Category Archives: Pop

9 of the best – sounds of 2018

Samuelsounds begins a short hiatus for the festive season. As is my way, I leave you with my favourite sounds of 2018. They are in no particular order. Merry Christmas, have a great holiday and see you in the New Year, when I will whittle 12 to 9. (Done!)

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Talking Straight

Father John Misty – Just Dumb Enough to Try

Natalie Prass – Lost

The Good, The Bad & The Queen – Merrie Land

Stephen Malkmus – Solid Silk

Vasser – Valerians

Let’s Eat Grandma – Donnie Darko

Oscar L – Monster Tube

Kokoroko – Abusey Junction

Honourable mentions also go to: Childish Gambino for ‘This Is America‘; Phum Viphurit for ‘Lover Boy‘; Fake Shark for ‘Wake Up‘; Phosphorescent for ‘New Birth in New England‘; Bodega for ‘Jack In Titanic‘; MorMor for ‘Heaven’s Only Wishful‘; Kanye West & Kid Cudi for ‘Reborn‘; Christine and the Queens for ‘Damn, dis-moi‘; Lana Del Rey for ‘Mariners Apartment Complex‘; The Voidz for ‘Leave It In My Dreams‘; Nilüfer Yanya for ‘Thanks 4 Nothing‘ and DJ Koze for ‘Pick Up‘.

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Prefab Sprout – Moving The River (1985)

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I mention Paddy McAloon in a post and I can’t leave the week without featuring Prefab Sprout. The band’s acclaimed sophomore recoding really stands the test of time, which is unusual for an album recorded in 1985. ‘Faron Young’, ‘Bonny’ and ‘When Love Breaks Down’ may get all the plaudits, but the graceful pop of ‘Moving The River’ kicked off Side 2 of the vinyl pressing perfectly.

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The Style Council – Changing Of The Guard (1988)

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From an album that was overlooked to one that was pored over, but discarded nonetheless. 1988’s Confessions of a Pop Group is the critically derided album by The Style Council. Paul Weller was accused of being self indulgent and pretentious – and it left him without a record contract in the U.K. Still, as I listen to ‘Changing Of The Guard’, I still like the jazz-pop-orchestra fusion thing. So what do I know?!

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Paddy McAloon – I’m 49 (2003)

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Paddy McAloon only released the one long player under his own name – the largely instrumental album I Trawl The Megahertz. He almost went blind in the early 2000s, during which he used his heightened hearing to listen to a lot of show wave radio. Though solitude, he had found inspiration. The 22-minute title track dominates the album, but it’s another, ‘I’m 49’, with its radio samples and theme of loneliness, which catches my ears. Genius at work, but largely ignored compared to his early revered pop canon. So I am glad to read that the album is getting a re-release in February next year. Never too late.

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Jon & Vangelis – I Hear You Now (1980)

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A dollop of guilty pleasure for this Friday morning. Lead singer of prog rock group Yes, Jon Anderson teamed up with electronic composer Vangelis at the end of the 1970s. The collaboration was a reflection of where popular music was travelling in 1979. The single ‘I Hear You Now’ features on their first album Short Stories. Memories of my childhood are abound; I think my parents must have liked this one. Have a great weekend.

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Marian Hill – Down (2016)

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‘Down’ is a song recorded by Marian Hill and was released as a single from their debut album Act One. Originally released in 2016, the song became a Shazam-driven sleeper hit a year later after its commercial adoption by Apple.

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The Beatles – Something (1969)

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‘Something’ was written by George Harrison. John Lennon felt it was the best track on Abbey Road. If that wasn’t high praise enough, it was also Frank Sinatra’s favourite Beatles song and one of those sounds that put this Sceptred Isle on top of the world of pop music. Have a great weekend.

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Ella Mai feat. Chris Brown – Whatchamacallit (2018)

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Ella Mai’s type of R&B might not be zeitgeist, but the popularity of this year’s hit ‘Boo’d Up’ seemed to say otherwise. ‘Whatchamacallit’ features on her self-titled debut. Retro. Mitcham massive! Have a great weekend.

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Fake Shark feat. Fionn – Wake Up (2018)

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Wake up listeners; you won’t regret it. British Columbian indie popsters Fake Shark released their single ‘Wake Up’ earlier this year. Vaguely reminiscent of the mid-noughties output of Peter Bjorn & John, the song is a pulsating and welcome slice of electro pop

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Matt and Kim – Let’s Go (2012)

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Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino are Matt and Kim from from Brooklyn, New York. ‘Let’s Go’ has been their most successful single to date and encaptures their upbeat punk/dance fare. It features on their 2012 album Lightning.

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Adele – Chasing Pavements (2008)

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In 2008, the nineteen-year-old singer-songwriter Adele Adkins burst onto the scene with her much-discussed debut album 19. This was blue-eyed soul, but adorned with a voice that was destined to penetrate the public’s consciousnesses. The single ‘Chasing Pavements’ was the first blueprint for her inevitable stardom.

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Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko – Stay (2012)

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I don’t feature much pop, but one should make an exception for Rihanna’s piano ballad ‘Stay’. It was the second single off Rihanna’s album Unapologetic. It features guest vocals from Nashville singer-songwriter Mikky Ekko, who also wrote the song. In fact, he wrote it with another breakthrough artist, the English songwriter Justin Parker. Parker had already made waves working with Lana Del Rey on her standout hit ‘Video Games’.

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The Beach Boys – Little Bird (1968)

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The ballad harmonies are there for sure, the chamber strings… tick, but what makes this track that stands out from The Beach Boys’ previous work is its spiritual funk. It also said to the creative genius Brian Wilson that his brother Dennis could create a pearl too.

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The Kinks – Monica (1968)

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The song ‘Monica’ appeared on The Kinks’ 1968 album The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. It was written and sung by Ray Davies, who suggestively admits more than affection for Monica, the village prostitute – and all to an apt calypso-style arrangement.

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Christine and The Queens feat. Dâm-Funk – Damn, dis-moi (2018)

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A day for something francophile, something for the World Cup semi…’Damn, dis-moi’ was released in May by French singer Christine and the Queens. It features American funk musician Dâm-Funk and a very transatlantic sound. As a nod to Prince, the English version was called ‘Girlfriend’.

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