In a way that was always coming, Kendrick Lamar has managed to follow in Nas’ footsteps by dropping off completely following his classic debut. Never Catch Me kind of reminds up what he could do before the Taylor Swift rep and I happened. Flying Lotus is providing jazz fusion made for modern stoners who get high off tightly rhymed death imagery. Life is fragile and a track that couldn’t have happened just a few years ago is even more so.
29 // Alt-J // Hunger Of The Pine
Turns out the main point of Alt-J always was that they knew how irritating they were. Their debut An Awesome Wave overshadows the rather normal new effort but Hunger Of The Pine here rises above the stupid voices and lyrics about triangles. Their most restrained composition, it combines baroque pop with gentle art rock, think Wild Beasts and The xx. Somehow, a Miley Cyrus sample becomes one of the most distinct hooks of the year.
28 // Orange Caramel // Catallena
Orange Caramel is one of Korea’s most famous sub-units, which is an act that features a select number of members from a bigger group. Unlike the forceful sex appeal of After School, Orange Caramel’s trio handle the cutest aspects of different cultures or rather left field concepts. Cattalena, best experienced with its best video of the year, features a retro sound but dashes the retro trends with the most ridiculous playfulness and vocal hooks heard in modern k-pop.
27 // AG Cook // Beautiful
While a whole damn lot of PC Music’s output recreates novelty dance music as bedroom pop, few productions retain the drive of their obvious influences. The bubblegum sweetness of Beautiful has more in common with frenzied hits of Darude or Scooter rather than the vocally driven Whigfield or Vengaboys. If seapunk tried to mock the culture and vaporwave tried to change it, Beautiful accepts it with pills in palms.
26 // Andy Stott // Faith In Strangers
Andy Stott is like a bully at school who will pretend to be tough as nails because his dad is a mechanic and his mother won’t say a word. But deep in his heart he is a cuddly softie who has a pet rabbit who he cuddles every night because it makes him feel like he is the only one who understands. It’s the fear of humanity versus the lust for understanding. Faith In Strangers is Stott’s deepest, most sercet wish. Tune too.
25 // Nicki Minaj // Lookin Ass Nigga
While Nicki Minaj is a mixed bag at the best of times, we can’t help but look forward to what she releases because A: she’s unpredictable and B: she can rap every other bitch off the planet when she wants to. The Pinkprint has a lot going against it. For starters, Lookin Ass Nigga, Minaj’s best since Beez In The Trap, isn’t even going to be on that record. This ain’t pop. It’s the sound of, in her own words, the hardest female in the game raping useless niggas off into rehabilitation and irrelevancy.
24 // Grimes // Go
In just another proof that Grimes fans can be thick cunts, her latest not-even-a-real-single Go got slagged off for sounding like Skrillex. Otherwise, it was easy to see that she was going towards this sound since Vanessa, especially given the influences she kept name dropping. Given the backslash and her caving in, we may never hear a song this essentially Grimes ever again. Not her best but possibly her most honest and certainly most carelessly fun.
23 // Tinashe // 2 On
It’s so refreshing that this year’s biggest R&B club hit with a female vocalist bringing her best doesn’t come from the human bin bag Rihanna. Instead, the young upstart Tinashe drops a lead single that makes love to all the trends of right fucking now. Faded, faded and faded? Hints towards sass we haven’t heard since Cassie became irrelevant? Sean Paul tributes? Yes please! No pussy on the pinky tho, that’s just completely out of our comfort zone.
22 // The War On Drugs // Under The Pressure
Beer commercial lead guitar shit can get you a long way if you know your way around a melody. The War On Drugs had one good idea this year and they stretched it out across a tired LP of Boss pastiches. But taken in little measures, it can be as wide and open ended as a good old American highway. Under The Pressure is all open skies and no other cars on the road. We won’t even moan about the overkill on reverb and delay. It’s melodies like these that make you wan’t to get a cold Bud.
21 // FKA twigs // Two Weeks
The early promise of FKA twigs suggested that she may just end up a slightly different star but her debut LP1 is relatively straightforward. Two Weeks is the most direct, bare all cut on the album that showcases star potential not masked by the usually crazy production. It’s also melodically great. Standard sounding but having that something extra that will never land it on the radio. Pop too good to pop off.
20 // Ariana Grande // Problem
A song this simple has no business not being destroyed by the useless Iggy (shoutout to Fancy, one of the worst songs of the year). Establishing young Ms Grande as the brightest new pop star of the year, Problem mixes swing and hip-hop with slick ease. While she never sounds like she was bothered about her ex in the first place, the irresistible sax loop explains the crazy nonsense that is wasted love better than Ariana could. Could it be any better?
19 // 2NE1 // Come Back Home
With western pop stuck in stiff political correctness, it has been far too easy for the best group in South Korea to release the most exciting singles of the year. Come Back Home is the perfect manifesto for a group that manages to radiate excitement by combining the brightest of modern pop trends. All their core sounds are here including reggae, trap percussion, electropop, acoustic arrangements and bigger than life breakdowns. Listen to the baddest females taking charge.
