Fauntleroy Drops Retro Cut, “Magic”

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He’s noted for dropping slick, indie R&B tracks during lulls in the music world; just when we’re craving something new-age, experimental, and succinct…Fauntleroy, a name now fairly synonymous for self-produced, instrumentally sublime, and often heavily dipped in old-soul, delivers.

From “Who Are You“, to “Mid-Air“, and “Running Through Red Lights“, he’s been a maniac all month, dropping singles from above like sustenance amidst a famine. Well, at least that’s what it feels like.

This week it’s “Magic”, amongst others. Fauntleroy creeps in over a kooky, ’60s mod shuffle, a homemade grandma-organ and synth arrangement blended to set the mood for his glossy vocals. With wide-eyed delight, he imagines an assumedly exaggerated [but generationally plausible] scene (“Met this girl on the internet, yeah, now we’re sharing a cigarette/ Don’t know her number or her real name…).

The silly, cyber-imagery continues (“Girl, what’s your screen name?”) until the 2:08 mark, at which time the daydream flickers out. But with all of the track’s tottering danceability, we’d never ask it to end.

Gem of the Week: “Rain In My Heart”-Frank Sinatra

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Song: “Rain in My Heart”

Artist: Frank Sinatra

Album: Cycles (1968)

You wouldn’t think that cranking out an easy listening compilation in the height of dazed hippie takeover would be an easy task; especially for Frank Sinatra, the championed OG crooner whose American Standards/Songbook peak–[at least the period most agreed on as such]–was since long gone.

But alas, in 1968, arrived Cycles–a Christmastime-released, well-crafted array of folk-to-soft pop covers from the seasoned singer. From his baroque-y take on Joni Mitchell’s soul-subduing cut, “Both Sides, Now” to kindergarten lulla-croons (“Little Green Apples”), and stuff right out of a country-road hymnal (“Cycles”), the album is Frank in all variations…yet none of these musical terrains feel contrived.

The refreshing air of the album, in fact, is Frank’s adherence to his old-school-slick pipes over mostly pop arrangements. While the scenery throughout Cycles may at times flicker to folky, there’s no uncomfortable submission to airy-voiced, flower-childspeak, despite its generational context.

While all of its songs make the mark–it’s the 10-track LP’s chest-belty overture, “Rain In My Heart”, that’ll truly catch your breath. The track’s murky, mournful entrance is like a ’40s romance film’s enfeebling buildup…which, at first, seems not quite Sinatra. It’s only when the surging drum & piano hook bursts out of the darkness and spills waltzy boldness all over the lovespell that a warm familiarity of feather-fluffing, “My Way” Frank infiltrates the ears. It’s wide-open-hearted and smooth, overpoweringly so.

Drake & Majid Jordan Drop “My Love”

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Highly active with Zane Lowe interviews, music vids, and the brand-new Apple Music, OVO coworkers dropped a new track, “My Love”, on Friday afternoon via SoundCloud.

Whirling 808s devour the nebulous, submerged track—a dim, deep-house instrumental fashioned by the producer duo. The hook alternated with their tense, tight-lipped interrogation (“Why you wanna be my love?/ Is it just for show?”) and the quintessential, wound-licking Drake chime-in: (“I’m not your trophy, baby/ I won’t let you show me off or shine me up, or line me up, no”…).

Check it out below:

New Track: “Broken Heart Broken Eyes” x James Fauntleroy

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Enduring solo act, occasional producer, and Cocaine 80s frontman, mellow-R&B vocalist James Fauntleroy just previewed some new material. The new desolate single, unashamedly titled “Broken Heart Broken Eyes”, arrived on SoundCloud last night.

In step with Cocaine 80s cake-layer harmonies and the afro-pop collective’s propensity for candlelight piano interludes. This time, Larrance Dopson lends a hand on keyboards, while James mourns via melody. Word-wise, it’s a little more than choked-up…[“If you showed me your heart right now, wouldn’t recognize/ Broken hearts broken eyes too far, since you went and changed on me”.]

Like most of the caramel-voiced crooner’s soft cuts—for those already misty-eyed, it’s designed to keep you that way. 

Check it out below.

New Track: Thundercat x “Them Changes”

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The LA producer/bass proficient just dropped a new track, and it’s confirmed as the prequel to his ‘mini album’-to-be, which arrives next week from the Brainfeeder record label. [Fellow electronic artist Flying Lotus’ 7-year enterprise in the making].

