For those unfamiliar with Michael Kiwanuka, strap yourself in for a 10 minute journey that simultaneously radiates pain and promise. “Cold Little Heart” is the first track off Kiwanuka’s recent LP Love & Hate, the follow up to his first studio album Home Again released in 2012.
Right off the bat, Kiwanuka slowly pulls us in and immediately hijacks listeners’ attention with tantalizing strings and soft drama-laden piano hits. A ghostly bayou choral background crafts a feeling of unease that is carried until an acid rock electric guitar tosses a splash of color in the already mesmerizing heartache concoction. Don’t get comfortable – Kiwanuka’s raspy blues vocals rock the boat yet again around 5 minutes after the drums are introduced.
I love this song because time simply dissolves; the epic morphs repeatedly, forcing my vain efforts to classify its style to succumb to the song’s timelessness resulting from Kiwanuka fusing modern and historic themes. “Cold Little Heart” is just one example from Love & Hate that together make Kiwanuka’s latest album one of my favorites from 2016 thus far.
Check out Michael Kiwanuka here.
Here’s another Australian young gun: Melbourne’s Running Touch has garnered his best reception yet with This Is Just To Say. Soulful, smooth, but bristling with attitude, it’s a minimal arrangement of mostly voice, driven electric keys, and fm bass that nevertheless packs a powerful punch. With support from Lavish, a promotional outlet of edm.com, I’m expecting to see a lot more of his work catch fire soon.
Check out Running Touch here.
A well done cover released at the right time can do wonders for an artist. Young Swedish trio Ember Island has been hard at work developing their own delicate, almost ethereal take on the indie-electronic aesthetic. Eager to establish a fanbase and reach new ears, they’ve leveraged The Weeknd’s skyrocketing popularity with this cover of Can’t Feel My Face, and it’s working. The result is a melancholic but calm rendition that still provides that same infectious vocal melody, albeit in a form that feels fresh and inviting. If you’re like me, you’re a huge fan of the original but have been afraid to play it to death yourself and get sick of it, especially with everyone and their mother seems to be blasting the song at every waking moment. Well, here’s a refreshing interpretation to sate your appetite.
Check out Ember Island here.
You may remember way back when we gave a shoutout to Ivan Jackson for his trumpet work on Distant Memories. Brooklyn’s one half of Brasstracks reemerges again here with this funky new stiff-upper-lip JNTHN STEIN collaboration, Dreaming At The Function. Ivan and Jonathan are the two founders of Candid Music Group, a music complex in NYC offering a slew of music production and design services. I strongly suggest you give a listen to the artists they’ve worked with. They’re some very unique and talented individuals, and we’re keeping a very close eye (ear?) on the music they’re pushing out.
We’ve got the perfect Friday afternoon jam for you this week. Recently, LA’s Kentaro had his SoundCloud account removed due to some remix licensing issues. It’s now back up and running with a re-release of Thank You, his smoky R&B collaboration with vocalist and producer One T that was originally released earlier this year on, you guessed it, April 20th. So kick back and give this one a spin–happy weekend everyone.
GRADES increases the tempo and adds a french house flare over a nice bed of powerful vocals in his remix of Lianne La Havas’ What You Don’t Do. GRADES, perhaps best known for his original Crocodile Tears and whose video for King was recently nominated for “Best Dance Video” at the UK Music Video Awards, is continuing to develop his upbeat mixture of catchy vocals and bobby electronic production within the London dance scene. Both artists have soul – you won’t be disappointed.
