The news of Jamie xx’s first solo album prompted a profound excitement here at HD. There are few artists out there who can mesmerise you with the moody pop of the XX on the walk home then have you cutting a rug later to pretty much anything from grime to hardcore (Proof = here).
‘Loud Places’ is the latest single to be aired off his new album ‘In Colour’ due out on Young Turks June 1st. Here he finds a beautiful middle ground, using his production talent to showcase all sides of Romy’s voice from the melancholic to the euphoric. The attention to detail on production is noticable, first letting Romy’s distinctive voice do the work alongside a sparse bass drum before throwing everything from handclaps to vocal loops together towards the end. All in all, it’s a triumph, and an exciting prospect for the summer months.
The album tracklist includes some old friends in Romy and Oliver Sim, alongside the more unexpected faces of Jamaican Dancehall legend Popcaan and eccentric Atlanta rapper Young Thug. Here’s hoping for an all-star album tour over the summer.
“I wanted to make something I could play out when I got home that reminded people of how good home is.”
So says Jamie xx of his surprise new single, ‘All Under One Roof Raving’. It heavily samples British artist Mark Leckey’s 1999 documentary ‘Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore’, and you can hear the homesickness as he wrote it on tour with The xx: “Keepin’ it UK” as another sample proclaims. Add in his clipped percussion and steel pans and you’ve a UK classic.
New stuff from Jamie xx always makes us sit up in our bed with laptop propped up on our knees at our desk. This is no different.
‘Sleep Sound’ is one of a double-sided release coming up 5th May on, where else, Young Turks. It’s another late night, sensual jam; the xx but for an after-party rather than a romantic evening with your significant other/others.
For something a little longer, check out the Turks’ FBI Radio Takeover featuring Jamie, Four Tet, Earl Sweatshirt, Domo Genesis and Sampha. Mouth-watering.
Another close run thing this year, but we have settled on our top 10 tracks – which can all be found in our Best of 2015 playlist here. Enjoy.
1. DJ Koze – XTC: Our no. 1 track of 2015 goes to DJ Koze ‘XTC’. Our first reaction to this year’s chart-topper – released mid-summer on Pampa Records – was one of indifference, but hearing it played by Mano Le Tough and Dixon at Dekmantel forced us into a rapid rethink. We’ve always been a stickler for more melancholic dancefloor music, and ‘XTC’ fits right into that category. In a strong year for house and techno, ‘XTC’ was our unanimous first choice.
2. Fatima Yamaha – What’s A Girl To Do: The year’s most memorable hook was conjured up by (surprisingly) male, (surprisingly) Dutch producer Fatima Yamaha. Scarlett Johansson’s angsty vocal sample is the perfect counterpart to the instantly-recognisable tune, and the two combine to create 2015’s most atmospheric floor-filler.
3. Jamie XX – Gosh: Jamie xx has produced many moments of magic over the past couple of years. But alongside ‘All Under One Roof Raving’ (which appeared in our Top 10 of 2014), the harsh opening and lush crescendo of ‘Gosh’ stand out as a testament to the 27-year-old’s ability to craft music that is both accessible and affecting.
4. Bicep – Just: It was a superb year for the Belfast duo, including a relentlessly busy touring schedule, a residency at XOYO and a crate full of releases that attracted high praise all round. With its breakbeat beauty, ‘Just’ was easily the standout for us, and simple though it may be, it was one of our tunes of the year.
5. Percussions – Digital Arpeggios: In yet another big year for Four Tet, Kieran Hebden’s biggest track actually came under his Percussions moniker. First appearing as part of his Essential Mix with Jamie xx, it’s an epic slow-building masterpiece that made an impression on dancefloors across the globe.
6. Frankey & Sandrino – Acamar: 2015 was another hugely successful year for all-conquering Berlin label, Innervisions. Amongst the now annual event of head honcho Dixon being voted the world’s best DJ by the readers of Resident Advisor, and a series of ambitious parties across the globe, they also found time to release some music. ‘Acamar’, by German duo Frankey & Sandrino, first came to our attention at the turn of the year. It’s a testament to the tune’s brilliance that we’re still loving it 12 months on.
7. Hubie Davison – Sanctified: This disco-infused gem finally saw a vinyl-only release on Midland’s ReGraded label back in November. It’s a catchy number and there are no surprises that the label head has been rinsing it in his sets throughout the year.
8. Adam Port – E Sound Edit: This track was one of the highlights of our party at Basing House. The meandering guitar and shuffling percussion are a winning combination from Berlin producer Adam Port, and we look forward to hearing more from him in 2016.
9. Fort Romeau – All I Want (Massimiliano Pagliara Remix): Italian-born MassPag preps one of the highlights of Fort Romeau’s ‘Insides’ LP for the dancefloor. Be patient with this one and you will be rewarded. Out on the ever-glowing Ghostly International.
10. Lauer – Mausback: With its range of genres and nod to early eighties synth pop, Lauer’s ‘Borndom’ LP was one of our favourite albums of the year. ‘Mausback’ is one of its more balearic moments, and it shows clearly why the Tuff City Kids producer is one of Europe’s most underrated.
Kieran ‘Four Tet’ Hebdon’s just released one of the tracks of 2015.
