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.

Holy Ghost!-Hold On, We're Going Home (Cover)

A lot of readers won’t like this at all, but there’s something about the retro funk take on the ubiquitous Drake single that’s quite endearing. It’s not technically perfect or the cleanest cover in the world, but instead is a rough-around-the-edges slice of bouncy alt pop that makes for fun listening.

Stripping out the R&B-styled production, Holy Ghost! throw in a set of chunky synths, some airy and some disco-esque, taking the track from being geared around a teenage girl’s alone time listening (not criticism as I listen to it too, but then I’m essentially a teenage girl) and to a teenage girl’s pre-night out listening. The vocal work is fairly laidback, though opts against the whispery tones Drake went with, and instead for a clearer, crisper style that plays off the buzzing synth work well.

Worth a go if you liked the original, but not one that will exactly convert those who don’t like the track as it is.

Travie McCoy-Rough Water ft. Jason Mraz

It’s been a long time since we’ve had new solo material from Gym Class Heroes’ Travie McCoy, but he re-emerges here with this mainstream-ready single.

Many will remember his global hit Billionaire, a track that also proved one of the key factors in Bruno Mars’ subsequent rise to prominence, and I’d imagine this will find favour with those who enjoyed that effort. The Jason Mraz hook is very “family friendly”, with emotional, catchy vocals that pack in enough love-centric lyricism to make it a real favourite with the younger crowd, and hence provides the sort of anchor that should make this track a big mainstream seller. McCoy’s verses stay on track well enough, and though it’s definitely not the best use of his ability (though admittedly, it’s been a while since he’s been ‘properly’ used), he’s clearly good at making pop-friendly tracks, and credit for coming back into the spotlight after a long time out and not losing that ability.

It won’t be to the tastes of most of the older readers here, but it’ll almost definitely be a big hit in the next few months, so prepare for it to dominate the usual mainstream outlets.

Nelly-Heaven ft. Daley

Let me make this clear- I’m not a fan of this track at all. However, it’s great to see the homegrown talents of Daley extend beyond our proud nation and further into the US scene, as he comes together with Nelly for his latest single from the upcoming M.O. album.

It’s quite likely to be a bit of a mainstream hit too. It’s got the hallmarks of an old-school Nelly crowd-pleaser, from the pop-tinged, acoustic guitar-driven production through to the heavy reliance on a catchy hook, and those fans who enjoyed his Kelly Rowland/Tim McGraw singles will probably eat this one up. For the rest of us though, it’s entirely skippable-give it one listen just to catch Daley at his soaring best (in what is a strong audition to become a more regular hook guy for others), and you’re welcome to never revisit it again after that.

RAC-Let Go ft. Kele Okereke and MNDR

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Attentive readers will remember RAC remixing Bloc Party’s Octopus around a year ago, and Kele returns the favour somewhat here with a feature on RAC’s very likeable solo single.

It’s one of those that’s perfectly suited for summer, but not in a lively, blast out loud in the car sort of way. Rather, it’s suited to laying around relaxing, and with so much of a feelgood vibe that it’s almost romantic- you could easily hear this soundtracking a kiss in a chick flick. It’s wholly infectious, blending together funky bass, slow-moving percussion, faint synths and gentle backing vocals from MNDR for mellow, easygoing verses, and throwing forth more energetic guitars, samples and vibrant vocals for the anchoring choruses- it becomes much livelier, but not to such an extent that the verses become redundant, and hence it’s a good production all-round.

Kele’s vocals in the verses are sure to be a highlight for many, their delicate qualities hovering gently above the soft production, and building enough emotion to allow MNDR’s more urgent hook to offer a climactic release. With a little radio play, this could quite easily become a late mainstream favourite for the summer. And if not, some of you dealing with TV/film music (yeah, we know you read this) should really be grabbing hold of this for your next sync.

Lorde-Royals Remix ft. The Weeknd

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I didn’t know the first thing about Lorde, but I’m now informed that she’s pretty big in her homeland of New Zealand and appears to be breaking some walls down with the US audience too. It’s also quite surprising that someone with a voice as mature-sounding as this is only 16 years old. Born in ’96. That makes me feel incredibly strange.

