Nick Hakim has shared his new song 'QADIR'.

The songwriter's 2017 debut LP was a magnificent achievement, a sumptuous and highly personal listen.

Gaining work as a studio collaborator with some colossal names, his solo work took a bit of a backseat.

But then life intervened. A close friend from his school days passed away, and this seemed to send him spiralling inwards.

'QADIR' is the result. The first sign of upcoming second album 'WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD', it's an ode to friendship, changing, and the impact we make on each other's lives.

Sparse but containing resolute inner strength, it leads to Nick Hakim's plaintive line “there’s a complexity to being kind”.

“The song is my ode to him,” says the songwriter. “It’s my attempt to relate to how he must have been feeling before he died.”

Tune in now.

Nick Hakim will release new album 'WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD' on May 15th.

Photo Credit: Jack McKain

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Nao Yoshioka is a vocalist to watch.

Soulful in approach, her music is wide open to fresh influences, part of a generation of artists crafting a new R&B lexicon.

New single 'Loyalty' is out now, and it's a smooth neo-soul jammer, one that re-tools impeccable influences for a 2k20 viewpoint.

It's a stellar release, one that seems to relish the chance to find full expression, the gilded lyric tumbling out over a breezy arrangement.

London jazz-tronica duo Blue Lab Beats have stepped in on remix duties, taking Nao's songwriting into a fresh space.

'Loyalty' is given a jazz-leaning overhaul, pulling and twisting the single in different directions.

Tune in now.

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In these strange times of lockdown, self-care is more important than ever.

Pop visionary Rina Sawayama took to Twitter in a live Q&A with Clash readers, as part of our Clash Cares initiative.

From the beauty regimes and music tips, to the genre mash-up of her own sound, Rina gave us some pearls of pop wisdom…

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Kicking off the Q&A, Rina was in a suitable place to chat self-care, coming to us direct from a very relaxing bubble bath.

When asked for her music tips for lockdown, she sung the praises of Dua Lipa’s latest album 'Future Nostalgia', and a particular banger from it, as well as her own upcoming album ‘SAWAYAMA’

Make-up plays a big part of Rina’s performance, so readers were asking about the importance of visuals when it comes to her as an artist, as well as beauty regimes being a part of self-care in lockdown.

One reader asked about her strong stance speaking out against anti-Asian racism, which they said seemed more important than ever during a time when some demographics are being associated with the health crisis.

Her response was characteristically positive.

Another wanted to know about her genre-bending style, asking: “Did you aim to genre bend when writing your album/music or did it just happen?”

As we were speaking on the Trans Day of Visibility, another asked about the best way for people not in that community to be positive allies.

Wise words for strange times, thank you Rina!

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It was a weird feeling pulling down the shutter on our venue the other week. An eerily quiet high street, the odd person drifting by wearing a mask, a small queue of customers outside M&S keeping their distance from each other.

Our closure sign read 'It's the end of the world as we know it' and it certainly felt like it at that moment.

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We've no idea when we'll be allowed to open again, I'm a natural optimist and hope that it might be sooner than the mooted 12 weeks but am prepared for the reality of it being longer, much longer, and for disruption to continue throughout the year, and even into next year, who knows… so we're doing all we can right now to prepare for that eventuality. Whether it be rolling lockdowns, reduced capacities, restrictions on certain sectors being eased before others..everything is possible. And when we do come out of it there's the very real possibility of a deep recession taking hold.

The government's response has offered some hope, we've not had to make any redundancies and have put all our salaried staff on furlough and are applying for all the assistance we can get – what we don't know is how long we'll need it to last for. How we come out of this and what damage will be inflicted will be defined by what deal we can do with our landlords.

Our business is spread across two adjoining buildings so we have two landlords we're currently negotiating with and I assume similar conversations are happening up and down the country. Without any income we can't pay the rent, and the rent where we are is pretty eye-watering.

Keeping the doors of a grassroots music venue open is tough at the best of times, so the Covid-19 crisis has been a hammer blow to the sector and I fear many venues will close because of it.

I saw an open letter from G.A.Y. which screams about the problem loudly, they're dead right – no-one should be profiting during this crisis and I hope that landlords will appreciate this and that the government shows leadership on this matter and can to take the pressure of loans and mortgages from landlords like they have done in the household mortgage sector.

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When we come out of the other side the already embattled high street is going to be littered with even more empty shells and I really hope that landlords can work with their tenants, venues like ours, and appreciate the fact they have someone in place who will be more than happy to regularly pay to continue to use their property when this is all over.

If these tenants go down who do they think is going to replace them?

Fearing the worst, we've been getting creative at Paper Dress and have launched a Crowdfunder offering different rewards including tickets to a future relaunch party (something to day-dream about), bar tabs and vouchers for the shop, as well as a partnership with Hackney Brewery to deliver beer & bog roll to people's doors which got covered by Time Out, and have raised close to £5000 in just over a week. Reading the messages of support from the 143 people who have already donated to the cause has provided some cheer in an otherwise depressing landscape.

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Another shining light through this whole roller coaster has been the tireless work of the Music Venues Trust who have been supporting our network of grassroots music venues and helping us navigate through these unprecedented weeks, steering us towards all the support available and putting us in touch with other venues who are facing the same challenges. There's a real sense of desperation in the community and many venues are fighting for survival right now.

The MVT have just launched a timely call to action – calling on the music industry, cultural sector and the UK's most successful musicians to come together to create a £1m fighting fund to prevent the permanent closure of hundreds of Grassroots Music Venues around the UK. If these venues close they won't be coming back any time soon.

A large segment of the music industry is also in deep trouble; the sound techs, touring crew, session musicians, promoters and agencies the list goes on. There are fundraisers already rolling for musicians with charities like Help Musicians doing great work in lobbying the majors, the DSPs, PRS and PPL to support the people on whose talents they rely. I'm hoping that this campaign from the MVT can build a similar level of momentum.

Venues like Paper Dress are so important in giving a space for new artists to develop, to tour, for scenes to be born and to flourish, for culture to be incubated, and their existence and the memories forged in them enrich all of our lives… staying at home is going to get boring fast and when we come out of this we're sure going to want somewhere to go.

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Get involved in the Paper Dress Vintage crowd-funder HERE.

Words: Stephen Dix

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We’re a quarter of the way through 2020 already – that’s 25% of the year gone – which almost seems as unbelievable as what’s happened in those three short months.

Despite the clearly tragic events, and the uncertainty ahead, there’s still plenty to be positive about, and music is definitely up one of those shining lights.

From Antipodean psychedelics to Leeds hardcore, US rap collectives to UK grime collaborations, experimental jazz to cosmic country (not to mention some sheer pop bangers), 2020 has already been a brilliant year in terms of releases.

Here’s a round-up of 25 of the best albums of the year so far, something positive to focus on during these strange days…

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James Righton – The Performer // REVIEW 

‘The Performer’ effortlessly schmoozes around a retro smoke-filled lounge with an array of sumptuous grooves like ‘Edie’, candy-coated melodies such as ‘Start’ and woozy numbers like ‘Heavy Heart’.

James Righton paints the perfect picture of his inner thoughts as he embarks on a cinematic journey with poignant lyricism, exquisite production and charismatically seductive soundscapes reminiscent of Roxy Music.

Yasmin Cowan

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Tame ImpalaThe Slow Rush // REVIEW

If Kevin Parker appears relaxed, then perhaps that’s because he is. The epitome of zen when onstage with Tame Impala, he’s somehow managed to locate the fine balance between success and individual passion, able to please a global audience of millions while also – most importantly – pleasing himself.

The Antipodean psychedelic wanderer pushes the group into some fresh areas, while ‘The Slow Rush’ is essentially held together by that stellar mid-section, a finely honed compendium of space rock, shoegaze, and electronic inflections.

Robin Murray

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Jordan MackampaForeigner // REVIEW

After teasing fans with singles, Jordan Mackampa brings his soulful voice to a full body of work, as he releases ‘Foreigner’. The album is a snapshot of Mackampa – a confident, honest modern soul singer with a certain swagger about him.

Combining deeply personal, inward-looking lyrics with toe-tapping beats, he’s created a fantastic debut album.     

Amar Mehta

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Honey HarperStarmaker // REVIEW

The profound quality of Honey Harper’s cosmic country is engrossing. Full of self-reflection and insight, there is plenty of contradiction and complexity, but everything is smoothly held together in lyrics, sound and composition.

His debut album ‘Starmaker’ embraces dichotomy in new original and wonderful ways, and the Atlanta artist signifies a fresh, idiosyncratic voice with this debut album. Inspired by Joni Mitchell’s ‘Free Man in Paris’, the title refers to the stresses of having to play the game of the music industry. Written with his wife, the project deals with similar ideas about fame, fortune and failure. 

Susan Hansen

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Jay ElectronicaA Written Testimony // REVIEW

'A Written Testimony’ begins with a speech from Louis Farrakhan, the controversial leader of the Nation of Islam. It immediately gives the album a cinematic feel, with the soaring strings adding a real sense of grandeur to the occasion.

Towards the end is where the album really soars. ‘Fruits of the Spirit’ is incredible, with NO I.D delivering some typically beautiful production, while the final track ‘A.P.I.D.T.A’ is sensational. It illustrates the humanity of two rappers that are revered as God-like, brought down to earth by the desperation of grief. It’s the most insight we get into Jay Electronica as a person throughout the record, away from the doctrinal (but still poetic) side we see most. ‘A Written Testimony’ is a biblical album for biblical times, with enough human flaws to make it imperfect.

Will Rosebury

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J HusBig Conspiracy // REVIEW

‘Big Conspiracy’ is a record dogged by continual themes – the impact of warfare, both external and internal – but also fraught with contradictions. The palette J Hus draws on has never been more diverse, moving from fluid afrobeats leaning production through to the live guitar and bass which permeate ‘Helicopter’.

An album that moves from red-blooded braggadocio to intense self-doubt, ‘Big Conspiracy’ never fully sits in one place, this ever-evolving puzzle with J Hus at the core.

Robin Murray

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V/A JACKBOYS // REVIEW 

After Travis Scott teased the release of the compilation album back in October, ‘JACKBOYS’ has come upon us by surprise, with an adventure into the collective thoughts of the Cactus Jack label, one that includes Don Toliver, Travis Scott, Sheck WesOctavian, and Chase B.

All the tracks on the EP take you to a different realm of music, with samples that have the feel of different cultures and eras of music throughout time. ‘HAD ENOUGH’ is a song delivered by Don Toliver, which features verses from Quavo and Offset, takes you on a journey of serenity and peace, with the subtle flow of all the artists, the trap rappers take a different approach to this song, and treat with delicacy, showing their wide range of musical understanding.

Ramy Abou-Setta

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Georgia Seeking Thrills // REVIEW

 

The youthful, thrill-seeking (much like the title suggests) exploits of Georgia Barnes position her as an unwittingly and encouragingly confident new face of the British music scene.

Early singles from this album – most notably 'About Work The Dancefloor' signalled that something different, something bold, something exciting was on the way on her sophomore full length and, for the most part, these assumptions are realised.

Michael Watkins

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Denzel Curry And Kenny Beats – Unlocked // REVIEW

Denzel Curry, who built his name on trap-style beats and heavy hitting lyrics, showcases his talent throughout ‘Unlocked’ – tackling incredibly versatile beats and rap styles. Meanwhile Kenny Beats – known for tailoring his beat production to the artists requests, making him arguably one of the most unique producers to date – flexes his production nous, rolling out beat after beat, each totally unique and different to what’s come before.

This is a playful project, not afraid to dabble with creativity but also showcasing both Denzel’s lyrical ability and Kenny’s creative dexterity, both artists’ visions. It’s as if they created a glitch in the hip-hop matrix, and one that would be welcome again soon.

Ramy Abou-Setta

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The Big MoonWalking Like We Do // REVIEW

Walking Like We Do’ presents a sense of musical fearlessness from The Big Moon. Lyrically defined and musically characteristic, it is an emotionally provocative, empowering listening experience.

By considering themes such as love, social injustice and all round perseverance, it is both mature and engaging. The Big Moon are constantly breathing new life into a genre which sometimes runs stale. For that we should be eternally grateful.

Angus McKeon

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Mac Miller Circles // REVIEW

The posthumous studio album ‘Circles’ by the late Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller, produced and completed by Jon Brion, is a beautiful symphony with which to bid farewell to one hip-hop‘s sweetest voices.

This project plays less as a hip-hop album and more of a mixed-genre compilation, each song telling a tale of how Miller felt before his passing. Despite the sadness that clearly surrounds this project there is plenty of positivity: the production of the album is impeccable, and the overwhelming message that shines through is of hope for the future. That hopefulness seems an apt final legacy for an artist like Mac Miller, who in spite of life’s challenges always strived for improvement and progression.

Ramy Abou-Setta

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Big CheesePunishment Park

After a series of demos and EPs over recent years, and becoming one of the bigger names to emerge from the Leeds hardcore scene, Big Cheese have released their debut full-length, ‘Punishment Park’.

It’s a blistering, take-no-prisoners record, dealing in “unapologetic balls-to-the-wall hardcore” according to Dead Press. Just the shot in the arm you need for that state-approved daily exercise session. 

Deano Jo

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Moses BoydDark Matter // REVIEW

Listening to ‘Dark Matter’ it’s astonishing how many clever ideas Moses Boyd manages to spin into earworms, the album is literally dripping with them. The next astonishing thing is how tight it feels: at just under and hour the album isn’t notably long nor short, but there are no parts that drag or feel out of place.

In recent years jazz has undergone a massive overhaul. A new generation of musicians have burst through, delivering innovative, forward-thinking music on a regular basis. His latest project ‘Dark Matter’ is another step in this journey, feeling more like a truer assessment of what Boyd is about: he’s broadened his sound with electronic motifs and expresses his love of dank basslines and fidgety synths, all underpinned by a jazz sensibility of the highest pedigree.

Nick Roseblade

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Waxahatchee Saint Cloud // REVIEW 

‘Saint Cloud’ is the first Waxahatchee album since Katie Crutchfield became sober, and what’s resulted is a freshness in the eye of the songwriter. Having spent the last decade working in scruffy indie-rock, it’s somewhat shocking to hear the crystalline palette used on ‘Saint Cloud’, and even moreso to hear her perfect falsetto – shocking because it sounds so damn good and we had no idea she had it in her.  

‘Saint Cloud’ is the refreshed, reformed and matured Waxahatchee – and it’s glorious.

Rob Hakimian

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King Krule Man Alive! // REVIEW

His third album as King Krule, it’s at times more concise and energised than his previous projects but there is a certain continuity with the past. Krule is still angsty; unsurprisingly, he runs with the recurring themes of loneliness, almost nihilistic self-doubt, miscommunication, misconnections and missed connections.

Marshall shines when he has more space to breathe and when there’s more space between his words. He fills this with all manner of buzzy synths, whirring, snatches of dialogue and city noise. After the snarl of the first four tracks, what follows is romantic, woozy, melancholy and twistedly contented in unequal, jagged measure, woven loosely together by some common threads. ‘Man Alive!’ is an absorbing consolidation of Marshall’s inimitable sound.

Wilf Skinner

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Young Adz, Chip, Skepta Insomnia // REVIEW

While 2020 keeps hitting us with surprises, not all of them are unwanted: an unexpected album from three titans of UK rap is what fans needed right now.

These three work well as a collective: Chip provides the cut-throat and fresh bars, Adz comes with the melody and Skepta is free to experiment throughout. The beats stand up too, consonantly switching patterns and breaks and bringing the best out of each artist. Keep the surprises coming 2020, the good ones at least.

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Grimes Miss Anthropocene // REVIEW

For years now, the voice of Claire Boucher aka Grimes has evoked a feeling unparalleled by anything else – like a sense of artificial etherealism. The soft, almost ecclesiastic nature of these vocals lends her music the otherworldly vibe that has been associated with Grimes as an artist since the very beginning, and 'Miss Anthropocene' is very much in-keeping with that legacy.

During her fifth album, we’re brought to the tip of an iceberg through the lens of her own making, invited on an adventure alongside the Goddess of Climate Change…and what an adventure it is. This piece of work is a constant tug-of-war between humanity, nature, and technology, and our complex relationship with the place we call home.

Erin Bashford

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Christine And The QueensLa vita nuova // REVIEW 

Christine and the Queens delves into her emotions once more on intriguing new EP ‘La vita nuova’. Kicking off a nuanced, multi-lingual new EP, ‘People, I’ve been sad’ is Chris at her most direct, a sharply poetic account of ennui that smothers you in sound. Barbed, muscular production drives ‘Je disparais dans tes bras’, amplifying the machine funk evident on ‘Chris’ while adding something distorted, almost industrial.

A surprise drop, the EP is completed with bonus cut ‘I disappear in your arms’, a song that returns Chris to the industrial-leaning techno-pop which marks the project as a whole. A potent climax, it underlines the self-contained creativity at work across ‘La vita nuova’, a rich, rewarding, and extremely direct return, one worth observing on its own terms.

Robin Murray

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BTSMap Of The Soul: 7 // REVIEW

‘Map Of The Soul: 7’ has officially been released approximately 10 months after its equally highly anticipated predecessor, ‘Map Of The Soul: Persona’. ‘My Time’ is performed by the group’s maknae (youngest member), JungKook. The track has a Justin Bieber-esque R&B sound that recalls younger JungKook before all the fame and accolades. ‘Friends’ is one of the more playful songs on the album featuring high school friends, V and Jimin.

Although the sound of the album is wide-ranging, it holds continuity through its lyrics and general sentiment. K-Pop after all is an inherently genre-blending style of music, so it’s no surprise. There was a lot of melancholy and emo lyrics, but in general the album is about introspection as people and a band which can sometimes bring up painful feelings.

Deb Aderinkomi

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Dua LipaFuture Nostalgia // REVIEW

On her sophomore album, Dua Lipa taps into a newfound fire in her belly, and throws out banger after banger. Her power resides in a winning combination of pithy lyrics, catchy choruses and music that makes you get up and groove – a power she has undoubtedly harnessed for the entirety of this record. The result is liberating, intoxicating and punchy.

‘Future Nostalgia’ is an empowering, dynamic pop cavort from start to finish. Dua’s compelling vocals, hooks and beats are a force to be reckoned with, daring you not to boogie around your bedroom. She’s ferocious in her execution of hard-hitting anthems like ‘Don’t Start Now’, ‘Cool’ and ‘Physical’, successfully putting her own feminist spin on the formulaic themes of break-ups, sex, love and ‘girl power’.

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Porridge RadioEvery Bad // REVIEW

Porridge Radio have not only written the album of their careers but possibly of the year too.

Their new project ‘Every Bad’ is full of the catchy songs that are overflowing with lo-fi ramshackle post-punk guitars and uplifting vocals. And if that wasn’t enough to make you fall in love with this rickety quartet wait until you hear the lyrics. Dana Margolin sings of love, loss, redemption, and most importantly, inclusion like no other. ‘Every Bad’ is a war cry to be compassionate, especially with ourselves.

Nick Roseblade

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Caribou Suddenly

Confronting grief and family, this fifth Caribou album (Dan Snaith’s tenth album overall) sees the Canadian musician pivot away from the dance floor towards the personal, and swinging from pop and house to beat-less ballads.

Robin Murray

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Sufjan Stevens & Lowell Brams – Aporia // REVIEW

With his step-father and label co-founder Lowell Brams by his side, Sufjan Stevens has created a sort of mini-electronic opera on ‘Aporia’, a record comprising 21 tracks of nearly-voiceless, new-age compositions, manufactured from their own jam sessions.

At its best – ‘Agathon’, ‘Afterworld Alliance’, ‘Captain Praxis’ – the tracks are about as essential as any new-age music one could wish to hear, a feeling that grows stronger upon re-listens. ‘Aporia’ certainly asks a degree of patience from its listener – the kind often reserved for previously-existing fans of Stevens – to realise its full potential, but over the last few decades the number of listeners able to give this patience has grown exponentially, just in time for Stevens to push boundaries that bit further once again.

Michael Watkins

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The WeekndAfter Hours // REVIEW 

‘After Hours’ is a completely different sound to the one we’re accustomed to hearing from The Weeknd, but it’s welcomed.

A mature ballad delving into the hardships of the loss of a lover, exploding with beautiful vocals, lyrics and bringing us back to the ‘80s era of synths, which is enjoyable and sets his sound apart from the current direction of music. Production-wise especially, this is The Weeknd’s strongest project yet, and deserves all the recognition.  

Ramy Abou-Setta

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Sorry 925 // REVIEW 

An authentic and contemporary guitar sound, ‘925’ is a snappy and raw blend that bounces the listener into the more unexpected edges of the imagination. While Sorry’s reference points seem to derive from the 90s punk-rock and grunge movement, this is not about delivering a bland copy of it. They understand how to own their sound and manage to create something fascinating with it, a dreamscape where the idyllic and hellish interact, and the question of what is real and what isn’t, becomes inevitable.

Susan Hansen

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Speaking to London-based, Murcia-raised artist Alien Tango (born Alberto García Roca) on the day his ‘Friends!’ EP is released, he seems quietly confident. “I actually had this thing recorded for a really long time. It’s been postponed, so I’m happy to see it out, finally.” His sound is totally unique and is hard to categorise but if you were to use a genre to describe his oddball sound, it would be ‘freak-pop’.

On his move from Spain to London, “I like it. I came because there’s more interest in music here, I think. In general, I find that there are more bands and fanbase for the kind of music that I do. I think I’m growing up a lot here musically and having a lot of fun”.

The theme behind his new ‘Friends!’ EP is “well, friendship. When I came to London for the first time, I came with a friend from Spain and we had to be constantly flying back to Spain to play gigs and festivals there so we spent a really long time flying and in the London Underground without proper sleep, so the main single which is ‘Friends!’ is like [dedicated to him]. He was also the bass player for the live band. The songs are different perspectives of friendship in general and my life at that time”.

His impressive live shows are “energetic and fun”. “I like to make them theatrical. Sometimes we have props and we try to make them different every time and try to make people want to come back, because they expect to see something different each time”.

Alien Tango utilised Tik Tok to release 15 second versions of his zany, psychedelic songs that have gone viral. His videos have been viewed almost two million times and counting. He had actually intended to upload his first video onto Instagram but his friend suggested Tik Tok instead and “it [blew] up there”. “I didn’t even know what Tik Tok was before that and since then [I have] a lot of daily followers there. I’m getting a lot more attention thanks to it’. These new followers also check out Alien Tango on Instagram and his other platforms and become fans from seeing his viral clips.

Alien Tango merges musical influences to create a modern sound. He’s honest about his creative process. “I don’t know. I just listen to a lot of different genres of music and I can’t decide which one I want to make so I end up putting them together in every song. So it’s like channeling a lot of different things from different eras, making like 60’s or 70’s music with today’s synthesisers”.

As things stand, things are a little uncertain for Alien Tango as his South By Southwest shows have been cancelled, but he’s not letting it get him down. He hopes his London show in April will still go ahead and is also using this time to work on his next album.

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Words: Narzra Ahmed
Photo Credit: Kirkpatrick Buffet

Join us on the ad-free creative social network Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks, exclusive content and access to Clash Live events and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.

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LA songwriter A.O. Gerber has shared her gorgeous new song 'In The Morning'.

An artist who refuses to place a filter between her emotions and her work, A.O. Gerber matches this to some strikingly beautiful melodies.

Debut album 'Another Place To Need' gives her the breadth to truly explore her recent experiences, a record that exists truly as a form of self-therapy.

Stark and profoundly honest, new song 'In The Morning' is online now, and it's simple beauty belies the pain evident in the vocal.

Recalling Angel Olsen or even Julien Baker, it was conjured during a West Coast road trip, one that took Gerber on her first solo tour.

"Travel has always been a huge healer for me," she recalls. "A really traumatic relationship I was in ended days before leaving and I felt awful, but also really grateful for the excuse to leave the city. The first few lines and melody of the song popped into my head while I was driving to Lincoln City, Oregon, feeling the disparity between my emotional state and the intense calm of the surrounding natural beauty."

"I stayed at a KOA campground in Lincoln City that night; I sat in my parked car with my unplugged electric guitar and wrote the rest of the song. It’s basically about that experience – feeling so overcome by sadness but also empowered to start anew, to find your way back to yourself."

Check out 'In The Morning' below.

'Another Place To Need' will be released on May 22nd via Hand In Hive / Copper Mouth Records – the physical pressing comes on recycled vinyl.

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At stressful times like these the most important things in life are sometimes the ones you've taken most for granted.

Mulimba certainly knows this. To him, family is everything, but in spite of that those relationships endure ups and downs.

Now working solo after his time fronting potent indie force HAUS, 2020 promises a slew of material from this highly talented songwriter.

New single 'Your Own Blood' is as personal as it gets. A song about "going through a rough patch" it's reflective, soulful, and dynamic, allowing Mulimba to move with complete freedom.

"'Your Own Blood' is about family," he reflects. "That could mean your family by blood, your best friend/ close group of friends or ultimate just somebody that you care about deeply…"

A song that deals in explicit honesty, 'Your Own Blood' is marked by maturity, while retaining the biting immediacy of Mulimba's earlier projects.

He continues: "I wrote 'Your Own Blood' whilst going through a rough patch with somebody very close to me, but even though we were both hurt by things we’d done and said to each other, we still had an unconditional love for each other. No matter what you’re going through, good or bad, family will always be there. "

Tune in now.

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King Charles is back.

New album 'Out Of My Mind' lands in April, and it could be his most potent, diverse collection yet.

Constantly seeking out fresh viewpoints, it's a record that moves from almost punk-like immediacy through to neo-soul saturated vocals.

In short, it's all thriller and no filler. The songwriter's new video project unites two key moments on this diverse LP, with 'Deeper Love/Freak' given the visual treatment.

The clip opens with 'Deeper Love', with Charles waking from the events of the night before.

“‘Deeper Love’ is about the lothario who’s been stopped in his tracks,” he says. “I wanted to acknowledge the power of the female in this situation.”

The clip evolves into 'Freak', with the woozy, 90s leaning production finding Charles looking inwards.

He continues: “It’s reflective of my mood and where I was… I was trying to understand what is it to be human, to be an artist, to be a monster. I needed a way to express the pain and that’s the beautiful thing about creativity. It feeds back into you, so you understand more about the things that colour your identity.”

The full video is a dazzling display, with his magnetism at the centre of it all. King Charles adds:

"I loved putting these two tales into one story via video…it was very cool to work with these guys and bring two different aspects of the album narrative to life". 

Tune in now.

Catch King Charles at the following shows:

October
12 Bristol Thekla 
13 Birmingham Castle & Falcon 
14 Cambridge Junction 
15 Nottingham Glee Club
16 London Omeara
17 Manchester Band on the Wall
18 Newcastle Hit the North 
19 Glasgow Classic Grand 

King Charles will release new album 'Out Of My Mind' on April 17th.

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Some artists have all the luck. You spend 10 years building a fanbase from the odd feature talking about ancient prophecies, fighting demons and serving God – then your debut lands in the midst of a (kind of, not really) apocalypse.

If that isn’t divine providence, I don’t know what is. All jokes aside, even by hip-hop standards Jay Electronica has enjoyed benefits that many of his contemporaries haven’t. The New Orleans MC had more than a decade to craft ‘A Written Testimony’ – although the bulk was done in 40 days – with the project essentially being a collaboration with Jay-Z, probably the most accomplished rapper alive.

‘A Written Testimony’ begins with a speech from Louis Farrakhan, the controversial leader of the Nation of Islam. It immediately gives the album a cinematic feel, with the soaring strings adding a real sense of grandeur to the occasion.

If you’ve listened to any Jay Elec tracks, then the following cut ‘The Ghost of Soulja Slim’ fits the mould – unusual production, demo-like mixing and the MCs vocals front-and-centre. On the early part of ‘A Written Testimony’ – Jay Elec feels restrained, while uncredited collaborator Jay-Z steals the show. That changes with ‘A Neverending Story’, which features incredible verses from both, but sees Electronica really hitting his hypnotic stride. 

The album flags slightly in the middle, with ‘Flux Capacitor’ in particular being an absolute mess – it has more incredible Jay-Z’s verses, but the sub par mixing and production make it almost too difficult to get through.

Towards the end is where the album really soars. ‘Fruits of the Spirit’ is incredible, with NO I.D delivering some typically beautiful production, while the final track ‘A.P.I.D.T.A’ is sensational. It illustrates the humanity of two rappers that are revered as God-like, brought down to earth by the desperation of grief. It’s the most insight we get into Jay Electronica as a person throughout the record, away from the doctrinal (but still poetic) side we see most.

‘A Written Testimony’ is a biblical album for biblical times, with enough human flaws to make it imperfect.

8/10

Words: Will Rosebury

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