ShortList is supported by you, our amazing readers. When you click through the links on our site and make a purchase we may earn a commission. Learn more

The ShortListen - February 2015

The ShortListen - February 2015

The ShortListen - February 2015
10 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

February 27th

Who is it? The Knocks

What's the story? If there's such a thing as a 'winter jam', then New York duo The Knocks have just written one. The follow-up to their fantastic summer track Classic, which was the soundtrack of our summer last year, continues their feelgood vibe and, again, features a member of Powers on guest vocals - this time it's Mike Del Rio providing the laidback vocals. It's called Dancing With Myself and is the first single from their long-awaited debut record 55, due later this year. It's slinky, funky and features a sax solo on the outro - what more could you want?

For fans of: Honne, Justin Timberlake, Chromeo

In Three Words: Slinky Downbeat Disco

February 26th

Who is it? Thomston

What's the story? There's something in the water right now in New Zealand. Following on from Broods, who themselves followed on from Lorde, comes fellow Kiwi Thomston, aka 19 year old producer/songwriter Thomas Stoneman - indeed he is now managed by Lorde's Saiko Management. Following on from an EP released in the middle of the last year which steadily picked up Spotify and Soundcloud plays, comes Collarbones, the first track from a brand new EP named Backbone. It's more downbeat and atmospheric than his previous releases and it works fantastically well. It threatens to unleash towards the end but never does with the whole thing held together by the quality of Thomston's vocals, which can deal with deep notes and falsetto with ease. An intriguing listen.

For fans of: SOHN, Lorde, The XX

In Three Words: Dark, atmospheric minimalism

February 25th

Who is it? XYLØ

What's the story? Well, this is pretty impressive. LA duo XYLØ are a mysterious duo with precious little information floating about, but they've emerged apparently fully-formed with this stunning track. It's lush, yet restrained; dark and broody, but with a truly enormous chorus. It's only been out two days yet it's rapidly picking up attention - if Radio 1 get hold of this, we could have another Video Games on our hands. Get listening right now.

For fans of: Lana Del Rey, Broods, The XX

In Three Words: Sultry Dark Electronica

February 24th

Who is it? Swiss Lips

What's the story? So many great bands are ruined by the fickle nature of the music industry, so it's always hugely pleasing to see an act fight through and get out there regardless. Manchester five piece Swiss Lips are certainly one of them; initially gaining a big deal with Epic, but pushed early and subsequently dropped, before releasing an album, when instant success eluded them. Unchastened, they've ploughed on anyway, secured a new home, and, two years since their last single, they unveil this excellent track, which precedes their self-titled debut album, due 16 March. This is a classic piece of electronic pop, with a slinky bassline, glistening synths and a giant chorus - the album should be more of the same, and that's just fine with us.

For fans of: Foster The People, Robyn

In Three Words: Punchy Power Pop

February 23rd

Who is it? Gaz Coombes

What's the story? Supergrass were always a cut above both most of their Britpop rivals, and their public perception as a cheeky chappy indie band. Second record In It For The Money and the self-titled follow up, in particular, showcased the quality and variety of their songwriting abilities - they were always much more than Alright. And frontman Gaz Coombes has taken the opportunity afforded by the band's split in 2010 to stretch his wings even further with his critically-acclaimed solo efforts Here Come The Bombs, which came out in 2012, and Matador, which emerged at the end of January this year. The latter has fully showcased his darker side and command of instrumentation, as this track, the latest single to be taken from it, aptly-demonstrates. There's constant momentum, with the dynamic ebbing and flowing gracefully; frankly, if Radiohead had released it, we'd all be declaring it their best work in years. We're delighted to be premiering the video - stick this on and in five minutes you'll be aching to get away from your desk and out into the glorious British countryside for some fresh air. Wonderful stuff.

For fans of: Radiohead, Beck

In Three Words: Graceful classic songwriting

February 20th

Who is it? Ash

What's the story? Ash must be pretty annoyed by Blur. No sooner had they announced news of their first album in eight years on Wednesday (Ash Wednesday, of course) than Damon and the boys came in and revealed their studio comeback after 12 years. Still, they shouldn't be overlooked, as Ash are always a welcome band to have around. If it feels like they've been off the scene, they weren't really - instead they embarked upon the A-Z singles collection, releasing 26 tracks between 2009 and 2010 before putting out a Greatest Hits. Having previously stated that they'd never release another album, though, they've had a change of heart, with Kablammo! due to emerge later this year; you can preorder via Pledgemusic. First single Cocoon, quite simply, couldn't sound more like classic Ash if it tried: fast, energetic and with a youthful charm. The only thing that could make it better would be Charlotte on a few backing vocals but, sadly, that ship sailed a while ago. It's great to have them back, even if they never really went away.

