By Adam Robinson
The London based PC Music label churns out surreal happy-hardcore dance-pop music with such effortless ease and skill it is enough to make you forget what kind of music you are actually listening to. Those of you who don’t like high-pitched singers may want to skip this one as the pitch distortion verges on becoming comically cartoonish or insidiously unhuman sometimes. Danny L. Harle (one of the founders) is a classically trained musician who wanted to create something which took both elements from his musical training and from the catchy club anthems of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. The result of which is this, relatively calm compared to some others such as GFOTY (Girlfriend of the Year), song set in a snowy forest with a quasi-alien light show to boot. I’d recommend you to try and look at some of the other songs on the collective label too as there is something for everyone (especially for those of you who want to try something new and original). PC music could be the millennial’s version of Pop Art in sonic form with its overemphasis upon the material (with sarcastic undertones) and the sterile but layered textures which feature in many of their songs. The overall result is a familiar sound that comes across as silly but something excitingly different.
Vince Staples made his name last year featuring on the epic Gorillaz come-back album and blends the hyper-realism, which borders on the avant-garde, of PC music with his own hip/hop and Detroit techno style. The album on which this song was featured was a huge collaboration project with big names appearing, in both production, lyric writing and vocals, such as: SOPHIE, Flume, A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar and GTA. It received a huge amount of critical acclaim which makes me wonder why it hasn’t been popular in this country more. I’ll shut up about PC music now but it is good trust me because it keeps self-propagating itself into other genres like an infectious disease of inspiration.
This is a real fresh one for you. Coming from literally nowhere, MorMor opens with an incredibly strong debut song that he created all by himself. The Pitchfork review of this song does a better job than I ever could in describing this song. One thing they failed to mention however is how sophisticated the song is and yet comes across as so casual. It nods to Lynchian film tropes with its erratic style and trademark scream, its use of a vintage film which is reminiscent of dream-pop, religious imagery and London Grammar-esque urban-fantasy. Plus, the video is just beautiful. No arguing, it just is. It makes you long for Spring.
Remember that scene in Interstellar where Matthew McConaughey does something stupid and somehow falls into the in-between space of dimensions and time, or something along those lines (a physics student would probably be better at describing it than I am); well, I would imagine this is what it would sound like. Minimalism is often mistaken to be boring and plain. However, in music, you can get epic landscapes and dramatic narratives without ever having to use your voice. While the obvious choice for soundtracking a fall into a black hole would be something like this (which is beautiful in its own right as well) Ecco is something bolder and more tangible. Less is more sometimes.
I’ve never been one for folk or country. I think it’s from seeing too many caricatures of hill-billy types growing up watching the Simpsons. But every now and then I will catch one which I like and I’ll reconsider all those distasteful red-neck stereotypes in my head. Iron & Wine is one of them and funnily enough, he comes from Durham just like the rest of us. Though it’s in North Carolina, not the North East. The songs guitar melody and Sam Beam’s soft voice as he sings: “So may the sunrise bring hope / where once it was forgotten” are just instant portals to some cosy bed or hillside lodge with a veranda.
Lykke Li’s recent cover song of Jim Croce sounds a lot like Dolly Parton. The Swedish art-pop singer, who is often compared to Florence Welch, has done what Gaga, Miley Cyrus and Kesha have done in the previous year with their return to classic country songs. It is not the worst decision and while it has come across as cheesy to some audiences, Lykke Li’s contribution is stunning. Her usual signature voice of raw wailing has refrained slightly in this song with its harmonisation and it is a pleasant detour. If you like this cover you may like her cover of Fleetwood Mac’s song Silver Springs (my all-time favourite song and in my opinion the cover is better than the original).
This darkwave/witch house is full of gloomy sounds and footage of what looks like a tornado which disturbingly rips apart the house across the street and possibly the house of the unfortunate soul holding the camera halfway through. It’s a trademark symbol of witch/house producers to include unsettling gothic imagery in their music videos but this one is especially powerful.
This classic needs no introduction. Drag queens, queer identity, murder, drugs and rock and roll. At 17 minutes long it is a memorable track. Like I said it is a song and a band which have been talked about endlessly, so I won’t repeat what has already been said. However, if you have been living under a rock for the past 50 years, this is a nice introduction to an iconic band.
Anyone else fed up with the cold wet weather yet? If not and you’re a hopeless romantic who enjoys the downpour and mist then you may like this 1980’s hit. In a very funny video where Annie Lennox struts around the cliffs of Dover like a lost Brontë sister trying to catch tuberculosis. The video ruins it for me but the song is perfect. If you do go out dancing in the rain might I suggest you wear more than Lennox’s nightgown since you might actually catch more than a cold.
I found this song while looking at the portfolio of Rino Stefano Tagliafierro who created the famous ‘B E A U T Y’ video in 2014 which made art history nerds (like me) wet themselves. You can see the similarities in Anil Sebastian’s video which Tagliafierro produced. Everything just looks slightly off in a very artsy way. Mixing orchestral pieces with art rock and electronic beats rarely fails and this song though sometimes comes across as disjointed doesn’t disappoint. It is intensely dramatic without (like Lennox) appearing ridiculous.
Illustration: Katie Butler