Category Archives: Mark Ronson

New Music Monday

So, 2011, how’s it going for you all so far? Bit gray and moody isn’t it? Still, like a giant musical ray of sunshine on a dank, dark Monday morning, we’re here to liven things up as best we can. Yep, New Music Monday is back and frankly not before time. To recap a bit, 2010 ended with Matt Cardle selling an inordinate amount of copies of a Westlife ballad performed with guitars and Take That sold approximately ten copies a minute of their sleek, pop-my-Nan-likes Progress album. But that was then and this is very much now and below are a couple of things out today that you may like to purchase from a shop (probs from a supermarket at this rate), download or steal.

BUY THIS IF YOU LIKE POP STARS IN HATS

Doo-Wops & Hooligans by Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars is one third of production powerhouse The Smeezingtons, who are responsible for some great things (Cee Lo Green‘s ‘Fuck You’ for example) and some not so great things (Travie McCoy‘s ‘Billionaire’). In many ways, this dichotomy is true of his debut album, a collection of songs that veers from the undeniably catchy (new single ‘Grenade’, ‘Just The Way You Are’) to songs comparing his penis to a carrot. Still, albums with two good singles and some other listenable songs are things to be mildly celebrated in January are they not?

DOWNLOAD THIS SINGLE PLEASE

‘Rolling In the Deep’ by Adele

Let’s be honest, Adele’s first album, 19, was a bit rubbish. ‘Chasing Pavements’ was nice enough and that single Mark Ronson produced had it’s moments, but generally, despite a brilliant voice, there wasn’t that much separating her from, say, Duffy. Well, thankfully, Paul Epworth has climbed aboard the good ship album number two (entitled, age-fans, 21) and produced this rather wonderful single, all vintage soul backing vocals and big, echo-ey drums. Lyrically, it’s all “you, young man, are a bit nasty and I don’t love you anymore” and that’s a good thing because he does seem like a bit of a twonk.

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Albums of 2010: 20 – 16

16. Treats – Sleigh Bells

Arriving like a fist to the face of pop music – huh? – Sleigh Bells, aka producer/guitarist Derek E. Miller and singer Alexis Krauss – make music that’s abrasive yet poppy, aggressive yet strangely sweet, noisy yet hummable. Treats followed an internet buzz so loud is threatened to drown out the actual songs, but there’s a lot to enjoy here. Opener ‘Tell ‘Em’ is essentially one long guitar riff and some cheap beats, ‘Kids’ is old school hip-hop meets Girls Aloud, whilst the brilliant ‘Rill Rill’ is the soundtrack to the best teen romcom you’ve ever seen. It may not stand the test of time – who cares right? – but for now Treats is a thrilling, fun, totally rad hardcore pop album. Man.

Best track: ‘Crown On The Ground’

17. Swanlights – Antony & The Johnsons

For their fourth album, Antony Hegarty and his Johnsons created a song suite focused on both the personal and the global. First single ‘Thank You For Your Love’ found Hegarty in joyful mood, whilst opener ‘Everything Is New’ imagined some kind of emotional cleansing and ‘I’m In Love’ was practically upbeat. Still, this is an Antony & The Johnsons record so introspection was just behind the corner, with the haunting ‘The Spirit Was Gone’ and the abstract title track creating that unsettling feeling only they seem to be able to muster. The highlight is the piano-lead duet, ‘Fletta’, in which Hegarty lets Bjork‘s crystalline vocals lead the way to devastating effect.

Best track: ‘Fletta’

18. Record Collection – Mark Ronson & The Business International

Out went the brass and the cover versions and in came stylish synthpop and renewed credibility on Mark Ronson’s follow-up to the zillion-selling Versions album. Lead single ‘Bang Bang Bang’ – featuring the brilliantly laconic Q-Tip and soon-to-be reasonably big, MNDR – was the perfect introduction to an album that features at least five stone-cold pop classics. Rose Elinor Dougall lends a sleek vulnerability to the excellent ‘You Gave Me Nothing’, whilst Boy George croons his way through the dramatic, lip-quiveringly sad, ‘Somebody To Love Me’. Elsewhere, Ronson roped in everyone from D’Angelo (the odd ‘Glass Mountain Trust’) to Duran Duran (the Wiley-assisted title track), creating a party mix to end all party mixes.

