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Thursday, June 29, 2017

The best albums of 2017 so far

From Richard Dawson’s medieval Britain to Pixx’s super-contemporary take on pop – plus sharp records by stars such as Kendrick Lamar and Drake – 2017 is already shaping up to be a great musical year

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by Ben Beaumont-Thomas via Electronic music | The Guardian

Moon Diagrams: Lifetime of Love review – undulating soundscapes for an anxious world

(Sonic Cathedral)

With stress, anxiety and memes taking up ever more of our valuable mental real estate, it is little wonder that the visualisations, mantras and brain-tickling sounds offered by mindfulness and ASMR videos have gone mainstream in recent years. This debut solo album from Deerhunter drummer and co-founder Moses Archuleta – created in a period of turmoil and rediscovery, following the breakdown of his marriage – has much the same effect as listening to crackling static or laboriously chewing a grape.

In it, he seamlessly moulds techno, samples that float in and out of reach like leaves in a lake, and the odd art-pop flourish into soundscapes that undulate with the sense of powering down. Opener Playground hums with the reverberations of a church choir, while Nightmoves pulls you into its gelatinous minimalism, and Blue Ring offers 11 minutes of gentle yet highly textured experimentation with a Cluster/Eno riff and a swelling, gong bath-like close. Magic Killer boasts dark, Neon Indian-style keys, while closing track End of Heartache provides kitsch yet ambient dance-pop, slowly ushering you out of Archuleta’s meditative zone, blood pressure wonderfully stable.

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by Hannah J Davies via Electronic music | The Guardian

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Kraftwerk review – past masters of the future

Royal Albert Hall, London
You can hear the men-machines’ classical roots and the modern sounds they helped shape in this blissful 3D show

When audiences first sat down to watch the earliest moving pictures, they were reported to be terrified of the image of a train steaming towards them, and ran. No one seated in the Royal Albert Hall at the start of Kraftwerk’s three-night stint actually cringes as flying numbers pelt through the air towards them during the first song, Numbers. But it’s a close-run thing. The edges on those 7s could slice your ear off.

Limpid notes purr round our heads, thanks to the surround-sound setup. Later, as Kraftwerk play out an enriched version of 1978’s Spacelab, I’m gored by a communications satellite. Girders of block colour disassemble and spin towards us balletically on The Man-Machine – one of Kraftwerk’s greatest songs, particularly magnificent in its current remix. Everywhere are majestic visualisations of sound: waveforms, computer read-outs, flying quavers, synaesthetic blocks of colour. We are seeing them through regulation-issue 3D glasses, the better to appreciate the blissful, ominous music of this seminal outfit.

You can’t help but be joyful that Hütter and the new line-up are victory lapping the velodrome of the catalogue again

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by Kitty Empire via Electronic music | The Guardian

Laurel Halo: Dust review – eerie, warm experimental sounds

(Hyperdub)

Berlin-based experimentalist Laurel Halo has previously shown a proclivity for the disarmingly strange and beautiful; on album three we find similarly disconcerting classical cacophonies and fractious electronics. Lyrically, Halo takes inspiration from concrete poetry, with her and guests including Klein and Julia Holter leaping between singing and sprechgesang. Right from opener Sun to Solar, there is an undercurrent of warmth that continues throughout – even eerie moments of free jazz are imbued with humour (one such track is called Arschkriecher – or, in English, “arse-kisser”). Dust is a record that is powerful, consuming, yet also strangely comforting.

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by Tara Joshi via Electronic music | The Guardian

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Dom Servini at Pop Brixton with Russ Ryan on 05/08

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Dom Servini at The Jazz Cafe with Jazzie B on 04/08

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Dom Servini at Giant Robot (Canary Wharf) on 03/08

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Dom Servini at Secret Garden Party on 22/07

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Dom Servini + Gilles Peterson at The Jazz Café on 21/07

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Dom Servini at Giant Robot (Canary Wharf) on 20/07

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Dom Servini at Bussey Building (Peckham) on 15/07

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Dom Servini at The Jazz Cafe with GUTS on 14/07

