Soundcloud Roundup – Best Tracks of 2013 So Far

It’s been an incredibly long time since I’ve done one of these! Now that the year is almost exactly three quarters through felt like a good time to collect together what I’m somewhat bravely calling “Best tracks of 2013 so far”. In reality we all know it will most definitely end up being a list of songs highly skewed towards the stand out tracks from the last few months. Not that that’s such a bad thing, 2013 has seen the release of vast amounts of incredible new music –  is it really any surprise I can’t remember all of it..?!

As ever the list is roughly weighted with the “best” first, but really its meant to be viewed as a collection.

1. Angel Haze – No Bueno (Island Records)

This is how you do a diss track! Although it doesn’t call out anyone in particular its pretty clear it was written with at least half an eye on Miss Azeze Banks. “I’m your motivation bitch you owe me.” With this track Angel Lays down a solid intent for Dirty Gold – her upcoming album – be better than everyone else, something you get the feeling is pretty much guaranteed!

Sonically I’m not sure who the producer is but it’s got that Clams casino smoky hip-hop vibe, with a beat that is both intense and laidback, constantly building to a big pay-off that never materialises. As a result it’s pretty much impossible not to give this a straight rewind.

Whilst supposedly finished Dirty Gold is still lacking a release date, so for now why not go and have a look through her extensive back catalogue of mixtapes.

2. Sophie – Bipp (Numbers)

If any track deserved to be the song of the summer it’s this. Unfortunately for Sophie (Who potentially confusingly is a man, not that it really matters), our cruel and unpredictable British summer had other ideas, leaving this to be a pretty big track but not the summer smash that it truly deserved  – For that you’re going to have to look to Breach. I can’t help feeling that without the internet fracturing music fans into ever smaller cliques big cross over tracks and collective cultural “I was there” moments the type our parents and their friends reminisce over are becoming increasingly sparser. That said even my notoriously difficult to please little brother was into this sugary sweet and incredibly hooky piece of House.

3. Roses Gabor – Stars (Girls Music)

Not strictly this year, but released right at the tail end of the 2012 through Toddla T’s Girls Music, I decided to include this on the basis that its “Close enough”.

With production by the man like Redlight this was always going to be a bit interesting. The result is a chopped UP slice of R&B that feels just as at home in the club as it does, well any where else really.

4. FTSE – St Tropez (Lucky Number)

Music is all about context, so maybe I’m a bit bias about this one. The first time I heard it I was heading to the south of France with a broken ankle. Maybe that’s why the lyric “Life’s hard and it aint getting any better, grab your shit we’ll go to St Tropez together, when we go we forget about it all.” Resonated so strongly with me. Personally though I like to think that it’s because he’s summed up the essence of life, and what it is to be young for my generation, but maybe I’m just over thinking it.

Either way coupled with what is essentially a dreamy chilled piece of synth pop, FTSE has managed to produce one of the most though provoking escapist tracks of the year.

Its out on lucky me September 30th, head over to bandcamp to pre-order.

5. Mount Kimbie – Made To Stray (Warp Records)

The first single taken from their now released second album “Cold Spring Fault Less Youth” made to stray contains all the hallmarks of a great Mount Kimbie song but at the same time marked an interesting departure from their previous material. Pretty much exactly what you want in a lead single.

A big theme in releases this year seems to be teasing the listeners, with slow delicate build-ups and short sweet pay-offs. Something incredibly well executed in Made To Stray. Building up slowly over almost three minuets, finally the vocal pay off arrives pulling the whole thing up yet another level before disappearing almost as quickly.

6. A-Minor – Thinking Bout The Things

If anything can be considered a Soundcloud hit then this is it. A warm disco house cut that has you reaching for the volume control and heading for the dance floor simultaneously.

Other than any information you can glean from his website, twitter and facebook very little seems to be known about A-Minor, with production this on point it seems unlikely that it will remain that way for too long.

 7. Kanye West – Blood On The Leaves (Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam)

It’s almost impossible to pick a best track off of Yeezus, one of the most progressive and forward thinking Hip-Hop albums since last time Kanye decided to change the game (Especially if you compare it to Jay-Z’s totally un-inspiring Magna Carta). I’ve gone with what is arguably the most obvious choice. When you think about it blood on the leaves has been a long time coming in many ways sounding like a re-visit to the themes of 2008’s “808’s & Heartbreak” updated for 2013. In places it can feel a bit try-hardy “When she tried her first molly” – yeah we get it Kanye you’re still relevant – but to hold that against it is possibly to miss the point a little.

I’m not convinced this is the best track on the album but if you haven’t listened to the whole thing at least 100 times by now quite frankly were have you been?

8. Maya Jane Coles – Burning Bright

Lets get one thing out of the way – sure we all know that “Everything” is far and away the best track on Comfort, but that’s largely due to the presence of Karin Park’s vocal coupled with the fact that it feels as though it could have come straight off the second Knife album we’re all craving – so I’m discounting that.

