Music

The ShortListen

  • The ShortListen

    Public Service Broadcasting

    Who? Public Service Broadcasting

    What’s the story? We've sung the praises of electronic-indie-funk-spoken-word duo Public Service Broadcasting for a while now, but it bears repeating; they are a very special and distinctive act. To celebrate their upcoming November UK tour - featuring a date at London's Brixton Academy no less - they've released a brand new song, Korolev, about the Chief Designer of the Soviet space programme, Sergei. It fits neatly alongside their February album The Race For Space and is every bit the equal of that material, but you can see why it didn't quite fit into the story arc that that excellent record told. If you haven't listened to them before, check it out and enter their fascinating world (and check out their Ultimate Playlist too).

    For fans of: Aeroplane, Talking Heads

    In three words: Funky electro spacefun

  • The ShortListen 1

    Fickle Friends

    Who? Fickle Friends

    What’s the story? We might be fully switched on to autumn, but in the world of Fickle Friends, it's still defiantly summer. The Brighton 5-piece have been churning out glorious indie-pop for a little while now and we're more than ready for an album. Say No More follows perfectly in the footsteps of their previous tracks: sweet melodies, funky bass, 80s synths and bucketloads of percussion - this could easily pass for track from The 1975 - appropriate given that that band are about to unveil their comeback single tomorrow. Meanwhile, Fickle Friends play their largest London show so far at Dingwalls at the end of the month - get down there and check them out.

    For fans of: Two Door Cinema Club, The 1975, Bombay Bicycle Club

    In three words: Sun-kissed indie pop

  • The ShortListen 2

    Kurt Cobain/Ride (remixed by Robert Smith)

    Who? Kurt Cobain / Ride (remixed by Robert Smith)

    What’s the story? Music is, by its very nature, a vehicle for nostalgia: everyone remembers the music that they first loved back in the day, and which shaped their tastes for the years ahead. And people like music that they already know, which means that remasters, 'lost recordings', 'alternate takes' and the like are constantly issued - and usually disappointing - after all, there's a reason the act went with the final version they did - it's normally the best. But here we have a couple of exceptions. Firstly, Ride's classic shoegaze anthem Vapour Trail, given a 2015 remix for the 25th anniversary reissue of their debut album, Nowhere, by a man who knows what he's doing with that sort of thing, The Cure's Robert Smith. He strips away a lot of the reverb of the original to reveal the strength of the underlying song, which works really nicely, especially on the outro. And second up, a home recording of Sappy from Kurt Cobain documentary Montage of Heck, which will be released as part of a compilation on 13 November. While other similar bootlegs have done the rounds in recent years, this is the clearest yet and is a stark, fragile glimpse into the songwriting process of the Nirvana frontman - exhibiting a rarely-heard mournful baritone vocal. Check both of these out without delay.

    For fans of: Ride, The Cure, Nirvana

    In three words: Intriguing Look Back

  • The ShortListen 3

    Frida Sundemo

    Who? Frida Sundemo

    What’s the story? Kill Your Friends, the story of a ruthless A&R man who will stop at nothing to get to the top, is set to be one of the year's cult films and - as befits a movie about music - the soundtrack to it should be as hotly-anticipated. Fresh and exclusively from it comes this original track, Heroes, from Swedish alt-pop singer Frida Sundemo, who plays the lead singer of the fictional band central to the story, The Lazies. It's a gloriously euphoric piece of anthemic synth pop and, while it's always a slightly Lazy(ies) comparison to mention Robyn whenever there's a Swedish pop singer around, there's more than a touch of With Every Heartbeat to this one. Both the movie and the soundtrack are released on 6 November, make sure you check out both.

