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

Chvrches: ‘It only takes two seconds to say: I don’t agree with white supremacy’

Delivered... Kate Mossman | Scene | Sun 20 May 2018 9:00 am

The Glaswegian synth-pop trio rose to fame on the back of relentless touring, even as frontwoman Lauren Mayberry fended off online abuse. Their new album finds them aiming for the top

Lauren Mayberry has two boiled eggs waiting for her at home. Chvrches are about to go on tour for a year and a half, and she wants the protein. When I first met the band, in a Thistle hotel in east London in 2012, Mayberry was strengthening her diaphragm for the demands of singing live. On the back of their debut album, they played 365 dates in two years and the diaphragm worked out fine.

Chvrches could not have known, sitting in that unremarkable hotel, what direction their rise to fame would take. Mayberry is a frontwoman developing in plain sight, through a well-publicised struggle with particularly vicious internet trolls to where she is now: living in New York and making records with wizard producer Greg Kurstin. There have been some impressive associations along the way: being interviewed by Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney; campaigning for girls’ empowerment with Amy Poehler; support slots for Depeche Mode. She is coming to terms with the fact that if you are famous, you will always be someone’s projection. “I definitely fall into one of two categories,” she says brightly, sucking an ice tea. “Diminutive, wet-blanket snowflake or angry feminist bitch.”

I don’t want to sound negative here but I don’t know any lady that was surprised by #MeToo

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Move over Sia: how young Australian songwriters are making it big in LA

Delivered... Jenny Valentish | Scene | Tue 15 May 2018 2:56 am

They’re the brains behind the catchiest songs on Spotify but they’re rapidly becoming celebrities in their own right

You’ll be aware of the “Spotify mafia” even if you don’t know their names. The songs that dominate the streaming service bear the hallmarks of a select group of young international songwriters who have gravitated to LA. And they seem to be cleaning up.

Nat Dunn is one of them, part of a wave of Australian songwriters following in the wake of Adelaide’s Sia Furler. One of Dunn’s songs, Friends, was recorded by London singer Anne-Marie and DJ/producer Marshmello (who keeps his identity under wraps by never being seen without his marshmallow head). It reached number 21 in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, clocking up nearly 300m plays on Spotify. With its no-nonsense chorus – “Haven’t I made it obvious? Haven’t I made it clear?” – it’s been dubbed “the official friend-zone anthem”.

Related: Eurovision: Jessica Mauboy sings up a storm to put Australia into grand final

Related: The Sia conundrum: if fame is so damaging, why pass it on to a child? | Bonnie Malkin

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Simian Mobile Disco: Murmurations review – hypnotic genius takes flight

Delivered... Damien Morris | Scene | Sun 13 May 2018 8:00 am

Murmurations is inspired by the pleasing patterns of starlings in flight. It is full of indecipherable songs, swaddling the brutal clarity of the techno DJ-producer duo’s early singles in something unpredictable, off-kilter. Choral vocals make you feel everything from terrified to strangely soothed.

Simian’s Jas Shaw and James Ford recorded a few singers from London’s all-female Deep Throat Choir, then asked the others to wander in their wake, as starlings would. What gives their oftenindistinct murmurs wings is how Simian warp and manipulate them, like an auxiliary analogue synthesiser. It relocates the drama that normally comes from an electronic instrument to the ancient organic thrill of voices raised in unison, which humanises – and adds tension to – the work.

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50 great tracks for May from Florence + the Machine, Christina Aguilera, Deafheaven and more

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Laura Snapes | Scene | Thu 10 May 2018 9:00 am

From Róisín Murphy’s erotic disco to Onyx Collective’s post-bop jazz and Deafheaven’s soulful metal, here’s our roundup of the best new music. Subscribe to the playlist of all 50 tracks and read about our 10 favourites

Related: Sign up for the Sleeve Notes email: music news, bold reviews and unexpected extras

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Positiva energy: 25 years of the legendary dance label – in pictures

Delivered... Electronic music | The Guardian | Scene | Tue 8 May 2018 7:00 am

The Positiva dance label dominated the 90s with their pumped-up trance and house tracks – and the iconic logo showcased on these flyers

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How we made Talvin Singh’s Mercury-winning album OK

Delivered... Interviews by Dave Simpson | Scene | Tue 8 May 2018 6:00 am

‘We were just sitting there with Björk when she got a call from Bono. Next thing I knew, we were supporting U2 at Wembley!’

