The National and Bob's Burgers - Sailors In Your Mouth (Video)

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It’s weird and trippy, and yet hilariously brilliant. The National’s slow, sombre song is given an animated twist by the creators of the excellent Bob’s Burgers (if you don’t watch it, cancel your subscription to life). Watch the video here.

If you close your eyes and just listen to this first, there is absolutey no way you can expect this to be the video. The vocals are sombre, the instrumentation is downbeat and morose, and there’s a general moodiness that seems more suited to sitting alone in a field of snow rather than accompanying one of TV’s finest animated comedies. That being said, a closer listen reveals the lyrics to be rather well-suited to the video, given that they’re focused around gravy and other food, and it’s a fun, slightly brilliant contrast with the vibe of the instrumentation.

As good as the song is (and it is good), the video is the highlight, featuring the band as the gravy sailors who gradually make their way into Bob’s mouth. They do so in an expresionless, dour manner that again makes for the most hilarious contrast, before performing slightly more emotionally inside his mouth. The attempt at seriousness is great fun, and the video closing with the kids frolicking in the gravy (except for Tina, who steals the show by doing nothing) finishes off what is an utterly ludicrous and clever effort. Very fun video, and a surprisingly good song too.

Childish Gambino-Telegraph Ave.

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Every track that lands from Childish Gambino’s upcoming because the internet suggests we’re in for a late album of the year contender. He seems to really have settled his sound down a lot (just listen to the variance between Camp and Royalty), going for a sound akin to the former, but with much improved lyrical and vocal work- you sensed that he felt obliged to deliver something “harder” around the time of Royalty, and hence it’s nice to see him shed that pressure and get on with making good music that suits his skills.

There’s something about this track that has a So Far Gone vibe about it, and that’s definitely not a bad thing at this time of year. The production is a fantastic combination of atmospheric synths, thunderous bass and light, airy melodies, creating an easygoing vibe yet one with enough intensity to stop it becoming too laidback. That classic versatility is on show too, as Gambino moves from gentle, distorted vocals on the hook to a hybrid delivery on the verses, and throws in a rapped verse towards the end- such is the difference between the cadence and softness of the two styles, it almost feels as though he’s a ‘guest’ on his own track. It’s really just an excellent all-rounder that will most definitely be a favourite with CG fans. Free download, including the uptempo Ta-Ku remix below, available here.

Kanye West - Bound 2 (Video)

Yeezus was a pretty hit-and-miss album by all accounts, but this seemed to be the sole track that garnered universal praise. It clearly evoked memories of Kanye’s older, more soul-driven work (I daresay it would have slotted in smoothly on Late Registration), and whilst I wasn’t massive on the track at the time, it’s one of the very few that I can endure listening to from the LP these days.

The wild roaming horses, motorcycle ride in front of expansive scenery, windy portrait shot and so on add up to a generally positive video, though one that is immeasurably corny. It exclusively features Kanye and Kim Kardashian essentially engaging in some heavy petting on a motorbike, whilst the screen behind them shows a range of classic rural American scenery (Monument Valley, if I’m not mistaken)- Kanye will pass this off as super creative and so forth, but it’s hardly the case. Instead, it’s just a bit boring in truth, and whilst Ye’s ability to hold back a little on the snarling, brooding expressions helps create a more feelgood vibe, it’s still not the most inspiring or engaging work he’ll ever release. Nonetheless, I’m sure many will be glad to be reminded of the track’s qualities, and I doubt many will complain about seeing Kim Kardashian writhing around, so at least it serves some purpose, whether intended or not.

Death Grips-Government Plates (Album)

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Of all the groups that you’d consider an acquired taste, Death Grips have to be somewhere near the top. The sheer anarchy of their sound is somewhere between insane and addictive, with the harsh, discordant combination of punk, electro, hip-hop and alternative being entirely unique and yet with strands of familiarity lying within the chaos.

They famously cancelled many of their live appearances this summer, to the disappointment of their rabid fanbase that had lapped up the two free album releases on 2012. Thankfully, it seems that time wasn’t exactly wasted, with this new album release landing way ahead of its original 2014 schedule. 11 tracks make this one up, and I fully expect it to be another eardrum-tearing, cacophonous ride through their own inimitable style. You can stream and/or download the album below.

Death Grips-Government Plates (Stream)

Death Grips-Government Plates (Download)

Childish Gambino-Melrose

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Because the Internet is rumoured to land on 10th December, and though this track was only released as part of a tweet to Jhene Aiko (who, contrary to semi-accepted belief, is not romantically involved with Gambino), it’s probably fair to accept it’ll land on the album given that it’s potentially only a month away.