    For fans of: Robyn, Chvrches

    In three words: Melancholic uplifting alt-pop

  • The ShortListen 4

    Get Inuit

    Who? Get Inuit

    What’s the story? First things first, what a great name. Well done on that lads. But onto the music and - pleasingly - it's also great. Get Inuit are a four-piece from Kent, this is the lead track from their second EP, Luge Lessons, and it's a glorious slice of retro-but-fun grungy pop. Singer Jamie Glass has a distinctive voice which throws you at first, before you realise it fits the backing sonics really rather well. Like early Foo Fighters, with a dash of Weezer and early Ash, aided by a primary colour video, it's pretty much impossible not to enjoy this one.

    For fans of: Weezer, Ash

    In three words: Scuzzy indie fun

  • The ShortListen 5

    Daughter

    Who? Daughter

    What’s the story? It's been two years since London-based trio Daughter released their critically-acclaimed debut record If You Leave - a fantastic, bleak, delicate album that showcased the distinctive lyrcial and vocal talents of lead singer Elena Tonra. They now return with the first single from the follow-up album - Not To Disappear, due out in January - and it's an utterly captivating and, at times, harrowing listen. Doing The Right Thing is accompanied by a fantastic video, which echoes the song's theme of ageing, loneliness and dementia. Everything that great music should be, this is dynamic, thought-provoking and moving. We have high hopes for the album.

    For fans of: Ben Howard, Bon Iver, Keaton Henson

    In three words: Moving, dark heartbreak

  • The ShortListen 6

    Disclosure & Lorde

    Who? Disclosure & Lorde

    What’s the story? While Taylor Swift dominates the headlines as the world's biggest pop star, one of her 'squad' has almost certainly been plotting her return to reclaim her crown. That would be Lorde, still just 18, who's been fairly quiet on the music front since 2013's Pure Heroine, bar a Hunger Games track last year. This track, a standout from Disclosure's second album - due to be number one on Friday - reminds you just how good she is, with a beautifully clear and distinctive vocal over a squelching, R&B backing from the Lawrence brothers. The newly-released video sees her play a hit girl hired to take out a bad boyfriend - a role she performs just as well as Rihanna in her controversial video. On this evidence, 2016 is set to be the second year of our Lorde.

    For fans of: AlunaGeorge, Jessie Ware

    In three words: Electro Assassin Groove

  • The ShortListen 7

    Stealth

    Who? Stealth

    What’s the story? In a post-Hozier world, we're bracing ourselves for an influx of full-blooded male vocalists, and we may have an early contender in the form of Birmingham artist Stealth. He's got form in the dance world, having collaborated with Netsky, Metrik and Roger Sanchez but now moves into more straight up soul territory with this sleek introduction (literally). There's a nice dark, brooding overtone to the whole thing, but you can hear it nestling on the radio nicely alongside the likes of James Bay and the rest. A quality piece of work. 

    For fans of: Hozier, James Bay, John Newman

    In three words: Brooding Powerful Nu-soul

  • The ShortListen 8

    Lake Komo

    Who? Lake Komo

    What’s the story? Is it the rain? Is it the local scenery? We're not quite sure, but somehow the North West, and Manchester in particular, consistently produce bands capable of producing beautifully melancholically majestic music. Following in the footsteps of Elbow, Doves, Badly Drawn Boy and too many others to mention comes Lake Komo, a Manchester-based four-piece who've been quietly building a following. This track, Tides, is a slow-burn affair, with a languid acoustic verse giving way to an epic, shimmering chorus, which lifts into the stratosphere. A perfect Monday morning autumn warmer.

    For fans of: Doves, Bon Iver, Ben Howard

    In three words: Blissful Monday morning

  • The ShortListen 9

    Flawes

    Who? Flawes

    What’s the story? Well this is an impressive start. Don't Wait For Me is the debut track from London trio Flawes and is a thoroughly accomplished slice of dubby electro acoustica, calling to mind the similar leanings of Jack Garratt and Ben Howard. Where the song really stands out though, is the gorgeous chorus, where singer Josh Carruthers' luxuriously warm vocals are allowed to ring out. He actually reminds us of Sting from his Ten Summoner's Tales days. If he could put the lute down for a second and write tunes like this he'd probably sell millions again. Lovely stuff.

