I know that Santigold is underrated, because I’ve overlooked her myself enough. Countless times I’ve gone “oh that song sounds great, I should really look into it at some point”, perhaps more than any artist over the last five years, and never properly got around to it. That changes now! This song is sleek as all hell, incredibly easy on the ear, and possess an oddly robot like delivery to the vocals, tapping many of the themes of electronica to make something altogether different. It’s also notable because for a period of about a year it felt like it was used in every single direct line commercial for insurance known to man, as well as a bunch of indeterminate car ads, a sure sign of the total tonal dissonance of our age if there ever was one. It’s from Santigold’s successful and highly regarded second album Master of My Make-Believe (24th April, 2012), which is well worth a listen if you haven’t and like your mid-tempo electronic pop to be as well put together as possible, all for your aural pleasure (‘The Keepers’ is my personal highlight other than this track). She’s subsequently put out a third album which I never got around to, but I may as well properly enjoy the second first. The opening riff to this song is still as enjoyable as my previous sentence was confusing, the whole thing possess a good message, and the melancholy flow of the music is inherently pleasing for a somewhat downcast modern era. It’s all still good, and I suspect you’ll still enjoy it.
This track is really worth it for the intro alone (at least on the youtube version), which is so unbelievably on the nose as a seventies crooning backing music that I’m forced to assume that it was done ironically or else hipster music may have gone to far. This is all very trendy and popular, from start to finish: the band name, the vocals, the lyrics about young love that tug on the ol’ heartstrings, the indie rock downtrodden nature of it all, and it will do well in relevant circles. I like the fact that their an all girl trio making their own quirky, subtle songs with pretty vocals, I’m slightly less keen on the fact that they are using that platform to produce tender, winsome, emotional songs about romance and love, but they can make what music they want and I’m sure lots of people who are not tragic sociopaths will definitely be into it. It’s certainly clever enough; even I (because I am clearly something of a hipster at heart) was connived into a knowing smirk at the album title, which is Earl Grey (23rd June, 2017, so it’s brand new), and is hopefully as pleasing to listen to as it is to say alongside the band name. I’ll give it a crack on one of my less cynical days. Also, their lead singer is called Poppy Hankin (flanked adroitly by Iris McConnell and Sophie Moss), so they’re clearly aware that they have nomenclature on their side and have decided to exploit that sucker for all that it is worth. It’s very nice, it has something of a classic vibe to it, and it’s bassline gets around town like it’s a barhopping northerner, so there’s very much some spark for people to enjoy here.
This is absolutely stunning. Oh, it’s a great piece of source material, sure, and some will bristle at the suggestion that the animals version is not the definitive version, but these people are wrong, and this version is exceptionally strong. The song started out life as a classic folk ballad, (no-one knows who wrote it, although it’s been suggested that it was based on the tradition of broadside ballad, as well as bearing some resemblance to 16th century ballads), and it has been expertly returned to it’s original sad state by Sam Cohen, previously of the band Apollo Sunshine but these days of a variety of interesting and varied music projects. What popular songs can you think of that have more previous than this one? Woody Guthrie, among many numerous others, did a version, as have Joan Baez, Nina Simone, and Bob Dylan, and if that list of names doesn’t scare you then few things will. On top of that, it’s considered the first “folk-rock” hit, due to to aforementioned seminal version of Eric Burdon et al, which is something of a heady prestige. All in all, it’s an obvious classic in the truest sense of the world, and none of that matters to Cohen, who knocks it out the park with this mournful, sorrowful version. IT’s a sad song, after all, and it’s made truly tragic here with a bit of elegance and panache to complete the job. I can’t stop listening to it, and I think a few people are going to love it.
Edit: Alt-J (whose new song is fantastic) have just done a version of this song as well, but it’s not as good as this one.
Early nineties trance isn’t always the most varied thing in the world, but it’s nostalgic as all heck, and when you’ve had a couple of drinks (or more), it takes on a certain undefinable power. You feel every untz, every wub, as your eyes widen and your brain struggles against the restraining confines of its head. I liked it enough to go back to it at the time, and returning to it now on a nice Saturday afternoon after some time out, the metronomic quality has a hold over me. Atlantic Ocean were from Holland, and comprised of Lex van Coeverden (born November 28, 1970) and Rene van der Weyde (born 10 August 1971). This was their most successful track, released in 1993, and becoming notorious for the sheer amount of times it made onto a Ministry of Sound compilation album (remember when that was a thing)? There’s also a bunch of edits and remixes, as you’d expect for such a thing. Fun fact: a remix version actually beat the original in the UK charts (when they were even remotely important) by a whole entire space, slotting in at 21 over two years after the original has topped out at 22. Sure, if you didn’t like nineties trance or the movement at all this wont change your mind, but my goodness if you hold some fondness for the era and it’s music then do what I did: find a nice day, get a couple beers down you and throw it on. You can forget about it afterwards, its okay.
