It takes a brave man to make music through minimal sound effects and the raw power of his own voice. Before James Blake took such a leap of faith at the end of last year, there was Iain Woods, the man behind Psychologist. And whilst the former basks in his critical acclaim, the latter carries on creating less recognised, yet equally magnificent music. His sound falls somewhere in between two ends of the minimalist spectrum – the bass-driven Blake and the piano-led melodies of Oupa and Perfume Genius.Recorded in a church, Waves Of OK is the first of two EPs released by Psychologist this year and, as a result, each of its five unnerving songs have a real hymnal quality. The standout is Come In Waves, which sees Woods’ voice take centre stage, so distinguishable that the piano and bassy sound effects are just an afterthought. Be sure to explore some other highlights on Psychologist’s Hype Machine page, and watch out for the second EP release later this year, which contains further electronic explorations.
Studying medicine whilst simultaneously launching your hip-hop career is not an enviable task…
“Nu brand flexxx is not just a group, it’s a lifestyle”. So reads the about-box on the group’s Facebook page – an elaborate claim, but one that is justified in the video of their latest release, Spellbound. In a world where rappers have a lot to say for themselves, the message of this drug and Haribo fuelled affair is simple: sit back, relax and take time to enjoy life. With a chilled, hypnotic beat and lyrical flow to match, Spellbound creates the perfect soundtrack for such an occasion. Given their approach to music, Nu Brand have drawn comparisons to Wiz Khalifa, but these guys have been doing their thing for much longer. If any connection is to be made, it should be to Outkast, simply for the variety of material they produce. With a Conservative Party anthem, a poppier ode to London Fashion Week, and more traditional grime tracks backing up Spellbound, all are produced with a touch of style and humour that makes Nu Brand a very interesting prospect.
London label Somethinksounds (an offshoot of cult culture magazine Somethinkblue) is about to storm the Electronic scene with the soon to be released Slow Ground E.P. by wondrously talented Lucky Paul; a new Electronic producer from New Zealand. Though currently residing in the Electronic epicentre of the world, Berlin, Paul has been on
Our little island may be a long way from the dancehalls of Jamaica…
From somewhere amidst the chubby cheeks and impressive moustache comes Nathaniel Rateliff’s voice, unique in its ability to both soothe and arrest the listener. His endearing demeanour coupled with an original brand of Americana-Folk makes Mr. Rateliff instantly likeable. Since his album In Memory Of Loss came out last year, he’s been gradually acquiring a committed following, including self-proclaimed drinking partner Marcus Mumford and Led Zeppelin legend Robert Plant. Shroud and You Should’ve Seen The Other Guy are brilliantly crafted songs and deserve greater recognition. The latter in particular, an ode to his grandfather, showcases Rateliff’s vocal range and heartfelt lyrics. The Denver songsmith is a breath of fresh air in a folk scene which can often be criticised for taking itself a bit too seriously.
Yesterday, sonic chameleon Travis Stewart (aka Machinedrum and one half of Sepalcure) tweeted the sounds of star pupil Will Johnson (Youngteam) from The New School in New York. Taking influences from Samiyam, Bonobo, Boxcutter and of course both of Travis Stewart’s projects, 19 year old protégé Youngteam has climbed aboard the fast moving ship of loose Garage in a vast ocean of Electronic music. Being a guitarist has pushed his sound into new quarters, with track Seasondeux fusing an acoustic guitar riff with ambient chords, spaced-out arpeggiators and rolling drum hits, in a similar vain to Mount Kimbie. The track is utterly absorbing and we can only dare you to listen below and not get pulled into its nebulous atmosphere. Lets hope we get more of the same in the coming months.
By now, every Hip-hop head in the world should be well versed with the movementsof OFWGKTA, a young collective of L.A. rappers/skaters, steered from the front by 19 year old luminary shepherd Tyler the Creator. Within this extraordinarily talented pack are two wolves, Hodgy Beats and Left Brain, entertaining a shared vision of laidback and upbeat Hip-hop vibes, hence their name MellowHype. Left Brain’s beat science melts dream pads with fresh coast drum hits, whilst Hodgy provides the L.A. flow and sharp wit to make this a truly righteous duo. In fast-paced Odd Future style, they released two albums in 2010 and will also be releasing Numbers, their debut album on Odd Future Records, later this year. You can download YelloWhite and BlackenedWhite for free here, and watch this space for more updates on the next big thing to storm out of the Odd Future house of Hip-hop. Below we’ve posted a track off their YelloWhite album and an exclusive live performance of 65, a track off future releaseNumbers.
Defining himself as both a rapper and a graphic designer, it is no surprise that DELS’ productions marry these talents. Trumpalump, with its accompanying music video and ‘Quiet Remix’, is the best example of this artistic union. The song is all about blurring boundaries, both lyrically – between the idea of dreaming and reality, and musically – through two contrasting beats, one discordant, one catchy and soothing. In the song’s video, DELS explores the boundaries of reality with a set of half monochrome, half colour. This artistic trickery is given greater insight in the ‘making of’ video and certainly demonstrates his commitment to having visual lyrics. The final complement to the Trumpalump release is Joe Goddard’s ‘Quiet Remix’, featuring master of calm Hip-hop, Ghostpoet. Here, the trio focus on the smoother sounds of the original to produce a dreamy end-product, well worth a listen. With the debut album Gobs hitting the shelves last month, and the June release of another Joe Goddard collaboration, now would be the time to investigate this multi-talented musician.
Even the most ardent followers of underground music need a powerhouse of a pop song to sing in the shower. For those looking for something more contemporary and guilt-free than Diana Ross or Whitney Houston, the answer can be found in Kyla La Grange’s indie-pop anthem Walk Through Walls. It’s certainly not a conventional career path for a Cambridge Philosophy graduate, but with a voice so strong and compelling it was a risk worth taking. With a catchy chorus and impressive vocal range shown in the numerous “Wooohoooo”s throughout, it is easy to see why the single has been lauded by Radio 1′s Huw Stephens and Rob Da Bank. If you like what you hear, listen to Vampire Smile, also available as a free download and equally appropriate for those shower sing-a-longs.