My blog looks like it is on the verge of dying, so I thought I would cheekily post up some reviews of new tracks I originally wrote for the wonderful tn2 Magazine on here to keep things fresh. I will get back to gushing sycophancy about bands I love soon:
Jamie T – Don’t You Find
The name Jamie T is one that conjures up the cheeky-chappy minstrel behind the likes of the glorious, jangling sounds of previous singles, Sheila and Stick & Stones. Which is why this new track — his first solo release since 2010 — is something of a surprise. With a perfectly languid, almost reggae-style daydream beat, and beautifully, uncharacteristically gentle vocals singing the simple, melancholy refrain of “Don’t you find, some of the time / there is always someone on your mind / that shouldn’t be there at all”, it’s kind of brilliant. It all feels somewhat restrained compared to the brash nature of his previous releases, but it’s in a way that really works; as though, in holding back, Jamie T is able to get a bit more introspective in his observations. Put short: this is gorgeous.
Jeremih & Shlohmo ft. Chance The Rapper – The End
Last year, with the release of Bo Peep (Do U Right), smooth as caramel Chicago R&B singer Jeremih and exquisite LA producer Shlohmo proved that their sounds married were a match made in heaven. Fast forward to 2014 and, after some scheduling difficulties with their record labels, a few days ago the pair decided to put out their long-awaited collaboration, the No More EP, for free (in celebration of Jeremih’s birthday). The EP overall is arguably not as sublime as it had the potential to be, but it’s certainly enjoyable, with this track featuring hip-hop’s rising star Chance perhaps being the stand-out. With the kind of understated, urban beats that the fantastic Shlomho serves up best, and some enticingly sultry, melodic rapping from Jeremih, The End gets tastier and more intriguing with every listen. It gets increasingly gritty too, with Chance’s somewhat in-your-face verse tailing in at the finish, but it makes for a fairly satisfying coda. The song is good and fresh, just – with the talents involved – it’s not as mind-blowing as you might have hoped. Free download available here.
Azealia Banks, Heavy Metal And Reflective
You would be forgiven for feeling surprised at a new song from Azealia Banks, given that the years since her 2011 breakthrough 212 have been filled with little in the way of releases, yet much in the way of starting dubious, petulant Twitter beefs with a striking number of artists. Banks’ brash personality aside, though, there is no denying that this track is promising, and it marks what is seemingly a new era now that the artist has broken free of her record deal at Interscope. There is something excitingly feral about Heavy Metal And Reflective, with Banks’ characteristic fast-paced, nonchalant flow over snarling, thumping urban beats which owe a lot to trap. It is not by any means a masterpiece — a comeback hype track, but arguably not a song with real longevity — but it is a pleasant enough reminder as to why we were all so excited about the controversial Harlem girl in the first place.
Karen O, Rapt
A short, wonderfully sweet insight into Karen O’s forthcoming solo album Crush Songs, Rapt showcases the intimate, raw side of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ singer. Written back in 2006 in the midst of an all-consuming heartbreak which left the singer feeling as though she would never fall in love again, the track is stunningly tender and brilliantly caustic all at once. Gentle laments like the refrain of “Love is soft / love’s a fucking bitch” hint perfectly at that absorbing inner-turmoil of falling out of love, along with moments of wryly observed questioning and self-delusion: “Do I really need another habit like you? / …do you need me too?”. A lo-fi number with a dreamy, bedroom fuzziness, Rapt gets the perfect balance of sad and beautiful.
Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj, Bang Bang
A song featuring three of pop’s biggest current names, produced by the same team as Ariana Grande’s summer smash Problem, and which samples Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go was always going to have a lot of pulling power. And indeed, there’s a brazen euphoria to the song, with a sugary, upbeat anthem of a chorus — though at times it feels like there is a little too much going on, and the whole thing is perhaps a bit overproduced and abrasive. The lyrics are bold and flirtatious (if somewhat questionable), with moments like, “She got a booty like a Cadillac / But I can send you into overdrive”. With that said, lyrical analysis and debate are perhaps unnecessary — pop is by nature frivolous and fun, and this is certainly that