The original’s a rather minimal, sparsely-populated effort- The Weeknd and his team have kept the original’s natural atmosphere, and added a slightly darker, more atmospheric aspect to it via varying pitches of synth and a reinforced percussion that moves the track along as a more engaging pace. Vocally, The Weeknd’s contributions are primarily melodic adlibs and backing vocals, most notably around the middle third of the track, and though I’m in agreement with those who would have preferred a verse from The Weeknd, it’s also fair to say that this style of production doesn’t necessarily play to this strengths in terms of it being a very pop-heavy style, as opposed to his more familiar dark R&B angle. Nothing I’m going to revisit anytime soon, and something the grown-ups can probably skip, but the mainstream heads might find a place for it in their libraries alongside the original.

Banks-Waiting Game

banks waiting game
Track-by-track, Banks not only seems to double her fanbase, but also continually one-ups herself in terms of song quality. This, the third release of hers (that I’ve heard) is another laidback, mellow effort but from a much different angle than her previous effort, the slightly more positive Warm Water- this one opts for a similar emotional vibe, but in a more pained, downbeat manner that highlights Banks’ introspective lyricism in a much more reflective, visceral manner.

Where the aforementioned Warm Water was notable for the synergy between the velvety production and smooth vocals, this one utilises the contrast between the two for a much sharper, more penetrative effort. The production opens gently, allowing the vocals too pierce through its minimal, gentle sound, before progressing upward into a hazy combination of synths, haunting vocal samples and menacing percussion, creating a dark, moody and intense vibe. The momentum created by the more vibrant sections of the production allow Banks’ vocals to scale back when the beat is at its peak, whilst she slides into the brief production pauses to let out more emotive, sharper deliveries, in what is a comfortable show of vocals versatility and also of production awareness, in terms of allowing it room to blossom. Worth a listen for sure, and another solid release from the talented upcomer.

Drake-Hold On, We're Going Home ft. Majid Jordan

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Drake’s singing again, and if you listen closely, you can almost hear the sound of thousands of female Drake fans simultaneously superglueing pictures of Drake to their underwear.

A rough radio version leaked earlier, but here goes the official stream, courtesy of the man himself. It’s actually quite interesting to have Drake back in R&B/pop mode; call it novelty, but he does these efforts so rarely these days that it’s a nice surprise when he does. It’s incredibly poppy and nothing I’ll likely listen to after a week, but his hypnotising vocals are undeniably catchy, and the bedrock of what is a surefire mainstream hit- clearly, his previous singles didn’t quite crash the chart party as he would have liked (even if they were far more impressive to the hip-hop audience), and this is clearly his safety option to ensure he shifts some numbers when his album lands in September. It’s not quite as “R&B” as some of his previous singing-oriented work, and seems to make little attempt to hide that, but pop fans could probably do a lot worse than this.

On a seperate note, for those after something a little more R&B, may I recommend Drake’s signee PARTYNEXTDOOR’s surprisingly enjoyable (I say that because it’s Autotuned) recent album.

Robin Thicke-Blurred Lines (Acoustic) ft. Jimmy Fallon and The Roots

So, this is basically incredible.

Thicke teamed up with Fallon and his wonderful house band, the legendary Roots crew, for a unique acoustic take on his international fan favourite of a single- they performed the entire track using instruments found in a music classroom. From a kazoo to a banana (yep) and spoons, it’s a fantastically-creative rework of the popular single; so much so, that Robin’s vocals end up becoming a bit of a sideshow to the ludicrous instrumental performance from all involved. Arrested Development fans-there’s even a real wood block involved (season 4 reference).

As if all of the above wasn’t enough, there’s a Black Thought verse thrown in for good measure, as he fills in for T.I. with a quickfire offering of his own, adding what is a great final touch to an excellent performance. Must-watch stuff for sure, if only for the sight of a banana being used as an instrument.

Justin Timberlake-Take Back The Night

Apologies for the recent absence. It’s easier to be outdoors than indoors. Time to catch up with the releases of the last few days, and none are bigger than the first single from The 20/20 Experience, part 2.

Suit & Tie came with a little bit of an old-school vibe, and that carried through to one or two tracks on JT’s recent album. However, this time Justin’s really backed that vintage sound with this effort, channelling a throwback sound that lands pretty close to the Jackson 5/Michael Jackson’s early work. The funk-driven production is the primary component of this track’s retro flavour, with the bouncy melodies being eerily reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough, whilst the sporadic string touches add a touch of classical vibrancy to fill out that soundscape. It’s hard to shake the impression that it’s a slowed down version of the aforementioned Michael Jackson single, and in truth that’s not necessarily a bad thing-it’s almost a cover without being a cover, and hence plays quite safe territory by evoking the fond nostalgia of the original, without ever directly replicating it.

