Joey Bada$$-95 Til Infinity (Video)

With only a couple of days to go until Joey’s Summer Knights mixtape lands, he drops off visuals for a recent release from that project, giving the popular Lee Bannon-produced effort a little more shine.

The clip is right out of the Bada$$ playbook, filmed across several regular, far-from-glamorous settings that fit perfectly into the rough, gritty nature of Joey’s work. The combination is one that ust feels completely realistic with little-to-no falsifying or scene setting- it’s Joey rapping his lyrics in the local environments that he hangs around in, and whilst that’s a touch too simplistic for many, the style of Joey’s music (and this track in particular) certainly makes it the right choice versus a ‘storylined’ video.

The release of the Summer Knights tracklist reveals a 16-track project that should suitably swell the libraries of Pro Era fans- look out for that release on Monday.

Mayer Hawthorne-Her Favorite Song (Video)

After recently releasing an official remix (by Large Professor, no less) of this single, Mayer continues to give it a push with the official video for the Jessie Ware-assisted original.

Aside from the unexpected deluge of canine companions, it’s a video that captures the essence of the audio cleanly and accurately. The unadulterated sleaze of the melodies fits the dim club scene well, and of course adds context to the presence of dogs in place of men, with the suggestion that the attending males are all basically just dogs anyway- not complicated and a bit of fun, which will certainly raise some smiles as they end up filling the role quite accurately. Plus, the massive dog wearing sunglasses that appears towards the end looks like a total legend.

Mayer’s stage presence is enjoyable, even if it is just in very short bursts, with the old-school microphone and supporting band keeping a link back to his vintage stylings, whilst his ‘image’ appears to have been cleaned up a tad and comes across a little slicker now-the crisp suits are still there, but gone are the glasses, and there’s a little Michael Buble about him now. Worth a watch, and a good accompaniment to an excellent audio.

MeLo-X-God: HiFi (EP)

After a successful release of the GOD: LoFi EP, MeLo-X releases the second installment of his three part EP series, GOD: HiFi. GOD: HiFi sets the bar higher and represents an indie artist’s rise to fame- first, you’re LoFi (Underground), then you reach your high point (HiFi), and next up is GOD: WiFi, which represents an artist finally becoming internationally known and respected. Stay tuned – It’s The God, God.

I’m a massive fan of MeLo as an all-round artist, and getting so much new material from him this year (click here for a refresher course) has most certainly been to the benefit of my ear canals. Whether it’s video or audio, MeLo’s really stepped from behind the boards to demonstrate his gift as a solo act, without compromising the quality and diversity of his production work. This EP comes in a little longer than the last, a 9-track offering which features 3 of his most recent audio releases and only 2 features from artists I’m not quite familiar with. It’ll be interesting to hear how MeLo works in these extended circumstances, especially with a couple of guest producers on board to mix things up a little, and you can stream the EP below, and also grab it for free down there too.

Mike Posner-We Own It (Remix) ft. Sammy Adams, T. Mills and Niykee Heaton (Video)

An enjoyable collaboration between several young talents here, as Mike Posner assembles a small squad to tackle the 2 Chainz single.

For those who haven’t come across her before, Niykee Heaton is a rather talented act who rose to prominence after a series of (ongoing) YouTube videos covering several popular tracks, most notably reworking hip-hop tracks that you’d struggle to imagine working in an acoustic environment. Here, she combines with Posner to reinvent the 2 Chainz’s original’s hook, turning it into a more pop-oriented effort that should certainly open the track up to a much younger audience. It retains the motivational qualities of the original too, which works well to give the track a strong sense of direction, and though I’m not hugely keen on the rapped verses from Mills and Adams, they’re necessary breaks between the addictive vocal work from Posner and Heaton.

The in-studio video certainly enhances the audio, purely down to the fact it adds an organic, live vibe that’s difficult to portray with audio alone. A fun remix, and should you enjoy it, you can download the audio for free.

