Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Gateway Drugs' Sophomore Album: "Dare Tonight"

I may have only been alive for a few years of the 1980s, but some part of me must fondly remember the neon synth-pop I heard in the crib. Every time I come across those retro sounds, I can't get enough.

Such was the case when I stumbled upon Cape Town electro-pop outfit Gateway Drugs' second album, Dare Tonight, only a few weeks ago. I assumed I was listening to Modern English or The Psychedelic Furs, before realizing the 80s-reminiscent grooves belonged to a young South African crew who were on their way to perform at SXSW for the first time.

Similar to so many of the 80s finest hits, Gateway Drugs' songs aren't particularly genius in instrumentation or vocals - and that's the hook. They're perfectly simple; melodic, glittery and worthy of an eyes-closed sway or two, under the disco ball. Although nostalgic sounding, the band's dreamy ballads could also fall into the chillwave genre - appealing to fans of contemporary acts like Washed Out, St. Lucia or Blood Orange.

Have a listen:

Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday Classic: Van Morrison

I'm about to embark on some of the busiest few days of the year at work, and, chances are I'll be unable to blog as much as I'd normally plan to!

So, after strolling through a dusty record show yesterday - flipping through the classics, remembering lost gems - I'm inspired to leave a timeless tune, from one of my very favourite albums ever, here for your listening pleasure. Hopefully it tides you over the way it always does me.

Van Morrison's Astral Weeks is one of the most overplayed albums in my collection. I put it on when I'm feeling pretty much anything: happy, sad, tired, excited, in love, you name it.

So, while my first instinct was to share the title track or my favourite song ever ("Sweet Thing"), I'm going to toss this underrated beauty out there instead.

Have a lovely few days!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Rihanna: "Bitch Better Have My Money"

Yesterday, Rihanna's Instagram hinted that the megastar might be dropping her new record today, titled "Bitch Better Have My Money." Sure enough, it's here and streaming as the second single (following the glorious 'FourFiveSeconds') off her much-anticipated, Kanye West-produced follow-up to 2012's Unapologetic. The so-far-untitled new release will be her eighth album.

Have a listen to #BBHMM below.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Artist to Watch: Tei Shi

Easily one of the most talked about artists this past year, Argentinian-born indie-R&B artist Tei Shi is making even more waves following a strong showing at this year's SXSW and a brand new single to boot.

After bopping around in her adolescent years (including stints in Vancouver and Montreal) Tei Shi, born Valerie Teicher, attended Berklee College of Music before hitting the bright lights of New York City. She's since garnered some major indie spotlight following her debut CMJ performance and EP, Saudade, a cover of Beyoncé's "No Angel," a spot on Glass Animals' "Holiest" single, and of course, several of her own dreamy singles.

An obvious comparison is FKA Twigs, because of those breathy vocals, but I'm not going to go there - since I think Tei Shi is 100 times better and more accessible. Her use of retro synth puts her in the same game as Jessie Ware, SZA, Prinze George and Blood Orange, while those layered, pixie harmonies and glittery melodies are already her own kind of stamp. "Go Slow" might be her strongest bedroom-pop single yet - and I can't wait to spin it on a hot summer night in the city.

Hopefully a debut full-length is in the works, but in the mean time, watch out for Tei Shi on tour with Lapsley and Shy Girls this spring/summer.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Purity Ring Live on Conan

I've been all over Purity Ring's sophomore album, another eternity, since it's release a few weeks ago. In particular, I've had "bodyache" on near repeat, which is why I was excited to learn the blossoming electronic duo performed the track on Conan last night.

Performing on Conan, period, is a big deal - but the way frontwoman Megan James absolutely slayed every single piercing note of the dreamy single, backed by Corin Roddick's keyboard wizardry (and an especially cool set) was something else.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

New James Murphy Single : "We Used to Dance"

LCD Soundsystem front man and mastermind, James Murphy, is assembling the soundtrack for While We're Young - the new Noah Baumbach film, which stars Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Driver and Beastie Boys' Ad-Rock.

Although no longer (sob), LCD Soundsystem is widely revered by critics as one of the greatest musical groups of our generation - behind only three full-length albums, all of which were incredibly influential in the indie-dance world.

Anytime distinctive frontman James Murphy does anything else, I'm all ears - which is why learning of his soundtrack/score curation for what looks like will be a powerful film snagged my immediate attention. Sure enough, the new soundtrack contribution he's shared is profound; spine-tingling and magical start to finish.

With similar retro, melodic ingredients he used heavily during his LCD days, "We Used To Dance" is a gorgeous stretch of twinkling synth that, through sound, seems to totally nail Baumbach's coined exploration of life and aging.

While We're Young hits theatres next Friday, while the soundtrack is due next Tuesday via Milan Records.

Listen to the dreamy single here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Surprise! Kendrick's New Album Dropped Today

Well, if this isn't the best Monday morning of the year, I don't know what is.

Last night, Kendrick Lamar - the (hands down) best rapper of my generation - dropped his highly anticipated new album, To Pimp A Butterfly. The follow-up to 2012's incredibly acclaimed good kid, m.A.A.d city, is available on Spotify and iTunes a week prior to its publicized release date - therefore throwing music media into an excited frenzy when we woke up this morning.

Amid the bustle of my Monday morning routine, I've only made it through one listen, but I can tell you this: this album is history. Well, everything K-dot does is usually history-making - but, To Pimp A Butterfly's soul, grit, emotion and power is unparalleled. Parts of it are not easy, parts of it are smooth like glass - but all of it, every single beat, rhyme, theatric and quirk, is genius.

Do yourself a favour and buy the album now. Support real artists, support hip-hop history.