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Dom Servini at Merchants Tavern (London) on 13/07

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Dom Servini at Oval Space on 29/07

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wah Wah Radio – 2017 #5

Two men, two pairs of shorts, no socks and lots of beautiful music…

Mike Lowrey Vs Simbad – Summertime (G.A.M.M.)
Chip Wickham – Red Planet (Andres Remix) (Lovemonk)
Marc Tilley – Coltrane (Atjazz Record Company)
K15 – Truthfully feat. Kyle Hall (Wild Oats)
Karisma – Church Chords (INBTWN)
Hanna AKA Warren Harris – Wayfaring Man (Waella’s Choice)
Setenta – Da Manha (DJ Center Remix) (Latin Big Note)
A Band Called Flash – Phantom (Future Vision World)
Jarami – Aurora (Stick Figure)
Makadem and Behr – Nyako (Modified Man Remix) (On The Corner)
Sabrina Malheiros – Celebrar (Far Out)
Vels Trio – Yellow Ochre Pt.1 (TRC Records)
Paper Tiger – Rush (Hunrosa Remix) (Wah Wah 45s)
Profusion – Time’s Up (First Word)
Hunrosa – All (Wah Wah 45s)

Download The Wah Wah Radio Show

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dom Servini at The Jazz Café on 23/06

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Dom Servini at The Jazz Café on 23/06

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Dele Sosimi at The Dome (Reading) on 22/07

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Dele Sosimi at Afrika Festival on 01/07

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Public Service Broadcasting: 'we wanted to do something on a more human level'

The band’s new album, Every Valley, chronicles the destruction of the Welsh coal industry and how its legacy still resonates in these uncertain times

It’s general election night in the Ebbw Vale mining institute and four Englishmen are telling the Welsh about Wales’s past. They wear ties, rather bravely, in front of pint-sinking choristers and local rockers in 1970s tour T-shirts. Above the stage, footage plays of mid-20th century miners, their eyes shining like anthracite, cigarettes dangling from their lips. “The arrogant strut of the lords of the coalface,” purrs Richard Burton through the speakers, “looking at the posh people with hostile eyes.” These miners look like rock stars, much more so than Public Service Broadcasting, who are operating the machinery tonight.

Between 2013 and 2015, Public Service Broadcasting ploughed a fertile furrow in the pop landscape with two albums sampling old public information films over guitar-slathered electronica: Boys’ Own adventures about space, Spitfires and the second world war. They return with a very different record: Every Valley. Chronicling the rise and fall of the Welsh coal industry, it was recorded in the Ebbw Vale institute, which stands in one the most deprived areas of a country predicted to swing closer to Tory tonight. Last year, people here voted heavily to leave the EU.

This record remembers when the idea of being working-class didn’t mean that you couldn’t appreciate art or poetry.

Related: 'We must take a stand': the vital election issues – picked by young British artists

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by Jude Rogers via Electronic music | The Guardian

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Milk at KOKO (London) on 04/10

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The Milk at KOKO (London) on 04/10

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The Milk + New Street Adventure UK Tour 2017

AGMP Concerts presents

THE MILK + NEW STREET ADVENTURE

Two of the Groups helping the Renaissance of Soul Music in the UK join together for a UK Tour.

The Milk
Sometimes it takes a few bumps to find the right direction. Often it involves experience, guts and self-belief to trust yourself and venture from one to find another. The Milk are a band that believe with utter conviction that they’ve now found their way. Everything seems to agree with them – from releasing the critically acclaimed album “Favourite Worry” (Wah Wah 45s), selling out London’s Union Chapel and touring with Fun Lovin’ Criminals at the beginning of 2017, to now embarking on an extensive UK tour. The Milk are ready to bring their retro-soulful sonics to your city. The Milk are Rick Nunn (lead vocals, guitar, keys), Mitch Ayling (drums, vocals, keys), Dan Legresley (lead guitar, vocals), Luke Ayling (bass guitar).

NEW STREET ADVENTURE (OFFICIAL)
Following on from 2014’s highly acclaimed debut album “No Hard Feelings” (Acid Jazz *Official*), NEW STREET ADVENTURE (OFFICIAL) are back with their second album “Stubborn Sons” which was produced by Mitch Ayling from The Milk.

