As TwentyTen (I’m definitely going to miss saying that) comes into the final two-month homestretch, the musical output from the turn of the decade has definitely stepped it up. The consistently stunning Deerhunter released their fourth record, “Halcyon Digest”, an album of such sheer quality it would be criminal to ignore. Hyperdub continued its perpetual musical progression in putting out Darkstar’s synthetically lush album “North” and Crystal Fighters finally dropped their Iberian electro-pop debut with “Star of Love”. But if you are in anyway inclined to listen to dance music of any variety consider it an obligation of reading this column that you go to Urb.com and download the two-hour mix from Jackmaster, the main man of the phenomenal Numbers label and best quiffed DJ you’ll find.
The Knocks – Dancing With The DJ
Single – Out Now
If there was an equivalent to insider trading in the music industry, then I’m pretty sure it would be the only explanation as to how Neon Gold keep finding the best new pop acts. Following up the pop-tastic single “Make It Better”, The Knocks are back with “Dancing With The DJ”. If there’s one thing that The Knocks have perfected it’s taking pure optimism and turning it into music. One listen to “Dancing With The DJ” is enough to transform anyone into a glass-full type of guy, before the track compels you to skip out of the house to organise a Fame-esque street dance. Or something.
Hurts – Stay
Single – November 15th
I’ve never really “got” Hurts. Manchester’s perma-glum duo of Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson are a fixture in fashion magazines with their sharp monochrome uniforms, and look like they should be good. I remember the hype around them and wanted to believe it, until I pressed play and mistook the audio for a live X-Factor performance. “Stay” is merely 4 minutes of the two of them attempting the ol’ classic slow, rousing pop song. The choral backing is there, the dramatic key changes are there, the only problem being the sheer boredom it induces.
Das Racist – Sit Down, Man
Mixtape – Out Now
Usually when you want a good dose of satirical humour, your first point of call is not the second mixtape of a Brooklyn hip-hop outfit. “Sit Down, Man” not only showcases slick, smooth beats and samples, but an abundance of tongue-in-cheek humour, delivered in deadpan verse. “hahahaha jk?” opens with probably the best put down of the typical grandiose, hip-hop intro with Heems Suri muttering, “So I talk sh*t in this part? About how like – the world didn’t see it coming!”. Also, anyone who can sample Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” and turn it into the suave funk that is “Town Business” deserves repeated listens.
Nelly – Just A Dream
Single – November 8th
I’m seriously considering setting up a support group. A support group for heartbroken hip-hop superstars, get in here Fiddy, Usher, you too Eminem. Because ultimately somebody has to give these lads a shoulder to cry on when those divas go and break their hearts, time and time again, and we have to hear about it in some emotional ballad with welled-up raps dotted about the place. Nelly is clearly the latest hard working young man in the music industry to have his heart smashed to smithereens and “Just A Dream” is as bad an attempt at poignancy as you’d expect from Mr It’s Gettin’ Hot In Here.
Zola Jesus – Poor Animal
Single – November 8th
There are some tracks that only start to make sense when the play count reaches 10, and then there are those that drag you under after just 30 seconds. When you hear Nika Roza Danilova’s full-blooded vocals burst out of the shimmering synth and string ambience of “Poor Animal” for the first time, it becomes clear that when the remaining 4 minutes are up you’ll be scouring the internet for everything Zola Jesus. Amplifying the intensity with each additional drum beat, each extra violin part, Zola Jesus shows off her stunning crescendo credentials. Take note Mumford.
Matt & Kim – Cameras
Single – November 1st
Matt & Kim are one of those love ‘em of hate ‘em bands, so naturally I felt it only logical to have a distinctly apathetic opinion on their music up until this point. Being sold as one of those bands with a large “social networking” (you know, that bookface thing all the kids are on) following seems to have made them appear better than they actually are. “Cameras” is a clunky, cacophony of lumbering brass, childish vocals with a fluctuating synth line reminiscent of a mosquito that won’t leave you alone.
Girl Unit – WUT
Single – TBC
It’s safe to say that any release on Night Slugs is going to induce uncontrollable fits of dancing. Headed up by Bok Bok and L-Vis 1990, the label is consistently putting out mouthwateringly dynamic dance tracks and Girl Unit’s “WUT” is no exception. With its waves of glittering synths, meticulously contorted r&b vocals and thumping baseline, it’s hard to resist the slick, polished production. Nights Slugs and producers like Girl Unit are definitely flying the flag right now and you have to wonder why everyone’s still obsessed with recycled dubstep.
Armin Van Buuren – In and Out of Love
Single – November 4th
You know when someone asks you what type of music you like, and it’s a bit like trying to answer what your favourite colour is (I like a bit of sky blue here and there, maybe a nice beige now and again)? You don’t really commit to any genre, but sometimes you risk it. Then when an older family friend visits and asks what music you like, and you tentatively reply, “I’m kind of into electronic music” and they shoot you a derisive you look, you just know that in their heads a track like Armin Van Buuren’s “In and Out of Love” is playing.