On the other hand, I know exactly where I heard this: in a trendy café bar in Sheffield. I had some luxuriant vegan pancakes, and introduced my companion for the meal to my annoying habit of just whipping out my phone at inopportune moments and shazzaming whatever catches my ear. This caught my ear, because it’s light and airy positive sounding electronic music, which I don’t know if you’ve noticed, is kind of my bag. Upon later listening it also incorporates a worthy amount of fun and goofiness into its oeuvre, demonstrated by the samples of interviews with children sprinkled throughout at a not loud enough to be annoying level in the mix, a surprisingly difficult skill that seems to evade musicians throughout history. He’s been taking a lot of cues from Sauce favourites Board of Canada in his use of repetition and dream like instrumentation, even if he lacks their bizarre structure and occasional forays into musical ennui, it’s still a great influence to draw from if you can do so tactfully and interestingly, which Baths manages. His real name is Will Wiesenfeld, he’s pretty young, so he’s still got some future tricks to wow us with, and he’s from Los Angeles, which would certainly explain the sunniness in this song. Although this track doesn’t reinvent alternative electronica, it’s got me very keen to hear more. It’s taken from his debut album, Cerulean, (22nd June, 2010) and although he has blessed us with two subsequent records, this is the one I’m going to delve further into first. I’ve got a good feeling about my walk to work tomorrow.
I don’t remember where I heard this and I’m not even sure what it is, but I like it. Apparently it’s from Wolfenstein: New Order, a video game I have never owned, played, or even really heard of until I researched this song. In fact, the Wolfenstein series as a whole has completely passed me by, having never experienced it first hand (played or watched), or had any real contact with it whatsoever, to give you some idea of how uninformed I am entering this whole process as well as how bizarre it is that I’m listening to this song in the first place. I think it may be about the Nazi’s (so original). I also suspect this song must have been a recommendation, probably from some form of newfangled social media, and I apologise for not properly attributing that, (edit: I was wrong, it was a shazam. I apologise to no-one) but I have at least discovered that it’s from an album called Level 5 (14th December, 2014). Anyway, metal lyrics still utterly get stuck in my craw for their general meaningless and occasional pomposity, but the same could be said of all lyrics really, and the slight unusual delivery and lovely vocals make up for any lack of irony in this instance. The guitars are tasty, but you’d expect that given they seem to be the bread and butter of Siracle of Mound; as a result of that process you’ll likely know if you’re going to like this song (and futher output) pretty quickly, even though it doesn’t sound entirely like typical soundtrack music. Anyway, Miracle of Sound (real name Gavin Dunne, from Ireland), actually has a pretty excellent internet presence, showcasing his preposterously huge output which appears to be more than the musical production of some countries. Gav seems like a thoroughly likable bloke, for what its worth, and also really has the one man operation schtick down: he does all his own writing, performing, producing, mixing and mastering, which must keep him pretty busy considering the sheer quantity and variety of his work. Go support him if you can and you like the cut of this songs jib, he’s well worth your money and time.
My current housemate has a mix tape from years ago that often finds his way back into his car largely on the basis of it’s comfort and familiarity and also because it’s the only one he has (that’s he’s made anyway, I’ve since provided him with some blessed alternatives). This track is one of the ones on it that I only sort-of knew when I first heard it, but it has since become etched in my brain as an accompaniment to several “MLG” spoof videos on the internet as a small part of the monstrously huge dubstep revolution of the mid 2000s. This song’s actually good though, if you don’t mind a large helping of cheese in your electronic music. Like seriously, it’s the most corny thing ever to my ears now, which is a good indicator of how quickly trends change in music as in life. Mind you, this song is on the wrong side of ten years old now, so it’s probably more a time perception issue than anything else. It’s from an album called Universal, which possibly came out in 2005 but it’s a bit uncertain, to be honest. Apparently dubstep artists in the 2000’s weren’t great at writing things down. Still, if you want to revisit that peculiarly fun (if short-lived in prominence) music sub-genre of the era, this is a good way of doing so.
Bonus fact: he apparently operates out of Woking (very near where I grew up), and is most definitely the only musical artist I know of from that town until I think of another one.