Sunday, December 21, 2014

BEST INDIE TRACKS OF 2014 – THIRD PART : SOUL / FUNK / HIP HOP VIBES



Another glimpse at this year best indie tracks through a soul/ funk and hip hop lens. The 10 songs playlist is below or directly from pleer here. And You Can Dance (starting N° 4!).
1- Never twice without thrice (for not having remixes on this blog): the jazz hip hop trio from Toronto/Ontario BADBADNOTGOOD delivered its first album of original compositions “III” in May 2014 and still re-tuning some tracks, last one being “Seasons (Waiting on You)” from Future Islands that should have been in one of the “Best Of” lists but it is already N°1 at Pitchfork. They succeed in making the perfect balance between a square laid back tempo and a retro pop tune.
2- Sudanese born in London and living in Brooklyn, Ahmed Gallab aka Sinkane has not only an incredible falsetto voice, he was a session musician for Caribou, of Montreal or Yeasayer and a very creative one on his own. “Mean Love”, out last September, his third album under this name, is a mosaic of bossa nova, afro beat, rock and country tunes. “Hold Tight” was the first single.
3- Ephemerals are a London based soul collective of 7 musicians coming from diverse bands, founded and lead by producer Hillman Mondegreen (formerly of Hannah Wailliams & the Tastemakers). They are fronted by Franco-American singer, Wolfgang Valbrun, and the result of their collaboration is a first album “Nothin is Easy” released at the end of last year on bandcamp (not available any more) and last September on Jalapeno Records. Out of the 10 classic blues and soul tracks, the second single “You Made Us Change” has already several remixes.
4- Mark Ronson bringing in Bruno Mars for the “Uptown Funk” single or Mystikal for “Feel Right on his fourth album, “Uptown Special” out in January 2015, is no surprise but Kevin Parker, lead singer of Tame Impala, is quite unanticipated, even appearing on 3 of the 11 tracks of the album along with Stevie Wonder, Andrew Wyatt from Miike Snow.The psychedelic dash in “Daffodils” justifies this unusual collaboration. 
5- Looking at the creative process of English producer/remixer/multi-instrumentalist, Adam Gibbons, aka Lack Of Afro, you couldn’t imagine that he already released his fourth album “Music for Adverts” last March. And adverts he sure already was in, here.Deep groove funk with “Missing Me” featuring Jack Tyson-Charles, son of Craig Charles, English actor, comedian, musician, TV and radio presenter hosting “The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show” on BBC radio. Of course Lack Of Afro made it to his "Biggest Tracks of 2014"!
 
6- The groove can also come from Norway! Well, via New York! Jarle Bernhoft  has his third album “Islander” out last April, now nominated for a 2015 Grammy Award in the “Best R&B Album” section. “Come Around with Me” is the catchiest track of the album.

7- Another project for American artist, Chad Bundick (Toro y Moi), on the dance/house music side: he released a first album, “Michael”, last November, under the name of Les Sins.Thanks to him for making us discover Californian singer, Nate Salman, who has a single on his soundcloud.
 
8- Ali Love is English musician Alexander Williams who is also in the band Hot Natured and part of the duo Infinity Ink and was featured in a track from Chemical Brothers and from Justice. “Surrender” is the disco funk track of his second house/ dance album, P.U.M.P, out last July.
9- Three tracks of his second album “Vibes” out in October and himself were featured in the iPhone 6 commercial.That would sound like a great push forward for Theophilus London, apart from being produced by Kanye West and having Karl Lagerfeld as the creative director. “Do Girls”, already on the EP “Lovers Holiday II” out last February, also made it in the “Vibes” tracklist.
10- 20 year-old Las Vegas native Shamir Bailey, Shamir was the surprise of this year with his fresh countertenor voice. Out of the 5 tracks EP “Northtown” out in June, “If It Was Not True” is one of the year's best dance singles despite being a breakup song. Now he is nominated for BBC music’s sound of 2015. He is definitely ready for 2015 with 2 new singles for a debut record announced for Spring.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

BEST INDIE TRACKS 2014 – SECOND PART: BEATS



As previously heard in some monthly playlists, several 2014 tracks were full of beats, up in front. Not only heavy drums but also massive bass lines, exotic percussions, synths, hand claps, even human beatbox! The playlist below, or directly from pleer here, reviews this specificity in music.
1- French-Cuban 19 year-old twin sisters, Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz, are the duo behind Ibeyi. They’ve been hailed by some publications like The Guardian, as artists to watch in 2015. Being also the daughters of the late Cuban percussionist Miguel Anga Diaz who played with Buena Vista Social Club among other bands, is worth mentioning in this “Beats” playlist perspective. «River» is taken from their first EP Oya out last August. In the video, they are doing a difficult apnea exercise!
 
2- Thom Yorke’s second solo effort, “Tomorrow's Modern Boxes” out last September, is the perfect example of an electronic beat-built album. “Guess Again”, with wonky piano notes, is the only track to give a little bit of soul in this cold robotic production.

3- Half-Mauritian, half-English producer, singer and percussionist, Joseph Deenmamode, alias Mo Kolours released his first 18 short tracks album last March on bandcamp, infused with soul, reggae, dub. " Mike Black" is also on Gilles Peterson “Album of the Year” list .


