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The ShortListen - July 2015

The ShortListen - July 2015

The ShortListen - July 2015
11 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

July 31st

Who? Mr. Kitty

What’s the story? We’re huge fans of the synth here at ShortList. Heck, had we one in the office, we’d probably not get any work done such is our obsession. One man fortunate enough to fiddle around with the instrument all day and call it employment, however, is Austin-based artist Mr Kitty, purveyor of ‘self-destructive synthpop’ and the brains behind this extremely upbeat and superb track, In Your Blood. Sounding like the one that got away from the Drive soundtrack (the overlaying notes of Real Hero are hard to miss toward its climax), this intoxicatingly cool beat goes into overdrive, fusing overhanging synth pop with electro euphoria at some ungodly amount of bpm, even managing to echo the soundtracks of 16-bit video games. So less Drive soundtrack really, more Turbo Outrun.

For fans of: The Drive soundtrack, New Order, Wild Nothing

In three words: Upbeat synth pop

July 30th

Who? Kate Boy

What's the story? Everyone loves a bit of Swedish pop - but this is a bit spikier than most. A Stockholm-based three piece featuring Markus Dextegen, Hampus Nordgren Hemlin and Australian-born vocalist Kate Akhurst have a released two UK singles prior to this, but Midnight Sun is our favourite so far. It's synth-tastic, but there's a punky energy to it as well which drives the whole thing along. Meanwhile, the video is also hugely entertaining, as the eponymous Kate indulges in some interpretive dance, face painting and wearing massive clothes. And who doesn't enjoy that?

For fans of: Robyn, The Knife, Niki & The Dove

In three words: Punk Synth Energy

July 29th

Who? InMe

What's the story? Many of you will be dimly aware of InMe as that British alt-metal band who had a few hits about ten years ago and a couple of successful albums in the form of Overgrown Eden and White Butterfly. But they managed to pull off that rare trick of retaining a committed and loyal fanbase that has followed them as they went heavier and followed their own artistic direction. So, if you're one of the lapsed, then it's high time to give them another go. This new video comes from the first album of a planned trilogy (you just don't get enough of those these days) which was released in May (buy here) and it's a winning blend of melodic-yet-heavy metal. As if to go full circle, they're actually taking those aforementioned first two albums back out on the road in September, so check out the new material, then go and see the old.

For fans of: Biffy Clyro, Hell is For Heroes

In three words: Energetic Brit Rock

July 28th

Who? New Order

What's the story? People often talk about things being hotly-anticipated, but when it's the first song from the first album (the forthcoming Music Complete) from the legendary New Order in ten years, then it's more than justified. But is it any good? Well, of course it is. It manages to sound like classic New Order yet still updated for 2015. New bassist Tom Chapman makes the smart move to not ape Hooky's sound, sticking nicely to the low end, yet still having plenty of movement. The real trump card is the beautiful washes of synths from returning keyboard player Gillian Gilbert which gives the whole track a gloriously melancholic feel. And glorious melancholy is what we're all after when it comes to New Order. Lovely stuff.

For fans of: Well, New Order

In three words: New Classic Order

July 27th

Who? Palace

What's the story? A band who are well overdue a mention on The ShortListen, we finally get round to featuring the Tottenham four-piece as they reveal the the video for their latest song Head Above The Water. It's a gorgeous, woozy track with deep bass winding in and around (as Andy Townsend would say), while Foals-esque guitars and vocals twinkle away on top. The main body of the song is great, but the outro takes it into gorgeous new territory. There's not much higher praise than saying that this wouldn't have sounded out of place on Holy Fire. Meanwhile, the video is pleasingly weird, complementing things nicely. The band tour in October - we'd strongly advise taking a look.

For fans of: Foals, Jeff Buckley

In three words: Funky Fresh Future

July 24th

Who? De Lux

What's the story? Given yesterday's NASA announcement, releasing a song entitled Oh Man The Future at the same time is rather lucky timing. So it feels very appropriate to feature this track by LA dance-punks De Lux. We'll warn you straight away - there is a distinct chance that lead singer Sean Guerin may have listened to one or two Talking Heads records in his time, given the extreme debt his vocals owe David Byrne but, hey, we were probably due a Once In A Lifetime rewrite weren't we? The backing is tight, funk and features a gorgeous synth line on top. Perfect driving music with a bit of food for thought in the lyrics: enjoy.

