Tyler, The Creator-Wolf (Full Album Stream)

Wolf lands officially tomorrow, and for those of you who’ve avoided any leaks and such, you can check out the entire 18-track LP here. From a very brief listen to a few of the tracks, there’s a marked maturity in his music, and in keeping with the two previously-released tracks, the dichotomy of Tyler’s chaotic and introspective sides are represented well. The maturity comes in the form of the weighting-it seems as though the album’s highlight tracks (and those said by Tyler to be his favourites) lean more toward the reflective side of his work, and there’s no doubt he’s delivered well on that front in that past.

Features include Pharrell, Frank Ocean, Erykah Badu, Coco O of Quadron, Casey Veggies, Earl Sweatshirt and a handful more of the Odd Future clan. Plenty of promise, and you can preview the LP below before making your purchase decision tomorrow.

Tyler, The Creator-Wolf (Full Album Stream)

Lauren Mann & The Fairly Odd Folk-Over Land and Sea

lauren mann
Produced by Aaron Marsh (Copeland, Joshua Michael Robinson), this illustrates Lauren’s gift of songwriting with a wide array of instrumentation, beautiful harmonies, and lyrics that tell of whimsical adventures.

Fun and folsky, this is a slice of easy listening that should brighten up anyone’s day. The lively guitar and ukelele work sets the mood right from the off, with their busy yet non-aggressive nature combining with the supporting percussion line creating a rich backdrop. Lauren’s vocals are playful and passionate, matching up to the energetic instrumentation well, and the overall combination is one of a warm, summery positivity that’s rather infectious. Look out for the album of the same title on 9th April.

Young Jeezy-R.I.P. Remix Y.G., Kendrick Lamar and Chris Brown

DJ Mustard has done it again. Most of his beats have rather similar features (Rack City, T.O., Red Cafe’s Game Over and so on), namely bassy, booming melodies, but quite simply it works. Here, that formula is sped up a little and accompanied by a more minimal percussion than usual, with the claps only really showing up sporadically, but once again the beat is completely held together by those bassy, low-down notes.

The raps are everything you’d expect for a mainstream track of this ilk, with Jeezy’s gristly, double-layered voice being a good contrast to the chunky production, whilst his intensity sets him apart from his company on the track too. In terms of technical skill and wit, Kendrick unsurprisingly takes the win, whilst the other two verses are pretty redunant in truth. A fun effort that’s worth a go, though primarily for Jeezy and Kendrick.

Fast Planet-Mr. Conversation

fast planet
We began working on new music and what has emerged thus far is a bank of music that is still being molded into the next album we want to release. It’s a ton of material, and we’re not finished. Some of the songs, while strong on their own, may not fit the overall theme of our next album. So, for the foreseeable future, we’ve decided to create a handful of releases leading up to a full length record. Some of these tracks may make their way onto the album. Others may not. Regardless, we’re happy to share this first new track with you.

A great slice of laidback alternative here. Opening with gentle guitars, dark synth strokes and a strong vocal layer, the soundscape is one that creates a rather spaced-out atmosphere, stopping just short of becoming ‘ethereal’ courtesy of sharp percussion that progress through the verses to strengthen the hook. It’s thoroughly mellow with a downbeat aftertaste, whilst the piercing flashes of percussion and very penetrating vocals add a hint of intensity to proceedings. A well-crafted piece, and for many this is a good introduction to the band.

ANTHM-Double Excel (Role Models Freestyle)

With his Handful of Dust buzz still rolling along nicely, ANTHM takes to the booth to blow off some steam, with his provocation clearly being XXL list-related based on this thinly-disguised title.

Most who’ve heard ANTHM’s material would probably share his sense of injustice, given some of the terrible names that made the XXL list, and that anger fuels his raps nicely here. Grabbing Eminem’s Role Models beat (arguably, one of the more underrated productions in Em’s back catalogue), ANTHM gets progressively more heated throughout this track, injecting his watertight flows and good lyricism with a good hit of intensity. It’s a nice job over a production that deserved a bit of a modern refresh, and another good ANTHM release.

