Once upon a time, it was relatively easy to find new music. You simply turned on the radio and listened until you found something you liked. Everyone was fixed onto the same monoculture. Nowadays, One Direction kiddiepop aside, the culture has fragmented into a million tiny microreleases – and who has the time to trawl through the archives to find something good? Well, never fear, for your intrepid reporter has gathered up a few recently-released gems for the discerning ear.
Haim – The Wire
Haim (Hebrew for ‘life) are an indiepop girl group from Los Angeles, three sisters with a knack for hitting the sweet spot in-between Fleetwood Mac and TLC. On this, their second single, the sisters aim for a nostalgic glam-rock romp. Lead singer Danielle croons about relationship miscommunication over the band’s dirty glam shuffle, and you’ll have the ‘but I fumbled it when it came down to the wire’ hook in your head for days. Never has failure sounded so good.
Annie – Back Together
Back in 2004, Norwegian pop artist Annie made quite a splash with the blog cognoscenti with her debut album Anniemal and sassy single “Chewing Gum.” Sadly, her second album in 2008 “Don’t Stop” was the victim of label politics, losing all of Annie’s momentum. Now, she’s reunited with “Chewing Gum” producer Richard X to pull together a house-inflected pop tune dedicated to the joys of getting your groove on. The 909 drum machines crackle, the synths pop, and it’s like the ecstasy of early 90s house music all over again. Back together indeed.
Chvrches – Gun
Glasgow synthpop three-piece Chvrches (that’s pronounced “churches”) have been creating a buzz around the tracks, and for good reason. While the 80s inflected synthpop might seem a bit out of place amidst the on-going 90s revival, the band have honed their craft to perfection, with hooks for days. “Gun,” their third single is no exception, featuring thumping drums and synth stabs. Singer Lauren Mayberry disconcertingly coos the threatening lyrics – “I have burned your bridges, I will be your gun, and it’s you I’ll come for.”
Janelle Monae – Dance Apocalyptic
R&B artist Janelle Monae has been building her fanbase for awhile now with her wildly inventive combinations of retro soul and funk and futuristic android imagery. Her new album “The Electric Lady” continues on from debut The Archandroid. While Monae occasionally lays the sci-fi imagery on a little thick across the course of the album, here on the single it adds a nice tension to an otherwise unremarkable (if catchy) rock and roll stomp (complete with nonsense cha-langa-langa-lang lyrics). If the zombie apocalypse does end up coming, I think I’d prefer to be dancing with Monae.
Basement Jaxx – What a Difference Your Love Makes
With Daft Punk the biggest artists of the year, this year has had quite a 90s flavour. Now, house veterans Basement Jaxx re-enter the fray with an anthemic house tune redolent of their late 90s heydays. The drums shuffle like it’s UK garage all over again, the synths swing, and the singer wails like it’s Studio 54. One for the car, the gym, or the dancefloor.