Daft Punk-Get Lucky ft. Pharrell (Official Remix)

daft punk get lucky remix artwork
The duo revealed a short while ago that a 10-minute remix of their ubiquitous single was coming (along with a full remix album of Random Access Memories), and given that the original has been played to the point whereby it’s probably our new national anthem, it’s a timely refresh.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This is essentially an extended cut of the original, clearly being the origin work from which the radio edit was carved, and hence it’s got all the positive vibes of the original, just plenty more of them. Whilst it’s clear which segments they cut out for radio use, the overarching upbeat qualities of the production blends those sections in very smoothly, and as it moves through its various iterations, the sheer dynamism and flexibility of their work makes the 10-minute journey pass incredibly easily. I’m not totally sold on the album itself (a seperate discussion), but here they’ve taken its standout piece and essentially stretched it out and ramped it up a few notches, which is absolutely no problem with me, and I expect it won’t be with many others. Stream the track here for now, and look out for its release on 15th July.

Lloyd-Twerk Off ft. Juicy J (Video)

His Playboy Diaires mixtape was the last audio we got from him, and whilst an 8-month hiatus isn’t a lot for most artists, it is for one as prolific (with both features and his own solo work) as Lloyd tends to be. Nonetheless, he’s back and it’s good news for R&B heads.

I’m not sold on the whole ‘twerk, ratchet, molly’ thing (I don’t think anyone is, really), but it’s quite easy to brush aside here as Lloyd’s back to his smooth best vocally. The Drumma Boy production has a strong hip-hop influence, combining speaker-rattling percussion with urgent synth lines that wouldn’t sound out of place on an MMG mixtape, though there’s a slightly more mellow synth creeping in there that keeps the beat tied to Lloyd’s strong points. His hybrid delivery on the verses capitalises on the elevated bass levels in those sections well with a relatively rap-esque delivery riding along the beat well enough, whilst his mellow work on the hook is catchy and pretty much classic Lloyd- unquestionably, the differential between this track and other ‘twerk’-oriented R&B is that hook section, with Lloyd once again showing the durability of his inimitable style.

The video is pretty much women grinding and dancing around in a dark environment, which ends up playing on the moody synth work. Fingers crossed, there’s more coming from Lloyd; whilst some new upcoming talent has given R&B a mini resurgence, there’s room for Lloyd to command a leading position in the mainstream scene.

Cyril Hahn-Perfect Form ft. Shy Girls

cyril hahn
Cyril’s done a great job at positioning himself as one of the premiere remix artists in the electro/dance field, taking on several new releases and classic jams and delivering great refreshes of both in recent months. Now, he’s preparing for an album of his very own, and kicks off with this excellent effort that should find a home on many summer playlists.

Creating mellow electro with a little vibrancy is rarely an easy task, but Hahn manages it well here. The verses throw together drifty samples and synths with thudding, bassy percussion for a nice layer contrast, whilst the vocals are gentle enough to synergise with those soft melodies. The hook steps up a little, with the vocals shifting to a more overtly positive style, along with a couple of additional synth layers and retooled percussion for increased depth and energy. The progression completes with a lively final third, moving into a more expansive style courtesy of sharper, more piercing melodies really filling out that soundscape, and finishing off what is a very likeable piece of (relatively) laidback electronic music. Sadly, it’s not out until 9th September, so you might want to bookmark this for repeat streams.

Janelle Monae-Q.U.E.E.N. Remix ft. Erykah Badu and Prince

For most artists, getting Prince on a remix is not only an honour, but a massive surprise. Here however, it’s not actually that shocking, given both the funky vibe of the track and the eclectic nature of the two talented ladies involved, and instead it feels like a rather natural fit.

The production is retooled to pull back a little on the bouncy, upbeat elements and instead Prince throws in sleazy, late 80s/early 90s-style melodies for a throwback vibe that works perfectly with the original vocals. The addition of thick, chunky bass is what really anchors that retro vibe, evoking memories of the funk-inspired hip-hop beats Digital Underground often favoured, whilst the the retention of the more vintage pieces in the original production only serve to further that trip down memory lane. Sadly, there’s no vocal contribution on this potentially-unfinished version, but we can hold out hope that we’ll get a sprinkling of Prince’s unique delivery on a proper release for this remix. Nonetheless, it’s a good rework of the Janelle Monae single that doesn’t stray too far from its original charm.

-Stream removed by request

Bloc Party-Ratchet

Ratchet really came together whilst we were on tour in 2012. We started slipping it into the sets at the start of this year just to try it out and the reactions were insane. We knew we had something special.

