From Neoclassical Soundscapes To Synth Pop Belters: Here’s What Our Music Editor Is Listening To In July
With some Rudimental thrown in because, y’know, heatwave
Words Oisin Lunny
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TRACK BY TRACK
1. Alexandra Streliski
Eight years after her first self-released, critically-acclaimed “Pianoscope”, Alexandra Stréliski will be releasing her raw and sincere sophomore album “INSCAPE” on October 5th via Secret City Records. It’s no overstatement to say that women are an all too rare sight in the neoclassical world, which makes this work from Alexandra all the more thrilling. This is profoundly beautiful music – and we can’t wait for the album to drop.
2. Alice Boman
Following her sold out EU tour, which included shows in Stockholm, Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin and London, and a spellbinding show in the Unitarian Church in Brighton as part of the Great Escape Festival (I queued to get a front row seat, it was breathtaking) Alice returns to the PHOENIX playlist with the magnificent “Heartbeat”. There is no one who comes close to her sublime bedroom compositions at the moment – if you happen to be in Stockholm on the 15th August, I would recommend catching Alice live at Trädgården.
3. Basement Revolver
Canada’s Basement Revolver make their debut on our playlist with “Knocking”, the second single from their excellent forthcoming album “Heavy Eyes”. The track is one of the most powerful songs on the album, full of angst and honesty. Singer Chrisy Hurn elaborates: “I wrote [the track] after writing my family a long letter that came clean about my past, and about some of the shit that I have been through. The letter came after a few years of hardcore rebelling against what I believed in response to a traumatic event in my life. I basically kept telling myself that I was garbage, broken, unlovable, used and a whole other slur of things. I often still can’t sing it without crying.” Chrisy’s catharsis feels genuine, and “Knocking” is a beautiful work of the heart.
4 . Sudan Archives
Nont for sale
Sudan Archives grew up in Ohio where she taught herself to play the violin in elementary school, mostly by ear. After moving to Los Angeles, she began to explore her connection to Northeast Africa. When she discovered the traditional style of violin native to Northeast and West Africa, and musicians like Asim Gorashi, Ali Farka Touré and Juldeh Camarah, her eyes were opened to new ways of incorporating the instrument into her sound. “The way they played the violin was different from classical music,” she explains. “Their style resonated with me, and I was like, maybe I can blend it with electronic music.” Nont For Sale could be her most accessible distillation of her approach yet, a magnificent ode to self-confidence with a stunning video to match.
DBT Remix (featuring Stush, Queenie, Little Simz, Lady Leshurr & Shystie)
Lioness, one of the most unfiltered Grime emcee’s of our generation, invited the best females in the game; Lady Leshurr, Little Simz, Shystie, Queenie & Stush to talk about colourism on DBT. “DBT stands for ‘Dead Black Ting’ which is a term often used by males and females (within the black community) to describe dark skinned black women in a negative way,” says Lioness of the record. “I decided to take over the insult and challenge an old narrative. DBT was made to empower dark skinned women to always feel comfortable within their skin and to know the beauty they carry in their melanin.”
Last year was a busy one for the rising British star Azekel. He collaborated with Gorillaz, toured with Banks and co-wrote with Massive Attack – a collaboration that featured no less than Kate Moss in its corresponding video. We’ve been tracking his incredibly diverse series of releases and are loving the retro funk-soul crossover vibes of “Wetty Betty”, which touches on themes of adversity and gratitude, topics that play a big part of the third chapter of his highly anticipated album “Our Father”.
Toast to our Differences (feat. Shungudzo, Protoje & Hak Baker)
Following the release of their mammoth #1 platinum-selling single These Days back in February, BRIT-Award winning collective Rudimental have dropped the title track from their forthcoming album “TOAST TO OUR DIFFERENCES”, featuring Protoje, Hak Baker & Shungudzo. Written as an emphatic celebration of difference and a coming together of cultures and genres, the record is a true reflection of the spirit exhibited by this genre-defying collective.
8. Jacqueline Taieb
Le Cœur Au Bout Des Doigts
Our playlist is mostly a celebration of what’s good and great about new music, but occasionally we sprinkle in a rare archive find if it feels right. Jacqueline Taïeb is a French singer and songwriter of Tunisian descent who achieved her greatest success as a pop and yé-yé singer in France in the 1960s. This track, a riotously funky French pop stormer, was recorded in swinging London with Jean Bouchety, originally released in 1967, and reissued on the Merlins Nose label last year. Jacqueline’s vocal fire is matched by superb arrangements and top-flight musicianship, in particular a high-octane drummer who plays with all the restraint of Animal from The Muppet Show.