Compared to recent releases (and arguably anything since Camp), it’s much lighter and soulful in nature, featuring Gambino exclusively singing throughout over a melancholy production. A lot of the longtime Gambino fans will be quite pleased to hear this, as it’s much closer to his early work and a departure from the harsher style Royalty came with (and arguably didn’t really succeed with). The production begins with sombre piano notes, before involving a strong percussion line and a little more melody to thicken up the backdrop, and eventually throwing forth a synth-driven, comparatively cacophonous final third. It’s good progression throughout, and despite that last third being far livelier than the first third, it still maintains an air of reflectiveness, which matches up to the desperate, lonely vocals that Gambino delivers throughout. There isn’t much variety vocally, as it’s essentially just Gambino crooning out a hook and a couple of adlibs, but that simplicity works quite well here in synergising with the production to create an atmospheric, introspective vibe, and deliver what is a fairly likeable effort.

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PARTYNEXTDOOR-Break From Toronto (Video)

Since PND’s self-titled album release in July, I can honestly say that I’ve had no less than 9 of the project’s tracks on a very regular rotation. Given that it’s only a 10-track album, that is an incredible ratio that betters almost any other album this year. Arguably, two of the three efforts he released ahead of the album (Make A Mil, Wus Good/Curious) were the weakest of the bunch (though the latter is still very good), and it seems like a bit of faith paid off as the rest of the LP thoroughly delivered.

Whilst this is one of the shorter tracks on the album, it’s still a strong example of what he’s all about. The production has atmosphere in abundance, combined with a thudding bass that adds a strong hip-hop flavour to the otherwise soulful soundscape, and hence the track ends up landing in the hallowed middle ground between laidback listening and speaker-crunching head-nodder. That versatility ends up amplifying PND’s own adaptability, as he switches between the rapped verse and brief sung hook with relative ease- the video’s final third gives his Autotuned singing a little more spotlight too, borrowing a snippet from the aforementioned Wus Good/Curious. The clip plays on the track’s atmospheric vibe with a nightime city setting, whilst the arrogant lyrics are reflected in the various activities taking place. Frankly, it’s good camera time for Drake’s young protege, and hopefully there’s more coming in 2014. For now, get that album.

The Killers-Just Another Girl

The Killers have a greatest hits album due out on 11th November (after four albums, is it a little too soon for one?), which is set to feature a couple of new tracks, including this effort.

Admittedly, their last two albums really haven’t struck a chord with me, which is bitterly disappointing as I listened to the first two religiously, but this track does undo some of that bad work. Whilst it does carry much of the electronic influence that was rife in their most recent pair of albums, it’s tempered by enough ‘organics’ to keep it on the right path, particularly the acoustic strums in the verses and the bubbly, instrument-packed hook. That being said, the general vibe of the track has a driving quality that will reel you in, and that ends up being the result of a successful marriage between the electronic and rock elements included, with the end result being a far better synergy of the two than they’ve previously managed. Brandon’s vocals are typically catchy and will rattle around your head for weeks, throwing forth an extremely infectious hook that should set this up for plenty of radio play, and they cap off what could turn out to be a fairly popular song over the next couple of months. Available on the Direct Hits album, landing next week.

Audio Push-So Far To Go ft. Preston Harris (Video)

If one of the better duos in the rap game want to have a go on an underappreciated J Dilla beat, I’m paying attention. Audio Push are slowly cementing themselves as a force to be reckoned, and given hip-hop’s lack of true duos (and that doesn’t mean two artists coming together for a one-off project), they’ve definitely got a chance of filling the void that, arguably, was last housed by the Clipse.

The beat is a bonafide classic. Dilla captured a perfect chillout vibe with a bassy hip-hop edge, Common did justice to it on the Finding Forever album, and now Audio Push revive the soulful production for this quick release. Their verses are as solid as ever, with some likeable moments of biographical storytelling laid alongside good raps about their current lives- the latter is actually quite refreshing as rather than focus on the typical ‘bragger raps’, there are moments of honesty and insight that strip away the arrogance and suit the reflective nature of the production. It would be an easy move to stick with the brash, confident raps and just apply them to this beat, but they certainly deserve credit for adjusting their game where many artists in their position probably wouldn’t have bothered, whilst Preston’s soulful hook caps things off smoothly.

If you haven’t already, grab their Come As You Are mixtape now (sadly, this isn’t on there though).