Bloc Party are set to release a new 5-track EP on 13th August, The Nextwave Sessions, before they (supposedly) go on another hiatus following the conclusion of their upcoming tour. And yes, this single is titled after one of hip-hop’s favourite terms in the last 18 months. The instrumentation is upbeat and punk-driven, with a ton of funk in the guitars that takes the edge off their otherwise jagged nature to turn this into a hugely-infectious effort. Kele’s vocals are the key component in adding that addictive vibrancy, combining sarcasm, irony, and general fun into a heavily-inflected, likeably-eccentric style that bounces along that instrumentation well.

It’s a clever video too, paying direct homage to four of their previous visual works (Octopus, Hunting For Witches, Little Thoughts and Helicopter, for those interested), but doing so with progressive levels of distortion that warp the videos into psychedlic, downright weird outcoes. Whether it’s morphing Kele’s face into something rather monstrous or just filling the screen with pure pixellated chaos, it’s both trippy and light-hearted in equal measure, and hence it fits the audio rather well. Look out for that EP on 13th August.

The Weeknd-Kiss Land (Video)

Not safe for work, school or young folk. Seriously. This gets pretty (porno)graphic.

The Kiss Land (still not cool with that title) audio came as a 7 minute double-part track, and here The Weeknd takes the more aggressive, arrogant second half and delivers some visuals to support his upcoming album release of the same name.

The clip features a heavy Japanese theme, filmed in a trippy, grainy format that has a part-surveillance, part-poor quality streaming style to it, and it serves to add a lot of realism to the video. Doing away with perfect lighting and countless filters makes the various activities that take place seem all the more seedy, whilst giving the brief animated transitions a creepy, Big Brother (Orwellian, not the terrible TV show) feel that I expect is intentional- The Weeknd is keen to harmonise that ‘this ain’t nothing to relate to’, and whilst his life may be watched intently from the outside by fans and label executives, the truth isn’t anything they’d necessarily be accustomed to being a part of. The various pornographic acts taking place around The Weeknd pick up the sleaze of both the production and some of the lyricism and most certainly amplify it; it’s brave, as it pretty much ensures this will get zero TV airtime, but you sense this is a more rebellious Weeknd who probably doesn’t care. A dark audiovisual with unashamed levels of seediness- I’m all for it. iTunes is your friend.

M.I.A.-Bring the Noize (Video)

Every listen of this makes M.I.A.’s flow ever more impressive, and whilst my initial audio review commented on it being a return to her earlier style and away from a mainstream direction, those repeat listens have created the realisation that this could actually end up being a huge mainstream favourite. The intense funk and distinctly British flavour flowing through the track overpower the more offbeat elements, making it a fun, lively track that could concievably be a club favourite this summer.

Therefore, the high-octane video quite simply makes sense. There’s no overbearing storyline, and instead it’s generally a light-hearted, energetic clip that begins in automobile-heavy fashion (much like the Bad Girls video), before switching into a club and dance-oriented scenes that pack in plenty of bright colours, high levels of activity and a general freneticism that fits the audio very well. Clearly, M.I.A.’s having a ton of fun with this throughout too, and her natural charisma only serves to enhance the infectiousness of the audiovisual, further shoving it into potential dancefloor filler territory. It’s definitely worth a watch if you were a little undecided on the audio, and of course if you were already a fan then you’ll need no encouragement. Available now.

Smiler-The Coming (Mixtape)

UK hip-hop isn’t something I’ve ever fully committed to as a music fan (even I’m not totally sure why), but Smiler is an act that breaks free of that mental blockade to really command attention in my library. What began as an interest after seeing him perform live turned into a huge appreciation for his All I Know mixtape, and has since blossomed into relative pride at his now-respected stature in the UK rap community.

This tape will hopefully bear fruit from that career progression. Of the features listed, the most notable is certainly Giggs, though most of the 12 tracks are solely Smiler efforts, which should satisfy his fanbase whilst making for a good introduction to new listeners. With an Ed Sheeran-featured single coming soon, it’s fair to expect extended mainstream success to be Smiler’s before long, and you’d do well to jump on the bandwagon now if you haven’t already. Stream and download below.

