“Singer-songwriter” has been a popular term for the consummate musical artist since, at least, the turn of the 1960s, where a variety of self-possessed singers, lyricists, and arrangers stepped to the forefront of a popular music scene left behind by the crooners of a foregone era. For many enthusiasts of music in today’s modern age, the term has changed to encompass the mainstream pop market a little too much—pitch a line into a formulaic radio hit alongside 15 other people, and suddenly you, too, can be a singer-songwriter.
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British blue-eyed soul band Stone Foundation play straight up, feel-good, classic soul that can heal our wounded hearts in this ever more cruel world. The group’s new album produced by Modfather Paul Weller is Street Rituals and will be released 31st March via 100% Records. Weller also plays on all of the tracks, which makes sense as Stone Foundation‘s sound is very much within Weller’s wheelhouse.
Paul Carr: Animal Collective follow up last year’s Painting With album with more of the same on new EP The Painters. Like much of their best work, “Kinda Bonkers” is bursting with ideas. Built on tabla percussion, see-saw keyboards and parallel vocals that bounce, ping and collide, the band throw everything they can in to see what cooks. All of these different ingredients are whipped up into a customary, trippy, psychedelic sponge. The whole thing is as irrepressible and energetic as you would expect, but it somehow feels more rounded. More straightforward and undemanding, never feeling like it might collapse under the weight of the hooks and melodies the band has crammed on every tier. [8/10]
Actress and pop artist Hayley Kiyoko made a big wave last year with her hit song “Girls Like Girls”, which received 40 million streams on YouTube based on its open-minded embrace of young love in all forms and a killer melody. Kiyoko saw praise from Billboard and US Weekly and her latest EP Citrine has further solidified her position as an up and coming major pop artist. When “Palace” first came out last year, it was a moody and ethereal pop song with dreamy vocals and gentle synth washes. On this remix by Justin Caruso, “Palace” gets heavier dance beats, the vocals move right to the front, and tempo is sped up. “Palace” highlights Kiyoko’s uncanny ability to create nearly perfect pop with seeming ease.
Adriane Pontecorvo: Grimes and Janelle Monáe finally shed their human disguises on “Venus Fly”. As full-on intergalactic goddesses, they echo and spit fire against resounding beats and electric strings. The resulting track is larger than life: furious, fearless, impeccably produced dance music bouncing from the airwaves of a distant and fantastic world. This is marching music for alien armies, explosive and vibrant in such a way that it could only have come from the overflowing creative minds of Grimes and Monáe. Both visually and sonically, they make a perfect pairing, commanding, high-energy, and endlessly innovative. “Venus Fly” might be the best track on Grimes’ fantastic Art Angels, and this sumptuous video is worthy of it. [10/10]