K.I.D. are a new pop project who want to bridge the mainstream with the underground.
Two kids from North America who want to try something different, they've already been compared to Gorillaz or even Blondie – hell, Chris Stein has even popped down to the studio a few times.
New EP 'Poster Child' is out now, with K.I.D. turning lead cut 'Taker' into something of an anthem.
A full video has just gone online, and it's a vivid, colourful document, laced with moments of surreal humour and tech addiction.
Tune in now.
RØMANS is an overwhelmingly creative artist.
A true triple threat, this singer, songwriter, and producer is reluctant to place barriers on his work – so he doesn't even try.
Embracing inspiration wherever he can find it, new EP 'Automatic' sluices together hip-hop beats with pop melodies, grime bars with down tempo production.
A real conundrum, RØMANS kindly broke down his new release in this Track By Track guide.
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This was the first track I wrote for the EP and set a tone in my head. Oddly for me this one started with lyrics. I’d written the first verse and chorus on my phone whilst bored on the underground. I’m not one for spelling out the meanings of my songs, I’ve always enjoyed interpreting my own meanings to other peoples work, but as you can hear I wasn’t in a particularly great mood that week. I came up with the piano riff almost as soon as I sat down to start writing.
The rest followed quickly. I mocked up a beat which I initially thought would evolve into live drums, but I really liked the mix of acoustic and electric sounds. I worked quite hard a getting a minimal and slightly jarring sound to the strings quartet.
Love Is The Beast
This was a song that only became a part of the EP when 'The Life Of Pablo' was released. I had initially made the beat for Kanye. I was due to work with him at his apartment in Paris and made the beat and hook the day before leaving. As I arrived I was told he’d left for L.A. on emergency so I sent him the parts. I think he’d been working on different versions of it but it didn’t make the album. As soon as I saw the final track listing I knew I wanted to release it myself. Avelino is a rapper I’ve really admired for some time so I hit him up and he put down two great verses.
This song came from me playing on a Prophet 5 Synth and singing random melodies into my iPhone voice memos. I was subconsciously singing “what’s the point in talking bout you and me”. I instantly had a strong feeling that it should be about a middle aged couple falling out of love. This was another one where the beat evolved pretty quickly.
I played it to my manager and label and they suggested adding a middle eight – a pet hate of mine and something I always try to avoid where possible! I obliged and really loved what came out of it. That’s the great thing about playing unfinished music to people you trust, especially when you’ve made it all yourself. Sometimes you get pushed in a direction you never would have anticipated yourself.
Annoyingly I wrote this before the Netflix show became one of my favourite shows in years. If I hadn’t it probably would have ended up sounding a lot more 80’s. I had written the entire song, recorded lyrics and had a really dark, brooding production with a huge Hip Hop beat. I’d used some vintage string machines and echo machines from the 60’s.
It was a great sound but I knew it wasn’t perfect. I abandoned everything and started again, this time mapping out a tempo that increased from the intro to the first chorus. I started adding layers and suddenly there was this completely new version of a song I’d been living with and playing for weeks.
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'Automatic' EP is out now.
Slowes don't like to dwell on the past.
The duo's songwriting may be fuelled by heartbreak, regret, and loss, but that doesn't mean they become subsumed by those elements.
The pair's latest EP is the perfect example of this: Slowes retain their love of beauty, their search for something better. Slowes explain:
"When you lose the one person who you are confident of sharing your most important moments with – time and self perception begin to change. It is the feeling of getting ripped out of something and placed randomly somewhere else. But there is also hope. We hope that time heals and we find something or someone new to love".
New cut 'Anymore' airs on Clash, and it's a brooding piece of synth pop with just a hint of sugar on top. Tune in now.
James Leonard Hewitson approaches songwriting from a different angle.
The Hartlepool native has released two singles to date, pleasingly off kilter indie rock with a Pavement or Sebadoh style slant.
New cut 'Dream Person' finds James taking a different slant, dropping the tempo and focussing on love.
It's hardly a straight forward love song, though, with the songwriter analysing society's depiction of relationship and asking if these gender roles are appropriate, or simply a bind.
Out today, it warns that "there's no such thing" as a 'Dream Person'. Tune in below.
