The title of his upcoming album (and a track here) is still completely ridiculous, but despite it sounding like a theme park for teenagers, the musical output makes up for that stupidity and has The Weeknd back on strong form after some patchy releases in the last 18 months.
Kiss Land boasts a good blend of atmosphere and energy, and whilst the beat will undoubtedly draw many comparisons with works from House of Balloons (such as Loft Music), it pushes slightly away from the smooth vibe of that project and into a more disorienting style. That comes courtesy of a collection of sharp melodies and screams (yep) that create a sense of psychedelia, whilst the prominent and bassy percussion adds an intensity and drive that wouldn’t have fit on the aforementioned mixtape, and instead shows growth in his beat selection. John Carpenter slows things down, similar to the transitions on his previous two-part tracks, and though it retains some of the same melodies there’s more emphasis on the atmospheric aspect. The addition of constant backing vocals create a rather haunting aura, whilst the synth and percussion work intertwines to make the soundscape slightly darker, and they help to add moody layers into an otherwise intense, vibrant production.
Vocally, Kiss Land has The Weeknd on a much more positive style, with his lyricism focused around ladies of interest and of course his self-assurance, with the verses delivered in a near-rap that slowly morphs into all-out harmonies in the hook, a section in which he gives rightful room to the production to lead. John Carpenter‘s more subdued production allows his vocal work to be spotlighted, and hence his output is both more emotive and lyrically aggressive, with a more negative, isolated outlook in certain segments. Both good tracks, and signs that his official debut album can’t be too far away.
I should apologise for the poor formatting here. Reviewing two songs in one is not easy.
The audio’s release caught my attention for the rare Common feature, but one play made it difficult to ignore the talent Elijah possesses. It’s a guest spot that was guaranteed to turn heads, but unlike many others, he does a great job in keeping up his end of the deal.
The production is a smooth blend between upbeat R&B and a more mellow soul style, with the middle ground it lands in being incredibly rare in terms of sheer versatility. The combination of sharp string plucks and bassy yet warm percussion sets those verses off at a good pace, whilst the introduction of more dramatic string work in the chorus adds a welcome step up in intensity and atmosphere to pad that hook out. Elijah’s vocals are unerringly consistent throughout, with his empassioned deliveries displaying influences from early Trey Songz, a little Maxwell and plenty more; he’s clearly a gifted upcomer, and it’s a performance that will surely gain favour with many.
The key feature of the video is the mixture of dark lighting and misty scenes, presenting a reflective, sombre tone that projects the lyricism outward; it’s smart, as in amongst the strong production and good vocals, the lyrical impact gets lost. A strong single for one of R&B’s newest stars-add this to other young upcomers such as Austin Paul and Steven A. Clark, and there’s every chance that this new breed could lift R&B out of its current malaise. Grab the track on the Bijoux 22 EP now.
It’s only a short performance, and by Rocky’s own admission he’s not really rapping about anything in particular, his flow is relatively watertight throughout (except for a short stumble), and honestly it’s just fun to hear his enthusiasm at jumping on a production from one of his comrades. A quick one, but worth a go if you enjoyed the original.
Yes. All day yes. Two of my favourite vocalists in the business right now hook up for the first single from Hawthorne’s upcoming album, titled Where Does This Door Go and due out on 16th July, and it’s an excellent track that should get Mayer the widespread attention he’s deserved for a few years now.
The production is a lusciously-layered piece, with funky, bassy guitars adding a vintage soul feel, whilst the accompaniment of thunderous percussion and additional samples brings a modern pop twist; the combination is wholly successful throughout the verses, and culminates in a soft hook packed with airy synths, making for a great transition point between the verses. It’s nice to hear a hook used as a cool-down section rather than the track’s high point of intensity and Jessie Ware’s vocals are perfectly suited to that duty, with her gentle delivery meshing seamlessly with the production and also contrasting Mayer’s own performance. His work is a good blend between his regular soulful style and a more punchy delivery, with the latter synergising with those bouncy guitars in the verses, whilst the former makes for a comfortable segue into the hook. He closes off with a set of additional vocals in the chorus section, adding an upbeat element to Jessie’s hook, closing off a collaboration that I expect to play to death this summer.
