This Week In Records: Gorillaz, Cashmere Cat & Rex Orange County (28/04/2017)

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It really doesn’t feel like very long since we last met, dear reader – and you’d be correct to point out that it’s partially thanks to me last writing the column about four days ago – but please allow me to fill you in on a few things that couldn’t quite make it into one of the most delectable roundups we’ve ever had the privilege of collating.

  • Sigrid‘s warming things up for her Don’t Kill My Vibe EP in a week’s time by continuing to exhibit her wardrobe-dictated song titles on an acoustic version of new track ‘Dynamite.’
  • The Vamps continue their descent from indistinct blob of inoffensive pop into an indistinct blob of tedious tropical pop with a hookup with Martin Jensen, that one-hit wonder behind ‘Solo Dance,’ on screechy new thing ‘Middle Of The Night.’
  • In ‘Say My Name,’ we have a strong manifesto from Tove Styrke in the competition to be pop’s finest Tove. It’s a Lo blow.
  • Hazel English continues to be remarkably similar to her sometime collaborator Day Wave in inducing a gleeful melancholy with ‘Love Is Dead.’
  • With 17-year-old Chicago-born producer Whethan on ‘Love Gang,’ Charli XCX has put out a bloody brilliant song because it’s Friday and stuff like this happening is about as likely as there being two episodes of Coronation Street on the telly.
  • Tiësto is still a person putting out music, apparently.
  • Some label person thought the best way to make AJR’s ‘Weak’ into a UK hit was by adding Louisa Johnson.
  • Mura Masa‘s got an album coming out in July and he wants you to know about it through ‘Firefly,’ a song that you really will fall in love with in a matter of seconds in 2015.
  • 372 days is apparently how long it takes between Prince‘s death and pre-orders going live for Purple Rain to get the deluxe cash-in treatment.
  • The chap from JLS who isn’t a radio presenter, accused rapist, or deer farmer has put out an EP without remembering to recruit a graphic designer with taste.
  • Ellie Goulding is having her “How do you do, fellow kids?” moment at the age of 30 by singing on a Kygo track about “a fat stack” and “a bomber jacket and a snapback” and “your dad’s black Honda [being]a Maybach” because if you can’t beat The Chainsmokers then sink to their songwriting levels, shake some little bells, and use a clock as percussion.
  • LIONNNNNNNNNNNN.

In other words, today is one of those days where it is quite handy to have someone going through all the new releases for you and writing a few words and sticking the best of it into a Spotify playlist. If that sounds like the kind of duty you’re willing to take on for the good of society (and, mainly, the students of the University of Southampton), come to The Edge‘s AGM and take my job. You can find out more (or just send me your music because this week has set a pretty high bar already and we could do with keeping this going) by dropping me a message on records@theedgesusu.co.uk.

Gorillaz – Humanz

When you visit an album’s Wikipedia page, there’ll often be a little set of lines after the tracklisting to give you a summary of key works sampled in the process of making a record. For Humanz, the 26-track return for Damon Albarn and his merry band of animated primates, three bullet points can really tell you everything you need to know.

  • ‘We Got The Power’ features backing vocals from D.R.A.M. and Noel Gallagher and synthesizers by Jean Michel-Jarre.
  • ‘Saturnz Barz’ contains a sample of the instructional voice-over of Interactive Planetarium by Scientific Toys Limited.
  • ‘Interlude: The Non-Conformist Oath’ contains a sample of ‘A Wild and Crazy Guy’ as written and performed by Steve Martin, from his album A Wild And Crazy Guy.

There’s also a track about Donald Trump called ‘The Apprentice’ that features Rag’n’Bone Man, Ray BLK, and Zebra Katz. And a thing with Carly Simon. And ‘Submission,’ which borrows house classic ‘Your Love’ to set a stage for Danny Brown and Kelela. And a song called ‘Sex Murder Party.’ And THEY’RE ALIVE.

