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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » Pop and rock

Jessie Ware: ‘I didn’t get maternity leave! I’m self-employed – being a musician is my business’

Delivered... Laura Snapes | Scene | Fri 20 Oct 2017 6:00 am

The London singer has had her first child – and with it a whole host of insecurities. She discusses anxiety, writing with Ed Sheeran and why she got hypnotherapy after a bad Guardian review

“Are you sure I don’t sound mad and unhinged?” Jessie Ware asks, again. We have spent two hours discussing hypnotherapy, impostor syndrome and her fears about failing as a mother as she tours her third album, Glasshouse, with her one-year-old in tow. No, I tell her. She sounds like a new mum who apologises too much because people like to make new mums feel they’re failing. Babies cry, that’s what they do – her daughter was meant to be asleep in their Berlin Airbnb all afternoon, but did a giant poo and woke up as we were about to start talking. “We’re buggered!” Ware laughs, before husband Sam Burrows takes the tot to the park.

Tonight, Ware will play a small club in Kreuzberg, debuting an ambitious, poppy revamp of her sophisticated soul sound. She wants to wear a sleeveless top but it’s being filmed for German TV: “Bingo wings, fuck that.” She’s nervous. Last night in Paris she had a massive cry, finally unleashing the pressure of spending nearly two years managing a career and new parenthood. “I felt like maybe this whole attempt at trying to be a superwoman was coming crashing down at the last hurdle,” she says.

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Jessie Ware: Glasshouse review – smooth soul, ramped up when the diva lets loose

Delivered... Hannah J Davies | Scene | Thu 19 Oct 2017 10:00 pm


Emerging at the tail end of the dubstep movement, south London’s Jessie Ware has long been the musical equivalent of a minimalist Scandi clothes store, all restrained vocals thoughtfully draped over barely there electronica. On Glasshouse, she manages to harness her rarely seen diva mode in among the pared-back hallmarks, but the result is a mixed one. Opener – and lead single – Midnight sees her push her vocals in all directions for striking falsetto-propelled soul, while Selfish Love capitalises on the current Latin pop trend in pleasingly classy fashion with no clunky attempts at Spanish. Elsewhere, Sam – co-written with Ed Sheeran – is a four-chord story of finding The One and having her now one-year-old daughter, lifted by Ware’s raw family confessional. Unfortunately, though, there’s plenty of “pleasant-but-insipid” here, such as Slow Me Down and Stay Awake, Wait for Me – both drowned in radio-friendly sultriness – and Your Domino, which feels like a paunchy, overproduced take on 2012 single If You’re Never Gonna Move. Ware is arguably at her best here when she drops the hyper-stylised veneer and gives the pop star lark her best shot, rather than openly hedging those bets.

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No alternative: how brands bought out underground music

Delivered... Rachel Aroesti | Scene | Mon 16 Oct 2017 1:06 pm

Timberland hosts rap gigs. Princess Nokia makes films for Maybelline. And Red Bull is the new school of rock. Have brand partnerships destroyed counterculture? Or are they all that’s keeping it alive?

Timberland hosts rap gigs. Princess Nokia makes films for Maybelline. And Red Bull is the new school of rock. Have brand partnerships destroyed counterculture? Or are they all that’s keeping it alive?

Kiran Gandhi (@madamegandhi stage name: Madame Gandhi) is an activist and electronic music artist. The former drummer for M.I.A. and the iconic free-bleeding runner at the 2015 London Marathon, she now writes music that celebrates the female voice. The womens #SUPERSTAR Slip-On is available now.

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Grime trailblazer Major Ace dies

Delivered... Guardian music | Scene | Mon 9 Oct 2017 12:03 pm

Rapper and founding member of the influential UK garage group Pay As U Go Cartel had suffered from a brain tumour for three years

Grime pioneer Major Ace has died, his family reports. The rapper, whose real name was Luke Monero, had been suffering from a brain tumour for almost three years.

