From Peter Liddle’s Pastoral Folk to XamVolo’s Honeyed Neo-Soul, Spring Clean Your Ears With Our May Playlist
Seventeen of the finest new tracks to uplift, refresh and inspire
Words Oisin Lunny
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TRACK BY TRACK
1. You Shouldn’t Have Called
We can’t think of a better way to kick off our May playlist than the delicate, pastoral folk sounds of Peter Liddle. A musician who will be well known to many as the exceptionally talented vocalist and lyricist of DRY THE RIVER, Liddle is now forging a new path of his own. The first step on this journey ‘You Shouldn’t Have Called’ brings to mind classic Nick Drake and hazy summer evenings. We are going to have a summer this year, right?
S. Carey’s new album Hundred Acres finds him writing the strongest songs of his career, a collection of poetic yet clear-eyed songs that both stand brightly on their own and tightly weave together to create a powerful album. Carey challenges himself and the listener to strive for a near-utopian ideal of returning to a simpler way of life, and loving those around you, to heal personal wounds. PHOENIX thinks this sounds like a Very Good Plan.
Rising Neo-Soul star XamVolo’s ‘A Damn Fine Spectacle’ EP tells a neo-noir story of a young girl who finds herself confronted with a hive containing a black honey substance that can grant her every desire. Ahem. But “Adored” is a beautiful track, honey-voiced XamVolo sings his heart out and shows immense class, promise, and a finely-honed sense of the theatric. One to watch.
4. Sexual Fantasies
Dalston-based, Danish-born soul singer and hip-hop producer Mont Jake slows things right down and wastes no time in unleashing his inner love walrus. But there are no thinly veiled metaphors here, no allegorical curtains being opened, no majestic stallions storming anyone’s palace of desire. No, Mont Jake is refreshingly candid, and explicit, in this sensationally low-slung sex-fest.
5. Honey Dew
PHOENIX loves LION BABE, and what’s not to love! The New York-based duo have outdone themselves with ‘Honey Dew’, a track which positively drips with heady sensuality, Jillian Hervey’s jazzy vocals effortlessly weaving in and out of Lucas Goodman’s gently idiosyncratic production. Check out the video to find out why “everybody wants a piece” of LION BABE.
6. No Way (Kingdom Remix)
TOKiMONSTA feat. Isaiah Rashad, Joey Purp & Ambré
Acclaimed Californian producer Jennifer Lee aka TOKiMONSTA recently released Lune Rouge Remixed via her own imprint Young Art Records. The project sees a host of exciting names provide their take on Lee’s seminal 2017 release Lune Rouge. Catch TOKiMONSTA on her Radio 1 Residency show ‘Young Art Sound’ which runs every third Thursday in May and June on BBC Radio 1.
7. Hot Dam
It’s not every day that rap royalty, actor, and Wu Tang Clan maestro Method Man adds his distinctive vocals to a track, but Blimes Brixton is no everyday artist, and ‘Hot Damn’ is no everyday track. Blimes’ musical upbringing shines through in the dope production and soulful earworm chorus – her father was a blues musician and her grandfather a jazz player, and it shows.
8. Our Streets
From one rap royal to another, PHOENIX welcomes back DJ Premier to our playlist, providing the irresistible production for ‘Our Streets’. A strong but soulful head-nodder, the track harks back to what is often referred to as the “Golden Age” of hip hop, which reached its zenith in the late 80s and early 90s. It is fitting to see ‘Our Streets’ released on the relaunched Payday Records, home of many original Golden Age gems from Jeru the Damaja, Group Home and Premier’s old Gangstarr sparring partner Guru (RIP) who gets a namecheck from Ferg in the track.
9. Maria También
Khruangbin bassist Laura Lee grew up in Texas and would spend summers with her numerology-obsessed grandfather in Brownsville, located at the southernmost tip of the state. “He was sort of a madman, but in a beautiful way,” Lee told Bandcamp. Often, he would ask her, in Spanish, “¿Como me quieras?”—How much do you love me?—and wouldn’t let up until she responded with the magic words “Con todo el mundo.” With all the world. PHOENIX loves their album of the same name just as much.
