Public Enemy – Harder Than You Think

Although it’s been a few years since the excellent ‘Harder Than You Think’ was released by Public Enemy, this massive tune is making a comeback thanks to being featured in a hard hitting trailer for the Paralympics that’s been on heavy rotation on the UK’s Channel Four.

WATCH: Channel Four’s trailer for the Paralympics http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuAPPeRg3Nw&feature=plcp

The director of the trailer – Tom Tagholm – said that he wanted to add some edge, grit and attitude to the trailer, which was one of the biggest projects he worked on last year.

“We narrowed it down to about four or five concepts that we thought could be really strong, but then someone came up with this line – ‘Meet The Superhumans’. We really loved the attitude and the scale and the confidence of it,” he says.

The trailer – which combines live sport, athletes’ training sessions and also some flashback sections to incidents in their past lives – embraces the physical attributes of the athletes and their disabilities. “We wanted to absolutely embrace all of that – their stance, the ways they’ve adapted to their sport, the ways that they use their bodies. It’s very much ‘Here we are!’ y’know? There’s no tiptoeing around anything.”

‘Harder Than You Think’ was the first single to be released from Public Enemy’s 20th anniversary album How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul??? that came out in 2007.

The album’s title was a paradox, as main man Chuck D explains: “You don’t sell soul to a soulless people who sold their soul. You have to give it to them. And that’s how it boils down with me. I think the last 15, 20 years the music and the record business experienced a great deal of one-sided individualism and greed. In order to return it to some of its roots, artists and entertainers and songwriters have to reach down into themselves in order to reach down into the souls of folk.”

‘Harder Than You Think’ was also featured as the soundtrack to the Eric Koston section in the Fully Flared skate vid: WATCH http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7m5YM3wZ-Q

Paloma Faith – Just Be

The single is from her second album ‘Fall To Grace’, which reached Number 2 in the UK albums chart back in May, and was pipped to the Number 1 spot by Gary Barlow’s Diamond Jubilee record – by a measly 5000 copies. ‘Just Be’ The heart-felt ballad was co-written by Faith with Greg Wells and Matt Hales, and is currently being seen on British television as the soundtracks to ITV’s New Season Drama trailer.

WATCH: Paloma performing on Jools Holland http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MImzLN8oigc

Born and raised in north London, she was brought up by her mum in Stoke Newington and was a shy child who only discovered her persona on stage in a school play. “I think they were shocked that I had this dinosaur’s roar. I realised that, on-stage, I could be whoever I wanted to be, and I’ve been roaring ever since,” she says.

There’s a considerable amount of knowledge and experience behind the bright hair and outlandish outfits too – Paloma studied at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds and has a Masters from Central St Martin’s.

She was inspired to start writing while working as a wedding singer. “I don’t think it was exactly a song that inspired me to start songwriting. I didn’t know I was going to be a professional musician so I just started to sing cover songs. There were a collection of ’50s blues and rock’n’roll songs that I was singing when I was in a covers band for weddings,”she said in an interview with MUZU.

“People used to say to me, ‘You sound great singing them but you should write your own’. So I think at first when I started writing I was inspired by those songs and now it’s organically changing as I go along. But it was that experience of singing covers that really inspired me.”

Paloma’s 2009 debut album Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful? sold half a million copies in the UK, and Fall To Grace, which debuted at Number 2 in the UK is set to do even better. The album is produced by Nelly-Hooper and is overflowing with epic pop tunes which Paloma is taking on tour early next year.

See Paloma on the road in 2013:

Mon January 21st 2013 – Vicar Street, Dublin
Wed January 23rd 2013 – Manchester Apollo, Manchester
Thu January 24th 2013 – Manchester Apollo, Manchester
Fri January 25th 2013 – Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
Sun January 27th 2013 – O2 Academy Leeds, Leeds
Mon January 28th 2013 – O2 Academy Glasgow, Glasgow
Tue January 29th 2013 – Usher Hall Edinburgh, Edinburgh
Thu January 31st 2013 – O2 Academy Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne
Fri February 1st 2013 – Barbican Theatre York, York
Sat February 2nd 2013 – Wolverhampton Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
Mon February 4th 2013 – Brighton Dome, Brighton
Tue February 5th 2013 – Portsmouth Guildhall, Portsmouth
Thu February 7th 2013 – HMV Hammersmith Apollo, London
Sat February 9th 2013 – Cardiff Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Mon February 11th 2013 – O2 Academy Sheffield, Sheffield
Tue February 12th 2013 – De Montfort Hall, Leicester
Wed February 13th 2013 – Opera House at The Winter Gardens, Blackpool
Fri February 15th 2013 – Plymouth Pavilions, Plymouth
Sat February 16th 2013 – Hexagon Theatre, Reading
Sun February 17th 2013 – Cambridge Corn Exchange, Cambridge