For fans of: Well, Ash

In Three Words: Irrepressible Punky Pop

February 19th

Who is it? Skream

What's the story? The casual music fan will see the name Skream and immediately think of dubstep: hardly surprising given that his remix of La Roux's In For The Kill effectively introduced the genre to the general public and the fact that he was one third of dubstep supergroup Magnetic Man. But, after achieving success in that field, he made the bold decision to jump ship entirely (wisely, given the quick descent of his original genre's fortunes), moving into the sphere of house and techno. His latest release, Still Lemonade, is a fantastic piece of work, remaining dark and mysterious, yet full of energy. Synth arps bubble over the top, while soft pads move around before a huge breakdown is unleashed four minutes in; it sucks you in and doesn't let go.

For fans of: Route 94, Redshape

In Three Words: Deep dark magnificence

February 18th

Who is it? The Lone Bellow

What's the story? We first featured this Brooklyn-via-Georgia act in December 2013, just before they released their debut record in the UK. We're pleased to report that (we assume mainly because of us) they've gone from strength to strength in the meantime. They've just unveiled their second album, Then Came The Morning, produced by The National's Aaron Dessner, which has seen him lend some of the gravitas and big sound from his day job act. This track is due for release as a single on March 2nd, but listen below and, if you like it, head straight to the album - and check them out live when they play the 100 Club on 30 July.

For fans of: Arcade Fire, The National, CSNY

In Three Words: Big-hearted alt-country rock

February 17th

Who is it? Spector

What's the story? It never quite kicked off for Spector on their first album, after being hotly-tipped by just about every media outlet going prior to the release of their debut Enjoy It While It Lasts. It was a solid debut, but in today's desire for all bands to emerge fully-formed, perhaps this wasn't quite enough for people. However, they're back with the first taste of their second record and it instantly feels more widescreen and grown-up. There's a big electronic sheen throughout, it doesn't try too hard, and vocalist Fred MacPherson has never sounded so confident. It sounds a lot like recent Horrors with some Joy Division thrown in for good measure; the album should be well worth a listen.

For fans of: The Horrors, Editors, Joy Division

In Three Words: Cinematic Electronic Comeback

February 16th

Who is it? Alabama Shakes

What's the story? Alabama Shakes blasted out of nowhere in 2011, with frontwoman Brittany Howard's howling, bluesy vocals gaining attention across the board. Their 2012 debut album Boys & Girls fulfilled the promise, and they return with Don't Wanna Fight, the first track from their second record, Sound & Colour, which is due April 21st. There's no let up on quality, with a funky, dense groove laying the foundations for Howard's stunning vocals once again. It's not a million miles away from James Brown - and, in the chorus, even the Bee Gees - and that is never a bad thing. This is fresh and funky, get yourself going by giving this a spin.

For fans of: James Brown, Black Keys, Bee Gees

In Three Words: Deep Dirty Groove

February 13th

Who is it? Gordi

What's the story? We first featured 21-year-old Aussie singer/songwriter Gordi back in October, and now she returns with another impressive tune, showing that she's no one-song wonder. It's downbeat and based around gentle acoustic strumming with a few electronic touches on top but, like her first track, it's all about her distinctive voice which, when multitracked, is warm, yet haunting. Another special song - we can't wait to hear more.

For fans of: Joni Mitchell, Laura Marling, Goldfrapp

In Three Words: Blissful acoustic electronica

February 12th

Who is it? All Tvvins

What's the story? Following in the spelling footsteps of Chvrches and Wavves comes Irish duo All Tvvins, recently signed to Warners. This hugely impressive debut single is all pounding, driving rhythms, flashes of synths and Editors-style post-punk guitars. It's expertly produced by Jim Abbiss, with the song being held back from exploding into life until the very last second; a tactic which works perfectly. Whisper it quietly, but there's even a dash of the energy and verve of early U2 (and we're not just saying that because they're Irish). An excellent start.

For fans of: Editors, Arcade Fire, The 1975

In Three Words: Roadtrip music ahoy

February 11th

Who is it? Hot Chip

What's the story? On Monday we featured Formation, currently forging an LCD Soundsystem-shaped path at the start of their career - and it seems that Hot Chip are doing the same as they approach their sixth album. Huarache is the first taste of forthcoming longplayer Why Make Sense?, their first new record in three years; regrouping after their various side projects including The 2 Bears and Alexis Taylor's solo album. It's not an instant banger in the vein of Ready For The Floor, but more a track that worms its way into your brain over the course of five and half minutes - much like James Murphy's best moments. There's a great groove throughout, a dash of vocoder, and some unmistakeably Hot Chip-esque rubbery noises to take us home. A welcome return.