18 // Drake // 0 To 100/The Catch Up
One of the reasons why Drake is one of the defining hip-hop acts these days is because he’s a top tier content farm. This year has been defined by bizarre beefs and lint rollers. However, let’s not forget the actual goods. Still on that mean grind that saw his take 2013 by the throat on Worst Behaviour, 0 To 100 is a minimal but powerful piece of self-celebration. The Catch Up is a self-assessment in touch with his recent piano driven sound. There’s two sides to Drake. Both of them can be found here, along with a dope James Blake cameo.
17 // Jamie xx // Sleep Sound
Young and promising artists these days no longer care about being a great songwriter. Instead, everyone wants to be the best producer. Instead of amusing you with classic songwriting elements, kids are more interested in acquiring that perfect snare sound. In that case, they have a lot of learning to do until they can challenge Jamie xx. With just few nods to the R&B meets UK garage phenomenon, Sleep Sound sounds like it’s worth a million pounds.
16 // GFOTY // Bobby
Many of the songs released under the PC Music umbrella this year have been embarrassingly simple. Bobby here, the best song from perhaps the most ordinary sounding member of the crew GFOTY, is essentially a rant about love that was never meant to be. Actually, it’s less of a song and more of a sound clip of the type of rants you’d expect posted on Tumblr. Charli XCX will never sound this casually bitchy.
15 // Bobby Shmurda // Hot Nigga
Somewhere out there Soulja Boy is having de javu withdrawals. Bobby Shmurda is the latest in young hip-hop one hit wonders who achieved their fifteen minutes by glamourising ghetto life while reinterpreting it in a dance. Shmoney dance is hilarious and effeminate, quite unlike the song which is much better than it has any right to be. Like an east coast take on Chiraq, Shmurda sound is all guns blazing ignorance with evil childish naivety.
14 // Rustie // Attak
Rustie’ second album Green Language stands as one of the biggest disappointments of the year. While he debuted alone on a Zelda like lone wolf campaign, his recent material relies on a cast of fellow adventurers. Attak is the only positive moment on the record, featuring Danny Brown at his most hyped, leveled up. So what if Rustie toned down his synth mayhem? Brown’s delivery is worth a dozen of melodies popping off at the same time.
13 // Wild Beasts // Wanderlust
Ever since debuting with one of the more wildly theatrical records of the last decade, Wild Beasts have been on a mission to deliver their core sound at its most simple. Wanderlust is Wild Beasts at their most basic and direct. The instrumental skips verses and choruses for a pulsing on rails progress leading into a fuzzy climax. You don’t even need to hear Thorpe’s distinct falsetto to realise that this band are as much songwriters as they are playwrights.
12 // Hannah Diamond // Attachment
PC Music’s Hannah Diamond is the most perfect pop star to emerge this decade. Her bubblegum lyrics breathe irony while also rejecting it with a honest voice, one uninterrupted by PC Music’s usual helium treatment. But in the hands of a virtual songstress, Attachment’s longing becomes a new form of post-vaporwave art pop. Like a modern Kate Bush who prefers to reblog gifs instead of reading books when sad.
11 // Ariel Pink // Black Ballerina
Ariel Pink makes it very easy for us to form an opinion on him. In fact, if someone told you at the start of the year that one of the best songs of the following twelve months will be a story about someone’s first strip club night backed with sleazy dialogues, you’d know Pink is up to it again. But as always, he backs it up with brilliant songwriting. Black Ballerina’s quiet-loud dynamics brings the best out of the famous Pixies technique that keeps on giving.
The latest killer remix of Jack Ü’s Justin Bieber featuring Where Are Ü Now, which seem to arise without end, comes from much respected and admired Scottish producer Rustie. As expected, Rustie’s face melting expertise comes out full swing on the frenetic, skittish remix. It fidgets and bounces, then snaps and crackles, in the most dizzying, lively way possible. Rustie’s remix is simply spectacular.
Mix I put together with music I’ve been listening to lately along with original stuff and Beyond Craft remixes from my brother & friend. Soundtrack for my Saturday.
James Brown - People Get Up (Wet Paint remix) Aluna George - You know you like it (DJ Snake remix) Flume - Sleepless (Charles Murdoch Remix) Rustie - Slasherr XXYYXX - About you XXYYXX - About you (Van Vision Remix) Frank Ocean - Thinkin About You (Ryan Hemsworth Bootleg) Rihanna - Jump ft. Theophilus London (Club Cheval Remix) Salute - Tell Me Clams Casino x Kendrick Lamar (Andrew Gentry Remix) Cestladore - Melanie Darq E Freaker - Blueberry (Instrumental) lwkylky - Alien Sex (R.A. Ferraez remix) lwkylky - Thicker than Water Kanye West - Cold (Lunice Remix) Portishead - Glory Box (JK Soul Remix) Earl Sweatshirt - Dat Ass lwkylky - Glow of the Fire Flies ($tets Remix) ODESZA - My friends never die Phantogram - Black Out Days Avicii ft. Audra Mae - Addicted to You (Rex Riot & Basscamp Remix) Slow Magic - On your side Diplo - Revolution LDRU - The Tropics (Ta-Ku Remix) New Navy - Zimbabwe (Flume Remix) Jerimih - Fuck you all the time (Shlohmo remix)
This track has been hugely tipped since last summer when Plastician played it out on his radio show. Now it’s finally getting release on Terrorhythm (Plastician’s label). This track is massive in every sense of the word. Maximalist, euphoric and reckless, like the best of Rustie’s music. The sheer audacity of it is striking. This one will be everywhere in no time.