From Brazilian rock to samba-disco remixes, it’s an assortment of sonic treats
Words Oisin Lunny
The last PHOENIX playlist of 2019 is our Music Editor’s seasonal gift for your ears. A diverse selection of new and recent releases, it’s like an audio advent calendar wrapped up in sparkly sonic paper. Open and enjoy.
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TRACK BY TRACK
1. Brittany Howard – Short and Sweet
Brittany Howard is well known as the lead singer and guitarist with the Southern rock band Alabama Shakes, but her debut solo album Jaime establishes her as even more of a force to be reckoned with. In the breathtakingly intimate ‘Short and Sweet’, she channels the naked longing of Nina Simone tinged with the foreshadow of loss.
2. Pillow Queens – Brothers
Pillow Queens are a queer indie-punk band from Dublin who’ve already toured with the likes of SOAK and Pussy Riot. ‘Brothers’ is an open-hearted lighters-in-the-air anthem about the loss of a friend close to the band. The Pillow Queens say the track is about cherishing and loving the wonderful men in your life.
3. El Perro Del Mar – Please Stay
Sweden’s El Perro del Mar (aka Sarah Assbring) adds her own distinct and dreamy flavour to Burt Bacharach’s canonical ‘Please Stay’. Sarah explains, “I came to think about what would happen to the song if its original meaning of love and heartbreak was to be about death and the pleadings of having someone not die or return from the dead.” Catch her live at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm early this month.
4. O Terno – Pegando Leve
O Terno is a rock’n’roll-pop-experimental power trio from São Paulo, Brazil, and they continue the magnificent musical heritage of their homeland in fine style. On their exquisite fourth album <atrás/além> the trio are augmented by lush orchestral arrangements and joined by specials guests Devendra Banhart and Shintaro Sakamoto. #ICYMI
5. Gerry Cinnamon – Dark Days
‘Dark Days’ by Glaswegian folk hero Gerry Cinnamon celebrates the power of love as a force of hope in troubled times. “These days it’s easy to be convinced that the world’s full of nothing but darkness but now and again you have those moments,” he explains. “That’s what ‘Dark Days’ is about. Not letting anyone take those moments away from you and recognising that they might never happen again.” Wise words indeed.
6. Billie Eilish – everything i wanted
The phenomenally talented Billie Eilish recently announced that her fans will be able to earn free tickets to see her live by helping to fight climate change. #PHOENIXloves. Her sold-out North American tour kicks off in March 2020, followed by South America and the UK in the summer. In the meantime, ‘everything i wanted’ is a perfectly self-contained gem of a song.
7. Joy Crookes – Early
We have been tracking Joy Crookes since the summer of 2017 so are delighted to witness her steady ascendance and the wider recognition of her talent. 2019 has been a good one for the 21-year-old. Dior invited her to headline the V&A’s prestigious Summer Party, while her acoustic performance of ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ was one of the most talked about moments from Glastonbury. We can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for her.
8. Cautious Clay – Erase
Cautious Clay, aka Josh Karpeh, has been clocking up some epic colabs, with the likes of Taylor Swift, John Mayer, Tayla Parx, Billie Eilish, Tobias Jesso Jr. and Hudson Mowhawke. The 26-year-old made this song about his love/hate relationship with being online. PHOENIX can relate.
9. Field Music – Money Is a Memory
While the catchy ‘Money Is a Memory’ may appear to be an angular Talking Heads-flavoured workout, the track is actually about the German Treasury preparing documents for the final instalment on reparation debts. Obviously. The final payment was made in 2010, 91 years after the Treaty of Versailles was signed. Who knew?
10. GusGus – Came Back to Life feat. Sisely Treasure
Innovative Icelandic ensemble GusGus follow on from their tenth studio album with an impeccable seven-track EP loaded with remixes across the dance music spectrum. This cavernous chugging electro collaboration features American vocalist Siserly Treasure, who appeared in the reality show Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll.
11. Niklas Paschburg – Blooming (In C Minor) (Harnes Kretzer Remix)
Last month in Reykjavík, as part of the superb Iceland Airwaves music festival, Niklas Paschburg delivered a spellbinding ambient/neo-classical concert in the magnificent setting of Frikirkjan, an old Lutheran church overlooking a lake. This subtle remix from Harnes Kretzer is the perfect complement to Paschburg’s mastery of the genre.