ODESZA feat. WYNNE & Mansionair – ‘Line Of Sight’
ODESZA – ‘Late Night’

If you’d told me last week that ODESZA would return with not one but two new records that – as states half of the band Harrison Mills in a press release that I genuinely audibly squeaked upon receiving – “reflects [them]building a grander, more cinematic sound,” I’d have probably swallowed your hand whole. In Return, their 2014 sophomore record, is a thing of utter beauty. That’s why I called it “luscious and bewildering” whilst bemoaning Mills and Clayton Knight’s ongoing touring (which I then experienced twice) getting in the way of the new stuff. Just in time for yet another road trip that will take in two nights at the similarly gorgeous Red Rocks Amphitheater when I would far prefer them to join Sean Paul in the club of “folks who played Bestival who are now coming to Southampton for Common People” comes a Sheeran-esque brace to fulfil that promise: ‘Late Night’ is a properly funky instrumental session that flies almost to Animal Collective territory in its shimmers and escalations, and ‘Line Of Sight’ fits a certain taste for a pop number with a gentle yearn courtesy primarily of WYNNE on vocals and a 30 second post-verse segment that was a treat enough when used to tease the new.


Cashmere Cat – 9

When Cashmere Cat brought and SOPHIE along four weeks back for ‘9 (After Coachella)’ hindsight suggests it probably should have been a little bit more obvious that he planned to drop a record called 9 after Coachella. Its release is one that has been heavily teased for around six months, having begun with the then-titular ‘Wild Love’ with The Weeknd and Francis And The Lights back in August before picking up Selena Gomez and Tory Lanez for springing intimacy (‘Trust Nobody’) and Camila Cabello for the delectable tease of her post-Fifth Harmony bow (‘Love Incredible’). On first listen, 9 does seem a little light on lyrics about getting it on in a car under a makeshift-festive leather strap – you do you, 2 Chainz – and my ears do feel as if they’re somehow not educated enough to comprehend much of what’s going on in the soundscape, but there’s a lot to love in Magnus Høiberg’s first proper 34 minutes: ‘Night Night’ jams Kehlani through the same sort of harmonisation techniques that Bon Iver used on 22, A Million to such mesmerising effect whilst keeping things firmly to intro length, and ‘Quit’ follows previous collaboration ‘Adore’ in throwing a lovestruck Ariana Grande into the kind of future I’d quite fancy a trip to.

Also, the video for ‘9 (After Coachella)’ is incredibly adorable and I want Cashmere Cat’s hair and Benny Blanco‘s dogs.

HAIM – ‘Right Now’
Fall Out Boy – ‘Young And Menace’
Phoenix – ‘J-Boy’
Foster The People – III EP
The Japanese House – ‘Saw You In A Dream’
SZA feat. Travis Scott – ‘Love Galore’

Structurally, not that much changed upon Zane Lowe’s departure from BBC Radio 1 in favour of the streamier, sunnier shores of Apple’s Beats 1 – two hours earlier than before and coming live from Los Angeles rather than London, he still just does Monday to Thursday and shouts a lot about stuff he likes with a world premiere (World Record in the fruity parlance) half an hour in and, if anything, an increased tendency to enthuse over mediocre rap records. Last night, however, things went slightly bonkers. By the time I’d tuned in for him to chat to Thomas Mars in the flagship slot about Phoenix‘s ‘J-Boy’ and the thousands of hours of music produced for June’s Ti Amo, Fall Out Boy had already said some words about a new album that they’re calling M A N I A because they’re oh so exponentially edgy and HAIM talked up Something To Tell You, their first compendium in four years, with a live studio version of a track that is very good but not the lead single we’re going to collect on Wednesday. Mark “The People” Foster‘s announcement of three singles in an EP – suitably titled III then seemed a little flimsy in comparison, but before that even had a chance to sink in the conversation turned to dialogue with Matty Healy for half an hour in which he said The 1975‘s album trilogy will conclude in 2018 with Music For Cars, an album that shares a title with their 2013 EP. Somewhere in that was a discussion about label Dirty Hit and the band’s hand in Pale Waves and The Japanese House, who had premiered ‘Saw You In A Dream’ from her next EP in the World Record slot on Wednesday, before closing out with SZA‘s wholly underwhelming new “joint” three times because of Apple Music’s apparent obligation to try and make .wav radio host Travis Scott a thing. It was quite possibly the two most ridiculous hours of specialist music programming you could ever come across.