    For fans of: Ben Howard, Jack Garratt, Sting

    In three words: Lush atmospheric debut

  • The ShortListen 10

    Sundara Karma

    Who? Sundara Karma

    What’s the story? It's always interesting to watch artists develop right from the beginning and that's been the case with Reading quartet Sundara Karma, who we've featured on The ShortListen a multitude of times. With each release they've exhibited another side of what they can do, becoming ever-more muscular and confident. While we'd still bet a rerelease of LoveBlood at the right time will be the radio smash to launch them into the mainstream, this latest track, Vivienne - another strident, stadium-ready anthem with echoes of (whisper it) U2 - will undoubtedly recruit yet more new believers.

    For fans of: U2, The 1975

    In three words: Another indie anthem

  • The ShortListen 11

    Rudimental

    Who? Rudimental

    What’s the story? Rudimental have been building up a head of steam in advance of the release of their second album on 2 October, culminating in this reveal of the title track We The Generation. This one is pleasingly understated, featuring silky vocals from newcomer Mahalia and a drum and bass meets reggae feel, with a few dubby horns thrown in for good measure. Chuck in a video filmed at Notting Hill Carnival and we can feel those summer vibes clinging on for just that little bit longer. Hopefully they'll bring this one out when they play their free gig for ShortList's 48 Hours To... series - head here to get your tickets.

    For fans of: Groove Armada, Basement Jaxx

    In three words: Chilled reggae-tinged D 'n' B

  • The ShortListen 12

    CeeLo Green

    Who? CeeLo Green

    What’s the story? Since CeeLo Green's massive 2010 album Lady Killer, CeeLo's led rather a strange musical existence, with an appearance as a judge on The Voice, collaborating with Alien Ant Farm (a song that, perhaps thankfully never saw the light of day) and releasing a Christmas album in 2012. Thankfully, he's back concentrating on the day job now, with the lead single from forthcoming album Heart Blanche being a tribute to Robin Williams, and this one, a beautifully classic-yet-contemporary nu-soul track sounding perfectly built for some serious radio rotation. Beyond all the nonsense, he's one of the world's finest singers, and this is just effortless.

    For fans of: Aloe Blacc, Raphael Saadiq

    In three words: Classic contemporary soul

  • The ShortListen 13

    New Order

    Who? New Order

    What’s the story? We were already pretty excited about the forthcoming tenth album from New Order after hearing the first track from it - Restless - but this second one seriously ups the ante. It's full-on electronic all the way - literally, sounding a lot like something from Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr's dormant side project - with huge echoes of Pet Shop Boys, Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer, as well as Barney's 1999 Chemical Brothers collaboration Out of Control. Plastic is seven minutes of driving electro bliss with a glorious outro: returning keyboardist Gillian Gilbert has clearly been given free reign to let rip - and we can all be thankful. Roll on Friday when Music Complete will be with us in full.

    For fans of: Pet Shop Boys, Chemical Brothers

    In three words: Driving Synth Blast

  • The ShortListen 14

    Ryan Adams

    Who? Ryan Adams

    What’s the story? The never-ending Live Lounge phenomenon has made the 'wacky' cover a fixture of the music world these days, but every now and then something truly special comes along. When Ryan Adams announced that he was covering the whole of Taylor Swift's world-dominating 1989 album a month or so ago, the news was met with general bemusement - was he really serious? Well, as clips from the studio started to emerge, it turned out he was - and now the first full song has been unveiled, in the form ofBad Blood - and it's utterly glorious. As she dominates the headlines for Instagram posts & 'squads', the fact remains that Swift is a first-rate songwriter, as this track proves with aplomb. The full album is released on Monday and we are extremely excited.

