Thursday, 19 April 2018

New Music: Lykke Li - Hard Rain


There are some artists who bang out record after record that all basically use the same ingredients stirred around in the bowl of a music studio, and then there are some who seem to prefer cooking up something different every time.

Lykke Li is definitely one of the later type of artists. From the pop noir of Wounded Rhymes to her flirtations with a more folky acoustic sound as part of the Liv project, she’s never been one to serve up the same dish twice. 

New song hard rain (yes, there’s no capital letters) is one of two songs she released today (the other being deep end which you can hear by clicking here) and it's taken from her forthcoming album so sad so sexy

The song takes Lykke Li into new deeper territories; it’s a skeletal trap-twisted beauty that sounds not dissimilar to something you might have found on Bon Iver’s 22, A Million. Of course, this being a Lykke Li tune there is one thing that is consistent with much of her other work- she’s not singing about partying in the club with the champagne popping. There’s still a sadness there: “If you like the feeling of a hard rain falling, I have a sea full, I can give you an ocean,” she offers. Someone get the handkerchiefs quick. Or maybe a mop.

Lykke Li - Hard Rain

New Music: Introducing - King Princess


I’ve always been a little cynical of when huge major label pop stars suddenly start suggesting their love of lesser known artists on social media, especially if it turns out there’s a connection to the label they’re signed to. 

So when One Direction’s Harry Styles quoted some of the lyrics to the song 1950 by newcomer King Princess on Twitter, but didn't tweet the title of the song or who it was by, it was inevitable that his fans would head straight to Google to search out what it all meant. Suddenly King Princess was getting a lot more attention and love. 

The label connection comes from the fact that King Princess is signed to Mark Ronson’s new Zelig Recordings and Zelig is a venture with Columbia. Guess who's signed to Columbia? Yes Harry Styles of course. It’s therefore not hard to join the dots and come up with the thought that Harry's tweet is as much about hard faced business as it is a genuine love of the song. But let's give him the benefit of the doubt shall we? And even if we don't, let's be realistic; the music business is called a business for a reason.  

But once the cynicism has been overcome there’s a pleasant surprise in store. Because the music of King Princess is actually agreeably sophisticated pop, which is chilled, measured, soulful and comes with a more interesting lyrical take on things.

1950, the song Styles tweeted about, is a love song, which takes a twist from the typical ‘girl is pursued by boy then they fall in love’ narrative: “I hate it when dudes try to chase me, but I love it when you try to save me, ‘cos I’m just a lady, I love it when we play 1950” she sings.  The video for the tune already has over 800,000 views (and a lot of Harry Styles sent me here comments below it) and hints at rebelliousness with King Princess sporting a drawn-on moustache, setting fire to a teddy bear and smoking a cigarette. 

A second track, Talia, due to appear on an EP alongside 1950 solidifies the idea of what King Princess is about. This one’s a break up tune though. Starting with soft synths and hand clicks it soon burbles up with a mid-tempo chorus that finds King Princess singing of getting a bit wasted and imagining her ex is still there: “If I drink enough, I can taste your lipstick, I can lay down next to you, but it's all in my head.” Musically, the hook isn’t in your face, but it’s still there ready to creep in to your ears.

OK, fair play Harry Styles. You might just be on to something here.

King Princess - 1950 (Video)



King Princess - Talia



Monday, 16 April 2018

New Music: Aurora - Queendom


1963. 1978. 1981. 1997. Four years that in terms of music Norway will probably want to forget. They were the years when it scored 0 points in the Eurovision song contest – the most times any country has had that dubious distinction.

2018. Everything is better. It's the year when Norwegian pop singer Sigrid became ‘The Sound Of’ and one of her countrywomen Aurora returned to the fold with the promise of a new album and this new song, Queendom, taken from it, is released today. It's a year that not only Norway will want to remember, but the world.

OK, maybe that’s a little bit of hyperbole, but there’s no doubt that the Scandinavian country is doing exceptionally good things with pop music right now, producing artists that not only can sing beautifully but have bags of charm and charisma. Anyone that has seen Aurora live will know this, she has a nature that comes across like some sort of elf or fairy – kind, caring and full of wide eyed magic.

This nature shows up again in Queendom where Aurora sings of the underdogs being her lions, the silent ones her choir and the women her soldiers. It’s a song about empathy, coming together and being safe in Aurora’s world. It’s a wonderfully positive tune and amongst all the crap that the world seems to harbour right now shines a light and allows you to smile and feel that little bit better.

It’s great to have her back.

Aurora - Queendom

Sunday, 15 April 2018

New Music: Ben Khan - 2000 Angels


Back in 2014 when a whole bunch of music fans and websites were frothing excitedly about Ben Khan’s debut EP 1992 the music didn’t really connect with me. The same happened in 2015 with his 1000 EP. If you, like me, felt the same about his output then it would be pretty easy to skip over his new tune 2000 Angels. However, that would be doing Khan a disservice, because this song is a jam with the lid fully off. It’s like Nicolas Winding Refn suddenly got together with Khan for a new film and the result is the funkiest neon flecked futuristic horror / sci-fi soundtrack you’ve ever seen or heard.

Khan might have been considered the class of 2015 but finally he’s due to drop an album later this year. Has it all come a bit too late? Maybe for those who treat their music as fashion. But for the rest of us there’s hope of something interesting brewing here. Let's get frothing together.

Ben Khan - 2000 Angels