Laleh’s album, Me and Simon (2009), shines with pure pop energy and good fun. There are no experimental edges for avant pop lovers, yet there are enough memorable melodies and clever hooks to keep your attention. Iranian-Swedish artist Laleh crafts vibrant pop songs, sweet lullabies and ballads, sung mostly in English with the occasional French and Persian (not to be confused with Arabic) ear candy. Laleh’s stand-out track and my personal favourite is “Simon Says”. With its lovely arrangements, subtle multi-layered vocals and playful lyrics, this one you will carry and hum for the rest of the day.
French pianist and composer Albin de la Simone is best known for his collaborations with Jeanne Cherhal, Vanessa Paradis and Keren Ann. Although Un Homme (2013) is his fourth solo album, de la Simone is still relatively anonymous among contemporary French chansonniers. His lyrics are clever and his melodies engaging, but what makes de la Simone stand out is his voice and remarkable subtle string and piano arrangements. “Moi Moi”, featured below, is a delightful duet with the lovely Emiliana Torrini.
Elegant songwriting with a dose of whimsy. Albin de la Simone & Emiliana Torrini – Moi Moi Albin de la Simone – Le Fuite + Purchase/Visit
Sometimes a catchy remix is made better by a fabulous video. Australian duo Yolanda Be Cool & Dcup’s “We No Speak Americano” has easily found its way into the dance clubs and discos across Europe. Up and Over It are a professional Irish duo who are looking to redefine Irish Dance by mixing it up with Euro-Pop and French Folk. Lucky for us, this collaboration means creating a video full of complex jazz hand stunts and choreographed table slapping. Look for upcoming tour dates on Up and Over It’s Facebook. Yolanda Be Cool & DCup are currently on tour in Australia; peep their myspace for dates. (Tune found and words by Brandon Merritt)
I promised myself I’d listen to 2005′s Toujours le meme film whenever I wanted to recall the accomplishments of the downtempo movement. The album, (over)produced by Paul Nawrata aka Urbs, is so complicated that it evokes emotions far beyond where current downtempo can reach. His aesthetic sophistication is impressive, creating a new motto that less is, actually, never more. And because his effortless groove never sounds congested, we are left with not mere beats, but life stories, spanning more than one time frame.
Let me go where you take me – childhood’s hour of bewildering delight. Pause only for concerns lasting moments already forgotten; where radiant lights and sounds shimmer haphazard perfections into play. Harmonious adventures subsisted by slight twitter, and glitter, of prepared flitter upon piano strings; riding waves in a carousel’s jubilee. Volker Bertelmann‘s forthcoming Ferndorf (Distant Village) unlocks uncharted passages. Ivory may tiptoe along veiled paths, as violins portray swaying leaves, and barely visible electronic trees branch recognition. His memories unravel beside nourishing cellos in a summer’s gala dream.
Given that he hails from a country where the sun barely sets during the summer months, it’s not hard to understand how Norwegian producer and artist Bjørn Torske was able to create Feil Knapp, an engaging collection of blissful summer electronica. “Møljekalas” dabbles in bright island-esque percussion over an underbelly of melodic synthesized beats. “Hatten Passer” is more true to Torske’s DJ background: a deep pulsating bass line laced with dubby twists and playful whistling.
With a name that translates to “little boy”, you can expect to be surprised by this Brazilian’s music. Curumin will open a song with your traditional brazilian instrumentation – sprinkles of ganza, strums of the cavaquinho, and rubs of the cuíca – but he’ll then roll in his octave-dipping synth bass and his wide ass-shaking beats. He expertly brings together 1970s funk and the hash haze of São Paulo street music, all set to a modern, accessible beat. Curumin’s debut, Achados e Perdidos, was just released on Quannum, DJ Shadow’s side label that also houses Lyrics Born, Apsci, and Blackalicious. [via] Baile, bossa and a healthy dose of straight-up bounce.
At the Fringe venue where I work most summers, the name Gwyneth Herbert has always lurked deep in the music program, and this year I finally decided to check her out. This is what I wrote about the show at the time:
She is stop-you-in-your-tracks, shoot-you-in-the-face fantastic. Her lyrics are tight, her voice elegant, her manner onstage masterful; and it was all backed up by some really superb guitar by Al Cherry.
These tracks are from her latest LP, Between Me And The Wardrobe, which has just been picked up by Blue Note UK. They’re full of beautifully sparse instrumentation over which her vocals get to really gleam and shine. Do yourself a favour and buy the album.
What the nascent polish jazz group Muzykoterapia has already mastered is bringing the fun and dynamicism of live music to the studio, while maintaining a modicum of post-production that keeps your brain as busy as your body. In “Haunting Love”, vocalist Iza Kowalewska dominates a vamping piano, slathering on a sultry flavor while each rimshot bitchslaps your pleasure center. Raising the energy level, the MZT remix of Roman Two sets a fire in the lounge hall and expects your sweat to extinguish the flames.
Legendary Serge Gainsbourg’s works have been interpreted, sampled, re-recorded and used as inspiration by countless talented artists. Focusing on the dance floor enjoyment, French producer, musician and DJ, Minimatic a.k.a. Pascal Houpert remixes “Chez Les Yé-Yé’s”, celebrating his fatal love for stylish tunes and retro soul-funk. Reworking the 80′s music, Minimatic’s cover of successful A-ha’s synth-pop hit “Take On Me” is more about finesse: laid-back grooves of the beach and the sunny coast, smooth arrangements, sleazy hints and romance. [via]