NEW STREET ADVENTURE (OFFICIAL) are now ready to hit the road again for a special tour with The Milk, doing what they do best: deliver their combination of “soul, mod and rock and roll”, as The Guardian described their music.

New Street Adventure are Nick Corbin (Vocals/Guitar), Ashley Hayden (Bass), Ben Wolfe (Drums), Max De Lucia (Keys) and Billy Farr (Guitar). Inspired by Bobby WomackNeil YoungBlack Ivory and Angie Stone the band recently toured the UK with The Rifles and have sold out The Jazz CafeThe 100 ClubXOYO & 229 The Venue over the past year in London.

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The Milk at Concorde 2 (Brighton) on 28/09

AGMP Concerts presents

THE MILK + NEW STREET ADVENTURE

Two of the Groups helping the Renaissance of Soul Music in the UK join together for a UK Tour.

The Milk
Sometimes it takes a few bumps to find the right direction. Often it involves experience, guts and self-belief to trust yourself and venture from one to find another. The Milk are a band that believe with utter conviction that they’ve now found their way. Everything seems to agree with them – from releasing the critically acclaimed album “Favourite Worry” (Wah Wah 45s), selling out London’s Union Chapel and touring with Fun Lovin’ Criminals at the beginning of 2017, to now embarking on an extensive UK tour. The Milk are ready to bring their retro-soulful sonics to your city. The Milk are Rick Nunn (lead vocals, guitar, keys), Mitch Ayling (drums, vocals, keys), Dan Legresley (lead guitar, vocals), Luke Ayling (bass guitar).

NEW STREET ADVENTURE (OFFICIAL)
Following on from 2014’s highly acclaimed debut album “No Hard Feelings” (Acid Jazz *Official*), NEW STREET ADVENTURE (OFFICIAL) are back with their second album “Stubborn Sons” which was produced by Mitch Ayling from The Milk.

NEW STREET ADVENTURE (OFFICIAL) are now ready to hit the road again for a special tour with The Milk, doing what they do best: deliver their combination of “soul, mod and rock and roll”, as The Guardian described their music.

New Street Adventure are Nick Corbin (Vocals/Guitar), Ashley Hayden (Bass), Ben Wolfe (Drums), Max De Lucia (Keys) and Billy Farr (Guitar). Inspired by Bobby WomackNeil YoungBlack Ivory and Angie Stone the band recently toured the UK with The Rifles and have sold out The Jazz CafeThe 100 ClubXOYO & 229 The Venue over the past year in London.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Goldie: The Journey Man review – over-ambitious jungle epic drifts off course

(Cooking Vinyl)

Goldie has always been larger than life, and his giant ambition took jungle from an underground concern to music that could sketch out cityscapes in epic widescreen. That ambition is undimmed on this 100-minute-plus solo album, his first in nine years. As well as sleek and well-heeled junglism, there’s trip-hop, piano-led lounge jazz, restless, Pharrell-ish funk on Castaway, and even, on Tu Viens Avec Moi?, pleasantly noodly Balearic soft rock.

But as the running time indicates, Goldie’s weakness is not always being able to corral that ambition, and, not helped by rote production, there is some interminable material here. It bottoms out with Redemption, which is like being stuck on a Pro Evo loading screen for 18 long minutes. The vocalists are in fine voice, with the Sampha-ish Tyler Lee Daly a great find, but they are allowed to drift into vague melodies. Even the jungle tracks such as Prism, while propulsive and admirably contemporary, lack the jeopardy and psychic disharmony of the genre’s best.