Sensual, smooth, scathing and unapologetic. When Bet U Wish first surfaced, its captivating vocal delivery and lyrical maturity suggested a time-tested artist working behind the scenes, practicing that kind of finesse that only comes with years of experience. So when we found that this mastermind was actually 17 year old Raye from South London, we were absolutely astounded. Raye has been carving out a name for herself in a saturated market of alternative R&B female vocalists since the release of her debut EP earlier this year, Welcome To The Winter. Since then, she’s shared a steady stream of content to solidify her fledgling fan base, including this breathtakingly dramatic and unique reimagination of the original Bet U Wish by Lucian, who had this to say of the final product: Read More…
Leveraging an education from Berklee College of Music in Boston, the now NY-based producer DrewsThatDude has helped produce for a handful of big hip hop names, including Tech N9ne and Lil Wayne on the last Carter album. While he’s a very talented arranger and session musician, his own personal productions are impressively detailed and memorable, and his newest Obsession is no exception. There’s a lot going on in this mix that you won’t catch until the second or third time around–one of those walk around the sound-garden kind of beats.
Check out DrewsThatDude here.
“Electric Mantis” is the perfect name for the incredibly sophisticated Oregonian producer Wyatt Pearson. Originally from Alaska, Electric Mantis’s charged sound is perhaps best showcased in his latest EP Braincase. Here at Black Sheep, we’re thrilled that he’s getting the recognition his craft truly deserves – including having his remix of Hear The Bells featured on Porter Robinson’s upcoming Worlds Remix album – and we can’t wait to see where he goes. This guy is the real deal.
Check out Electric Mantis here.
More new ear candy from down under. This time we’ve got GRMM with Travolta Cool, aptly named and featuring a slack but smooth vocal hook and rebounding, slingshot synths. Benn Markos, the 24 year old Sydney producer behind GRMM, has seen a surge in popularity after recently hitting #1 on the Australian iTunes electronic chart with Electrify. Now a part of the Neon Records roster, (joining the likes of Gorgon City, Felix Jaehn, and Klingande) and busy finalizing his debut EP for release this week on October 2nd, GRMM is one we’ll be keeping tabs on.
Check out GRMM here.
As is now seemingly the norm, RÜFÜS DU SOL hail from the great city of Sydney, Australia. Perhaps best known for You Were Right off their sophomore album RÜFÜS, this upcoming trio is a Triple J regular and is quickly becoming a notable presence in indie-dance. We hope you appreciate Like An Animal’s soft vocals, and as always, enjoy Jack Vanzet’s stunning album artwork.
Check out RÜFÜS DU SOL here.
Damn. Whispa is back with Hamara, one of his recent “less club and more headphone” tracks. Kick off your shoes, turn down the lights and unravel your mind to London’s renowned ambient/trap producer. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have to listen to most of his songs more than once to fully appreciate the richness of each sub slap and vocal splice. Go deep.
Check out Whispa here.
Zaba was easily one of my favorite albums from last year. I fell in love with Glass Animals after listening through the LP front to back, again and again, and it’s with that peculiar but extremely common sense of fanboy ownership that I’ve watched them now step into the limelight like some kind of proud mother. It happens when you really identify with a piece of music, with an artist, with an aesthetic. And the same phenomenon occurred when I came across Imagined Herbal Flows last year, so when this blend of the two surfaced, I was trapped. IHF had a limited amount of material to work with, extracting only the vocals that were unburdened by the rest of the mix from the original. But there’s something beautiful that happens when your tools are limited, when you are forced to draw with only certain colors. Boundaries spawn innovation, and Dave Bayley’s voice sits atop IMF’s accompaniment as comfortably as if it was the master recording. While finding them can be challenging, this is an example of a remix done well: original, creative, but derivative in the best way.
Be warned – this song is only for the brave. forest of the spirits is a sensational release off sakuraburst’s new EP blood orange. Not much is known about this UK artist besides their incredibly lush Japanese production chops, but get ready to go on a sonic journey. forest of the spirits is absolutely haunting, rapidly transporting listeners from moments of calm recluse to an incredibly tense synth-didgeridoo drop; hang on for the ride.
Check out sakuraburst here.
Last month we gave a shout out to Texan electronic producer Froogle and his collaboration on Falling Down with Alexa Harley. I thought I’d bring a different side of his work to light, so here’s Repose, a bouncing instrumental centered around a simple but catchy lo-passed synth line. Another great piece for some R&R, though a little more representative of the diversity in his production talent.
Check out Froogle here.