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The ShortListen - February 2014

The ShortListen - February 2014

The ShortListen - February 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

February 28th

Who is it?High Hazels

What's the story? 'Proper' indie is seeing something of a renaissance at the moment, with a clutch of new bands making melodic tracks with chiming guitars and whimsical lyrics - and you can now add Sheffield's High Hazels to that list. Johnny Marr guitar opens the track before James Leesley's Lennon-esque delivery comes in, leading the song through various twists and turns and an anthemic chorus. It's an excellent track and is taken from an EP, In The Halflight, which is released on April 7th - go invest in it.

For fans of: The Smiths, Richard Hawley, Arctic Monkeys, Inspiral Carpets

In Three Words: Soulful Indie Goodness

January 27th

Who is it?Arthur Gun

What's the story? London-based self-styled "apocalyptic acid western" act Arthur Gun have been together since 2012 and are starting to make a real name for themselves, fitting snugly in with the burgeoning psych scene which includes acts like Temples in the UK and Australia's Tame Impala. This track, taken from a recent EP, also shows hints of the Kinks, a touch of mod-style vocals and some Beatles thrown in for good measure, building from an insistent groove through to a euphoric ending. Lyrically, it's best to leave it to their own words to describe what they sing about: "Existential meltdowns, psychological conflict in not-so distant futures, the onset of irreversible malaise in the modern world – these are our specialties". Fair play lads.

For fans of: Temples, Tame Impala, Super Furry Animals

In Three Words: Psych Country Folk

February 26th

Who is it?DWNTWN

What's the story? LA indie pop outfit DWNTWN have been causing a stir since their debut single was picked up by Kitsune in 2012. Further touring and recording since then has developed their sound, culminating in this utterly glorious track - exclusively available to listen to on The ShortListen - taken from their new EP of the same name, due out in April. Chiming guitars, shimmering synths, dreamy boy/girl vocals and a euphoric chorus - this song will literally bring summer to you in February. Listen immediately.

For fans of: The Smiths, The Killers, The Cure

In Three Words: Summer Come Early

February 25th

Who is it?Bright Light Bright Light, featuring Elton John

What's the story? We've featured Rod Thomas, aka Bright Light Bright Light, on The ShortListen before, but if ever an artist deserves to get a second mention fairly soon after their first appearance, it's when they've managed to record a duet with an international superstar. Thomas had already written this song when he got a call from Elton saying that he loved his first album. After further conversations, John agreed to lend his vocals to this track. It's unusual sonic territory for Elton and he delivers an uncharacteristically fragile vocal, but it suits the song perfectly, creating a magical result. It's available to buy on iTunes now, with the rest of a new EP, Life Is Easy following on April 7th.

For fans of: Pet Shop Boys, Robyn, Hurts

In Three Words: Floating Magisterial Pop

February 24th

Who is it?SOAK

What's the story? With Lorde proving that age is no barrier to writing clever, intricate music, along comes another prodigiously-talented 17 year old, in the shape of Derry-based singer-songwriter SOAK (another similarity to Lorde is a fairly long real name: Bridie Monds-Watson). Musically though, it's very different, being much closer to the pure voice, and dark lyrics of Daughter, or Laura Marling. Some lovely reverby production adds to what is, simply, a great song.

For fans of: Daughter, Laura Marling, Goldfrapp

In Three Words: Delicate chamber acoustica

February 21st

Who is it?Dan Croll, remixed by Mike Mago

What's the story? Dan Croll has been gaining fans off the back of support tours with Bastille, London Grammar and Imagine Dragons, together with a lot of blog love; his debut album, Sweet Disarray, is due for release on March 10th. Before that, he releases his third single From Nowhere and we're delighted to premiere a great remix of it, courtesy of Dutch electro DJ Mike Mago, who also runs the influential label BMKLTSCH in Amsterdam. Dan's funky vocals fit nicely into an understated house reworking - including more steel drums which, following Duke Dumont's mighty new offering, we're desperately hoping will be the sound of this summer.

