Digital Music Trends 112

I was on the Digital Music Trends podcast again last week, this time with music industry analyst Mark Mulligan and Ben Sisario from The New York Times. In the show we discussed Soundcloud’s new look, music discovery,’s revamp and the launch of its new Piki radio app, and iTunes 11. You can find more information on the show here and watch it here:

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Anna Meredith – Nautilus

While there has been some excellent music out this year, it’s been a while since a piece of music stopped me in my tracks quite as firmly as Nautilus by Anna Meredith. An intense blast of brass and beats, it’s taken from her debut EP, Black Prince Fury, which was released by Moshi Moshi back in October. It only just made its way to my ears, however, thanks to the ever brilliant All back No Front podcast.


If you’re one of those Spotify-using types then you can check out the full EP here:


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Radio 1’s Disasterpieces

Last night Radio 1 aired a documentary entitled Disasterpieces. A counterpart to Zane Lowe’s Masterpieces series, which looks back at classic albums, Disasterpieces looked at some follow-ups to great albums which were less so. It’s a fun way to spend an hour, which is partly why I mention it, but also because I feature on it talking about albums such as Oasis’ Be Here Now and MGMT’s Congratulations, as well as the role of critics in the internet age. You can listen to it online until Monday evening here.

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A couple of podcasts

So, if you like the idea of hearing my voice talking about music business stuff, this is the post for you, because it contains two hours of that. Well, not two continuous hours of me talking, but two hour long podcasts on which I appear.

First is the latest edition of the CMU Podcast, which after a bit of a break is back in a new monthly format (actually, the format hasn’t really changed, but it is now monthly). My colleague Chris Cooke and I discussed EMI, music festivals, The Pirate Bay and Amanda Palmer. Listen here:

Next is the latest edition of the Digital Music trends podcast, which has been through something of a radical format overhaul recently. As a result, as well as hearing my talking, you can also see me scratching my face and stuff when sitting otherwise silent. What fun! Also on the podcast were Wired UK’s Duncan Geere and Rolling Stone Contributing Editor Steve Knopper, along with host Andrea Leonelli. Check it out here:

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Oh nothing, just having a look around Mars

Amazing thing of the day: Panoramic photo of the surface of Mars from the Curiosity rover.

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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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Listening habits

There was a point at the start of January when I was genuinely worried that I might not like hearing new music any more. For a few days early on in the month nothing I heard excited me. Then suddenly I was deluged by stuff, a chunk of which I posted here just over a week ago. And as I said in that post, it’s my plan to post up stuff I’ve heard and enjoyed every now and then just because there’s not the space to cover it all in CMU. I didn’t expect to have enough to warrant another post so soon, but by Tuesday this week I’d already heard a whole load of music that I really liked and the trend continued, thanks in no small part to item one on this list…

New Noise
Jon Hillcock’s New Noise podcast is always a great source of new music, but the first edition of 2012 was particularly good. After I listened to it I went and downloaded ever single track featured on it, because they’re all great. The likes of ScHoolBoy Q, Tonstartssbandht, and Altarboy particularly stand out.

Listen to the whole podcast here:

Julia Holter
Julia Holter released a great album called Tragedy last year, and has another coming out via RVNG Intl in March, which, from the sound of the track below, Marienbad, will be even better. Aly at CMU has this one covered.


Mallard The Wonderdog
I think David Williams is a shockingly underrated songwriter. As frontman of Derby band Plans & Apologies he churned out countless brilliant songs, and has an amazing way with words. Now recording as Mallard The Wonderdog, he released his second proper solo album this week. It’s called Miserable Fuck and is only a quid on Bandcamp, why would you not buy it?

Rock Bottom
I’m not sure Rock Bottom is that great name to give a band, any band, but that’s what these guys have done and we’re just going to have to live with it. They make up for it by playing really good, no frills hardcore. There are three new demos streaming on their Facebook page now, which you can also download here.

This isn’t really new, it’s from 2010, but I only heard it last week thanks to DðlfinZ on a recent edition of the Song, By Toad podcast. Something about Witch Hunt Town by Flight instantly grabbed me, so I shot off and bought the whole The Lead Riders EP on Bandcamp, which contains yet more lo-fi joy.

Producer Alfie MacGibbon has released a number of EPs as Graphics through various labels, with the latest, Mama Grizzlies, out via GETME! two weeks ago. The title track, which you can hear below, is a stunning piece of work that has no real business being a chilled as it is, considering its component parts.

Mama Grizzlies:

Akira Kiteshi
When I first heard Akira Kiteshi a year or so ago he was already making fairly heavy dubstep. Since then he’s ramped the levels right up and branched out into other areas of bass music. I’m intrigued to hear the whole album, but for now here are some short snippets of each track.

Industrial Avenue album sampler:

I don’t know a great deal about Postiljonen beyond the fact they’re from Sweden and what little I could decipher from the brief write up of this track on French blog Fluokids. And, yes, I could look them up, but until I absolutely have learn more about them I’m just enjoying the images the choir-heavy 7 conjures up by itself.


Another one from Fluokids, this track by Skirt is a nice slice of creepy minimal techno. You can hear the first minute and a half below, or download the full track here.

Racing The Sea (clip):

Every project needs a good back story, and Gracie‘s Andrew Balasia’s is that he’s a dog. I suspect he isn’t. Whatever, he has an EP called Treehouse coming out via Small Plates Records later this month. Check out the video for a track from, the laidback, dubby Southern Place, below.

Sleep Party People
I spent about an hour rifling through Sleep Party People videos on YouTube a few weeks ago, so when a new one popped up in my inbox this week, I hit play straight away. Accompanying what is probably their most beautiful song A Dark God Heart (from their We Are Drifting On A Sad Song album, which is out in the UK in April) the video is very good, but also a bit NSFW.

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