Best track: ‘Bang Bang Bang’

19. /\/\/\Y/\ – M.I.A

Critics darling, political activist, pop star. M.I.A was all of these things at the start of 2010 and yet around the release of her tetchy, hard-to-love third album things started to go slightly awry. Long pieces were written in important magazines about how much of hypocrite she was, how she loved expensive truffles and how she was the root cause of the economic meltdown (OK, maybe not the last one). The critics who adored her turned on her, her politics seemed like simple rhetoric and the album flopped. Still, dig beneath the shards of guitar feedback or the sound of drilling that peppers the album and there are some moments of perfection; the clattering, Britney-esque XXXO, the murky Teqkilla, the future-pop of Tell Me Why, to name just three.

Best track: ‘Tell Me Why’

20. One Life Stand – Hot Chip

Despite lacking an out and out chart smash like their previous two albums, One Life Stand was the moment pop nous and geeky musicianship coalesced into something wonderfully human. Opener ‘Thieves In The Night’ is six minutes of pure joy, Alexis Taylor’s little boy lost croon weaving in and out of galloping synths and spluttering effects. Elsewhere, I Feel Better is their attempt at modern-day R&B pop (complete with JLS-aping music video) whilst Slush is a big ballad coated in real tears.

Best track: ‘Thieves In The Night’

New Music Monday

Well, well, well, a modicum of success! Mark Ronson took his perfect quiff and his lucky troupe of singers and writes all the way to the UK No. 1 position…in the midweeks. By the time Sunday rolled around, those Irish no-marks, The Script, had managed to lure enough ladies to Tesco and they nabbed the top spot. Oh well. Ronson will have to make do with a No. 2 (LOLZ). Elsewhere, Deerhunter – somewhat unsurprisingly – didn’t feature anywhere, whilst Janelle Monae continues to be one for the critics only as she missed out too. (We’re going to see her play at the live filming of Jools Holland tomorrow. Like, OH. MY. GOSH.). Anyways, let’s focus on the matter in hand shall we?

BUY THIS

I Am Not A Human Being by Lil Wayne

Blimey. In a week that sees two men who you’d rather not listen to in their respective bands going solo (we’re looking at you Fran Healy and Carl Barat), this is a pretty dull week. But, you can’t rule out some excitement when Weezy’s around, only, he isn’t really around, him being in prison and all. Recorded before he entered the slammer, this is an EP that’s actually an album and it’s rather good. With three Drake collaborations and a track called Gonorrhea, it’s difficult to see what more you’d want from an album.

OH, AND THIS IS OUT TOO

Zeus EP by British Sea Power

Now, this is an EP. We’ve not heard it of course, but we used to really like this band so we’re assuming it’s passable at the very least. If it’s shit, well, “soz”.

DOWNLOAD THIS

‘Joombi’ by Wiley

British MC, Wiley, is proper batshit. First, he uploads his entire hard drive onto the internet (not porn, but all the music stuff he’d ever done) and then he starts a Ustream channel thats’s just him hanging about in his flat or going for a run in the park (the laptop was left outside on the ground whilst he just went off for a jog). After the brushes with commercial success – ‘Wearing My Rolex’, ‘Cash In My Pocket’ – he’s back with the barmy ‘Joombi’, a strange melange of vocal samples, phat synths and tinny beats.

New Music Monday

Wow, so last week all three of our choices crashed into the Top 3, making it our most successful week, EVER! Only, this didn’t happen. We’re being sarcastic. No, absolutely bugger all happened last week, with all three of our choices missing the Top 100 (hell, they could have missed the Top 250 for all we know). Granted, the picks were hardly likely to set the world alight, but still, we don’t like being ignored. Let’s see if these bad boys fare any better…

BUY THIS

Record Collection by Mark Ronson & The Business Intl.

There’s so much to dislike about Mark Ronson. The quiff, the suits, the smug grin, the model girlfriends, the sense of superiority. But, you know what, the guy knows what he’s doing and when he’s on form, he’s a brilliant producer. So, the follow-up to the ubiquitous covers album, Versions, features a host of guest talent, from rappers Theophilus London, Wiley and Ghostface Killah to crooners such as Rose Elinor Dougall, Boy George and Simon Le Bon, not to mention songs written by the likes of Cathy Dennis, one of Mystery Jets and the singer from The Drums. Sure, some of it is dated (there’s a painful D’Angelo song that could have been so much better), but most of Record Collection is stylish pop at its best.

BUY THIS TOO. BECAUSE YOU’RE WORTH IT.

