Goulding calls the lead single from her new album a "song of realization."
She tells MTV: "I've moved on quite a bit since the first album, because I've discovered so much; I've learned a lot more and I've grown up a lot more. I've gained more influences and different influences and people have influenced it; I suppose just circumstances. It's a bit more tribal and anthemic; a bit more piano and vocal than anything. The last album was very electronic, but it was tied in with my voice; this one, to me, is way more of a pop record."
The OXD Mirror is a weekly music column brought to you by the boys of OCCUPY THE DISCO (OXD), a New York City based movement created by three music lovers, Ru Bhatt, Josh Appelbaum, and Tadeu Magalhães, who want to share their love for disco, house and dance music with the world.
Ellie Goulding - Anything Could Happen
Although Ellie Goulding's debut album was released in the UK in 2010, the bonus single and title track, 'Lights,' is currently topping the charts in the United States. This is fortunate for her as her second album, Halcyon, is released this October. The lead single, 'Anything Could Happen,' produced by Kish Mauve, dives deeply into the synth-pop sound Goulding experimented with on Lights. The poignant lyrics, accented by Goulding's unique warble, give a refreshing, hopeful twist to what easily could have been a somber "breakup" song. The highlight of the track is clearly the bridge: Goulding's chant crescendos as the beat escalates, ending in a gutteral roar, a sound the audience certainly does not expect from someone so delicate.
Blood Diamonds (feat Grimes) - 'Phone Sex'
Armed with a bottle of gin, Blood Diamonds (Michael Diamond) teamed up with his close friend Grimes (Claire Boucher) on a late night endeavour to create "the perfect pop song." Known for his sun-drenched, luxurious productions, L.A.-based Diamond cites K-pop as an additional influence for this summer anthem. He combines calypso drums and Boucher's ethereal voice to give the song a dream-like quality while the catchy chorus reins you in with its flirtatious "hey daddy" refrain. Creating the perfect pop song may be considered a lofty goal but i commend the duo for aspiring to it. Whether they are successful is up to the listener but this is certainly a valiant attempt. I should note that the Lemonade rework complements the original nicely with a production that emphasizes the fantasy elements of the song. Listen to it on our website.
It's not every day that you look at the new release schedule for a given week and find out that at least four new albums being issued this week arrive courtesy of artistically venerable — and commercially successful! — artists who are, almost incidentally, openly gay. But what's really interesting is the diversity we find in those four artists: a 50-year-old iconic elder statesman from Georgia, a young man from London born to Nigerian parents, a pair of Canadian identical twins, and a thirty-something-year-old vegan from Reykjavík, Iceland, who sings predominantly in a language he made up. That they're all gay, one might argue, is the least interesting thing about them. That they're all approaching their art with honesty and a certain level of transparency, however, is more significant. It's not that we're "post-gay" — as some might prematurely suggest — but that, perhaps, there is a growing appreciation for the valuable perspective that is unique to the openly gay artist. Being out only adds to this cultural resonance, and it seemed important to point that out.
ON THE INSIDE: A career-spanning retrospective that leaves few stones unturned, the final R.E.M. collection features 40 tracks — including three new songs — and, if you're over 30 years old, it might surprise you: This band soundtracked your life more than you ever thought possible. To deny the sheer range of influence that R.E.M. has had on American rock music is impossible.
ON THE INSIDE: The follow up to 2010's The Boxer, Kele's latest EP without Bloc Party is more succinct and a whole lot more confident. "What Did I Do?" — the London dubstep-tinged lead single that introduces us to guest vocalist Lucy Taylor — is a good place to start, while his cover of Q Lazzarus's classic "Goodbye Horses" almost rewrites ownership of the song. Also impossible to ignore: Somebody's been hitting the gym lately.
ON THE INSIDE: A double-live album is, in almost all but the rarest of circumstances, a contract-filler or an ego boost. But in the case of Sigur Rós, it's an opportunity: The entire album (and full-length DVD movie) is performed as a four-piece, which brings an almost ascetic quality to the majesty of the original recordings — an equally as satisfying, but differentiated listening experience that reveals how layered these songs really are.
