Listen: Raury, “Cigarette Song”

Raury

Raury: Website | Soundcloud | Facebook

Rising talent Raury has dropped “Cigarette Song” from his forthcoming Indigo Child EP. Beginning with barebones acoustic, it soon blossoms into a soaring, bitter melody before petering out with echoing vocals. This talented prodigy steals the show (his Anti-Tour does just that), boasting a seething charm that’s unseen in newcomers. He’s generating the kind of buzz last seen when The Weeknd dropped his initial mixtapes, which only spells promise. “Cigarette Song” is the next rung on the ladder.

Listen: SBTRKT & Ezra Koenig, “New Dorp, New York”

SBTRKT

Lifted from his second LP Wonder Where We Land (the follow up to 2011′s excellent eponymous début), SBTRKT teams up with Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig for the disjointed, strutting “New Dorp, New York”. With a throbbing bassline, clanging percussion and Ezra’s line-spitting prowess, it’s a surprising single with a hefty dose of swagger – that’ll transport you to the concrete jungle itself.

Listen: Jane Tyrrell, “Wild Waters”

Jane Tyrrell: Website | Soundcloud | Facebook

Melbourne’s Jane Tyrrell impresses on her haunting début effort “Wild Waters”, a river of solemn keys and skimming beats. The refined production is matched by Tyrrell’s equally arresting tones, further adding to the song’s shady, simmering sound. Australia is a supersoaker of impressive newcomers, and Tyrrell is next out of the cannon.

Listen: Mt. Si. “Oh”

Mt Si

Mt. Si.: Bandcamp | Soundcloud | YouTube

Music takes us places, whether it be familiar or exotic, through vivid instrumentals or common sentiments – and if both of those are present, you’ve just found yourself a new favourite song. With shimmering drums that roll like grains of sand and the hazy tones of the featherweight vocal, LA’s Mt. Si. take us to the desert on “Oh”.

“Oh”‘s elements combine to create something open and vast, as if it were just you, the sand and the sky. In this cooking weather, Mt. Si. deliver a soundtrack of blissful electronica. On a side note: if you’d like all of Mt. Si.’s recordings, you’ll need some technical expertise and a thousand dollars.

Listen: Vaults, “Lifespan”

Vaults

Vaults: Website | Soundcloud | Facebook

Following on from the stellar “Premonitions“, Vaults deliver “Lifespan” – a majestic production that twinkles with bells and beats, driven by an imposing vocal that rivals genre pros Bat for Lashes and Florence & The Machine. Sticking with their eerie, sprawling sound in a comfortable structure – to cut to the chase, it’s superb.

Vaults evoke a feeling of being in a vast, echoing space, bells and synths gently bouncing from surfaces. Their music sounds built to be realised in grandiose settings, as sonically it bears the intricacy and detail of a grand cathedral. “Lifespan” is impressive, but I’m eager to see if the trio’s production will reach magnificent, epic heights.

Listen: Death From Above 1979, “Trainwreck 1979″

Death From Above 1979

Following a 2006 breakup and 2011 reunion, Death From Above 1979 return with their first new material in ten years, “Trainwreck 1979″. It’s a bonafide stomper that blows the speakers ten times over, with furious vocals, relentless guitars and bulldozing drums. The eleventh number on the volume dial was made for songs like this.

The explosive hook screams with nostalgia of late nineties / early noughties punk rock, with an undeniable energy that doesn’t cease until the runtime runs out. Angrily anthemic, Death From Above 1979′s comeback has fulfilled expectation, and then some. Spin the record and crank it up – just hope that your neighbours like this song.

Listen: Slow Magic, “Girls”

Slow Magic

Slow Magic: Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter

Continuing with some feel-good dance music, Slow Magic present “Girls” – an ethereal, twilight slice of coastal electronica fit for after dark moods. Also continuing the trend of producers being elusive and downright mysterious, this artist is self-described as “the sound made by an unknown imaginary friend”. One can only presume that this absorbing instrumental is that sound. Maybe.

Slow Magic embarks on some reverberating, dusky electronica on this one, vocal samples skimming the surface like pebbles on water. It perfectly matches the aesthetic deployed by the artist, of silhouetted mask-donning figures that evoke senses of curiosity and wanderlust. “Girls” is for when the sun goes down.

Listen: Snakehips, “Forever”

Snakehips

Snakehips: Website | Soundcloud | Facebook

Elusive dance duo Snakehips are in the running for anthem of the summer, with the slick, golden “Forever” – a to-the-point firestarter that hones back to classic rhythm and blues with an exotic, energetic twist.

