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The ShortListen - January 2014


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

January 31st

Who is it? Dominique Young Unique

What's the story? While Azealia Banks continues her one-woman crusade to alienate everyone on planet earth, she has been well and truly left behind by the new breed of up-and-comers. Chiefly, the best of the bunch is Dominique Young Unique. Having featured on Diplo & DJ Fresh's monster hit Earthquake and Le Youth's Dance With Me (featured previously as a ShortListen track of the day), she now unleashes this Fresh and Benga production Throw It Down. It's unrelenting, dark and has a sample that reminds us of Jump Around. You can't go far wrong with that can you?

For fans of: DJ Fresh, Diplo, Iggy Azalea

In Three Words: Fresh Big Talent


January 30th

Who is it? Young Fathers

What's the story? An Edinburgh via Nigeria and Liberia rap group, Young Fathers have been around for a few years, initially with a poppier take on things. However, now signed to the highly respected labels Anticon in the US and Big Dada in the UK, they've taken a welcome turn towards a darker, bass-heavy sound. Take a listen to this superb cut, Get Up, below and, if it's up your street, hear the forthcoming album Dead streamed here.

For fans of: Tricky, Kanye West, MF Doom

In Three Words: Claustrophobic Doom Rap


January 29th

Who is it? Banks

What's the story? One of the most hotly-tipped artists for the coming year (and included in our list of the albums you need to hear in 2014), Banks comes out of the blocks with this track, produced by LA-based Shlohmo. It's in the same dark electronic vein as her previous tracks, but more expansive and the second half of the track sees her unleash a far more unrestrained vocal than seen previously - to great effect. This should at the very least continue the hype building and could be her first hit.

For fans of: The Weeknd, Lorde, Frank Ocean

In Three Words: Dark Brooding Excellence


January 28th

Who is it? Paolo Nutini

What's the story? Not one to rush, it's been five years since Paolo's second album Sunny Side Up, where he confounded those who thought he was another MOR singer-songwriter, unveiling a completely different blues and roots sound, which proved even more popular. This track, given its radio premiere last night, continues that welcome change, being an Otis Redding-style funk-soul workout, with even some echoes of fellow Scots Primal Scream. The voice is huskier and the final thirty seconds truly euphoric. Truly, this couldn't be any further away from New Shoes and that's a great thing.

For fans of: Ray LaMontagne, Otis Redding, Joe Cocker

In Three Words: Surprising Funk Return


January 27th

Who is it? Pyramid

What's the story? Fresh from the Kitsuné stable comes French producer Pyramid; this barnstorming new track, taken from an EP, The Phoenix, is released today. We'd be remiss to not acknowledge that there is a serious debt to fellow Parisians Justice but, seeing as they've been quiet of late and their second record saw them turn away from their signature sound, there's more than enough room for Pyramid to fill the bass-monster gap. The rest of the EP is seriously impressive too, so get listening.

For fans of: Justice, Simian Mobile Disco, Daft Punk

In Three Words: Big Booming Bass


January 24th

Who is it? Ms. D

What's the story? Having already scored some serious success as a songwriter and vocalist on tracks like Wiley's summer smash Heatwave, Chipmunk's number one Oopsy Daisy and Iggy Azalea's standout track Bounce, Ms. D now unveils her first solo track. Brilliantly, the results are nothing like you'd expect from a pop songwriter, being a dreamlike, Eastern and flamenco-influenced track with some soaring vocals. It's brief and understated, which simply serves to make it more intriguing. A great introduction.

For fans of: Erykah Badu, Shakira, Queen's Innuendo

In Three Words: Mystical, cinematic, magisterial


January 23rd

Who is it? Disclosure, featuring Mary J Blige

What's the story? Following their Grammy nomination, Disclosure make their move to join the mainstream EDM movement in America by unveiling this new version of F For You featuring none other than soul queen Mary J Blige. It's a seriously impressive guest vocal to get on board and, what's more, it completely works, taking the original and adding an extra layer of sassiness to it. A marvellous side effect is that it'll now mix perfectly with Livin' Joy and Ce Ce Peniston in your DJ sets.

For fans of: Rudimental, Nightcrawlers

In Three Words: Tip Top Reworking


January 22nd

Who is it? Crystal Bats

What's the story? It's another electro two-piece, but who cares when the tunes are this good. Crystal Bats have been around for a year or two, but this is their breakout song, a beautifully suave affair hugely complimented by this video, which emerged yesterday. It's full of fantastic 80s reference points, and 3:12 sees possibly the greatest guitar solo video moment since Slash in November Rain. Make yourself a cocktail, put on your best white suit, and stick this on the stereo.