 

∆ (Alt-J) – Fitzpleasure

We’re in a particularly fertile period for experimental rock at the moment; with British act Alt-J being one of its brightest stars. ‘Fitzpleasure’ is their latest release, full of weird vocal, strangely choral guitar lines, with a dirgey bassline to get you up and get you moving.

Although their band name is the shape of a triangle, the band aren’t actually obsessed with them or anything, even though in their song ‘Tessellate’ there is a line that goes “Triangles are my favourite shape“, although apparently it’s only in there because it suits the context of the song. So why the triangle? “We only really chose Alt-J because it was a name we could all agree on,” says front man Joe Newman. “We had to change our name because we were originally called FILMS but there is an American band named The Films. We spent a month and half trying to figure out what this new name should be and we were really getting desperate to decide, and we didn’t have to compromise on this one, we all liked it.”

Joe goes on to say that the band doesn’t set out to make ‘experimental’ tracks – just music that people can connect with. ‘We don’t try to go out of the box or be innovative. We just try to play music we like to hear and we’re kind of absentmindedly sounding like no other band at the moment. It’s not something we’re aware of, just something we’re told. We work very hard, and in some cases we spend years on songs trying to get it right – refining it, picking things out and changing things around. I think because we were all friends before we were musicians, we naturally understand one another. We’re on the same wavelength which is why we end up sounding okay.”

There’s also an excellent The Internet (of Odd Future) remix of this track, which you can download here

The band’s debut album came out in May 2012. Titled An Awesome Wave and received an overwhelmingly positive reception from music critics and the press. “We can’t get over it,” says Joe. “It’s been an amazing thing for people to like your album – not only fans, but experts to say really nice things – that’s just another level. We’re amazed but it’s brilliant.”

 

As for the future? There’s a lot of touring involved, one way or another. “We’re touring and playing festivals. We’re looking forward to just playing a lot. We haven’t played that many festivals. We just want to play in the sun.

 

ALT-J ON TOUR: US TOUR DATES

 

September 12 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
September 14 – Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brendas
September 15 – Washington, DC – Rock N Roll Hotel
September 17 – Boston, MA – Great Scott
September 18 – Montreal, QC – Petite Campus

Aaliyah Featuring Drake – Enough Said

Popular music is full of the sounds and voices of stars that’ve since departed the earth as we know it. Aaliyah Dana Houghton – better known under her performing moniker, Aaliyah – is one of those voices. She died in 2001, but her popularity has continued since her death, with several posthumous releases ensuring her legacy stays alive. This most recent release comes courtesy of Canadian rapper Drake, who has woven his own rhymes around a previous unreleased Aaliyah vocal. Her soulful voice earned her the nickname of the Princess of R&B, and “Enough Said” shows you why. It gels well with Drake’s style of hip hop – more understated and subtle than mush other material in the genre.

‘Enough Said’ was produced by Drake’s long time collaborator, Noah “40″ Shebib. And don’t be thinking this is a one off – the Blackground record label (founded by Aaliyah’s uncle) recently confirmed that a whole album of new Aaliyah material is in production, and is to be executive-produced by Drake and Shebib.

“The idea is to release new music for her die-hard fans, and also reintroduce her music to a new generation that doesn’t really understand how much influence she has had,” Blackground’s Jomo Hankerson (Aaliyah’s cousin) told Billboard. “We really felt like it was time. There’s a real new generation that doesn’t know her necessarily, and we wanted to continue her musical legacy with this new generation. That’s one of the reasons why we wanted to do very contemporary music. We didn’t want to make it a nostalgic project; we already did that with the I Care 4 U album. The idea was to release new music for her diehard fans, and also reintroduce her music to a new generation that doesn’t really understand how much influence she has in the music that they’re listening to today.”