Smiler-The Coming

Floco Torres-Cruisin'

floco torres
It’s a funny thing to say, but the clarity of Floco’s raps makes all of his music a lot easier to listen to. It doesn’t hurt that’s he’s a pretty smart guy too. Surprising eh? Not being a slurry idiot makes for good music. Shocking.

With the Celebratory Screams, Childhood Dreams EP finally given a release date of 8th July, Floco and Infinite Quest let loose of another good effort from the project. The production blends crisp percussion in with drifty synths for a relatively laidback production with welcomed moments of vibrancy- the most notable example would be the fast-paced electronic melody in the hook, which helps to add a little dynamism to proceedings. The lyrics are a refreshingly honest listen, running through the experience of a bad relationship and breakup, with a hint of uplifting and motivational qualities that put a positive slant on Floco’s introspection. It’s not often you get that sort of lyrical subject without it coming off whiny, and this is a good example of how to deliver that level of openness without sounding like you need a pillow to cry into. Another likeable effort, and that EP can’t come soon enough.

Washed Out-Don't Give Up

The second release from Washed Out’s upcoming Paracosm album, and it’s another good effort to add to the album’s first single.

As with that previous release, there’s a welcomed positivity running through this one, though unlike It All Feels Right, this leans heavier on the chillout side than on the upbeat electronic elements. There’s an overarching smoothness that contains the lively, clunky percussion, brought about by the combination of Washed Out’s vocals and the occasional burst of airy, atmospheric synths, making for a very easygoing listen without becoming boring or overly predictable. The track’s highlight is most certainly those relaxing vocals, with a consistency in delivery that retains the vibe of the song even when the more upbeat elements throw their weight around throughout the hook section; it’s a great use of vocals as a technical layer rather than a foreground attention-grabber, and hence rather than sounding distinct from the production, they add a good deal of depth into the overall soundscape.

Worth a listen for sure, and don’t forget to give that Paracosm album a go upon it’s release on 13th August.

Asher Roth-The Greenhouse Effect Vol. 2 (Mixtape)

asher roth
Sequels can be risky business, but when you consider the quality of the original Greenhouse Effect in conjunction with the generally high standards on his previous mixtape releases, it’s fair to assume Asher will deliver with this one.

He’s put out a couple of loosies in advance of the mixtape’s release, primarily freestyles over existing tracks, and it looks as though there’s plenty of original material on this tape to accompany those remixes. Aside from a list of guest producers that includes Hi-Tek and Dave Sitek, Roth’s frequent collaborator Oren Yoel contributes several productions to this project, a prospect that’s certainly enticing given his past work for Asher. Features include Lil’ Wayne, Rye Rye, Chris Brown, Remy Banks and Justin Bieber (assuming it’s not a sample, that’s not a huge surprise given that they share the same manager), though most of the tracks come featureless and should allow for a good exhibition of Ash’s ability. Free grab below.

Asher Roth-The Greenhouse Effect Vol. 2

Jade-Brown Box

In a continuing motif of simple beauty mixed with subtle subtext, ‘Brown Box’ finds the multi-talented Jade confronting her carnal nature with spiritual weapons.

An interesting audiovisual, and if it wasn’t for that above snippet, this would have just been a really funky audio with a trippy video. Instead, it ends up being a weirdly engrossing experience. Worth noting for ‘underground soul’ fans: this isn’t the Jade who released the likeable It’s My Heart, Cookie EP a few years back.

The track is a great combination of R&B, reggae and pop, combining a sultry vocal style with a production of mellow verses and a fun, bouncy hook. The verses are little more than the occasional tribal drum hit, gentle guitar and a touch of synth, before the bridge draws those guitar plucks closer to scale them fully into the foreground for the hook, which packs in several funk elements for a positive, upbeat anchor point. It’s a very easy piece to listen to, and should certainly work its way into several summer playlists.

The contrast of hook and verse extends into the very divided video, which juxtaposes dark, seedy and temptation-driven scenes with natural, less-overly sexual scenes, and though admittedly the ending confuses the hell out of me, it works well enough with the audio, and at least merits a rewatch to figure it all out.