Tyler, The Creator-IFHY (Video)

The latest video from Tyler’s upcoming Wolf album, due out on Monday, and though the audio lists a Pharrell feature, he doesn’t appear in this clip. His contributions are all over the track though, from the classic N*E*R*D-style production through to the soft backing vocals, and of course his solo vocal addition toward the end-as a big N*E*R*D fan, there’s no doubt Tyler would have wanted to recreate the sound of the trio, and that’s done very successfully here.

Of course, Tyler’s own twist is put on the formula though, with his unique brand of introspective, female-focused rap (see She for a previous example) being a nice accompaniment to the production, with his baritone being a nice contrast to the light, easygoing beat.

Tyler’s good with delivering striking visuals and this is no different. Heavily laden with prosthetic make-up, Tyler opens with a sombre monologue, before we meet his fellow plastic doll and the tirade towards her begins. As they work their way through the dollhouse, the bright and vivid colours take further hold on the video and really enhance the positive, fun Pharrell production. The clip ends with the other side of Tyler’s coin, that being the aggressive, chaotic element, as he appends a seperate track (Jamba) to close the video out with some energy and wildness. A likeable watch supported by enjoyable tracks, be sure to grab Wolf in a few days.

Hudson Mohawke-Pleasure

hudson mohwake
A month to go before Pleasure Principle Weekender (pleasureprinciple.net) so here’s a special treat: a 320k download of this ‘Pleasure’ remix from 2011, which until now featured on a rare vinyl only release. Of course we’re ALL looking forward to hearing the NEW shit he’s been working on soon – enjoy this in the meantime.

Hud Mo’s Fuse has made a return to my playlists in recent weeks, and he’s now let loose of the Janet Jackson-sampling track that is supposedly a favourite of his during live shows. It’s easy to see why too, as he’s laced Janet’s gentle vocals with a frenetic, intense production that converts her work into a huge dancefloor filler, thanks to a beat that relentlessly attacks your eardrums. The track builds slowly but positively with bright electronic melodies, before booming percussion and bassy synths enter the fray to amp up the production, with the hook culminating in an excellent piece of board work as the more piercing melodies of the verses are contrasted against the deeper elements brought in for the hook. Another great track from G.O.O.D. Music’s recent signee, and let’s hope more is on its way.

MeLo-X-God: LoFi (EP)

After a month of audio releases and visuals, MeLo-X unveils his latest piece of work the “GOD: LoFi” EP – It’s The God, God.

His offerings from this project have been thoroughly excellent so far, and MeLo kindly comes through with the full free EP, a 5-track album in total. As one of the few genuinely multi-talented and productive acts in hip-hop (and beyond, of course), this release should be yet another to file in his growing back catalogue as a step toward more widespread recognition, and even if it isn’t, the rest of us know the music won’t disappoint. If the two previous releases are anything to go by, we’re in for one of the year’s highlight EPs, and you can stream and download the whole thing right here.

Cocovan-Bang Bang

A multi-talented Frenchwoman whose sound is dedicated to the likes of New Order and Davie Bowie, but charmed by the more current, indvidual pop smarts of Robyn and her contemporaries, Cocovan is an artist with the kind of sound that requires little further refinement; she’s pretty much ready for mainstream acceptance.

The verses build a backdrop of bubbly melody and sporadic, thunderous percussion, building towards a hook that throws bright, energetic synths into the mix, and more consistent percussion. This is a track that unquestionably revolves around that hook, with the verses toned down to give that chorus maximum impact, and the strong execution make it exactly the right thing to do from a production perspective. Cocovan’s vocals sync up well to the dynamism of the soundscape throughout, offering soft introspection in the verses and repeated, catchy vocals on the hook, whilst the addition of short backing vocals in that hook helps pad out the section even further. A fun slice of pop with no rough edges to get your weekend rolling, and definitely one most will revisit if summer arrives.