The new album is the subject of much rumour and speculation. Timbaland and Missy Elliot – early collaborators with Aaliyah and two people she identified as being music allies when she was alive – have denied any involvement with the new album, although Blackground insist they are in talks with the two artists, according to the Guardian.

Aaliyah’s passing was a shock to everyone – she was amongst nine people who were killed when their plane crashed and burst into flames shortly after taking off in the Bahamas following a video shoot.

Born in 1979 in New York, Aaliyah was raised in Detroit and began performing at age 11 when she sang with Gladys Knight. Her first album was produced by R Kelly and titled Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number. It came out when she was 15 – and sold millions, amidst the controversy that she and R Kelly had a secret marriage. She had shot to fame, appeared in the Jet Li martial arts smash Romeo Must Die and had signed to appear in a sequel to The Matrix when she died. The crash itself was also controversial, with an autopsy finding that the pilot had traces of cocaine and alcohol in his system.

Aaliyah’s death affected millions of her fans worldwide, including Drake, who always referenced the soul diva as one of his influences. Backstage at Ovo Festival, Drake said he was excited about working on the material: “To get 13, 14 new Aaliyah songs, everybody should be excited. It’s not about me. It’s about her and her fans and us just getting the opportunity to give you something that we feel is great.”

Whatever your take on posthumous releases – good taste, bad taste, very necessary, not necessary at all – there are bound to be legions of fans who don’t mind getting their ears on new material from a late great. RIP Aaliyah.

Ne-Yo – Let Me Love You

Arkansas-born Shaffer Chimere Smith is a bona-fide hit machine, as proven by his latest jam, ‘Let Me Love You’. His last collaboration with Calvin Harris (on ‘Let’s Go’) was a massive, anthem and crowd-pleaser, which has paved the way for this smooth and sensual record ‘Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)’. Are you hot under the collar yet? Check out the video and then check your temperature. With its dark and moody atmosphere, urban warehouse setting, killer dance moves and flashes of flesh, it’s exactly what you’d expect from the man.

‘Let Me Love You’ (which features Sia) is the second single to be released from Ne-Yo’s forthcoming album, R.E.D, which is his fifth studio album and is due to be will be released on 18 September. R.E.D. stands for “Realizing Every Dream”, and is to be his first release on Motown Records after he moved from Island Def Jam earlier this year. The album is also due to feature tracks ‘Lazy Love’, ‘Unconditional,’ ‘Jealous’ and ‘Should Be You.’

Ne-Yo is definitely riding high at the moment, although he takes care to remind his fans that fame comes at a price. He recently revealed that being away from his children is the toughest part of being a popstar. Ne-Yo has two children, 1-year-old daughter Marilyn and 9-month-old son Mason with girlfriend Monyetta Shaw. “The toughest part for me is not being able to be there as much as I’d like to,” he said to Good Morning America. “I’m missing milestones as we speak - my daughter just said her first full sentence and I’m not there, so that sucks a little bit.”

As for whether he was finding fatherhood difficult, the singer was as chill as you’d expect. “It’s really not as difficult as people made it out to be. I expected it to be way harder. My kids are my friends, we cool.”

That being said, missing his kids doesn’t seem to be stopping him from enjoying the spoils of his fame. He was recently spotted dropping dollar bills on famous stripper Maliah Michele, ex-girlfriend of Drake and Sean Kingston. Ne-Yo stopped into the King Of Diamonds strip joint in Atlanta and enjoyed some of Maliah’s dancing time.

Porter Robinson – Language

2012 has seen America reaffirm its love of all things electronic. From Skrillex to Deadmau5, there’s a whole scale revival (now widely termed EDM), which encompasses, seemingly, all genres, and is being pushed forward by raw young talent like 20-year old Porter Robinson. His new single ‘Language’ is the evolution that has happened in the post-dubstep soundscape, with evocative vocals, glitchy electro sounds and some cut-up, but all against a pounding and very fat house beat. There is a pleasant piano line that leads you through the tune, and the side chained synths give all the bass and energy that is missing in much music of a similar oeuvre.

WATCH: http://vimeo.com/46779514

Without a way to describe the music that he made, when Porter was first setting up his MySpace page he decided to describe himself as being ‘complextro’ – or complex electro. “I never meant it as a serious thing,” he says. “But it really caught on – and now it seems to be being used more to describe glitchy, electro bass music.

