From Uffie’s confessional earwormery to late-night electro-pop by Georgia, get your freak on to this hot, love-struck soundtrack
Words Oisin Lunny
This month our music editor takes a trip through some new and recent sonic masterpieces and ends up getting his rave on. After two years of Brexit angst, are we due another summer of love? We surely are. Let’s start with your ears.
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TRACK BY TRACK
1. Emily Wells – Your Apocalypse Was Fab
The PHOENIX playlist extends a warm welcome to Emily Wells. She is a classically trained violinist, composer, producer and singer who blends classical and modern instrumentation to create exquisite art pop. Her stunning new album “This World Is Too ____ For You” began as a commission from the renowned Liquid Music Series, which counts Philip Glass, Bon Iver and Blood Orange amongst its alumni.
2.Big Thief – UFOF
UFOF (the last F stands for ‘friend’, obvs) is the name of the highly anticipated third album by Big Thief, set to be released on May 3rd. Their first two releases have been (allegedly) been analysed, wept to, danced to, critically applauded, imitated, hummed idly, shouted out loud and have sound-tracked crowded restaurants, difficult conversations, cowboy bars, yoga classes, night drives, and lonely bedrooms. We can’t wait to see where this album takes the band.
3.Rose Gray – Good Life
Rose grew up in Walthamstow, East London, listening to the sounds of Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill, Lily Allen, Dr Dre, The Beatles, Janis Joplin, The Streets, Tribe Called Quest and Portishead. These diverse influences shine through in her debut EP Blue, Lately. PHOENIX loves the streetwise insouciance of “Good Life”, a very promising debut.
4.JGrrey – Notice
Sticking with the niche but rewarding genre of “debut EPs from talented young female singer-songwriters from London” check out the lush vibes of JGrrey, who just dropped a soulful, 5-track release exploring personal struggles and complicated relationships. JGrrey wrote the track about the subtle art of getting someone’s attention, which can be a frustrating experience at times.
5.Uffie – My Heart
PHOENIX is delighted to witness the return of former MySpace star Uffie with her latest album “Tokyo Love Hotel”, having followed her progress since “Pop the Glock/Ready to Uff” way back in two thousand and *coughs furiously*, and a dimly remembered Ed Banger Records party in a warehouse in Kings Cross. Uffie returns with a sophisticated, confessional earworm that showcases her fresh sound.
6.Lizzo – Tempo (feat. Missy Elliott)
The mighty Lizzo holds court on the PHOENIX playlist for a record-breaking third consecutive month, this time with Missy Elliott as her sparring partner. “Tempo” is a trap-infused booty call, and the unstoppable Lizzo calls it as only she can. As we have said before, the lady is a star, and she shines fiercely in “Tempo”.
Like Lizzo, Wiley is no stranger to the PHOENIX playlist, and here returns with a (seriously) all-star line-up of Stefflon Don, Sean Paul and the man who should be Bond, Idris Elba. With co-production from Toddla T and Rotterdam’s Mucky, Boasty is hot enough to blast away any Brexit-related blues!
8.Georgia – Started Out
Singer, drummer and producer Georgia grew up immersed in dance music, her father is Neil Barnes from the electronic duo Leftfield, but she beautifully merges her underground influences with a pop writing sensibility that is all her own. She used vintage analogue kit to make “Started Out”, a 909 drum machine and an SH-101 synth, but added a very modern flair to this sleek, late-night production. #ICYMI
9.Mike Slott – Mayday
One half of PHOENIX favorites Lesser Pieces, producer Mike Slott is both artful and architectural, designing on an infinite audio canvas. In “Mayday” ambient sounds stretch into the farthest reaches of the horizon while mysterious darker elements rise from the depths, later an afrobeat rhythm propels the track through space and time, with some incredible twists. Listen on the highest quality headphones you can muster and enjoy the ride, this is immersive sonic mastery.
10.Catz ‘n Dogz – There feat. James Yuill (Michael Mayer Remix)
DJ/Production duo and label heads Catz ‘n Dogz invited some close friends and like-minded peers to collaborate on their new collection, and certainly struck gold with “There” featuring the utterly captivating vocals of James Yuill. Kompakt Records co-founder Michael Mayer takes the track in a gentle and dreamlike direction in this remix, along a path bathed by the evening sun and glistening with the sound of wind chimes. Aaaand relax.
11.Black Coffee – Wish You Were Here feat. Msaki (BLOND:ISH Morning Remix Edit)
The South African DJ and house producer Black Coffee returns with his trademark syncopated sound, this time featuring the vocals of Msaki. The track is raised to sublime heights by DJ, entrepreneur and environmental advocate Vivie-Ann Bakos, aka BLOND:ISH. This is a match made in audio heaven.
12.GusGus – Lifetime
Icelandic trio GusGus have never been boring. The band started life as a film and acting collective in 1995, and name is a reference to Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s masterpiece “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Angst essen seele auf)”, in which a woman cooks couscous for her lover but pronounces it “Gusgus”. Obviously. Anyway, their latest track “Lifetime” is an artfully euphoric synth-house banger with deeply thoughtful lyrics. We would expect nothing less.
13.Deekline – Be Happy (VIP remix)
DJ Deekline is famous for his innovation in the genre of breakstep, and also for smashing it on social media for many years. With “Be Happy” he conjures up a retro rave revival banger which could single-handedly invoke the next Summer of Love. After the past two years of Brexit shenanigans PHOENIX believes we all deserve one.
14.Cloonee – Be Good To Me
Sticking with the retro revival feels, the ’80s SOS Band classic made famous in the early ’90s by Lindy Layton and Beats International gets a jam hot banging remake from Cloonee, who samples the vocals from the excellent Deborah Cox version from 1995. Trainspotting aside, the song is a timeless story of low self-esteem, delusion, and acceptance of what the Internet has subsequently christened “pimp wisdom”.
15.Anna Lunoe – 303
Australian born and LA-based DJ/producer/curator extraordinaire Anna Lunoe is back in action with the release of this fresh club weapon. ‘303’ is a bouncing ode to the Roland 303 bass synthesizer and acid house culture, in which Anna manages to channel Azealia “friend of the Irish” Banks and fellow Aussie mischief-makers Confidence Man. An irresistible dancefloor heater.
16.The Chemical Brothers – Got To Keep On (Riton Remix)
Ed Banger affiliate Riton steps up to deliver a huge remix of The Chemical Brothers latest single ‘Got To Keep On’, from their ninth studio album, ‘No Geography’. No mean feat as the original Chems track debuted as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record In The World on Radio 1 and took the Number 1 spot on both the Cool Cuts and DMC Buzz Charts.
17. MorMor – Outside
Seth Nyquist, aka MorMor, has been described as “Toronto’s newest enigma” by NPR and as “pop’s new auteur” by Pitchfork. Listening to the intimate and deeply personal “Outside” it is easy to see why, there is something elusive and wistful about Seth’s indie-pop sound. One to watch.
18.Elma Orkestra & Ryan Vail – Colours feat. Moya Brennan
Ryan Vail and Eoin O’Callaghan (aka Elma Orkestra) are two musicians from Derry who have been releasing ambient, electronic and neo-classical music for some years. Their collaborative collection Borders was written as a journey along the border between the North and South of Ireland, and as an acknowledgement of the need to overcome divisions. In “Colours”, featuring Clannad’s Moya Brennan singing in both English and Irish, they paint an expansive sonic landscape. Stunning and timely work.
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 oisinlunny.com.