Metz-Can't Understand

After a hip-hop heavy fortnight, it’s about time something landed that’s non-rap and capable of destroying eardrums. Adult Swim have grabbed Metz to do just that, as the third part of their ‘Singles’ series.

There’s very little complication here. The guitars are thoroughly intense, with a power and drive that engulfs almost everything else the song offers, leaving a small amount of room for the percussion to sit in, and backing the vocals right into a mumbly, barely-audible corner. At just under three minutes long, it’s one you’ll get a rapid adrenaline kick out of, whether it’s cranked up loud in the car or at the gym. Stream below, or download here at Adult Swim’s place.

Mayer Hawthorne-Her Favorite Song (Large Professor Remix)

mayer hawthorne jessie ware
Large Pro slides through with an unexpected official remix of Mayer’s excellent lead single, taken of course from the Where Does This Door Go album, due out on 16th July.

The Professor takes the track in a slightly darker, edgier direction, away from its pop origins and into a moodier area. Stripping out the funky production of the original, the remix opens with a piercing guitar riff that sets the grittier attitude of this track off well, before chunky, thudding percussion enters the fray to really dominate the soundscape. Around that drumline are hints of additional melodies, from soft guitar to easygoing synths, but it’s really one that moves forward on the back of that percussion, and though it becomes a tad repetitive, it does end up being a rather hypnotising listen. Pro even comes through with a verse to switch the momentum of the track slightly, and the heavy percussion certainly lends itself well to Large Professor’s cadence, adding a final dash of hip-hop into a remix that seems to span across several genres. It won’t replace the original, but a nice complement to it.

Drake-The Motion ft. Sampha (of SBTRKT)

drake the motion
Sidenote: there were 4 Drake releases yesterday, but I’m only posting 3 as the 4th was terrible.

If Jodeci Freestyle appeals slightly more to the guys, this one will most definitely reel his extensive female fanbase back in, with Drake making a rather rare return to his singing style throughout.

The hook features Drake’s once-trademark drifty vocals, and it’s actually quite refreshing to hear them again; his attempts at being seen as a rapper first and foremost have almost hidden this side of his work, despite it being a facet which actually makes his mainstream work slightly more bearable. The verses offer a hybrid rap-singing delivery, and it’s one that works well to add depth to the stripped-back, barely-there production in the first verse, whilst his slightly alteration in flow for the second takes advantage of the increased percussive element. Sampha’s backing vocals make for a nice alternative layer, with their natural melancholy enhancing the more spaced-out elements in the production. Probably not one with a massive shelf-life as it gets a little boring, but a good addition to those chillout playlists.

Daley-Songs That Remind Me Of You (Video)

The hugely talented upcomer is back, this being the first single from his as-yet untitled EP. Undoubtedly, his popularity has shot through the roof since his Jessie J collaboration was released last year, and it’s nice to have him back releasing soul/R&B jams once again.

Daley’s songwriting abilities often go a little overlooked due to the excellence of his vocals, and this is another example of his perfect marriage between those two facets. The lyricism is introspective and mournful (and for many, relatable I’m sure), whilst his controlled yet emotional vocals not only enhance the sad, sombre vibe of the track, but even blend with the atmospheric production to add a rather sultry layer that’ll make this listenable for those who don’t necessarily commit themselves lyrically. It’s generally a very mellow, relaxed piece with a mature feel, and hence it’s a nice forward step for the young talent.

The video is a great fit for the moody track, filmed entirely with a black and red colour palette, with the former adding a bleak sense of minimalism, and the latter providing a sharp, emotional trigger. Movement is conservative throughout, working with the track’s slow, winding nature, and generally it’s a good visual that enhances the vibe of the audio well. Head to Daley’s place to get the new EP delivered to your inbox on its release.

Drake-Jodeci Freestyle ft. J. Cole

jodeci freestyle
Remember when these two supposedly didn’t get along? Hip-hop gossip columns seemed to pull back on that pretty quickly, and certainly recent events show that they’ve got a pretty good friendship. Not that anyone actually cares.