For fans of: Duke Dumont, Idjut Boys, Dan Black, Eric Hassle

In Three Words: Fresh and funky

February 20th

Who is it?Meanwhile

What's the story? With Prince capturing all the headlines in the press over the course of the last month with his 'turn-up-and-play' tour, it seems only appropriate that a new act should emerge which revels in the sound of his imperial phase. Meanwhile is a mysterious London-based artist who sings, produces - basically does the lot - and this is his first taster track - vocally there's a hint of Axl Rose's trademark vibrato as well as the Purple One's mannerisms. There's much more to come, but dip your toes into this track as a starter.

For fans of: Prince, Guns & Roses, Cameo

In Three Words: Fresh and Funky

February 19th

Who is it?The Darcys

What's the story? A four-piece art rock group from Toronto, The Darcys are about to release their third album in the UK having already built a serious reputation in the rest of the world. This track sees frontman Jason Couse take a solo spot, for an utterly haunting song which instantly brings to mind Radiohead's Pyramid Song - and that can never be a bad a thing. Listen to four other tracks from the album Warringhere, and if you like them, buy it on Arts & Crafts/PIAS on March 24.

For fans of: Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Tom Odell, Francis & The Lights

In Three Words: Beautiful, epic (and elegant)

February 18th

Who is it?Nimmo And The Gauntletts

What's the story? A London-based 5-piece, this is Nimmo and the Gauntlett's third single and their best yet. While their earlier two tracks were more restrained XX-style affairs, this one sees them cut loose with Friendly Fires-esque rhythms and pop melodies. It also jars brilliantly against the exceedingly dark video which sees two young boys discover a dead body before going on some adventures with him. Listen and watch below.

For fans of: Friendly Fires, The XX, London Grammar

In Three Words: Restrained Edgy Pop

February 17th

Who is it?D/C

What's the story? A multi-instrumentalist from London, D/C is clearly one talented chap. Primarily a cellist, this track weaves in electronic elements with a soulful vocal on top to create something very special, whilst leaving plenty of space for the song to breathe. A beautiful track.

For fans of: The Album Leaf, King Krule, James Blake

In Three Words: Highly Talented Newcomer

February 14th

Who is it?Evan Dando

What's the story? This song forms part of a tribute album to the talented musician Tarka Cordell, who committed suicide in 2008 just before his debut album Wide Awake In a Dream was released. An album of delicate songs, it has now been covered by a selection of his friends, including Lily Allen and former Lemonheads singer Evan Dando, who took on this one. It's a beautiful track, with Dando's world-weary vocals working perfectly. The album was released on Monday and, aside from the quality music on display, all proceeds go towards the charities CALM and The Jeevika Trust. Buy it here.

For fans of: Bright Eyes, Doves, Spiritualized

In Three Words: Delicate, Acoustic Excellence

February 13th

Who is it?Moody Good featuring Eryn Allen Kane

What's the story? If you're of a nervous disposition, you might want to turn down the bass before putting this one on. Moody Good is the new moniker for Broken Note, a serious abuser of low frequency, being a member of a dubstep duo 16-Bit, who produced parts of Bjork’s Biophilia in 2011. This delicate yet heavy track is immaculately produced and aided by the vocals of Eryn Allen Kane floating along on top. The album, featuring guest slots from YADi and Big Narstie amongst others and released on Chase & Status' MTA label, drops in March and should be a serious one to check out.

For fans of: Burial, 13 & God, Foxes

In Three Words: Deep, Delicate & Dark

February 12th

Who is it?Royal Blood

What's the story? With the news that rock outsold pop in the album charts last year for the first time since 2010 (if you could Mumford & Sons as rock, of course), it seems the genre is still in rude health. And at the forefront of the next wave is Brighton two-piece Royal Blood. Making a big noise, they combine big riffs with Matt Bellamy-esque soulful vocals and Little Monster is their latest track, released onto soundcloud yesterday and available to buy now. It's raw and focused and exactly what you need to hear on a wet Wednesday morning. Listen now.

For fans of: Queens of the Stone Age, The Black Keys, Rage Against The Machine, Muse

In Three Words: No-nonsense Rock Goodness

February 11th

Who is it?Neil Finn

What's the story? Finn, the frontman for New Zealand's finest exports Crowded House, returns with a new solo album - and this woozy, psychedelic title track is a fine place to start. It's produced by Dave Fridmann - long-time associate of Mercury Rev and The Flaming Lips - and his influence clearly shows with all kinds of sonic swoops and shapes coming in and out of focus. As always with Finn, though, it's all about the melody, and that's as strong as ever. The album is out now, with UK dates to follow in April and May.

