SZA – Julia


There is a lot to say about SZA; she is sort of R&B in a way that The Weeknd is R&B. I have previously referred to her as female version of Tom Krell, that still holds when considering her earlier releases, like the beautiful “Country” which builds on a clear yet subtle Empire Of The Sun sample. “Ice.Moon” was a track that certainly got my attention and after that there was no doubt of what a wonderful gifted musician she is. Her second EP S, released earlier this year, further substantiated this impression. The EP included the brilliant “Aftermath”, which sound and production wise could’ve easily fitted on Miguel’s Kaleidoscope Dreams, and the first version of “Castles” that contained a sample from Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”. The track was later unfortunately taken down, almost certainly due to legal concerns. No matter, a new version is up now and it’s almost equally good. Up to that point, everything she’s done seemed effortless, filled with quirky creativity yet very much rooted in pop.

Yesterday it was announced that SZA signed to TDE (Top Dawg Entertainment), home of Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q and Jay Rock to name a few. So we don’t have to worry, she’s in good company. In addition to the announcement, a new Felix Snow and Dave Free produced track was premiered titled “Julia”. It is by far her most pop oriented to date, working almost like an 80’s R&B-pop (think Janet Jackson and you’re not far off), and even though it’s a bit less effortless and experimental, it’s just as good as anything she’s released beforehand (and as usual, the album cover is strikingly beautiful).

“Julia” is expected to be a part of her next EP titled Z.

The Weeknd – Love In The Sky


As much as I write about and reference other acts to his music, I haven’t yet posted anything of The Weeknd’s new material. That is up until now. “Love In The Sky” is the third track that his premiered of his upcoming new album titled Kiss Land, not counting his lovely remix of Kavinsky’s “Odd Look”.  While none of his new material matches the highlights of Trilogy, “Love In The Sky” is my favorite of the bunch. Listen to it and his previous singles that we’ve been too lazy posting.

Oceaán – Neéd U


America has given us How To Dress Well, The Weeknd and Autre Ne Veut. Now the UK is playing catch-up with the former Jessie Ware drummer Dornik dropping the beautiful “Something About You” a few weeks back, and presented below is Manchester’s Oceaán, who make excellent use of his Tom Krell-esque falsetto over a minimalistic, almost tech house style arrangement that takes me back to the heydays of Kompakt Records. The appeal of “Neéd U” rests on the allusive, gentle harmonies that make a huge contrast to the soulful vocals. These are the same traits that make How To Dress Well such a gripping listen.

“Neéd U” is only the second release from Oceaán, following last year’s even scanter and less accessible “Haze”. Don’t know much about who’s releasing it, or if its self-released, but no question that this is a talented individual.

Ghost Loft – Seconds


Ghost Loft’s new single “Seconds” is a refreshingly original mixture of glossy samples, lush indie vocals and deeb reverberated r&b-beats. Danny Choi, the one man army behind Ghost Loft has obviously got a great talent of balancing wide-ranging influences into three minutes of accessible pop sensibilities. “Seconds” has one foot in the former chillwave movement, with an aesthetic resembling Washed Out and Neon Indian, while the other lies in the same pool as the reborn r&b scene (How To Dress Well, The Weeknd even Burial). The demo of “Seconds” has flourished the net for a while now, but it now got  a final make-over and a haunting video to accompany it.

Autre Ne Veut – Play by Play


Instant Classic

A year or two back, R&B was one of the few genres I couldn’t care less about, but The Weeknd’s House Of Balloons changed my narrow perception of what R&B had to offer in terms of novelty. Apparently, I was not the only one that appreciated R&B’s new sense of flair. During the course of 2012, the genre exploded big and wide on the indie scene, mostly due to Frank Oceans debut album, followed by How To Dress Well’s Total Loss. The Weeknd managed to squeeze in a couple of more releases and even old R&B traditionalists like Usher sounded fresh again. Perhaps the most exiting of them all was Autre Ne Veut’s “Counting(#15 on IFM’s 2012 list), a beautifully lush creation with an utterly compelling chorus – stuck on repeat ever since. His newly released second single titled “Play By Play”, is if possible even more stunning than its predecessor. There’s about three minutes of intense build-up with blazing 80’s retro synthesizers and percussions floating in and out, twisting and morphing its way until the song explodes into a huge theatrical refrain. The chorus keeps repeating itself for half the song, leaving the listener spellbound to Arthur Ashin’s earthshaking voice, as smooth and sexual as anything Prince could have recorded. Autre Ne Veut’s debut, Anxiety is out on the 26th of February and could well become rather spectacular.

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Magic Fades – #1 – P.O.L.


Magic Fades is a new outfit based in Portland, USA. Their music is as contemporary as electronic r&b gets these days. There are the obvious short pitched vocal samples, the deep bass, distinctive snare drums and layers after layers of samples and blurry sounds. What make Magic Fades unique are the samples itself. Normally when you listen to How To Dress Well, Burial, The Weeknd or others alike it’s pretty hard to distinguish the original source, conversely Magic Fades uses very recognizable 90’s super commercial hits as the pillar of their melodic arrangements. On first single, “Obsession” they utilized samples from Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy is Mine” and on this new cut they use Enigma’s classic Gregorian chanting pop monster, “Sadness” – and it works pretty damn good we must admit.

Magic Fades is a breeze of fresh air, and is seemingly doing exactly what they like: “There is no running concept or theme….we read a lot  of interviews with people talking about ‘re-contextualizing beats/samples/lyrics/vibes’, we are not thinking about it in that way. We just get together and make what we like.” – They told in a recent article. I’m inspired.

Their debut album Obsession is out on January 8th

Autre Ne Veut – Counting


Instant Classic

The name may sound French but Autre Ne Veut is a 30-years old Brooklyn-based bedroom musician named Arthur Ashin. His music is kind of a post-R&B, bedroom-lo-fi mix mash, not far off from the likes of How To Dress Well and The Weeknd. “Counting” is a very beautifully crafted emotional piece of work that gives great hope for his forthcoming album, Anxiety. In a recent interview Ashin told that the album nod toward 80s pop, soul and R&B and will be out on February 12 on Joel Ford’s Software label. Continue reading