James Blake – Retrograde – Tune Of The Week

James Blake is back. After releasing his debut album filled with electro-baby-making-music, Retrograde is the first single to the follow up album entitled “Overgrown” which is a lock for this edition of Tune Of The Week

James Blake Retrograde

Retrograde feels a lot more solid that efforts from the previous record. It still maintains the the mournful, soulful electronic sound that is James Blake, but this time it feels more centered. More defined and less experimental, but without a losing a sense of originality.

The dense, drowning synths smother Blake’s vocal in a warmth that emphasises the isolation transmitted through the vocals. “We’re alone now””

When the synths drop out, leaving the hypnotic piano to keep Blake’s wails company by itself, I could feel the sense of loss he’s putting forward. A class record.

James Blake Retrograde Video

James Blake Overgrown

Bastille No Angels – TLC #coverversion

When I was a kid, I had a massive TLC poster on my bedroom wall. Left Eye was always my favourite and I listened to Crazy Sexy Cool a whole helluva lot, son.

This week’s #coverversion is a Bastille’s take on ‘Scrubs’. The track opens with a quote from Hitchcock’s Norman Bates and reveal’s itself to be based on ‘Angels’ by The XX. Spacious reverb and spring loaded guitars make this slow burner very enjoyable. This TLC fan approves.

Bastille No Angels

bastille-no-angels-tlc-cover-version

The XX – Angels

The Baddest Man Alive – RZA ft The Black Keys – Tune Of The Week

This week’s Tune Of The Week has been on repeat for at least 2 months, but somehow I never got around to posting it. “The Baddest Man Alive” is a collaborative effort from The Black Keys and the RZA taken off the soundtrack to the Tarantino produced blaxpoitation picture “The Man With The Iron Fists”.

The Baddest Man Alive – RZA featuring the Black Keys

The thing I enjoy the most about this record is the bad muthafucka vibe that the guitar is putting out, which is second only to the ridiculous lyrics. The animal inspired quips are my favourite by far:

I’ll grab a crocodile by it’s tail

Tell a great white shark to go and brush his teeth

I had previously posted another record from the movie soundtrack in the #coverversion Friday section; The Revelations feat. Tre Williams – “I Forgot To Be Your Lover”

Jessie Ware – Do For Love (Bobby Caldwell #coverversion)

I grew up with ‘Do For Love’. My father had the Bobby Caldwell OG version in pretty frequent rotation on the old Blaupunkt turntable, and when I discovered the Tupac version as a teenager I played it to death., cos I was hardcore like that homie. This is a special song to me. Suffice to say, I’m sufficiently skeptical of covers of a song so near and dear to me. Jessie Ware treats the track with respect, leaving in enough of the original to allow some reminiscence while still adding enough of her own signature to make the version refreshing.

The sparse but never empty production complements the tone and emotion of the vocal track, resulting in a pleasing and thoroughly listenable record.

Jessie Ware Do For Love Cover Version
]Img credit: Jamie McKelvie

SBTRKT Wildfire- Tune Of The Week

Sometimes I hear a track and just know which other track to mix it with it. When I listened to this week’s tune of the week ‘Wildfire’ for this first time, I just knew it needed to be blended with Aaliyah’s “If Your Girl Only Knew”. Hell I could practically hear Timbo’s voice from “Are You That Somebody” being sampled too. Close your ears and listen for ‘Baby Girl, better known as Aaliyah’ at the 42s mark. Tell me you don’t want that in your life.

SBTRKT  Wildfire

SKTRKT’s Wildfire track eschews the same stripped down sex appeal.The slightly off kilter synth line playing doppelganger to the lazy guitar swing from Timbaland’s production.  This was an easy selection for Tune Of The Week

SBTRKT Wildfire featuring Little Dragon
Image credit: Seamus Gallagher

SBTRKT WildFire feat Little Dragon is a sweaty, late night, up-close and personal grinder of a track,  and I for one will be saddened if dancefloors don’t get exposed to this banger.

Fuck it, turn the lights down, get me a drank and let’s get a little sweaty to this one.

Ellie Goulding High For This – The Weeknd cover version

I love Ellie Goulding. Her tone and style bring to mind what would happen if Imogen Heap and Bjork morphed in to one person. Lately though, I think I almost appreciate her cover versions more than her original work. This girl is a work horse, covering everyone from Bon Iver to Elton John and many more in between.

This glitchy, laid back cover of ‘High For This’ originally performed by The Weeknd on House of Balloons is a #coverversion Friday treat to listen to.

Ellie Goulding High For This. The Weeknd Cover Version

I originally found this over on The Hype Machine, but it’s been a while since I listened to it. Hearing it again last night made it sound fresh all over.

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In addition to being a fun cover version, Monsieur Adi (he of the killer Lana Del Rey Summertime Sadness Remix)delivers a smooth, string loaded Ellie Goulding High For This Remix.

