Category Archives: Bjork

Singers singing songs in 2011

Well hello there. Take a seat. Did you have a nice Christmas and new year break? Good. Yes, we did thank you. Got some slippers, some DVDs, a nice cardigan, some CDs and a food blender. I know, very lucky, yes. Shall we crack on with writing about music now that we’re in January and there’s very little else to do? OK, here goes…

So, everyone and their mother is scrambling about looking for the ‘next big thing’ and whilst we’re not opposed to this kind of thing at all (we love a good list and anything that gets people all hot and bothered is fine by us), it does lead to something resembling a backlash before any of these poor buggers have had chance to release any music. For example, we’re already bored to tears by Clare Maguire and not just because she seems – to us at least – to be nothing more than a slightly better dressed Sandi Thom. The Vaccines and Brother can run along because, frankly, we’re not sure it is time for a guitar band revival especially not just for the sake of it.

So, who do we like? Well, below is a short list of people we think will make some nice songs in 2011 and some of them aren’t even brand new. Frankly, we’re going to let people who made music in 2010, or maybe 2009, also continue to make good music in 2011. That’s how nice we are.

LADY GAGA

Born This Way should be the album that cements her Ladyship as the greatest pop star of the past decade and with a single coming out as soon as February there’s not much time to wait. Of course, she could balls it all up by diving a bit too far down the earnest piano-ballad route – that new song she played on tour recently was a). a bit dull and b). veeeerrrryyyy llooooonnnnnggg – but, let’s be honest, it’s going to be a pop masterclass from a woman who hasn’t just learned to be a superstar, she’s re-written the manual, put her face on the cover and then repackaged it with a bonus book of extra chapters more exhilarating than the original version.

COCKNBULLKID

Yep, the one that was meant to take 2009 by storm is back and she’s got a debut album (Adulthood) up her sleeves so chock full of melody it should come with a warning. WARNING: THIS ALBUM CONTAINS SO MANY BRILLIANTLY MELODIC SONGS IT MAY LEAD TO IMPOTENCE OR EAR CANCER. Gone – for the most part – is the electropop of old and in it’s place is a more traditional set-up that frames the songs perfectly, letting Anita Blay’s (for she is the cock in question) voice inject the character.

JAI PAUL

Jai Paul made a song in his bedroom in half an hour. He emailed said song to his brother who went nuts for it, demanded he email it to a blog and then probably placed bets on his sibling’s forthcoming debut album winning the Mercury Music prize. That track, ‘BTSTU’, is the kind of song that takes the fundamental rules of pop music – verse, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus, fade – and manipulates them into something simultaneously new yet completely familiar. It’s not alienating in a “ya, ya, it’s, like, really interesting and technically really proficient” kind of way, it’s just pop music with the limits removed. We were lucky enough to interview him for Dazed magazine recently and as part of that we heard three brand new songs and though our memory fails us when it comes to details, we can confirm that each one was spectacularly amazing.

SPARK

We don’t know too much about Spark other than that she’s a lady, she has black hair and red lips. Oh, and she makes the kind of ’90s-referencing pop songs that make us go from “huh, this is kind of shit” to “this is literally amazing” in the space of one song. That song is ‘Revolving’ and we like it a lot and sometimes that’s all it takes.

JAMES BLAKE

We saw James Blake recently in a pub. Not just having a drink, but actually playing a keyboard and singing and you know what, it was a good evening. It wasn’t some epoch-defining, you-should-have-been-there-oh-my-God-I-cried-at-the-beauty-of-it-all kind of gig, but the boy sure can sing and there’s a beautiful kind of patience about how he arranges songs. Chances are he’ll win the BBC Sound of 2011 thang and everyone will hate him come March, but from what we’ve heard, his debut album (due in Feb) should see him past the haterzzz.

BRITNEY SPEARS

So, she went a bit mad, released an amazing album, Blackout (seriously, regardless of your musical persuasion, please listen to it), got slightly better health-wise and then made Circus which was only 56% good. What can we learn from this? That mental illness makes pop better? Or that Britney really has no clue what she’s singing on until she gets to the studio and that the label dropped the ball? Either way, she’s got a new album on the horizon and ‘Hold It Against Me’, the first single, will premiere this Friday. Co-produced by Dr Luke and Max Martin an insider has said that the track is “infectious”, which is a bit like saying snow is cold or grass is green or Flo Rida has the emotional capacity of a lemon sorbet.