Beyond that Burning Bright stands up as one of the albums high points. Kim Ann Foxman delivers an incredible almost pop star vocal working perfectly with Maya’s warm bassy sound. Comfort is yet another record that is totally worth checking out in its entirety.

9. Chase & Status – Lost & Not Found

In years to come this song will be the one that people hold up as the time when Chase & Status started the transition from underground stars to proper all out pop stars.

Whilst it definitely has a strong Chase & Status vibe Lost & Not Found is a more grown up, more relaxed song than the majority of their previous offerings. It almost sounds like it was written for mainstream radio play but not in a bad Connor Maynard kind of way. Listening to this you can feel the euphoric bliss dripping out of it. It’s almost impossible not to transport yourself back into some hazy 4 AM festival memories.

10. Dels – Black Salad (Ninja Tune)

And finally – Not that I set out to write 10 it just sort of ended up like that – Dels with black salad. Our interview with Dels is still by far and away (Like hundreds of times) the most read piece of content on the site.

This track is sort of half incredibly catchy if slightly weird, and half intro to the “Black Salad EP”. Either way it works for me. Also worth a mention on the EP is Bird Milk.

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Dems Live @ Birthdays

dems press logo

Taking to the stage to celebrate the release of new single “Christabel” Dems delivered what can only be described as a near perfect set, spoiled only slightly by the terrible sound at Birthdays. Even though the set was almost too quiet to properly hear in places it was abundantly clear that Dems have something a little special.

Bookended by arguably their best two tracks Inner O and House (Track List below), the set was short but sweet, coming in at ~40min. Regular readers will no doubt be aware that personally I think this is pretty much the perfect set length. I regularly seem to spend more time editing tweets than anything else I write (Can you tell…), and there’s a reason for that – It’s incredibly difficult to set out what you want to say concisely without overdoing it. That’s exactly what Dems have managed to do with this set, lay down exactly who they are and what they’re about without going on about it to the point that people are over it.

The undisputed highlight of the show came in the form of a cover of T2’s Heartbroken, not because it stood out as being any better than their own material, don’t get me wrong they’re a band with songs for days, rather because of the moment of pure delighted surprise it drew from the crowd.

A bit shout out is also due to artist Matthew Plummer-Fernandez for putting together one of the best live visuals I’ve seen  for a long time.

If you get a chance to catch Dems live I would highly recommend it, not only do they know how to write a song but they can also put on a show. Big things surely await..

Track List

  1. Inner O
  2. Christabel
  3. T4 – Heartbroken (cover)
  4. Desire
  5. Bridesmaid (I think?)
  6. Down On You
  7. House

Mario Balotelli The Musical

Mario Balotelli in headphonesUnless you live under a rock or something you’ve probably noticed that the premiership is back in full swing. That in mind now seems the perfect time to pay tribute to one of the biggest characters in the game. Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli.

I’m sure you know about all the, allergy to grass, fireworks in the bathroom, and training bib antics so we’ve prepared something a little different.

This is Mario in Music!

A track by track guide to Mr B’s musical appearances. That’s right all of the tracks below have one thing in common, they all mention the man himself.

Melé – Beamer Ft. Kano

“Teach them how to Balotelli”  –  OK so i have no idea what that means, but I like to imagine that it’s a cross between  wrestling a training bib, and setting things on fire.. Who wouldn’t be up for that? I’m in…

This beat is unbelievably infectious, if your feeling it then you can download Mele’s free beat tape here.

Ruff Sqwad – Mario balotelli

With a hook based around the infamous “Why always me” tee-shirt this song is the most “Mario” from start to finish.

In a way I almost wish Ruff Sqwad had used this Prince Rapid produced beat for something a little less “novelty”, because it’s absolutely HUGE!

This is still one of the biggest songs of the year for me, and easily the best song to come from the Ruff Sqwad crew for time.

RIO – Can’t Stop ft. Mr Benz

A bit more subtle this one, but look hard enough and you can see Mario pop up and show off some of his skillz in the video.

I guess it kinda makes sence that Mario keeps on popping up in songs with MC’s and rappers, after all there’s just something about him that feels a bit like footballs version of grime, which Rio Ferdinand and all the others who’ve tried just can’t quite pull off…

Aaliyah ft Drake – Enough Said

Whatever you think about this whole posthumous Aaliyah thing there’s no getting round it, Mario’s somehow there right in the middle of it. Lets face it you haven’t made it of your not “swerving with Balotelli”, never mind the fact that he was only 11 when Aaliyah died.

Balotelli is yet to get behind the mic, although with Usain Bolt releasing his own track Faster Then Lightning, and Arsenal’s Emmanuel Frimpong jumping on this Lethal B beat it’s only a matter of time right?