Rex Orange County – Apricot Princess

While we’re on the topic of Beats 1, it is worth discussing the station’s greatest strength. It’s not – as the jingles and Zanes may try to convince you – in the station broadcasting to over 100 countries always on worldwide Beats 1 Apple Music, but rather in its peculiar roster of artist-led presenting talent. Frank Ocean‘s now using blonded RADIO to put out tracks without faffing around with carpentry, Elton John‘s been bringing Rocket Hour to life in a lineup that’s included A-Trak, Pharrell Williams, and Run The Jewels since launch, and you’ve probably heard of some bloke called Drake who shows little regard for the life of the schedulers. One needn’t be a global superstar to land a spot, though: Tuesday evening saw Haslemere teen Rex Orange County host a one-off episode of Apricot Radio to show off his second LP. ‘UNO,’ ‘Best Friend,’ and ‘Sunflower‘ do serve as the perfect reaction to his extraordinarily mature blend of earnest lyricism, jazzy production, and heartfelt vocals, and the project in full (which leaves those three as standalone releases) covers the story of his last 18 months.

Katy Perry feat. Migos – ‘Bon Appétit’
Sean Paul feat. Migos – ‘Body’

Nope, these songs are not good. Skrrt.


Selected Other Releases

Albums

Amtrac – True Value EP
Aston Merrygold – Precious EP
Beeches – Famous Friends EP
Feist – Pleasure
Fortunes. – Undress EP
John Mellencamp – Sad Clowns & Hillbillies
Lady Leshurr – Mode EP
Lea Michele – Places
Mary J. Blige – Strength Of A Woman
Sylvan Esso – What Now
Thomas Oliver – Floating In The Darkness
Wale – SHINE
Young M.A. – Herstory EP

Singles

Afrojack & David Guetta feat. Ester Dean – ‘Another Life’
Alex Metric feat. Confessionals – ‘Freeek’
Algiers – ‘The Underside Of Power’
AJR feat. Louisa Johnson – ‘Weak’ (Stay Strong Mix)
Bibio – ‘Beyond My Eyes’
Blondie – ‘Fragments’
Carmody – ‘Missing’
Clean Cut Kid – ‘Felt’
DJ Khaled feat. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance The Rapper & Lil Wayne – ‘I’m The One’
Drones Club – ‘This House’
Frank Ocean – ‘Lens’
Hailee Steinfeld – ‘Most Girls’
Harper – ‘No Love In The Jungle’
Hazel English – ‘Love Is Dead’
Hot Dreams – ‘Will You Dive’
Imagine Dragons – ‘Thunder’
Jasmine Thompson – ‘Old Friends’
Kid Ink – ‘Supersoaka’
Kygo & Ellie Goulding – ‘First Time’
Logic feat. Alessia Cara & Khalid – ‘1-800-273-8255’
Luke Sital-Singh – ‘Oh My God’
MUNA & MNEK – ‘I Know A Place’ (Remix)
Mura Masa feat. NAO – ‘Firefly’
Nickelback – ‘Song On Fire’
Oh Wonder – ‘My Friends’
OneRepublic – ‘No Vacancy’
PJ Harvey – ‘A Dog Called Money’ / ‘I’ll Be Waiting’
Prince – ‘Electric Intercourse’
Rebecca & Fiona – ‘Pop Bitches’
R3hab feat. RITUAL – ‘Hallucinations’
Sigrid – ‘Dynamite’ (Acoustic)
Skip Marley – ‘Calm Down’
Steve Aoki & DVBBS feat. 2 Chainz – ‘Without You’
Syn Cole feat. Nevve – ‘Sway’
The Sherlocks – ‘Chasing Shadows’
The Vamps & Martin Jensen – ‘Middle Of The Night’
Tiësto & Sevenn – ‘BOOM’
Toddla T feat. Andrea Martin & Stefflon Don – ‘Beast’
Tom Walker – ‘Blessings’
Tove Styrke – ‘Say My Name’
Whethan feat. Charli XCX – ‘Love Gang’
X Ambassadors – ‘Torches’
XamVolo – ‘Old Soul’
Xavier Eleven feat. Grace Phethean – ‘Clearer’

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Official email person, rambly music writer, and former Records Editor at The Edge. Often found playing pop music too loud on Surge Radio.

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