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by Ben Beaumont-Thomas via Electronic music | The Guardian

Kraftwerk's Ralf Hütter: 'Music is about intensity … the rest is just noise'

Kraftwerk reinvented pop in the 1970s, but never dreamed they could stage a multimedia spectacular. Their founding member grants a rare interview to talk about Europe, Detroit clubs and why Twitter is ‘nonsense’

For someone with a reputation for – how can we put this politely – taking their time over things, Ralf Hütter isn’t one for hanging around tonight. Kraftwerk have just completed a mesmerising set at the Brighton Centre – all laser-precise beats and visuals brought to life through Kraftwerk-branded 3D glasses – and Hütter has agreed to sit down for a rare face-to-face interview afterwards. Given that the show involves Hütter spending more than two hours on his feet, studiously twiddling knobs and buttons to ensure that no synth line or motorik beat arrives anything less than crystal clear, you might expect him to take a while to decompress once he has left the stage. Yet the crowd have barely shuffled out of the building when he appears in our backstage interview room, a black polo shirt and puffer jacket replacing his grid-patterned Spandex bodysuit. The speed of the transformation is disorientating, as if the mind-melting, multimedia spectacular he has just put on never happened.

“Hello, nice to meet you,” he says, shaking hands, before glancing towards a picture on the wall of Rod Stewart, resplendent in his peacock pomp. “It’s you, on the left?” he asks his press officer, pointing towards one of the musician’s pink-clad backsides.

Related: Kraftwerk 3-D review – man-machine music with emotional soul

Related: Kraftwerk – 10 of the best

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by Tim Jonze via Electronic music | The Guardian

Readers recommend playlist: songs that say what love is

A reader goes through your nominations seeking the meaning of love, with Roxy Music, New Order, Madness and Sade among those offering answers

Here is this week’s playlist – songs picked by a reader from your suggestions after last week’s callout. Thanks for taking part. Read more about how our weekly series works at the end of the piece.

Veteran rock band Foreigner sure want to know what love is. Instead of telling them to go off and Google it, let’s enlist the help of a selection of musicians and musical styles, their tunes all recommended by you, to find the answer.

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by Paul Hayes via Electronic music | The Guardian

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Kraftwerk 3-D review – man-machine music with emotional soul

Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
With the technology the band predicted all around us, their innovation now is in striking visuals and rebooted songs that accentuate humanity

With the obvious exception of the Beatles, it’s hard to think of many acts who have had such influence on popular culture as Kraftwerk. The German electronic pioneers have left their fingerprints on genres from electropop to Detroit techno to hip-hop and EDM. Artists from New Order to Madonna have sampled them; David Bowie named his song V2-Schneider after one of the founder members, and Coldplay had a whopping hit using one of their melodies.

Today, the way most of our pop music sounds and is made owes much to Kraftwerk’s 1970s ideal of a marriage of humanity and machine. Meanwhile, the technological world Kraftwerk envisaged is around us. It’s mind-boggling to think they were singing about Computer Love – the idea of lonely souls finding each other via electronic communications – decades before we even had the world wide web, never mind internet dating. How improbable all this must have seemed in 1975, when they appeared on the TV science programme Tomorrow’s World looking like accountants chuckling at some secret but hilarious in-joke, playing silver foil pads with electronic knitting needles.

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by Dave Simpson via Electronic music | The Guardian

Summer 2017's hottest pop: with Guns N’ Roses, Nas, Haim, KLF, Eminem and PJ Harvey

Haim ride a sun-kissed wave, MIA raves into Meltdown, Axl Rose does the unthinkable, PJ Harvey pulls on her feathers, Jarvis Cocker reimagines Hollywood – and the KLF write a book

The reformed Slash/Axl Rose/Duff McKagan lineup – once mired in such acrimony that the thought of them sharing a stage was the stuff of hell-freezes-over impossibility – fetch up in London. The reunion tour arrives trailing rave reviews and ecstatic testimony from Guns N’ Roses diehards, a subsection of rock fandom who have put up with a great deal over the past 15 years. One US writer even reported that the unthinkable had happened and that the notoriously tardy Rose had actually come on stage early.
• 16-17 June, London Stadium.