A$AP Rocky-Wild For The Night ft. Skrillex and Birdy Nam Nam (Video)

When I first heard this album, I skipped over this track quite quickly. It sounded too electro and overly mainstream, in comparison to what I was expecting from Rocky. Now, it’s one of the few tracks to have actually endured my relentless reshuffling of my playlists.

There’s something insanely addictive about Skrillex’s pulsating electro backdrop. Those synths are lusciously thick, whilst Rocky’s counter-balances their sharpness with the distorted drawl sections, and complements them with his quick regular flows. The frenetic percussion caps things off with energy and intensity, taking it into thumping club banger territory, and whilst it’s undergone a couple of edits for this video version (new synths on the intro, amended vocals throughout), it’s still the same fundamental track with huge hook drops and fast-paced verses.

The somewhat brighter key and touch of synth that have been added fit the video’s setting well, adding a little warmth and positivity early on, whilst also smoothing the video’s lively transition from intro to verse. Of course, there’s still a big upward step there and that’s visualised well, which moves from shots of the Mob relaxing to more active, busy scenes of Rocky, his team and some locals generally enjoying themselves. It’s not a complicated visual, and for a mainstream-primed single such as this, it doesn’t need to be. Expect this to dominate TV, radio and clubs.

M83-Oblivion ft. Susanne Sundfør

The second release from the M83-helmed soundtrack for Tom Cruise’s upcoming Oblivion film, and unlike the cinematic, orchestral first, this title track is much more classic M83.

Within seconds, the bright production style they’re famed for explodes into life, combining soaring synths with energetic electronic melodies, whilst the percussion work drives the track excellently; the relative subservience of it versus the more energetic drum work in the hook helps properly segment and define those two sections, and enhance the hook as the true anchor point of the track. It’s as skilful as you’d expect from M83, and that’s complimented well by rousing vocals from Susanne, whose vocals progress from relatively soft, melancholic work to grand, empassioned work, keeping pace with that ever-changing production and adding tons of scale and grandeur to proceedings. It’s good to hear an M83 production laced with such accomplished vocal work, and this is a strong track that should fit nicely with the epic environments the film is said to be set within.

Kid Cudi-Indicud Artwork and Tracklist

Those who have watched his recent videos will be familiar with Cudi’s glamorous framing, a visual style he’s applied to his artwork here. The centrepiece of the artwork is certainly unique, with the explosiveness potentially representing Cudi pressing the reset button on his work, to some extent, or is quite simply just a massive fireball thrown in for a striking visual impact. It’s probably both, though the title of the opening track would probably suggest a lean to the former.

In any case, it’s definitely original enough to turn some heads on shop shelves (excuse me HMV, people still buy CDs right?). Whilst the artwork might be somewhat ambiguous, the tracklist is not: the features are incredibly diverse, with a collection of well-known and unexpected acts representing a multitude of genres, whilst there are several tracks many expected to be included (such as the three solo efforts he’s released most recently), along with some nice continuations of his Man on the Moon theme. Check it out below, and look out for the LP’s release on 23rd April (probably the 22nd over here).

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John Legend-Who Do We Think We Are ft. Rick Ross

john legend
Having let the first track (assumedly) from his upcoming Love In The Future album go, John comes through with the official lead single, linking up for his fourth collaboration with Rick Ross.

With an iconic sample of Mr. Big Stuff in tow, the track is considerably more upbeat than the previous release, and hence will certainly have a stronger appeal to the mainstream audience than its predecessor. That sample is joined by slow, strong percussion that anchors the entire track well, whilst a multitude of soft layers from harps to synths help add a rather lavish and luxurious sound, one befitting John’s soaring, debonair vocals. Regardless of the commanding production, his performance still packs in all of his soul hallmarks to wrestle control of the track back to his voice without veering too far into pop territory, whilst Ross’ famed penchant for productions of this ilk ensures he fits alongside John nicely to maintain the track’s momentum. A good release, and by my count that’s two-for-two from the album.