ON THE INSIDE: After six full-length albums, Tegan and Sara's eponymous band release a full-length concert CD/DVD — including a pair of short documentary films — that span the duo's twelve-year career. It's as earnest as you'd imagine. The live set is something like an episode of VH1 Storytellers, and if you've ever been to a Tegan and Sara show, you know: There quite possibly isn't a better format to see them.
In addition to releasing Aphrodite Les Folies: Live In London on CD and DVD on November 29th — in which she covers the Eurythmics! — the indefatigable Kylie Minogue has also announced a new album on deck for 2012. The singer is currently in the studio to rework a number of her classic songs for a 25th anniversary compilation to celebrate the release of her debut single, "Locomotion."
Ellie Goulding is finally gaining traction on American radio with "Lights," but she's clearly trying to keep the songs fresh: The singer will release a new EP, Live at Amoeba, in honor of Record Store Day on November 25. The four-song set was recorded in April at San Francisco's famed Amoeba Records on Haight Street.
Courtney Love's new version of Hole eggs on Brazilian crowd to chant "Foo Fighters are gay," clearly forgets Kurt Cobain's explicit denouncement of homophobia and high-school-jock-speech. Love later claims, "I'm allowed to use the word 'fag' because I'm a gay icon," clearly forgets that no, she isn't.
Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz has been playing it low-key with his new band, Black Cards, but this week, the lyricist gets into the studio chair for a big-room remix of Rihanna's latest single "We Found Love." The result? Sounds like he's been listening to Deadmau5 and Wolfgang Gartner lately.
Bright Light Bright Light keeps hustling along until a tentative February 20th worldwide release date for his long-awaited debut album. This week, he offers up some free downloads of '90s-based mash-ups that he constructed for Another Night, his own monthly party in London: Check out TLC vs. Snap's "Rhythm is a Scrub" and Tori Amos vs. Madonna's "Professional Vogue."
UK electropop favorite Little Boots returns this week with the lead single to her forthcoming as-yet-untitled second album, and it's not your typical three-minute pop song: "Shake" is a six-minute floor-filler produced by Simian Mobile Disco's James Ford, geared more for the club than for the radio, but conceivably viable for either. If you're in the neighborhood, Little Boots comes to America for DJ appearances in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco this time next week.
SOUND & VISION:
Timo Maas — "College '84" (feat. Brian Molko)
This one, I must admit, was a grower: Timo Maas is a long-time German techno and progressive house producer who came of age in the Global Underground era of clubland, while Brian Molko has spent the last sixteen years as the androgynous, openly bisexual lead singer of Brit-glam stalwarts Placebo. The video for "College '84" is not what it seems at first, but by the end, you'll see why this collaboration is all about techno-sex.
Duran Duran — "Girl Panic!"
Jonas Akerlund is behind Duran Duran's epic nine-minute clip for "Girl Panic!" — in which all of your favorite legendary supermodels of the world assume the roles of the band and the members of the band play everything from journalists to bellboys. Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Helena Christenson, Yasmin Le Bon, and Eva Herzigova star, while everyone else takes notes.
Miguel Migs — "Everybody" (feat. Evelyn "Champagne" King)
San Francisco deep house legend Miguel Migs released his latest album, Outside the Skyline, earlier this year, and there was really no getting around it: Of all the guest collaborators on the record — including Bebel Gilberto and Meshell Ndegeocello, among others — the return of disco legend Evelyn "Champagne" King was truly something special. This week, "Everybody" gets the buoyant retro-club video it demands.
Patrick Wolf — "The Falcons"
Lupercalia, the long-awaited fifth album from Patrick Wolf, certainly deserves to find itself across any number of Best of 2011 lists, but "The Falcons" is a pretty awesome string around your finger: Directed by Japanese visual artist Noriko Okaku, Wolf's latest video embodies Lupercalia's joyful energy and airborne tenor. It's the visual equivalent of a weight being lifted.
