Listening Post #9

by Jed Fletcher

Another year, another heap of Listening Posts to treat yourself to. Wishing you all a fruitful year, here’s some music:

1. Alessia Cara – Here

This song is actually super popular and came out in the first half of 2015, but I only just heard it. The artist, Canadian, Alessia Cara is tipped to be one of the pop scene’s big stars of the coming year – her style infusing an Amy Winehouse-esque sound with a more pop-y feel. Other comments about her music have involved analogies calling her a “dark Ariana [Grande]” and some flattery from Taylor Swift, who incorporated Cara’s Here into one of her performances in the US.

The track itself is really good – a sample from legend Isaac Hayes sets the tone for a quality track, with Cara’s lyrics and vocal performance knocking the song out of the park. It’s about the feeling of being at a party at which you don’t feel at ease – be it due to antisocial tendencies or simply feeling alone around established cliques. Beyond being very relatable for most people, the 19-year-old’s very heartfelt manner of singing transcends our emotions and really superimposes her very feelings onto the listener. If 2016 means more of the likes of this – bring it on, I say!

2. MØ – New Year’s Eve (Vera Loves Vasco Remix)

At the back end of 2014, the Danish queen of Spotify offered a track for us to play on New Year’s Eve – though it’s not exactly a party starter, prompting reflection and a quieter optimism than most holiday-based songs.

This year (or should I say last year) the track has again surfaced, this time altered to better serve a party playlist. By the way I’d like to mention that this track could very well be played throughout the year. The first half of the track keeps intact MØ’s lyrics, simply dipping the sombre production into a tub of glittery synth notes. But the real attraction of this track comes in the height of the remixed instrumental. Nodding in the direction of Nao and Ben Khan (both of whom we’ve seen rise to stardom in the last year), the climaxes demand a pause in the vocal element of the song and take centre-stage with what I’d call fluxes of tribal electro notes. Even in the subtleties like the xylophonic crescendos and bongo samples, this remix booms quality – shame I only got to tell you after the night itself.

3. Sisyphus – Rhythm of Devotion

Another PearShaped writer, Hannah Strode, brought this one to our attention the other day. The group is made up of a madly eclectic mix of Sufjan Stevens, electro artist Son Lux and rapper, Serengeti. The instrumental is somewhat typical of Son Lux’s style of electronic production, but we can still detect some Sufjan Stevens input amongst the sharp keys and epic, drawn-out synths. Serengeti’s contribution is nice; his vocals are used at first to add extra structure to the initially more scattered instrumental, later his short bars are used almost as a sample, finally his and Stevens’ vocals are blended and injected alongside the full production to end this marvellously interesting song by a super cool collaboration act.

4. EMBRZ – Home (feat. Eleni Drake)

This new track from EMBRZ finds itself onto the list this week for two reasons: 1. It’s a cool, enjoyable song 2. I thought it was time EMBRZ made it into the column after threatening to several times during my time at the helm. The Irish producer has been very successful in raking in positive blog reviews and gradually expanding his listener base and came to my knowledge when promoted by Akira Records who have worked with Mt. Wolf and Phoria – qualifying them as a good judge of indie-electro talent.

Home builds up slowly and has a much Poppier sound than I would have expected – that’s not to say it’s a pop song, its roots in ambient electro are still very strong. Eleni Drake’s vocals are very nicely balanced against the instrumental and the instrumental itself isn’t so shabby with pianos and exciting guitar riffs too!