Ellie Goudling High For This Monsieur Adi Remix

Ellie Goulding High For This is a cover of a song by The Weeknd. Listen to the original version below

Summertime Sadness (Monsieur Adi Remix) – Lana Del Rey – Tune Of The Week

Ever since Kat tuned me in to Lana Del Rey I’ve been digging her James Dean era faux deepness. Now Monsieur Adi delivers a funked up (or should that be dubbed down?) remix of Summertime Sadness. The remix takes the seriousness and melancholy that make a Lana Del Rey track, well a Lana Del Rey track and it turns the tune all fun and angsty. This tune of the week definitely sounds like a record Justice would put out. And that is a very good thing indeed.

Lana Del Rey Summertime Sadness Remix

Lana Del Rey Summertime Sadness Monsieur Adi Remix

Hat tip to uberHype for the info on the remix.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dirtywaterlabs.uberhype&hl=en

Sneaky Sound System Big Remix (Nicolas Jaar’s Always By Your Side version)

I was very recently introduced to the music of Nicolaas Jaar while on a beach/ surfy trip to San Juan Del Sur in Nicaragua and I’ve been scrounging for any tracks, DJ sets or remixes by the man ever since. His remix of Avalance by Just Friends, which is a cover version of a Leonard Cohen cover version, also made it as a selection for Cover Version Friday.

Today’s Tune Of The Week is another Nicolas Jaar remix, this time of a track by Sneaky Sound System entitled BIG. And what a BIG remix it is

The hypnotic drum pattern opening the track instantly took me back to Michael Jackson’s criminally underrated “They Don’t Care About Us’ but it was the shy, seductive guitar loops wafting through the track that really had my head bobbing. This is drinking music, or driving music, or loving music. This is music.

The Sneaky Sound System Big remix is even more appreciable if you know the original. BIG is a slice of throwback 90s-inspired techno pop that saw a memorable remix by John Dahlback, and the contrast of this version makes it this Nicolas Jaar remix all the more enjoyable.

My Top Ten Songs From 2012

2012 was another good year for music, well for me anyway. When I look back at my LastFM history and see all of the new music I’ve been listening to, it’s definitely been more positive than negative (the Seoul brother’s Broken Condom Style being an example of the negative).

Here are ten of the tracks that I loved most during 2012. They weren’t already strictly released in 2012, but this is my 2012 top because this is the year I came to enjoy them most.

10. Watch The Throne – No Church In The Wild ft Frank Ocean

The filtered down, driving production on this new era anthem kicked ‘Watch The Throne’ in to high gear, and also showcased Frank Ocean’s effortless vocal ability. The street riot video is also a scary prospect, if not a premonition.

What’s a God to a non believer, who don’t believe in anything?

9. Skrillex – First Of The Year (Equinox)

2012 was the year the Dubstep bubble burst and went Pop, and I for one blame (?) Skrillex.

Call 911!

8. Alex Clare – Too Close

Alex Clare’s Too Close stands out as the next wave of genre bending. The Diplo produced banger fuses elements of classic soul-pop vocals, reggae tinged drumming and dub step wobble bass programming. The infusion of all these elements gave me one of this year’s most repeated tracks. Also, any music video with Samurai is worth a watch.

And it feels like I am just too close to love you

7. Bonobo – Eyes Down ft Andreya Triana

Bonobo’s “Eyes Down” is probably the track on this skewed by the most bias. That bias comes in the way of having heard Bonobo drop it live at a festival in Costa Rica. Big (big) cruising bass lines drift below Andreya Triana’s smooth jazz inspired voice.

Hands Up, but my eyes facing down

6. Frank Ocean – Thinking About You

In a year where the charts were filled with saccharine, vacuous music, Frank Ocean’s laid back love song was a true revelation, with the combination of the sparse production, exceptionally interesting timing and a supremely smooth falsetto. This is pop music at it’s finest.

Since you think I don’t love you, I just thought you were cute, that’s why I kissed you

5. Childish Gambino – Bonfire

Community’s Donald Glover goes on the rampage in the form of his alter ego Childish Gambino. His record ‘Camp’ is laced with some of the cleverest one liners I’ve heard on a rap album recently, even if they don’t have much of a shelf life they’re a helluva lot of fun.

Cos I’m a beat bitch, grrr – Invader Zim

You can kiss my ass, human centipede

Black and White Music? Now nigga that’s a mix tape!

Made the beat then murdered it, Casey Anthony

4.The Knife – Silent Shout

As a long time fan of Kraftwerk and a recent fan of Booka Shade, M.A.N.D.Y and the like, this driving, late night dance track had me hooked from the first listen. The creepy, effected vocal performance from the brother and sister combo that make up the Knife sail over synth patterns that are complex enough to keep me curious by not overly so, and a bass line that grooves along, oblivious to the rest of the elements in the track.

A cracked smile and a silent shout

3. James Blake – The Wilhelm Scream

Most people who listened to this track for the first time told me that they didn’t get it – there’s not much going on. That, to me is best part of it. Spacious, emotional and poignant. James Blake communicates his sense of hopelessness with so little effort and so much space, that I feel I’m being such in to the spaces in the music, until the unconventional anti crescendo at the tail end of the track shove me back out.