WHO: A legendary pop music and style icon, if there were no Grace Jones, there would be no … well, almost everyone.
WHY: Hurricane has already seen its release overseas, hitting the Top 40 Albums Chart in ten different countries, but its official American release isn't due until next month. Collaborations with everyone from Wendy & Lisa to Tricky and Sly & Robbie guitarist Barry Reynolds flesh out the album, but make no mistake: This is a modern Grace Jones affair.
WHEN: September 6
The Rapture — In The Grace of Your Love (DFA)
WHO: New York City provocateurs who spearheaded this decade's indie-dance movement.
WHY: After a dalliance with the major label world and ongoing collaborations with traditional techno scene stars, Brooklyn's Rapture return to James Murphy's DFA label for their fourth full-length album. Lead single "How Deep Is Your Love?" inverts a piano-house hook into a nu-disco argument against modern quantized rhythms — loose and funky, like what you'd imagine ESG would sound like in 2011.
WHEN: September 6
Das Racist — Relax (Greedhead Music)
WHO: Political satirists, authentic rappers, and neo-Dadaist muckrakers drop their official debut.
WHY: If you wanna get all academic about it, Das Racist are becoming increasingly effective cultural critics with an Absurdist slant. A quick definition of the movement — of "an avant-garde style in which structure, plot, and characterization are disregarded or garbled in order to stress the lack of logic in nature and man's isolation in a universe which has no meaning" — kind of underlines the fact, and on their debut actually-for-sale album, the crew seem at it again: Rest assured, "Rainbow in the Dark" has nothing to do with Ronnie James Dio.
WHEN: September 13
Ladytron — Gravity The Seducer (Nettwerk)
WHO: Longstanding electro-pop favorites from Liverpool, Ladytron anticipated the '80s revival before the '90s were over.
WHY: Having already released three songs from the album, there is a suggestion here that Ladytron are taking a more ethereal approach: "Ambulances" weaves in and out of consciousness not unlike Elizabeth Fraser's Cocteau Twins, while lead single "White Elephant" offers a synthesized take on a classic Motown rhythm. It's a whole lot of ageless beauty.
WHEN: September 13
Björk — Biophilia (One Little Indian/WEA)
WHO: A fearless sonic innovator, Björk's influence and dialogue with the entirety of the electronic music world is inestimable.
WHY: If "Crystalline" is any indication, Biophilia may very well hark back to Björk's more abstract techno output — the tension of its glitch giving way to a lawless breakbeat that, somehow, never loses the melody. The simultaneous control and lack of restraint is just masterful.
WHEN: September 27
Feist — Metals (Cherrytree/Interscope)
WHO: A Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter who is both a member of Broken Social Scene and a one-time collaborator with Elmo on Sesame Street.
WHY: The long-awaited follow-up to The Reminder, Feist's fourth proper solo album doesn't seem to be making any drastic left turns, as the singer calls on trusted producers Mocky and Chilly Gonzales to help oversee the project. The addition of Valgeir Sigurðsson to the fold, however, may suggest a more orchestrated approach: Sigurðsson's CV includes work with alt-classical composer Nico Muhly, avant-folk duo Coco Rosie, and fellow Icelander Björk.
WHEN: October 4
M83 — Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (Mute)
WHO: Your favorite French ambient-electro mainstay and nu-gaze architect gets ambitious.
WHY: If you haven't heard the lead single from this forthcoming double-album by M83, then hurry up. "Midnight City" is exactly what Anthony Gonzalez promised from this formidable work, describing it as "pop — and very epic." If he can maintain this kind of enterprising spirit over two discs, we may be talking about an instant classic here.