Limp Bizkit-Ready To Go ft. Lil' Wayne

limp bizkit
Whilst I can’t find it in the OTU archives, I’m quite sure Limp Bizkit had a bit of a false start last year when releasing their first song under the Cash Money label. There’s every chance I imagined that though.

In any case, this is being heralded as their proper debut single under the label, the first release from Stampede of the Disco Elephants. That album, the follow-up to 2011′s Gold Cobra, is due this year, and whilst they’re certainly not the force they were 10 years ago it’s not bad at all. The guitars are punchy, the percussion powerful and progressive, whilst Fred’s angsty delivery is as recognisable as ever, and with the catchy, anthemic hook, it’s pretty much the old formula recreated to good effect. The problem they’ll have is that it’s probably not rock enough for the rock heads, and too rock for the hip-hop heads; a tough middle ground, but for those of diverse tastes, this honestly isn’t bad at all. Energy, intensity and even Wayne sounds good on this crunching backdrop, it’s a high-octane affair that many seem to have hastily dismissed, but I’m all for it.

Toro Y Moi-Never Matter (Video)

Anything In Return is comfortably my favourite album of 2013 so far (with Foals’ Holy Fire in second), and this track is a great demonstration of why. Whilst it has endured on my regular playlists, it isn’t one I’d have called a primary highlight from the album, and yet it’s still very good.

The audio’s one of the more upbeat, funk-driven tracks on the LP, combining sprightly synths and lively percussion with playful keys, whilst Toro’s vocals are much more pronounced than usual, adding stronger structure to sway this slightly toward the pop direction. It’s an enjoyable listen, and one that’ll get more playtime as summer draws near.

The video’s concept is admirably simple. A VHS camera is set up in a flea market (car boot sale, for us British folk), and passers-by are invited to listen to this track and have a little dance in front of the camera. Nothing flashy, and in fact quite the opposite: the range of people shown are everyday folk from across the spectrum, with no unrealistically good dancers to suggest planting, and hence it makes it all rather more believable and engaging. The use of actual VHS style footage when showing the dancers is a nice technical touch too, adding a retro, geeky element that allows the video to poke a little fun at itself. There’s a somewhat creepy twist at the end which closes things off, and it’s an audiovisual that should really find favour with most. Album available now.

Sidenote: I have a large crush on the lead girl (are you allowed crushes at 25?). If anyone can give her my number or arrange a date, please do so.

Fryars-On Your Own (Video)

If you’re in a good mood, you might want to skip this one. It’s a downbeat, rather emotional piece that’s pretty much tailored for those feeling a little down, or are after something to accompany the cold night.

Blending pop, alternative and a dash of soul, the stripped-back production comprises repetitive, rhythmic light percussion and soft piano, built on smoothly through the track to include sharp guitars, synths and additional vocal layers. The primary vocals are enjoyable throughout, remaining mostly gentle and delicate in accompaniment with the minimal instrumentation, but expanding upwards to take on more passion and intensity when the production begins to incorporate more lively elements. The track’s capped off by morose, downtrodden lyricism with hints of hope, and whilst it’s well put together and a good listen, you certainly need to be in the right mood to fully appreciate it.

The same goes for the video, which is a good fit for the track, combining slow zoom and strong expressions of the video’s actors, both enhancing the deliberate pacing and emotion of the track. A slice of something different that will definitely resonate with some. Available now.

50 Cent - We Up ft. Kendrick Lamar [Video]

Big fan of this track, though admittedly I may never have got around to listening to it had Kendrick not featured on it.

As I mentioned when it first hit the net waves, this is a very chilled track with a West Coast vibe, something that I think 50 does very well at times.

The video does the job, showcasing the lavish lifestyle 50 lives (at least he’s ‘keeping it real’), and the lifestyle Kendrick is probably getting used to these days!

His next album, Street King Immortal, is due out later this year. Whilst the buzz for this album isn’t quite there yet, if it’s filled with tracks the quality of this one it should be worth acquiring.