Yuna-Rescue (Video)

It’s rare, but sometimes I really do disappoint myself. Yuna’s easily one of my favourite vocalists to have emerged in the last couple of years, and I completely overlooked the release of her second album, Nocturnal, late last month. Foolish. There’s something about her voice that’s just inherently mesmerising- it’s incredibly engaging and you’ll rarely give anything of hers only one play.

This single is from the aforementioned album and offers great hope for the rest of the LP, as well as being a good introduction for those unfamiliar with Yuna. It’s much more extroverted and upbeat than some of her previous work, throwing forth lively, island-esque percussion and gentle piano touches for easy-to-digest verses, and a more extravagant soundscape for the hook, with guitar strums, stronger percussion and plenty more entering the fray. Yuna’s vocals are excellent as always, remaining controlled and smooth in the verses, and scaling up to an explosive, soaring style for the hook which you can’t help but get caught up in, purely for the sheer positivity emanating from every note. The heavy anchoring around the chorus is classic structuring that serves to make that section about as feelgood as anything you’ll hear, whilst giving the verses a more lyrical focus. A fantastic piece of pop, accompanied by some good camera time for Yuna, who delivers bright, uncomplicated visuals with a nice touch of fun. Worth a watch, definitely worth a listen, and be sure to get that album now.

MeLo-X-GOD: Pièce de Résistance (Full Album Stream)

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After a few short years of releasing mixtapes, EP’s, instrumental albums, collaborations, and traveling around the world, MeLo has finally released an official solo LP for sale. This year has been filled with amazing visuals and a EP series leading up to November 5th. Watch the shift occur.

So, there were several big album releases this week, but in truth, I’ll probably be giving this one priority over most. MeLo’s work over the last 18 months has been representative of a man at the top of his craft, having not only matured as a producer, but also growing as a rapper. Throw his enjoyable pack of videos into that, and you’ve got an artist who has developed every aspect of his game, and that appears to culminate with this release.

The 12 track LP features plenty of new material alongside choice cuts from the preceding three EPs released this year (LoFi, HiFi and WiFi), and features previous collaborators Jesse Boykins III and Cheri Coke, amongst others. Given his excellent work with both in the past, it’s fair to expect big things from those tracks, whilst I’m sure the rest will be thoroughly enjoyable too. Very excited about this one- you can stream it in the accompanying widget below, and be sure to follow that up with a purchase.

Mike G-DAM ft. Left Brain

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There’s something about Mike G’s rapping style that is completely hypnotic. I can’t really figure it out, but almost everything you hear him on, he commands the flow of the track quickly and bounces along it with incredible ease. It’s quite unique in terms of his sheer synchronicity with any production he’s met with, and whilst that might turn some people off, I find it fun listening.

This is as good an example of his rap style as you could ask for. The production itself is pretty easygoing and slow-moving, plodding along with sharp clicks, chunky bass and mesmerising, eastern-influenced string plucks, and generally isn’t too active or in-your-face. That laidback style can often result in quite dour, boring tracks, but again it’s Mike G’s cool, laidback delivery that elevates the track, synergising effortlessly with the production’s tempo to fill out the soundscape’s gaps. His lyrical work is generally consistent and here is no different, with a mix of braggadocios raps and punchlines throughout, whilst Left Brain’s dulcet tones make for a good slice of tonal variety.

All-round, it’s a pretty enjoyable hip-hop jam with a good chillout sensibility, and is one of those that will quietly rack up a bunch of plays in your library. Mike Check Vol. 2 coming soon.

Sampha-Too Much (Video)

Of those who enjoyed Drake’s recent Nothing Was The Same album (and yes, I’m one of those folk), a large percentage cited this as the album’s standout or their current favourite. That widespread praise was heavily indebted to Sampha’s work on the intro, hook and outro, and it appears that was just a taster of what was to come, as he comes through with a full solo version.

Taken from an upcoming double A-side vinyl release, this mastered version of the track (you’ll notice the version on Drake’s album is a little rougher in comparison) is a beautifully gentle piece that will definitely find a home with those who enjoyed the NWTS version. The production is stripped down to the bare bones, swapping out the lavish soundscape of the Drake edition for lonely, isolated piano notes that create a simple, delicate backdrop. They’re perfectly suited to the anguish and emotion in Sampha’s voice throughout too, with his delivery and lyrics throughout being packed full of heartfelt sentiment and a rawness that would have been badly-placed in front of a heavily-layered production. It’s nothing complicated: this is pure ballad territory, and Sampha croons his heart out with great skill and believability.

An excellent listen, and one that could get a lot of play time on these cold winter nights. Look out for the iTunes release on 12th November.