In one of the more remarkable moments to occur in the wake of Amy Winehouse's death, legendary singer Ronnie Spector released her as-yet-unheard, and utterly amazing rendition of "Back to Black." "I'm devastated," Spector said. "Every time I looked at her, it was like I was looking at myself. She had my beehive, my eyeliner, my attitude. She had such a great soul in her voice and her lyrics were so amazing that I couldn't help but sing one of her songs." Also worth noting: I composed an essay about the cultural and critical response to Winehouse's passing for MySpace Music. The takeaway? This isn't about us.
Beyoncé's younger sister Solange has been making the indie rounds a lot lately — collaborating with members of Grizzly Bear and Of Montreal, among others. Now, she can add DFA recording artist to her budding résumé: Solange lent her vocals to the latest 12" single by Rewards, which you can stream in its entirety now.
As long as we're talking DFA, it's worth mentioning that a pretty fantastic shot-for-shot Lego recreation of LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends" video also came out this week. It's kind of brilliant.
Reissue, repackage, repackage — or so goes the famous song. When Morrissey isn't too busy offending our sensibilities for compassion, he's signing off on insanely embellished box sets like the one Rhino plans to release on October 3: The Smiths Complete: Deluxe Collectors Box Set features remastered versions of the band's entire album discography on both CD and vinyl, as well as 25 7-inch singles, posters, and freshly written liner notes.
Out singer-songwriter and Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi has been tapped to compose the soundtrack for Cameron Crowe's latest film, We Bought A Zoo. The movie stars Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, and it's technically the second time Crowe has turned to Jónsi for scoring: Vanilla Sky featured "Svefn-G-Englar" from Sigur Rós's second album, Ágaetis Byrjun.
If the recent shoegaze revival hadn't already been confirmed, Death Cab For Cutie want to see that it is: The band stopped by the BBC Radio studios last week to perform a cover of the classic Ride song "Twisterella."
This week's Rdio playlist was inspired by the New York heatwave — and more specifically, by my desire to sequester myself in front of an air conditioner and just chill out for a while.
"Chilled" is an anti-heatwave compilation featuring an emphasis on downtempo and acoustic tracks, which as I realized while I was putting this together, tends to seriously veer towards melancholy. But the sad song is a staple of almost every genre — even Shannon's "Let The Music Play" is downright depressing if you think about it — and, on some level, I've always gravitated towards raw nerves: The insanely desperate crescendo of Ida's "Little Things" still gets to me fifteen years later, the resignation of a Christian artist renouncing his Christianity — as on David Bazan's "Hard To Be" — doesn't get any more real, and Owen's "Bad News" is not the kind of song you'll put on to cheer your friend up. Still, there's consolation in the inconsolable: This is one for your more introspective moments or your next Sunday morning comedown.
SOUND & VISION:
Beni — "It's A Bubble" (feat. Sean Delear & Turbotito)
It's almost a bit too feigned to be real, but Sydney producer Beni genuinely wants to usher the underground ball scene into the mainstream with an album called House of Beni, Paris is Burning–derived songs like "O.P.U.L.E.N.C.E.," and the video for "It's A Bubble" — which takes place at a Parisian ball. If vintage bitch-tracks and runway shade turn you on, there's a lot to work with here.
Ellie Goulding — "Starry Eyed" (U.S. Version)
Much-loved London singer Ellie Goulding continues her campaign for American domination with a new video for "Starry Eyed," and maybe I don't know much about these things, but I prefer the playful naiveté of the original version — if only because this one seems to imply that we're more susceptible to videos that feel like outtakes from Twilight. Either way, the song is pretty much perfect.
Underworld — "Diamond Jigsaw"
The standout track from Barking, "Diamond Jigsaw" is a throbbing pop song at heart — its melodic sensibility no doubt improved upon by German trance producer Paul van Dyk, who co-wrote the song. The video is a classic outsider's tale, as told by some sort of denim monster in search of his denim-monster son. I think.
Will Young — "Jealousy"
Outside of the U.S., Will Young has already achieved multiplatinum success as an out gay man and a quasi-soul pop singer — becoming the most approximate successor we've got to, say, George Michael. But on his forthcoming sixth album Echoes, Young teams up electropop producer Richard X for a sound that's already feeling like a reinvention: Lead single "Jealousy" is as emotive and grief-stricken as you can get when you're going four to the floor. It's also total pop gold.