Lydia Ainsworth isn't an easy artist to pin down.
Stunningly evocative alt-pop with a Gothic feel, her songwriting manages to fuse classical settings with future-pop templates to produce something entirely otherworldly.
New album 'Darling Of The Afterglow' is out now on Bella Union, and it could be the Canadian artist's strongest, most imposing moment yet.
Clash is able to premiere a pair of live sessions, recorded in one of Toronto's oldest recording studios.
Even stripped back her songwriting still startles, with the vivid arrangements set against Lydia's incredible voice.
Tune in now.
Lydia Ainsworth's new album 'Darling Of The Afterglow' is out now. Catch her live at the following shows:
30 Brighton The Joker
31 London London Fields Brewery
Craig Finn is the songwriter's songwriter, an artist who work across a two decade period represents one of the most substantial canons in American rock music.
New album 'We All Want The Same Things' is out now on Partisan and it's a delight, the sound of a true artisan able to work without impediment.
Set to bring his Living Room tour to the UK, Craig Finn will literally play in fans' living rooms across the country in lieu of the standard touring schedule.
With that in mind, Clash invited Craig Finn to take part in our regular feature Good Trip, Bad Trip – touring tales exposed…
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I think the best tour I’ve ever been on was Hold Steady / Drive by Truckers “Rock and Roll Means Well” tour in 2008. There was a great camaraderie among the bands and by that point I’d figured out how to pace myself so that I didn’t feel terrible all the time.
Once I drove to Chicago with some friends. We were going to stay with my friend’s brother. Right when we got there I met the brother who was super drunk and he threw a beer can at my head and didn’t miss. That was a drag. We stayed in a shady airport motel instead and I had a headache all weekend.
Our favourite foreign venue…
I think my favourite foreign venue was the Cockpit in Leeds but it closed so now I’d have to go with The Ramsgate Music Hall. Small but awesome.
We’re surprisingly popular in…
I’m not sure but someone told me that a number of people in Norwegian Parliament are fans of my old band Lifter Puller. That seems strange to me.
Best or worst exotic foodstuff…
I haven’t tried Jellied Eels and I’m not going to either. Has to be up there.
Most interesting individual you've met on the road…
When we were on tour with Drive By Truckers, George Clinton walked in during soundcheck. He talked for a while and invited us to his house after the show. We went there and it was kind of strange. I’m not 100% sure he remembered inviting us and why we were there.
Worst on-tour injury, or infection, or accident…
Food poisoning in Cincinnati a long time ago. That is a terrible affliction for a singer/performer. I was throwing up right before we went on stage, between show and encore, after the show. But not during the show as performance gods must have been smiling down on me. Barely.
My essential travel item…
An Amazon Kindle. Reading allows you to escape the monotony of touring and books are really heavy. The Kindle isn’t super romantic but it’s a great thing for a touring musician.
My essential travel tip…
Hydrate. You literally can’t be drinking enough water. Four litres a day is a good start. You’ll have to piss a lot but you’ll feel a lot better.
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Craig Finn’s new album 'We All Want The Same Things' is out now on Partisan Records. Catch the songwriter on his Living Room tour:
16 Ramsgate Music Hall (venue show)
18 Letchworth Garden City
19 London Courtyard (venue show – sold out)
Some things are best left alone. The temptation to meddle with an original work, milking it for all its commercial worth, can often be too tantalising to ignore: see Grease II, Jaws II, The Godfather III, the reformed Guns N Roses, the posthumous releases of Michael Jackson – in fact, the majority of posthumous releases – the list goes on. Now, disco-funk radio-favourites, Jamiroquai, join said list with their first offering in seven years, ‘Automaton’.
Famed for capturing a particularly British vogue for post-disco club tracks in the 1990s, Jamiroquai reached chart-topping popularity with a selection of similarly-backed songs, the majority of which all strangely centred around sci-fi themes (see ‘Space Cowboy’, ‘Cosmic Girl’, ‘Virtual Insanity’, ‘Emergency On Planet Earth’). Fronted by flamboyant lead-singer and ardent hat-wearer Jay Kay, in recent years the band had quietly backed out of the spotlight following 2010’s ‘Rock Dust Light Star’ LP. You could be forgiven for associating them these days only with a heavy rotation on the ‘Heart Club Classics’ playlist every Friday and Saturday night.