    For fans of: Jenny Lewis, Pete Yorn

    In three words: Glorious melancholic reinterpretation

  • The ShortListen 15

    Guy Garvey

    Who? Guy Garvey

    What’s the story? For the first two seconds of this track we were genuinely convinced Guy Garvey had decided to cover Leftfield's Phat Planet and take a radical departure into dance music for his first solo foray. Alas, it was not to be, but don't fear: the Elbow frontman's first single is still excellent. Unsurprisingly, it's not a million miles away from his day job, but when that job is singer for one of Britain's best bands, that's not really a problem. An enjoyable amount of scuzz, great lyrics and a generous smattering of percussion; this whets the appetite nicely for the forthcoming album Counting The Squall - he's touring too and we can see this becoming an eight minute bongo jam. Bring it on.

    For fans of: Elbow, Gruff Rhys 

    In three words: Groovy solo introduction

  • The ShortListen 16

    The Japanese House

    Who? The Japanese House

    What’s the story? The 1975 have slayed all before them with their catchy guitar work and legions of teenage fans, and now they turn their attention to helping the next generation. The Japanese House is 19-year-old Amber Bain, and she's enlisted 1975 frontman Matthew Healy and drummer drummer George Daniel to play on her new single Cool Blue, the first release from her second EP on Dirty Hit Records (also home to The 1975 - see, it all adds up). It's a curious beast, with gentle, slightly discordant verses interspersed with the unmistakable palm-mute funk of Healy and Daniel's band, but overall it definitely works, with Bain's delicate vocals having a real haunting quality. One to watch for sure.

    For fans of: The Album Leaf, The 1975

    In three words: Introspective electronic indie

  • The ShortListen 17

    MUNA

    Who? MUNA

    What’s the story? The most pleasing result of Haim's breakthrough into the mainstream was the absolute, final, undeniable acceptance that Fleetwood Mac are one of the greatest bands to have ever walked the earth. Amazing songwriting, inventive production, grooves and that brilliant sense of bittersweet pop - all things we need in music right now. And the latest to follow in that lineage are LA three-piece MUNA, who have just unveiled Loudspeaker, the third in a series of four singles this year. This is Mac updated for 2015, with that familiar backbeat, Christine McVie-style synthbells in the chorus, and Katie Gavin's incredibly distinctive vocals leading the whole thing along. Truly glorious stuff.

    For fans of: Fleetwood Mac, Haim

    In three words: Electro Mac Excellence

  • The ShortListen 18

    Lauren Aquilina

    Who? Lauren Aquilina

    What’s the story? The weather is beginning to turn, so it's time for some rather more autumnal music to hit our ears, and we have just the thing in form of the latest track from Lauren Aquilina. A 20 year-old singer-songwriter from Bristol who gained popularity self-releasing a series of EPs while she was still at school. Since then she's picked up an official endorsement from Taylor Swift and seen her music used for a recent Downton advert - surely John Lewis at Christmas can't be far away? Although perhaps that's a bit of a disservice because Ocean is far from the twee covers we're used to for that particularly spot: this is utterly outstanding, building from a delicate piano-led introduction to become almost a post-rock electronic storm, occupying a halfway point between Sigur Rós and M83. A stunning, beautiful track perfect for the coming dark months.

    For fans of: Birdy, M83, Sigur Rós

    In three words: Electro Post-rock Epicness

  • The ShortListen 19

    Halsey

    Who? Halsey

    What’s the story? If you've never heard of Halsey before, that's all about to change. The 20 year-old singer - real name Ashley (of which Halsey is an anagram) - has come from nowhere to see her album, Badlands, smash in at number 2 on the Billboard chart, while she's sold out two big shows in London (last night and tonight) with barely any promotion over here. Well, we say 'from nowhere' but she plays a smart game on social media, with her Instagram an almost terrifying expert example of how to perfectly craft an edgy, fashionable style. Her press game is top notch too, describing herself as"tri-bi": biracial, bisexual, and bipolar. And the music? It's Lorde meets the Weeknd - perfectly on-trend, with this song the prime example - and for attention-grabbing, you can't really argue with a chorus of "High on legal marijuana, Raised on Biggie and Nirvana, We are the new Americana". Also highly-recommended is Colors - a driving Chvrches-style mid-paced electro anthem. Like it or not, you're going to hearing about her a lot very soon.

