Cicada – Roulette

I have a new obsession. Years ago I used to play the Cicada remix of Editors’ Munich at Popstarz. It made the track epic and euphoric while still remaining dark. Then in November I was plugged a record by a band called Cicada. As I get so much music to listen to it didn’t prick my interest and I ignored it, not associating the two. I think I thought why are they called such a stupid name when there is Cascada and for some mad reason that they sounded like a heavy metal band (?!?).

Finally I’ve got round to listening to them just ahead of the release of their second album and I’ve been entirely missing out on something that is so up my street that it could be made just to please me. Electronic music? Check. Scandinavian vocalist? Check. Robots? Check. It’s a winner all round. The band are made up of Alex Payne, Aaron Gilbert and former Gus Gus singer Heidrun Bjornsdottir with Editors’ frontman popping up on the somber ‘Executive’. I’ve interviewed them for Londonist here if you want to know more…

Heidrun often sounds like one of Ladytron, particularly on new single ‘Metropolis’, but has the confident self-assured look of Nina Persson (not physically, just how she holds herself).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8yCNO0lUuo[/youtube]

Explosive and busting out with fun (just try and not waggle to ‘Psycho Thrills’, it’s fast becoming one of my favourite albums of the year.

Download Cicada – Metropolis (The Twelves’ B-LIVE Rio Mix)

MPHO – Box & Locks

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDfLBY6PJrQ[/youtube]

MPHO first popped into the music world as the vocalist on 2003’s Booty La La by Bugz In The Attic. Since then she’s been operating round London town as MPHO Skeef, showing up as backing vocalists for various pop stars and has finally signed to a major label with her debut album due later this year.

‘Box N Locks’ is her first single and it’s an immediate assertion that this is an album full of in your face party pop. With lyrics about the assumption that just cos she’s a ‘brown girl’ she’ll be ‘making urban music’, we can’t help but shed a tiny tear for Remi Nicole (where is she?) Back to MPHO – the video manages to look very glossy and US friendly despite using just a few cheaply set up shots. I love, love the line about Leeds and of course the song is based around one of my all time favourite songs ‘Echo Beach’. I’m actually more familiar with the Dimestars version which I got off Anfunny’s site a few years ago and have banged out at Popstarz ever since. Now Box N Locks looks set to join it in my must play tunes and I can’t wait to hear the rest of her album ‘Pop Art’.

Download MPHO – Album Minimix
Download Dimestars – Echo Beach

Review: Black Eyed Peas – The E.N.D

Black Eyed Peas

Since the last Black Eyed Peas album four years ago, Fergie’s surprised us all by becoming one of the world’s most popular solo stars. Despite penning most of her album, Will.i.am had no such success with his own record, even if he managed to woo the UK by taking Queen Cheryl of Cole under his arm on Heartbreaker.

Now the pair are back with fellow BEP comrades Taboo and apl.de.ap for their fifth studio album. While Monkey Business was a fun party album, The E.N.D steps it up a gear and through the power of the mighty vocoder transforms the Peas into in your fave dancefloor creatures.

The dramatic Boom Boom Pow lays out the album’s intentions perfectly and with its “You’re so two thousand and LATE” snap gives us a brand new insult to throw out there. I Gotta Feeling practically screams it’s producer David Guetta from the off and fellow anthems Missing You and Rock That Body continue pummeling us with wild basslines and vocal snarling.

When it’s time to take a breath of fresh air from the all-night rave, Meet Me Halfway is there to show you what BEP doing a Coldplay song would sound like. Answer: very good. Fergie regains some of the softness she explored on Big Girls Don’t Cry on gorgeous love song Alive, but you’re advised to give her attempt at a Jamaican accent on the instantly skip-able Electric City a miss.

Daring and constantly innovative, the Black Eyed Peas have taken the techno/RnB door opened by Kanye West and flung it open wide.

Originally written for BBC Music

Review: Daniel Merriweather – Love And War

merriweather0609

With Robbie still out of action, and the charts being deluged by a wave of talented ladies, one thing we’re really missing is a great male singer.  James Morrison and Paulo Nutini might have had successes with their debut albums, but as their popularity falters Daniel Merriweather is ready to step in bringing his Aussie charm to our shores.

Originally introduced to us as the vocalist on Mark Ronson’s cover of Smiths classic ‘Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before’, Daniel teams up again with the ubiquitous Ronson for the whole of his debut album ‘Love and War’.  Perfectly designed for a long, hot summer, it’s a combination of the kind of classic old school soul we’d expect from anything Ronson lays his magical fingers on and contemporary blues featuring a variety of modern day stars such as Wale.

While debut single ‘Change’ might have wooed us all with it’s hypnotic piano riff, even more popular follow-up ‘Red’ is where Merriweather bares his soul telling of a heartbreak, with vocals that drip with anguish. With his impassioned pleas, it’s the perfect break-up song, if such a thing can exist, that belies his 26 years.

Heartbreak is a key theme here. Although ‘Cigarettes’ might sound jaunty on first listen, it’s all about missing the smell of his lady on his clothes. Similarly the blisteringly brilliant ‘Water And A Flame’, featuring fellow husky voiced Ronson alumni Adele, is a duet basted in pain with tales of empty houses, busy dial tones and the long, sad ache of desertion.

Perhaps then, not the happiest of albums, but if you’re missing a loved one, an absolutely essential listen.

Originally written for Orange Music

Popstarz Setlist 5/6/09

I was suffering from intense toothache while DJing on Friday (and must have drunk about a bottle and half of champagne, but more on that later) but it seems pain = a great DJ set. We’ve not played Scissor Sisters since leaving the Scala but hearing Comfortably Numb again was brilliant. Here’s what I played.

VV Brown – Crying Blood
Noisettes – Never Forget You
Dimestars – Echo Beach
The Knife – Heartbeats
La Roux – Bulletproof
Gossip – Heavy Cross

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