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Fresher Sounds - 14/11/2016

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Well folks, it appears a (figurative and potentially literal) wrecking ball sized, pussy-grabbing, inside-out cantaloupe is entering the most powerful office in the world.

That’s terrifying and infuriating.

We can’t do much over here about it, but we can celebrate good music – and where possible, we should celebrate music from diverse voices, and diverse genres.

These ten tracks should still help you parse through the sadness, get mad, or even gloss over this week’s startling loss for humankind’s collective progress. 

Ola Kvernberg – The Mechanical Fair (Todd Terje Remix)

This one’s a long one. But what makes this remix by Todd Terje so special is how none of the composite parts sound synthetic, or organised. The gradual building of percussion over the ten minute period, introducing electro sounds, strings, and more as it moves along, makes for a really fascinating twist on house music’s ability to captivate without changing itself dramatically or playing to predictable structure.

Hotei – Walking Through The Night (ft. Iggy Pop)

An angry, zesty, and yet crunchy guitar leads this rather terrific collaboration, between a Japanese star and Iggy Pop. It struts along, with the sardonic and intimidating vocals of Pop, before a delightful, if undistinctive guitar solo by Hotei in the final minute of the track. It’s a classic case of the lead riff being way more memorable than a guitar solo, which isn’t a bad thing.

WHOOP-Szo – Another Show

Advocating aid work outside of their music, British indie rock band WHOOP-Szo’s new single looks inwards. The first line of the contemplative and quiet number directs us to examine the roots of inner turmoil: “Can’t ignore the pain that is inside/You passed it down but I still won’t take my life/So I’m pushing on, the spot between my eyes”. The wistful, put on detachment of the vocals make it much more of a mood piece, belying the pain behind the words. Like the omnipresent fuzzy rage of the electric guitar, hidden behind relaxed acoustic chords, the pain lasts long after the window dressing is taken down.

Sian Cross – Stare At Me

Being released to coincide with Anti-Bullying Week (this week), ‘Stare At Me’, is a ballad that is haunting. Beginning with a piano and distorted vocals, before climaxing with drums, guitars, and bass, before closing out with two bars of piano, a few touches make the effort compelling. Mainly the lyrics, and Sian’s vulnerable yet fearless delivery. “Do you think that I/Don’t see when you/Always stare at me?” Sian wails, quiet yet incredibly assured – stepping back to her challengers and those who question her, demanding that they truly see her.

NxWorries – Sidepiece

The latest track from this hip-hop collab project, made up of vocalist Anderson .Paak (whose terrific second album Malibu was released earlier this year) and producer Knxwledge, is a smooth slow-groove. The sparse instrumentation – where power chord strums on a sunny electric feeling like the wash of a gentle tide, and a bass drum counts down to the end of every bar – gives .Paak’s voice the space to woo the listeners, as he sings “Give me your hand, I swear to/Never put another one over you/Lend me your ear, I swear to/Never break your heart if I don’t have to”. It’s a self-consciously modern throwback to love songs; aware of the sexual double standards of some hip-hop, NxWorries coolly brush them off.

Idle Frets – GLOW

You might be thrown for a second with the opening vocals of Idle Frets new single ‘GLOW’ – I assure you that John Newman hasn’t suddenly turned into an indie rock band frontman. No, this is much more similar to recent guitar pop acts. Title line “She smiles at me with her eyes/And they glow when I kiss her” is delivered with the same angst and infectious energy of bands like Catfish. The chorus leaps with the same infectious energy that band has somehow bottle(men)d, with its simple, but raucous overdriven guitar riff. It’s a welcome anachronism to this week’s mood.

Lil Peep – Kiss

God, this week even a song named ‘Kiss’, one of the most physiologically uplifting things it’s possible to do, is a bit of a downer. But what a downer: Lil Peep’s new track is unlike any pop song I’ve heard this year, and I’ve heard a lot. Blending house bass and percussion tricks, smooth lyrical flow, and electro grooves, switching up emotions in lyrics as much as he switches up his styles. “One more chance baby gimmie a kiss, you got/One more chance at a night like this” he repeats in the final refrain, pleading as much as he’s self-consciously boasting.

Elsa Carmona – Ritual

The new single by Elsa Carmona (formerly performing under the name of ‘Sirena’) is a striking addition to the crowded fields of “Dark, moody, electro-pop". With lyrics such as “I’ve got too many things keeping me from thinking/Dancing in the comfort zone c’mon let’s start drinking”, she has a talent for writing and delivering engaging statements. Written and produced with Fredrik Okazaki, it’s a surprisingly unsettling and forthright advance into a crowded arena.

Many Voices Speak – Blue Moon

Need three minutes to slow up, calm down, and catch your breath? Play this cover of the 1934 song ‘Blue Moon’, which opens with near on 30 full seconds of a gentle bassline and strings before Matilda Mård’s (the woman behind Many Voices Speak, of Sweden) beautiful voice comes into the mix. Announcing “Blue Moon/You saw me standing alone/Without a dream in my heart/Without a love of my own”, the slight note of detachment accomplishes the rare feat of creating a story, rather than removing emotion from the mix. Following the first verse there’s an odd, delightful synth solo that may wring the last tears left in your body from their ducts.

White Balance - Home

White Balance’s guitar-led melody certainly helps to distinguish themselves from other male-female electro acts. Even as it transitions into a more typical cascading electro one, it relents from any explosive drops, happy to go quietly into the night: “Take me home when I’ve got nothing/But quiet days to come”, sings Maaria Nuoranne, in the song that prefers to soundtrack the walk home from the club, rather than be in the club itself.

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