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The ShortListen - August 2014

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Every day we'll search the globe to find the most interesting new track to give to your ears. Exclusives, remixes, hidden gem album tracks, long-awaited returns and brand new buzz tracks hot and fresh out the kitchen: you'll find them all here.

Listen to all of them as they become available, on this Spotify Playlist

August 29th

Who is it? Laura Welsh & Ang Low

What's the story? The Brooklyn-based producer Ang Low teams up with another hotly-tipped rising star in the form of Staffordshire-born Laura Welsh to create this excellent late night listen. There's not much information about how the collaboration came to be, but you don't really need to know anything other than it works extremely well: Welsh's deft vocals sitting perfectly over an intricate production, while it's actually Low that steals the show with a haunting vocal section of his own at 1:03. Take this on a drizzly autumn evening stroll.

For fans of: Jessie Ware, The XX, London Grammar

In Three Words: Cool (and) classy collaboration



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August 28th

Who is it? Osca

What's the story? Considering that Coldplay are still merrily going around dominating the world, while their last two albums have been their best and most interesting work, it's perhaps surprising that they haven't influenced more new bands. However, there's an undoubted Chris Martin-shaped debt on the new track Illume from South Londoners Osca, featuring vulnerable vocals and a singalong-ready chorus. But it's no mere pastiche as there's extra touches of electronica and subtlety in there; nonetheless, they we'd back them to be playing arenas sooner rather than later - and who wouldn't want to do that?

For fans of: Coldplay, Kodaline, Keane

In Three Words: Downbeat Stadium Indie



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August 27th

Who is it? Say Lou Lou

What's the story? Say Lou Lou, the twin sister, Swedish-Australian duo continued their run of imperious dream pop songs when they hooked up with Lindstrøm just under three weeks ago, and now they spoil us with a bonus cover of Instant Crush, taken from Daft Punk's Random Access Memories and originally sung by Julian Casablancas. Given that it's fully 15 months since that record came out, it is perhaps a surprising choice, but it's a useful reminder that that album had a lot more to it than just Get Lucky. This version is given space to breathe, highlighting the quality of the melody and the songwriting; a nice treat for all of us waiting for the Say Lou Lou album to drop early next year - download it for free by heading here.

For fans of: Haerts, Broods, Clannad

In Three Words: Dream Daft Pop



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August 26th

Who is it? Ben Howard

What's the story? Devon's Ben Howard stealthily picked up a big and dedicated fanbase over the course of two years' touring, which culminated with 2012's Mercury-nominated Every Kingdom. Now, following the unveiling of the seven and a half minute epic End of the Affair comes the big impact single - and title track - from his second record, I Forget Where We Were. This is a bold step up, more muscular and confident than anything previously. It's hugely indebted to Jeff Buckley and Damien Rice with even a touch of Bruce Springsteen in there - but they're not exactly the worst touchstones to be referred too. This is pure class and should lead to a bucketful of sales for the album.

For fans of: Jeff Buckley, Damien Rice, Paolo Nutini

In Three Words: Stately and majestic



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August 22nd

Who is it? Run The Jewels

What's the story? While Kanye and Jay-Z were grabbing headlines with their hugely successful collaboration album Watch The Throne, Killer Mike and El-P were quietly working together to create another impressive joint effort under the banner of Run The Jewels. Their second record together, titled RTJ2, is set to be released in October (as a free download, no less) and they've just released the first song from the album called Blockbuster Night Part 1. It's a fantastically grimy monster of a track with a sinister beat that doesn't give up. It's made us very very glad it's the weekend.

For fans of: Action Bronson, Tyler, the Creator, Schoolboy Q

In three words: Unrelenting intense rap

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August 21st

Who is it? SOS

What's the story? When a song starts with a soundbite from Ryan Gosling/Michelle Williams heartbreaker Blue Valentine, you'd be forgiven for expecting what follows to be a downbeat ode to losing love but in fact, this is quite the opposite. This latest release from duo SOS has a darkness to it but it's also a hopeful, pulsating love song which has an incredibly catchy chorus that means it will have a lasting impression. Also, any song that can take a line from arguably the most depressing film ever and add some light to it, gets bonus points in our book.

For fans of: The xx, James Blake, The Weeknd

In three words: Late summer romance

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August 20th

Who is it? Saint Motel

What's the story? While summer might be clearly on the way out, depending on what time of day you're looking out of the window, here's a song that will make it feel like it's still warm outside. It's a deviously catchy new indie pop song from Saint Motel, an LA band whose music you might have heard on ads for Boardwalk Empire and the new Phones 4u ad. While they've been around since 2009, they've never quite trickled through to the mainstream, something that might change with this song, an upbeat number about a man's difficulty in showing affection to the one he loves. It will be living in your head for the rest of the day.