Cruising guitar licks mix with euphoric vocal samples and traditional hip-hop grooves to craft a beach-borne bouncer that doesn’t outstay its welcome. When it fades out, you’ll still want more. Snakehips tease of fiery potential with this sweet, superb production.

Listen: astronomyy, “Nothin On My Mind”

astronomyy

astronomyy: Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook

When it comes to minimalist rhythm and blues, no one’s done it quite as well as newcomer astronomyy in the past year. His trio of standalone music drops wove their way into every written corner of the blogosphere, with an ambiguity and spontaneousness that made the wait worthwhile. Enough with the hit-and-run releases; astronomyy’s gearing up to take the industry by storm.

“Nothin On My Mind”, the first cut from his first “There For U EP”, collects surf guitar licks and sudden beats in a minimalistic production that sprawls outwards for the cut-to-the-chase hook. It’s all driven by a soulful, delicate vocal that carries the song’s weight when the instrumental drifts into an echoing silence.

astronomyy was one of last year’s hottest new talents, generating thousands of fans merely through the act of releasing music and letting it speak for itself, without overblown promotion. The “There For U EP” should see the artist reaching stratospheric levels of recognition. Stay tuned for live dates.

Highlights: May/June

Summer is the festival season, with most artists out on stages rather than in studios – so typically, the new music flow tends to slow… except it hasn’t. Jams are pouring out left, right and centre like a sonic supersoaker, from artists both familiar and fresh. Some exciting music has landed in recent weeks, so here’s my pick of the early summer’s best for you to digest. With your ears. Somehow.


La Roux

La Roux, “Let Me Down Gently”

A five-year hiatus and a man down hasn’t stopped the formidable Elly Jackson from delivering with her solid comeback record. Earlier words:

“”Let Me Down Gently” belongs in a saturated paradise, much like the artwork attributed to it. Beginning with a mesmeric melody that lets Elly do the talking, it washes together in a technicolor bliss. It drops into silence at the halfway mark, before resurrecting into a blooming production that floods the senses with the song’s gripping sentiment. If this is what trouble in paradise sounds like, then I’ll gladly visit more often.”


Mexico City Blondes

Mexico City Blondes, “Fade”

Californian duo Greg Doscher and Allie Thompson arrived from out of the blue with a mesmerising, desert-rock début. Earlier words:

“”Fade” is a swooning desert-western ballad with desolate riffs and hazy drums… they’ve crafted a blazing slow-burner that lounges on a deck chair sat atop a freight train – a sense of slothful composure towed by a loping beat. It’s the perfect tonic for a downbeat summer of piping hot weather and aimless journeying. Mexico City Blondes have kicked the doors down with a song that’s cruising and melancholic.”


Cathedrals

Cathedrals, “Want My Love”

Brodie Jenkins and Johnny Hwin are fast becoming the hottest new duo of the year, “Want My Love” makes sure of that. Earlier words:

“Continuing to showcase their unpredictable experimentation, “Want Your Love” gradually takes off the runway and into the sunset with a warm atmosphere of sonic guitars and intertwining blend of rhythm and blues. It casts a sombre mood that brims with a cruising bass. It’s a fantastic record. Inevitably, they have big things in the pipeline, and this is another fascinating step in that direction.”


Jessie Ware

Jessie Ware, “Tough Love”

Following on from her exceptionally soulful début LP, Jessie Ware has returned with the gauzy “Tough Love”. Earlier words:

“Sonically retuned, “Tough Love” has faint, rebounding synths that shimmer and echo in a pressurised rhythm. It has the potential to explode, but remains restrained throughout, instead rising and deflating through sighing lungs, Ware brooding over candid moments with an effortless transparency…  it’s a promising sign of a sound that continues to flourish and breathe.”


Alt-J

Alt-J, “Hunger Of The Pine”

Mercury Music Prize winners Alt-J have made their intriguing return with the Miley-sampling “Hunger Of The Pine”. Earlier words:

“It’s comforting that [An Awesome Wave's] qualities have blossomed further on This Is All Yours cut “Hunger Of The Pine”. Beginning with Gus’ subtle howl in a hollow soundscape, it slowly layers on brass and percussion, blooming into a charged arrangement that even manages to sneak in a Miley sample. Somehow it all comes together magnificently; it’s arguably part of the band’s appeal – their ability to make sense of inexplicable premises.”


Check back at the end of August for the next issue of Highlights, or stick around for weekly updates. Thanks for reading, enjoy the summer, and catch you later!