For fans of: Flaming Lips, The Beatles, Tame Impala

In Three Words: Shiny Psychedelic Sounds

February 10th

Who is it?Indiana

What's the story? It's called Solo Dancing and it's a pulsating Italo Disco track: there's no getting away from it, the Nottingham-based artist Indiana has definitely heard this song by Robyn. But, if you're going to be inspired by anything, then there are few better jump-off points than one of the best songs of the last 10 years: and so it proves, as this is a superbly restrained slice of electro excellence. The entrance of swirly synths at 1:45 is a proper goosebumps moment and the whole thing exudes a nice sense of class.

For fans of: Robyn, Pet Shop Boys, Hot Chip

In Three Words: Brooding Italo Disco

February 7th

Who is it?Lovestarrs

What's the story? Formerly signed to a major label as The Good Natured, this London trio stewed in development hell for over two years before the label got bored, then refused to release their record, or let them self-release. Undeterred, they've started again under a new name and with a slightly different sound, embracing some dream-pop sounds and a giant chorus. Excellent stuff.

For fans of: Cocteau Twins, Curve, Goldfrapp

In Three Words: Welcome back guys

February 6th

Who is it?Jack Garratt

What's the story? The debut track from this mysterious singer-songwriter is a mesmerising affair. Delicate falsetto vocals, forlorn lyrics and hugely interesting production, which starts off with a straight lo-fi piano feel before bringing in dub and electronic elements, before veering into a jazzy middle eight and out again. Other plus points: he appears to have an excellent beard, and there's some great dogs on the Soundcloud image (see below). Do you need us to sell it any more? Have a listen and see what you think.

For fans of: James Blake, Dan Croll, Fleet Foxes

In Three Words: Twisting, Turning Magic

February 5th

Who is it?Miguel

What's the story? Ever since Kaleidoscope Dream broke out and gave us a contemporary RnB album that wasn't all lo-fi doom and gloom, we've been eagerly awaiting more music from Miguel. While there's no word on when we can expect the next album, a new track has dropped that's helping to ease the wait. It's taken from the new soundtrack to Girls, after he was asked to record something specially for the show, alongside new tracks from Lily Allen and Vampire Weekend. It's very much in the vein of his last set of songs, in a good way, and sees him looking for Simplethings from his lady. Add to the "songs for making out to" playlist you blatantly have.

For fans of: Prince, Frank Ocean, Lenny Kravitz

In Three Words: Dirty Laidback Soul

February 4th

Who is it?Klaxons

What's the story? Astonishingly, it's been seven years since Myths of the Near Future was released, taking the Mercury Prize and a slew of other awards, despite being an incredibly patchy record. Followup Surfing The Void was de-void of any actual tunes, so it's no exaggeration to say their career hangs on their next album. Fortunately, this first track, unveiled last night, is a far superior, if rather tentative first step. Smoothly produced by Gorgon City (previously featured on The ShortListen in December with their MNEK-featuring track Ready For Your Love - now a top 5 hit), it's a straight up house track with uplifting lyrics which glides along nicely without ever really lifting off. It's the best thing they've done since Golden Skans though, so we're quietly hopeful for the rest of the album.

For fans of: Duke Dumont, Erol Alkan, Erik Hassle

In Three Words: Soulful House Comeback

February 3rd

Who is it?Khushi

What's the story? We don't know a lot about Khushi, other than he is based in London, and that this is the lead track of his debut EP proper (released 3rd March), following a few tracks put on soundcloud around a year ago. However, that doesn't stop us hugely enjoying Phantoms; it's by turns delicate and bombastic and boasts an impressive dynamic, taking you on (X Factor clichés aside) a musical journey. We can't wait to hear more.

For fans of: Radiohead, London Grammar, Alt-J

In Three Words: Delicate yet Dynamic

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





(Image: Flickr/Steven Snodgrass)