Captain Murphy-The Killing Joke (Video)

Captain Murphy, the hip-hop alter ego of electronic producer Flying Lotus, picked up a ton of buzz last year for not only revealing his true identity, but also the quality of the aptly-titled Duality mixtape. Whilst I’m admittedly a novice with material from both ‘personalities’, I’ve heard enough to know FlyLo deserves every ounce of critical adulation he gets.

Naturally, the Joker-themed title and Batman references within the lyricism make this a rather enjoyable listen for yours truly, but it’s more than good enough to command everyone else’s attention. A minimal, eerie soundscape is created, throwing together horror-esque melodies with a haunting, repetitive hook, sampled from a Portuguese song that translates as Hail, Lucifer. Enough said. Murphy’s raps are brief but very enjoyable, with the first verse being relatively matter-of-fact, present-day content, the second being considerably more introspective with hints of menace, before the final verse closes with a very dark, corrupted view, and closes off an excellent progression in such a short time.

The video is appropriately unsettling, relying heavily on monochromatics, and swapping between an increasingly-warped version of Murphy, and grim, desolate outdoor environments typical of horror clips. A dark audiovisual of the highest order, be sure to grab that Duality project now.

Adrian Marcel-Waiting

adrian marcel
In a genre becoming completely cannibalised by pop, Adrian’s one of very few upcomers in the R&B genre, and hence he’s got a pretty clear route to a good position in the game. Not only that, but he’s being directly mentored by the veteran brilliance of Raphael Saadiq, a co-sign that all can appreciate.

There are influences from Tank, early Trey Songz, and several more in here, with this slow jam combining bittersweet lyricism, atmospheric synths, punchy percussion and a great hook for a strong track. The lyrical growth between the sections is excellent, with gradually diminshing touches of hope and increasing levels of introspection, divided by a direct, emotional hook. The vocal work is likeable throughout, remaining emotive and believable, but never over-stretching into excessive ‘power’, and instead opting for a softer approach that meshes well with the delicate melodies he’s supported by, and it’s a performance of great promise. Good R&B track that will appeal to the old R&B Friday heads, look out for his 7 Days of Weak mixtape on 24th April.

ScHoolboy Q-Yay Yay

schoolboy q
Q’s gearing up for that Oxymoron release this year and it looks like the promotional run is about to begin, with this first release from the TDE representative’s debut LP.

Generally, Q has two styles: contemplative or speaker-rattling. This falls firmly in the latter, and if you’re desperate for a point of reference, let’s just say it’s more There He Go than Blessed. The slow-moving percussion winds through the track well, anchoring the track in an easygoing tempo with a thumping bass to boot, whilst the faint melodies layered on top add a light, almost-summery vibe to the track, with the exception of a moody synth that fires through on the hook. Generally speaking, it’s a relatively dark, bass-heavy beat that’ll knock nicely in your car, and hence it’s the type that suits Q’s street raps, with his delivery on a more rough, grittier style than he usually opts for. It’s all packed into a deliberate pace that allows him to really emphasise his every sentence, an effect that works in tandem with the production to add intensity throughout the entire piece. A good opener for Q, and whilst it won’t be to everyone’s taste, it’s definitely one his longtime fans will appreciate.

Banks-Fall Over (Video)

When electronic and alternative collide, the end product is usually a good one, and that’s the case here with Banks’ latest single. In addition to those two genres, there are heavy doses of pop, soul and R&B in here too, making for an eclectic but ultimately very cohesive end product.

The diverse production is built up of traditional-style percussion, distant, sharp samples of her own vocals, and synths that progress through the verses to build well to the hook, before stepping away and back in for the hook’s high point. It’s a good backdrop for sure, and whilst it packs in plenty, it keeps a sense of minimalism and atmosphere that matches up to the monochrome, visually-efficient video. Undoubtedly though, the highlight here is the vocal performance from Banks, with a gentle, subdued style in the verses that steps upwards into the first half of the hook, and really explodes into life with passion and power for the second half. It’s a great show of versatility, and with each section packing in plenty of emotion, the video’s sharp scenes cuts and Banks’ facial expressions combine for a suitably drmatic accompaniment to those vocals. Very likeable all-rounder, and you can get the Fall Over EP now.