PRAY is the 3rd official release from Gilbere Forte. This body of work chronicles the trials, tribulations, emotions, and enlightenment Gilbere has experienced over the last year and a half. Marking his growth as a man, and as an artist. This project is also the final chapter to his trilogy that includes 87 Dreams + Eyes Of Veritas.
The last time we heard from Gilbere, he released the track Pray back in October, and he returns with this 10-track album of the same title.
I’ve caught a couple of the tracks from this, and there’s no shortage of variety. From upbeat to more introspective efforts, this project seems like a good reminder of the diverse talents that Gilbere lays claim to, and here’s to hoping the trademark lyrical and vocal intensity contained within his raps is abundant on this one. You can stream the full project here, or download it over at Gilbere’s house below.
I didn’t like this song when the original dropped, and the remix doesn’t help; it still sounds like a throwaway Soulja Boy track from 2007, and it baffles me that the guys on the actual song aren’t aware of that, nor seemingly are a fair chunk of the hip-hop crowd.
Normally, an all-star remix can help hide the obvious gaps in a distinctly average production such as this, but unfortunately the acts here don’t seem to be feeling particularly creative. They all adopt a near-identical flow for their verses, and on a track where lyricism is hardly going to triumph, you’d think one or two of them would have the self-assurance to cut away from the expected delivery. The only one who comes close to being listenable is ScHoolboy Q, who adapts the latter part of his verse to move out of the stop-start rap style the rest use, whilst credit also goes to Trindad James for bringing some intensity and passion to proceedings, regardless of his lyrical and structural output. It’ll be a favourite with the type of people your parents told you not to hang around with, and whilst I like Ferg and some of his other material is way better, this is ignorable for the rest of us.
Some of you may recall Banks from her explosive introductory post a couple of months back, and the upcoming singer drops off her latest single, a smooth, soulful effort that shows a good twist of variety.
The atmospheric production is a hugely enjoyable one, combining delicate synths with barely-there tribal percussion, both of which do most of the work in filling each corner of the soundscape without too much assistance from any dominating melodies or heavy multi-layering. It’s certainly got a rather ‘winter night’ vibe, with Banks’ vocals are both suited to that style, and also offering plenty of warmth and feeling to add further depth to the track, and pull that spaced-out production down into a more grounded package. It’s as smooth a track as you could ask for with no nasty surprises, and this should be a favourite with those after some laidback alternative pop.
The power of good headphones/speakers. I gave this a quick listen through my laptop speakers earlier, only to dismiss it as a cheap Future knock-off, and nothing I’d likely give much time in the future. It’s since returned to my ears via a shuffle, this time with headphones on, and it’s being repeated as you read this.
So, PARTYNEXTDOOR is part of Drake’s October’s Very Own imprint, a connection announced a short while back. Whilst I wasn’t into his previous release, this is one that should command more attention, and at the heart of it is a slow, nighttime production that’s right out of the OVO playbook. The self-produced effort is made up of pillowy bass and several interlocking layers of gentle melodies, each helping create a layer of depth that adds a ton of atmosphere to the backdrop, and allowing PND to get away with things a little on the vocals. An odd choice of terms, but it’s a heavily Autotuned performance that would otherwise grate on me, but the cooling nature of the production completely tempers its sharp edges, and hence it’s far more listenable than most Autotuned R&B, and yes, significantly better than Future’s pointless drawl. Progression from the newcomer, and hopefully it continues.
8 years in the making, and now hungry fans can finally listen to Daft Punk’s entire comeback LP, over a week before its official release. This is, of course, seemingly a response to the fact their album leaked onto them internets just a few hours ago, but it’s pretty good news in any case.