It’s unknown whether this will feature on Drake’s upcoming LP, but I expect he could do a lot worse than include this, a good all-rounder with a vibrant, opulent production reminiscent of the type you’ll usually find on a Rick Ross album. From the laidback, pillowy percussion through to the smooth frontend melodies, there’s definitely a summer vibe running through this one, above which Drake moves through arrogant raps and barbed lines at his rap peers, before Cole closes with a more easygoing performance that opts to ride along with the beat rather than contrast it. Of course, it’s hardly a lyrical masterpiece, and I suspect nor is it intended to be, but it’s a welcome bit of summer hip-hop given the relative darkness that the ‘the big three’ rap albums had vast amounts of, on their release earlier this week.

PARTYNEXTDOOR-Over Here ft. Drake

The first of four releases from Drake last night, along with the announcement that his Nothing Was The Same album is due for a 17th September release. Roughly translated, that’s far enough away to let Jay-Z take the summer. Also revealed was the OVO Sound label imprint, with an accompanying website, a label which PND is a part of- his debut mixtape is due out on 1st July, and this latest release should amp up that buzz considerably.

It’s another solid R&B release from PARTYNEXTDOOR, with a likeable production that contrasts atmospheric synths with tribal-style percussion for a mellow sound with a little liveliness thanks to those drums. There’s almost something ‘island’ about certain elements of the beat, and when combined with those sombre synths, it creates a nighttime beach vibe that’s easy to enjoy. PND’s vocals are again heavily Autotuned though not distractingly so, with their sharp, digitised nature not taking too much away from his synergy with that backdrop, whilst Drake’s verse is a welcome break from PND’s computerised crooning. A relatively easygoing R&B jam that Drake fans should enjoy.

Juicy J-One of Those Nights ft. The Weeknd (Video)

On the audio’s release, it was apparent that it was mostly a Weeknd track with a little Juicy J thrown in. Juicy’s only contribution is a verse around halfway through the track, and a couple of adlibs, with the rest of audio completely built around The Weeknd’s soft vocals and the dark, moody production; a good thing, believe me.

The video represents that odd dynamic quite clearly too. It’s almost entirely focused around The Weeknd looking rather depressed and moody; whilst his emotionless expression certainly fits the sombre vibe of the track, it moves away from ‘cool disassociation’ to ‘grumpy teenager’ before too long, and hence it becomes a little cringeworthy. With that said, his brief moment of animated activity is a rather unnerving and surprising turn, offering a wide smile when faced with a loaded gun, which again enhances the rather depressive vibe of the video. Juicy’s visual contributions are drinking and hitting on a barmaid, before shooting a man (the robber) in the back of the head; clearly breaking the stereotypes of hip-hop with that one. Nonetheless, a fitting clip to a solid audio.

John Mayer-Paper Doll

Whilst I didn’t particularly enjoy his Born and Raised album, the Battle Studies LP that came before it was a definite winner, and it’s on that basis that I’ve given his newest single a go.

Taken from his upcoming Paradise Valley album, this is one that should appeal to those with a similar opinion on his back catalogue. The production is built on a gentle blend of guitar plucks, with several individual strums working both in tandem and in contrast to create a layered yet rather minimal backdrop, supported occasionally by soft, barely-there synth work and easygoing percussion. The sound is completely mellow, and hence it’s a perfect fit for Mayer’s naturally-relaxing vocals, which once again manage to pack plenty of emotion in without sacrificing the overall vibe of the track; the overall blend of vocals and production is weighted nice and evenly throughout, and creates what is uncomplicated, easy listening that’s smooth and consistent throughout.

A good addition to a laidback summer playlist that you can get on iTunes now. Look out for the Paradise Valley album on 13th August.

Arctic Monkeys-Do I Wanna Know?

My relationship with their music is tenuous at best. Like most people, I bought into them when they first emerged, but unlike those who’ve stuck by them and hailed them as the second coming of The Clash, my interest waned significantly with each album.

But they’ve reeled me back in here. The guitars are driving, the percussion is crunching and Turner’s mostly dropped the over-reliance on his Northern accent to add vocal character- for all I know, these things could have happened 2 albums ago in truth, but I’m aware of them now and the combination of it all is suitably impressive. There’s a sleazy, Americana vibe to some of the long, drawn-out guitar work, particularly towards the end of the verses and in the second half of the hook, whilst the relatively gentle vocals on the first half of the hook have a retro, atmospheric quality that seems to drum up a 70s sound; generally it’s an effort that traverses comfortably across several rock and indie styles, and does so to very good effect.