The vocal work is solid throughout, with JT remaining fun and harmonic without being too overbearing, and hence allowing the distinctive production to breathe. Unfortunately, there are some Timbaland adlibs. Can’t that guy shut up?

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.

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.

Mayer Hawthorne-Reach Out Richard

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With the first release from Mayer’s Where Does This Door Go still getting plenty of replays on my iPod, he lets the second single go, one with a heavy personal twist as it’s for his father.

Much like the first single, there’s a lot of funk influence here, with bubbly guitars accompanied by vibrant percussion, making for a backdrop that hovers somewhere between soul and pop with a vintage twist. Unlike that track though, this one offers the upbeat qualities the full way through the track, skipping the option of cool-down sections in favour of a more consistent positivity that becomes increasingly infectious as the song drives onward. Occasionally, it tends to overpower Mayer’s relatively subtle vocals, but for the most part it’s a good accompaniment to his performance, which contains plenty of reflective lyricism- though the production may deceive you into thinking otherwise, it’s a very open set of lyrics that are remarkably honest at times, and it’s quite warming to hear the respect Mayer has for his father. Enjoyable work once again, and be sure to grab the album on 16th July.

Mike Posner-The Way It Used To Be

Pages is the title of Posner’s upcoming album, and with some of his recent freebies being mostly strong releases, you’d be forgiven for having high hopes for this lead single.

Unfortunately, it’s really not up to those standards. This is unabashed chart music, from the bubble-pop production through to the rather generic lyricism, and it’s clearly his stab at a new radio single; it’s understandable given that his work generally falls into the pop category, but those who’ve followed him since the Brain Trust days will be disappointed at this fairly uninspiring use of the great talent he does have. That’s not another ‘oh, he should make music like he used to’ complaint, as he’s an evolving artist with enough versatility to try different sounds, but this just seems like paint-by-numbers pop with little to grab onto for the non-teenage listener.

With that said, it’s surely going to be a favourite with the younger audience this summer, with its squeaky-clean nature surely primed for mainstream success; it’s just not going to quite sway favour with anyone above the age of 17. I’m sure Posner’s really annoyed at having a potential chart smash and not impressing people like me, eh?

Banks-Warm Water (Video)

This single has grown on me with each play, and I’m clearly not alone- her profile seems to be raising with every passing day, and this video release will certainly help that growth.

The buttery smooth production is incredibly gentle on the ears, and sets this clip up so well that it’s pretty difficult to fail; there’s no approach that wouldn’t have worked with such a strong backdrop, though this visual accompaniment does certainly maximise its impact. Banks’ and her love interest’s movements are kept minimal, with most of the motion coming from the camera work and scene changes, a factor that helps enhance the rather gentle, delicate nature of the song, whilst the monochromatics throughout work with the song’s stripped-back, atmospheric nature well. The occasional bursts of water in various forms further adds a calming, organic quality to the video, and again helps to build on the uncomplicated, minimal style of both the audio and the video.

An incredibly relaxing audiovisual, and one which will hopefully prove to be a strong launching pad for Banks to really get some wider recognition. Grab the audio on iTunes right now.

Icona Pop-Girlfriend

icona pop
Over time, 2Pac’s Me and My Girlfriend has becoming increasingly bastardised. There was the oft-forgotten Toni Braxton remix in ’02, but most notably Jay-Z and Beyonce’s ’03 Bonnie and Clyde has almost surpassed the original in terms of popularity; it’s creepy to think that upon hearing this, there’s an entire generation of people who will think that Jay’s version is what this is sampling/covering.

Ten years after Hov’s version comes this, whereby the Swedish duo complete the track’s transition; we’ve had 2Pac’s aggressive original, Jay’s slightly less in-your-face version, and now a a bubble-pop, electro-infused cover that will once again open the track up to a whole new generation of mainstream heads. The production is unashamedly textbook pop, whilst the duo’s vocal work has a fun sense of rebellion and carefreeness- independent of the hook’s origins, that combination makes this a definite contender for chart domination this summer, whether you like it or not. I’m not a fan as it’s not really my style of track, and I’m fiercely loyal to the untouched original, but credit where it’s due as they’ve moved the track completely away from its origins and turned it into a potential pop smash of their own.