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by Alexis Petridis via Electronic music | The Guardian

Monday, June 12, 2017

Music of the spheres: the interstellar bromance of Planetarium

Nico Muhly brought the trombones, Bryce Dessner the guitars and Sufjan Stevens the ‘finely shaped buttocks’ – and the result was a concept album about outer space via ancient Greece. The trio discuss their voyage into the cosmos

In the spring of 2012, at the Barbican Hall in London, Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly and Bryce Dessner performed a new collaborative work they named Planetarium. A song cycle loosely in homage to the solar system, it wanted for little in ambition, featuring seven trombones, a string quartet, guitar, voices, piano, celeste, and an elaborate lighting display that cast a succession of colours against a giant suspended orb.

Related: Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, James McAlister: Planetarium review – masters of the universe

Related: Sufjan Stevens talks to Dave Eggers: ‘I was recording songs as a means of grieving’

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by Laura Barton via Electronic music | The Guardian

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Phoenix: Ti Amo review – kings of cool blow hot and cold

(Atlantic Records)

With their artfully tousled haircuts and general air of supreme nonchalance, Versailles electropoppers Phoenix are nothing if not cool. Indeed, it’s an adjective applied to them so often, the band might be tired of hearing it. That belief is strengthened by Phoenix’s sixth album, on which they seem to be goading each other into previously undiscovered realms of naffness. Inspired by an idealised, sun-dappled, “pre-Berlusconi” Italy, it’s a sugar rush of gaudy nostalgia, stocked full of buoyant Italo-rhythms and exercise-video synths.

Related: Phoenix: 'We are French, we are romantic by essence'

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by Gwilym Mumford via Electronic music | The Guardian

Readers recommend playlist: songs influenced by dub

An eclectic, global set of tunes that have dub at their heart – Killing Joke, Warpaint and even the Pretenders make this week’s reader-curated list

Here is this week’s playlist of songs picked by a reader from your suggestions after last week’s callout. Read more about how our weekly Readers recommend series works at the end of the piece.

We start with the familiar: the PretendersPrivate Life. Howls of dismay are probably emanating from all points. Grace Jones’s cover was icily majestic and smoothly controlled, but Chrissie Hynde’s original growls with contempt and unbridled scorn. This was a case of dub crossing the Atlantic from Jamaica, being adapted for use in a rock song and then being sold back to the Jamaicans. Result.

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by George Boyland via Electronic music | The Guardian

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Field Day review – sweltering playlist-shuffle party raises the roof

Victoria Park, London
The one-day festival has a gigantic new Barn stage, suitably filled by Aphex Twin’s spine-tingling live return, supported by an eclectic lineup of pop, rap and dance for every taste under the sun

A fixture in east London’s Victoria Park for a decade, Field Day has in many ways reached that optimal festival state of commanding a large and loyal audience on strength of reputation, as much as the individual artists it books each year. Intuitively curated with playlist-shuffle eclecticism over a single Saturday, typically the 2017 lineup feels like one that fans of a whole span of ages and tastes could navigate to their satisfaction. Youthful bookings abound, from guitar acts like Methyl Ethel and Julia Jacklin to trap producer Mura Masa, and yet it’s also a clutch of names who enjoyed their breakouts in the 90s and before – in particular Aphex Twin making a long-awaited UK live return in epic surrounds – that help push the mercury higher on a blazing hot June day.

A man whom you can be sure would be sporting sunglasses even if performing on a dark winter night, sexagenarian Mancunian punk performance poet Dr John Cooper Clarke is old enough to be a grandad to much of the Field Day crowd, and yet his slanted and funny wordplay (“I eat a third of a Mars Bar every day – to help me rest”) feels somehow still apt to the occasion. Leafing his way through a sheaf of pieces about love, ageing and boredom, the deliciously sweary Evidently Chickentown included, he’s on fine form, even if trying to discern his rapid torrent of thickly accented words can sometimes feel a bit like listening to a cattle auctioneer.

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by Malcolm Jack via Electronic music | The Guardian

Friday, June 2, 2017

Goldfrapp review – electrifying performance marks a return to 80s futurism

Carriageworks, Sydney
Electronic duo deliver a gloriously slick show that maintains the energy of the dancing crowd

Alison Goldfrapp is all windswept hair and shiny silver pyjama suit. Appearing on stage, backlit and washed in smoky red and blue, in the cold industrial hollow of Sydney’s warehouse-turned-music venue Carriageworks, she seems less like a rockstar and more like a mysterious angel from the space age.