For fans of: Talking Heads, Gang of Four

In three words: Funky Fresh Future

July 23rd

Who? Pure Bathing Culture

What's the story? Pure Bathing Culture's 2013 debut album Moon Tides was one of the best records we've heard in years, with a gorgeous dream-pop meets Fleetwood Mac sound combined with superb songwriting on the likes of Pendulum and Scotty. So we couldn't be more excited about the return of the Portland duo, with this, the title track from their second album Pray For Rain. There's a change in the producer's chair, with St Vincent collaborator John Congleton replacing The Shins' Richard Swift, who did such a great job on the first record. Initial attention is grabbed by a live rhythm section with a bit more drive, but there's a touch less of the pop twinkles on the top end. It's a confident return, with Sarah Versprille's heavenly vocals soaring out and Daniel Hindman's chiming guitars ringing out. The album hits on Memphis Industries in the UK on 23 October and we can't wait.

For fans of: Fleetwood Mac, Haerts

In three words: Pop Dreamers Return

July 22nd


What's the story? We initially dismissed Ne-Yo as another dull R&B artist singing about nothing before we were won over by a string of undeniably excellent singles and the realisation that the guy could seriously sing. Now, we definitely count as fans. Which is handy for Atlanta-based artist TOTEM, who has serious echoes of his countryman in both lyrical content and vocal delivery. As a bonus extra, the almost Banks-like production is spectacular, with some lovely controlled deep bass and atmopsheric guitar work later on. This is immaculately performed, ambitious pop R&B, and there's always room for that.

For fans of: Ne-Yo, Banks, Frank Ocean

In three words: ambitious pop R&B

July 21st

Who? Foals

What's the story? We've spoken extensively about our love for the last Foals record, Holy Fire, which was hands down the best album of 2013. So it's with trepidation that we listen to their new material, from forthcoming album What Went Down, desperately hoping that it will measure up well against it. Fortunately the early signs are encouraging: it's clear that they're sticking to the formula of the opening of the last album at least - with the rifftastic rock epicness of the title track and album opener being this album's Inhaler and this song, due to be track 2 on the album and unveiled last night, showing off more of a My Number indie-funk vibe. We'll be honest: it's not quite as good as that, and we slightly prefer the more widescreen production of Flood and Alan Moulder compared to James Ford, but it's still excellent. We have a feeling there's plenty more goodness to come: 28 August and the release of the album cannot come soon enough.

For fans of: The Maccabees, Bloc Party

In three words: Indie groove thang

July 20th

Who? Max Jury

What's the story? If you've had a big weekend, you've slowly dragged yourself into work, and you're still feeling a little tender, we have just the medicine for you. Great American Novel is the new track from 21-year-old Iowa singer-songwriter Max Jury, who is busy readying his debut solo album. Like his previous songs, it once again showcases his truly incredible, perfectly pure voice, while the beautifully arranged backing conjures up a nice sense of epicness without overdoing it. Musically, it's Gram Parsons meets The Beatles, meets Elton John and, quite simply, is a glorious way to spend 3 minutes and 54 seconds of your life. Sooth your soul and give this a listen now.

For fans of: John Lennon, Gram Parsons

In three words: Gentle elegant excellence

July 17th

Who? Chvrches/Calvin Harris & Disciples

What's the story? It's a Scottish two for the price of one today as we feature not one, but two tunes. Frankly, you need both of these in your life immediately so we saw no reason to delay. First up is the first track from Chvrches hotly-anticipated second album (to be called Every Open Eye), which comes in the form of Leave A Trace. Quite simply, this is a fantastic piece of massive synthpop and, while Hurts' comeback songs have been an improvement on their second album misstep, we'd be backing Chvrches to overtake them as the UK's premier electronic act pretty soon, as this blows them out of the water. Meanwhile, Mr Taylor Swift unleashes his traditional summer banger, this time teaming up with London trio Disciples, responsible for one of the best dance tracks of the last few years in the form of They Don't Know. It's a marked departure from his usual EDM synth-stab stuff, and all the better for it, feeling almost restrained. Fear not though, it's catchy, energetic and will get you on the dancefloor without a second thought. Hoist up the Saltire and get listening to both of these now.

