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The ShortListen - December 2014

The ShortListen - December 2014

The ShortListen - December 2014
16 December 2013

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

December 23rd

What's the story? It's nearly Christmas time, so this is our last song of the day of the year - and we thought it appropriate to pick just our favourite ShortListen tune of the year. Or, that was the plan, until we had a listen to a year of great tunes, so we had to make a top 10, with something for everyone (we've still picked a top spot though, so congratulations to Fractures). Here's to a great 2015 for new music.

10. Eric Prydz - Liberate (March - a beautiful, building, banging dance cut)
9. Honne - Warm on a Cold Night (July - quality late night nu-R&B)
8. The Knocks (feat. Powers) - Classic (August - a classic summer jam)
7. Loyle Carner - Cantona (September - an emotional, hard-hitting rap track)
6. Fickle Friends - Play (April - perfect summer indie-pop)
5. Wiley - On a Level (September - an instant classic grime track)
4. Becky Hill - Losing (September - fantastic laidback electronic pop)
3. #1 Dads (feat. Tom Snowdon) - Return To (June - a beautiful, evocative track)
2. Ryn Weaver - Promises (August - brilliant thoughtful pop from the EP of the year)
1. Fractures - It's Alright (watch below) (October - true, haunting beauty, with a video to match. A mini masterpiece)

For fans of: Great music

In Three Words: Another great year

December 22nd

Who is it? The Heathen and The Holy

What's the story? We couldn't really go through December without featuring a Christmas song so, with just three days to go, here's a real heartwarmer from The Heathen and the Holy - aka the festive side project of Noah & The Whale's Tom Hobden and Fred Abbott. Most new Christmas songs seem to have an ironic edge, so it's quite refreshing to hear a thoroughly sentimental, uncynical, old school Christmas song ringing out. It even features the essential elements of a choirboy and a key change - you could easily imagine Paul McCartney releasing something like this. In fact Macca, we're still waiting for the follow up to Wonderful Christmas Time, what's keeping you? But in the meantime, give this a spin, get out the mince pies and get yourself festive.

For fans of: Paul McCartney, Noah & The Whale, Tom Petty

In Three Words: It's Christmas Time

December 19th

Who is it? Thea & The Wild

What's the story? Thea & The Wild, aka Thea Glenton Raknes, is the latest excellent artist to emerge from Norway. This track, Heartattack, precedes her debut UK album release, Strangers & Lovers, due in January, and it's an intriguingly restrained piece of organic pop. Bittersweet lyrics that everyone can relate to (well, maybe not Brad Pitt), float over a warm backing that chugs along nicely. The temptation to go big in the choruses must have been there but it's all the better for not giving in. A classy piece of autumnal pop.

For fans of: Oh Land, Lykke Li, Kate Bush

In Three Words: Tight Taut Goodness

December 18th

Who is it? Laura Marling

What's the story? It's amazing to think that singer-songwriter Laura Marling is still only 24 - yet is about to release her fifth album. It's a fairly prolific output, but not one which has led to reduced quality. She gives a taste of forthcoming new album Short Movie by revealing the title track, which you can watch below. It's an eclectic song, which ebbs and flows, with all manner of string figures going on in the background with the accompanying video being a beautifully animated ride through a desert's day and night. The album is due on 23rd March - you can preorder now.

For fans of: Joni Mitchell, Laurie Anderson

In Three Words: Biting, rousing folk

December 17th

Who is it? Laura Welsh

What's the story? There's a lot of competition in the new female pop star stakes at the moment, with Rae Morris ready to join the likes of Foxes, Ellie Goulding, Katy B and Jessie Ware in the upper echelons. But Laura Welsh has got as good a chance as any of joining them, as this tremendous new track, Ghosts, shows. It's a big, yet controlled vocal, with plenty of Kate Bush drum action and a beautifully-shot black and white video. She's previously worked with the likes of Ang Low, so if she's chosen the right producers, her debut album, Soft Control, due next year, could be very special.