Robin Thicke-Blurred Lines ft. Pharrell and T.I. (Video)

Initially, I didn’t like this. The beat sounded a little thin on the ground, the vocals didn’t necessarily command the track, and it just seemed to be missing something. However, the longer I let this play, the more I wanted it to keep going, and I expect many will have similar reactions with this.

There’s something oddly addictive about the understated funk, and with the beat being helmed by Pharrell (I assume, from the percussion style), I almost feel foolish for questioning its merits. That simple, effective percussion provides a subtle accompaniment to the fun vocal samples, dashes of bass and of course, Robin’s whispery vocals. It’s a good combination of cool, downplayed pop with a bouncy positivity, facets which are visualised well, as all three artists are seen mostly having a bit of fun in plain white studio surroundings; it’s actually quite refreshing to see the likes of Pharrell and T.I. let their (figurative) hair down and be less concerned with projecting a ‘smooth’ image, opting rather to fool around a little whilst dressed impeccably. The video really helps drive the feel of the audio home, and admittedly had the audio been released first, it would have probably struggled for praise. As it is, they came together and it was the right move; look out for Robin’s album later this year.

Tha Dogg Pound-Them N****as Remix

the dogg pound
One of the only decent hip-hop tracks in recent months (it’s been a terrible period for the genre), West Coast veterans Daz and Kurupt grab Audio Push’s energetic speaker-rattler for a decent remix.

On a production like this, it’s pretty difficult to sound bad, and hence there are no complaints about the performance. Admittedly, their performances lack the intensity and hunger of the original, but their comparatively laidback performances at least make for a different listen to the original, and credit for going their own way rather than trying to match the original. It won’t displace Audio Push’s version, but it’s a nice refresh if you’ve given their version a little too much playtime.

Kurt Vile-Never Run Away (Video)

Don’t be put off by his somewhat unusual surname. This is a great slice of laidback soft rock with a massively adorable video, shot in a style completely unlike most music videos (it’s referred to more as a commerical, it seems!).

Though the song actually begins in a somewhat more incidental capacity, it gradually flourishes and soundtracks the clip nicely, with the easygoing, folksy vocals being a good accompaniment to the chunky yet understated guitar plucks, which themselves help to bring the track away from being overly folk-oriented and further into a standard soft rock style. It’s a likeable track that will slide into a summer day playlist rather easily, and one in a style that should make it a safe bet for listeners of several genres.

The video does a great deal to add some fun and feeling to the audio. It’s pretty much just Kurt sitting around as his young daughter runs in and out of shot playing with toys, jumping around and generally being happy and innocent, with her infectious positivity affecting the track positively. A feelgood, unique clip that definitely enhances the song, you can get the track for free here.

Shlohmo and Jeremih-Bo Peep (Do U Right)

This unexpected collaboration arrives as part of Yours Truly’s Song from Scratch series, matching together beatsmiths and vocalists from different genres for a shared track, a project which also brought us Danny Brown’s thumping Molly Ringwald. A fun idea, and it’s generating good music.

As fans of either artist here would expect, this is much less energetic and instead is a minimalist, smooth piece of R&B that will impress many. Shlohmo’s trademark style is all over this one, with an atmospheric production built on spaced-out synths, electronic, radar-esque pulses, and clunky percussion, the end result being a dark backdrop with flashes of intensity. Jeremih doesn’t have to adjust very much with a beat as giving as this, and his relatively soft vocal approach is a good fit for the production, allowing it to breathe by not drawing excessive attention, but also capitalising nicely on its high and low points. Good piece of music, and let’s hope that project spawns more of this ilk.