For fans of: Hurts, Avicii

In three words: All-round electronic magnificence

July 16th

Who? Mabel

What's the story? Famous parents can be a blessing and a curse. Sean Lennon, for example, never stood a chance of emulating his dad's 'fairly decent' musical output. But, on the other hand, having a well-known mum or dad does people listening immediately. Lily Allen certainly got inital attention thanks to Keith, before firmly establishing her own take on things. So next in this lineage comes Mabel, whose parents are Neneh Cherry and sometime Massive Attack producer Cameron McVey (who already has one famous musician offspring, in the form of Marlon Roudette). So, you've piqued our interest, what's it actually like? Fortunately, the results are very pleasing. 19-year-old Mabel has a pleasingly straightforward and uncomplicated delivery - weirdly, it reminds us of Emma Bunton singing 2 Become 1 (that's probably just us), as well as Martina Topley-Bird (that's a more normal comparison) - while the backing is very trip hoppy, albeit with a slightly more energetic beat. It's a more than interesting start for sure, above and beyond any nepotism, and that's all that counts.

For fans of: Massive Attack, Martina Topley-Bird

In three words: Trip Hop Revival

July 15th

Who? Day Wave

What's the story? OK, we're calling it now. This is probably going to be the best EP released this year. We've already featured two songs from Jackson Phillips, the Oakland guy who is Day Wave, on The ShortListen and both of them feature on the Headcase EP, together with three other equally excellent tracks, culminating in the title track - the last to be unveiled. This particular track expands his palette to include distinct echoes of New Order and The Cure; obviously no bad thing. The five tracks are all emotional, sincere, delicate yet robust and, above all, simply refreshing. It's surf pop with something to say, with brilliant outsider lyrics ("only a fool would want me" and "we try but we don't fit in") which are self-deprecating rather than whining. Drag is probably still the highlight, but it's a tough call, so enjoy the whole lot; this is glorious, classic indie.

For fans of: New Order, Pure Bathing Culture, Death Cab For Cutie

In three words: Wistful indie magic

July 14th

Who? Example

What's the story? Example has never looked back since moving away from his earlier, more hip hop, style (which had some great moments) and embracing pop and EDM before EDM was even a thing. Now readying his sixth album - a hugely impressive achievement in today's climate - which is due to emerge next year, he's released the first track from it in the form of Whisky Story. It's a pleasingly banging track - and, most pleasingly, completely without any clichéd EDM synth riffs and sounds, sticking instead with a guitar-based beat which almost sounds like Depeche Mode. The zeitgeist-referencing selfie stick video, filmed on the underground (we were sure you weren't allowed to film on the tube? Oh well) is also a nice touch. Let's see where he goes next.

For fans of: Depeche Mode, Nero

In three words: Banging electro house

July 13th

Who? Don Broco

What's the story? Anticipation builds further toward the release of the second album from Bedford four-piece Don Broco, with this effervescent new track. Whilst definitely based in rock, Superlove manages to blend in about five other genres, with elements of funk, pop, U2-style chiming guitars and even a hint (just a hint) of reggae. It's confident, fun, catchy and relentless; if the album - entitled Automatic and due out 7 August - can sustain this level of quality then it should be a belter.

For fans of: Twin Atlantic, Mallory Knox

In three words: Genre-bending rocking

July 10th

Who? Richard Hawley

What's the story? We shamefully have been a little delayed in featuring this, but fear not; better late than never. More Sheffield than steel and just as durable comes the first taste of Richard Hawley's eighth album, which is due 11 September and entitled Hollow Meadows. This track, Which Way is classic Hawley, effortlessly weaving a tale with a stirring backing and Hawley's well-worn vocals coming through like a modern day Johnny Cash. He's on tour in the UK throughout October and November - don't miss out. 

For fans of: Cherry Ghost, Johnny Cash, Morrissey

In three words: Classic songwriting excellence

July 9th

Who? Frances

What's the story? Londoners struggling to get into work today with the tube strikes on are probably stressed and annoyed right now - so this track from Frances is just what the doctor ordered. We first featured her on The ShortListen last August, now she reemerges with the excellent new EP Grow, coming out on the Communion label. This song, When It Comes To Us is a highlight, as the 20-year-old from Newbury spars with Ritual in an actual genuine duet, rather than two vocalists trying to out-sing each other. Smooth, laid-back and with a serious late night ambience, this is tremendous.