    For fans of: Lorde, The Weeknd, Lana Del Rey

    In three words: Perfectly-posed alt pop

  • The ShortListen 20

    Kwabs

    Who? Kwabs

    What’s the story? Pretty much everything from the nineties has been mined over the last few years, with half the top 40 being inspired by Show Me Love, but one area which seems to have escaped so far was the late era Rodney Jerkins-style 'glitch R&B', typified by It's Not Right But It's Okay by Whitney Houston and Destiny's Child's Bills Bills Bills. Until now. Rising British soul star Kwabs has unveiled the last new track before his much-anticipated debut album Love + War, which is released tomorrow, and it's something different from his usual style - in a good way. Jerky, cool and stuffed with retro synth sounds, it's a nice counterpoint to the other material he's had so far. Get the full story on Kwabs here and get his album tomorrow morning.

    For fans of: Whitney, MNEK, Destiny's Child

    In three words: Soulful Glitch R&B

  • The ShortListen 21

    Starsailor

    Who? Starsailor

    What’s the story? It's easy to forget now, but Starsailor had some serious tunes back in the day. Their debut record, Love Is Here, released back in 2003, featured the brilliantGood Souls and Alcoholic, while the follow-up Silence Is Easy - one of the last records to be produced by that murderous-but-brilliant chap named Phil Spector - had the excellent title track in its ranks. After splitting in 2009 after a remarkable 3 million album sales, they've now reformed for a Greatest Hits album and a tour, with this song being pleasingly much better than a cash-in job. As ever James Walsh's distinctive and honest vocals ring out - it's all a bit of a lovely blast from the past

    For fans of: Doves, Richard Ashcroft, Turin Brakes

    In three words: Updated retro indie

  • The ShortListen 22

    Elliott Power

    Who? Elliott Power

    What’s the story? The words Mo' Wax will reduce music fans of a certain age to a blubbering mess; one of the coolest and most iconic labels of all time, responsible for early music by the likes of DJ Shadow, UNKLE, Blackalicious and South. Founded by James Lavelle and Tim Goldsworthy - who went on to be a joint owner of DFA Records - they put out a string of great releases, mainly in the late nineties and early noughties; now it's been revived to release music by London-based artist Elliott Power. Unsurprisingly, sonically it's pure old-school Massive Attack meets Endtroducing-era Shadow with this beautifully shot video, made by award-winning filmmaker Toby Dye and showcasing a gritty ride through late-night London, complimenting it perfectly. Welcome back Mo' Wax, and may this be the start of a beautiful new love affair.

    For fans of: Massive Attack, DJ Shadow, Tricky

    In three words: Late-night trip-hop vibes

  • The ShortListen 23

    Day Wave

    Who? Day Wave

    What’s the story? We awarded a very early EP of the year to Oakland musician Jackson Phillips, aka Day Wave, in July for his impeccable Headcase five-tracker, which had glorious outsider lyrics combined with beautiful bittersweet melodies. Clearly not one to rest on his laurels, he's back with a new track already, and it's another one to slot neatly alongside that record with chiming guitars, Beach Boys backing vocals and a familiarly hooky and yearning chorus. More of the same for sure, but when it's this good, who cares?

    For fans of: New Order, Death Cab For Cutie, The Drums

    In three words: Heartbreak indie goodness

  • The ShortListen 24

    WHITE

    Who? WHITE

    What’s the story? It was Franz Ferdinand who famously declared that they wanted to "make records that girls can dance to" and it's a direct and laudable mantra that will never go out of fashion. Appropriately enough, it's another Scottish band, WHITE, who are the latest band using it as inspiration as they demonstrate admirably with their latest track Blush. Signed to RCA earlier this year, they made a big splash with their debut trackFuture Pleasures and this is more of the same: funky DFA bass; yelpy David Byrne vocals and obvious dancefloor appeal (as well as some sultry saxophone). If they can make a Take Me Out or House of Jealous Lovers then they'll be the new darlings of indie clubs everywhere.