All that I know is that I’m falling, falling, falling. Might as well fall

2. The Weeknd – XO/ The Host

The drama, grit and downright bloody scary things that this album contains had it on repeat for most of this year. XO/ The Host is depraved, shallow and striking, made all the more so because I don’t know whether or not to believe that the lyrics are merely fabrications or true stories.

I got a brand new cam, we can POV

1. Alex Clare – Relax My Beloved

I am exceptionally fond of music that can be at once dense and sparse, simple yet intricate. The string, drum, and programming on this release each satisfy in their own respect. Wild, raging synthesizers atop a dead straight kick/snare line interrupted by Alex Clare’s distorted, pained vocals. My only gripe is that the song is too short, I could have gone in for a 6 or 7 minute journey, and would have loved to have more time to explore what else could be found.

Don’t turn your back on me, or shout as you walk out the door…

Just Friends Avalance (Nicolas Jaar Remix) – Leonard Cohen Cover Version – #coverversion Friday

On a weekend spent in San Juan Del Sur in Nicaragua, I met the amazing Shane and Emma from Ireland who introduced me to the music of Nicolas Jaar. How the hell I had missed out on this man for so long, I have no idea.

Today’s cover version is a Nicolas Jaar remix of a track by a group going by the name of Just Friends. Interestingly, the vocalist is Sasha Spielberg, daughter of Steven Spielberg.

This remix of Avalance is atmospheric, rhythmic and hauntingly beautiful that counterbalances Leonard Cohen’s deep, melancholic baritone with a light and airy but equally melancholic alto female vocalist.

Just Friends Avalanche

This is a cover version of Leonard Cohen’s 1971 acoustic guitar driven masterpiece ‘Avalanche’ taken from the album ‘Songs of Love and Hate.’ Listen to Just Friends Avalanche below.

[blockquote]You who wish to conquer pain, you must learn, learn to serve me well.[/blockquote]

Leonard Cohen – Avalanche

Cody Chestnutt What Kind Of Cool – Tune Of The Week

This past while I’ve been feeling a little more soulful than usual, cranking up the Commodores, some Bill Withers, a little El Michele’s Affair and I even put together a soulful little mixtape in October (click here to listen)

Today I’ve got a soulful drop for the Tune Of The Week.

The track comes from Cody Chestnutt, he of The Seed 2.0. The track is entitled ‘What Kind Of Cool (Will We Think Of Next’) and I think this track is enough to sell me on the new album. Listen to Cody Chestnut What Kind Of Cool Below

Cody Chestnutt What Kind Of Cool

The Roots – The Seed 2.0 ft Cody Chestnutt

Natalie Imbruglia and Portishead – Leave Me Alone – Tune Of The Week

The mathematics of this song make sense to me.

1. I don’t like Natalie Imbruglia very much
2. I love Portishead

Because P>NI, I wound up enjoying this track.

Imburglia’s vocal is sampled by Geof Barrow and dropped a over dense, lofi Portishead groove. The strings and horns give it a bit of a Handsome Boy Modelling School feel. (huh?)

Melanie Martinez Seven Nation Army

I don’t usually watch the TV singing shows, but last night The Voice was on when I turned on the TV and this was what greeted me – the quirky and interesting Melanie Martinez doing a rendition of The White Stripes’ classic “Seven Nation Army”

This quirky rework is fun, fresh and left me very interested to see what else Melanie Martinez will deliver in the coming months and years.

Watch Melanie Martinez Seven Nation Army.

Jimi Hendrix All Allong The Watchtower (Bob Dylan Cover) #coverversion Friday

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another killer cover version. In some respects, they don’t get any bigger than this – Jimi Hendrix covering Bob Dylan.

For a long time I didn’t know that this was a cover version, I thought that it was a Hendrix original. Dylan penned the original in 1967 and the Hendrix Experience started recording his version just one year later and released it on the seminal Electric Ladyland, pretty weird for a cover version.

Jimi Hendrix – All Along The Watchtower

It seems that one of the biggest fans of the cover version was Bob Dylan. He praised the the Jimi Hendrix Experience version on on a number of occasions

It overwhelmed me, really. He had such talent, he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them. He found things that other people wouldn’t think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I took license with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day.”

“I liked Jimi Hendrix’s record of this and ever since he died I’ve been doing it that way… Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it’s a tribute to him in some kind of way. – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan – All Along The Watchtower

The XX – Infinity – Tune Of The Week

I’ve been listening to The XX for a couple of weeks now, since their second album ‘Coexist’ dropped. The album led me back to their self titled debut – ‘The XX’ and this gem – Infinity.

The XX – Infinity

Every time I listen to it, I get a throwback to Chris Isaak’s 1989 slow burner ‘Wicked Game.’ While Infinity is a decidely less energetic affair, it has the same air of melancholy and resignation, all the more so because of it’s stripped down nature. A very similar Dobro slide is also found on both releases.

Chris Isaak – Wicked Game