As surprising as it may be, I haven’t managed to listen to the full album yet given that I just read this news around 49 seconds ago, and admittedly I probably won’t until it’s released next week (or I cave and grab a quick fix beforehand). They’re one of very few artists for whom I quite enjoy the novelty of waiting until release day to buy the CD and such (sue me), and hence I’m hoping to do precisely that. For those unaware, features include Pharrell Williams, Nile Rodgers, Giorgio Moroder, Chilly Gonzalez, Todd Edwards, Paul Williams, Julian Casablancas, DJ Falcon and Panda Bear. Enjoy being a few days ahead of dear old me with the free stream courtesy of iTunes below.
The video’s content certainly won’t harm those chances of mainstream popularity. There’s quite the dichotomy of emotions displayed throughout, from the natural sadness of the funeral in the opening through to the progressive happiness and energy the on-screen activities exude toward the end, and the gradual connection between the two is a smooth transition. From early on, you expect there’s a twist coming of Kendrick being in the coffin, a suspicion built on by his repeated isolation, particularly rapping alone in a dream-like, heaven-esque landscape dressed in an angelic all-white outfit, and though the occasional flashes of his fun goings-on inside the limo suggest otherwise, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the twist is coming. Eventually, the video wears you down and you begin to lose that hunch, with his humourous scenes with Mike Epps being a notable factor in that progressive approach, and the climactic, definitive ‘announcement’ at the end closes that notion entirely. It’s good to have an additional layer of story thrown on top of the audio here, and though most (myself included) would have been fine with a textbook “summer” video, this direction makes for much more compelling viewing. I’m not even going to post an iTunes link because surely, surely, we all own this by now.
Though the Joy & Pain EP landed almost a year ago, ANTHM heads back to it for his latest visual. It was a project that was very strong from start to finish, and became a great introduction to an artist I’ve championed heavily in the intervening months.
With atmosphere in abundance, the production’s a fantastic medley of slow, powerful percussion hits, airy synths, gentle melodies and plenty more; it’s a busy, thickly-packed backdrop, and yet manages to remain relatively mellow and introspective, facets which extend to his lyricism. The verses are part-biographical, part-inspirational and wholly thought-provoking, with plenty of emotional content wrapped into a deliver full of desire and hunger. Credit to his hook work too, which has him singing a delicate chorus that works smoothly as a ‘cool down’ from the lyrically intense verses, whilst helping emphasise the production’s aura.
The video is unfussy and fits the sound of the track to near-perfection. ANTHM raps in an isolated beach environment that enhances the track’s atmosphere, with the relatively desolate and expansive scenery giving physical space for the track to grow into, whilst the additional backdrop of seemingly destroyed houses throws in a gritty realism to capitalise on the reflective lyricism. Big fan of the track, and the chosen video has been executed well. Grab the EP now.
Two songs, one post. In recent times, I’ve started to appreciate the underrated Thelo Martin’s beatwork, and this is an example of not only his talent, but also his fantastic eclecticism. Marilia clearly takes influence from the Brazilian style, combining soft guitar strums with what I’m assuming are vocals in Portuguese, with a gentle yet consistent percussion holding the track together as the aforementioned samples sit with a mellow synth, and the whole package gets thrown into a stuttered style. It’s experiemental electronic done well, and will certainly call for attention from fans of Flying Lotus, Exile and so on.
Sleep Pattern is a much darker, more atmospheric effort, and you can feel that late night influence on the production. The percussion is sharp and dominant, whilst the synths fill the soundscape with a relaxed aura, before additional elements including sporadic vocal samples are thrown in to add final touches to an excellent production, reminiscent again of the works of Flying Lotus, with a touch of J Dilla in there too. As different as day and night, but both tracks are certainly worth a listen. My preference? If I had to choose, Sleep Pattern.
Whilst the Beyonce feature originally slated for this album has been dropped due to sample clearance issues, Mr. Carter’s appearance remains intact and is delivered as the latest offering from The-Dream’s IV Play album, set to arrive on 28th May.