Major Ace was part of the UK garage crew Pay As U Go Cartel, which was instrumental in shaping the grime sound. His brother Cass confirmed Monero’s death via Instagram on 9 October.


Thank you for the memories bro sleep deep. #RIPMAJORACE

Related: A history of grime, by the people who created it

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Gary Numan: how the Billboard charts told him his tracks aren’t electric

Delivered... Dave Simpson | Scene | Sun 8 Oct 2017 4:00 pm

Despite 95% of the instrumentation on Numan’s new album being electronic, the US chart company says it does not qualify for their dance/electronic countdown

Gary Numan is one of the most famous creators of electronic music. Since 1979, when his band Tubeway Army’s single Are ‘Friends’ Electric?a song about a robot sex worker – spent four weeks at No 1, he has been routinely described as an “electronic pioneer” and a Google search for “Numan electronic” produces 526,000 results.

However, this doesn’t satisfy US chart company Billboard, who have decreed that his new album, Savage (Songs From A Broken World), does not qualify for their dance/electronic chart, even though 95% of it was produced by electronic instruments. According to producer Ade Fenton, Savage’s 51 channels of synthesisers and electronic drums make it the “most electronic” of the four albums he and Numan have worked on. However, the album’s classification as rock/alternative means that Numan has missed out on an almost certain dance/electronic No1, instead having to settle for a rather more lowly rock/alternative No 22.

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Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: The Kid review – a charming electronic exploration of life

Delivered... Kitty Empire | Scene | Sun 8 Oct 2017 6:59 am
(Western Vinyl)

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s last album, 2016’s EARS, was a suite essentially about wonderment. The one before, Euclid (2015), took its inspiration from geometry. Dry summaries like those don’t really do justice to the swirls and whorls of the LA-based musician’s electro-acoustic work. Here, Smith tracks the life of a person from twinkle in the eye to autonomous being contemplating life’s end; the journey’s emotional arc is conceived as four sides of a double album. To say that the title track sounds like she has trapped some analogue synths and a choir in a washing machine means no disrespect. This album is crammed with tweeting electronics, hydraulic rhythms, sleights of hand and Smith’s own backseat vocals; she hints at non-western forms and systems music, but never so you are not charmed.

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Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: The Kid review – analogue psychedelia with some growing up to do

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Thu 5 Oct 2017 10:30 pm

(Western Vinyl)

With modular synths growing densely around her multitracked voice, this album from Pacific-coastal artist Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith becomes as lush, heady – and occasionally trying – as a rainforest. It’s an ambitious record in four parts, with each quarter representing a different emotional phase of a human lifespan.

Her melodies share the courtly poise of English folksong and the psychedelic naivety of Animal Collective – they accurately evoke the blitheness of youth in the album’s first half, but also, less fortunately, its directionlessness. The textural pleasures of tracks such as I Am Learning and A Kid – full of wonky tiki kitsch – are muted by the vocal lines which, given starker backing, would be embarrassingly underwritten. Things improve in the later, more reflective tracks, as the rhythms and melodies simplify and stretch out, particularly on the beautiful closing track To Feel Your Best, underpinned by a faint, watery dancehall beat.

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Readers recommend playlist: your songs about spinning

Delivered... Sarah Chappell | Scene | Thu 5 Oct 2017 12:11 pm

A reader takes a dizzying look through your suggestions, with Kylie Minogue, Dead Or Alive, Kate Tempest and Arctic Monkeys all making the list

Here is this week’s playlist – songs picked by a reader from hundreds of suggestions on last week’s callout. Thanks for taking part. Read more about how our weekly series works at the end of the piece.

Admit it. You’ve had that slightly sicky feeling when a special person comes close. You know the one – the nausea, the worry your legs might buckle, the head-rush, the dizziness. That. Our opening two pure pop tracks – Dead Or Alive’s You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) and Vic Reeves and the Wonder Stuff with Dizzy – capture all this and get us under way in a whirlwind of love and confusion.