For fans of: The Temper Trap, Phoenix, Freelance Whales

In three words: Summery indie fun



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August 19th

Who is it? Rackhouse Pilfer

What's the story? If you’re from Ireland then you might already be wise to Rackhouse Pilfer, a six-piece alt country, bluegrass and self-proclaimed ‘stomping’ band from Sligo who are currently gathering word of mouth on those Emerald shores faster than a banjo player's thumb-work. Although when it came to picking a track from the debut album - recorded over in Nashville - we plumped for the one which keeps the knee-slapping to a minimal, muting the twanging to allow some seriously lovely harmonies to take over. You'll find heavier, more barn-storming tracks from the band here. Think Ryan Adams’ Gold. Or perhaps a funkier Mumford & Sons, who, all going well, might go a little easier on tweed and elbow patches.

For fans of: Ryan Adams, Paolo Nutini, Mumford & Sons

In three words: Beer-flinging Banjo Rock



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August 18th

Who is it? J Cole

What's the story? One of the most shocking stories of late, the controversial shooting of 18-year-old student Michael Brown, has understandably increased tensions not only in the small community of Ferguson, Missouri but in America as a whole. Acclaimed rapper J Cole, whose last release was one of 2013's finest hip hop albums, has responded with a powerful plea. It's a raw and emotional song, with palpable pain in Cole's voice, that showcases not only his undisputed talent as a wordsmith but also as a skilled and swift reactor, delivering one of the most impressive protest songs we've heard for a long time.

For fans of: Lupe Fiasco, Kendrick Lemar, Big Sean

In three words: Devastating Soulful Sadness



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August 15th

Who is it? Black Rivers

What's the story? With Doves on hiatus, it freed up bassist and lead vocalist Jimi Goodwin to release his excellent debut solo album, Odleduk earlier this year. Now it's the turn of 'the other two', as brothers Jez and Andy Williams unveil their own project, Black Rivers. It's a strange, yet satisfying beast: elements of their old 909 days as Sub Sub, interspersed with epic guitar work, all mixed through with plenty of psychedelic elements. It's a fascinating five and a half minutes - the album is released early next year and could be thrilling ride.

For fans of: Sub Sub, Tame Impala, Nick Drake

In Three Words: Energetic Psychedelic Ride



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August 14th

Who is it? Kwabs.

What's the story? We first featured Kwabs in January, with Wrong Or Right, and since then his star has continued to rise, with the release of another great song, Pray For Love, an appearance on Jools Holland and the firm support of Radio 1. Now, he goes for the jugular with a song, put online yesterday, that's the most pop thing he's done so far, yet still retains the power and sincerity of all his songs thus far. Reminiscent of Raleigh Ritchie's recent big track Stronger Than Ever, it's a strident anthem which, once again, showcases his luxuriant vocals. It's hard to not see Kwabs becoming a big star when his album comes next year.

For fans of: Seal, Kanye, Raleigh Ritchie

In Three Words: Another Strong Track



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August 13th

Who is it? DJ Shadow

What's the story? The legendary Shadow returns with his first new music since 2011's The Less You Know, The Better and it's released to celebrate the founding of his new label Liquid Amber, on which he plans to release some of his own music, as well as that of others. The Liquid Amber EP is an intriguing snapshot into where his head's at, with two new tracks: Ghost Town, a fantastic ride through a selection of future bass styles and which could have fitted in nicely on The Private Press; and Mob, which is a bouncy, minimal electro hip hop affair. It's rounded off with a Machinedrum remix of Six Days, which is always nice to hear. Our fave is Ghost Town, and it's available to download for free by clicking on the shopping trolley icon in the link below and following him on Soundcloud. Enjoy.

For fans of: RJD2, Coldcut, Trent Reznor

In Three Words: Eclectic Shadow Comeback



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August 12th

Who is it? Ryn Weaver

What's the story? In a first for The ShortListen we're featuring two songs from the same EP, but when they're this good we don't really have a choice. While 21-year-old Ryn's debut song OctaHate picked up a host of plaudits, this song, Promises is arguably better. Utterly anthemic without being bombastic, it's vulnerable yet confident, with intriguing lyrics; in fact it sounds like the sort of thing Kate Bush would have released if she was starting out today. It also features one of the best prechorus sections we've heard in years. The EP is out now on Benny Blanco's Friends Keep Secrets label, it's the most essential release of the year so far.