Sophie Delila-Bound to Fall (Video)

A regular collaborator with Nouvelle Vague and having found herself joining Plan B on stage, the London-based Parisian has been catapulted into a world of big-name musicians, a theme that’s relayed in ‘Bound to Fall’. “Life sometimes pushes you to the edge and it’s about how you deal with it, whether you can control things or not,” Sophie says.

A good blend of pop, soul and alternative coming through a vibrant yet mellow voice, and one that I’m sure will find plenty of favour with fans across the board. The track boasts strong production, with stripped back verses of soft keys and minimal percussion juxtaposing well with the hook, which throws in a huge drum line for immediate impact, alongside backing vocals and many more layers that contribute to a grand anchor point. Sophie’s vocals progress between two deliveries, with a gentler opening blossoming into an intense, empassioned performance as the track evolves; it’s crisply done, and there’s proof that she’s got the versatility to do the laidback work just as competently as the more expansive stuff.

The video combines footage from various historical moments and modern travels into a clip that represents the audio very well. Almost every segment chosen here not only fits in terms of lyrical context, but also provides ideal scenery to match the song’s current stage, and hence it’s a good accompaniment throughout. Be sure to catch Sophie at Camden’s Jazz Cafe on 13th June.

Charli XCX-I Want It That Way (Cover)

Looks like it’s old-school song cover day, as Charli XCX follows up her British compatriots with this rendition of the classic (don’t pretend it isn’t) Backstreet Boys track. When you consider Charli’s alternative, occasionally psychedlic stylings, it’s initially hard to concieve quite how this cover will work.

Press play and that feeling will go away pretty quickly. Charli ditches the more electronic, experimental stylings of some of her work and instead performs a hugely stripped-back cover that offers a good opportunity (and a first, for many) to properly appreciate her vocal talents. I’m in the group of knowing her more for the all-round package than as a vocalist, and this committed performance is a great sign of adaptability, and not only stands her in good stead with her current avenue of creativity, but also shows she’s got more tricks in her bag if she ever switches direction. The supporting production gets a little monotonous at times, with the same couple of keys repeated over and over, but as a showcase of Charli’s ability, this clip works tremendously.

Mayer Hawthorne-Her Favorite Song ft. Jessie Ware

mayer hawthorne jessie ware
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.

Banks-Warm Water

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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.

Empire of the Sun-Alive (Video)

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.

The Great Gatsby OST (Full Album Stream)

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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)

Marina and The Diamonds and Charli XCX-Just Desserts

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A solid pop effort for the mainstream heads, as the wildly popular Marina and The Diamonds hook up with electro-pop’s rising star in Charli XCX, both for this track and an upcoming US tour. It’s an interesting piece, with the production blending together elements of dark pop, traditional pop and a touch of electro for a relatively diverse, yet very accessible production that should find favour with the mainstream heads. The vocal work from both meshes together extremely well, with both their distinct sections and duet segments complementing one another throughout, helped by the generally attitudinal vibe of the lyricism. It’s not anything that’s exactly to my tastes, but for a ‘radio-friendly’ duo such as this, it’s more listenable than most might expect.

Ryan McDermott-Joy ft. Hit-Boy (Video)

Since the release of this track, it’s been a permanent fixture in pretty much every playlist I use, and unquestionably it’s one that demonstrates why Kanye West saw fit to bring him on as a G.O.O.D. Music member (and also justifies his pick on my 13 for ’13).

As an extremely versatile track in terms of ideal listening environment, the direction of the video was rather flexible, and Ryan’s managed to pick a good direction for it. The production lends itself to a summery environment, and that’s provided throughout this clip, with plenty of ocean views, sandy beaches and a general brightness that captures the warmth of the track, whilst the emotional vocals and lyrics are visualised in the young child’s search and journey through several terrains. What’s notable is there’s a slight tempering of the video throughout, via both the hazy filter and relative lack of activity (in terms of ‘summer enjoyment’), and that culminates in the somewhat ambiguous and bittersweet ending. It’s a nice representation of the audio in terms of scenery, whilst the actions within add a different layer of depth to the vocal and lyrical work. A good watch, and hopefully a breakout single for Ryan.

Work Drugs-West Coast Slide

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What’s that? Some relatively consistent warm weather? Time for more bouncy summer music.