Dissatisfied with a relegation to the annals of pop history, though, this year sees a highly publicised comeback for the band with the release of their eighth studio album, ‘Automaton’. Suggested by the mechanical title, this latest record has led to Jamiroquai’s morphing from disco-pastiche specialists into a Daft Punk tribute act, without, however, the dance floor focus or inventiveness of production. Such a transition is heralded by lead singer Jay Kay’s removal of his preferred headgear, a culturally-appropriative Native American headdress, and donning instead a digitised version. This gesture can be read as a metaphor for the album itself: thinly-disguising an uncomfortable and offensive past gesture through a gloss of electronic retouching, nonetheless retaining its original offense.
Opening tracks ‘Shake It On’ and ‘Automaton’ seem to directly borrow from the Daft Punk catalogue, lifting synth arpeggios that wouldn’t sound amiss on their ‘Tron’ soundtrack, yet lacking the same atmospheric intensity. Whilst ‘Shake It On’ fades into a classic Jamiroquai chorus – a Chic chorus, in other words – ‘Automaton’ pushes the synths to the forefront, mirroring the robotic theme of the track with its seemingly robotic repetition. This inconsistent blend of electronic four-to-the-floor with analogue disco and soul characterises much of the album, especially in tracks like ‘Cloud 9’ and ‘Nights Out In The Jungle’, and has always been present in the Jamiroquai back catalogue.
In fact, the majority of the record feels like a selection of B-sides from the Jamiroquai songbook, retouched with the odd synth bassline and section of electronic drum programming, all tied together with Jay Kay’s falsetto and ear for a punchy chorus melody. For instance, funk-friendly cuts like ‘Superfresh’, ‘Something About You’ and ‘Summer Girl’ sound like the Jamiroquai of two decades ago, and are benignly pleasing, if unimaginative. Jamiroquai have always been a singles band, churning out radio hits like ‘Canned Heat’ and ‘Too Young To Die’, but they failed to create the pacing and diversity needed of a satisfying album.
On ‘Automaton’, the band falters under the weight of its previous singles, leaving any possibility for chart success mired in a sound that comes across as tired and unoriginal, and the album listening experience as a monotonous ordeal. Ultimately, Jay Kay maintains his propensity for offense, crooning “my baby’s hot property”, negating a century’s worth of women’s emancipation over a rumbling disco bass, and summing up the record as something better left unsaid.
Words: Ammar Kalia
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Girl Ray have shared the cinematic video for new cut 'Stupid Thing'.
The London group are fast becoming Clash favourites, with their Moshi Moshi backed single 'Trouble' a perennial office spin.
New cut 'Stupid Thing' offers a more plaintive side to the band, and it comes backed with cinematic, period drama style clip.
Girl Ray's Poppy Hankin: "We'd always thought a period drama influenced music video would be really fun to film. So we decided to get our Keira Knightley on and do a WWII romance."
The song itself is "about crushing really hard on someone, and finding myself doing fucking ridiculous things to feel like we've got some kind of connection," says Hankin. "Watching films that they mentioned fleetingly or ordering their favourite drink at a bar. Very stupid but happens every single time, ha ha".
Tune in now.
Girl Ray will play a sold out show at London's Lexington venue on May 23rd.
London electronic duo Chimes have a refreshing, totally natural feel.
Effervescent electronics laced with impeccable melody, the two match pristine production to some fantastic songwriting.
New cut 'Cold' is a case in point. The frosted synths and crackling snares underpin some engrossing musicality, with Chimes fusing a bittersweet feel to some gently euphoric electronics.
A fusion of sweet and sour, 'Cold' has a quiet intensity that gets under your skin.
Tune in now.
Francis Novotny has never been able to settle in one area.
Raised in Gothenburg and now living in Paris, the producer was initially drawn towards the French house scene before once more breaking out on his own.
Occupying the Venn diagram space between wonky hip-hop, lurid electronics, stylish French Touch and outright pop, he has essentially forged his own patchwork identity.
Debut single 'Between The Lines' is out now on Black Butter, and it's a stunning, flouro-soaked piece of electronic pop from another dimension.
Tune in now.