Last two weekends I was in France, which is why I’ve skipped a couple of my regular music posts. While I was there, I read the French edition of Elle, which seemed keen to undermine the stereotype that French people are fashionable, by advocating “urban pirate” as a key look for Autumn; and to undermine stereotypes about French gastronomy with an article on “bread sushi,” which turns out to be a salade nicoise in a bap. The cover story was an interview with Louane, a French pop star I hadn’t previously heard of. The interviewer brought up Taylor Swift on a number of occasions, and Louane’s professionally noncommittal answers to questions about nuit debout made me think she might indeed be a French Taylor Swift. Sadly, her music lacks most of the character that makes Swift so compelling; Louane makes a conventionally bombastic pop-rock that seems to have been fashionable in Europe for as long as I can remember. At her best, she’s pretty good at it, as on the title track of her album Chambre 12; and another track, “Alien,” sounds quite a bit like tATu, so she’s got that going for her.
New Britney! “Clumsy” kind of sounds like an EDM version of the title music for Wynonna Earp, which is an appropriate sound for a Britney song where she dares to be unapologetically messy. I’d be interested in thinking some more about the specifics of messyness (which is a pose Britney’s struck before, but is certainly not universal in her work), and in particular how unapologetic messyness differs from the unapologeticness of the “no fucks given” attitude that Rihanna inhabits (and does so well on Anti).
New (ish) Cher Lloyd! This song has grown on me a lot since I first heard it; what really repays multiple listens is the combination of exasperation and fragility in how Lloyd delivers the chorus.
New JoJo! More source material for a theory of unapologeticness as articulated through the medium of bangers. Wiz Khalifa is perfectly fine on this (has Wiz Khalifa ever been anything other than perfectly fine?)
New Dreezy album! I thought Schizo was her first album, but apparently it was a mixtape, and No Hard Feelings is her first actual album. It’s very good, cementing Dreezy’s position as the squishy-hearted badass of Chicago rap. I particularly like “We Gon Ride.”
Lover is a Norwegian R&B singer; I like the insecurity in his voice in the bridge on “Look What I Got,” which sadly is resolved into the unpleasant presentation of a woman as a trophy in the chorus.
So Below‘s self-titled EP is a strong contributor to the ongoing stealth trip-hop revival.
It’s not entirely easy to find out information about a singer called “Calypso,” which is rather unfair on Calypso Brown, whose given name is indeed (as far as I can tell) Calypso. Her EP (called, in a further blow to googleability, Calypso) is worth tracking down, particularly for “Hunting” (which gains early goodwill by beginning with the bassline from “With Every Heartbeat”).
I have a nagging feeling there’s a specific song Starrah’s “Rush” reminds me of; certainly, it brings to mind a minor genre of twinkly, slightly spacey, slightly melancholy R&B that I really like.
Classixx are a production duo who have done remixes for bands such as Phoenix, and perhaps their connection to that milieu explains why their album Faraway Reach includes various indie singers like How to Dress Well and Passion Pit; frankly I’m not sure why such mediocre singers are the vocalists in their own projects, let alone in other people’s. The (uncredited, as far as I can see) backing vocalist on the title track suits the disco-house feel of their album much better, as does the vocal-less “Grecian Summer.”
Possibly the first band I was ever a serious fan of was Sunscreem; they’re certainly the band I stan-ed for hardest in their day (I even somewhere have a white label they released under an assumed name when label troubles prevented them from releasing new music, and I have no interest in vinyl as a medium, nor, for most the time I’ve owned the record, have I had any way to play it). So I feel particularly embarrassed that I’ve only just discovered they released a new album last year (their first since Change or Die in 1996). On perhaps rather flimsy evidence, I always connected the band with the post-CJB political afterlife of the UK rave scene, things like the anti-roads protests and Reclaim the Streets. Certainly, there’s an anger and apocalypticism to songs like “Love U More” and “Exodus” that still to me has the texture of the smothering of political possibilities in the mid 90s. Their new album, Sweet Life, is more relaxed: a satisfied and middle-aged Sunscreem. I don’t know that I’m especially satisfied, and I’m not yet middle aged, but I guess I’m old enough to look pretty benignly on both.
Finally, a good week for generic EDM with the release of the trailer for Netflix’s rave road movie XOXO, which looks kind of terrible but in a way that I’m pretty into? The soundtrack for that trailer, Michael Brun and Allison Louie’s “All I Ever Wanted” does that neat trick of sounding even more like you’ld think the soundtrack to a film like this would sound than any song you could actually imagine. Also sounding more generic than you could possibly imagine is new (ish) song from Vicetone and Cosi Zuehlsdorff, “Nevada.”