10. Falling Into Me
Let’s Eat Grandma
Let’s Eat Grandma released their first album of outsider pop I, Gemini in 2016, aged 17, and the teenagers’ eagerly awaited follow up I’m All Ears lands on the 29th June. This is not only the sound of a band finding their own identity, it is also the sound of love, passion and experience, charged with wit, joy and tenderness. Let’s Eat Grandma are like nothing else you will hear and are all the better for it. ‘Falling Into Me’ is a taster of this distinct creative vision.
11. Coming Up
Continuing his chronological path through one night in club music, SG Lewis’ Coming Up focuses on when anticipation and excitement build as the sun sets. Taking cues from 70’s disco and 80’s electro, it blends genres known for bringing people to the dancefloor. “I spent a lot of time as a resident DJ in clubs and disco was always that magnetic genre” SG says. The first part of his nightlife trilogy ‘Dusk, Dark, Dawn’ is out now.
On his new album This Is Not Hollywood Parisian DJ, producer and electronic artist Greg Kozo bares his musical soul through a hybrid of house, vapourwave, techno, soul, jazz and a soupçon of post-pop undertones. This is undoubtedly a dance record, but it’s a haute couture cut above any prêt-à-porter expectations. Here fellow Frenchman Cozy guests on the hypnotically well produced ‘Terry’. A stylish and compelling combination.
You Man, Jerge
Sticking with Gallic talent, French dance music connoisseurs You Man teamed up with burgeoning producer, performer and bassist Jerge for ‘Everybody’, released on PHOENIX favorite Boston Bun’s Circa ’99 imprint. Described by Boston himself as “a slow and sexy House jam with infinite build ups and synth stabs that feel like French kisses, it is a sure-fire dancefloor destroyer!” Mais oui, magnifique!
14. Brainstorm (Gerd Janson & Shan House Mix)
Suitably warmed up by Team Bun, our playlist now turns to Special Request’s peak-time rave-detonator which destroyed dancefloors from Berlin to New York in its original form last year, and now gets a mighty upgrade from Gerd Janson & Shan. These studio maestros completely re-built the track, turbo charging the dynamics, and delivering a sonic platter designed to send any rave over the edge. It doesn’t get better than this.
15. Pork Chop
After a whirlwind year in 2017, re-establishing himself as one of the most interesting characters in the industry, FTSE is back with his latest single – ‘Pork Chop’. On a mission to make people dance, FTSE explains the title: “Pork Chop is more than just a tune, it’s state of mind… I had this beat and I knew it was special. One day my step son said “You should call it Pork Chop” cus’ that’s what I call my daughter, and I thought it was both hilarious and brilliant.” Good taste runs in the FTSE family.
16. Don’t Bring Me Down
PREP came about as a placeholder alias for four artists with an eye-watering list of credits under their belts, all united in a tireless pursuit of the most authentic Yacht Rock sounds, most airtight grooves, and most excellent songwriting, as evidenced by their new EP ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’. The EP also features a co-vocal from Korean megastar DEAN, a driving force behind PREP’s own hothoused success in Asia, where gigs are more often than not the scene of hundreds of people, phones aloft, singing every word. Don’t miss their headline date at London’s Oslo on May 5th.
17. Moon Unit
Flyte began to form when Will Taylor and Jon Supran started playing together age 11 at their local comprehensive school, later joined by Nick Hill and Sam Berridge who they discovered singing down in the London Underground. After a video of Will and Sam covering Joni Mitchell took in millions of views, and following the band’s highly successful monthly night at the Moth Club in Hackney, the band signed a deal with Island Records. PHOENIX feels that Island chose well; this is damn good songwriting and fine musicianship.
Oisin Lunny has been performing, producing and DJing since the early 90s, first with his band Marxman and then with his solo project Firstborn. Today he is a keynote speaker, composes music for film & TV, DJs globally, and sends out mixtapes to 12,000 friends via his website.