Finally! This spring sees the release of PJ Harvey’s ninth studio album entitled, The Hope Six Demolition Project, out on April 15th through Island Records!
The Hope Six Demolition Project draws from several journeys undertaken by Harvey, who spent time in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington, D.C. over a four-year period. “When I’m writing a song I visualise the entire scene. I can see the colours, I can tell the time of day, I can sense the mood, I can see the light changing, the shadows moving, everything in that picture. Gathering information from secondary sources felt too far removed for what I was trying to write about. I wanted to smell the air, feel the soil and meet the people of the countries I was fascinated with”, says Harvey.
The album was recorded last year in residency at London’s Somerset House. The exhibition, entitled ‘Recording in Progress’ saw Harvey, her band, producers Flood and John Parish, and engineers working within a purpose-built recording studio behind one-way glass, observed throughout by public audiences.
Watch the brilliant new album trailer by Seamus Murphy featuring the brand new tracks The Community of Hope and The Wheel!.
Watch Major Lazer’s dramatic new video for the glorious new single “Be Together”, featuring the beautiful Natalie Bergman of psychedelic pop band, Wild Belle. The track is taken from Major Lazer’s 2015 album, Peace Is The Mission.
The video, directed by Alan Del Rio Ortiz, follows Diplo and Bergman on a romantic, ill-fated motorcycle ride through a cool Southwestern landscape.
AlunaGeorge unleashes new single “I’m In Control”, featuring Jamaican rapper Popcaan, the first taster from the duos’ upcoming new album, titled I Remember, due this spring on Island Records (UK) / Interscope Records (US).
In the two years since the duo of singer and lyricist Aluna Francis and producer George Reid released their critically lauded debut album, Body Music, they’ve hardly stopped. From world tours to festivals to Katy Perry support slots to collaborations (2015’s frenetic ‘To Ü’ with Skrillex & Diplo) to chart-slaying remixes (DJ Snake’s version of “You Know You Like It” – one of the most streamed songs of all time), their world has expanded immeasurably from the tiny London studio they started working in back in 2010.
“I’m In Control”, a song about interpersonal empowerment and ownership, showcases their signature and innovative take on pop-leaning downtempo dance and experimental R&B and adds a deliciously addictive dancehall edge.
Listen to Tiga’s insanely good new single, “Planet E”! The old-school-house joint was co-produced with Hudson Mohawke (aka HudMo) and it’s taken from Tiga’s forthcoming third LP, “No Fantasy Required” dropping on March 4th via Ninja Tune’s sublabel Counter. The new track is a follow up to the thumping first-single, “Don’t Break My Heart” (below) released in late 2015. The new album will also feature guest appearances by Paranoid London and Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shear.
I here declare 2016 to be the year of Anne-Marie! To prove and reinforce that statement I present to you her brand new video for the stomping, soulful-jam,“Do It Right”. The reggae-tinged track, produced by Show N Prove, is just another fresh and vibrant offering from the soulful singer who has consistently been delivering solid pop-songs (see “Boy“, “Karate” and “Gemini“) since she began her foray into the solo scene back in 2015. “Do It Right” is already climbing high in Spotify’s Viral Chart (currently at #19 in America) and recently peaking at #4 on Hype Machine. So yeah, her jams are bringing all the boys (and girls) to the yard— so get into it!
Back in late 2015, Mathew Koma and Electronic duo The Knocks teamed up for the glorious pop track, “I Wish (My Taylor Swift)”; which had a very cool tropical vibe and a video that included an army of Taylor Swift lookalikes (see below).
Now, NYC’s own Penguin Prison has turned the already catchy single into a pop-tastic, how-i-wish-summer-was-just-around-the-corner, summer jam!
Listen to “Reaper” the brand new track by Sia from her upcoming new album This Is Acting, out January 29. The track was co-written and produced by Kanye West. “Reaper” was originally intended for Rihanna’s upcoming album ANTI but is was scrapped. In fact, Sia’s entire new record it’s full of songs rejected by other A-list artists.
