A lot of nagging and bit of luck usually gets you fed as a kid. That was largely how we used to acquire music from our parents when it was still physical and tactile in its ownership and distribution. Music used to be about a different kind of choice and resourcefulness: choice of how you physically explored getting a hold of things (records, albums, magazines), and resourcefulness of abetting time and money to expand these choices. Today, music is as ubiquitous as the devices that stream and store them. Our only way of getting a handle on our hunger is managing our time. There is more discovery at your fingertips than ever before. Nurture your hunger well.
Combining the best of glossy ‘80s synthpop and arena-ready choruses, Bastille have attracted attention across the globe since their debut in 2013 with the single ‘Pompeii’. Theirs is in the vein of U2, Coldplay and Snow Patrol before them. Anthemic pop remains the trajectory, however theirs sounds brighter, more expansive, with tinges of R&B, dance, rock, bass and brass. Building on their success with style proves a sensibility they know how to wear well. Two of the album’s most distinctive moments include ‘Send Them Off!’ and ‘Two Evils’.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
On his 16th album, Nick Cave with his backing band, the Bad Seeds, returns as the master of song-craft. Here however, the canvas feels like a hulking weight that stuns from an unimaginable, frightening dream. While writing the record last summer, one of Cave’s twin sons, Arthur, fell from a cliff to his death at the age of 15. The grief is palpable and the sadness pervades each of the eight songs with raw and emotional intensity. The Skeleton Tree is about change. And change it does. In the airless dark between two states of mind, the album moves from one state to another in more ways than one. From heartbreak despair to the serenity of hope, with lyrics such as ‘they told us our dreams would outlive us/ they told us our Gods would outlive us but they lied’. The album transcends into lines such as ‘I called out that nothing is for free/ And it’s all right now’.
St. Paul and the Broken Bones
On their sophomore release, one gets the sense that the sextet hailing from Birmingham, Alambama, are carrying around their own secret triumph. They have captured a special sauce that comprises stirring live shows since 2011 and equally matching and impassioned R&B retro-soul akin to James Brown in his heyday. Their latest album continues to set the bar high and has more of a socially conscious tone with the addition of a string quartet and choir. The result is modern power to a classic sound. For a sample of their range, check out ‘Midnight on the Earth’ and ‘I’ll Be Your Woman’, which serve as but two takes at paying homage to Sly Stone and Prince.
De La Soul
30 years on from their debut, one can empathize with the trepidation of making a comeback, especially after a 12-year hiatus since their last record. De La Soul once defined the possibilities of a rap record. Theirs is a legacy and a litmus test of influence. Financed by a Kickstarter campaign to circumvent the major labels, their DIY approach helped propel over 200 hours of beats and jamming with a live band to their laid-back golden age style of rap. From this they took the best cuts with an impressive array of guests including Damon Albarn, Usher, Jill Scott, Snoop Dogg and David Byrne. De La Soul’s birthright remains relevant in challenging the status quo of what a hip-hop record can sound like as contemporary and progressive as ever.