BETTER THAN SOPHIE HABIBIAS

… even possibly in name. Meet Phlo Finister – her real name is Elijah (even though she is a girl!). 19 years old and from LA, she’s obsessed with Edie Sedgewick and has reversioned Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang’ with a bassline sample from Mobb Deep’s ‘Shook Ones’. It could still do with a bit of an Audiobully’s DOWN DOWN DOWN DOWN breakout.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/31053578[/vimeo]

Classy American swagger without the surgically enhanced lips.

Josh Osho – Redemption Days

THIS IS BIG (I have completely lost the ability to write so apols).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aocrgZQoz7g[/youtube]

Those soaring strings. That huge, uplifting chorus. “Redemption Days” should be a killer of a radio hit this summer. It’s the type of song, like Aloe Blacc, that should run across the board, from Radio 2 to The Hits to Kiss.

I expected Josh to be late 20s with his deep, rich voice, but instead he’s only 19. Born in South London I’ve been told he’s had a pretty awful life so far (there is a strong chance that I’ve confused this with a film I watched last week), but now with Wu Tang Clan producing his debut album and Ghostface featuring on this, his debut single, things might slightly be on the up (!) This is also the best thing Ghostface has done since this gigantically epic piece of pop.

If anyone has seen my vocabulary please send it back.

Sparkadia – Mary

When Sparkadia released their 2008 album Postcards, they were a duo making punchy guitar music. Soon after the album release the band fell apart, but singer Alex Burnett decided to keep the name and (amazing quote from the press release) move to East London with wild ideas! Sound the Dalston klaxon.

Thankfully the music hasn’t gone day-glo but it’s certainly gone a little more pop, a little more musical theatre and has had the echo cranked up. ‘Mary’ is the first single from the new project and as PaulyG said, it’s almost on the verge of going into a ‘Muse-style wig-out’ at any moment as it builds from a grumpy wallow to a dramatic, unable to cope, facepalm via a rather good keychange. Released on Feb 14 via the new label from Hoxton clubnight Gold Dust, you can download ‘Mary’ free below.

p.s. Don’t be alarmed by the words Dalston or Hoxton. It’s more Welwyn Garden City.

Shot Yourself in the Foot Again

I’m not a huge fan of Example. I think he’s a little bit fake (is that really your accent?) and when I saw him at Wireless last year it was all a bit hooligan like (twin set and pearls!). There’s no denying though that Kickstarts is rather a large tune, and now he’s teamed up with Skream to get all dubstep. It’s a really charty ‘phat’ dubstep sound but at least it suits him so is less comedy than Britney’s.

This could be pretty big chart wise I reckon, but instead they’ve decided to release it as a free single via soundcloud, so grab away. The video is directed by Example himself and is great, until the last 10 seconds when it goes TOTALLY DIABOLICAL.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDmWJbN8bDo[/youtube]

Universal and Sony enter 2011

In the age of music downloads, it’s long seemed old fashioned to have release dates for singles that happen 6 or 7 weeks after you’ve first heard the song on the radio. The reason labels do it is simple – it allows them to build a ‘plot’ for a record, gathering coverage and building hype; as well as having what has traditionally been thought of as the best shot at getting a #1. In the last 18 months or so, however, there’s been more of a move to records being released a couple of weeks early and then gradually climbing the chart.

Now Universal and Sony Music have decided climbing the charts is a fine thing to happen and announced that in order to ‘combat piracy’ they will now be releasing singles as soon as they hit radio. Whether this is based on a first play which sometimes happens 12 – 15 weeks before release (see Cheryl’s The Flood on Moyles in September?) or when it is added to a major radio group’s playlist remains to be seen.

It’s a huge deal though and will cause the biggest shake-up for the charts in recent history, combating claims that chart shows are pointless and out of date. Watching a record climb will be exciting. But there will also be lots of other impacts. Does the super fan who buys the single the moment it comes out so they have a copy, then feel compelled to buy it again the week it most looks like it might go to #1 to help it on its way? Will more records completely disappear as not everything that enters at #80 climbs? In terms of promo, labels will probably still have a 6 week off ‘impact date’ but how will radio and television playlists deal with this? How will this impact the other labels not working immediate releases? And how will this impact the A&R cycle of deciding when to drop acts based on their performance? Will the media really be able to get their heads round a record building and building rather than immediately labeling something as a flop?

It’s an exciting time, both as someone who consumes music and loves the chart, and from the other side as someone who works in promo for Sony Music. The use of Jessie J as an illustration about how this can work though is on slightly shaky ground. To your average music consumer it does indeed look like Jessie J has had a magnificent success story and she has done amazingly well entering at #25, dipping to #34 and now sitting at #2 in the official charts. As much as I despise her, that’s totally awesome and shows how given a long promotional campaign you can really build a hit. In reality though, ‘Do It Like A Dude’ has been treated by the Radio 1 playlist team unlike anything I can think of. Normally a record might get added up front somewhere between 6 and 4 weeks up front. It’ll enter on the INDWT or C list depending on the artist (some as big as Britney etc can go straight onto the B). Then depending on how the record is doing with the audience and how much it’s gaining momentum the track will gradually grow. In week of release however, Radio 1 have continually dropped records on that week’s playlist if they aren’t having much of a chart performance. It’s happened time and time again and is rubbish for the bands because it really doesn’t help them gather any momentum but good for the station because it keeps their music fresh. It does show a lack of faith in a record though – I think if you decide you’re supporting a new artist, then support them. Don’t drop them at the first sign of trouble. Give it a chance.