For fans of: Foxes, Rae Morris, Jessie Ware

In Three Words: Classy Pop Soul

December 16th

Who is it? Bipolar Sunshine

What's the story? Bipolar Sunshine, the pseudonym of Adio Marchant, is an apt moniker, as each of his tracks released over the last couple of years has had an unmistakable ray of light emanating from it. Latest single, Daydreamer, is no exception: a bouncy, uplifting song of hope, with a beautifully trippy accompanying animated video. It's out January 25th with an album finally due after that and, in addition to our other selections, will definitely be one to check out in 2015.

For fans of: Iyes, Blood Orange

In Three Words: Feel Good Sunshine 

December 15th

Who is it? Fine Print

What's the story? It's early days for this mysterious London-based producer/group but already the signs are very good indeed. First track About You, was subtle, restrained and even had a sax solo at the end, but new song Can't Lie is arguably better (though with less sax and more trumpet). It's got a nu-R&B flavour but is, again, nicely minimal, with some neat guitar licks and another superbly soulful vocal. Late night, smoky listening at its very best; it'll be interesting to see where Fine Print goes in 2015.

For fans of: Portishead, James Blake

In Three Words: Minimal Jazz R&B

December 12th

Who is it? RHODES

What's the story? Hitchin singer-songwriter David Rhodes has been building a following over the course of two well-received EPs - now he drops this stunning new track (available as a free download), ahead of the release of his next single and an album next year. It's hauntingly beautiful, building up from a Ben Howard-style intro into a lush, cinematic outro not a million miles away from Sigur Rós. His voice is refreshingly honest - no affections here - and he allows a great melody to ring out for the choruses. Wonderful stuff all round.

For fans of: Ben Howard, George Ezra, Damien Rice

In Three Words: Blissful Cinematic Ballad

December 11th

Who is it? Sheikh

What's the story? Music is, of course, a worldwide language (that we all understand, according to Stevie Wonder), but we're pretty sure this is the first band that we've been aware of that hail from Bahrain. A four piece who have now moved to London, they've clearly been raised on classic UK influences, as this reverb-drenched track could have easily come straight out of Manchester in the mid-90s. It's a quality piece of indie with plenty of contemporary nods too - this would fit perfectly on the last Foals or Bombay Bicycle Club records. As we have to make this joke before someone else does, make sure you Sheikh, Sheikh, Sheikh it off, as soon as possible.

For fans of: Foals, The Maccabees, The Verve

In Three Words: Manchester via Bahrain

December 10th

Who is it? Shlohmo

What's the story? LA-based producer Henry Laufer, better known as Shlohmo, has been producing quality experimental electronic music since 2009, with his debut album Bad Vibes being released to widespread acclaim in 2011. He's since received additional exposure from working with the likes of Jerimih and Banks - for whom he produced album standout Brain. This is a new cut, released to celebrate his signing to True Panther and it's dark, intricate and captivating. Its instrumental nature allows Shlohmo to play around with varying sounds and textures for a true five minute journey; get this on the headphones pronto.

For fans of: Massive Attack, Tricky, Banks

In Three Words: Nu Trip Hop

December 9th

Who is it? Zak Abel

What's the story? Best known for collaborating with Gorgon City, London-based Zak Abel is striking out on his own with this party-making new track. Recalling early, as in good, Justin Timberlake, his voice manages to add a small amount of grit to a sweet soul sound. He's only 19 as well, which is simultaneously impressive and sickening. He's been writing since he was 15 and signed his first record deal at the age of 17. If this is what he's doing at such a young age then we cannot wait to hear more. With Uptown Funk currently heading to number one, we see big things for this song.

For fans of: Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Aloe Blacc

In Three Words: New Funky Soul

December 8th

Who is it? Madeon, featuring Kyan

What's the story? There are few cooler acts in the world right now than French producer Madeon (who has the ridiculously cool real name of Hugo Pierre Leclercq). Yet, remarkably, he's built his reputation and fanbase on the back of a select number of carefully-considered releases and remixes. In fact, he's released just one EP and a few other one-off tracks, but this latest track - premiered this morning - shows that it's about quality, not quantity. You're On, featuring the vocal talents of Kyan, is a fantastic slab of mid-tempo electronic pop, with hints of Michael Jackson and several Balearic songs in there. What sets it apart is the refusal to rely on a standard chord sequence - every time you think it's settled, Madeon surprises you with a jazzy chord thrown in for good measure. This oozes class: an album early next year would be very welcome (but don't drop the quality control).