I was raised in Leytonstone, in east London, by Sikh parents. My uncles would have Indian classical music soirees. There were always tabla around, but I also grew up with Top of the Pops. To me, it was all just music, but the Indian classical musicians back then were very judgmental – about everything from how I played tabla to how I looked.

I’d heard that when second world war pilots came back from missions alive, they were listed as 'OK'

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Blossoms review – homecoming is the stuff of dreams

Delivered... Dave Simpson | Scene | Sun 6 May 2018 12:43 pm

The Plaza, Stockport
There’s much to celebrate as the band return to their home town as local heroes for a euphoric opener to their UK tour

When Blossoms spoke to the Guardian in 2016, they revealed that their wildest fantasy would be to have a set of road signs in their home town, reading: “Welcome to Stockport: home of Blossoms.” Just two years later, the signs are in place, courtesy of the council. The band’s name is also emblazoned on the back of struggling Stockport County FC’s Edgeley Park stadium and in front of the vintage Wurlitzer organ in this beautiful art deco cinema.

In between, there have been two top five albums (including a No 1 with their eponymous debut) and gigs at Wembley Stadium with the Stone Roses, which would have been the stuff of dreams when they were rehearsing in a scaffolding yard and making videos for £60.

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Shaggy and Sting, Janet and Cliff: the eight weirdest collaborations in pop

Delivered... Michael Cragg | Scene | Sat 5 May 2018 10:00 am

From Janet Jackson and Cliff Richard’s Two to the Power of Love, to Shaggy and Sting’s new record, here’s a rundown of the oddest musical melanges

Have you ever wondered, perhaps in a darker moment, what an album featuring noted lutenist Sting crooning alongside sporadic novelty hitmaker Shaggy might sound like? Well, wonder no more, because last month they unleashed 44/876, an “island-influenced” collaborative album that honours “the duo’s mutual love of Jamaica”. If you’re now thinking: “OK, but why?” then Sting has the answer. “The most important thing to me in any kind of music is surprise,” he told Rolling Stone. “And everybody is surprised by this collaboration – by what they’re hearing. We’re surprising.” Indeed.

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Eleanor Friedberger: Rebound review – deliciously droll electro pop

Delivered... Dave Simpson | Scene | Fri 4 May 2018 9:00 am


In 2016, Eleanor Friedberger spent a month in Athens, Greece, ending up in what the half-Greek American describes as an “80s goth disco” – called Rebound – where everyone did a solitary dance routine called the chicken dance. “I copied the slouchy strut,” she remembers, “swinging my arms in time to music that sounded like Joy Division but was probably a knock-off by an unknown Baltic band. It was alienating and exhilarating.”

Two years later, this same sense of giddy disconnection fires her fourth and best solo album, but although Rebound resurfaces as the location for It’s Hard (“where time stands still”), it’s otherwise a long way from crimped hair and eyeliner. Instead, vaguely gothic themes of loneliness, miscommunication and isolation are channeled into warm, quirky electronic pop that’s more gently uplifting than melancholy. It’s a radically different musical landscape to that which Friedberger occupied in her indie rock Fiery Furnaces days (with brother Matthew), or on previous solo albums. Guitars are used sparingly but effectively. Mostly, synthesisers and drum machines produce beatific electronic pop with traces of Laurie Anderson or Yellow Magic Orchestra, while Friedberger’s soaring singing recalls Russell Mael of Sparks.

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Trans producer Elysia Crampton: ‘In Bolivia, my body was a beacon, a good omen’

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Fri 4 May 2018 9:00 am

The experimental Bolivian American on finding strength and creative inspiration in her Aymaran heritage – a culture that has been a champion of trans identity for centuries

In Elysia Crampton’s Bristol hotel room, we stare at the furniture on offer: a neat armchair and a chaise longue. “I’ll be the analyst,” she decides. It’s no wonder: the experimental Californian producer has had a tougher life than most. Her music often feels like a lifetime of violence and confusion being worked through in Afro-Latin rhythms and frictious digital overload.

Crampton identifies as Aymara, a native American tribe from Bolivia who were suppressed by the Inca and then the Spanish in the middle of the last millennium, but who survived to the present day. Her parents moved from La Paz, the Bolivian capital, to Barstow, California, in the 1960s, where she was later born into relative poverty; her education ended, she said, because of “disability” (she won’t elaborate on this or her age) and a lack of funds.

Related: Elysia Crampton: Elysia Crampton review – Aymara polymath invents dancefloor mythology

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Readers recommend playlist: songs about pragmatism

Delivered... Samantha Birchard | Scene | Thu 3 May 2018 12:00 pm

Among artists picked for seeing things as they are come Run DMC, Van Morrison, Nina Simone and Beyoncé

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

War, infidelity, flat tyres – the musicians in this week’s playlist will put up with a lot to keep life running smoothly. Pragmatism can be painful, or it can be an effective strategy, depending on your perspective.

