‘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.
I am just squeezing in a post before the day is up here in Blighty. I spent some time in a local park today to the soul soundtrack of Lee Fields & The Expressions’ 2016 album Special Night. The best came last; the single ‘Precious Love’ closes the long player perfectly.
In 2016, after more than two years of no music, Childish Gambino resurfaced with his third studio album Awaken, My Love! Zeitgeist Gambino showed that he had been wasting no time. Channeling the sound of Prince and Connan Mockasin (now there’s a notion), he carefully moved away from rapping; listening to the standout single ‘Redbone’, you can hear, funk, soul and sadness. Talent.
An awesome track from Copenhagen-based duo Palace Winter. Australian singer-songwriter Carl Coleman and Danish keyboard wizard Caspar Hesselager named themselves after an old hotel in Menton where Carl stayed in the summer of 2014. In just two years, the band had blossomed into something special. ‘Positron’ is off their debut album Waiting For The World To Turn. Enjoy.
Like Kali Uchis, Jamila Woods has quite a few friends. She released her debut album HEAVN in 2016 and was already able to showcase collaborations with Chance the Rapper, Noname and Donnie Trumpet amongst others. The result is a collage of soul, jazz and hip-hop, with all the authenticity you would expect from someone raised on the Southside of Chicago. The album’s title track is a great way to kick of the week. Have a good one.
I featured Anderson .Paak plenty on this blog in 2016, after the release of his revelatory long player Malibu. I overheard another one of that album’s standout tracks – ‘Put Me Thru’ – this week and I was reminded of his breezy blend of funk, soul and hip hop. Enjoy and have a good weekend.
Saskatchewan-born singer-songwriter Andy Shauf does not hide how much Elliott Smith has influenced him. But to me, he gives off a much sunnier disposition. “Do-do-do-do” as he says a lot in the opening track ‘The Magician’ off his 2016 album The Party; and all to the slightly psychedelic instrumentation of late-1960s pop. The Sgt. Pepper-style video can be no coincidence; there are other influences at work here.
For Emma, Forever Ago (2007); Bon Iver, Bon Iver (2011); 22, A Million (2016)… from recording a folk album alone in the woods in 2007 to full on electronic experimentation in 2016, Justin Vernon’s output with the Bon Iver project is nothing but ambitious. The band was in London last week, having cancelled their European tour in early 2017. It gave me the opportunity to see them and revisit 22, A Million. One of its standout songs, ‘8 (circle)’ provides a link between their early and late work. With less vocoder and more convention, the song makes one reminisce a little for Vernon’s early work.
And now to a different strand of the mythical folk rock genre. Brooklyn’s Big Thief balances the singer-songwriter’s storytelling with indie rock. Their debut album’s title track ‘Masterpiece’ sums it up. Adrianne Lenker sings: “There’s only so much letting go you can ask someone to do.”
The young Australian star Jordon Alexander (also known as Mall Grab) nailed the sampling of Alicia Keys (‘Feeling U, Feeling Me Interlude’) on 2016’s deep house track ‘Can’t’. Released on South London’s Church records, the single had impact. Mall Grab’s release was the number one selling house and techno record amongst the discerning customers of Discogs in 2016.
Netflix are currently engendering a renaissance in soundtrack writing. At the head of the queue are Survive’s analogue synthesisers. Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, two members of the Austin-based band, wrote the score for mini-series Stranger Things. Set in the 1980s of E.T.’s America, the show borrows its look and sound from Stephen Spielberg and John Carpenter movies.
Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich started their country-rock project Whitney as their former band Smith Westerns disintegrated in 2014. Like ‘No Woman’ posted here a year or so ago, the sound is a nostalgic one. The twangy guitar of a Pavement track; Ehrlich’s strikingly high-pitched vocals; the aching lyrics; and of course, those horns. Released as a single in 2016, the song features on their debut album Light Upon The Lake.
Clara Luciani, Clémence Quelennec, Marlon Magnée, Noé Delmas, Sacha Got and Sam Lefèvre are La Femme. Last year, they produced a Gallic slice of surf music, ‘Où Va Le Monde’. Their modern take on a French affinity for cold wave, the track would not be out of place on a Tarantino soundtrack.