‘Digital Arpeggios’, out today on Text Records under Hebdon’s Percussions moniker, has been hotly anticipated since the start of the year. ‘Digital Arpeggios’ first came to many people’s attention on the Essential Mix in March, when Four Tet paired up with Jamie XX.
We were lucky enough to see this live at Dekmantel last month. Foolishly, we left the main stage to see Jackmaster, and we missed out on fully appreciating what proved to be one of the many highlights of the festival.
Spring is here. A time for new beginnings, fresh starts and, most importantly, our April playlist. Jamie xx is on fire, TCTS is becoming a firm favourite, T.Williams has collaborated with MJ Cole, and just listen to the way that Fort Romeau track goes through the gears. The section from 04:20 is something to behold.
We can be no more emphatic than to say that if this playlist were an emoji, it would be 🔥.
So here we are. With the curtain now well and truly down on 2014, it’s time to reflect on the year that was. A customary part of this process is the fairly arbitrary ranking of the year’s music into some form of list. After the usual rancorous debate, we have settled on our top 10 tracks – all of which can be found in our mouth-watering Best of 2014 playlist. As always, please share your thoughts on both via the usual channels – and here’s to an even better 2015.
1. Caribou – ‘Can’t Do Without You’ (Tale Of Us & Mano Le Tough Remix): 2014 proved to be an annus mirabilis for Caribou, with the release of widely-heralded new album ‘Our Love’. Its first single was given the dancefloor treatment by Italian duo Tale Of Us and their Life and Death counterpart, Mano Le Tough. The result was a mind-blowing techno trip that, like all good remixes, picked up the qualities of the original and gave them a lift in all the right places. Epic stuff.
2. Ten Walls – ‘Walking With Elephants’: We first heard ‘Walking With Elephants’ right at the start of the year and we were blown away. At the time, many a commentator was proclaiming it the track of 2014, even at that early stage. And here it is, missing out by a fraction on the Human Drizzle top spot. There is a beautiful sadness to Ten Walls’s work that is present here, floating behind the space-horn and crashing bass that has become his calling card. Ultimately, ‘Walking With Elephants’ just never gets boring, no matter how many times you hear it.
3. Mount Liberation Unlimited – ‘Clinton Space Funk’: Confession time. We failed to pick up on the brilliance of ‘Clinton Space Funk’ when it first appeared earlier in the year. Part of being an adult, though, is accepting when you’re wrong. We now know this track is a beauty and it deservedly sits in our top three. Championed by everyone who came across it, ‘Clinton Space Funk’ provided one of the many highlights of xxxy’s Human Drizzle Presents set at Plan B in December.
4. Jamie xx – ‘All Under One Roof Raving’: When VICE wrote their Guide to London in June, they eschewed the customary playlist of local artists in favour of simply posting Jamie xx’s Boiler Room set from that month, on the basis that it “pretty much sums London up right now.” This track closes that set and, whether or not the track was intended as ‘a Scottish Referendum anthem‘, it is a stunningly affecting homage to UK music from a man making some of the best of it in 2014.
5. Jon Hopkins – ‘Abandon Window’ (Moderat Remix): Jon Hopkins had it right: “I honestly think this is one of the best remixes I’ve ever heard. Play it loud.” Built around a drop that never comes (and yet you don’t miss it), this is a piece of theatrical electronica for the ages. Given the year Jon Hopkins has had (his Essential Mix was a belter), it was tough only putting a remix in here but give this a listen and we dare you to tell us we’re wrong to include it.
6. Real Lies – ‘North Circular’: If you’ve been near a radio this year you’ve probably heard these lads’ breakout single, ‘North Circular’. With its lyrical treatment of London gyratory life and atmospheric backdrop, it’s been perfect listening for autumn/winter – and appeals to fans of guitars and electronica alike.
7. Flight Facilities – ‘Two Bodies’: Flight Facilities’ debut album was four years in the making and since day one they’ve been garnering fans for their versatile, fun-filled, bouncy pop tunes. They’ve added real gravitas to their work here with the soothing, catchy and downright emo ‘Two Bodies’. The Aussie duo aren’t fooling around, and this one’s been on repeat since its September emergence.
8. Sailor and I – ‘Turn Around’ (Ame Remix): This tune first emerged in January as a rip from Mexico’s BPM Festival, and it took until June for the official version to emerge. It was worth the wait. The arrival of the synths after two minutes of sparse build-up is one of the finest moments of 2014 and the whole track is a wonderfully-measured piece of emotive dance music.
9. Lauer – ‘Stigma’: Lauer returned to Tim Sweeney’s Beats In Space label in September with ‘Stigma’, the B-side to the driving force that is ‘Hands & Feet’. It’s a compelling listen with an underlying 80s feel, so good it was dropped by both Fort Romeau and our very own Hot Karl at Plan B for Human Drizzle Presents. Memorable.
10. Aquilo – ‘You There’: Lakeland duo Aquilo swept us off our feet in 2014. ‘You There’ is a change of pace from much of this list, but it’s a gorgeous record that deserves to be heard. With its gentle piano line and simple lyric, it is testament to the power of good songwriting, without the frills.