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Five-Finger New Music Punch: February

2013 has continued with its surging momentum resultant from being utterly packt to the brim with great music from artists new and old, with some fresh and exciting to be found behind every added layer of the giant pass-the-parcel of the blogosphere. Let’s dive in shall we: 

James Blake – ‘Retrograde’

Perfectly suited for this exceptionally chilly month, I didn’t realise quite how much this track had caught hold of me til’ I found myself with it revolving round and round in my head on my brain-deck a couple of weeks after it first made its première with Zane Lowe. It’s immensely atmospheric and soulful, with the power of the siren-sound that builds into the chorus and foregrounds the expressive delivery of “Suddenly I’m hit” being particularly memorable. All of the above is particularly heartening for exemplifying a growth in songwriting prowess that should ensure the upcoming Overgrown keeps the impressive body of work Blake has built up in the last few years on the right course.

Doldrums – ‘She Is The Wave’

The whole of Lesser Evil is well worth your attention, full of intrigue, energy and inspiration, with some similarities in soundscape to fellow Canadian synthpop purveyors Grimes and Purity Ring, and whilst this ditty perhaps isn’t the best track on the record, it’s undoubtedly one of the most immediately accessible and a great introduction to the Doldrums aesthetic.

Apparat – ‘A Violent Sky’

Having never been wholly drawn in by Apparat’s electronic work, it was with some surprise and a great deal of satisfaction that I encountered Krieg und Frienden. Originated as a soundtrack to a stage production of War and Peace and that possesses sophisticated musical elements of both, with power and beauty in equal measure – one of the standouts of the year so far.

Phoenix – ‘Entertainment’

“YAYAYAYAYAYAY!” is pretty much the only reasonable reaction to the return of Phoenix and this track in particular. It immediately captures your attention with a striking, catchy, joyous and strangely Japanese sounding synth riff, but it grows, builds and soars as it progresses and it sounds like it’ll make a sterling opening track for Bankrupt!

Foals – ‘Out Of the Woods’

I’m yet to really return to the record as a whole since reviewing it and quite liking it earlier this month, but this track from its latter half has stuck in my mind, perhaps for there somehow feeling so atypically Foals whilst very clearly coming about as the outcome of the journey their sound has been on since ‘Hummer’. Vocally and instrumentally ‘Out of the Woods’ is perhaps one of the stand-outs of the record, there’s a sensibility to it which is somewhat reminiscent of The Cure when I hear the marimba which runs throughout (…????) and the straggly, warm mandolin (….????) bridge, which is definitely a good thing. The diversity of sounds Foals encompass on this record is one of the better parts on it, accomodating the aggressive ‘Inhaler’ and the romance of tracks like this with equal comfort.

Also check out Mogwai, Girls Names, Grouper, Dan Friel  and Iceage,

Superbonus: Justin Timberlake – ‘Mirrors’

I’ve been particularly giddily excited by the return of JT, who spent the month tearing things up with the video for Suit & Tie, unleashing memorable performances at the Grammys and the Brits in particular, and perhaps most significantly for the upcoming 20/20 Experience releasing this absolutely sterling new track, a captivatingly current and yet unashamedly romantic epic which sums up just how far he’s grown since in the decade since ‘Cry Me A River’.

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