For fans of: Empire of the Sun, George Michael, Hall & Oates

In Three Words: Sophisticated 80s Electro


January 21st

Who is it? Thomas J Speight

What's the story? January is a tough month: the Christmas festivities are over and the winter chills are setting in. So around this time, sometimes we need a musical hug, and it comes in the form of this track from London-based singer-songwriter Thomas J Speight. A producer of consistently excellent songs, this is the latest, and it's just the kind of warm-hearted song we want to hear right now.

For fans of: Keane, Luke Sital-Singh, The Coral

In Three Words: Endearing Indie Folk


January 20th

Who is it? Galantis, remixed by Danny Howard

What's the story? Pharrell's Happy is dominating the charts, and now Galantis are urging us to Smile. Don't these people know it's January? But this track - the work of the new project from producers Christian "Bloodshy" Karlsson of Miike Snow, and Linus Eklöw aka Style of Eye - is making us just do that. The original is here, but we've got the exclusive of a (whisper it, superior) hi-NRG trance reworking by Radio 1's King of dance anthems Danny Howard. If this doesn't have you jumping round the office on a Monday morning, we don't know what will.

For fans of: Swedish House Mafia, Armin Van Buuren

In Three Words: Smile and Dance


January 17th

Who is it? Wild Cub

What's the story? OK, so we're a little late on this one, but such is its utter brilliance - and the fact that the record it features on is being given a bells and whistles rerelease on Monday via the hugely respected indie Mom & Pop - we're going to make an exception. Wild Cub are a Nashville-based 2-piece, ably supported by a cast of other musicians and their debut record Youth was originally self-released last year and, off the back of a Bose advert, this song, Thunder Clatter made it to 59 on the charts. They've just toured the UK with The 1975, so this irresistible tune could be making a reappearance in a much higher position very soon.

For fans of: St Lucia, The 1975, Friendly Fires

In Three Words: Life-affirming uplifting brilliance


January 16th

Who is it? Le Youth, featuring Dominique Young Unique

What's the story? Le Youth, the LA-based producer, follows up last year's sleeper hit C O O L with an irresistible slice of 80s-inspired house - the video emerged this week and features 3 minutes of models posing, which you can't really go wrong with. Dance With Me samples TLC's classic No Scrubs, throws in some old-school production touches, leaves to simmer and garnishes with a rap from Dominique Young Unique (fresh from featuring on last year's enormotune Earthquake). It also reminds us of Tensnake's evergreen Coma Cat, so another thumbs up from us.

For fans of: Tensnake, Shalamar, Greg Wilson

In Three Words: Big Summer Hit


January 15th

Who is it? Elbow

What's the story? The Bury boys return with the first track - premiered this morning - from their 6th studio album, and it's clear the magic is still there. This ambitious opus makes good on their previous comments that the album would be more experimental, being an amalgam of effectively two different songs (hence the title Fly Boy Blue/Lunette) - both excellent in their own ways, with some intriguing lyrics from Guy Garvey, and excellent bass playing from the often-overlooked Pete Turner. It's very Peter Gabriel too - no surprise given the recording location of Gabriel's Real World Studios - and that is always a good thing.

For fans of: Villagers, Peter Gabriel, Richard Hawley

In Three Words: Warm Welcome Return


January 14th

Who is it? Foster The People

What's the story? We picked Foster The People's second record (now given the title Supermodel) as one of our 15 albums you need to hear in 2014, and the first cut from it emerged last night in the form of Coming Of Age. Thankfully, all the things we loved about FTP are still present and correct - a shuffling, groovy beat (ticking the Pumped Up Kicks box nicely), a perfect combination of guitars and electronics and, of course, Mark Foster's woozy LA vocals. And just when you start to worry - the Beach Boys oohs kick in with a minute to go. We expect bigger tracks later down the line, but this will do just fine as a welcome back.

For fans of: LCD Soundsystem, The Wombats, Empire Of The Sun

In Three Words: Irresistible Californian Groove


January 13th

Who is it? Shy Nature

What's the story? We've been desperately short of energetic indie music of late, so thankfully Shy Nature have arrived to inject some much-needed urgency into proceedings. Featuring some nifty bass playing and Strokes-esque guitar, there's some nice laconic vocals in there too. They've just come off supporting Splashhh - we'd fancy these guys could be one of the bands to watch at this summer's festivals.

