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singles/eps - feb 2016


Chemical Brothers Featuring Beck - 'Wide Open'

If the very idea of this track doesn't exactly blow the top of your head clean off, then you don't remember the late 90s, Summoning my courage to actually play 'Wide Open', this one is going to be very big stuff indeed. Wait a minute, it's already had getting on for 7 million YouTube views, so what can I possibly add to the overwhelming vote of online support for the track? Wait another minute - is this really the Chemical Brothers (superstar DJs, not holding back, that very weird one about someone that can't get out of bed) and Beck (he's a loser, all those sunglasses, backwoods tree worship) because 'Wide Open' sounds like it was written for Maroon 5 or One Direction or Janet Jackson or someone and a b side at that. You can make your own mind up about the video.


Aloric – ‘Grace’

Aloric is a London-based experimental/alt-rock band that seems shrouded in self-imposed obscurity, much like the mysterious, black-veiled figure standing on the hillside in the video for Aloric’s gorgeously epic single, ‘Grace’. The song is an over-7 minute slow-burn and fast release that features a lead singer with expressive pipes who delivers the lyrics with a Jeff Buckley-like poignant anxiety.

The mood of ‘Grace’ is subdued and calm at first, with light, but contemplative synth notes and an expansive atmosphere. A quickly ticking beat materializes as the singer intones with aching sighs that “Blood ties our lives…” The chorus lifts up with a symphonic sweep of strings and the singer’s airy to pressed exclamations that recall Thom Yorke as he proclaims “Go on and walk out / As you’re forever gone / I was your Grace…”

The verses and chorus alternate between these two brooding modalities until a Middle Eastern-esque swirling line spins outwards in a hypnotic spiral and darker washes of synths and a strongly bashed drum beat intensify the ambience. The lead singer cries in a high, keening register amid the instrumental turmoil, becoming one with the sound, bittersweet with regret from the loss of his innocence…

Jen Dan


Edward Sharp And The Magnetic Zeros - 'No Love Like Yours'

Shades of the Polyphonic Spree around a band whose name I've seen crop up in a few places but had yet to hear until now, although unlike the crowds of begowned Polyphonicists there are only nine Magnetic Zeros (not including Edward) leading me to detect a very clever joke somewhere in the band name that has some connection to theoretical physics or similar. The song does remind me a bit of what I remember about the Spree though, the countrified verses and soaring multiply voiced chorus and pleasant enough actual tune.



Critté And The Borzoi - 'Stuart's Cove'

This is a bit cool. 'Stuart's Cove' is one of three tracks on Critté And The Borzoi's (pretentious? nous) cassette EP, which also has the distinction of containing spontaneous remixes of all three tracks on its reverse side, or at least that's what the Seattle electropopsters are describing the unusual side effect of recording onto cassette and finding that all three tracks duplicated on the other side of the tape, backwards. Buy a copy, buy a cassette player, wallow in the soporific synth vibes, buy a ballpoint pen to rewind the tape and write down those hidden messages contained in the accidentally reversed songs, or just listen on Soundcloud and keep it playing to hear Palm's awesome 'Egg In A Frame'.



Jason Rylan – ‘Help is on the Way’

California-born singer-songwriter and musician Jason Rylan is now ensconced in Las Vegas and Rylan takes a bit of the dazzling casino lights of the gambling city and sprinkles it through his electronic-dappled alt-pop/rock tunes. Rylan’s 3rd album, The Charm, is available now and the track ‘Help is on the Way’ showcases his blend of the electronic, pop, and rock realms. Bright electronic notes burble in the backdrop while a steadily clacking beat keeps the time. Rylan alternates and combines steely-string acoustic guitar strum with a bluesy electric guitar line while sing-talking in a mid-range, straight-in-the-eyes vocal tone that “If the heart bleeds / it’s time to make a change.” ‘Help is on the Way’ is a song about hope and commonality; how “We’re all the same / just on different paths.” and Rylan expresses this unifying sentiment with a matter-of-fact directness. By the end of the song Rylan adds a vivid electric guitar line and bolsters his voice with a second, more expressive vocal layer, intensifying both the sound and his message.

Jen Dan


Gwenno - 'Fratolish Hiang Perpshski'

Inspired by an obscure 1970s Welsh language sci-fi novel (more info here at Wikipedia), Gwenno is singing in Welsh and, needless to say, my actual knowledge of that language begins and ends somewhere around 'yacky dar' so I can't comment much about the lyrics but the song is a clubby piece of electronic pop reminiscent of St. Etienne and Black Box Recorder, and I didn't always completely understand what their songs were about either.



Astronautica – ‘Palm Springs’

The EDM scene shines even brighter with the entrancing album, Gemini, just released on Alpha Pup Records, from rising star Astronautica. Gemini is her second album for Alpha Pup and she melds forward-moving electronic with dance club rhythms and airy, bittersweet vocals on her tunes. ‘Palm Springs’ brings a sun-kissed California-coast shimmer to the dancefloor with Astronautica’s breathy, ruminative vocals floating like a trailing vapor over the percolating and expansive electro-notes. She declares placidly that “I just want to be alone with you” amid a running bass line, sharply clacking beat, and sprightly, but delicate electronic reverberations. The resultant mood is one of calm, yet verging on a gentle euphoria. This isn’t cold, harsh, robotic EDM, but warm, engaging, and lushly textured dance music to enjoy in the here and now. To continue the blissful, yet slightly downcast vibes, check out ‘Falling For You’, ‘Glass’, and ‘69’ from Astronautica’s Gemini.

Jen Dan