There are loads of others, but we’re tired and need to go and have some cereal before bed, so here’s a list of names of people we also think will do good things in 2011:

Mr Little Jeans

Alex Winston

MNDR

Chad Valley

Panda Bear

Adele

The Strokes

Outkast/Andre 3000

Bjork

Those Dancing Days

Theophilus London

No doubt Damon Albarn will release at least five albums, so that will be nice

New Music Monday

Another week has gone by in the (not as busy as it used to be) world of music purchasing, and lo and behold the albums we picked failed to set the charts on fire. Summer Camp‘s was an EP so we’re not even sure if it’s chart eligible and The Like would need a miracle of some kind to be on anyone outside of London’s radar. (We didn’t pick the Hurts album because of the disappointment, but it did chart at no. 4, which is pretty impressive nonetheless). The Bjork single was nowhere to be see EVEN THOUGH IT’S FOR CHARITY. Children in Pakistan are dying because of you, basically. Anyways, enough of the negativity, let’s get some love in the room…

BUY THIS

Body Talk Pt 2 by Robyn

We oversaw the premiere of this album on The Guardian website last week and had to defend it against a gluttony of dimwitted twonks harping on about how it’s all manufactured “pop pap” and that it’s made by idiots for idiots, etc, etc. It was exhausting, but worthwhile, because Body Talk Pt 2 – the second part of an audacious plan to release three albums in 2010 – is quite simply a brilliant album, regardless of genre. In just 8 tracks it covers love, lust, heartbreak, arrogance, ego, fear and heartbreak again. Now, you don’t get that from some indie band dressed like Top Man mannequins do you?

BUY THIS TOO, YEAH

Maximum Balloon by Maximum Balloon

You may be saying; who the fook is Maximum Balloon? To which we would reply; it’s Dave Sitek. You may be saying; who the fook is Dave Sitek? To which we would reply; the producer behind albums by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Foals, Liars, Holly Miranda and even that Scarlett Johansson one that’s actually pretty good. Oh and he’s the guitarist and producer with TV On The Radio. If you are still unsure then why are you reading a music blog? Anyways, Maximum Balloon features an amazing roll-call of guests – Theophilus London, Karen O, David Byrne, to name just three – and is a brilliantly conceived collection of woozy, slightly off-kilter pop.

DOWNLOAD THIS

‘Hang With Me’ by Robyn

Yeah, what? If there’s a better single out this week then we’ve yet to hear it. Just buy this or there will be hell to pay, mmmkay?

New Music Monday

People, people, PEOPLE! Now that we’re regularly attracting a daily audience of at least a million, we assumed our constant bleating on about Ms Rose Elinor Dougall would secure her at least a place in the Top 75. But NO, you guys had other ideas, with your “we don’t pay for music anymore” or “we don’t like her music and it’s up to us to decide whether we want to get it or not and given we’re in a recession and times are tight how about you just leave us alone, yeah” excuses. Elsewhere, Everything Everything debuted at no. 17, which is none too shabby, whilst Disclosure missed out completely but we’re not too surprised really. Let’s turn our attention to today shall we? Yes, let’s.

BUY THIS

Young EP by Summer Camp

Summer Camp, aka Elizabeth Sankles and Jeremy Warmsley, make ’80s referencing synth-pop that doesn’t sound brittle and cold. On this six-track EP they conjure up images of waiting for your date at the prom or spending long summers hanging out with your mates and falling in (puppy) love. It’s nostalgia, but it’s brilliantly realised and packaged in instant pop melodies, all keyboard swirls and simple drum patterns. If there’s a more exciting duo who are dating and live in North London then WE HAVE YET TO HEAR THEM!

DOWNLOAD THE FIRST HALF OF THIS

Release Me by The Like

A few years ago The Like were a threesome (phwoar, right lads!) and made sunny ’70s-influenced rock. Well, a quick bunk up with Mark Ronson (who produces) and some line-up changes (one’s left, two have arrived) and now they’re all organ swells (phwoar, right ladies!), hand-claps and ’60s girl group harmonies. Half of Release Me is really ace and half of it is a bit samey. Still, that’s what iTunes is for right?

DOWNLOAD THIS

‘The Comet Song’ by Bjork

We mentioned this the other day and got our facts wrong about when it was coming out. Well, it’s out NOW so please go and buy it because a). the proceeds go to a Unicef childrens charity, b). the song has been slightly beefed up compared with the version on the video and c). it includes the line “Comet / Oh damn it”, which is clearly the best lyric of 2010.

New Song: E-40 ‘Spend The Night’

Californian rapper E-40 is now ten albums into a career that has seen him mix music with an entrepreneurial flare that could shame a Dragons Den contestant. Not only was he responsible for bringing a chain of Fatburger to the San Francisco Bay Area, he also opened a nightclub and launched his own line of energy drinks, called 40 Water. The man is so busy, he barely shows up on this stand out cut from his latest album, Revenue Retrievin’: Night Shift (there’s a Day Shift too, in case you were wondering). Luckily, he has some mates round to help out and the whole song is based around a brilliantly looped sample taken from Bjork‘s track Oceania. What starts out feeling like two separate songs welded together, soon makes perfect sense when those heart-stopping choral voices merge with the sing-song chorus. As E-40 himself said in an interview, “she [Bjork] don’t never clear shit”, but when she does she knows what she’s doing. Shame then that the video doesn’t match the songs experimental flare, it being a paint-by-numbers rap video, complete with club scene, gratuitous product placement and some bloke in a hat dancing in front of a wall.

Polar opposites attract

We would have given anything to have been there. The other night Bjork was honoured with Sweden’s Polar Prize (you get a million Swedish coins) for being amazing for a really long time. Bjork herself was there to witness (through gritted teeth it looks like) Robyn covering ‘Hyperballad’ and Wildbirds & Peacedrums doing ‘Human Behaviour’.