The success of ‘Language’ is also down to the beautiful video that was made to accompany it. “It’s this weird, ethereal, pretty, dream like thing. It’s meant to be pretty,” he says. “My mom watched it and she cried, and my brothers watched it and they cried. I really wanted to give people goosebumps and make them feel something. It’s the most meaningful song that I’ve written, so I’m glad that it’s achieved its intended effect.”

Porter’s prodigious talent has meant he’s been snapped up by the likes of Tiesto and Skrillex to support them on tour, but hasn’t had much of a chance to put together an album as yet. “I’ll produce an album when the music is there. In the last six months I’ve completed four songs, but I’ve shelved three of them. I want to keep the standard of the music really high, so when it comes out it can be something I can super proud of,” he says.

“I’m going to take some time out to go work on some music now, I’m going to go home, I’ve got a new studio to work in. I just haven’t had time to work on music – I’ve been touring too much. First world problems!”

Porter is also good friends with Skrillex, and says he has received a lot of great advice from him. “He told me some great advice that I always try and pass on to other people. He said you should never feel the need to pander as an artist. You should never do what you think your audience wants you to do. All the regrets in my career have come about as a result of doing what I thought I should do, not what I really wanted to do. When I do the music that is most compelling to me, then my fans are always right there with me.”

And with tracks as good as ‘Language’, they’re likely to stay there.

Underworld Feat. Dame Evelyn Glennie – And I Will Kiss

If you were going to put together a soundtrack for the opening ceremony of an Olympics to be held in the UK, there would be a few artists who would definitely come top of your list in terms of soundtrack duties. There are a few boxes these artists have got to tick, of course; capability of producing enormously stomping dance floor bangers? Check. A back catalogue boasting some of the past decade’s most popular culture’s seminal tracks? Check. As it happens, the British scene is healthy enough to offer up more than a couple of acts who fit that bill.

Step forwards veteran techno producers Underworld, who first smashed into our consciousness as they were responsible for ‘Born Slippy’ – the “shouting lager, lager” track that appeared in the film Trainspotting (annihilating dance floors worldwide ever since). There was no doubt they could make people move on the dance floor – but would they be able to move people to tears for the Olympics?

The answer was yes. They developed a 17 minute magnum opus to accompany Danny Boyle’s pandemonium sequence for the opening celebration of the London 2012 Olympic Games, and what an opus it was. Underworld – who were actually chosen to direct the music for the ceremony – provided two original songs for it, the epic ‘And I Will Kiss’ and ‘Caliban’s Dream’.

“From the very first meeting Danny was determined to ‘break the curse’ that accompanied shows of that scale. If there were elements that made us laugh or things that we loved for whatever reason, we kept them. We threw the supposed rulebook out, avoided the rubbish,” said Rick Smith, Underworld’s music director in an interview with the Guardian.
“I started on the Pandemonium section in June 2011 when the band was touring,” Smith continued. “Danny wanted to frighten people. He was certain that by the end, people had to be going: ‘Christ, you can’t possibly do that to us for the next three hours.’ All the way along, he’d leave you with a sentence like that. That’s the kind of direction that leaves you empowered.”

 

‘And I Will Kiss’ is available on the Olympics 2012 soundtrack, ‘Isles of Wonder’, out now on Decca

Rick Ross Feat. Dr. Dre and Jay-Z – 3 Kings

Larger than life rapper Rick Ross has teamed up with the monoliths of Dr Dre and Jay-Z for his latest single, ‘Three Kings’ from current album (the delightfully titled God Forgives, I Don’t), a club banger that’s been just about everywhere. The track is a celebration of the achievements of the rappers, who spit about their life high points and the legacies of their success, illustrated by a black-and-white video that was produced by Dre Films.

As for what these contributions are, you can probably guess. Dr Dre talks about his musical empire, his long history in the game, and gives a nice product placement nod to his range of headphones (telling listeners to listen to the song through those buds. He is definitely pimping that, yo!). His part of the video is focused on the man riding in bouncing cars, picking up awards, hanging out with the Snoop and getting jiggy with some seriously hot honeys.

As for Ross, it’s the usual got-out-of-the-ghetto, living-the-high-life rhymes you’d expect (considering the 300 pound rapper hasn’t actually been in the game as long as his compadres). His part of the video includes shots of the Rodney King riots and some footage of the Obama family onstage to highlight the lyrics about dreams coming true. (Aw).