She recently told RollingStone: Were all the songs from This Is Acting intentionally written for other artists? “Yes, actually, I guess all of them were written with the intention of being for somebody else. But there is one I didn’t send to anybody called “One Million Bullets.” That one I liked — and I already had so much of the album completed — but I loved it and didn’t want to give it to anyone else. So that one I don’t think I sent to anyone else, but my memory’s terrible. There’s one that I went into a session with Kanye, to write for Rihanna [“Reaper], so that one was intended for her, but then I’m keeping that one.” “I feel like they’re hits, but nobody wanted them”
As premiered by i-D, Norwegian duo Smerz, comprised of Henriette Motzfeldt and Catharina Stoltenberg, just dropped a brilliant dance tune called “Because”. The vocal track combines elements of house and techno with a smooth and vibrant bassline. Although not much is known from the duo; other than they have been playing a few live gigs across the Scandinavian electronic scene, this slick and bold new jam should spark some good buzz for the mysterious duo.
7 – Florence + The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
6 – Empress Of – Me
On her stunning debut, Lorely Rodriguez aka Empress Of delivers one of the most personal and engrossing electronic albums released this year. After moving from Brooklyn to a remote town in Mexico; Rodriguez wrote, recorded, and produced Meentirely on her own. Her time in isolation is greatly reflected on the album’s minimalist dance sound and deeply personal lyrics. Every song on this record feels like a page torn from her diary; with vivid verses that capture intense moments of love, sex (“Nothing comes between us/ But a piece of latex/ When you tear my clothes off/ Like I was a paycheck”), breakup (“You’re just a heart to break / Easy to manipulate / I want to care much more / But I’m feeling less and less.”) to intimate moments of doubt and self reflection. This album isn’t just a showcase of great songwriting craftsmanship; but also, a brilliant display of innovated, emotionally-driven, DIY dance-music.
5 – Shamir – Ratchet
Although Shamir’s debut title might suggest an “obscene” or “sloppy” (for lack of a better word) musical inclination; nothing could be farther from the truth. There’s nothing Ratchet about this glorious release by the talented 20-year-old Shamir Bailey. With his electric-falsetto and sassy vocals; along with productions that varied from Funk, R&B, Disco to 80s-electropop; the album offers plenty of brilliant, unexpected dance moments that contrasts the electropop perfectionism of Hot Chip and the funky, gender-fluidity of Prince. Simply put— a FUN, FUN, FUN, FUNKY record!
4 – Miguel – Wildheart
Miguel’s third album Wildheart could be greatly considered as an exploration of soul-searching by way of pure sexual hedonism. From the sleek and bold sexual ride of “The Valley” to the R&B seduction of “Coffee” and “Flesh” to the desolate moments of “what’s normal anyway”; Miguel masterly blurs the lines between love, sex and solitude on this dreamy, psychedelic ride for self-acceptance and discovery. Much like the steamy, color-melting blend of the album’s artwork, the sound of Wildheart is a sultry mixture of funky-electronica, trippy-guitar riffs over broody, R&B soundscapes. An absolutely incredible record!
3 – Roisin Murphy – Hairless Toys
Hairless Toys was not the pop record we were expecting after an 8-year absence; instead the divine Ms. Roisin Murphy blessed us with a regal musical piece that showcased her artistry extending far beyond the confining limits of pop —musically and visually (watch the videos!!). The sultry, Italo-disco groove of “Gone Fishing”, the Jazzy, synth-mutations of “Exploitation” and the funky, glimmering-pop beats of “Evil Eyes” are pinnacles that highlight her bravery, technicality, innovation and uncompromising, ever-evolving musical brilliance. Bravo, Ms. Murphy!
2 – ABRA – Rose
Undeniably, ABRA’sRose is one of the best DIY records released this year! The self-proclaimed “darkwave duchess” emerged early in 2015 with a sleek brand of gloomy, dance-jams that fused elements of house, nu-wave, R&B and 90s-electronica. Although most of the tracks are built around samples, low-key rhythms and snare drums; the self-produced artist manages to boast a lustrous musical space that’s sensually alluring and technically innovated at every turn. Her bald, lingering lyrics and sexy, honey-combs vocals add a layer of female empowerment and sensual confidence to the record that’s on par with Rihanna and FKA twigs. ABRA is yet to fully bloom; but we can already see the exciting potential behind every single petal of this captivating, electric Rose. BUY THIS!