The first single from their upcoming album, due this summer, Work Drugs drop off an overwhelmingly positive slice of alternative pop that’ll brighten anyone’s day (unless you’re naturally a bit miserable). Crisp percussion drives this one along at a good pace, whilst vibrant electro-esque synths buzz through the track and lashings of smooth guitar work add a layer of organic instrumentation. I’ve not done justice to the depth of this upbeat production as there’s a lot going on there, hitting the right spots for both mainstream listeners and casual fans, and also infusing the catchy vocals with a ton of energy. Those vocals are relatively laidback for the verses, building to a hook that really defines the track, with multi-layered vocals that enhance the singalong vibe, and their overall synergy with the production creates an inescapably feelgood track. It’ll be too squeaky-clean for many, but for the rest it’s an easy addition to a summer playlist. Shout out to SKOA on the find.

Empire of the Sun-Alive

ice on the dune
Their highly-anticipated album, Ice on the Dune, lands in June and after teasing us with a cinematic trailer, we get the first full song from the duo’s sophomore LP.

Immediately apparent is the positive, pop-inspired sound that holds this one together, straying slightly further away from their alternative electronic into a more electro-pop territory that makes this a prime contender for radio play in the coming months. The production is built on an ethereal vocal stutter, adding a spaced-out yet upbeat layer to a beat that also encompasses very lively percussion and aestival synths that completely brighten the soundscape. The vocal work is suitably anthemic, with their individual vocal layers seemingly multiplied to recreate the sound of a young persons’ singing group…or alternately, they actually are choir-style vocals. In any case, it creates a feelgood, celebratory vibe to accompany that blindingly-positive production, and hence the package is one that’s not only suited to the time of year (I know, I’ve said that a lot recently), but could potentially be a big mainstream hit for the duo.

Cassie-RockaByeBaby (Mixtape)

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It’s been a very, very long time in the making but Cassie finally comes through with a full-length project, her first since her 2006 debut album. Hard to believe given the steady stream of loose material that’s emerged from her camp in the interim period, but it’s good that in that time she’s evolved and refined her sound into the laidback electro R&B stylings that this mixtape is expected to be filled with.

Features are plentiful here, with appearances from Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross, Meek Mill, Jeremih, Pusha T, Fabolous and more, whilst I’m sure the production credits (which aren’t listed) won’t be lacking either. Datpiff seem to be having problems, but expect the download to be available at the below link shortly.

Cassie-RockaByeBaby

Quadron-Hey Love (Video)

The ever-smooth Quadron come through with visuals for the lead single from the Avalanche album, due on 4th June. This track has grown on me by the day since its release, particularly the addictive hook, and it’s good to get a refresh with this visual.

Speed dating, with a difference. Coco lines up a group of suitors (get it? SUIT? YEAH), and they’re each given the chance to enjoy a little choreography with the wonderfully-gifted vocalist, who proves she’s got moves to add to her vocal capabilities. Truthfully, despite enjoying their music, this is the first video of Quadron’s I’ve watched, and if you’re in the same situation you’ll struggle to not be charmed and captivated by Coco’s fun and charismatic performance throughout here. There are a range of smart costume changes too, for those of you fashion-inclined, adding a good dash of colour and glamour to proceedings each time, and capping off a positive visual that unquestionably improves the song even further. Look out for that album in June, and grab this single now.

Jessie Ware-Imagine If It Was Us (Video)

Of all the homegrown acts to really make a mark on the UK mainstream scene in the last year or so, Jessie is by far my favourite of the bunch. Whilst my first impressions of her were that she was from somewhere between Sade and something more modern soul, it’s tracks like this that show just how versatile a vocalist she is.

What most impressive here is her ability to completely cap and temper the production. Given the backdrop is lively, full of a classic 90s pop style with a little dash of electro, it’s no mean feat that she manages to infuse the piece with a huge helping of soul, and hence bring it away from being an out-and-out pop track and into something closer to electro soul.

The video fits with that blend of styles, featuring Jessie dressed well in and amongst a set of colourful and unusual characters, and as opposed to most videos dressing their lead in the most outlandish outfit to draw the eye, this works in reverse by allowing her calm amidst the chaos to capture the viewer. It’s nice to see the positive side of her screen presence shine through too, with the performance incorporating both choreography and a little regular, easygoing dancefloor action to keep things relatively believable. Thematically, it’s just a decent night out, but when backed by the great audio it becomes a feelgood, old school-style video that’s a fun and easy watch. Look out for the special edition of Devotion on 15th April.