Our “mysterious duo/artist” list continues to grow with ASTR, an upcoming musical outfit from NYC who have just released their first music video for their superb future-pop single ‘Operate’. If Rihanna had an awkward, slightly edgier younger sister – her music would probably sound a little like this. The infused trap-snares and R&B-tinged vocals blend well into the songs pop-drama sensibility; And like all respectable pop gems it’s armed with a killer hook that’ll be bouncing around in your head for hours.
Thundercat not-so-subtly dedicates his latest disco-funk anthem to the little narcotic that started it all. Masterfully co-produced by Flying Lotus, ‘Oh Sheit It’s X’ soaks in an extravagant arrangement of soaring synths, infectious drums and one of the most insane bass sections I’ve ever heard. ’Oh Sheit It’s X’ is the lead single taken off Thundercat’s forthcoming sophomore album Apocalypse due out on July 9th via Brainfeeder.
“When I heard people trippin on the new daft punk song I said to myself. Wait till they hear this new @Thundercatbass” – Flying Lotus.
‘Sink/Swim’ is the enigmatic debut single from West London newcomer Elliott Power. The brooding track builds over a complex autonomy of diverse and conflicting sounds. It manages to adorn the shifting rhythmic remnants of post-90′s trip-hop, while being absorbed by the melodious structure and layered harmonies of post-modern R&B. It’s celestial disposition, rumbling sub-bass frequencies and tribal influence endows ‘Sink/Swim’ in a great deal of chrisma and energy.
Yesterday Justin Timberlake released an image featuring the official release date for the second instalment of The 20/20 Experience. The album, presumably titled The 20/20 Experience, Part 2 will drop on September 30th 2013 and according to previous reports will feature “classic Timbo” production (!!). Moreover JT has also just announced that following his ‘Legends of the Summer’ tour with Jay-Z this summer and the release of Part 2, he will also be embarking on an extended solo world tour. Not all dates have been announced yet, but head over to his official website for more info.
Enlisting Miguel is probably one of the smartest musical moves Mariah Carey has made in years. Her struggle for relevancy has plagued her output for a long time now, so collaborating with a young, relevant and credible artist like him, especially at this stage in his career, is really quite shrewd. And while the idea of what these two could create together works great in theory, in reality it ends up feeling like another reminder that Carey is still an artist very much in need of a hit.
‘Beautiful’ (which we’re ignoring is really titled ‘#Beautiful’) isn’t a terrible song, it just goes through a lot of effort (writer credits include by Carey, Miguel, Nathan Perez, Brook Davis & Happy Perez) to be this middle-of-the-road. The hope was that Miguel’s musical influence would be felt more strongly on the track, after all he proved with Kaleidoscope Dreamthat a leftist, more creative approach can still be a viable success (both critically and commercially); Unfortunately that wasn’t to be, instead he assists Carey on what is just another really safe ready-for-radio ballad. That said, with everything so inoffensive ‘Beautiful’ will probably serve Mariah well as a single.
Lauryn Hill continues to battle her on-going legal problems by releasing, seemingly by force, a flaring new track online with the following statement attached:
“Here is a link to a piece that I was ‘required’ to release immediately, by virtue of the impending legal deadline. I love being able to reach people directly, but in an ideal scenario, I would not have to rush the release of new music… but the message is still there. In light of Wednesday’s tragic loss (of former label mate Chris Kelly), I am even more pressed to YELL this to a multitude that may not understand the cost of allowing today’s unhealthy paradigms to remain unchecked!”
… Angry, agitated and seemingly on top lyrically form. As erratic as this feels, it’s comforting to know that Ms Hill still has grasp of her talent. Given the statement above the songs sense of haste is forgivable and actually, within this context – kind of works.
Rising enigma Twigs follows up her self-titled debut EP released late last year with a new gothic ballad titled ‘How’s That’. The songs industrial operatics can be instantly likened to the pioneering works of artists like Björk or Portishead, but Twigs’ delicate future-pop resolution and fragile vocal ensure that her presence is felt throughout; The songs spectral video is a treat too.
Earlier today Kanye West sparked huge excitement among fans when he tweeted the words “June Eighteen” on twitter. Speculation about what the cryptic date implied spread like wildfire; it was briefly confirmed by Elliott Wilson to be the release date for West’s follow up to 2010′s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - but that was quickly retracted. Either way with little over a month to go until June 18th – it’s safe to assume we’ll have more Kanye news soon.
Jay-Z’s much anticipated contribution to ‘The Great Gatsby’ soundtrack has finally surfaced in full. ’100$ Bill’ will feature alongside new music from Lana Del Rey, Beyonce & Andre 3000, Emeli Sande, Coco O (Quadron), The xx and many others on the films upcoming soundtrack, executively produced by Jay.
Janelle Monae returns with a wonderfully stylised new video for her lead single ‘Q.U.E.E.N’ taken off her forthcoming second album The Electric Lady. Featuring soul’s high-priestess Erykah Badu, the track advances Monae’s exploration into afro-futurism, soul & funk. Perhaps not as complex as the orchestral suites and acid-soul overtures that made up The ArchAndroid, as a lead single ‘Q.U.E.E.N’ still makes a bold statement. It again demonstrates Janelle’s fearlessness when approaching music or rather the music industry. On paper and probably in practice too this ticks very few boxes from a major label stand point – not only does it not have an easy-on-the-ears, microwave-ready hook, it also stars two cult-followed avant-garde soul artists. Not exactly One Direction.
But for those impatiently waiting to see what Janelle Monae will evoke on The Electric Lady this should serve as a titillating preview. Because above all else this once again proves that neither Janelle Monae or Erykah Badu are from this planet.