As the festive season approaches it’s time to stock up on some cool tracks before you resign yourself to the Christmas playlist. So, just to tide you over until the Pogues and Shakin’ Stevens inevitably dominate your life, here’s PearShaped’s five recommended oddball tracks for the fortnight: put your ear to the Listening Post.
1. Part Potawatomi – Jenny Gillespie
One of only a handful of artists signed to feminist record label, Narooma Records, Jenny Gillespie is a profoundly talented singer-songwriter. Her oeuvre Part Potawatomi is a vision; the string-based instrumental element is simple but impeccably constructed, placing perfect emphasis on each chord and melody. Gillespie’s airy vocals range from a delicate vulnerability to a casual masculinity in such a way that the song needn’t have lyrics – just listening to the sound of her voice is entertainment enough. The lyrics aren’t too sophisticated but their simplicity contributes to the back-to-basics, this-is-how-it’s-done folk style of the piece. When you’re heading home for the Christmas season, this song should be your go-to for staring out the train window.
2. Blind (feat. Emmi) – Feder
French DJ Feder has released this, a splendid new electro output which features the vocals of Taylor Swift-endorsed Emmi. Blind gives us a 101 class in European electro; Emmi’s stunning voice meanders from intense singing to deranged asides and masterfully blends into Feder’s production. Feder’s previous single, Goodbye, had me hooked at the beginning of autumn and Blind uses the same guitar-heavy element to achieve this crazily addictive sound. The lyrics are pretty generic but I adore some of the more colloquial excerpts which I’m impressed are in there – Emmi’s line “That was straight dumb of me” alone is a moment of beauty. Thoroughly recommended.
3. Notorious – Malaa
OK, I reposted this track on SoundCloud the other day and my friend messaged me asking “What have you become?”, and I think that was quite an appropriate response. But, I have to admit, Malaa’s sinister house piece, Notorious is very listenable. From the production’s climactic beat to the sample lyrics which are frequently injected into the mix, Notorious radiates confidence. Malaa is signed to Tchami’s new label, Confession, and his new track possesses the same utilitarian feel to a Tchami song – its thorough intensity is just as effective in my morning routine as it is in a warehouse.
4. Sincerely Yours – Asha
New Jersey has presented a real gift to the world with rapper, Asha. Her face takes serenity to a whole new level, you can imagine her just walking around the neighbourhood or eating cereal all day between writing songs. This same calm permeates from her music, particularly in Sincerely Yours. With a lazy bass guitar behind a production boasting a sumptuous reverb aspect, the listener melts into the experience of hearing this song. Beyond the backing, which mixes traditional hip-hop and blues, Asha’s flow is admirable and further amplifies that laid back, natural feel of Sincerely Yours.
5. Be Your Girl (DX7 Rerub) – Kindness
Experimental funk/soul genie, Sam Bainbridge, is back with a sumptuous rework of Teedra Moses’ R&B piece, Be Your Girl, and it’s quite something. The original track was pretty cool (I gave it the obligatory check-up to see if a rework was warranted) mixing absolute textbook R&B vocals with an instrumental dominated by a stripped back hip-hop beat accented by luscious funk guitar and intense, raw lyrics. Kindness’ re-imagined version of the track is subtle but truly faultless – it’s very hard to pull off the R&B remix. Moses’ vocals are left almost totally intact via some deft alterations (the odd pause is omitted), but the backing’s where Bainbridge really works his magic. The hip-hop beat is faded and slightly echoed, taking the emphasis away from it while maintaining its structural importance to the track. The funk guitar is brought to the forefront and loosened up to give a more care-free, creative feel which tastefully compliments the vocals. Finally the R&B element is pumped up by an ever-present keyboard. Thumbs up to Kindness – one of the best reworks I’ve heard this year.
Check out our PearShaped Playlist for Listening Post #7 below.