Carriageworks is the perfect kind of space for the kind of alternative, danceable synth pop that electronic duo Goldfrapp are most well-known for. The last time I saw them live was at Melbourne’s Palais Theatre – a beautiful old venue in its own right, but not exactly dance-friendly, with its ornate internal architecture and antique fittings, and a bizarre choice of space for a band with a back catalogue dominated by strutting synths that compel you to get out of your chair and pull shapes.

Related: Alison Goldfrapp: ‘Artists are private people, observers’

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by Stephanie Convery via Electronic music | The Guardian

Born to do it? Why pop's pregnant pause could be coming to an end

As musicians from Rebekka Karijord to Tori Amos begin to explore birth, perhaps pregnancy in music could become less taboo

Songs about gynaecology are few and far between. Tori Amos wrote Spark and other songs following her experience of miscarriage. The lyrics of PJ Harvey’s When Under Ether are suggestive of abortion (“Something’s inside me/ Unborn and unblessed”) although Harvey denied a direct link. Kate Bush imagined a father’s perspective of birth in This Woman’s Work. Great songs; relatively slim pickings. Pregnancy and childbirth are transformative experiences and also not unusual. Why then does so little music explore it?

Motivated by this absence, Norwegian composer Rebekka Karijord wrote an experimental concept album of narrative pop, Mother Tongue. Released earlier this year, it chronicles her first pregnancy and the traumatic premature arrival of her daughter. “There is something in popular music for women with this topic that I felt has been taboo,” she says on the phone from Stockholm where she lives. “With this subject, as any subject, it’s super-important that women and artists in general are allowed to be honest [about] where they are in their life.”

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by Lucy Jones via Electronic music | The Guardian

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Dua Lipa: Dua Lipa review – a pop debut high on summery nonchalance

(Warner)

Originally slated for release last September and then again for February, rising British-Albanian singer Dua Lipa delayed her debut album in part to include some “exciting collaborations”. Presumably she was referring not only to the presence of R&B smoothie Miguel but Chris Martin, with whom she duets on Homesick, a tearjerky piano ballad that pleasingly mixes her smoky mid-range vocal with Martin’s crooning. While that isn’t exactly the slick, Capital FM-ready synth-pop she’s best known for, you can see why Lipa held out. Being that she is a young female singer trying to stand out among the glut of artists ploughing similar furrows, Martin’s presence does add clout to proceedings – albeit of the John Lewis ad kind.

Elsewhere, she’s doing what she does best: New Rules and Hotter Than Hell are infused with EDM and tropical house without sounding too consciously trend-chasing, while Blow Your Mind (Mwah) is an unapologetically in-your-face three minutes of pop that is strong and stylish. Despite a few generic offerings (No Goodbyes is mostly just the singer breathily uttering the words “don’t go back” on loop), this is a solid pop debut that is high on summery nonchalance.

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by Hannah J Davies via Electronic music | The Guardian

Pixx: The Age of Anxiety review – riveting, cliche-free electropop joy

(4AD)

The title of 21-year-old Hannah Rodgers’ first album may seem like an attempt to capitalise on the zeitgeist but, satisfyingly, is actually taken from a 1947 Auden poem about industrialisation. There’s plenty more pleasingly cliche-defying action from Pixx here – who looks like a hip south London art school student but actually went to the Brit school, and who makes ethereal electro but performs it as if she might nut you at any moment. Perhaps the most obvious touchstone for Rodgers’ crisp and airy pop is British electronica of the late 90s, with the new-agey lyrics and otherworldly sonic motifs bringing to mind Zero 7, Dubstar, Morcheeba, and, occasionally, Lemon Jelly jolliness. Yet by flitting between a low, clear vocal, and something more urgent and old-fashionedly English, which evokes both 1960s pop and Tudor carols, Rodgers manages to dodge straightforward comparisons. It makes for a riveting and refreshing debut, which balances weirdness with sweet and soothing electropop joy.

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by Rachel Aroesti via Electronic music | The Guardian