I go round in circles
Not graceful, not like dancers
Not neatly, not like compass and pencil
More like a dog on a lead, going mental

Throwing Muses - Dizzy

The vaspod has Dizzies by Vic Reeves, Siouxsie & The Banshees, and TM. This is the best. Kristin Hersh's conscious attempt to write a hit single. And had there been any justice in this world she would have done. Gorgeous and bitter melancholy about the last Native American in Oklahoma. (I've just been there, there are actually loads.)

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The month’s best music: Post Malone, Björk, Lorenzo Senni and more

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Rachel Aroesti | Scene | Mon 2 Oct 2017 12:29 pm

From Charlotte Gainsbourg’s delicate minimalism to kick-ass indie-punk by Dream Wife – plus Somali disco and elegant techno – here are 50 of the month’s best tracks

Last month we launched the first of an ongoing series at the Guardian where we round up 50 of the month’s best tracks, across all genres – and tell you a bit more about 10 of the most exciting ones below. You can subscribe to the playlists via various streaming services in this widget, and let us know what you think in the comments. Google Play Music users can access the playlist here.

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The Horrors: V review – spindly indie survivors hit their sweet spot

Delivered... Alexis Petridis | Scene | Thu 21 Sep 2017 12:00 pm

Against the odds, the Horrors’ fifth album is their best yet, with Faris Badwan’s commanding, world-weary vocals adding to the synthesised thrills and sparkling guitar-pop

Let us briefly take a detour down memory lane. It is 2007 and, as a contestant on the most recent series of Big Brother has so eloquently put it, “there’s a new music that’s taking over our country and it’s called … ‘indie’”. The Pigeon Detectives bestride the Top 20. The second Razorlight album has just been certified five times platinum. The pages of the Observer play host to a feature that wonders aloud how Bloc Party will cope with being propelled to superstardom as a result of their new album: “A zeitgeist-defining record that rips up the rock rulebook.”

Strange days indeed, but imagine the consternation you could cause were you able to offer everyone a glimpse into the future, a world 10 years hence where Razorlight are headlining not Reading and Leeds but a VW campervan convention in Llangollen; where the lead singer of the Kaiser Chiefs is now best-known as a judge on a talent show, and where the frontman of the Arctic Monkeys has left Yorkshire, changed his accent and now favours the world not with gritty vignettes of provincial Britain, but updates from the frontline of life as a swashbuckling multi-millionaire cocksman, rampant amid the sun-bronzed lovelies of Hollywood.

Related: The Horrors review – eldritch rockers signal move into the big leagues

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Soft Cell – 10 of the best

Delivered... Jude Clarke | Scene | Wed 20 Sep 2017 2:39 pm

In the last of this series, we look back at Soft Cell’s bleak but beautiful synthpop – from their run of Top 3 hits to their disintegration amid drug use and nervous breakdown

Likeminded art student renegades at Leeds Polytechnic in the late 70s, Dave Ball and Marc Almond originally came together to make music to accompany theatrical productions – an evolution of Almond’s developing interest in often extreme, sexual, graphic and confrontational performance art. Their first release, the short EP Mutant Moments, was funded by a £2,000 loan from Ball’s mum, and was enough to grab the attention of record label Some Bizzare, whose eccentric owner, Stevo, would go on to talent-spot some of the 80s’ best underground electronic groups. Their early single Memorabilia, from 1981, reveals just how much of the winning Soft Cell formula was already firmly in place. Claustrophobic, slightly stalker-y (“I have got to have you”) and with a brilliant electronic riff that lodged in your brain alongside the pen portrait of an obsessive collector, it was a remarkable calling card.

