Listening Post #10

by Jed Fletcher

As things are getting back to normal, the ecstasy of Christmas and New Year’s dissipates, and 2016 seems more like a hill we have to climb, what better to pick us up than some stellar music, new and old. PearShaped bids you a merry mid-January! Here’s the tenth Listening Post of the year:

1. Matadora – Sofi Tukker

I’m going to start with my favourite new song of 2016 thus far. Arty and elusive, the New York creators of this marvellous track, Sofi Tukker, claim to have sought inspiration for Matadora from a Brazilian poet named Chacal. This is the exact sort of comment that will condemn a great artist to being labelled ‘hipster garbage’ or something along those lines by people who still don’t understand music is a form of art like any other.

In actual fact, the best thing about Matadora is that it walks right up to the border of mainstream electronic music whilst maintaining a vibrant freshness. The distinctive elements of the song are horns not dissimilar to those heard in Martin Solveig’s Intoxicated and sped-up production in line with the sound so famously perfected last year by Mura Musa. But there’s more to the song than the comparisons I can make. It’s totally gripping, with its composition of beats and claps reaching the listener on a visceral level – you can feel the song moving through your veins, affecting your brain and controlling your feet.

2. Paramour – Un Deux

Un Deux is an artist I haven’t made my mind up about yet. His music has often showed promise but I’ve quickly lost patience or become bored. This time, however, the Parisian seems to have got things right. Paramour is off his latest two-track EP and is a minor triumph of progressive house. It’s all there: samples (both clear and distorted), lo-fi percussion, bass (obviously). Classic. What’s really important about this track is its multi-functionalism, at over 6 minutes the song is long enough for its key periods to be integrated easily into a mix, but at the same time Un Deux manages the track’s progression perfectly – this means you don’t get tired or overwhelmed by the repetitive elements.

3. Face To Face – Shields

Initiated by a guitar sequence that hooks you immediately, Face To Face is simply a nice new indie track to sink your teeth into. I haven’t heard of many bands from Newcastle over the last year or so, but I can tell you Shields don’t fit in with those I have heard of. Their music, for me, resembles an enhanced Bastille with better instrumentals and a similar, accessible vocal style. The one area where I think the band could improve would be in polishing up the contrast between their pop interludes within an otherwise firmly indie song – as it stands, the chorus to Face to Face is a bit much when compared to the more carefully assembled instrumental.

4. Jenny – Electric Guest

So, a mate of mine is, like, super into anything funky, so he shared with me this beauty. It has been more than a while since Electric Guest released Jenny but I couldn’t help but include it in this week’s entry. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is going to be a fun, bouncy track just because it’s funk. Jenny is a charming oeuvre, infusing laid-back guitar chords, an excellent bassline, soft vocals and that extra injection of funk which lifts it from being just another rock song to something more. This song goes with just about any activity, from the pre-lash to spring cleaning – I’d recommend a quick download for sure.

5. Nostalgia – Vanessa White

Former Saturdays member, Vanessa White, has ditched her days of corny pop/electronica and turned her solo work towards the same general area as fellow neo-R&B Briton, Nao. White was always one of the more talented Saturdays, vocally, so with Nostalgia we hear a polished and established vocal style which is hard come by these days.

The way the track starts with classic R&B production before blooming into a reverb-abound electro chorus is symbolic of the new direction and newfound purposefulness of White. It didn’t actually register with me who was singing the first time I heard the song – so even if just for interest’s sake, give this one a listen, you might just love it.