For fans of: MNEK, Michael Jackson, Porter Robinson

In Three Words: Dreamy Electro Pop

December 5th

Who is it? Night Terrors of 1927, featuring Tegan & Sara

What's the story? Night Terrors of 1927, composed of former members of Rilo Kiley and The Elected, were the first act we ever featured on The ShortListen, and the LA-based act are back again with their first video, this time with a feature from Canadian duo Tegan & Sara. It's a solid indie-electro workout, with the guest vocals slotting in perfectly over the top. After the brilliance of the twins' last album Heartthrob, it seems they're not veering away from their 'grown-up pop' angle, and that's a great thing indeed. Meanwhile, hopefully a debut album from Night Terrors of 1927 will be forthcoming in the new year.

For fans of: Passion Pit, Stars, Robyn

In Three Words: Quality Electro Pop

December 4th

Who is it? KLOË

What's the story? Hurts may not have quite become the stadium-fillers that many predicted, but they've undoubtedly opened the door for a whole host of other great acts. First Chvrches, and now fellow Scot KLOË who adds in some Lorde and Broods atmospherics into the mix. But, arguably, KLOË is more exciting, as this is a brutal, dark journey of a record, with some sensational production from Lewis Gardner of Prides (a band who we haven't managed to feature on The ShortListen yet, but who produced one of the tracks of the year with I Should Know You Better) and some ultra-confessional lyrics. Superb stuff.

For fans of: Chvrches, Broods, Lorde

In Three Words: Dark, icy electronica

December 3rd

Who is it? Amber Run

What's the story? Considering the huge success of Bastille in 2014, it's surprising that there wasn't a band on the BBC Sound of 2015 longlist who you could pinpoint as following in their footsteps. But perhaps Amber Run are just that act. Just My Soul Responding is the latest single from the Nottingham-based five piece and it's full of the same stadium-ready big melodies, thumping drums and uncynical sentiments that define Dan Smith's outfit. With few other competitors in this field and Coldplay also taking a year off next year, the path could be clear for these guys to creep up unnoticed and claim that indie-rock ground next year.

For fans of: Bastille, Kodaline, Coldplay

In Three Words: Rock Pop Emotion

December 2nd

Who is it? Shura

What's the story? The annual end-of-year roundup has begun, alongside the big fight to be listed in the tips for next year. And, days after the Brits Critics' Choice Shortlist was announced comes the more varied (it includes all 3 shortlisted BCC acts) BBC Sound of 2015 longlist, announced yesterday morning. Regular readers of The ShortListen will be familiar with a lot of them (we've already featured 7 of the 15 acts listed), so we'll tidy things up by featuring the 'best of the rest', starting with Shura, a 23-year-old Moscow-born producer and singer. This track is her latest, and follows her strictly mid-80s (808 cowbells ahoy) 'subdued' synthpop template. It's very 'now' and fits perfectly alongside the likes of Solange and Jessie Ware; a debut is due next year on Polydor and could be a slow-burn beauty.

For fans of: Cyndi Lauper, Solange, Madonna

In Three Words: Downbeat 80s Pop

December 1st

Who is it? Bastille Vs HAIM 

What's the story? A radio-friendly pop track today that brings together two R&B-influenced artists, the phenomenally successful Bastille and Haim, for a song which comes from the former artist's latest mixtape, titled Vs. (Other People's Heartache, Pt. III).  The mixtape is full of fantastic collaborators, from Angel Haze to the return of Skunk Anansie, and teaming up with HAIM, who were also part of the stellar new Hunger Games soundtrack, works rather fantastically. It's an upbeat, fun song that we;re expecting to crop up on the slightly more discerning Chrustmas party playlist this season.

For fans of: The artists involved

In Three Words: Party starting pop

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