9. Jonathan Bree
Say You Love Me Too (featuring Clara Viñals)
New Zealand composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer Jonathan Bree just released his third album “Sleepwalking”, featuring his distinctive baritone vocals, lush strings, horns, celeste and soprano choruses. The sound of Bree is very much chamber pop from a bygone era, but one which dips in and out of the avant-garde in some intriguing ways. For example, check out his videos where every member of the band plays with a face-mask. Does this reflect Jonathan’s reclusive workaholic nature? Or is it a wry comment on fashion, self-image and consumerism? While we fathom the unfathomable, Jonathan’s recordings provide a suitably idiosyncratic soundtrack.
10. Nelson Can
Break Down Your Walls
Nelson Can turned out to be one of the best gigs of the Great Escape festival this year, taking to the stage in a tiny pub venue dressed in sporting whites and looking like a cross between the ladies’ finals at Wimbledon and a reimagined Clockwork Orange. Their music is as brilliant as their whites, full of bravery, heart, and steely ambition. They also have a strict “no guitars” policy, which leaves room for basslines as audacious as “Break Down Your Walls” which one might well imagine U2’s Adam Clayton nodding his head to approvingly. Catch them smashing it live throughout July and August at Kløften, Nibe, Roskilde (Denmark), 2000 Trees, Latitude, Standon Calling (UK) and more.
Sticking with the Scandinavians, this fully-formed belter from Norwegian singer ARY is something approaching synth-pop perfection. ARY is a label mate of long-time PHOENIX favourite Sigrid, and it could be said that they are cut from the same cloth. ARY’s pristine vocals and on-point songwriting merge beautifully in the immersive dancefloor production of “Already There”, her first love song. You can catch ARY live throughout July and August around Norway.
Do You Wanna Dance
Ireland seems to be producing a whole new generation of pop sensations, which PHOENIX will be covering in more detail very soon. In the meantime, get yourselves acquainted with Dublin native Cassia O’Reilly, now known as Cosha. She released 3 critically acclaimed EPs under the name Bonzai, gathering huge support from Annie Mac and the likes of Pitchfork, to name but a few. Her recent mixtape “R.I.P. Bonzai” launched her new identity and included this monstrously infectious summer jam “Do You Wanna Dance”. One to watch, to put it mildly.
13. Phantastic Ferniture
Fuckin ‘N’ Rollin
Phantastic Ferniture, the delightfully lighthearted project of Julia Jacklin, Elizabeth Hughes and Ryan K Brennan, release their debut self-titled album this month on Transgressive records. Their first single, “Fuckin ‘n’ Rollin” could be seen as a fitting manifesto for a band who JFDI more than most, The band was born in the hallowed basement bar of Frankie’s Pizza in Sydney. One late night in 2014, on Jacklin’s birthday, a group hug manifested amid the pinball machines, with all ten participants vowing to form a band. “Only four of us remembered the next day,” notes Hughes. Fuckin ‘N’ Rollin seems to be working nicely as a strategy. Catch them live throughout August in Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.
14. SHY FX
Call Me (feat. Maverick Sabre)
Seasoned Drum & Bass heads may might well remember its preceding genre “Jungle”, along with the 90s Top 40 breakthrough hit Original Nuttah by Shy FX featuring UK Apache. While Apache (Abdul Wahab) went from performing at raves to giving inspiring talks to young Muslims at UK mosques, Shy FX has continued his hugely successful path as a producer. “Call Me” featuring BRIT-award nominee Maverick Sabre evokes classic Marvin Gaye but with a smooth DnB wrapper. Catch Shy FX this summer at Detonate, Parklife, El Dorado, LoveBox, Bestival, Boomtown, elrow London, Creamfields and Brighton Boundary.
Bells & Circles (featuring Iggy Pop)
We live in interesting times, no less so than in the music industry, and it looks like a 71-year-old has made one of 2018’s most interesting records. But to be fair, the gentleman in question is the seemingly indestructible James Newell Osterberg Jr. aka Iggy Pop, and he was aided and abetted by the dual creative genius of Underworld. “Bells & Circles” was recorded in London during an afternoon tea encounter and is a spoken-word reminiscence from Iggy about the days when one could smoke on airplanes (and do a gram of cocaine in the tiny bathrooms). Over an unrelenting sonic backdrop Iggy’s trip down a blurry but glorious memory lane evolves into a meditation on the nature of liberal democracy, on personal freedom, and a vengeful God who doesn’t allow smoking on the airplane. Unique and brilliant – but then, we’d expect nothing less.
16. Anja Schneider
Got Me With A Bang (Argy Remix)
You may well be aware that PHOENIX loves kick-ass ladies making kick-ass techno, and Anja Schneider more than fits the profile. A DJ, producer, radio broadcaster, future-focused label boss, tireless creative force and mentor, she’s renowned for being one of the hardest working creators in her industry. What’s more, she gave the likes of Maya Jane Coles, Solomun and Nicole Moudaber a platform long before they became the household names they are today. Her stunning album “SoMe” marked her out as one of electronic music’s most vital artists, and a series of sensational remixes are helping to spread the word about the woman dubbed ‘the perpetual motion machine’. Argy brings the heat in this tough melodic remake of one of the album highlights.