If your want soulful House of Funkified Disco and you’re in North America you had best be going to Mr. Pat Lok. The Vancouverite (is that a word?) is one of the most consistently amazing producer working in this genre right now. Whether he’s getting smooth and soulful, or getting the party started, Pat Lok always delivers.
He’s gearing up for the release of his second single this year, which we think (taking into account reMixes and whatnot) is a good release schedule. Steady and regular without oversaturation. Pat Lok keeps them wanting more.
The maestro has teamed up with fellow Canadian Electro Soul trio Dirty Radio for his new single, Your Lips. The single follows on from his smooth House collaboration with singer/songwriter Desirée Dawson, the well received All In My Head, from the beginning of this year and by the sound if it, will be doing the same kind of damage.
Your Lips serves up an easy groove. Dirty Radio’s Shaddy’s vocals are a smooth as silk here as he croons over Lok’s analog fuelled groove. Lok eases off of the attack on the synths he uses in this one to give to track a lazy groove; the hooks here have no urgency, they are content to flow with the tide of the tune. Carried along by the laid-back beats, the tune is all about giving room to the vocals, so they can do their thing and weave their sultry and smoky atmosphere throughout.
Future R&B wrangler Leo Kalyan’s Get Your Love is his first track to make it to the screen, and a good choice for his début video it is too. A catchy, and Leo’s most accessible, tune that lend it’s soulful ElectroPop style well to video form.
Director Jim Barber heaps on the sumptuous visuals as he takes Leo on a road trip around southern France. Looks like fun. Thankfully they have nice weather. Check it out.
Is Get Your Love the most straight-up SynthPoppy think that Leo Kalyan has ever done? Very possibly. The Londoner has been slowly gaining traction with his R&B infused Pop track that have run the gauntlet of the slickest current styles from PopDeepHouse to FutureSoulDisco and every three word compound genre in-between. At it’s core, though, Leo’s tunes are smooth and soulful Pop songs that are as much for the heart as they are for the feet.
We were first introduced to Leo Kalyan way back in 2013 when our favourite ever PR person said “you have to hear my neighbour’s music” while drunk. Which is an odd bit of promotion, but it turns out we did have to hear their neighbours music, ‘cos it was very good and we’ve been following him ever since. It was actually a while, full of reMixes and mixtapes, before his first proper release; the Silver Linings EP in July this year, but now it seems tracks are coming thick and fast. Hot on the heels of said EP Leo is keeping the momentum going with Get Your Love.
The new single is out at the end of next month, which may be a little too close to to the tail end of the summer for a song who’s first line is “Summertime heaven…” but with it’s laid back sound and carefree vocals maybe, just maybe, it can keep the sunshine feeling going a little while longer.
So, yeah, Get Your Love is less R&B and more pure Pop than Leo’s previous offerings. Don’t get us wrong, the tune definitely has a soulful swing to it, but the toasty synths and solid 4/4 beat make it the most accessible track he’s released to date. The catchy and upbeat chorus doesn’t hurt either when it comes to a certain sing-a-long quality Get Your Love has. Leo lays out the tale of a youthful summer day and night with his love interest to a soundtrack of relaxed keys that are dragged along by shuffling hi-hats and a strong bassline. We could quite easily imagine Get Your Love getting a bit of radio play. And it it did happen to come on the radio, while the sun was shining; well that would be just fine with us.
We may be a little obsessed with this album right now.
We came across Tove Styrke a few weeks ago while browsing the Local paper. Checking, as we tend to do, local gig listings we see Tove Styrke is playing at Start The Bus (a once amazing music venue that has gone somewhat downhill after a failed attempt to go ‘gastro’). The listings include the words ‘Swedish’ and ‘ElectroPop’. We immediately buy tickets. Then we figure we should check out some of Tove’s music. Her just released sophomore album was out first port of call. But before that, some backstory…
Ms. Styrke was runner up on Swedish Pop Idol in 2010 and hastily afterward released her self-titled début, a perfectly enjoyable but slightly bland (although even when bland the Swedish do Pop better than another else) album that Tove herself has since admitted was rushed and that she wasn’t happy with the results (despite going platinum). Fast-forward to 2014, after taking some time out of the limelight Tove returns with the Borderline EP, a preview of the follow-up album to come. It’s was a brash, left-field take on Pop loaded with personality. This wasn’t the work of a post-TV show puppet, this was a self-assured artist grabbing Pop music with both hands and shaking it down.