Halcyon Digest by Deerhunter

Deerhunter’s fourth album follows lead singer Brandon Cox’s excellent Atlas Sound solo project and its the spectre of that album that hangs over Halcyon Digest. Each song comes with a strange fragility, as if it’s all about to unravel and yet it’s also their most confident set of songs. Tracks like Helicopter, Earthquake and the closing He Would Have Laughed (dedicated to the late Jay Reatard), are amongst the most beautiful things they’ve done. It’s not immediate, but it’s worth all the effort, trust us.

Also worth mentioning this week are Salem‘s King Night and Everything In Between by No Age.

DOWNLOAD THIS

‘Cold War’ by Janelle Monae

We recently went to see Janelle Monae play a ‘gig’ and during her set she did the moonwalk. Now, there’s a very short list of things a pop star need do in order to elevate his or herself into the upper echelons of our respect-o-meter, and doing the moonwalk ranks pretty highly. Needless to say, she could have pulled her trousers down and shat on the stage and we would have walked away still proclaiming her a bit of a genius. This amazing song only confirms it even more.

New Music, er, Tuesday

So, for the first time ever in Musick/3mins30secs history, we missed an edition of New Music Monday. Forgive us. What happened, yeah, was that we went to a festival, slept for about ten hours in total and then promptly fell asleep yesterday at 3pm and woke up at 8:30pm so hungry it hurt. Basically, we let you down. As did you though, let’s be honest. Janelle Monae was NOWHERE in the charts, which is basically a crime. So, you guys are now criminals, how do you feel about that? Elsewhere, M.I.A entered just outside the top 20, which, given the hype and all that press is mildly disappointing, whilst Mark Ronson crashed in at no. 6, which is actually pretty respectable. Well done Mark Ronson. Here are some more suggestions for you all to ignore.

BUY THIS

Crooks & Lovers by Mount Kimbie

We went to see The xx the other day and this faceless duo were supporting them. Now, we love a good chorus as much as the next blog, but sometimes there’s something about fractured, minimal dance music that makes us go a bit weak at the knees. Crooks & Lovers is chock full of tiny beats, crystalline synth lines and odd flutters. It’s basically the perfect starter for a main course of The xx is what we’re saying.

DO NOT BUY THIS

United Nations of Sound by RPA & The United Nations of Sound

Seriously, this is one of the worst albums of all time. It’s overblown, pretentious, cynical, cloying, trying, ridiculous and, worst of all, criminally dull. We reviewed it for The Guardian and gave it 1 star. This was the response from a fan, who, like Richard Ashcroft himself, has a strange ability to tread the line between serious and satire:

Thank God for Richard Ashcroft and his great musical gifts in this world –

at a time when we really do need to wake up from our old world-mind ways and start acknowledging a presence of truly gifted authenticity.

Some cliques just fit – ‘It takes one to know one’. How else can we begin to recognise anything?
Unfortunately, career media critics are never paid to be perceptually accurate (even if they were willing and/or able).

Mr. Ashcroft’s global chart topping talent and longevity is what REALLY speaks the TRUTH here – he’s an awakening, clearly conscious human being and enlightening musical artist of immense creativity, heart and integrity.

And no, an enlightened state of being is not meaning delusions of messianic ego.
I’m not referring to old religious dogmas or any other matrix induced and conditioned habitual unconscious misperceptions, limiting beliefs, philosophies or psychologies ~:)

But hey, ponder a moment how christed conscious awareness in general gets historically perceived by the deluded masses around here.
If only mass ‘balance’ of perception wasn’t so, well, ‘off’ as a baseline reality…

Old classic story really – the unenlightened judging those wayshowers clearly leading their time – ho hum. Can’t we all get tired of that already and move on?

RPA is always relevant and talented beyond any common belief – his
newest music endeavour w UNofS is creatively fresh and alive in melody and momentum – apparently to a fault, if you read the stock level reviews on his newest RPA & UNoS album.

I invite you all to begin clearing out the old and welcome anew – stepping out of the cookie-cutter matrix has always been the hallmark of creative perceptivity and courage. Take a chance. Quit your day job – it sounds awful anyway.

Try the rarified air of a more universally perceptive truth – it’s clearly revitalising.
And you just might enjoy the new view (and be able to write a new true review).

Doesn’t that music sound great to your ears?

DOWNLOAD THIS

‘Tomboy’ by Panda Bear

We saw Animal Collective‘s Panda Bear a few months ago and he may well have played this song, but to be honest it was all such a bore blur, that we can’t remember. Anyways, this studio recording of the first single from his forthcoming second album is very lovely indeed, all distorted guitar riffs, spacey vocals and, whisper it, a melody! We certainly didn’t hear one of those a few months back.