1 – Grimes – Art Angels
There something indescribable about the music of Art Angles that is truly captivating. It has elements of dance, hip-hop, shoegaze, new wave, industrial, alt-rock and trip-hop… to try to pin-point its root genre is practically impossible. And yet, we can all agree that it’s a pop record. A pop record unlike any other. A pop record with a message. ‘Cause underneath it’s dazzling, shimmering pop concoctions lies commentary on current social issues; subjects like the treatment of female musicians in the industry (“California”), global warming (“Butterfly”) and environmental change (“Life In The Vivid Dream”). Grimes wrote, composed, performed, recorded, produced, and engineered the album in its entirety; a trade we’re seeing more and more these days with new female artist ( See above; ABRA, Empress Of) but one that is hardly ever publicize. So, Art Angels’ message isn’t simply on prevailing social issues, but a highlight of female empowerment, technical artistry and purveyance of innovation. A truly defining moment for female musicians; but most importantly, for pop music.
In early 2014 Swedish singer-songwriter and producer Ji Nilsson dropped the amazing “Heartbreakfree” a tender, island-tinged pop ballad about remaining free of heartbreak — where sometimes abstaining from love is better than dealing with the overbearing power of a breakup. A few months later, she released “Encore” an equally beautiful dance ballad as heartwarming and lyrically intense as the former.
Now, almost two years in the making, Nilsson has finally released her debut EP called, Blue Is The Saddest Color; a 5-track collection of heartbreaking love songs that are as beautiful and intimate— and sometimes as arduous — as the subject of love itself.
Like an arrow piercing your heart, the record opens with the most achingly and heartbreaking track on the EP, “Nothing“; a somber ballad about a faded love interest; “When did it go away, I wonder is it gone” Nilsson wonders while questioning her lover’s extinguished flame; “you told me I was someone, I was the one, baby did you lie” she defeatedly sings during the song’s aching chorus. The conflict continues in “Special Kind” an electronic, Caribbean-tinged confessional about finally feeling good and on-top of the world—- but confesses that even in your most confident moments love can still be unattainable; “do you think I look good, do you think I’m smart, baby all I really want is your heart” she declares above the track’s tropical percussion.
But Nilsson’s journey is not all gloomy and lost; ’cause as we all know, even the darkest shades of blue can shine, and “Different Light” and “Belong To” are the guiding sparks in her fairytale desire to find the one. In “Different Light” she candidly captures a moment of clarity; realizing that what she’s searching for it’s always been in front of her; “were you always such a sweet talker, don’t think I understood before, but when I see you now I just want love”. And in “Belong To” a misty, tender ballad with a country-twang (I could totally picture Dolly Parton singing this one) she surrenders to her emotions and welcomes the possibility of a romantic friendship; “Maybe I feel something that I didn’t plan to, But I love you, I love you. I don’t know when, I don’t know how, All that matters is I think I’m ready now”.
Ji Nilsson is the Adele of Sweden, plain and simple! But as many tears as I’ve cried listening to Adele’s 25, I don’t think I’ve shed as many as I have with Blue Is the Saddest Colour. And yet, although, her lyrics are emotionally driven and heartbreakingly poignant throughout the EP, there is an underlying solace to the sound and production of every track. Every song is masterfully wrapped in a catchy pop melody that feels comforting, like a soft baby blanket around you, assuring you that although blue might be the saddest colour it could also be the warmest.
Blue Is the Saddest Colour is out now. Preview the EP below as well as “I’m Her”; a single not included in the EP that is as beautiful and brilliant as every song Nilsson has released to date!
A week after announcing the release of a brand new album called Blackstar arriving on January 8th; the legendary artist shares the official video for the album’s gloomy, title-track!.
The video, directed by Johan Renck, stars several strange characters; a dead astronaut, a woman with a tail, creepy scarecrows, etc. There are sci-fi elements and religious undertones throughout the video’s 10min epic run — with Bowie in the center of it all.
The video kinda looks like a David Lynch’s version of R.E.M’s “Loosing My Religion”.