If there’s more of this to come, then I’m most certainly sticking around to see what their next album (rumoured for release this year) is going to deliver. Until then, grab this on iTunes now.

Eminem-Symphony In H

eminem tony touch
I got to thinking about Eminem a few days back, and it occurred that he’s not only has he now had as many bad albums as good albums, but there’s an entire generation of people who didn’t grow up with those first two incredible albums on constant rotation. Weird.

Sadly, this is more Encore than MMLP. A while back, Em was quoted for asking a colleague whether a recently-created song was ‘good enough for radio’, and that mentality seems to have seeped into this short effort. There’s always a type of production that seems to accompany his weaker material; it’s hard to define, but has a slightly childish nature to it, and this is another one of those. Em’s flows are as watertight as ever, but he doesn’t really seem to actually be attempting to say anything, instead offering a stream of consciousness with a couple of punchlines thrown in. Longtime Em fans need not bother with it to be honest, and I’m sure its relative lack of quality is why it’s just been thrown out as a loose track for Tony Touch’s mixtape. With a new album rumoured for release at some point this year, let’s hope better material isn’t too far away.

Foals-Bad Habit (Video)

Another release from their fantastic Holy Fire album, and as they did with their previous visual offering, they’ve hooked up with the masterful Nabil Elderkin to deliver this one.

Whilst this wasn’t necessarily one of my favourite tracks on the album, it’s by no means a bad track either and still remains one of the LPs stronger efforts. It’s well-suited to a summer release too, a vibe which is played on in a rather extreme manner, as Yannis traverses a hot, arid desert setting in pursuit of his lady of interest. Unlike their previous video release, this is one that’s less about a direct ‘storyline’ in the video and seemingly more about its visual splendour and implied messaging From the expansive sandy landscape through to the various effects employed throughout, which range from spontaneous sprouting of vegetation through to sandstorms and ground cracks, it’s an impressive clip that has a very cinematic feel. Of course, the eventual disintegration of his surroundings points towards either an illusory world or a gradual breakdown in his relationship, and either way it’s a digestable undercurrent that’s visualised smartly. If, for some reason, you haven’t already, be sure to grab the Total Life Forever album now.

M.I.A.-Bring the Noize

bring the noize
After a mixtape-focused 2012 and various reported release dates earlier this year for her fourth album, M.I.A.’s back with the lead single from her upcoming Mathangi LP.

I’d imagine the longtime fans will be quite happy with this. It’s far removed from her more mainstream-friendly excursions last year, particularly the highly-addictive Bad Girls, and instead goes back to the jittery, offbeat style that warmed so many music heads to her work. The production is built up on a cacophonous blend of tribal percussion, bass hits, unpredictable synths and much more, with the impact being a high-octane, energetic listen that’ll have your equilibrium doing somersaults initially, but becomes a more comfortable listen with time. The vocal work is typically rhythmic on the hook, made up of little more than short vocal hits, though her speedy, high-speed delivery on the verses is considerably more notable, with her natural sense of control seeping through into the fast-paced rap work. A lively, pulsating lead single and a good return to the scene.

Deer Tick-The Rock

deer tick
The Rock is a song about being in love with an artist and subsequently having your heart broken by that artist. The silly little metaphors in the song are ‘the rock’ which is the power to destroy your relationship, and ‘the window’ which is the relationship. I like the idea of a breakup being represented by shattering glass.

My first exposure to Deer Tick is a positive one. Taken from the upcoming Negativity album, set for 24th September, this one moves through several styles with an admirable intensity that makes it a diverse and enjoyable listen. The first minute is a gentle ride, combining airy synths with delicate yet sharp vocal work, before the track explodes into life with lively piano melodies, crisp percussion and plenty more besides. The end product is a fun yet intense listen, with surprising dashes of horns thrown in at the halfway point for a jazzy touch, and the lengthy guitar strums toward the end add a further layer of diversity- the overall sound is one that hovers between rock, alternative, pop and western, and with good effect. The vocal work capitalises well on the track’s various highs and lows, whilst their consistency affords the track a sense of stability amongst that varied production, and finishes off what is a very likeable track from the band.