Listening Post #6

by Emily Pratten

1. Years & Years - Memo

Years & Years have been dropping new tracks left, right, and centre at the moment, what with the release of the Desire Remixes EP as well as an All We Are rework, and a feature on the new Tourist track, Illuminate. Memo is the B Side to new single, Desire, and it really is absolutely beautiful. It’s much slower and far more chilled out than their usual upbeat, high-tempo dance tracks, and is reminiscent of earlier song, Eyes Shut. It’s piano-led and front man, Olly Alexander’s angelic vocals seem to be getting better and better. The track is emotional and raw and remains catchy, there’s an atmosphere throughout which is truly captivating. I would argue that it’s one of their best tracks to date, and their live session at Maida Vale for Radio 1 earlier this week showcased the song’s incredibly chilled out but powerful vibe. The band said it was a song forgotten about and then reworked, and thank God they did.

2. Billy Who - I Clean My Face

Despite it’s slightly odd name, this track is also a killer one. We have been gifted yet another treat from Scandinavia in the form of Billy Who, a largely unknown artist who dropped this track very recently on her Soundcloud. It’s moody and drowsy and her soft, velvety vocal lulls in and out, draping lazily over slow moving synths and basic percussion. There’s no doubt it’ll be stuck in your head, and it would be no stranger on an old Banks EP.

3. Osca - Trumpet

Osca’s debut EP, Blood, was released this week and it has been worth waiting for. They did an incredible job supporting Rhodes in Hackney earlier this month and their new material is very good indeed. In places they sound very much like One Republic and Coldplay, bands I am not a huge fan of, but somehow it works really wonderfully and his voice is soft and emotive. Neither singer-songwriter nor pop music, this indie alternative band definitely deserve a listen. Trumpet is the slowest track on the EP, but I very much enjoy the way it slowly builds and we get treated to some interesting guitar work and some very good production towards the end. I would definitely recommend purchasing the entire EP, I could have very easily put every single track on the Listening Post this week if I’m honest.

4. Charli XCX ft. Simon Le Bon - Kingdom

Following the release of the latest film in The Hunger Games series this week, it makes sense to put a song from the hotly anticipated soundtrack on the Listening Post. It was incredibly hard to pick just one; the Lorde-curated soundtrack features a milieu of big names, such as Chvrches, Major Lazer, The Chemical Brothers, Ariana Grande, Tove Lo, Haim, and Bat For Lashes. I have selected this track by Charli XCX because it is perhaps the most delicate and soft on a soundtrack that features many heavy basslines and fast-paced movements, such as in the epic Meltdown, or the lead single, Yellow Flicker Beat by Lorde herself. It’s an angsty, punchy, synth-filled, bass-heavy soundtrack for the most part, with a few quieter moments, such as this one. Kingdom opens with an intricate piano riff and Charli’s vocal is really rather beautiful, it almost sounds like it could be a Christmas carol or hymn at the beginning. Strings come into play halfway through the first verse and her voice is echoey and layered. As more layers are added to the song, a bassline of percussion comes in and the track grows and grows in depth; it’s really, really nice to listen to. It’s interesting and expertly produced, and it’s both an excellent pop track and a delicate classical moment.

5. Rae Morris - Under The Shadows

2014 has been a huge year for Rae Morris, and every song she releases just makes her loyal fanbase more and more excited for her debut album, which is set to be released in January next year. Zane Lowe premiered this new track on Radio 1 and it was an instant sensation. Her husky honey-like vocal is incredible as always, and the chorus is spine-tingling, it’s that good. Her voice is incredibly powerful, and the harp-like sounds combined with catchy piano riffs and strong echoing percussion make this song really quite epic in places. It’s very different to the stripped down, slower Don’t Go, but it’s proof that Rae is a multi-faceted artist. There’s a lot more going on here in terms of the number of instruments used and the quicker tempo, but it remains relatable and beautiful and honest. It’s really quite sensational.