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Tangerine Dream review – despite loss of leader, the Dream continues

Delivered... David Stubbs | Scene | Tue 24 Apr 2018 1:48 pm

Union Chapel, London
For their first UK show without founder member Edgar Froese, the synth pioneers enlivened their proggy ambience with techno, but still created the same cosmic grandeur

Is it thinkable for a group to carry on when its creator and sole continuous member has died? Could the Fall conceive of carrying on without Mark E Smith? Of course not, no more than the Jimi Hendrix Experience could have regrouped following Hendrix’s death. Could Kraftwerk continue were their only remaining founder member Ralf Hütter to die? That’s a difficult one, but not impossible and not to be bet against.

Tangerine Dream’s founder Edgar Froese died in 2015 and, despite the qualms of his son, Jerome, Tangerine Dream have put the proposition to the test. Such is the nature of the group – more of an organic, ever-shifting and evolving sonic structure than a vehicle for an autobiographical ego – that they, if anyone, might just be able to pull it off.

Related: Edgar Froese obituary

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Girl Talk! How queer pop came out

Delivered... Amelia Abraham | Scene | Mon 23 Apr 2018 3:06 pm

It has been 10 years since Katy Perry released I Kissed a Girl, a global hit that fetishised lesbians. Now with mainstream stars from St Vincent and Princess Nokia to Halsey and Marika Hackman singing about their myriad sexual identities, it’s time to put sapphic stereotypes to bed

The LGBT community has always had a talent for embracing things that are so awful they could almost be good. But even we couldn’t save Katy Perry’s 2008 smash hit I Kissed a Girl, which was released 10 years ago this week. The song was undeniably catchy and camp, but the lyrics were plain offensive. The problem was all those justifications for why a woman might – God forbid! – kiss a girl: drunkenness, a male audience, that beguiling cherry lip balm. For queer audiences, Perry might as well have sung a more succinct phrase: “No Homo!”

Thankfully, there are many better examples of queer female representation in pop today. If in 2008 the joke still stood that all lesbians listened to was Tegan and Sara, today the joke is probably “why are there so many gay female pop stars?” We have US stars such as Halsey and Miley Cyrus improving bisexual and pansexual representation, queer artists Fever Ray, St Vincent and Shura making critically acclaimed music about female desire and pop stars including Janelle Monáe and Princess Nokia signalling their queerness while avoiding definition. Then, of course, there is acclaimed, pansexual French synth-pop act Christine and the Queens, who has legions of young, gay fans. But just what has changed?

Related: Fever Ray: on pleasure, patriarchy and political revolution

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Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds review – anti-nostalgia set doesn’t look back in anger

Delivered... Alexis Petridis | Scene | Mon 23 Apr 2018 12:00 pm

Brighton Centre
Unlike his brother, Gallagher Sr mostly refuses straightforward Oasis renditions, and instead embraces electronic drones, dance-rock and saxophones

As Noel Gallagher departs the stage at the end of his UK tour’s first date, he tells the audience to get home safely and that he’ll see them soon. “Probably at some shitty festival,” he adds. “We’ll be third on the bill. Fucking travesty.”

It’s clearly meant as a joke, but there’s a certain edge to it. The last six months have been a curious period in Gallagher’s career. He released Who Built the Moon?, by some considerable distance the most interesting album he’s made since the mid-90s, and the sort of record he’s been threatening to make ever since Oasis split up. A collaboration with dance producer, DJ and soundtrack composer David Holmes, it pushed Gallagher out of his comfort zone of mid-tempo anthems and Beatles references into more colourful and spacier territory: it touches on ambient electronica, New Order’s shimmering dance-rock hybrid, easy listening, and the sonically super-saturated glam of Roy Wood’s Wizzard. For his trouble, he’s been bested commercially by his brother’s debut solo album As You Were, on which pop songwriters-for-hire were drafted into the aforementioned comfort zone: mid-tempo anthems and Beatles references abound.

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Swedish DJ Avicii dies at 28 – video obituary

Delivered... Gary Marshall | Scene | Fri 20 Apr 2018 9:25 pm

Avicii, whose real name is Tim Bergling, has been found dead in Muscat, Oman at the age of 28. The DJ, from Sweden, retired from live performances in 2016 due to a string of health issues. Bergling's representative who announced the death has said 'no further statements will be given'.

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