Here’s Robyn’s effort:

Obviously, her voice isn’t as gymnastic as Bjork’s but she puts her own spin on it and very nearly “makes it her own”. Below is a video of the whole of Bjork’s segment of the show, so you can either watch the Robyn bit again, or skip to 6:54 and watch the excellent Wildbirds & Peacedrums take the already pretty pagan sounding ‘Human Behaviour’ and ratchet up the earthy drama.

Yes, that is Bjork’s Dad and yes he does have the best accent of all time.

Moomin marvellous

Ever since it was announced last year, we’ve been so very excited about the prospect of a Moomins film with a Bjork song on the soundtrack. Well, the wait is over. This is ‘The Comet Song’, taken from the film Moomins and The Comet Chase:

It’s not exactly the brilliantly bonkers pop masterpiece we had imagined, but on repeated listens it slowly reveals itself as EXACTLY what you would want it to sound like. The film looks pretty amazing too. HUZZAH.

‘The Comet Song’ is out on iTunes tomorrow and all proceeds go to UNICEF Pakistan childrens’ charities.

Returnal to me

This is a bit of treat for fans of Antony Hegarty’s voice. He’s done a haunting, piano-lead (what else, right?) version of Oneohtrix Point Never‘s ‘Returnal’, which translates the original’s synth-heavy blasts into funereal longing. For those that criticise Hegarty’s tendency to over-emote everything, this shows what a little restraint can do. Very lovely.

(The sound quality isn’t great, so listen to it here too)

In other news, we have a copy of Swanlights, Antony & The Johnsons new collection of club bangers, so expect an insightful ‘review’ pretty soon. Oh, and yes, the Bjork collaboration is as heart-rending as you imagine it to be. Although it’s in Icelandic so could be about Iranian foreign policy for all we know.

No, Thank You Antony

We slightly overdosed on Antony & The Johnsons last year. At one point we went to see them twice in a week, which on the one hand was amazing – beautiful, crystalline vocals, perfect sense of drama – but on the other, it was all a bit, you know, much. Anyways, we’ve had some time to re-group and we’re excited about their forthcoming album, Swanlights, which is out on 11th October (and features Bjork!!!!!)

To whet our appetites further, the band have announced the release of a five-track EP entitled, Thank You For Your Love (that’s the cover above). The EP will feature two cover versions (a Bob Dylan one and a John Lennon one), a track left off their last album, a new non-Swanlights track and the title track, which is also on the album. If that weren’t enough, you can also download the keening, horn-flecked ‘Thank You For Your Love’ for free, simply by giving away an email. Click here to do that, or just stream it below. The choice is yours.

Don’t cry Janelle

Well, we’ve all had a bit of time to digest the Janelle Monae album and, yes, it’s still amazing. She’s playing in the UK this September so if you live in the UK (or any of the countries surrounding it) we suggest you buy a ticket NOW. You won’t regret it one bit.

Below is a brand new video for the excellent ‘Cold War’. It’s the album’s most straight-forward moment and from listening to it and knowing a bit about Monae and her general image, you’d expect a big, dramatic production. Instead, she’s created a very understated video of her lip-synching to the song, possibly naked and getting a bit emotional. During the line “I was made to believe there’s something wrong with me” she stops, laughs it off and then bursts into tears, which, we’re not gonna lie, made us well up a bit too. LAME.

Click on her face below to watch it.

It joins the pantheon of music videos that include close-ups and leaking eyes. These are the other forerunners.

Sinead O’Connor ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’

Bjork‘Hidden Place’

Dirty Projectors & Björk save the whales

3mins30seconds could quite easily have been re-named WeloveBjörkwedo, but we figured it wasn’t catchy enough. Any new material from the Icelandic force of nature is enough to send us into a tizz of hurricane proportions, but when it’s paired with a band as brilliant as Dirty Projectors, it’s enough to cause a bit of a meltdown.

A few months ago Björk teamed up for a live show with the Brooklyn-based sextet, performing new songs that Dirty Projectors main man Dave Longstreth had written. Well, these songs have now been recorded and packaged as the Mount Wittenberg Orca EP and as of today you can purchase the whole thing and have a ‘whale’ of a time (ha, ha – You’re fired, Ed). The songs are cut from the same cloth as the Bitte Orca album, with Björk adding sky-scraping back-ups as only she can. Be warned, there are moments when the vocals arrive en masse and it’s enough to cause minor heart palpitations.

You can download the album from here. All proceeds go to the National Geographic Society’s Ocean Initiative.

Here’s the gorgeous ‘All We Are’ as a little taster (courtesy of Domino Records’ SoundCloud):

EDIT: We forgot to add that Björk will also appear on Swanlights, the new album from Antony & The Johnsons, due in October. The pair will appear together for the third time (Antony appeared on Volta tracks ‘My Juvenile’ and ‘The Dull Flame Of Desire’) on ‘Flétta’, which means ‘integrate’ in English apparently.