Related: Marc Almond: ‘I’ve had the chance to be subversive in the mainstream’

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LCD Soundsystem review – euphoric dancefloor pop reignited

Delivered... Jude Rogers | Scene | Sun 17 Sep 2017 3:59 pm

The Warehouse Project, Manchester
Six years after a farewell tour, frontman James Murphy gets back under the glitterball to revive his special brand of thunderous, emotional dance music

At midnight in Manchester, blue neon bathes the bricks of a former air-raid shelter under Piccadilly station. The floor is sardined with young clubbers and ageing, ecstatic ravers, all heralding a band currently at No 1 in the US.

Related: LCD Soundsystem: American Dream review – virtuosic comeback full of harmonies and humblebrags | Album of the week

Related: LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy: ‘I was a joke. My wife said I was going to die’

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Gary Numan: Savage (Songs from a Broken World) review – pop gleams amid the dystopian gloom

Delivered... Dave Simpson | Scene | Thu 14 Sep 2017 10:30 pm


Once a fading 1970s synthpop star, Gary Numan’s career has been gradually revitalised since Sugababes’ 2002 smash Freak Like Me mashed up his Are “Friends” Electric? and Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson hailed him as a pioneer of electronic industrial gloom. There’s plenty of the latter on his 21st studio album. Guitars and keyboards crash like falling slabs of granite, percussion pulses throb and synths purr ominously. Numan’s dystopian worldview hasn’t been exactly cheered by climate change or leaving Britain for Los Angeles, only to find a Trumpocalypse. “We live in a windswept hell, not even God remembers”, he sings, bleakly. However, tunefulness permeates the intensity like rays of sunshine. Huge, Cars-type banks of synthesisers fire Bed of Thorns and The End of Things and the east Asian-tinged My Name Is Ruin (featuring 11-year-old daughter Persia) is one of his catchiest songs in years. For all the retooling, the vintage Numanoid still has a pop star’s beating heart.

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Mount Kimbie: Love What Survives review – electric wit and wisdom from London synth duo

Delivered... Rachel Aroesti | Scene | Thu 7 Sep 2017 9:30 pm

(Warp Records)

In recent years, London duo Mount Kimbie have shrugged off their post-dubstep past and started to create songs that shepherd synth-heavy post-punk into the present day. On their third album, the band’s instrumentals radiate wit and warmth, like mid-80s New Order sloshing around in a sun-kissed sea – but it’s as a foil to some of Britain’s most idiosyncratic artists that Mount Kimbie really prove their mettle. Marilyn, their collaboration with Micachu, produces a masterly melange of outside-the-box melodies, James Blake’s hyper-emotional pipes meet creepily corrupted gospel on We Go Home Together, while the brilliant You Look Certain (I’m Not So Sure)’s chit-chatty vocals (courtesy of Andrea Balency, the band’s touring singer) recall post-punkers such as Vivien Goldman and the Raincoats. The record’s other highlight, Blue Train Lines, sees the duo reprise their hugely fruitful alliance with King Krule, artfully tempering the latter’s cracked howl with neat motorik drums and restrained synths that hover politely on the fringes of white noise.

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Holger Czukay obituary

Delivered... Adam Sweeting | Scene | Wed 6 Sep 2017 4:38 pm
Founder member of Can who took a prominent role in producing and engineering the German rock band’s albums

When Holger Czukay, who has died aged 79, became one of the founding members of the Cologne-based band Can in 1968, his role was that of bass player. “The bass player’s like a king in chess,” he reflected later. “He doesn’t move much, but when he does he changes everything.”

However, Can described themselves as an “anarchist community”, and the group’s experimental spirit allowed Czukay plenty of room to explore various aspects of electronic music and recording. Right from their first album, Monster Movie (1969), they broke new ground with their fondness for improvised playing shaped by editing, layering and electronic effects, and Czukay took a prominent role in producing and engineering the band’s albums. Can never achieved huge commercial success, though they did achieve a Top 10 hit in Germany with Spoon, the theme from a TV thriller series, in 1972. Nonetheless their work – not least their mastery of the minimal, repetitive “Motorik” beat, which became a trademark, of Can, Neu! and other German bands – left a lasting impression on countless artists who came in their wake.

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