A year later and this summer Tove released Kiddo, a twelve track musical manifesto that swings between the empowerment of an ex-teen star and outright vitriol against anyone who won’t let her be herself. Tove’s playful and soft vocals comes across as all sweetness and light but with a knife behind her back; and it’s this underlying antagonism amid a sea of perfectly crafted Pop music that gives Kiddo it’s edge. Tove seems to lay out her grievances with the music industry, grievances with anyone who doesn’t like her new music and grievances with anyone who doesn’t understand her new direction and, basically, tells them to fuck off. All to some particularly Scandinavian and eclectic Pop sounds .
Kiddo hits the ground running with opening salvo that kicks off with Ain’t Got No…, a left-field opener that sways to woozy basslines and a juddering beat while Tove croons her policy statement. It’s on Ain’t Got No… that we are introduced to one of the surprising musical themes running throughout the record. Big, dirty, 303 Acid hooks; the album is packed with them. You’ll be settling into a smooth Pop tune and suddenly, from nowhere, this gritty, distorted TB-303 line with inject itself into the track, cutoff and resonance tweaked to the max. It’s one of the many unexpected teats Kiddo has to offer.
Snaren shows off Kiddo’s other musical motif. On more than one occasion Tove weaves a Dancehall flavour into her songs, bringing Dub spaciousness and rolling snares to the mix. Snaren delivers a ballsy party tune with a comfortable Tropical House vibe to the chorus. A vibe that continues into the single Ego, one of the albums more traditional chart friendly moments with it’s big R&B-lite sing-a-long chorus (and , oh look, a burbling Acid line). A mood that is mirrored on the tongue-in-cheek album closer, Brag.
The likes of Samurai Boy and Walk The Line provide typical ScandiPop fare. All crisp synths and thick production while the Dub-Pop of Burn and the majestic anthem of Decay delve deeper into the album’s physiological dark side (and Acid lines. Seriously, they just appear from nowhere!). The height of the Island influence comes on the single Boarderline, a headstrong hymn that mixes aggression and a Dancehall patter with a oddly Folk like elements which contrast nicely with the Pop ballad turned ominous dark SynthPop of Who’s Got News.
Of the album’s other two singles, Number One feels like the earliest track on Kiddo, maybe Tove shedding her former self? while Even If I’m Loud It Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking To You, the records biggest hit, is a crazy, chanted, literal “fuck off” to anyone pretentious to think themselves above Pop music. Possible the most infectious song of the decade.
Sometimes political, sometimes social, always feminist, Kiddo is not just a coming-of-age for Tove Styrke, but the freeing of someone tired of industry manipulation and has zero fuck to give if you like it or not. Which makes for a supremely confident record which is not-at-all hurt by the fact that it is loaded with infectious, expertly crafted, diverse, perfect Pop.
When last we checked Liskka were an all girl trio, now we’re not so sure. Formed from the ashes of Boy/Girl swirly Indie-Electro outfit Happy Hunting, Jana Tyrell enlisted Susie Wedderburn and Hannah Ashman to form her new group, launching with the effervescent As It Goes (I Give). Now, however, it appears that Liskka are, well, a Boy/Girl Indie-Electro outfit (again). The giveaways being copious amounts of male vocals on the new tracks and a Mr. Rick David listed as Jana’s other band member. Anyway, whatever the make up of Jana Tyrell’s band of troubadours; Liskka have just released their début proper EP via Pink Bird Records, a five track affair loaded with experimental Popisms and a wealth of influences.
You’ll find As It Goes (I Give) squeezed onto the end of the EP, a cacophonous Future R&B track wrapped in Chillwave duvet. Eclectic percussion meeting girl harmonies in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. As with most of the EP, the track battles with chaos and brings the charm out of the noise; at once alarming and enchanting, the track kinda’ gets under your skin.
Of the new tunes present Cold really stood out for us on the EP, a symphony of broken samples, reverb washed chords and ethereal vocals. Still keeping an R&B swing, but pushing it to it’s most unrecognizable limits as Liskka’s sonic experimentalism layer the organic with the synthetic to haunting effect. The enigmatic arrangement and obscure instrumentation made human by Jana’s versatile voice. Far From Us is more traditionally Shoegaze, a tad to guitary for our tastes and features male vocals prominently; as does the EP’s opener Night Terrors, a perfectly pleasant IndiePop anthem but we do feel Liskka works best with an intangible female voice at the fore.