For fans of: Early Maccabees, The Strokes, Bombay Bicycle Club

In Three Words: Tight, Urgent, Indie-rock


January 10th

Who is it? Kwabs

What's The Story? Kwabena Adjepong, but Kwabs to you and I, is a London-based soul singer with a remarkable voice. He's already had some interesting musical activity appearing on the BBC show Goldie's Band in 2011; being mentored by the drum & bass legend and performing at Buckingham Palace in front of Harry and the gang. But never mind that - all that matters is that he has a voice to die for; soulful, deep and luxurious, which is showcased perfectly on this track, which brings to mind some of Seal's early work. So let's get Adamski on the phone now and see if they can top Killer shall we?

For fans of: Sam Cooke, Seal, Aloe Blacc

In Three Words: Luxurious Electro Soul


January 9th

Who is it? Foxes

What's the story? We first saw Foxes, aka Louisa Rose Allen, three years ago, playing on just an acoustic guitar armed with a few songs in a tiny Camden venue - and a lot has changed since then. She kicked off by gaining some exposure with singles on respected indie label Neon Gold (where she released what is still her best song - the Massive Attack-esque Home), then more prominently by guesting on dance act Zedd's song Clarity and Rudimental's Right Here. Now, after a top 20 hit on her own with Youth, here is her big pop moment, channelling a serious amount of Florence, thankfully with far less wailing involved. The album's coming on March 3, 2014 - hopefully the darkness will be retained alongside the brightness, then we'll be very happy indeed.

For fans of: Florence & The Machine, Kate Bush, Lana Del Rey

In Three Words: Classy Urgent Pop


January 8th

Who is it? Fickle Friends

What's the story? The weather outside is still frightful, but Brighton 5-piece Fickle Friends are here to fast-forward you straight to the summer. Swim is their first single, is out now, and has all the youthful energy of a puppy bounding across a field of dandelions. And with that metaphor, we'll let you press play below - don't hit paws until it's finished.

For fans of: Two Door Cinema Club, Bipolar Sunshine, Bombay Bicycle Club

In Three Words: Immaculate Indie Pop


January 7th

Who is it? Chromeo, featuring Toro y Moi

What's the story? The funkiest electro duo on the planet reveal the third cut from their forthcoming new album, White Women, their first since 2010's Business Casual. Already the signs are good that they'll surpass that record, with the previous two tracks, Sexy Socialite and Over Your Shoulder both being seriously fresh too (listen to those on their Soundcloud). You just can't go wrong with Chromeo, and it also reminded us to watch this again - their account of recording the "World's Smallest Album". Tour dates have just been announced and they visit London in June - do not miss out.

For fans of: Hall & Oates, Prince, Jermaine Stewart

In Three Words: Fresh Fun (and) Funky


January 6th

Who is it? Indi

What's the story? We stumbled across this track via producer Joel Little - responsible for Lorde's debut Pure Heroine, and recent tracks by Broods, who we featured on The ShortListen on November 11th. And it seems the Kiwi producer has struck gold yet again, with this beautiful track, featuring the glacial vocals of Indi, who we know very little about, other than we think she is from Christchurch, and also features in a band called Doprah, who you can listen to here. But we don't need details: just click play and let this great tune wash over you.

For Fans of: Martina Topley-Bird, Zero 7, Chvrches

In Three Words: Electro Trip Hop


January 3rd

Who is it? Vampire Weekend, featuring Danny Brown, Heems and Despot

What's the story? Not content with releasing one of the finest albums of 2013, Vampire Weekend give us this new year's treat in the form of a 'wintertime remix' of one of the standout cuts from the record. Step, which samples Souls of Mischief's Step To My Girl is given an overhaul with three rappers - Danny Brown, Heems from Das Racist and Despot - guesting over the beat. It works incredibly well, bringing to mind some classic early-2000 Mo Wax and Quannum /Solesides releases. Happy new year to you too guys.

For fans of: Blackalicious, Lyrics Born, Macklemore

In Three Words: Unlikely But Great


January 2nd

Who is it? Jordan James

What's the story? We're all still a little delicate after our New Year's Eve extravagances, so we'll kick things off for 2014 with a track that will soothe your ears - and your headache. It's an alt-R&B reinterpretation of Michael Jackson's classic Dangerous-era track Remember the Time courtesy of up-and-coming UK producer Jordan James, and is the perfect song to ease your way back into the hustle and bustle. Slow jamz are massively overdue a comeback, and with this fitting in stylistically with our recent ShortListen choices from Dornik (Nov 29th) and Jordan Bratton (Nov 14th), this could be the start of a welcome trend.

For fans of: Dornik, R Kelly, Jordan Bratton

In Three Words: Slow Jam Jacko


For more top tunes, check out our previous choices below - just click on the link:






The ShortListen - October 2014


The ShortListen - December 2013


The ShortListen - November 2013



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