Friday, November 21, 2014

TGIF: Two New Beyoncé Singles

The upcoming deluxe platinum edition of Beyoncé’s self-titled album comes with two original songs, which yesterday we heard snippets of, and today we'll hear in full. Amen.

Ring Off” and “7/11” fit right in with the rest of Queen B's powerful new direction, while still pulling tricks from the lighthearted funk of 4 and other past albums. The two new tracks, which range form mid-tempo balladry to booming hip-hop, can be heard below in all of their glory.

TGIF! And of course, bow down.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Best New Song: Jessica Pratt's "Back, Baby"

There's no shortage of times that I turn a shoulder to some buzz-generating artist because, after one lousy listen, I feel like I can't hop on board just yet. This can usually be attributed to laziness on my part, if for some reason the track doesn't grab me right away.

I can admit that this was initially the case with Jessica Pratt's acclaimed new single, "Back, Baby," which seems ridiculous to me now that I can't stop listening to the melancholy folk ballad. When I first heard Pratt's vulnerable coo and 1960s Greenwich Village-sounding guitar, it took me some time to get into it, which is crazy considering that era of music is one I cherish. But, after many listens to the song's complex (yet simple-sounding) genetics and Pratt's other-worldly vocals, I've caught on to how she might be fit for indie-folk stardom. I'm actually obsessed.

The San Francisco songbird's new single is sad - there's no doubt about it. Dreaming of rain and devising love stories in her head while her tender strums and harmonies dance beneath that pixie croon, Pratt is unabashedly lonely, and, like many before her, a genius to put it into song.

Look out for Pratt's second album, On Your Own Love Again, on January 27th, 2015.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New TV On The Radio Album: Seeds

What a week! I've been running around like a mad woman, happily hosting company and, still listening to my weekly dose of new releases.

One of them being TV On The Radio's fifth album, Seeds. 10 years after the band's inception, their soulful grunge remains totally in tact, but with a thick, awesome layer of that seasoned accessibility most rock bands fall into after that long in the game. That's a positive thing, in my books, because Tunde Adebimpe's pipes are still bone-chillingly powerful, while the band's instrumentation still constructs those lush melodies that leave you anywhere form toe-tapping to speechlessly reflective.

The band hasn't had an easy run, either. They split from Interscope a ways back and lost their longtime bassist, Gerard Smith, to a battle with cancer. But, on soaring opening tracks like "Quartz," despite lacking the political feistiness of their early days, the band's vast hopefulness is palpable. And good-sounding. Which, after a decade together and many highs and lows, sounds like a fine direction for our beloved TVOTR to go.

Enjoy a snippet of "Quartz" - I can't take it off repeat.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Slow Magic - Waited 4 U (ODESZA remix)

I'm anything but surprised that ODESZA have jumped on an already-excellent Slow Magic track and whipped it into one of their typically colourful, dreamy remixes.

The young Seattle-based electronic duo have had the best year of their careers so far - releasing In Return late summer to heaps of critical praise, and dropping more of their impromptu pretty spins to boot. Featuring those lighthearted chipmunk vocals and bursts of sunny synth, this romanticized version of "Waited 4 U" is bliss. Long live ODESZA.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Best New Music: BØRNS' EP is Sweet Like Candy

Earlier this fall, I pointed my readers towards the magical sounds of Garrett Borns, now better known as BØRNS - a 22 year-old California implant whose fittingly sunny synth-pop and funk tunes have materialized into a debut EP that's garnering boatloads of praise. Don't be fooled though, although BØRNS may be a newcomer to big critical reception, he's no newcomer to making music. Performing under different monikers since his early teens, BØRNS hopped from his native Michigan to New York and finally Los Angeles to live in a treehouse and conceptualize the infectious singles heard on his debut EP. Yes, a treehouse, and man, did it do him right.

Although anything but typical, the songs from Candy capture exactly what we'd dream of hearing from a soul-searching twenty-something, living off the grid, alongside limitless sunshine and romantic musings. The intelligent production and soulful coastal vibes - which, at different times, evoke memories of everything from Beach Boys or even Queen to Jeff Buckley vocally - are surprising and worthy of a head scratch upon remembering that this is a debut. You might expect this kind of lively genre-sampling and mesmerizing vocal ability down the road, but very rarely on a seemingly out-of-nowhere EP, which I think is shaping up to be one of the best of the year.

Take a listen to BØRNS' impressive tunes (other than his popular first single, "Past Lives" might be my favourite), and be sure to quell your winter woes by picking up Candy, ASAP.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ryan Adams Is The New Classic

I like to think I grew up with a handful of influential guys. The typical ones: a girl's father, brother, best friends. And then the not-so-typical ones: Bruce Springsteen and Ryan Adams. Although there's about a 20 year age gap between the two, both solo artists (and their respective backing bands) have robust, seemingly endless discographies that, quite literally, have walked me through all of my life's endeavours.

Which is one of the reasons why, when I was finally able to attend Ryan Adams' live show at Massey Hall last night, after years of waiting for him to come around near me - I was on another level of overwhelmed.

I can't say it enough: Ryan Adams is one of the only of his kind. And last night reaffirmed that. Unadorned, passionate, rock 'n roll. Ranging from blues, to Americana, to simple folk singer-songwriter ballads - Adams is genuine. He's timeless perfection. He's been making this music since 1991.

Yet, I still get these bewildered looks when people ask who my favourite artists are. Bryan Adams? Isn't Ryan Adams kind of blah? Who? Many people (outside of the sold out concert halls of kindred devotees) still don't know what they're missing. They're missing fourteen albums featuring all the fundamentals of genuine solo rock: effortless vocals, dreamlike melodies and messaging that means so much.

To quote a kidding Adams last night, as the crowd roared with each new strum, "Here's another song about feelings":

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hump Day Treat: Kendrick and T-Swift Mash-Up

I think we all know how this goes. We unabashedly praise Kendrick (for everything), and maybe publicly scoff at T-Swift, but secretly blare her 1989 ear candy when alone in the privacy of our bedrooms. But then, Kendrick publicly endorses her music and suddenly we feel a bit more merited in our secret Swift infatuation. And then, The Hood Internet go right ahead and do what we've all secretly - or not-so-secretly - been waiting for: mash a Kendrick classic with a Taylor Swift (now) classic, to make some of the greatest, so-wrong-it's-right sounds the world has ever heard.

At least once a month I get frustrated that I can't buy or download The Hood Internet's deliciously illicit mash-ups because, damn - "Backseat Shake It Off" is some of the best blending I've heard since the reign of Girl Talk.

Regardless of your affinity towards either artist, don't waste one more minute of this windy Wednesday ignoring this. sick. beat.