Jay-Z pulls things together by touching on his own achievements – selling a ton of records, make a ton of money, being around just about forever and doing things his way – all the way.  There’s also an enormous nod to the importance of his family life, as he’s seen chilling with wife Beyonce.

Ross has been in the news recently in a court battle over the use of his name, when a judge ruled that Freeway Ricky Ross must pay rap star Rick Ross’s attorney fees and court costs, after losing a round in a battle for the rights to his own name and image. Judge Rita Miller ruled that Freeway Ricky Ross needs to cough up $500,000 in fees and court costs on behalf of Rick Ross, born William Leonard Roberts II. But it’s not all good news – Rick Ross himself has to pay over $800,000 in lawyers fees and court costs related to the case “It aint over and it aint never gonna be over until things get straight,” Freeway Ricky Ross promised AllHipHop.com. “I aint gonna stop, I am going to keep going until I get my name back and whatever else I got coming.”

But for the meantime, back to ’3 Kings’. The overall verdict? The track is big, it’s bad, and it’s bang up in your face.

Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks

Mumford and his sons may be having some down time, but as if to prove we’re far from done with that new-folk revival sound, Icelandic six-piece Of Monsters And Men have provided one of the biggest songs of the year so far with single ‘Little Talks’. It’s more on the romping edge of new-folk, with a glorious brass-driven chorus that will surely be getting heels lifting and skirts flinging around at barn dances across the globe.

The song is accompanied by a visually rich and pretty awesome video directed by Mihai Wilson of We Were Monkeys. It’s a swashbuckling fantasy, sprinkled with snowflakes, sorcery, and CGI.

There are, as well, the obligatory remixes to accompany and support the single. Ones to note are Passion Pit’s version (which gives the original a seriously minimal, electronic dancefloor edge with synth stabs and heavily arpeggiated rhythms. It’s a version that’s endorsed by Monsters and Men, as singer Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir told Rolling Stone: “We love it. It’s more clubby and it’s very cool. It’s a hard song to remix, too, because it has a certain structure. So I think they did a very good job.”

The band will be spending the rest of 2012 on the road, and are nothing but surprised by their fame. “When we were making this album we weren’t thinking about even going out of Iceland to tour or anything like that,” Hilmarsdóttir says. “It seemed like a very, very distant idea, and it is a distant idea for a young Icelandic band. We made this album with just little money and plans to raise money where we could. It wasn’t planned at all, but it happened and it’s very weird. But it’s wonderful.”

Although the band will be touring, they’ve already started working on their second album, says Hilmarsdóttir, will be influenced by their current success and spending time on the road. “I think traveling as much as we’ve been doing lately has been very good for us, because there are a lot of ideas coming. It’s a combination of all of it – going around and meeting different people and seeing buildings and landscapes and all this stuff. It does something to you and makes you think in a different way.”

The xx – Angels

After months of teasing us with live versions of new material, The xx have finally announced their new album and a string of tour dates, and finally a studio version of latest single ‘Angels’. You can spot it as an xx track a mile off - Romy Croft’s intimate vocals over a bare bones guitar line, with that distinctive xx style that signals the wistful romance of too many late nights.

And as you’d expect from any new material from The xx, there are a number of strong ‘Angels’ remixes out there, including the ice-cold Bodhi remix and the blissed out synths of the Theatre of Delays version.

The xx recently completed their latest album Coexist, which is due out on XL Recordings in September. The album was recorded in London,partly in a Dalston room shared with the Horrors, and partly in a studio in Angel. “Jamie found this studio – it’s not soundproofed – just a room, really,” Madely Croft told Pitchfork. “There’s black velvet on the walls to dampen the sound; I love it. That’s really where the album was made, we’ve been in there since autumn.”

The recording sessions for ‘Coexist’ began in 2010, and differed from the writing of the first record, which they started writing when vocalist Oliver Sim was the tender age of 15. Things have changed a lot since then. “I was writing much more from a place of observation, and my expectations about how I saw things to be in the future,” said Sim. “On this record, it’s been more about my personal experiences. And we’ve written a couple of songs in a way that we’ve never done before, where we’ve gone into a room with absolutely nothing and written from scratch. That’s taken a lot more communication and openness, which has been really nice.”

‘Angels’ also typifies the new album through its lyrical content. “The whole album is about learning and growing up together and moving on and being adults. And relationships: They’re still all love songs, but there’s past and present,” says Madeley Croft.