Category Archives: Pop

Mariya Takeuchi – Plastic Love (1984)

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I started the week with a track from Haruomi Hosono… I end with another influential figure in the world of city pop. Outside of Japan, Mariya Takeuchi is best known for marrying her collaborator Tatsuro Yamashitathe and releasing the classic 1984 song ‘Plastic Love’, with its dancefloor-filling final chorus. The Japanese genre is an unexpected mix of 1970s/1980s smooth AOR and jazz funk. This very American sound is strange through the filter of a Japanese scene. Have a great weekend.

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Jai Paul – Do You Love Her Now (2019)

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In April 2013, Jai Paul broke onto the music scene with the unexpected release of a set of songs on Bandcamp. Everyone was clamouring to find out who was this creative force – a new Prince elect they pronounced. Six years on and it’s happened again. From nowhere, we’ve received ‘Do You Love Her Now’. It’s good.

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Haruomi Hosono – Sports Men (1982)

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Harry Hosono has featured in this blog before. Whether it would be for his work with the Tin Pan Alley collective, or Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) or as a guiding light in Japan’s city pop scene, today won’t be the last time neither. The synthpop classic ‘Sports Men’ was originally released on 1982’s Philharmony, Hosono’s first solo album following YMO’s Ross to success. “Your mother, she might be a swimmer/Your father must have been a vaulter”. Indeed. Here’s to a sporty week.

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Crumb – Nina (2019)

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Crumb deliver an intoxicating psych-pop sound. Lila Ramani’s smooth vocals give the Brooklyn four-piece something better – just better. ‘Nina’ is their latest self-released single.

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Odesza feat. Zyra – Say My Name (2014)

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Early start… early sunshine. Some sun-infused electronic pop from Seattle-based duo Harrison Mills (Catacombkid) and Clayton Knight (BeachesBeaches). ‘Say My Name’ features on their 2014 album In Return. Leicester-born Zyra shines on vocals.

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George Harrison – What Is Life (1971)

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I can’t mention George Harrison in a week and not revisit the treasure trove that is his 1970 album All Things Must Pass. Harrison originally wrote this for Billy Preston who was one the early artists on the Beatles’ Apple label. But the song was clearly more rock than gospel and he kept it to himself. Insanely though, ‘What Is Life’ was released as the B-side to ‘My Sweet Lord’ in the UK. Have a great weekend.

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Her’s – Harvey (2018)

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I have really enjoyed the 1980s feel to the album An Invitation To Her’s. I was really sad to hear about the band’s sudden demise in California this week. R.I.P. Stephen Fitzpatrick and Audun Laading.

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Catfish and the Bottlemen – Longshot (2019)

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In January, Welsh rockers Catfish and the Bottlemen released their first pressing in over two and a half years. The single ‘Longshot’ is a refreshing dose of simple, anthemic rock. It will feature on their forthcoming, third album The Balance, which is due to be released in April.

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The Pale Fountains – …From Across The Kitchen Table (1985)

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Before founding Shack, Mick and John Head were in the cult 1980s band The Pale Fountains. The title track off their Ian Broudie-produced second album …From Across The Kitchen Table is a rare 1980s gem. Impeccable kitchen-sink pop with a perfectly delivered female vocal hook in the remixed single version. Bliss.

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Seinabo Sey – I Owe You Nothing (2018)

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Seinabo Sey is different. Okay, she’s Swedish-Gambian and she’s got the voice, but there’s also a self confidence in ‘I Owe You Nothing’ that I wasn’t expecting.

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Drake – Nice for What (2018)

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And now, a more recent borrow … this time it’s a choice sample from Lauryn Hill’s ‘Ex-Factor’. It’s 10 years since Aubrey Drake Graham signed to Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment and exploded onto the scene with the release of the dubiously pitched ‘Best I Ever Had’. The Canadian rapper-songwriter-producer has refined his proposition significantly in the decade since. Like the ubiquitous ‘Hotline Bling’, last year’s ‘Nice for What’ adroitly selects the perfect reference material.

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Kate Bush – The Man With The Child In His Eyes (1978)

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From one outer-worldly voice to another… Kate Bush famously wrote ‘The Man With The Child In His Eyes’ when she was just 13. She recorded the song at the age of 16 under the guidance of her mentor David Gilmour. This was a prodigious pop talent rising to to the top at the earliest. The song featured with ‘Wuthering Heights’ on her first album, The Kick Inside, released in February 1978.

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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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