Once a Tree – Take Me

Smooth, sexy, sultry, a sound flows into another, a chord collides with the next, and a wall of bass rolls away, and is crashed over by a wave of synths.

I fall asleep at night
counting the teardrops by my side
thinking about you

A brief respite, then a second wave, bigger than the last. Such bittersweet pain…

“Take Me” is, in a nutshell, high class electro-R&B.

Once a Tree are Husband and wife duo Jayli Wolf (singer) and Hayden John Wolf (producer and husband), who grew up on the rural West Coast of Canada, some way from their current Toronto home. “Take Me” is their second release from their Thousand Lives EP, out on July 10th.

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Babe – The Warbling

Babe are a four-piece group based in Glasgow, London, Brussels and Bordeaux. They have released a video for their track “The Warbling”, taken from their The Hereaftergo’ers EP. In it, the track’s glitchy, disorienteering clipped beats are matched by on-and-off visuals, streams of lights offering occasional respite along with the chords and harmonies that lay a sticking plaster over the “The Warbling”‘s pocked surface.

Started by two ex-Findo Gask members, Gerard Black (François & the Atlas Mountains) and Michael Marshall, the intention was to take Gerard’s songs and see them through to their final conclusion, letting them develop naturally along the way.

With the help of Lauren Mayberry on backing vocals, Thomas Ogden on guitar, Michael Marshall on drums and Amaury Ranger on bass and percussion, Babe have put together a twelve-track body of work; written, recorded, produced and mixed by Gerard and Michael, bounced back and forth from city to city via dropbox.

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New Music Round-up #19

More, more, more… it’s OK – I know how you like it.

Joni Fatora – Pilot

Second time on RRP for Joni Fatora, after the utterly gorgeous Blueless Bird, “Pilot” amps it up and moves into a rockier place. The result is a different kind of perfect: Guitars bend, piano chords strike, as the melody follows the lead of Fatora’s soft/strong vocal.

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Hannah in the Wars – Sweet Release

After two well-received solo releases – Sky Above, Horse Below (2007) and The Blind Love EP (2009) – Hannah Curwood has swapped her rural Otaga, New Zealand, home for old London town and formed six-piece band Hannah in the Wars. With it’s piano, strings and wordless cries, “Sweet Release” is the intriguing, entreating first single from their eponymous debut album, produced by Roger O’Donnell (The Cure).

Click through to Soundcloud for tour dates in New Zealand, UK, Ireland and Germany over the next few months.

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Life is Better Blonde – Mine

How you feel about “Mine”, the debut single from Melbourne’s Life is Better Blonde will be dictated to an extent by your feelings on vocodery autotunery vocal effects. Accept them into your heart and you’ll have yourself some splendidly slinky, glitchy, broken electro-soul for company. Trust me: you want that.

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Lilith Ai – Hang Tough

Lilith Ai grew up in North-East London before leaving for America, a young teenager with barely £70 in her pocket. She ran away to America and spent the next few years living on the streets of Queens, New York. Now back in London she is about to release her first single, “Hang Tough”. Don’t be fooled by its cool, soulful sounds and laid-back vibe: Lilith Ai means business.

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Vuurwerk – Warrior

Flemish trio Vuurwerk have have made the move from remixers of note to recording their own material. Signed to Lo Recordings in the UK, their first release is the Warrior EP. Watch the video for the title track, above. With deft vocals from Soldier’s Heart lead singer Sylvie Kreusch and smooth chords and solid bass, it’s not hard to see why they’re a hot property right now.

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Young Empires – The Gates

Young Empires are Matthew Vlahovich, Jake Palahnuk and Taylor Hill. Together, this Canadian three-piece create shiny, pinging, dancefloor electropop. A little fuller-sounding and darker than their debut single “So Cruel”, “The Gates” is a boomingly solid sign of future greatness.

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Femme – S.O.S

At some point it seems inevitable that Femme is going to blow up. S.O.S, her fourth stellar single release – after “Educated”, “Fever Boy” and “High” – could just be the moment it happens. And let’s not forget an Ace of Base mashup that threw Fever Boy and snatches of new single S.O.S into a wonder-what-would-happen blender along with “All That She Wants”. It was an act of insane genius, but you can judge that for yourselves here.