New Music Monday

People, people, PEOPLE! Is it something we’ve done? Do we just put you off things? Like, “oh, well, if 3mins30secs are saying it’s good then maybe we should show them by not buying it. Yeah, fuck them! We’ll bring them down”, etc, etc. We only ask because the new Mystery Jets album entered at no. 42, whilst that Kelis single entered one place higher than the new Lee Ryan single (!) at no. 32. To recap, a hugely underrated band who can seemingly knock a hit single out in their sleep miss the bit of the chart anyone cares about, whilst a bonafide club banger enters one place higher than a man who claimed whales being hunted was somehow more of a pressing urgency than global terrorism. If we were school teachers we’d be calling you all in for a detention, making you write lines and filling your heads with religious doctrines. Yeah, it’s that bad! By the way, Big Boi missed out too but, frankly, we’re passed caring now. Roll out this week’s victims…

BUY THIS

The ArchAndroid by Janelle Monáe

We’ve been waiting for this moment for so long. Ladies and gentleman, members of the jury, please welcome the future…Janelle Monáe! We did a bit of writing on this album, emailed it to The Guardian and they only went and put it in their printed pages thingy and on the interweb super highway. This is a link. It’s as if it says everything we wanted to say about the album in a neatly packaged 150 word review. Needless to say, The ArchAndroid is aceness.

BUY THIS TOO (FOR THE PEOPLE, YEAH)

/\/\/\Y/\ by M.I.A

OK, so she’s not everyone’s cup of tea and a lot of the time her political polemic seems to stem from a desire to cause controversy as opposed to a genuine desire to spread a specific message, but as an artist she’s never less than really very interesting. The difficult to spell /\/\/\Y/\ is her third album and first since she got properly famous (Grammy awards, Oscar nominations, etc), so what does she do? She makes an album based mainly on the sound of drills, weird internet connection noises and Suicide samples. Thankfully, amongst all that racket, there are some genuinely excellent songs, including the lovely ‘Tell Me Why’ (produced by Diplo), the dreamy ‘Space’ and the frazzled, ‘Teqkilla’. Well worth a listen, as ever.

DOWNLOAD THIS

‘Bang Bang Bang’ by Mark Ronson & The Business Intl feat. Q-Tip and MNDR

Well, who’d have thunk it? Mark Ronson has only gone and made a very very good pop single and there’s not a horn in sight. ‘Bang Bang Bang’ is a blast of synths, all tumbling about all over each other, whilst newcomer MNDR adds some sultry vocals and the permanently chillaxed Q-Tip adds some stylish rap-talk. Perfect.

It’s Mark Ronson’s new video!

Surprised to see there’s any room left on the ’80s bandwagon, but this fun, no?

Achingly cool new singer alert: MNDR

In a post about the new Mark Ronson single, we were slightly disparaging about MNDR, the lead vocalist on Ronson’s ‘Bang Bang Bang’. It was ignorance, and we apologise. Anyways, it turns out Amanda Warner, for it is she, has a sparkling future ahead of her if debut EP, E.P.E is anything to go by. Coming across as a slightly softer Santigold, Warner has a penchant for drip-feed beats, spooky synths and lyrics that are simultaneously a bit sad and a bit happy. This is ‘I Go Away’:

Good hair, right?

"Shake your tamberella"

Everyone hates Mark Ronson. We get it, don’t get it twisted; it’s that ubiquity, that smirk, those horns, the fact that he’s a good-looking chap with some nice threads. But at the same time, it’s weird because he’s made some pretty great songs – the majority of Back To Black, for example – and he clearly knows his stuff, but at the same time he’s easy to dismiss.

Whether you like him or not, his new album, Record Collection, is shaping up to be pretty interesting. Featuring a host of guest vocalists – including Boy George, The Drums‘ Jonathan Pearce, Santigold, Miike Snow and many others – it also features vocals from Ronson himself and no cover versions. A few weeks ago the first taster was released in the shape of ‘Circuit Breaker’, which as the title and the video suggests, is heavily influenced by the music to all those old console computer games.

OK, so it sounds exactly like the music from an old computer game and that’s not exactly a good thing, but it’s not the official first single so calm down. ‘Bang Bang Bang’ features a guest rap from Q-Tip and vocals from Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ touring keyboardist (the glamour!), MNDR, and it’s a stuttering, synth heavy little ditty that claws its way into your memory bank on the second listen. Not a horn in sight.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO IT PLEASE

A little bit like The Go Team you say? Yes, you’re right. ‘Bang Bang Bang’ is released in July and the album is out in September.