Atom Tree - Body
Who? Atom Tree
What’s the story? There's clearly something synthy in the water in Glasgow (or the deep-fried Mars bars), for after the success of Chvrches comes what sounds like their natural successors, in the form of newcomers Atom Tree - a duo of 'Julie and Shaun' according to their Facebook page. Body is more to the dancier end of things than Chvrches, with a touch of a Disclosure-ish early nineties vibe as well as a dash of countryman Calvin Harris. They might only just be starting out but this, with a big old chorus, sounds like a hit to us.
Jay Z - Spiritual
Who? Jay Z
What’s the story? Clearly, the current events in the US, with the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police, followed by this morning's killings of five officers in Dallas, have been enough to spur America's power couple of Jay Z and Beyonce into action. The latter, in particular, has never really engaged with politics until February's Formation, but a statement posted on her website suggests she's about to use her influence more in the future.
Meanwhile, Jay Z also issued a statement alongside a new track, which is entitled Spiritual and features the emotive chorus lyric: "I am not poison, no I am not poison, just a boy from the hood that got my hands in the air in despair, don't shoot, I just wanna do good". It's the first new lead artist material from Jay since 2013's Magna Carta...Holy Grail and was recorded "a while ago", with the original plan to release it after Mike Brown's death in Ferguson - however, he's waited until now, but it's a hugely impactful piece of work with a brilliantly eerie piano sample, classic 808 drums and a vocal in which Jay Z seems close to tears towards the end. He declines to offer up solutions, but offers sympathy and empathy instead - it's powerful stuff.
KLOE - UDSM
What’s the story? Our second Glaswegian synth-based artist of the week and for that we make no apologies. We've featured 19-year-old KLOE a couple of times before on The ShortListen with fairly dark, minimal efforts - on UDSM, she ups the tempo but retains the darkness, featuring one of the most devastatingly cutting opening verses we've ever heard. This is classic Robyn Dancing On My Own territory - being let down by someone you care about in a disco, with a load of booze inevitably leading to tears, an ill-advised late night kebab and a general mess of a night. But damn it makes for great, brutally honest lyrics. We've said it before but it bears repeating: there's only one KLOE we care about right now, and it sure ain't a Kardashian.
D/C feat. Jay Prince - Beautiful & Fragile
What’s the story? We first featured rising London star D/C back in February 2014 when he caught our ear with a great early tune. Since then he's signed to Atlantic and spent time developing his sound and this track showcases him as an artist ready to step into the big time. Beautiful & Fragile is a dark, assured and minimal, yet heavy, piece of slow electronica/hip hop, crafted alongside US producer Dave Hozer, who's worked with the likes of Kanye West - and there's more than a hint of West's more introspective moments on My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy about it. Jay Prince contributes an urgent guest verse to create a great all-round track: keep an eye on this artist in 2017.
Hands - A Song For Orlando
Who? Song For Orlando
What’s the story? Making a charity or tribute single is a tough old business. Striking a balance of sentimentality without being too soppy, strident without being arrogant, knowing that whatever you write will probably sell fine because 'it's for a good cause' and then the dreaded chore of trying to cram as many famous singers on the track without it turning into a total mess (witness most of the Band Aid versions since the original). But this song, written by pop hitmakers Justin Tranter, Julia Michaels and Bloodpop, with the latter producing alongside Mark Ronson, manages to pull it off.
It was inspired by Tranter, volunteering at Miami's main LGBT community centre, in the aftermath of the tragic Orlando mass shooting, being told, “We need as many hands as we can possibly get.” Britney Spears, Mary J Blige, MNEK, Halsey, Gwen Stefani and about a million other big names appear on the track but - despite the presence of the usual bit of hands-on-the-headphones ad libbing - it's rather a beautifully-written, simple and uplifting song, especially when the 'million hands' section comes in halfway through, so well done everybody. All money raised by the song goes to the Equality Florida Pulse Victims Fund, the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida and GLAAD; it’s not currently available in the UK iTunes Store, but if you’re in America you can buy it here.