Thursday, 31 July 2014

Dragonette are (kind of) back with a new song!

The Canadian pop outfit Dragonette are some of the best electropop musicians out there, and now they've got a new single coming out! Releasing new music for the first time since their cover of Neutral Milk Hotel's "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea" last January, the trio have collaborated with Dutch DJ Mike Mago on a brand new house track called "Outlines". The song is already available on Soundcloud and YouTube, and it's properly out on August 15.

Ever since Disclosure broke through internationally (their AlunaGeorge collaboration "White Noise" was ranked the 2nd best song of 2013 on Popheaval's 'Best Of' list), you could really start hearing the influence of their deep house vibes in other music as well. "Outlines" has some elements of that same music style, while Basement Jaxx's recent(ish) single "Unicorn" felt equally Disclosure-inspired. Not that it'd be a bad thing at all. So, one does wonder: is the UK garage/deep house sound making its way to the mainstream consciousness again?

Anyway, in case you're interested, there's also a lyric video for the song (since they're clearly a 'thing' these days). Here you go:

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

New music videos from Basement Jaxx, Lily Allen, Katy Perry

Twerking might've exploded in the mainstream in the aftermath of Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke's questionable 2013 VMA performance, but Basement Jaxx have been playing with the phenomenon for some time already - the duo's 2009 album Scars even featured a song titled "Twerk". Not that it'd make twerking any less cringeworthy, though. Anyhow, this bootylicious dance style now makes an appearance in the new music video for their latest single "Never Say Never", taken from their forthcoming LP Junto. The tongue-in-cheek clip features the "Twerk-bot", a high-tech robot designed to save the humanity by inspiring mankind to dance again. Or something along those lines. It's got everything you need: wi-fi, bluetooth, USB connection for charging your devices etc. It's compatible with iTunes and even comes with self-lubricating buttocks that are machine-washable and perfectly suitable for... wait a minute.

Then there's Lily Allen who has a new single on the way from her new album Sheezus, and this time it's "As Long As I Got You". A music video was uploaded on YouTube a couple of days ago, and it's essentially a tribute to the Glastonbury Festival, where she performed this year for the first time in five years. It incorporates bits and pieces from the festival, such as Allen dancing and singing to the song backstage and clips of her Glasto performance. It's quite fun and summery and all but also feels more like a festival trailer than a proper music video.

Also, is it just me or is she going through singles like there's no tomorrow? After "Hard Out Here", "Air Balloon", "Our Time", and "URL Badman", this is already the fifth Sheezus single. (In addition, the title track "Sheezus" was also treated with a promotional video, though it wasn't released as a single.) Hell, it's less than a month since the previous one! Yet, with the exception of the past controversy around "Hard Out Here", none have succeeded in making a major impact, with the latest two even failing to enter the top 40 on her home turf. Lily Allen's comeback hasn't really gone that smoothly, now has it.

Meanwhile, Katy Perry's apparently about to release a new single as well. And the song in question is...

*drum roll*

"This Is How We Do". Well damn. Perry's latest album Prism was a pretty good pop album (I gave it a four out of five) and it features a bunch of tracks that'd make great singles. She seems to have confirmed that "Legendary Lovers" would be released as one, while "International Smile" would make a most infectious uptempo summer hit. And still, she chose "This Is How We Do" that sounds like a Kesha throwaway and is certainly not the best the album has to offer. Sometimes I do question decisions that musicians make. On the other hand, "Dark Horse" - another Prism tune I couldn't stand - turned out to become a surprisingly massive hit so maybe she knows better... Nevertheless, here's the lyric video for the song:

Monday, 21 July 2014

Here's the powerful music video for Röyksopp & Robyn's 'Do It Again'

Röyksopp & Robyn's bittersweet party anthem "Do It Again", taken from their new EP of the same name (here's a review!), now has a music video to it. Rather than serving as a literal visual interpretation of the song lyrics, the intense clip embraces the chaos and destruction of the more metaphoric sense of the lyrical content. Said Robyn: "This is a song that needs visuals to balance the hysteria, the manic energy". And boy, do they deliver. There's no straightforward explanation regarding the narrative, but it seems to deal with a range of gloomy themes such as desperation, violence, and loss. Not necessarily quite what you'd anticipate from the music video of the most dance floor friendly number of their latest record but that's Röyksopp & Robyn for ya - expect the unexpected. Check out the amazing, if a bit depressing video below:

(And for a live performance of "Do It Again" and another of their newer songs, "Monument", head over here!)