And now comes the full single release of “S.O.S”. More brilliance, more big chorus, more production magic, more reason to love Femme before everyone else discovers her.

Not that you’ll need any more convincing by this point, but it’s worth stepping back a couple of years as well, to a time just before Femme became Femme, when she was recording under her real name, Laura Bettinson, as part of Ultraista, the project formed by Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich. Here they are, along with drummer Joey Waronker (Beck, R.E.M., and a host of others) performing “Bad Insect” live on KCRW.

“S.O.S” is out on May 4th. A launch show for the single will take place the week before at The Lexington on April 29th. Buy tickets HERE

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Cotton Claw – Grainy

Cotton Claw is a new French electro project that draws four producers together. The four – Lilea Narrative, Zo aka La Chauve-Souris, YoggyOne and Zerolex – released their debut EP, Dusted, in 2014 and are now on the verge of releasing their first full length album, Volutes.

“Grainy” is the first taste of the album. It’s smooth, warm and alive in a way that you might not expect from four producers with 64 pads. But then these guys play live with no sequencers so maybe now you can imagine that slightly organic feel a little more. Oh, just press play already!

Volutesis out on May 8th on Cascade Records. The album will be available on 2xLP vinyl with full color sleeve, Digipack CD and digital format.

You can order from iTunes, Bandcamp, and Cascade.

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Tame Impala – Let it Happen

What a week it’s been for musical transformations. First we had Mumford & Sons’ not entirely Dylan-esque drunken stumble down electric avenue, and now Tame Impala have gone all ‘lectronic on “Let it Happen”, their first new release since 2012’s Lonerism. While this is no “Elephant” or “Mind Mischief”, it’s not, in truth, as radical departure as some of the long faces and dropped jaws in the hardcore fan-zone would have you thinking. Let’s face it, any reasonably psychedelic plying its trade in the twenty-first century is going to have some electronic element in play for that authentic feeling of messing around with moogs, and Tame Impala have never been a complete exception to that rule.

“Let it Happen” moves in the unmistakable manner of the Tame Impala – that rhythm, those vocals – but trades guitars overlayed with effects for something a little less fuzzy, rather like the shift MGMT engineered between Oracular Spectacular and Congratulations, but in a way that should be less jarring for fans. And even if it feels alien at first, it’s a song worth persevering with. It’s nearly eight minutes long, but don’t think you can take a shortcut by dipping in and out – you’ll only get lost in its subtly evolving circles that way. No, the only way to do this properly is to sit back, preconceptions laid to one side, for the full eight, and wait until the end to make up your mind.

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Purity Ring – another eternity

Formed in 2010, Purity Ring are a Canadian duo that uses electronic beats and exceptional lyrics that fit right in with other synth pop acts such as Goldfrapp, Grimes and Blood Orange. After their outstanding debut, Shrines there was a ton of anticipation for Purity Ring’s second LP. With its standouts such as “Lofticries”, “Fineshrine”, and “Obedear”, Purity Ring not only had one of the finest albums of 2012 but also definitely were much more indie than pop. The set was meant for the indie rock audience, a sensation on the blogs and on college radio stations.

With another eternity, Purity Ring are aiming for the mainstream. Gone is the surreal darkness, in its place is a set of light-hearted, catchy fair with a nod to the edm genre, like so much of what you hear on your typical Top 40 station. It isn’t all that bad, it’s just a touch surprising and definitely a departure for the band.

The new record, released on March 3, begins with “heartsigh”, a true pop song. It has a driving bass beat, which builds up into a gorgeous hook.

The opening single, “push pull”, features a synth drone and an explosive chorus in which singer Megan James proclaims: “You push and you pull and you tell yourself no”. It’s one of the highlights of the record, and it shows that for all the radio friendly music on the record, James and company haven’t lost their edge as songwriters.

The song “bodyache” might be the catchiest song on the entire album. It was released as the third single and has a beautiful piano driven beat that also has the typical edm dance thump of the rest of the album.

At times catchy can come at an expense. “repetition” is one of the examples of just that. It features a good hook but it abandons all of the darkness of the first record. It might not always be fair to judge a band based on their previous work, however, Purity Ring set the bar extremely high.

The best song on the record is “begin again”, which builds up during the bridge with a thumping bass beat, features a solid hook but an absolutely beautiful synth break down after each hook that hearkens back to artists such as Hot Chip.