For fans of: LCD Soundsystem, Metronomy, Junior Boys

In Three Words: Hot Hot Chip

February 10th

Who is it? Say Lou Lou

What's the story? It's a been a seriously long time coming but the debut album from Swedish/Australian twin sisters Miranda Anna and Elektra June Kilbey-Jansson, aka Say Lou Lou, finally has a release date. The much-delayed Lucid Dreaming will be coming out on April 6th, and it's preceded by this track, Nothing But A Heartbeat. Like everything else they've put out, it's immaculately produced, with beautiful sonic flourishes and a huge chorus. The delay is almost certainly due to the band struggling to get support at radio (despite being longlisted for the BBC's Sound of 2014), but considering the number of songs we've already heard, we know the album is going to be fantastic. If the mainstream fails to pick up on it, then it's their loss; it can be our secret pleasure.

For fans of: Robyn, Kate Bush, Laura Welsh

In Three Words: Epic Dream Pop

February 9th

Who is it? Formation

What's the story? Since James Murphy wound up LCD Soundsystem in 2011, there's been a cowbell and electro soul-shaped hole in music - but we may well have found something new to fill it in the shape of Formation. They're a South London twin duo (so one up on Disclosure, who are merely brothers) and Back Then is their latest release and it's a joyous four minutes of music, featuring an insistent, driving beat, dashes of organ and piano and, of course, when the ante is upped during a mesmerising outro section, a nice bit of cowbell. Hypnotic stuff, and definitely one to keep an eye on.

For fans of: LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip, Talking Heads

In Three Words: Driving electronic soul

February 6th

Who is it? Marker Starling

What's the story? Something a little different for a Friday, with this wonderful mix of Bossa Nova and early 70s pop from Toronto singer-songwriter Chris A. Cummings, Marker Starling. This track is the lead single from album Rosy Maze, due March 30, which was recorded over the last four years, and written over the last fifteen - it's his first under the new name since releasing four albums between 2000 and 2010 under the Mantler moniker, which gained him a cult following in his native Canada. "Well I'm giving up on sublime and I'm giving the ridiculous a try" he sings in the outro - do what he says and have a listen to this.

For fans of: Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney, Super Furry Animals

In Three Words: Glorious glockenspiel pop

February 5th

Who is it?Zak Abel

What's the story? The ridiculously talented and enviably young Zak Abel first came to our attention with the funky These Are The Days, which we featured on the ShortListen a couple of months back, and he's back with a follow up that sees him using his impressive soul vocals on a garage-tinged track. It's impressive because genre-wise, it stands out as something very different to what we've heard from him so far. His voice also boasts a grit which belies his youth and distinguishes him from the many other young soul singers breaking out in the UK right now. Oh and he's only 19. Sickening.

For fans of: MNEK, Aloe Blacc, Justin Timberlake

In Three Words: Genre Shifting Talent

February 4th

Who is it? Young Fathers

What's the story? Little did we know that when we featured Young Fathers on The ShortListenat the start of last year, that they would end up being nominated for, and eventually win the Mercury Prize for their album Dead. And, while winning the award hasn't led to an instant boost in profile or sales, they've done exactly the right thing and simply moved on to the next stage of their evolution, by announcing a follow-up album, to drop in April. It's called White Men Are Black Men Too - a title that's sure to provoke debate - and this track, Rain Or Shine, is the first taste of it. It's a dense, insistent beast, slowly building from an organ-led intro, adding more and more layers as it goes on. It's reminiscent of tracks from Tricky's first album, Maxinquaye and if it's half as good as that, we're in for a treat.

For fans of: Tricky, MF Doom, Roots Manuva

In Three Words: Claustrophobic Genre Clash

February 3rd

Who is it? Daniel Johns

What's the story? Unexpected transformations do happen in music (few would have predicted Lady Gaga recording an album with Tony Bennett when she was showing us her Poker Face), but this is one of the more remarkable ones. Daniel Johns is best known frontman for Australian grunge act Silverchair, who were active from the mid-90s all the way through to 2011, when they went on hiatus. Since then, he's worked as a songwriter for acts such as The Veronicas - somewhat more pop - but, still, few would have expected that his debut solo single would be an electro-R&B affair. It's incredibly minimal, with Johns crooning over the top of a beat produced by Lorde-collaborator Joel Little, and is taken from an EP of the same name which is due on March 13. It'll be very interesting to see where he goes next; but we wouldn't want to predict anything.

For fans of: Chet Faker, FKA Twigs, How To Dress Well

In Three Words: Minimal R&B Transformation

February 2nd

Who is it? Drenge

What's the story? Derbyshire-based two piece Drenge, comprised of brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless, built a reputation as a formidable live band through the course of touring their self-titled first album. Now, they're back with a bang with the first taste of their upcoming follow-up, which will be called Undertow and is due 6th April. We Can Do What We Want is the lead-off track, and it's an teenage anthem in waiting; an unrelenting, pounding three minute blast, which starts heavy and never lets up. They're on tour throughout the UK in April and we'd recommend heading down. You can do what you want though, of course.

For fans of: Deap Valley, Queens of the Stone Age

In Three Words: Swaggering Rock Blast

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