Friday, 20 May 2016

new (and old) music friday #5: ariana grande, haim, shura, DNCE

it's safe to say that this week's selection is a pretty mixed bag; then again i love nothing more than proving wrong those people who think you can't be a die-hard fan of bowie and bieber at the same time.

1. ariana grande

i wasn't even going to write a post this week, until ariana's new album, dangerous woman, was released in the early hours of today. it's ironic that she has a song called focus, because that's exactly what her third album needed. (also why was that song not included on the album?) it feels disjointed; much like in her earlier releases, she tries to incorporate a wide range of genres which means she doesn't give herself the chance to develop a signature sound of her own. if i had to describe her sound, i would honestly struggle. is it pop? is it r'n'b? is it dance? is it house? only time will tell if she manages to focus (ha) in on just one area and make it her own. 

there was however, one song that completely floored me, and it goes by the title of greedy. if i could have one wish, it would be that ariana made a whole album that sounds like this song. part pop, part funk, part disco, with a fantastic pre-chorus that gives a nod to prince, and searingly honest lyrics. it's everything i could have asked for in a song, pop or otherwise. but that's not even the best part. 

ariana grande, our lord and savior, has done what no current pop artist has ever done. in the year 2016, she has brought back the key change! that's right, the key change! i'm using exclamation marks, such is my level of excitement! however, no amount of exclamation marks can fully express how much i love this song, so please for the love of god stop whatever you're doing and listen to it now

2. DNCE

following the excellent news that joe jonas' band DNCE featured plus size model and sports illustrated cover star ashley graham as his love interest in their latest video for toothbrush, i had to give it a watch. never underestimate the power of representation - i can't explain how good it feels to see someone who has a body like mine dancing around in her underwear and giving no fucks. (2009 me is also incredibly jealous that she gets to do it with joe jonas.)

subsequently i fell in love with the song, and after playing their first single cake by the ocean to death it was nice to hear something else from the four-piece, and i've had not only the song, but the video too, on repeat for the last two days.

3. HAIM

after what feels like an eternity, haim are finally back with new music... sort of. so there haven't been any ~official~ releases as of yet, but at their show in orange county on tuesday, the trio debuted two new songs, as well as a cover of one of my favourite prince songs, i would die 4 u, which makes me so insanely happy/furious that i wasn't there to witness it for myself. 

as always, they bring serious stevie nicks realness, best seen in the latter of the two new songs, titled nothing's wrong, which starts out slow but soon builds to a frantic pace as they question their lover, why do we do this to each other, baby? 

if these songs are anything to go by, their long-awaited second album should have no problems living up to my (admittedly ridiculously) high expectations.

4. pet shop boys

i know, i know. it would seem i can't go more than one post without mentioning this band, but i find myself constantly discovering new gems from their previous albums that had somehow passed me by, and this week it's their 2013 album electric which finds itself in the spotlight again, with the tracks fluorescent, the last to die and inside a dream taking centre stage. after a fairly uneventful trip to morrisons with my mother (the joys of being home; that was literally the first time i'd left the house in days), driving down the motorway with these songs blasting through the speakers was one of those moments i know i'll look back on in the months to come. 

also worth a mention from their latest, and somewhat underwhelming, album super are burn and the pop kids. if there's anything about this band i admire, it's their desire to continue making music even if it doesn't reach the number one spot in the top 40. they do it because they love it, and that's something i respect in any artist, but particularly those who have been around for so long and continue to shape modern electronic music. my friends mock me for my love of 80s bands, but let's be real; half the music they listen to now wouldn't exist without the contributions of the pet shop boys and others like them.

5. tegan and sara

another repeat offender, but tegan and sara are on a roll lately, releasing a stream of sinfully catchy songs from their upcoming album love you to death. june 3rd, can't come soon enough, likewise the 22nd, when i'll finally get to see them live for the first time. their latest release, stop desire, sees the duo explore a more passionate side to their songwriting, quite literally. take this passion, turn it into action, they sing on the second verse, and it's an imperative, a command, making me want to be brave and seize the moment with whomever i so desire. this coupled with their new (ish) electro-pop sound means i've had it playing non-stop this week. also this interview they did with out magazine is well worth a read.

6. shura

call me biased, but there really are some incredibly talented musicians coming out of manchester lately. shura makes dreamy synth-pop that remains stuck in your head after only one listen. she's been around for a while, but after hearing a remix of her song touch in a spotify playlist last night, i listened to the original and forgot how much i loved it. the video garnered a fair bit of attention when it was released in 2014 for the diversity of couples involved, racking up an impressive 26 million views, and its lyrics hit me hard upon hearing it again - i can't believe that it's been three years / now when i see you it's so bittersweet - as they perfectly encapsulate those still-real feelings of loss for someone who has been gone a long time already. do we ever really let go?

white light is also worth a listenthere's something about it that draws me in every time i go back to it, and it's got me incredibly excited for the release of her debut album nothing's real on july 8th this year.

7. all tvvins

my last favourite comes from a relatively unknown irish band called all tvvins; a google search for them doesn't throw up much background information, except for this article by the irish times. their track record is pretty impressive though as they've supported arcade fire on tour. i first heard them in a random spotify playlist of rock-sounding songs, though if the title of this article is anything to go by, rock isn't really their thing any more. listening to their back catalogue, its clear they've taken a more pop route in recent years, and they seem totally fine with that. the song that drew me in from this aforementioned playlist was called unbelievable and had that searing, somewhat painful, passionate energy of the pop-punk bands 14 year old me used to listen to, only this time around i'm spared the dodgy haircuts and outfit choices (who let me cut my own fringe?) and just get to experience the music. 2015's too young to live sees them dabbling in funk, with its heavy bass-line and jangly guitars - the overall effect is part duran duran, part foals; a mix i'm totally into - while still retaining the sound of their indie roots, and i can't wait to see what they'll do next. 

this week's playlist can be found here

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