For fans of: Birdy, Gordi, James Blake

In three words: Downbeat nighttime vibes

July 8th

Who? Gordi

What's the story? It's three tracks and three hits from Aussie singer-songwriter Sophie Payton, aka Gordi. Following in the footsteps of the brilliant Taken Blame and Nothing's as it Seems comes Can We Work It Out, which doesn't deviate from her distinctive template, but refines it and makes it bigger. It's rooted in her acoustic guitar, sparse percussion and plaintive, simple vocals, but this time there's much more electronic instrumentation bulking out the sound. Vocally, she reminds us of Birdy, while sonically, it's approaching the glorious peaks of Peter Gabriel's classic work. High praise indeed, but this is great stuff.

For fans of: Birdy, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush

In three words: Emotional electronic acoustica

July 7th

Who? Lusts

What's the story? If there's one word we'd use to describe Leicester brothers Lusts, it's 'shimmering'. And never mind Lusts, 'Lush' might have been a more appropriate name for them. We're delighted to be premiering their third single Waves here on The ShortListen, and it's a gorgeous, driving anthem-in-waiting, with woozy guitars and smooth vocals; all Echo & The Bunnymen and early Editors and not a million miles away from fellow newcomers All Tvvins. It's over and out in under three minutes; you'll be reaching for the repeat button before you know it. They head out on a month-long headline tour in October and November, be sure to check them out.

For fans of: All Tvvins, Editors, Echo & The Bunnymen

In three words: Shimmering driving indie

July 6th

Who? Jess Glynne

What's the story? It's hard to remember an artist since King Midas for whom everything they touched turned to gold for so long. Jess Glynne's non-stop run of hits, which began with guesting on Clean Bandit's Rather Be, and has since taken in My Love (with Route 94), Real Love (with Clean Bandit again), Right HereHold My Hand and recent number one Not Letting Go (with Tinie Tempah), will surely continue with Don't Be So Hard On Yourself. It's another early-90s piano house banger, but if it ain't broke, why fix it; particularly when the style suits Glynne's vocals so perfectly. Yet again, she effortlessly lifts the track up with another soulful, powerful yet dynamic performance, with some lovely disco string flourishes adding that extra je ne sais quoi. If this isn't another chart-topper we'd be amazed.

For fans of: Clean Bandit, Ella Eyre, Katy B

In three words: Effortless Summer Pop

July 3rd

Who? Pesky!

What's the story? What had you done by the time you were eleven? Played with a bit of Lego, played a lot of computer games and kicked a football around a bit. Well, the kids in Pesky have done a bit better than that. The seven members of the band, which hails from Ulverton in Cumbria, are all aged just 11 and 12 and are going to release their first EP, the amazingly-titled Smells Like Tween Spirit, on the legendary Fierce Panda label on July 24. This is no novelty affair though, lead track Keep Me, is one of the most joyfully euphoric - and well-written - indie anthems we've heard all year, putting bands twice their age to shame. Label boss Simon Williams commented: "As Fierce Panda turns 21 years old this year we have been haunted by the notion that at some point soon we were going to sign some musicians who weren't even born when we started, but Pesky! really do take the biscuit." On this evidence, they more than justify joining the likes of Coldplay and Keane as label almuni.

For fans of: Idlewild, Los Campesinos, Ride

In three words: Energetic Indie Pop

July 2nd

Who? On An On

What's the story? From the title of Minneapolis trio On An On's new single, we can only assume these guys are fans of computer design. It's the third track to be revealed from their forthcoming second album, And The Wave Has Two Sides, following in the footsteps of the more upbeat It's Not Over and the more acoustic-based Drifting (both available on the Roll Call Records Soundcloud), but this is the best of the lot, gently and gracefully swaying into a quietly epic chorus with some dreamy background vocals. This could have slotted neatly onto the latest Death Cab For Cutie album and, since that's one of our favourites of the year so far, that's praise indeed.

For fans of: Death Cab For Cutie, Ms Mr, The Shins

In three words: Dreamy Summer Indie

July 1st

Who? Jack Garratt

What's the story? Prepare to feel deeply inadequate. On a creative level, that is. Garratt has been building up quite the head of steam on the London circuit with his one-man shows, playing an improbable number of instruments systematically to recreated his bedroom-made 'synth plus guitar' anthems. Weathered is more of the same from the Buckinghamshire-based songster: a simple guitar line that expands into a track of vast, window-down-volume-up proportions. The sooner this chap releases a full album, the sooner we can label it the "record of the summer" - because it really will be.

For fans of: Jamie Woon, Imagine Dragons, James Blake

In three words: Uplifting minimalist anthem

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