Despite the loss of the sometimes claustrophobic darkness that was in Shrines, Purity Ring haven’t completely gone to the dark side. Their brand of synth pop, although much more palatable, isn’t quite as skin deep as most of the music that is ruling the pop world in 2015. With eye-popping hooks, and beautiful synth arrangements and gorgeous songwriting, Purity Ring is still able to hang on to its place among the indie music world.

Rangleklods – Lost U

There’s some kind of electro-house mashup going in “Lost U”, some kind of highly addictive and very cool mashup at that. “Lost U” comes from Danish duo Rangleklods (Esben Andersen, Pernille Smith-Sivertsen) that has been released as a single and given a new video just in time for their SXSW appearances:

Monday March 16 Nordic Mashup Day @ Oslo Lounge 607 Trinity Street (around 6.30pm)
Tuesday The 17th with Perfume @ Highland Lounge at 11pm
Wednesday March 18 Performing @The International Day Stage at 1pm-1: 40pm
Wednesday March 18: Reeperbahn Festival Showcase @Lucille (German Haus) 11-11:40 PM Night

After that, Rangleklods are off on a European tour – check their Facebook page for details.

“Lost U” is from the forthcoming Rangleklods album Straightjacket, due out in May.

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Alanna Clarke – Linger

Linger is the latest single from Canadian singer and song-writer Alanna Clarke. Darker, more dangerous, and more electronic than her debut single Heartstrings, it’s a superb bolt from the blue, built around a top notch chorus that explodes into being with a few simple strong notes that sound like they want to echo round the room forever.

After leaving school early to concentrate on music full-time, an early meeting with Christopher Ward (best known for writing “Black Velvet” by another Canadian Artist, Alanna Myles) set Clarke on the path to writing new songs and heading out on the road. “Heartstrings”, Clarke’s debut single, was released in November 2014, and the 23-year old is currently back in the studio working on material for her first full-length release.

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Oh Wonder – Technicolour Beat

Kids today probably don’t remember the excitement aroused in 1992 when The Wedding Present released twelve singles in one year, every one of which made the Top 40. To what extent they were trailblazing pioneers would not become clear until 23 years later, it seems, as the monthly release schedule is very much a thing in the here and now in 2015.

Oh Wonder are one of the artists embarking on such a project. “Technicolour Beat” is, the month we’re in being March, their third release of the year. If it wasn’t for the fact that its two predecessors were somewhere north of pretty decent, the extreme loveliness of Technicolour Beat might present me with something of a problem.

Allow me to explain: if you’re going to release twelve songs in one year, you probably don’t want to be peaking a quarter of the way through. Ideally you want to work in ebbs and flows, but without creating a peak that is as obvious with foresight as it is in hindsight. “Technicolour Beat” could be one of several peaks, a series of highs even, with its consummate restraint and constant holding back. Its smallness is remarkable in an age of big synth and showy statement pieces, and while it builds as it goes, it goes about its development quietly. Beautiful… beautiful.

And I feel life for the very first time
Love in my arms and the sun in my eyes
I feel safe in the 5am light
You carry my fears as the heavens set fire

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New music playlist 2015//09

Last week was, yet again, bursting with quality. February has been a good month, for sure.

New music playlist 2015//09 sees return appearances on RRP from Lanks and Life in Film, the first but unlikely to be the last appearance from FMLYBND as they hit their straps one sixth of the way through their “new-release-each-month” schedule for 2015, slinky excellence from Max And The Moon, music to dream by from Meeka Kates and Nicholas James Mallins, as well as high voltage new releases from Bad Wave, Swiss Lips and Lois & The Love. And a whole bunch more.

Enjoy!

Andrea Balency – Waterfalls

Andrea Balency is a Franco-Mexican artist, singer, instrumentalist and producer. In 2014 she wrote her debut EP Walls in Paris; she now lives and records in London. On “Waterfalls” Balency already sounds more confident and assured, with a new depth and maturity to the production and her vocals. As the song snakes through to its conclusion, each of the separate elements come together perfectly; “Waterfalls” is a rich and beguiling introduction to an artist on the rise.

“Waterfalls” is taken from the Volcano EP, out on March 16th via Bataille. Pre-order the EP from iTunes HERE.

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