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Last four Siouxsie and the Banshees reissues coming September 15

Four years ago, Siouxsie and the Banshees' label Universal pulled the plug on the band's album reissue campaign midway, meaning that their last four albums were left without remastered editions. Their previous albums from 1978's The Scream to 1986's Tinderbox were all treated with reissues, with the former even getting a deluxe 2CD release with a bunch of demos and live versions. Said Severin:
“Universal have decided not to release any more single disc remasters. As the final four albums don’t have enough extras to warrant the double disc ‘deluxe’ treatment, they have halted our programme four albums short. They have given us the opportunity to license the last four (Peepshow, Glass, Super, Rapture) to another label. We are looking into this.” (source)
Since then, however, things have changed. First there was the reissue of the group's debut single "Hong Kong Garden" earlier this year, and Severin wrote that it wouldn't be a one-off thing, revealing that "Once we start — we will be putting things out on a regular basis. Universal have a 3 year plan proposed". Someone over at Universal must've really taken a liking to the band! Proceeding with the remaster campaign must also be easier now that the feud between Siouxsie and Severin is finally over, as well:

Then, five days ago, Severin teased the fans with a game of hangman over at the band's Facebook fan group:

After the fans succeeded in guessing the correct letters, the mysterious sentence turned out to spell "FINAL/FOUR/DUE/FIFTEENTH/SEPTEMBER". In other words, the Banshees' last remaining albums Through The Looking Glass (1987), Peepshow (1988), Superstition (1991), and The Rapture (1995) will finally get their reissues in no more two months! Brilliant news!

There's been no news regarding the extras yet, though Severin did confirm on Facebook that all the reissues will have additional material. As the Banshees rarely made demos in advance, it's unlikely that there will be any entirely unreleased songs in the mix, save for Through The Looking Glass: considering it's an album consisting entirely of cover versions, there might be some unreleased covers that never saw the light of day. But we'll see. Their 1987 stand-alone single "Song from the Edge of the World" has become quite the rarity because it was never released in a digital format in its original version - it was omitted from their 1992 singles collection Twice Upon A Time, included on another compilation album only in a remixed version, and resurfaced on the remastered Tinderbox in an unreleased version that featured guitars by John Valentine Carruthers rather than Jon Klein, who played on the single release of the song - so it might also make an appearance among the extras.

The band has often made it very clear they have a strong aversion to remixes so none are to be expected as extras. I'd predict most of the extra material to be live performances - especially with Superstition, their 1991 KROQ Acoustic Christmas performance would be a highly appreciated gem, should it exist as a professional recording. Out of the 11-song setlist, two tracks have actually been released already: "Swimming Horses" and a cover of "All Tomorrow's Parties" by The Velvet Underground both appeared as B-sides to the band's 1994 single "O Baby". The Rapture might feature initial versions of the album tracks that predate John Cale's involvement in the production work. A live concert from the Peepshow tour has already appeared on the band's "At The BBC" box set, so I have no clue of possible extras there.

Well, two months (and five days) to go! Meanwhile, why don't you check out my reviews of the four albums in question while you're waiting?

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Playlist: Gloomy Sunday

Exactly one week ago, a major change occurred in my life: I left Denmark and moved back to Finland where I'm originally from, which marked an end of an era for me. Needless to say, the last weeks were filled with endless goodbyes and farewells, which is always kind of emotionally draining. There's so much I already miss, so many places, so many people. Changes in life are inevitable: every hello is a beginning of a goodbye. Still, that doesn't mean that it's all over - the things you miss are still there, and it's the end only if you let it be so. I for one won't. 

But that doesn't remove the longing, of course. And considering music is a most remarkable form of therapy, what better way to cope with these feelings than a suitable playlist? Therefore, let us wallow in our sadness for a bit with a 20-track playlist titled 'Gloomy Sunday', consisting of some of my favourite melancholic songs. It's got everything from older classics such as Joni Mitchell and Lou Reed to more modern crooners like Amy Winehouse and Lana Del Rey. It's got blues rock and indie pop. It's got wistfulness and sorrow, but also a glimpse of hope so don't despair. So, if your Sunday (or any other weekday, come to that) is gloomy, look no further - this is a playlist for you!

Watch Röyksopp & Robyn's performances on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Röyksopp & Robyn have been touring Europe and the States with a series of gigs to promote their collaborative 'mini-album' Do It Again (for a review, head over here), and one of their appearances was on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Two live recordings from that show have since made their way to Youtube; these songs include the title track "Do It Again" and the fantastic opening number "Monument". Check out the performances below - mullets, platform shoes and Scandinavian synths galore!

While the high-energetic dance anthem "Do It Again" gets the crowd going (obviously), the same can't be said about "Monument", which is a shame as in my opinion, it's the best track from the EP (along with "Do It Again"). The eight-minute rendition of the ethereal synthpop number just doesn't seem to translate  well live. Well, I guess that's the case with most atmospheric compositions - they're not even meant to get the people jumping up and down in a state of uncontrollable euphoria. Still, it's a captivating clip so you should definitely watch it. Also, take a look at how ruthlessly the mic stand has its fifteen minutes of fame stolen by an overenthusiastic roadie at 3:06. Poor little thing.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Check out the music video to Lily Allen's 'URL Badman'

So, Lily Allen's latest single from her Sheezus album is "URL Badman", her take on internet trolls and self-important bloggers. "I don't troll, I make statements", she mockingly sings, before designating her storytelling character "a broadband champion, a URL badman", thus confronting the negative online feedback she got from the music blogosphere in the aftermath of the "Hard Out Here" clip. The dubstep-lite tune is now accompanied with a music video where she's dancing amidst these "keyboard warriors" who suddenly turn all glitchy, like corrupted files, before stretching into rainbow-coloured smudges. That would be you, haters.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Madonna teases new material - let us speculate

The Queen of Pop has really taken a liking to Instagram lately, and now she's even using the social media platform as the first place to share the news with her fans. News such as new music. Apparently, there's a new song on the way called "Messiah", the sheet music of which she shared on her Instagram earlier today.