With Jessie J though, the 2nd week dip to #34 should have been enough to bounce it straight off the Radio 1 playlist. However there was no doubt that she was going to win the Sound of 2011 poll, so the record was given extraordinary treatment by Radio 1 as they pushed it further and further up the playlist to where it now sits on the A list, has maximum rotation and of course climbs the chart. Find me another record they’ve treated this well… With this new release method, it’s something they’re going to have to do more and more.

LET’S GET LOUD

Tonight I went along to the playback party for Rihanna’s new album LOUD at swanky, slightly out of date, London restaurant Sketch. It’s a dramatic turn from the moody, darkness of Rated R putting Ri-Ri firmly back on the dancefloor. Most excitingly, Rihanna herself was there introducing each of the five songs we heard and thanking us for coming to listen to her ‘silly music’. We had to check our phones so immediate tweeting was out and some of the names of tracks are possibly wrong Or I’m correct and the rest of pop blogosphere is wrong, obv.

We heard:

1. Only Girl in the World: single 1 and we’ve already got a dance routine which I attempted to shake my way through at the back of the room. Rihanna said that she felt the vocals in this song really pushed her and in order to get it right she waited until she had a 3 day rest in her schedule so she could rest her voice and bang it out.

2. What’s My Name: single 2 will appear on the album with a featuring credit from Drake but we heard the solo track tonight. Lots of mentions of ‘Hey boy… I need a boy…’ etc with some banging, banging steel drumming.

3. S&M: We’ve already seen Rihanna wrapped in chains so for this song she told us to expect a video that didn’t suit the lyrics and called the song itself sassy, in your face and baddass. It’s also the song that most represents being LOUD! It opens with lots of shouts of ‘NA NA COME ON’, ‘NA NA COME ON’ and goes on with lyrics like ‘There’s sex in the air… I may be bad but I’m perfectly good’ and the excellent ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but whips and chains excite me.’ It’s a massive dancefloor banger with huge, huge beats that would remind you most of Please Don’t Stop The Music.

4. (Drink to that) Cheers: ‘For all the semi-alcoholics in the world’ was how Rihanna introduced this heavy, grinding track that felt like it had a bit more of a mission that then other very party tracks. Slinky and dramatic it samples Avril Lavigne’s ‘I’m With You’

5. California Kingdom: This could be called California King Bed instead. This was the guitary ballad of the night and seemed nice enough but was certainly no ‘Take A Bow’ lyrically. It did however sounds like NeYo might have a hand in it somewhere.

Other things we learnt include

  • Rihanna likes to drink Jameson and ginger, have wine with meals and ‘hit the liquor’ if a club is playing bad music.
  • Her success completely change the way radio worked back in Barbados. Previously it was either very ballad, or very hip hop / reggae / rnb but now the island has been introduced to top 40 music and opened up many different channels.
  • She stated her annoyance with an album that you have to skip tracks or pick favourites out of. The plan for ‘Loud’ is that it makes you want to ‘press play’. Tell us about it love.
  • The album also contains a collab with Nicki Minaj. Everyone else seems to think it’s called ‘Raining Men’. I however heard ‘Uranium Man’. I think we know which would be better.

Katy B

katyb

20 year old Katy B is suddenly becoming an iconic British musician for the sound of 2010. It feels like she’s blown up onto the Radio 1 A-List from nowhere, but in fact she’s been a-toiling via a Brit school education for a few years and having teamed up with Rinse FM and their label, has been working with the likes of Zinc and Benga on her new tracks.

‘Katy on a Mission’ is her first single proper out August 20th, but I’m much more about in love with ‘Louder’. I like a popstar who can enunciate, and here her warm yet scratchy tones couple with wobbly dubstep basslines (which I think I’ll always find a bit amusing’) on this tale of an unwillingness to stop the party.

‘I’ve been awake for a day now, 24 hours, yet still I want it louder’

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1Ynf2ScKiA[/youtube]

Love her.

Also I mention DJ Zinc like I have an idea who he is. I don’t, but Ed just sent me this other production from him. Total party anthem.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKB3hJBvAZY[/youtube]

Maximum Balloon

I have very little idea who TV on the Radio are. I know they don’t make stonky electro-pop though, so it’s a bit of a woop woop to discover 1/3 of the band, David Sitek, has popped off to make just that with solo project Maximum Balloon.

The forthcoming album is 10 songs described as ‘thick, noisy and funky, with glam’ by Spin with each featuring vocals from different artists, including Little Dragon, Karen O and David Byrne.

Two tracks are out there so far: ‘Tiger’, whose funky afrobeat sound, you might have heard on the Daisy Lowe for Esquire pant moistening promo; and the Little Dragon featured ‘If You Return’ which combines a stuttering drumbeat with some chilly electronica. I’m really looking forward to the album, but for now here’s the pretty promo for ‘If You Return’. I’m assuming it’s a teaser rather than the whole thing?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5z85llbyN0[/youtube]

Rehab in Jamaica

There are certain songs I’ve heard so many times that I feel like I never need to hear again in my life. This might change when the burn has healed but Amy Winehouse’s ‘Rehab’ is certainly one of them. Or at least her version.

Now there’s a new version of the single being released in a few weeks by The Jolly Boys, a mento band from Jamaica who’ve been making music for over 60 years. Back in the 1940s they used to be quite the name on the Hollywood party circuit playing in particular for Errol Flynn after he bougth Port Antonio’s Navy Island and turned it into a party zone. His wife, Patrice, is the lady in the red hat in the video.

Just how much fun were they having making this video. there’s no way you can’t break into a grin watching the hugely charmismatic 72 year old lead singer Albert. He’s even the youngest member of the band. Brilliant.

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

‘Rehab’ is out 20th September on Wall of Sound and they’re playing a couple of live dates in the UK next week.