Mario on the champagne

Deco Child – The full Interview

A while back we got Ninja Tune artist Deco Child down to the studio to record an exclusive interview and guest mix, for The Plasticine Box radio show.

After sitting on (read forgetting to post) it for a while, it’s about time that the listen again links were posted up on the blog. For your aural pleasure we present the interview and guest mix separately, or if you have an hour to kill then why not check them out in the context of the whole show?

 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Radio Show Track Listing:-

Paper Diamond – Turn The Lights On

Deco Child – S&G

Toddla T – Alive ft. Shola Ama

Four Tet -128 Harps

Azealia Banks – Nathan

Wiley – Step 14

Frank Ocean – Whip Appeal

No Ceremonies – HOLDONME

Olympic Volleyball – Team GB Vs Australia

Ok so let’s start with the volleyball…. Team GB are RUBBISH at men’s volleyball (Yes they really do deserve a capital rubbish!). The main issue is that they can’t serve. Even I, knowing almost nothing about volleyball, can safely say it’s impossible to win if you can’t hit the ball into the court. Couple this with what can only be described as the venomous serve of Adam White and it’s no surprise that Team GB lost in straight sets to an Australia side that didn’t really look like they were trying… At least Booing Australia is one of my favourite ever things. Just as well there wasn’t much to cheer.

The next match up, Brasil Vs Russia managed to make Team GB look even worse. Who knew the Russians were soo good? Sure they lost in straight sets too, but the game was way higher quality that anything GB produced. The GB Ambition squad were sat behind us, so lets hope they were taking notes for Rio 2016.

Away from the sport the whole event was seamlessly organised, the security efficient, if a bit intense. The army was defiantly running the show, I only saw one lonely looking G4S guy the whole day! This does kinda beg the question, if we had all these spare soldiers knocking around at such short notice what was the point in even bothering to pay and recruit private security?

Getting our sponsor on

That’s security, the other big issue of the games? Sponsors… This might be a controversial opinion, but I really don’t think that there was enough sponsorship or branding within the arena. I was kinda looking forward to getting into the Olympic spirit with a Mc Donald’s, Heineken and some sport. I don’t even like Mc Donald’s it just feels like it should be an integral part of the experience. You might think “well the sponsorship has done its job” but go with this a second… Imagine how much more fun it would be if the Hype man was dressed as Ronald Mc Donald, there was a giant a giant Coke fountain, and someone giving away free dairy milk samples… Admittedly I’m not quite sure how Dow Chemical’s fit into this happy scene but you get the idea. LOCOG ask you to turn up two hours early, at least it would be something to do in the warehouse like holding area.

It seems that the final big issue of the London games is empty seats, particularly the corporate and sponsors seats. What empty seats…?

Sure Team GB were rubbish and there were a few empty seats but who cares? I had a lovely time, everyone should be very proud of the quality, organisation and atmosphere of the London games.

For more pictures check out the slideshow.

Is It summer Time Yet? – DJ Dibs Thinks So

One thing that must be said about London based DJ Dibs is that she’s ahead of the curve, releasing 4 summer inspired mixtapes before the first tiny little rays of sunshine had even managed to pierce the thick rain clouds filling the British skyline. Now that those clouds seem to have departed, (Just in time for the Olympics!) I think it’s about time I posted this to inject a little summer into the stereo. The mixtapes span R&B, Afrobeats, Party time, and a 120BPM dance around your garden tip.

As if all of that wasn’t enough to be getting on with word on the street is that she’s going to start producing beats too… Some of the best producers come from solid DJ backgrounds, so lets wait and see what comes out of that.

If you like what you hear then you can check her out on Facebook here to keep up to date with live gigs and things.

Deco Child picks his “Get out of Jail free” Records

A couple of weeks back, I met up for a chat with hot new Ninja Tune signing Deco Child, amongst other things I asked him which records never leave his DJ bag. Those “get out of Jail” records for when the crowd aren’t quite going your way. Listen below to find out which tunes he picked, discussed by the man himself….

Get Out Of Jail Free CardCan’t listen? Here’s the list:-

1 –Toddla T – Take It Back (Dillon Francis Remix)

2 – Floating Points – Obfuse

3 – TNT – Hot Gyal

4 – Capac – Circle, yes

5 – Clockwork – Squad Up (Torro Torro Remix)

6 – Gregor Salto Feat. Melissa Fortes – Madalena (Team Jaguar Remix)

7 – Clicks & Whistles – Raw Passion

You can check out the full interview on The Plasticine Box radio show broadcast via http://www.rarefm.co.uk on monday the 2nd of July 2012 from 8 PM.

Deco Childs Second single “S&G” is released 02/06/2012 on Ninja Tune, it’s up for pre-order now, along with b-side “Diamond Drops” via the Ninja store. You can listen below.