Using the hashtag #messiah, the Girl Gone Wild hitmaker also shared a brief clip of some theatrical string arrangements being recorded for the song in question. Interesting.

So what do we know about her forthcoming album, then? Well, not much. What we do know, however, is that she's been working with a bunch of different people judging by the photos she's uploaded. These people include Disclosure, Diplo, AviciiNatalia Kills, and renown hat enthusiast Pharrell Williams. There's going to be a lot of collaborators, that is to say.

And then there's also the rumour of a Katy Perry collaboration. The two previously teamed up for a V magazine photoshoot, as seen below...

...and eager fans began speculating instantly of a possible musical collaboration between the two, as well. Around the same time, Billboard teased its readers with a mysterious snippet of an untitled nu-disco tuned by an unnamed 'shape-shifting dance legend'. Together with Madonna's frequent use of the hashtag #unapologeticbitch and Perry mashing up Madge's classic hit "Vogue" with her own tune "International Smile" on her latest tour, many joined the dots, assuming this tune to be the rumoured Madonna/Katy Perry track. Unfortunately for the fans, this groovy Daft Punk-esque song turned out to be the latest single of Dutch DJ Sander Kleinenberg, titled "We-R-Superstars". The music video for the song does feature a lot of funny dogs, though, so you might as well take a look at it anyway.

So, the internet is awash with rumours that ought to be taken with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, there are some things that have garnered my attention, such as the hashtags Madonna has been using often, namely #unapologeticbitch and #rebelheart. Perhaps one or the other is the upcoming album title, considering how much she's been adding them to her pictures lately. (Although, Rebel Heart sounds like something that Lorde or no, wait, Avril Lavigne would use. Not a 55-year-old pop icon.) And while the Katy Perry collaboration is still nothing more than a rumour, Madonna's confirmed to have been in the studio with the rest of the aforementioned musicians, and in addition to "Messiah", there's another song title that has been revealed: Diplo has stated that he has recorded a handful of songs with Madonna, and one of them is titled "Bitch, I'm Madonna". Hmm, I sense some shade about to be thrown.

Now, someone cynical might say that Madonna's just trying to latch onto younger, more 'hip' artists in order to regain her relevance as a pop pioneer and sure, there might be some truth in that. Still, I hope she's not just trying to ride on the coattails of her successors, outsourcing her latest reinvention. While her previous album MDNA wasn't nearly as bad as some made it out to be, it lacked consistency because there were way too many people involved as songwriters and producers. Because of that, I hope she's not going to make the same mistake again and that there's going to be an executive producer of some kind in order to create a unified soundscape for the album - something that MDNA lacked.

There's indeed very little we know of Madonna's future album. Perhaps she's just pulling a Beyoncé and releasing the album as a nearly complete surprise (we do know she's working on one, though). I'd expect an album release in late 2014 (Oct/Nov) or early 2015 (Jan/Feb), with the lead single being dropped without a warning, mainly promoted with vague social media hype and ubiquitous hashtags. But we'll see.


Madonna has now also shared (a part of) the lyrics to "Messiah", and they are as follows:

Hmm. Is Madonna going all dark and mysterious again? Whether the rest of the album follows the apparent spiritual theme of "Messiah" remains to be seen but at least this tune seems to be quite a dramatic one. Furthermore, in addition to #rebelheart and #unapologeticbitch, the hashtag #livingforlove has started to appear more and more in Madonna's Instagram pictures as well. Could it also be a possible album title? Who knows.


We might even have the possible single artwork at our hands now:

I have a hunch the lead single might be dropping quite soon.

Do stay tuned for more.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Check out Basement Jaxx's new single 'Never Say Never'

Just a couple of days ago, Basement Jaxx shared another track from their forthcoming seventh LP Junto. This one's called "Never Say Never" and features London-based singer/producer ETML on vocals. It's a nice and unmistakably Jaxx-y tune for sure but to call it one of their most memorable tunes to date would be a reach. It feels a bit lacking to me, especially considering it's a single release. I'd even go on to describe it as a less cheerful, more forgettable "Feelings Gone" but maybe that's just me. Usually the Basement Jaxx singles just tend to be more anthemic or earworm-y. Maybe it'll take a few listens first, though, so I will give it some time anyway. That's not to say that it's a bad tune as such - do check it out for yourself!

Interestingly enough, they released this single before even filming a music video for the previous one, "Unicorn". (I don't think the visual created by Hungarian video artist Tomek Ducki really counts as one, even if it features an animated twerking unicorn.)

Furthermore, the Mark Knight remix of "Never Say Never" has also created quite some buzz over at Beatport, even peaking at #1 in the House 100 chart of the site.