Thus far, none of his pre-album releases have provided much to be excited about, and thankfully this effort is a cut above what he’s offered so far. The production has a hip-hop feel to it, combining strong slow-paced percussion with melodies from across the board, and whether its the Asian-influenced elements or the Future adlib samples (I think?), there’s a lot of dynamism and activity on that top layer. It creates much more depth and quality in comparison to the previous releases and suits both artists well, with Dream alternating between a rap delivery and regular singing for the verse and hook respectively, and whilst Jay’s verse isn’t exactly a classic, it’s a fun contribution on a production that suits his cadence extremely well. Better signs from The-Dream ahead of that impending release date.
It seems I’m in the minority here, but I wasn’t overly enamoured with this track on its release. Many showered praise upon the production, and whilst it’s undoubtedly a style we’ve not heard Pusha on very often (and hence there’s a touch of novelty value), it’s minimal nature didn’t feel as though it played to Pusha’s strengths.
He’s charismatic on the mic and has great presence, but I’m sure most would agree he’s hardly going down as lyricist of the year. That’s not to say ‘complex lyrical rap’ is all that’s acceptable, but a low fat production of this ilk slightly exposes the repetitive nature of his work, and hence it was hard to commit to the track initially.
With that said, a combination of repeated plays and this video have thoroughly helped. The video’s as stripped back as the audio, with settings including a dark, overcast sky with a touch of post-apocalyptic feel, amongst other dimly-lit environments that contain Pusha T, and little else. They bring out a moody, atmospheric quality in the production, whilst his aggressive, emotive on-screen nature lends a hand in upping the lyrical intensity, and as odd as it is to say, his surliness helps to create a tight bond between the grittiness of the beat, the arrogant lyricism and the dark video. There’s a rawness that comes out in the clip that aids the appeal of the audio immeasurably, and this is a rare example of a video really elevating a track. Pusha’s My Name Is My Name album lands on 16th July.
Quite possibly my favourite song from their critically-adored Koi No Yokan album, and they’ve chosen to put together a good clip for it.
It’s a relentless piece, commanding attention from its very beginning with powerful, ear-rattling guitar blasts and intense percussion, with the instrumentation coming off as a great blend between industrial rock and melodic metal. It’s completely unrelenting with its driving nature throughout, and that consistency allows Chino’s vocals to really flourish, with harmonic and relatively gentle deliveries for the verses contrasting the sharp, angsty and anthemic work on the hook; their synergy with the instrumentation is thoroughly excellent, and makes this sub-3 minute effort feel like a much bigger, grander piece.
As a track I consider as prime driving music, it’s interesting to see the natural take they’ve gone for. Focusing solely on a woman riding a horse through the arid desert, their collective movement as they tear through the expansive landscapes makes for fitting viewing as far as the piercing style of the audio goes, whilst also combining well enough with it to create a somewhat mesmerising effect. It’s really quite an unfussy visual, but the fact that the hooks are timed with extended riding periods is a simple move that helps bring physical manifestation to the track’s forceful nature. Worth a watch, and most certainly worth throwing on whilst driving (legally) fast. Grab that album now.
With one of this EP’s five tracks delivered to us in video format not so long ago, talented upcomer Thunderbird Gerard drops off the full project to satiate his growing fanbase.
There are no supporting features, ensuring this introductory project remains exactly that, allowing Gerard to enjoy the spotlight alone. His diverse stylings are seeded throughout this, with a mixture of rapping and singing provided over eclectic soundscapes, and from the electronic-influenced sound of London Is A Bitch to the alternative indie backdrop of Bad Bee there’s plenty of choice to attract fans of varying tastes. I expect over time his sound will become more concentrated, but for now this is a good introduction to someone who has plenty of potential to impress. Stream and download below.
There’s been plenty of talk about ‘summer music’ on here in recent weeks, but I’m not sure anything comes close to this for that all-round sunny beach vibe.
