Listening habits: March 2012

So, my grand plan to update this blog with occasionally round-ups of tracks I’ve been enjoying has faltered slightly. Not that I haven’t been enjoying any new music lately (far from it), but, you know, I’ve been busy. I think I’m going to try to make it a monthly thing, rather than just random, so I have something to work towards.

Anyway, I was on holiday last week, so to fill the space in my Editor’s Letter column, where I would normally moan on about something that had happened during the week, I pre-prepared a list of ten tracks from new(ish) acts I’ve been listening to of late. And now, just for you, I’m reporting it here. Have a listen.

Suzanne Sundfør
There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when you completely fall for a song on the first listen, and ‘White Foxes’ was one of those moments. There are few songs I’ve listened to as much this year and it runs excited chills through me every time I hear it still. The album it is taken from is available on iTunes now, and while you’re frantically downloading that, her previous album ‘The Brothel’ is also very much worth checking out.


John Talabot
Released through Permanent Vacation last month, John Talabot’s debut album, ‘Fin’, has been getting some heavy play in the CMU office of late. Taking his strong songwriting skills and drawing heavily on house, bringing to mind acts like Pantha Du Prince and fellow Spaniards Delorean, the record is filled with standout moments. Here’s one, ‘Destiny’, the first of two collaborations with Pional on the album.


Sleep Party People
The solo project of Scarlet Chives member Brian Batz, Sleep Party People’s music is slow, twisted pop that sits somewhere between dreamlike and nightmarish – mainly due to the heavily-effected vocals that are melted almost beyond recognition. This feeling often comes through in SPP videos too, particularly the one for the track below, ‘A Dark God Heart’, which slowly morphs from innocent to morbid. New album ‘We Are Drifting On A Sad Song’ is due out via Blood And Biscuits next month.


There’s no denying that THEEsatisfaction’s music is ambitious, but its success is in sounding effortless. Allowing hip hop, jazz, funk, Afro-Futurism and psychedlia to run together is not something that has never been attempted before, but to balance it so perfectly is no mean feat. ‘QueenS’ is taken from the duo’s debut album proper ‘awE naturalE’ which is out now via Sub Pop.


Clean George IV
Clean George IV, aka George McFall, first emerged in 2007, releasing the brilliant ‘First Blast Of The Trumpet Against The Monstrous Regiment Of Women’. But the project went on hold for a few years, in which time he began a classical music degree and got sued by Kraftwerk (I’m not sure if these two things are related). He returned last year with debut album ‘God Save The Clean’, sounding like Andrew WK on a bad comedown.


Julia Holter
Last year Julia Holter found herself with an underground hit on her hands with debut album proper ‘Tragedy’. Quickly snapped up by RVNG Intl, she released the follow-up, ‘Ekstasis’, earlier this month. Her sound is unusual and experimental but also warm and welcoming, never attempting to block the listener out with its weirdness. Even her FACT mix, which was largely made up of field recordings with the occasional track dropped in amongst them, manages to pull this off. Here’s the opening track from ‘Ekstasis’, ‘Marienard’:


It’s occurred to me now that I’ve started writing these blurbs, how much of the music here is experimental but with leanings towards pop. Bernholz is no different, although he stands out because while his early releases were completely abstract, latest single ‘Austerity Boy’ sees him attempt to step almost completely over into pop by creating a three minute update of Madonna’s ‘Material Girl’ for modern Britain.


I first discovered Asbjørn at last year’s SPOT Festival in Denmark. Wandering into his show for no clear reason, he turned out to be very popular amongst his home audience already, performing to a capacity crowd of around 1500 people in the middle of the afternoon. It was clear to see why too. Still in his teens he makes highly polished, infectious pop and knows full well how to perform it.


Team Me
I bang on about Team Me quite a lot, so forgive me if I’m covering old ground here. They are my favourite indie-pop sextet of the moment though. Their debut album, ‘To The Treetops!’ was released earlier this month and features ten unashamedly poppy songs, including the wonderful ‘Dear Sister’, which first appeared on their eponymous 2010 debut EP.


ScHoolboy Q
‘There He Go’ by ScHoolboy Q has spent extended periods of time jammed in my brain since I first heard it on Jon Hillcock’s New Noise podcast back in January. His second album, ‘Habits & Contradictions’, was released the same month and, while maybe not treading much new ground in hip hop terms, it nonetheless does it well. It also features a roll call of other up and coming rappers, including that A$AP Rocky fella.

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