The self-titled EP’s remaining track, Ghost In The Machine, certainly delivered on everything we love about Liskka and was the other stand out new track in our humble opinion. Building it’s own majesty on an multiform swing groove and a mystical sound pallet. Switching things up a little, Liskka play around with breakbeats and fuller synths as the song builds, resulting in the most powerful track on the EP. Disjointed and dissonant elements coming together in Liskka’s talented hands to create a beautiful whole. Which is much like Liskka in general actually, and the EP in total. Sometimes it doesn’t work, more often it does; and when it does it delivers something truly captivating.
Whoop! There’s a new tune from Brighton based ElectroPop experimentalists IYES. Last year this duo really did the business with a string of tunes, such as Breathe and Toys, which were not only catchy and compelling, but also interesting as hell. These guys have a new EP (the first of many to come), as they put it, brewing; and right now you can have a taste of what to expect from the forthcoming release in the form of the first track to be taken from Part One. This is So Crazy.
So Crazy takes it’s time to get started; rocking a minute of intro, an effected vocal and synthesizer brap that eases it’s way into IYES return to ChipTune sounds and an introspective vocal. So Crazy fills itself with IYES particularly unique blend of Future R&B, Bass and ecclectic electronic sound, wrapping you in a smokey and enveloping groove. Vocals spark with passion while the duo use abrasive synthetic sound in a way that creates beauty. We’re very much looking forward to the EP, and the EP after that, and the EP after that…
The Matts are at it again. Following their surprise monster of a reMix of Pixies’ Monkeys Gone To Heaven a couple of months ago; the Matt Van Schie and MiGHty mOUse coalition of Du Tonc have rocked up with this slick reworking of the late Aaliyah’s 2002 tune Rock The Boat. The duo have a new single out pretty soon, but until then feat your ears on this bubble and laid back Disco reMix. Free download too; which is nice.
Du Tonc serve up a warm and hazy slice if the most laid back Disco sounds around. Utterly without a care int he world, this reMix of Rock The Boat totally strips you of all your troubles and orders you to flippin’ chill. Du Tonc’s trademark combination of cheeky Tropical licks, robust lazy basslines and blissed out keys transport of to a sunnier and altogether more nostalgic place while they pepper the tune with dreamy synths and a hint of talkbox. Believe us, you’ll feel 100-times better after listening to this tune.
Last month the Disclosure dropped Holding On, the first single from their forthcoming new album Caracal. Featuring vocals from Grammy award winning singer Gregory Porter the track is a warm and glowing slice of UK Deep House. This tune has now been given a relentless dancefloor reMix by Bristolian producer Julio Bashmore. Most likely for slated for a forthcoming reMix single, ‘cos there’s no way this track and stay unreleased.
Bashmore takes his time building up hypnotic groove based on undulating loops. Contrasting the reMixes rumbling baseline and knife edge hook with Porter’s comfortable and soulful vocal makes for an intoxicating six minutes. Loaded with a classic build, and groove you can get lost in, this track is summer festival gold and not to be confused with Bashmore’s own Holding On.
One of our prized pick-ups from this year’s Record Store Day was the second reMix 12” from L.A. Future R&B experimentalist BANKS. The reMixes Part 2 release featured two version of her most often reMixed track Beggin’ For Thread; one of which came straight from Belgian Disco maestro Aeroplane. Vito De Luca’s mix has just hit the digital world on his SoundCloud page, so if you didn’t manage to get hold of the record you can wrap your Internet ears around it right now.
You know where you are with an Aeroplane reMix. Vito consistently delivers quality like a brand name you can trust. Cleanly produced Disco and House, bright and shiny, with Pop sensibilities that what Aeroplane stands for and on this reMix he flips BANKS’ enigmatic presence into a bouncy DiscoPop existence, her smoky vocals taking on a new upbeat quality among Aeroplane’s buoyant bass and lush pads.
London based Future R&B noodler Leo Kalyan is gearing up for the release of his début proper EP later this month. After a string of well received singles and the Stranger mixtape Leo is ready for his première label release on Believe Records, to be titled Silver Linings. Both Annie Mac and Mista Jam have supported his tunes on Radio1 as we are sure they will this new one. It’s called Fingertips; check it out.
Kalyan weaves a laid back, almost Tropical, breezyness into his sound on Fingertips. An emotional rush of hazy synths and springy, rolling R&B beats which Kalyan makes his own with this typical heartfelt croon. A woozy groove with a big rush of a chorus, Fingertips is a sweet teaser for the forthcoming EP.
♫ Leo Kalyan – Fingertips
Leo Kalyan’s Silver Linings EP is released 29th July.