4- Usually, there are no remixes in this blog and since I’m not familiar with Nelly Furtado music, I couldn’t tell, on first listening, that the Caribbean percussions and bouncy track “The Feeling” by London based collective The Citrus Clouds , was a remix of her 2003 song “Força”.The remixers have 4 other tracks on their soundcloud.
5- Speaking about remixers, Portland arranger, André Allen Anjos, working under the name of RAC (stands for "Remix Artist Collective") did a lot of re-tuning, from The Shins, Lana Del Rey, Two Door Cinema Club,….In spring 2014 he delivered his own original music through 2 parts of “Strangers” album full of catchy tracks, starring artists like Bloc Party’s Kele, Tokyo Police Club,… “Repeating Motion” features one of the original members of the RAC collective, Karl Kling.
 
6- London duo Whilk & Misky is Nima and Charlie. Within the 4 tracks of its debut “First Sip EP” released in October by Island Records, “Clap Your Hands” is the ultimate bangin’ tune, between flamenco like guitar, hand claps like castanets. What you hear is not a trumpet, this human beat box!

7- Jacob Dillan Summers is only a newcomer in 2014 under the moniker of Avid Dancer. The guy has been around for a while now, growing up in a strict catholic family without listening to contemporary music, being in the US Marines, playing in several bands, The Rhone Occupation, Laura Laura. On his 4 tracks debut EP “I Want To See You Dance” out last October, you can hear that he is, as a drummer, always starting with rhythms created on percussion. His music has a fresh retro feeling.
 
8- Opus Orange is a six piece band from Santa Monica, always flowing pop rock tunes with their sixth EP “Balance” released last February on bandcamp . Stomp your feet to the rhythm of the namesake track “Balance”.
9- Fronted by Rasmus Kellerman, Swedish band Tiger Lou's last LP dates back to 2008 but last October, heavy drum announced his return with a pertinent single, “Homecoming#2”, his catchiest tune to date, feeling like the horizon is bright & wide.
 
10- One of my favorite voices, Hayden Thorpe, returned last February with his band, “Wild Beasts, from Kendal, UK. Vocal harmonies and speedy metronomic drum are still the base of “Wanderlust”, the first single taken from their fourth LP “Perfect Tense”.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

BEST INDIE TRACKS 2014 - FIRST PART: ELECTRO R&B/SOUL VIBE



Since the 2014 monthly “Best Tracks” playlists were not complete, a “Best Of 2014” is quite appropriate. There is always more to discover.It’s endless and overwhelming but best when a common thread is highlighted.

For meshing synth sounds with percussions and subtle vocals is the most creative way to make music nowadays… the first part of this “ Best Indie Tracks 2014”, like in 2013, has an Electro R&B/Soul vibe. In slow motion at the beginning and more up tempo at the end. In the player below or directly from pleer here .

1 & 2- 2 tracks from Young Fathers in the “Best of 2013.They won the Mercury Prize 2014 last October, for their first album Dead.
So I put 2 tracks for the young and handsome Canadian, Alexander Fleming aka Black Atlass, to wish him the same recognition from the Northern American music industry. For his rugged electro R&B is something special. “Paris”, out in 2012 on Black Atlass first EP, was featured in a Louis Vuitton ad.“The Rose” and “Jewels”, crackling like old vinyls, are taken from his second EP “Young Bloods” out last February. “Jewels” has also a video directed by the man Alex toured with, Yohann Lemoine (Woodkid).And here is a preview of his debut LP "Jade" coming soon.

3- Los Angeles based duo RKCP, for Riley Knapp (playing drums in other bands like Mora Mora ) and Casey Barth (ex solo artist), appeared at the beginning of 2014 with this first single “Comatose”. They didn’t stay in that state of health: they are now supported by Pulse Recording and have released 2 other tracks on Soundcloud. Last one last October, “Elision” being JUNGLE- esque.

4- Boston native and New York former jazz singer, Niia Bertino, performing under her first name Niia, found her sound, a mix of R&B and modern jazz, with the 6 tracks EP “Generation Blue” out last October. The imprint of Robin Hannibal (Rhye and Quadron) is more obvious on the first single “Body” and her sultry soulful voice is in the spotlight in “Generation Blue”.

5- Featured twice in this blog as Yellow Ostrich, Brooklyn Alex Schaaf is solo again. Even before they finished to tour with their third album “Cosmos” in December, he already put on Bandcamp a 4 tracks EP under a new name, “Human Heat”. Swaying song “All Night” features vocals from Kristina "Teeny" Lieberson from TEEN and ex Here We Go Magic.
 
6- Since the “Best Of 2013”, English singer-songwriter, Daniel Woolhouse, aka Deptford Goth, made a second album “Songs” out last November. These are Love songs sang with a slightly plaintive voice.

7- Berlin/Tel Aviv based Garden City Movement is an electronic trio (Joe Saar, Roi Avital & Johnny Sharoni) performing slo-jam to dancefloor tracks. “Lir” taken from the 4 tracks second EP Bengali Cinema, out last June, is a breezy, dreamy one.

8- Being blessed with a powerful soulful voice could be useless if there is no melody around it but for sure Daniel Wilson, hailing from Ypsilanti/ Michigan, also knows how to build instant rock or pop hits. He had a very busy year with 2 Eps, the last one being “Boy Who Cried Thunder” out last November. Taken from the 5 tracks “If You Went Away” starts with minimalist keyboard notes and finishes with an over flamboyant arrangement, meant to give goosebumps.
 
9- Since May 2014, UK based band R I T U A L dropped at a time all 4 singles with an R&B flow of its “The Fall” EP released this month of December. “Blood Flow” was the third one.Will they remain anonymous for long?
10- It’s not pure coincidence that Nashville trio Basecamp, already featured in the “Best Of 2013” is following R I T U A L for the voices are similar even if Basecamp production has a lot more musical textures. “Shudder” is taken from their forthcoming record “Greater Than” and already has a few remixes .

More “Best 2014 Indie Tracks” to come…
 
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