The ever-stylish London has three overlapping segments to the video, each well costumed of course, and they combine for an enjoyable watch. The first has him performing, rather humbly I might add, in a small venue with the few audience members sitting around the band; it’s an intimate setting that exudes a vintage vibe, and hence manages to curtail the occasionally expansive nature of the production and bring it down into a warm, friendly environment. The second is the interspersing of his interactions with the leading lady, one who clearly isn’t intended to fit into the ‘classic video girl’ mould, and instead seems like a real person. Once again, it adds a humility to the video that takes the audio into more relatable, personal territory when combined with the scenes mentioned previously. The final setting has London and the band performing in a white, dream-like landscape that adds a touch of cool and a little more atmosphere, working well with the ‘daydream factor’ the audio invariably invokes, and making for a nice contrast to the previous two scenes. It’s not a complicated clip in the slightest, but it does work the audio well, and whilst admittedly it would have been good to see more open, expansive backdrops, it would also have been a little cliche so credit to Theophilus for the direction taken. Buy it.
The sheer happiness of this song is unbelievably infectious, and despite my skip-happy nature, I find it impossible to press skip when those first few notes hit. That, my friends, is high praise.
Of course, this is by no means for everyone-it’s got a heavy pop influence, and is no doubt wrapped in a squeaky-clean veneer that’ll turn a lot of people off, but nonetheless those of a happy disposition will probably find some kinship with it. The video mostly plays on that vibrancy, with a lot of the scenes having a visceral approach due to their focus on the five senses; in particular, there’s a lot of emphasis on touch, whether that’s the oddly-mesmerising squeezing of citrus fruits, or the interactions between the seemingly happy couple. The colour palette veers between sunny, bright scenery through to darker environments, though the latter aren’t ‘moody’ as such, more of a warming nature that creates a nice sense of enclosure around the two characters. The second half of the clip expands the setting somewhat, with a little rooftop frolicking from the duo creating a sense of freedom in front of an expansive backdrop, and closes off what is just a video that can best be described as ‘nice’. Worth a watch for fans of the song, and you can either grab the single now or wait for the Soft Will album on 25th June.
Get Dough or Die is the mantra coming out of T.I.’s Hustle Gang camp, with this 20-track effort being the first collective release he’s put together from his rather well-known stable of artists.
Iggy Azalea, B.o.B, Chip(munk), Travis $cott, Trae the Truth, Young Dro, and T.I. are the bedrock of the tape, with a couple of lesser known artists from the team also involved, in addition to features from French Montana, Meek Mill, Problem and several others. Essentially, it’s full to the brim with massive names in hip-hop, and that extends to a producer list that includes David Banner, Young Chop, Nard & B, whilst there are also several self-produced efforts from within the Hustle Gang camp. If Tip’s recent form is anything to go by, this should have at least a few gems on it, and you can grab the whole thing for nothing below.
Relatively recently, I gave Giraffage’s Needs album a go and enjoyed large parts of it. Here, the talented producer grabs a favourite of mine from my childhood, with Stardust’s only hit single getting a mini-revival with this remix. Little known fact: Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk was a member of Stardust.
It’s been mostly forgotten by many, but this song is a staple of my summer playlists, and it’s nice to see it get a refresh here. However, Giraffage swaps out the addictive, buzzing melodies for a more sombre approach, with the primary layer being a slightly stuttered series of synth hits that roll through the track smoothly and comfortably, eventually becoming an anchor of a production that throws additional samples and electronic effects on top of it. It’ll be categorised as an easy-listening remake, with sporadic vocal samples left as the sole connection to the original, and hence it stands aside the lively Stardust effort rather than attempt a replacement, hence it’s definitely fit for use as a mellow, summer evening listen. Free stream and download below, so you’ve got no reason to throw it onto those playlists.
Whilst I’m still not a fan of the vowel-less naming convention, it’s good to get a second release from this side project of Lupe, the first since their debut track last year.
Unlike that release, this one’s an original piece, and interestingly features Lupe delivering Autotuned vocals the whole way through. It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but when you consider this is intended as an electro-pop release rather than a typical Lupe effort, it certainly operates effectively in that role and could be a contender for some club play time this summer. The production is built on interweaving synths that buzz through the soundscape, with support from sharp yet relatively understated percussion and a couple of nice key changes that segregate the verses and hook smoothly. Lupe’s vocals are efficient throughout, opting against packing each section too heavily and instead allowing gaps between each line for the production to breathe, and it’s a smart move that allows you to properly appreciate the slow growth of the beat, resulting in an explosive electro finale. An energetic bit of mainstream-friendly work that might not blow anyone away, but will make for an easy addition to several uptempo playlists.
