Listening Post #7

by James Hitchings-Hales

I have just completed my degree in English Literature. This is another way of saying that I’m finally caught up on Game Of Thrones. In what feels like a totally unspectacular anti-climax, I’m being forced to look towards the future, where imminent graduate unemployment goes hand-in-hand with impending alcoholism and a ravaged bank account. But all hope is not lost, friends! Sure, it’s unlikely David Cameron will be on the phone any time soon asking for an emergency literacy criticism of Hamlet, but the lack of enforced Sparknotes research means that I can finally start doing the things I love once again. Which brings us to this week’s chosen tracks.

As per usual, it’s all brand new stuff from emerging artists. Since you’re probably reading this with the thoughts of Eurovision fresh in the memory, I thought I’d throw a curveball or two in there too. So expect some variety. This week, we’ve featured the saviour of hip-hop, a Japanese one-man-band, and an accountant turned producer who shatters genres as totally as dissertations ruin self-esteem. Apologies to the fantastic new stuff from First Aid Kit, tUnE-yArDs Laurel, LAYLA, and Together Pangea. Better luck next time. And if you’re on the look out for an album, you should definitely give The Amazing Snakehead’s LP, Amphetamine Ballads, a listen; a Glaswegian melting pot of Alex Harvey’s energy and Nick Cave’s lyrical seduction. Also a sincere ‘please try harder’ to the insanely talented Kimbra, whose latest effort unfortunately made me squirm. Let us begin.

1. Raury - Sunshine

This kid is going to be huge. In the record that propelled him to global internet attention, God’s Whisper, he claimed to be the saviour of music. He refuses attachment to any definition, refuting that he’s a rapper despite clear similarities to Kendrick Lemar’s early mixtapes. His vocal is soulful, echoing across beats that resonate under sounds that often stem from an acoustic guitar, such as his first uploaded track, Bloom. His latest effort, Sunshine, vibes darkly, almost like something we might expect from Banks. Raury calls out contradictions and claims to be “clever beyond (his) youth”. Full of himself, or sure of his own abilities?

Raury has been working on his debut album, Indigo Child, since the age of 14. In his recent Instagram posts, he’s been dressing up for his High School Prom, sporting a chic cowboy hat over the traditional tux. He’s a perfectionist with influences that flirt between Phil Collins and Andre 3000, and with a vision to change the world starting with his stagnated Atlanta community. Something special? I’ll go out there and say most definitely. File under ‘one to watch’.

2. ICHI - Go Gagambo

In the words of the newly reunited Monty Python, it is now time for something completely different. Remember that scene in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang where the Dad tries to pull some extra cash together by performing down the circus with his one-man-band costume on? You know the one, where he has the drums on his back and his tail between his legs. Well, ICHI is kind of like that. Except he sings about a giant mosquito, has a tambourine around his neck, and plays a custom-made banjo with only two strings.

I’m not that familiar with Japanese music. Obviously, I’m no Avril Lavigne when it comes to understanding and appreciating their culture. But I know ‘truly fricking awesome’ when I see it. Sure, the line between ‘awesome’ and ‘weird’ can occasionally be blurred. But I challenge you to listen to this track without immediately wanting to press play again at least four more times. You can have a listen here.

3. Gengahr - Fill My Gums With Blood

Okay, okay, let’s try and be cool again. Gengahr, with absolutely no relation to the Ghost Pokemon of a similar name, hails from the DIY scene in merry old London. The video for their debut single, Fill My Gums With Blood, was charmingly directed by nine year old Nico Smith, who starred in the amateur horror too. Minus their prodigal director, they’re currently supporting Wolf Alice on their UK tour. Bookmark them for some really interesting releases in the not-so-distant future.

You cannot dislike this song. It’s sweet, catchy, easy listening indie rock that lacks edge but promises much for the future. You can’t criticise them, mainly because they are naturally resistant to ‘normal type’ attacking moves. I’ll get my coat.

4. Sabina - Viva L’Amour

I imagine myself listening to this record whilst reading a book and sipping Chai Tea on a New York rooftop. In this fantasy, I’m naked. I don’t entirely know why. I’m chewing absent mindedly on the stem of a rose, as my toes curl around the petals that have fallen to the floor, and I’m pretty sure I’m French.

Sabina Sciubba, the frontwoman of the band Brazilian Girls, released her first solo album, Toujours, a couple of months back. Viva L’Amour embodies pretty much everything that is bohemian about Sabina and her music. The strum of the acoustic guitar rarely changes, and the percussion is regular. But Sabina’s melodic vocals and subtle key changes make Viva L’Amour endlessly fascinating. And the short saxophone break is sexy as hell. You haven’t heard anything like it this week.

5. Bobby Tank - Undone

Our final track today is a tricky one to write about, from full time accountant turned progressive producer, Bobby Tank. I understand the fundamental principles of EDM, and what sounds belong where, but I can’t classify this one. The closest I can get to some kind of accurate description is that it sounds like something off an old Sonic game on Dreamcast that stumbled into the Virgin Galactica offices. It’s groovy, epic, and unique all at once, and the bass guitar will funk you up beyond legible recognition. True to its name, you might not be able to throw a label on it, but feel free to sort it in your collection next to ‘mind-bending electro space-funk’. Or the more simple ‘play this more than once’ tag. Whatever floats your solar-powered rocket boat.