For Jennifer Hudson to begin her sophomore album with the lyric "I've been through some things" is to point out the obvious. If by "some things" she is referring to getting married, giving birth to her first son, dropping five dress sizes, and then having to mourn the murders of her mother, brother, and nephew — allegedly at the hands of her estranged brother-in-law — then, by all means, she's been through it. But while tragedy does not cast a pall over I Remember Me, it certainly informs it: Hudson's performance is more pointed and determined than ever before, whether she's in swagger mode ("I Got This"), retrospective mode ("I Remember Me"), or self-assuring disco anthem mode ("Everybody Needs Love"), and it's this newfound urgency that takes her into even higher levels of artistry. Still, it's almost impossible to ignore the naked sentiment behind re-recording Natasha Bedingfield's "Still Here" and Brooks & Dunn's "Believe" — two songs that both, in their own way, attempt to bridge the gap between loss and healing. Hudson might still be somewhere in between the two, but this album's sheer faith and optimism clearly point towards the light.
Pet Shop Boys The Most Incredible Thing: Original Score (Astralwerks/EMI)
It turns out that the conception that Pet Shop Boys are "composing a ballet" is somewhat misleading: The score for The Most Incredible Thing, which comes out this week as a double-disc collection, is not exactly The Rite of Spring. Which means that while the opening "Prologue" begins with an orthodox orchestral movement that Stravinsky may have even smiled upon, convention is quickly subverted by the album's second minute when "The Grind" introduces a Kraftwerk-for-choreography motif that goes on to dominate the mostly instrumental set. It's a stylistic maneuver that is both consistent and consistently baffling — the opening waltz of "The Risk" somehow makes way for a spell of pulsing guitar rock, while "The Challenge" finds itself somewhere between Pet Shop Boys, a Paris is Burning runway soundtrack, and Star Wars composer John Williams — and yet there's a never a sense that Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have lost control. On the contrary, it's their ability to express restraint amid the necessary histrionic musical moments that makes The Most Incredible Thing actually quite incredible. The physicality of a Pet Shop Boys record has always been there, but without Tennant's vocal, the band's otherwise linear, emotive narrative has all the freedom to become a little bit unhinged — primal, even.
Kelly Clarkson's forthcoming fifth album is complete, but according to the singer, it will not see the light of day until September. "I realize that's a long time," she says, "but that's the best time to release it apparently." Details about the album are scarce, but we do know that Clarkson has recorded a version of Eric Hutchinson's blues-tinged "Why Don't You Try."
UK house icons Faithless have announced that, immediately following their last scheduled show on April 8 in London, the group will disband. In an official statement prepared by the group, Maxi Jazz explains, "After 15 years and six albums, I think we've probably made our collective point by now and that it's time to close the book and return the library." The band's final album, The Dance, was released last year.
In 1983 Queen singer Freddie Mercury collaborated with Michael Jackson on at least three songs — only one of which, "State Of Shock," was ever released. (A Mercury-less version became a top-ten hit for the Jacksons in 1984.) This week, Queen's Roger Taylor confirms that the tracks are currently being "worked on," but declines to expand on any further details for a release. "I'm not allowed to say too much about it," he told NME, "but they sound incredible."
Ellie Goulding recently returned to BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge for a session, and as is the custom on the show, she performed a never-before heard cover: Check out Goulding's version of The Knife's "Heartbeats" — which, if you'll remember, was also given a very different, but effective acoustic treatment by José Gonzalez in 2006.
Blur and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn has announced his latest project: Doctor Dee is a new piece of musical theater based on "the life of the 16th Century alchemist, astrologer, and spy John Dee," and is set to premiere in July. Albarn will write and star in the show, which has been scheduled to run at the English National Opera.