Before R&B massively fell off a cliff, Atozzio was one of those singer-songwriters that would usually get considered for R&B Fridays (remember that?) where appropriate, but didn’t quite make the cut. Since those days, he’s stepped his output up, going so far as releasing his debut album a couple of years back. He’s now gearing up for its follow-up, The Imprint II: Evolution, with this being that LP’s lead single.
Those of an R&B inclination will thoroughly enjoy this; it’s a slow jam boasting solid production, strong vocals and surprisingly enjoyable lyricism for a track of this ilk. The production’s minimal for the verses, relying mostly on atmospheric production and the occasional flash of additional melody, with the track’s clear anchor being the hook that throws in a medley of synths and sharper percussion, increasing the track’s intensity. Atozzio’s vocals move in the same fashion, with a relaxed approach for the verses highlight the lyrical introspection, versus the conclusive nature of the livelier hook, which comes accompanied by some good work on the multi-layered backing vocals. It feels like an R&B jam right out of its most recent peak (’08-’10), and hopefully Atozzio keeps this consistency up.
Ice on the Dune lands on 18th June, and the duo finally release the first set of visuals from that long-awaited album. Admittedly, the song took a little time to fully grow on me, with its incredibly positive nature being a tough one to stomach for long periods, but it’s fair to say that increased exposure has slowly won me over.
This video only serves to enhance the upbeat vibe of the song. Set in a bright landscape, the video combines sandy desert scenery with arctic touches (ice on the dune…), and the end product is a dream-like environment that seems to have stepped right out of a fantasy novel. Of course, EOTS’ own penchant for unique costuming amplifies that further, with relatively futuristic costumes of their own contrasting the somewhat tribal outfitting of their ‘recruits’, with that relationship built up via seemingly ‘the power of music’. It’s a little cheesy in truth, but for a song brighter than the sun, it makes sense in context, and at the very least the chosen landscapes are a great sight. It’s fun to see their sheer commitment to the energy of the track throughout too, as they belt out every lyric with passion and intensity, another factor that helps bring out the song’s positivity. Worth a watch for EOTS fans, though the rest of you should prepare appropriately for the bizarre.
Hello All. Here is a link to a piece that I was ‘required’ to release immediately, by virtue of the impending legal deadline. I love being able to reach people directly, but in an ideal scenario, I would not have to rush the release of new music… but the message is still there. In light of Wednesday’s tragic loss (of former label mate Chris Kelly), I am even more pressed to YELL this to a multitude that may not understand the cost of allowing today’s unhealthy paradigms to remain unchecked! – MLH
There was talk recently about some tax woes Lauryn had got into, and it appears she’s being forced to alleviate them by providing her label with new music. Don’t let the circumstance fool you though: this is a sharp release that’s as good a track as I’ve heard in recent months. Lauryn’s flow is imperious throughout, with her rapid delivery tearing a path through the track, and though she’s accompanied by a very lively electronic-influenced production that would dominate another artist, she overpowers it with ease. The lyricism is as barbed as you’d hope for, as she takes aim at social issues, corporate dictatorship, religious decline and so on; there’s incredible intensity and depth in the lyricism that warrants several replays to catch it all, and undoubtedly it’s one many will find relatability with. Stream, or grab it on iTunes (US) here.
Another chance for us to showcase some great local talent here, with this four piece emerging from my once-home of Reading. They’ve got an excellent blend of styles in their work, from classic British indie-pop through to harder, edgier rock elements, and the outcome is a sound that feels widely accessible.
The guitar work progresses well throughout, with the first few seconds’ gentle strums being quickly displaced by chunky, driving chords, which themselves take on more power and prominence as the track grows, particularly for the closing third. The softer strums are still left in throughout though, adding a piercing yet easygoing layer to the production, whilst the consistent intensity of the percussion combines well with the guitar work to create a thick, well-rounded soundscape. The vocals add a great finish to the offering, with the melodic yet comparatively laidback (against the angsty instrumentation) delivery keeping the track tempering that production, and packing it with enough harmony to make it listenable to more casual listeners. In itself, it’s got a rather anthemic vibe, and that singalong quality will certainly make it a crowd pleaser at any live shows.