For fans of: Kate Bush, Lorde, Lykke Li

In Three Words: Life Affirming Stuff



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August 11th

Who is it? Nile Rodgers

What's the story? Nile Rodgers is a man who really needs no introduction, having practically invented disco (don't listen to what Calvin Harris says), before producing a lorryload of game-changing music as a producer. Naturally, many younger fans would have first discovered him when he guested on Get Lucky and he's ready to capitalise on that with his first new solo song in over ten years, in the form of Do What You Wanna Do. It's trademark disco, updated for the current day, it reminds us of Love Generation and it's impossibly infectious. Naturally, that classic, unmistakable guitar style is present and correct from the very start. Well, we wouldn't want anything else would we?

For fans of: The Knocks, Bob Sinclar, Madeon

In Three Words: Nu Nile Disco



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August 8th

Who is it? The Knocks, featuring Powers

What's the story? The ghost of Get Lucky keeps powering on - and that's strictly no bad thing in our book. The latest release, Classic, from New York favourites The Knocks sees them bid for a summer anthem, and it's all Nile Rodgers guitars, mixed with the vibe of Len's evergreen, erm, classic, Steal My Sunshine. Featuring a wonderfully laidback vocal from Powers' Crista Ru, it's irresistible. Make yourself a margarita and head to the beach with this on the stereo.

For fans of: Chic, Len, Chromeo

In Three Words: Blissed Funk Groove



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August 7th

Who is it? Future Islands, remixed by Vince Clarke

What's the story? Future Islands have been one of the success stories of the year. Kickstarted by that performance on Letterman, the ensuing album, Singles, more than justified the hype. But now comes an added dimension, as synth legend Vince Clarke (Erasure, Depeche Mode, Yazoo) remixes Doves to utterly stunning effect. Relaxed, hypnotic and melancholic, Samuel T. Herring's anguished vocals are given space to breathe, while classic synths weave their way around. This is pure class from start to finish.

For fans of: Chris Malinchak, Groove Armada, Giorgio Moroder

In Three Words: Blissed Out House



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August 6th

Who is it? Solemn Sun

What's the story? Formerly Jim Lockey And The Solemn Sun, the four-piece decided that, following two well-received albums, it was time to drop the first part of their moniker and radically alter their style. Well, if this first track under the new name is anything to go by, it was a sound decision, as a slow, heavy groove winds its way through an engrossing four minutes which immediately brings to mind the fantastic Brand New. Epic, but not try-hard, it's excellently done.

For fans of: Brand New, Manchester Orchestra, Glassjaw

In Three Words: Big Slow (and) Heavy



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August 5th

Who is it? Frances, remixed by Cesare

What's the story? In a change away from their usual style, French label Kitsuné are releasing the debut single by the 20-year-old singer-songwriter Frances, who hails from leafy Berkshire and possesses a beautiful, haunting voice not a million miles away from Birdy. While the original is a far more stripped-down, piano-led affair, we're delighted to exclusively reveal a brilliant Balearic-style, hypnotic remix of the track, courtesy of Brazilian producer Cesare; you can almost feel the Ibizan rays shining down and the waves lapping at your feet.

For fans of: Birdy, Duke Dumont, Gabrielle Aplin

In Three Words: Pure summer groove



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August 4th

Who is it? Paperwhite

What's the story? An intriguing song from this Brooklyn-based brother-sister duo, it's just about the most throwback 80s track you'll hear, yet also sounds weirdly fresh and contemporary. The understated vocals - reminiscent of Everything But The Girl's Tracey Thorn - clean and direct structure and the generally held-back vibe all help create a floaty, lush atmosphere. Hugely enjoyable.

For fans of: Ladyhawke, Marsheaux, Dubstar

In Three Words: Lush Dream Pop



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August 1st

Who is it? Mark Sullivan

What's the story? Despite sounding like some weary snooker player, expect ‘Mark Sullivan’ to flash up on the Pyramid Stage as opposed to the Crucible in the years to come. Humble moniker aside, and at the risk of a tenuous link, this precociously talented Home Counties chap has already proven he knows how to take a cue - his recently released debut EP The Slow Show - looping tricksy guitar notes with honey rich and raw vocal merging into one special record - took a spot in the top 40 iTunes chart in its first week, then came a track airing on BBC 6 Music and, well, now there's this gushing endorsement. For which we have picked out the ultra-funky If I Know Anyone, featuring Cajon and percussion from Clint Henderson to strike up a wonderful twanging and echoed slice of near ‘90s musical bliss.

For fans of: Carlos Santana, Fink, Raleigh Ritchie

In three words: Dulcet acoustic funk

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Related

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The ShortListen - October 2014

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The ShortListen - July 2014

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The ShortListen - June 2014

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The ShortListen - May 2014

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The Shortlisten - April 2014

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The ShortListen - March 2014

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