Sonically disoriented, “Them Days” is an unnerving, post-love stumble: one that features Thundercat picking up broken-heart shards over an eery, funk-driven gurgle…(“Now I’m sitting here with a black hole in my chest/ A heartless, broken mess…”).

It’s an inebriated, Parliament-esque shake, with a little more vulnerability and chunky, signature T-Cat bass. The 3-minute track mixes Bruner’s fluid vocals with keyboards from Flying Lotus, sax from Kamasi Washington, and piano by Dennis Hamm—(all who appear in Pitchfork’s live performance here).

Thundercat’s mini-compilation, The Beyond/Where The Giants Roam is due June 22nd. Upon release, it can be purchased here.

Foals Shares “What Went Down” + Music Video

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It’s been two years since the release of Holy Fire: enough time for any pent-up antsiness surrounding the Oxford indie collective’s studio album return to reach its peak. The shoegaze world stirs, and Foals is searing the anticipation.

Complete with corresponding video, the fivesome just dropped “What Went Down” on Tuesday, its first debut a highlight on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio 1 station. As grubby alt-rock as it is hooking, melodic pop—in all of its addictive refrain–the 6-minute track is indulgingly downcast, even for a group that spent their whole breakout album drowning—figuratively via lyrical theme [and literally, on their cover art]…(see: Total Life Forever).

As for the music video, the visuals are aquatically menacing: blurry, blue, and shivering with lead singer Yannis Philippakis’ near-exhausted vocal cries. His words, even when blurted in adoration, resemble an instigating snarl: (“When I see you mad, I see a lion/ You’re the apple of my eye…”).

Intense for the usually ‘gentler’ Foals, “What Went Down” marks both a significant sound divergence and hard-rock, icy emotion unchained. 

Miguel Teams Up With Lenny Kravitz For “Face The Sun”

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Miguel’s been silky-R&B’s longtime master of smooth, from every dark, muggy Art Dealer Chic chapter to Kaleidoscope Dream, and in-between-album collaborations with Wale, Janelle Monae, and beyond. Angel-face aside, his whispery voice is, hands down, the slickest: a no-fail means of goosebumps-delivery over gritty, musing beats handpicked to sustain the Miguel melting effect.

Now the sixth addition release from his upcoming Wildheart EP, the R&B singer collaborates with vet R&B/rock-er Lenny Kravitz on “Face The Sun”: an electrifying, reverb-packed track belted with Miguel-level, unadulterated passion (“when it’s said and done, you’re the only one”) and a faraway, thrumming guitar riff—almost heartbeat-like.

Wildheart comes out June 29th; pre-order it on iTunes here.

Gem of the Week: “Sweet and Sour”-Firefall

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Song: “Sweet and Sour”

Artist: Firefall

Album: Elan (1978)

Not only did the 1978 Elan studio album serve as a third, moody-bluesy succession to the Boulder, CO soft rock band’s prior installments, but it followed a key Firefall golden rule: laying all seething scorn–inflicted by the witchiest of women–on the line.

Stylized by embittered tracks like “Cinderella” and “Piece of Paper”, the same kind of estrangement seeped throughout the sulky, succinct acoustic matter of Elan—a ten-track, mixed narrative of sourly spun tales of detachment (“Strange Way”, “Sweet and Sour”), wooing pop balladry (“Count Your Blessings”), and all the token, down-South rock trappings (“Wrong Side of Town”, “Get You Back”). Praised for their harmonic edge, above-average instrumentalism, and ability to cover a trifecta of rock sound—from soft to country to pop—Firefall’s solid rep has managed to hold up on vinyl and radio since their 1974 start.

“Sweet and Sour” is the album’s second track: a bongo-ridden jam laden with the band’s honeyed harmonies: the crystal-clear vocals of Rick Roberts and Larry Burnett layered with twangy arpeggios. It’s bluegrass meets pop-rock, energizing and steady. Each preceding verse revved-up and snappy, the hook—a torn-up confession penned by Roberts and lead guitarist Jock Bartley—feels new every time.

Though it’s more about the bad taste in Robert’s mouth, (“And it’s such a thin line, lyin’ in between our love and hate”…), the track feels just as destined for road-trippin’ as it does sulking around.