Over the last few years, several artists have delivered covers of Outkast’s fantastically heartfelt song, most notably Jesse Boykins III and Arima Ederra, and now an act outside of the soul/R&B sphere opts to give it a go.
This release coincides with my belated listening to Tampe Impala’s Lonerism album, and though it’s taking me a little time to fully get into that LP, there’s clear evidence they’ve got both talent and a distinct sound nailed down. The latter is a slightly trippy alternative style, with a heavy 60s/70s pop infusion (imagine Unknown Mortal Orchestra, with slightly crisper production values), and that sound is smoothly injected into the soulful sounds of this cover: it opens in very similar fashion to the original, with wailing guitar licks accompanied by delicate, gently-pitched vocals, before throwing in a chunky synth groove and a little atmosphere courtesy of backing vocals for that Tame Impala touch. The track closes with a nice percussion line to fully close off the soundscape, adding a sharpness to the track that supports the vocals well, and it ends what is a very enjoyable and respectful cover (in terms of not warping it beyond recognition) of a now-classic original.
It only happens with particularly gifted acts, but when you spend a lot of time immersed in someone’s music, it’s rather easy to forget the other facets of their act, brand and personality. Allow Janelle’s new video to be a reminder of just what she can bring to the table.
Whether it’s a crisp fashion sense that lands somewhere between vintage and forward-thinking, a hugely charismatic on-screen presence through fun facial expressions and great body language, or her skills as both a choreographed dancer and a freeform rhythmic mover, Janelle’s one of the most rounded entertainers in music today. And we’ve not even touched on her impressive vocal capabilities.
This clip combines all of the above talents in with a video that’s wrapped in good production values and great colour palettes: opening with the minimal white environment, Janelle’s movements are similarly economical before expanding into more energetic expressionism, which coincides with the injection of more chromatic vibrancy. Things get suitably leftfield when Badu enters the fray, with the track’s relative mellowing coinciding with the appearance of a poodle, lots of clocks, and Erykah looking rather dishevelled. The video ends well, with Monae’s defiant closer throwing out all of the detailing used previously and instead focusing on her lyricism and its empassioned delivery. It’s a fantastic video for a track that gets better with every listen, and that Electric Lady LP can’t come soon enough.
When I wrote ‘Happiness’, I knew that vocals would play an important part, but I wasn’t sure how to express them myself. Being the last song on the album, would it be a grand statement – or a smaller piece focused on minute details? At some point in time the fantasy of having Ira singing just came to me: “That would be amazing,” I thought.
A fantastically simple track, and one that might not be part of your daytime summer listening, but will definitely slide right into those warm, laidback evenings and nights. Gentle piano keys are the bulk of the backdrop here, and though they’re eventually joined by a touch of synth and what sounds like organ pipes, their sombre nature is what really holds this track together. That aforementioned sprinkling of vocals from Ira Kaplan help add depth to the track’s middle section, and their brief inclusion makes for an excellent intermission between the instrumental sections that surround it. There’s nothing complicated about this one, and as a result it’ll cut right through you with tons of emotional appeal. A great listen, and look out for the Nightmare Ending album on 14th May.
We’ve heard full versions, snippets and rough edits of various tracks from this official soundtrack, and ahead of its release on Tuesday we get a full stream of the album in its completed format.
As listed previously, artists include Beyonce, Andre 3000, The xx, Lana Del Rey, Florence and the Machine, Emeli Sande, Q-Tip, Jack White and many more. Of course, Jay-Z also contributes a track in addition to being the album’s executive producer, rounding off what is surely one of the most star-studded film soundtracks in recent memory, whilst also remaining sonically diverse through its range of artist choices. I’ve got no doubts that there’ll be something on here for everyone, and you can stream it all courtesy of NPR below.
The Great Gatsby OST (Full Album Stream)