    For fans of: Talking Heads, Roxy Music, Franz Ferdinand

    In three words: DFA meets Roxy (Music)

  • The ShortListen 25

    Wolvereen

    Who? Wolvereen

    What’s the story? The number seventeen is fertile ground for quality music. And following in the footsteps of Heaven 17, East 17, Let Loose's 17 and Stevie Nicks' Edge of Seventeen comes this future indie anthem from Brooklyn-based outfit Wolvereen. Fronted by Olivia Eigel who is just - you guessed it - seventeen and backed by "some rockin guys from the NYC area" (their Facebook words, not ours), this is their first single and it's an utter belter: some tight riffing giving way to a strident singalong chorus, with Eigel showcasing a powerful and distinctive voice - if Lorde did rock, it would probably sound like this. Strangely, the whole thing isn't a million miles away from The Killers - a few more songs like this and they could be finding themselves in arenas sooner rather than later. 

    For fans of: Blondie, The Killers, Lorde

    In three words: Teenage indie anthem

  • The ShortListen 26

    Oh Wonder

    Who? Oh Wonder

    What’s the story? Reality TV is overly fond of the word 'journey', misusing it to the point of oblivion, but here is one occasion when it's actually appropriate to bring it out. Oh Wonder are a London duo comprising of Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht and they've managed to get the blogs ablaze with their mission to release a new single every month for 15 months to create a full album. They finally reach the end of their road with this final track, the suitably elegiac and stunningly beautiful Heart Hope, which completes their self-titled debut album, which is out on Friday (although, of course, you can already hear all the songs on Soundcloud). Is this the new model of doing things? Who knows, but we'd still like to think that if you write songs as good as this, you'll get success regardless of your methods. 

    For fans of: Jonsi, Xylo, The Album Leaf

    In three words: Atmospheric tear jearker

  • The ShortListen 27

    Miley Cyrus & The Flaming Lips

    Who? Miley Cyrus & The Flaming Lips

    What’s the story? Forget all the nonsense. Forget all the naked wrecking balls, forget the outrageous statements and constant desire to shock. When you strip it all away (not literally) Miley has actually made some great music in her still-short career. The Climb was a glorious modern-day power ballad with a powerful vocal, Party In The USA was the ultimate feelgood song and Wrecking Ball was a huge track. But no one could have quite expected this latest left-turn. Following straight in the footsteps of Miley-as-usual VMA outrage where there was a new beef with Nicki Minaj - yawn, yawn, yawn - she then dropped an entire free new album, made in collaboration with The Flaming Lips. The Flaming Lips? Yes, The Flaming Lips. And in amongst its tracks is this utterly stunning track, which evokes the Lips' finest moment, Do You Realize?? And there is little higher praise than that. Check it out and you might be pleasantly surprised.

    For fans of: The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev

    In three words: Beautiful Heartwrenching Ballad

  • The ShortListen 28

    Who?

    What’s the story? We were already fans of MØ before her world-straddling collaboration with Major Lazer on Lean On. A Danish artist with a strong identity and that omnipresent Scandinavian sense of pop melody that must be imprinted into everyone lucky to be born there; but she was hardly a household name despite releasing the album No Mythologies To Follow at the start of last year. That's all changed since that song, so all eyes are on this new offering. Unsurprisingly, there's a strong echo of Lean On, with its Eastern-style main sample hook, percussion and groove, but it's lighter on its feet and pleasingly addictive.

    For fans of: Oh Land, Margaret Berger, Elliphant

    In three words: Future Pop Fun