12. Skinny Pelembe – My Love Is Burning, Down
Johannesburg-born, Doncaster-raised Skinny Pelembe is a multi-talented wonder who meditates on grief, heartache and stunted aspirations. He weaves them together with memories and observations in an exaltation of flawed, multi-faceted Britain. Genuinely fascinating. Released on Gilles Peterson’s ever-tastemaking Brownswood Record label.
13. DRAMA – Gimme Gimme
DRAMA is a collaboration between producer Na’el Shehade’s chic Chicago house-infused production style, and vocalist Via Rosa’s soulful delivery. As a lyricist, Rosa takes her blues and makes them vibrant. Their forthcoming debut album Dance Without Me is a sublime collection that recasts romantic tragedy as moonlit self-acceptance. Catch them live in January at Night and Day Café in Manchester and at Heaven in London.
14. Gato Preto – Fala Comigo (Daniel Monaco Remix)
‘Fala Comigo’ (Talk To Me) is a song that links Africa, America, and Europe. The catchy guitar melody was played by a guitar player from the Congo, whose idea for the tune was produced by Rey Sapiens in Uganda. Later, producer Lee Bass and rapper/singer Gata Misteriosa gave it the Gato Preto treatment. The Phileas Fogg-like adventures of the tune were recently rounded off with a deft samba/disco remix from Holland’s Daniel Monaco.
15. ʅ͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡(ƟӨ)ʃ͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡ ꐑ(ཀ ඊູ ఠీੂ೧ູ࿃ूੂ✧✧✧✧✧✧ළඕั࿃ूੂ࿃ूੂ⣎⡇ꉺლ༽இ•̛)ྀ◞ ༎ຶ ༽ৣৢ؞ৢ؞ؖ ꉺლ – ʅ͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡(ƟӨ)ʃ͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡ ꐑ(ཀ ඊູ ఠీੂ೧ູ࿃ूੂ✧ළඕั࿃ूੂ࿃ूੂੂ࿃ूੂළඕั✧ı̴̴̡ ̡̡͡|̲̲̲͡ ̲̲̲͡͡π̲̲͡͡ ɵੂ≢࿃ूੂ೧ູఠీੂ ඊູཀ ꐑ(ʅ͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡(ƟӨ)ʃ͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡
ʅ͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡(ƟӨ)ʃ͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡ ꐑ(ཀ ඊູ ఠీੂ೧ູ࿃ूੂ✧✧✧✧✧✧ළඕั࿃ूੂ࿃ूੂ⣎⡇ꉺლ༽இ•̛)ྀ◞ ༎ຶ ༽ৣৢ؞ৢ؞ؖ ꉺლ has been intriguing the world of leftfield electronic music with his cryptic name and unpronounceable releases since 2017. It recently came to light that the artist known as all-these-symbols was none other than Four Tet, which now makes perfect sense. This track is a real beauty, an effortlessly light and organic earworm of the highest order. On repeat.
16. MJ Cole – Phoenix
ICYMI. Taken from MJ Cole’s lush EP Foundations which was released last year, ‘Phoenix’ paints neo-classical piano hooks on a sophisticated electronic canvas, all underpinned by MJ’s distinctive beats. Aside from being musically gorgeous, the track title is very popular at PHOENIX HQ.
17. Gorgon City – Roped In
House duo Gorgon City round off an impressive 2019 with a track that’s been tried and tested at London’s Tobacco Dock, Manchester’s Warehouse Project and Damian Lazarus’ ‘Get Lost’ Party in Israel. ‘Roped In’ mixes euphoric strings and tight club rhythms with a unique tension-building drop specially designed to hit directly on the dancefloor. Oooof.
18. Georgia – Never Let You Go (MK Remix)
PHOENIX favourite Georgia recently rocked Iceland Airwaves with her classy mix of club vibes and catchy pop hooks. New York producer and deep house legend Marc Kinchen (MK) brings out all that’s great about Georgia in this smashing remix. An absolute banger for your NYE party.
19. Hifi Sean – Feel the Music feat. Celeda
We wrap up our final playlist of 2019 with a titanic slice of disco drenched dance-floor magic. Hifi Sean resurrects Patrick Adams’ much-beloved Northern Soul classic (and personal fave) ‘My Baby’s Got E.S.P.’ by Four Below Zero. Acclaimed house music vocalist and drag queen Celeda adds all the euphoric feels in all the right places.
Wishing you and yours every happiness this holiday season, and a wonderful new year.
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.