[listen below]:

Review: Jamie xx-‘In Colour’

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While the complex, tangled niche of EDM largely aims for the suppression of exterior noise, maximizing listener zone-out, UK house mastermind Jamie xx has found a way to amplify it, bringing it brilliantly to life and—more importantly—our attention. Cranking up the world’s volume around us, he invites in both its harmony and discord, through sound and melody.

Jamie’s breakout studio album is a dazzling conglomeration of EDM remnants—a long-awaited, highly personal project from the xx’s humble, low-profile production brain. Though the 26-year-old DJ keeps fair distance from the spotlight, his name can’t seem to leave our lips…which makes his new 11-track compilation, In Colour, nothing short of a gift for those craving Jamie-only material.

With little other than an e-drum set, laptop, and multi-track recorder, he handpicks glints of sound, fuzzy vinyl samplings, and intimate, small-venue reverb: the employers of the acute emotion he awakens listeners to–whether love, bliss, or uncertainty– all within his synthesized prism of melody. Influenced by a melting pot of trance, electronic, hip-hop, dancehall, and reggae, Jamie conceives not just ‘beats’, but instrumental narratives for life’s every vulnerable moment.

At times, the xx frontman’s major reveal is one of life’s raw clamor; “Gosh” is a gritty street banger iced out with muggy city racket: sirens, distant vocal murmurs, and a raucous jam of sound traffic. Conversely, “Sleep Sound” is meditative and trance-like, an emphasis on numbed, routine motion. Mashed-up, Beach Boys-eque vocals reverberate over stuttering drum-lines and sunken 808s.

Then, there’s the magnification of life’s euphoria. “Loud Places”, featuring the xx’s own Romy Madley Croft, is sheer sunlight. What starts off as a hushed, jaded reflection in a very ‘quiet place’ builds up to a radiant burst of reawakened warmth, an assured return to comfort…though the hook is unchanged (“I have never reached such heights/ [Reach without me], I feel music in your eyes”…). Off-key in the sweetest, slightest way, a hoard of vocals make up its ambrosial, swallowing chorus, while a tolling rhythm guitar chimes in beside Romy’s breathy vocals. Elevating and anthemic, the track is most refreshing in its almost celebratory coming-to-terms with solitude.

Diversity in sampling is a key component for achieving Jamie xx-level renown, and there are moments on In Colour during which Jamie makes the unfathomable mesh happen, like barbershop-gospel spiritualism with bouncy, tropics-born dancehall, on “I Know (There’s Gonna Be Good Times)”: a moment where Young Thug actually shines. Jamaican artist Popcaan delivers island-y background chants and the beat goes. so. hard.

Despite In Colour‘s solo album status, Jamie invites the xx fam onboard for a handful of tracks (“SeeSaw”, “Stranger In A Room”). Oliver Sim lends his vocals for the latter, a quietly spiteful cut that sounds just like “Fiction” and returns to our mouth the bitterness that Coexist planted there.

In a time and sub-category of music where unbarred digital capacity can warrant dull, cavernous, and repetitive instrumentals–ones that feel nearly impersonal and ‘rave-only’, Jamie xx remains a sui generis mixmaster standout amongst computer-glaze-eyed DJ peers. Piecing perfectly together every fragment of sounds in bright, in-reach, and full-of-life technique, he truly spins EDM into art—an intimate kind that enriches the noise already buzzing around us.

iTunes Purchase Link:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/in-colour/id978362006

Disclosure Drops First Single for New Album, “Holding On (Feat. Gregory Porter)”

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Disclosure’s newest track, this time featuring jazz-gospel vocalist Gregory Porter, is the official precursor to the duo’s upcoming album. Entitled “Holding On”, its name is fitting for its playback: the revolution of an 808s-amped beat so clenched with Porter’s ultra-smoky soul that the two sound inseparable.

For all of Disclosure’s deep-house influence, propensity for gaping bass drums, antsy synthesizers, and overall hypnotic means of EDM production, brothers Howard and Guy Lawrence have continually managed to inject soul and outside funk influence into their work—from Settle to present. 

Their newest guest recruit, the L.A. based Porter seeps vocal richness over the clubby bass instrumental: a giddy mixboard fashioning of electro-drums, keyboards, and ravey synths—intertwined with Porter’s unyielding spiritualism…(“Though my past has left me bruised/ I ain’t hiding from the truth”).

Listen to “Holding On” here: