Album Drop: The xx – Coexist

Spring is here and you can skip into the sun to the tune of the xx.

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If you’ve heard Angels and Chained, then you’ll know the British band have maintained their signature minimalistic sound in Coexist. The instrumentals reverberate in familiar guitar rhythms, gentle bass beats and mellow piano melodies. Every track creates a raw atmosphere of underproduction and infinitesimal mastering. It all adds to the every developing photo of the xx as an indie-pop group that uses a marginal amount of noise to produce big music.

Coexist feels like an incomplete album. If a record can be described as a house, then the xx have designed a home that is silent and delicate. Occasionally a guitar chord will colour the walls with a streak of vibrance, and a piano tune might create movement on a TV screen, while voices croon to fill the vacuum. The brilliance lies in the fact that this is not a negative, instead it is a development of something only the xx can successfully produce. At times you may want more, but on those rare occasions when more is given (such as the movement in “Missing” from the languid, bare bass synth to the urgent climactical piano phrase) it is a terrific shock.

Lyrically, Coexist carries the strain of broken love. The tracks are filled with yearning and an essence of loss. “Sunset” details the aftermath of an unwanted break-up, while “Fiction” tells the story of a sexual tryst that can never become real love.  In some ways, this is one of the faults of the album. The sound is so minimalistic, that it creates a craving in itself. Listening to lyrics which evoke longing is almost too much, especially as the theme is carried in every track and in the tone of each vocal. The xx may centre their music around ideas of love, but at times it can be tiresome to listen to a call for romance in each song.

Overall, the album is another success to add to the xx’s achievements. Although it’s not as brilliant as their debut, it still carries a couple of gems.

Highlights: Chained, Angels, Fiction, Missing, Sunset.

Lowlights: Our Song, Reunion, Unfold.

Suite listening.

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Say Hello to Lu-Fuki

(Credit: Lu-Fuki website)

Have you listened to Lu-Fuki yet? If not, go to the band’s website and listen to some tracks.

I like to describe them as somewhere between Jimi Hendrix and Al Green. It might sound like a weird mix, but they’re utterly fantastic. The South African band came together in 2011 and are currently based in Grahamstown – just outside Cape Town. The group consists of Bassface Vee on bass, Sandi Silly spilling the vocals, Slambo Steve hammering at the drums, and Fu-Luki strumming out guitars. In a short amount of time Lu-Fuki has done a lot, from numerous gigs at Grahamstown hotspots and festivals to tours around Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town.

The band name is unusual as it derives from certain cultures in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Lu-Fuki translated means “bad body odour”, which became the title of their successful debut EP in 2011. Their aim is to “stink up your ears”, and they certainly get the funk going with the soulful rich Blues tones of Sandi Silly, and the banging rush of rock instrumentals from the rest of the team.

In short, they are awesome. Lu-Fuki manage to artfully align their rhythmic Blues against a crush of rock frenzy, allowing you to relax before the storm washes over. The Funk/Alternative group is a great addition to South Africa’s music scene and they’re sure to gain lots of fans in years to come.

Go onto their Facebook page or their website to learn more. Below is a track called “Moonbeam” which showcases the Jimi Hendrix-like rock production and Sandi Silly’s smooth Al Greenesque voice. You can listen to more of their tunes here.

Suite listening.

New Music: The xx – “Chained”

The xx just can’t go wrong. “Chained” is the new track to drop from the band’s upcoming album, Coexist (release date: September 10 internationally and September 11 in the USA). The best way to describe it is beauty in simplicity. Romy Madley-Croft and Oliver Sim combine perfectly harmonised vocals to create a laidback, ethereal atmosphere. The relentless guitar rhythm with the backbeat and silky electro mix glimmers with raw feeling.

It’s a wonderful song, and Coexist is shaping up to be yet another winner for the xx.

In cased you missed it, go listen to “Angels” too.

Suite listening.

New Music: Big Boi ft. Little Dragon – “Mamma Told Me”

Big Boi is gearing up to release his new album Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors on November 13. The rapper – acclaimed for his achievements alongside Andre 3000 in Outkast – announced he was working with Swedish indie-pop sensation Little Dragon.

“Mamma Told Me” is the final result of the collaboration. The track is funky and upbeat, with an electro feel and a Hip-Hop flow. The single was released at a Little Dragon show in Austin. Big Boi’s surprise appearance and the spunky song gave fans an inside look into the rapper’s new album.

Check the video below, originally posted by the Fader:

If you’re a fan of Little Dragon, catch the band perform on:

31 August in Cape Town at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock

1 September in Johannesburg at MAOD in the Maboneng Precinct.

Get your tickets online at Webtickets

Suite listening.

New Music: Aaliyah ft. Drake – “Enough Said”

Wow, it feels magnificent to hear Aaliyah’s voice again. One of RnB’s most celebrated artists has been gone for 11 years, but we still haven’t forgotten.

“Enough Said” highlights the singer’s smooth, soft, soulful tones. The production is minimalistic, making Aaliyah’s voice the centerpiece of the track.

The song has been released following an announcement by Drake that he is executively producing Aaliyah’s posthumous album. The rapper has always been a fan of the singer, even getting tattoos in her remembrance.

However, Timbaland has reacted to Drake’s plans saying, “I know they trying to drop some Aaliyah records, but if he do it, it should be with me and Missy [Elliot]”.

Both Timbo and Missy have had a long history with the singer – most of Aaliyah’s catalogue was produced by Timbaland and she shared a close friendship and working relationship with Missy Elliot.

Whatever happens, let’s hope those involved make a great record and continue Aaliyah’s spectacular legacy.

Suite listening.

Video Throwback: Sporty Thieves – “No Pigeons”

Remember TLC’s classic “No Scrubs”? It was a track that made women stand up and give their deadbeat boyfriends something to think about.

Well, a while ago Sporty Thieves (a Hip-Hop crew that once stood proudly under the Ruff Ryders’ banner) hit back with a response that settles the score. The video is a spoof of TLC’s original, with a more playful and hilarious twist. If you’re a guy who had a girl say “I don’t want no scrub, oh yes boy I’m talking to you”, then you might want to sit her down and put her on blast with “No Pigeons”.

The video may be old, but if you haven’t watched it, it’ll get you laughing. Plus it has the added bonus of an appearance by Eve.

In case you haven’t seen the TLC “No Scrubs” original, or you don’t remember it, here it is:

Suite listening.

Kanye West Releases Cruel Summer Cover Art

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Mr. West has always had a flair for extravagance and the artwork for G.O.O.D Music’s compilation record, Cruel Summer, is an example of his style.

The cover bears a resemblance to Watch the Throne‘s ornately designed classical composition. The woman on the cover could perhaps be an angel, but let’s hope that Yeezy and his crew deliver a record filled with wickedness.

So far nothing can be confirmed about Cruel Summer except that it will be released 4 September and will feature Kanye and Pusha-T.

Listen to Mercy”, the first single from Cruel Summer, below.

Suite listening.