Justin Timberlake-Mirrors (Video)

Having confirmed that his recently-released album was indeed a “part one” (with the sequel rumoured for November), Justin’s buzz couldn’t be any higher, and he follows up with a video for his successful single.

As mentioned in the audio review, the track’s got classic JT hallmarks, but with more lyrical maturity and feeling than previous lead singles. That lyrical growth is visualised perfectly here, with a story told of an elderly couple as they reminisce over their years together, with flashbacks interspersed with present-day footage for a dynamic video. The division between the two is technically impressive: the vivid colours and powerful lighting in the teenage scenes contrasts excellently with the dull colouring of the contemporary footage, whilst the less positive ‘young adult’ scenes fall somewhere in between as far as chromatics go. There’s an inescapable undercurrent of sadness throughout that grows as the clip evolves, and whilst it’s difficult initially to know exactly where that will lead, the ending of the emotional story is both rewarding and bittersweet.

The video then moves into textbook Timberlake fare, as he croons and swings amongst a plethora of mirrors, looking as suave as ever and generally offering a nice cool-down from the emotionally-intense scenes that preceded him. Very engaging watch, and though it comes in at over 8 minutes, it certainly doesn’t feel that long. Grab the album now.

Danny Brown-Kush Coma

We’ve actually had been making “Kush Coma” since I was on the Childish Gambino tour .. So seeing y’all fuck wit it made that time worth it. Roll up and play this shit loud as possible!!!!!!!!!!!

Danny’s Old album is due for release this summer, and he liberates an early cut of a track set to feature on that LP. The production’s an ear-piercing combination of trippy synths and bassy percussion, with the outcome being a soundscape that’s part-disorienting (in a good way), part-speaker rattling. With a production so full of energy and vibrancy, Danny’s own shrill style is naturally well-suited to working with it, with his cadence being a good complement to the beat whilst his range of flows take advantage of what is a fairly flow-neutral production. Not for everyone, but those after something energetic without being ‘pop’ could do worse than giving this a go, and with the final version slated to include A$AP Rocky, there’s even more to be added to an already-likeable track.

John Legend-The Beginning

It’s been some time since there was even the remotest of suggestions that a John Legend album was on the way, but 5 years on and we’re getting his next album, Love In The Future, this year.

Don’t let the futuristic title fool you. This is classic John Legend, and rather than lace his fantastic vocals with synths and such, the single has John on a more stripped-back style than we’re accustomed to from him. The instrumentation is gripping from the moment you press play, throwing gentle violins in with more distinct string plucks and chunky percussion for a production that’s got trademark soul elements, exotic features and a strong R&B anchor in the drums. I’d imagine every superlative has already been used for John’s vocals, but they’re as good as you’d hope for here, soaring and passionate in the hook versus relative placidity in the verses, with both also benefitting from the sporadic and likeable inclusion of distinct backing vocals. A great way to kick off the album hype for John, and I’m sincerely looking forward to more from the LP.

Savages-She Will

It seems as though their rise to popularity bypassed me, but Savages are on the brink of a massive breakout, and alongside appearances at huge festivals (Coachella, Parklife, Primavera), a lead single like this suggests they’re certainly coming out with all guns blazing.

With influences from vintage punk, modern-day alternative, night pop and more, the end product is a track that seems to constantly move between dark, moody segments and punchy, balls-out rock sections with fluid ease. That’s evidenced well around 1/3 of the way through, with the track descending into soft bass plucks, distant delayed guitar strums and a quiet but menacing percussion, before abruptly and briefly switching to a more jagged, piercing style, and back down to the smoother instrumentation once again. Things get turned up to maximum for the closer, with the edgier style remaining in place and growing in intensity, so much so that it almost seems like the only musical step upwards from there is into a hard rock/metal style, and the track almost threatens to follow that through. It’s skilful work by all involved to make the track feel more like a living entity in that regard, and this is well worth a listen for indie heads. Look out for the Silence Yourself album on 6th May.