Back in January, the legendary songwriter, musician, and producer Nile Rodgers disclosed that he had been fighting an "aggressive cancer" since October, saying, "everything in my happy-music universe imploded." This week, however, we're happy to report that the happy-music universe is back in business: Rodgers' latest test results are cancer-free.
Of all of the post-Pete Wentz guyliner bands, Panic at the Disco always stood out for their elaborate instrumentation, verbose song titles, and dramatic sense of style. They also made an incredibly underrated album in 2008 called Pretty. Odd., which showcased a newfound love for British invasion bands like the Kinks and primed Panic well for life after emo. This week, they release Vices & Virtues — their third album overall and first as a duo, following the departure of Ryan Ross and Jon Walker in 2009. Whatever it lacks in consistency is made up for in experimentation, which one can only assume is the only way to go when half your band finds the door. Songs like "The Calendar" and "Ready To Go (Get Me Out Of My Mind)" recall the best parts of their first two records without too much nostalgia, but Vices is, at its core, seemingly more of a transition record than an endpoint.
Duran Duran's last record — produced primarily by Danja and Timbaland — was, to be honest, a bit out of their lane. Which is part of the reason why their Mark Ronson–helmed thirteenth album, All You Need Is Now, really delivers: The title track is indicative of the album's overall intent, balancing modern electronic aesthetics with classic Simon LeBon hooks that wouldn't seem out of place on a classic Duran Duran album. (One of its most successful bids, "Girl Panic!", is really only once-removed from "Girls On Film" — which, to be honest, probably needed a modern successor anyway.) Guest spots from Scissor Sisters' Ana Matronic, Kelis, and Arcade Fire's Owen Pallett round out the effort, which — despite its digital release in December — finally sees its physical release today.
In spite of the circuit haze of Peter Rauhofer and Junior Vasquez, Chicago's legendary (and openly gay) Derrick Carter has been pushing his distinct house style — which he lovingly calls "Boompty" — as a DJ, producer, and record label impresario for more than twenty years. This week he releases a 17-track mix for London's Fabric DJ series featuring Chicago staples like Justin Long, Cajmere, and Lego, in addition to longtime likeminded folk like DJ Sneak and Iz & Diz. Clubbers who don't enjoy being clubbed over the head all night with stark-and-dark tribal will find reprieve in Carter's room-enveloping sound.
While it's impossible to have predicted what a collaboration between Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor, indie darling Twin Shadow, and Solange Knowles — sister of Beyoncé — might sound like, it seems equally impossible to have predicted that it could be this good: "Kenya" is a gorgeous and complex record — subtly melodic, carefully layered, ethereally tribal — in which Solange's performance shuns the melismatic runs of her sister's greatest hits for what turns out to be a humbler, gentler Knowles. Proceeds from the single go to benefit the Replenish Africa Initiative.
Katy B — "Broken Record"
As the go-to muse for Rinse FM DJs like Benga and Magnetic Man, Katy B quickly established her presence in London dubstep and garage quarters with last year's top-five single "Katy On A Mission." Her debut album — also titled On A Mission — is due for release on April 4, and third single "Broken Record" shows the singer dabbling with a more commercial terrain. If it weren't for the sub-bass jungle throwback of a chorus, you'd think Stargate was producing.
The Joy Formidable — "Whirring"
Welsh trio The Joy Formidable recently announced "Whirring" as their debut American single, and as far as introductions go, this is a good one: It's like a noise pop Breeders for people who loved Kelley Deal at her least sedated; it's shoegaze for people who never felt My Bloody Valentine were loud enough. If you're looking to find a more enthralling female rock singer than Ritzy Bryan this year, she hasn't shown up yet.
SebastiAn — "Embody"
SebastiAn is best known as the elusive, but popular electro DJ behind a half-dozen wildly successful singles for the Ed Banger label in Paris, but with this clip — for the lead single from Total, SebastiAn's forthcoming debut — he totally takes a backseat to that magic dancing boy. In terms of can't-stop-smiling potential, this kid rates crazy high.