

Joe writes: I heard this on Popjustice and have been listening to it loads. It’s produced by Billboard and Cirkut from Dr Luke’s camp and I know very little else about Allie X but I really like Bitch. Billboard (the magazine) have a little more info.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Prince - The Breakdown - his best track for years

Joe writes: Prince doing what he does best, and back to his best, or pretty close anyway

Friday, 2 May 2014

Tom Hickox is on Later with Jools Holland tonight

Joe writes: Here's my favourite song of Tom's, actually one of my favourite songs of recent years, Let Me Be Your Lover. "Let me be the one to shut your eyes when you die". This sounds like a standard to me.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

songs about Pattie Boyd

As wife and "muse" to George Harrison then Eric Clapton, Pattie Boyd has inspired some classic songs - George's Something, and Eric's Layla and Wonderful Tonight - plus this one you may not know, Ashton, Gardner and Dyke's Sweet Patti O'Hara Smith:



Ashton, Gardner & Dyke were one hit wonders in the early seventies which is surprising given what a great singer Tony Ashton was.

Back to Eric Clapton. Wonderful Tonight was actually a bit of a dig, written while Eric encouraged or perhaps hassled Pattie to get ready for a night out.

If you listen to the original demo of You're Beautiful by James Blunt, you can hear that it owed rather a lot to Wonderful Tonight so you could argue that's another classic that Pattie inspired:

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Jamie Scott - Just

Joe writes: Jamie Scott is currently one of the world's hottest songwriters, having co-written Story Of My Life by One Direction. Jamie's debut single Just came out in 2004, charting at no. 29 in the UK. It was all downhill from there until he started writing songs for other people, but Just still sounds good - Jamiroquai was so huge, yet there has been so little music of that ilk since. Also, Jamie is a big fan of Joni Mitchell's Blue so he's alright by me, although he may be the only person who can see a connection between Blue and Story Of My Life.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Todd Terje, are you reading?

Joe writes: I've previously blogged about Todd Terje, and about Johnny & Mary by Robert Palmer, and now Todd has covered said song. So Todd must be inspired by this blog right? Anyway, his cover of Johnny & Mary has Bryan Ferry on vocals and is wonderfully brooding while staying true to the song. Well done Todd.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Pharrell - Happy (Woodkid Sad Remix)

Joe writes: This "sad" remix of the song of the moment is really enjoyable, and not just because of the image on the YouTube video:

Monday, 10 March 2014

Roy Vedas - Fragments Of Life

Joe writes: On August 17th 1998*, an act called Roy Vedas released a single on Mercury Records to no acclaim except perhaps mine. Such a weird but infectious lyric, sound, and concept. Even the name of the act is weird. On October 26th 1998, Believe by Cher was released in the UK? Did Cher's producers get the idea for the "Cher Effect" overuse of Autotune from Roy Vedas? No - there would barely have been time.

The account I heard is that producers Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling acquired Autotune on the advice of David Foster, who'd told Cher it suited her voice. Mark was experimenting with, and learning how to use, the software when he happened across the effect by accident. Brian and Mark liked it and nervously played it to Cher and her then-label boss Rob Dickins. Rob started to say "It's too much, it's distracting, take it out...", or words to that effect, before Cher said "It comes out... [dramatic pause] over my dead body". Good call Cher.

In celebration of International Women's Day, Believe has just been announced as the biggest selling single by a female artist ever in the UK. Meanwhile Fragments Of Life continues to languish in obscurity, but still sounds great to me.



* In case anyone wants to update Wikipedia, I got the Roy Vedas release date from a PDF of music industry publication The Tip Sheet, which I have on my computer.

Låpsley and other women doing interesting things with their voices

Joe writes: Been meaning to post this Låpsley track for a while. A real moment, perfectly judged with loads of space but plenty of hooks too, and she is still a teenager. The "male voice" is actually her pitched down.



That got me thinking about other records which stopped people in their tracks through their use of effects on a female voice.

Hide & Seek by Imogen Heap:



I thought O Superman by Laurie Anderson had something to do with calling her mum's answerphone after she had passed away, but Wikipedia informs me it is more of a political song about America's Iran hostage crisis. Either way it is genuinely haunting:



And finally, who could forget Believe by Cher? I remember where I was the first time I heard this - in the shower, which made the deliberate overuse of Autotune (by producers Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling) even more confusing.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

A Great Big World and PS22 Chorus - Say Something

Phil writes: I was hesitating about posting this instant classic of a song because I thought most people will already have heard it.  Then I came across this great performance which also introduced me to the amazing PS22 chorus:

 

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Kill J - Bullet

Joe writes: I know nothing about this except they're from the lovely city of Copenhagen, it's on the lovely Chess Club label, and I really like it.