The Jamaicans originally started out as a band known as the Cool Shakes. They cut two tracks for Duke Reid with Treasure Isle Records (known for his love of jazz, blues and soul), and in 1967 at the Island's Festival Song Contest, the band took home 1st place with the super fun, ska/rocksteady pop song Ba Ba Boom, written about the Jamaica Independence Festival.
You may know Amber Mark from her 2017 track Love Me Right. Her "lounge-quality" sound is a perfect blend of instrumentals and lyrics— soft and sweet but with emotional depth similar to Sade 😍. I love Monsoon (feat. Mia Mark) and Lose My Cool from her 2017 album 3:33am.
In discussing Conexão, Mark states, “I want this EP to have a bigger meaning, and I want people to feel even more emotional with this than they did with the previous one,” Mark explained in an interview with Pitchfork.
Last year, New Zealand favorite BAYNK released Someone's EP, featuring tracks including Poolside, What you Need (feat. NÏKA) and Come Home. His easy sound is reminiscent of Hayden James, Bon Iver and even Autograf— perfect for summer weekend mornings.
He has a great interview with Redbull music about finding his potential as a musician, as well as his finding inspiration from artists like Travis Scott and Mura Masa, here. He's playing June 9th in San Diego for those of you looking to add a show to the calendar.
In January, a community based pop-up art show took over a warehouse space in the downtown Los Angeles area bringing together some of the most talented artists, musicians, and activists working for us today. The themes of the show were based around topics of "Justice as a Human Right", "Together We Rise", "No Human Is Illegal and No Human Should Feel Unsafe", "Love, Peace and Empathy", "Manifesting Solutions", and "This Moment in History." With powerful exhibits and moving panels, this was a positive and humbling event that lead those who participated to question their part in today's call to action.
I was lucky enough to DJ at this event and put together a playlist of some of the songs I played.
ZHU recently teamed up with Australian psychadelics Tame Impala on a new single — My Life. Despite mixed reviews, there are parts of the EDM track that have a pretty solid bounce.
In what's reminiscent of Prince, Steven Zhu is an interesting artist in that he prefers to remain anonymous outside of his stage name, ZHU, so that "fans can focus on the music rather than who's behind it." The pace and diversity of rolling sounds in the well-queued synth-pop + unique monologue integration in his summer 2016 album GENERATIONWHY make it a recurring album in my playlist rotation and definitely worth a listen.
Can we talk about Loyle Carner? Carner debuted internationally in January 2017 with the drop of Yesterday's Gone which is AMAZING. His unique voice paired with the hip hop yet funk-feel cadence of tracks carry something to get behind. Check him out with fellow Londoner Tom Misch on the track Water Baby, released 2018.
We're also super excited about English singer-songwriter Jorja Smith, who'll be in CA for Coachella this year and is touring in April with Tom Misch. Find her on Spotify, her sound is soulful and reminiscent of Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys and your gal Amy Winehouse.
Not sure why, but I've never been a huge fan of Drake (did love him in all-white next to Rihanna, though). In all seriousness, I so respect what he's got going right now with OVO Sound. Solid tracks from Roy Woods and Majid Jordan. We can probably all agree that Get You Good from Roy Woods nailed it in terms of sheet beats, as did his 2016 album Nocturnal. I discovered Majid Jordan in late 2015 and fell in love with the song Her— especially the clip it runs at right after 2:10. If you haven't yet, check out Majid Jordan + dvsn on My Imagination (still obsessing). The Gave Your Love Away video totally embodies what's going on in fashion right now with a hazy 80s vibe.
OVO Sound's collab with Warner Bros., via the launch of dvsn's Sept. 5 in 2016, is wonderful, and I think with that, not to forget having PARTYNEXTDOOR driving parts of the label, is really positioning that whole team on solid footing for the long game.
Kendrick Lamar, TDE's Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith and Ryan Coogler dropped a banger today in Black Panther The Album Music From And Inspired By. Kendrick's polished sound spans five tracks and the rest of album's all star lineup features so many favorites (and some newcomers) including SZA, the Weeknd, Khalid, Future, ScHoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott, Anderson .Paak, Vince Staples, James Blake, Inglewood-native Swae Lee, Mozzy, Zacari, Ab-Soul, Babes Wodumo and more.
I found Texas-based Khruangbin after they played here in LA last summer and fell in love with their thai-funk/surf rock sound. I think I've listened to The Universe Smiles Upon You at least 100x in the past year. Check out White Gloves, or, for more dance-y sounds, People Everywhere (Still Alive) is great. They recently released Con Todo El Mundo in late January. If you're also in LA, they're playing a few shows in Highland Park March 22, 23 and 24.
We’re loving the latest video for Kenzo’s Spring-Summer 2018 collection. YO! MY SAINT, directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, features a beautiful duet between Yeah Yeah Yeahs goddess Karen O and Michael Kiwanuka (who you know from the 2011 single Home Again). The video takes us through an array of emotions, building to what Kenzo declares as “an arresting crescendo and the fades into a gorgeous lullaby coda.” The cadence and visuals so beautifully depict the role of the muse throughout history through the near-nymphic characters Sayoko and Ryuichi, women to whom the video's hero is tied throughout his creative endeavors in the world of high fashion.
Kenzo continues to salute creatives prolific not only in style, but also spirit. Carol Lim states, “the beautiful part about this video is it’s two women that decided to make this film together. It’s an amazing artistic endeavor and a conversation between two women. A female musician and a female director.”
This video is the sixth in a series from Kenzo’s creative team, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon (who together founded Opening Ceremony in 2002). Kenzo’s continued series is amazing in that it depicts the convergence of media and communications, modern and historical— from audio, to visuals, to textiles— and also illustrate the power of gender and sexuality, a subject so influential as we enter 2018.
Check out the entire project in all its colors at www.kenzo.com/en/yomysaint.
Kurt Vile’s hazy, introspective folk-rock somehow sounds more effortless with each album. Stripping back some of the layers and length of 2013’s gorgeously textured Wakin On a Pretty Daze, B'lieve I
'Our aim isn't to start a revolution, but we talk about politics in the pub, so it'd be weird if we didn't sing about it' - Idles lead singer Joe Talbot
Despite being a punk band, Idles are a mess of competing influences. They cite jazz, The National and minimal techno as inspiration while Talbot grew up on a diet of hip hop, garage, jungle and R&B. In fact, you can draw a direct line between Kanye West and ‘Brutalism’. “‘
“The fact that Rick Rubin gave him two weeks to write lyrics and he came up with all this abrupt and brash sounding music is so cool.”
“What did Kanye call Rick Rubin?” adds Bowen excitedly.
“He said he wasn’t a producer; he was the reducer. He basically took all this work Kanye had done with loads of different producers and went, ‘keep that bit, ditch that bit.’ He took Daft Punk and Evian Christ and boiled it down. A lot of ‘Yeezus’ is like that – Kanye really took a risk on it.”
With the dregs left of my pint, I ask Idles about how they’re dealing with all their growing attention. Talbot just shrugs. “We’ve stuck to being ourselves; you can’t force it. All you have to do is stick to your guns and one day Theresa May will become Prime Minister. Then everyone will be looking at you.”
“So have we been lucky that everything has turned to shit?” says Bowen. A sly grin spreads over his face, perhaps sensing an avenue for a bit of friendly piss-taking.“Yeah!” exclaims Talbot, hardly missing a beat, “what else would we be talking about if things hadn’t turned to shit? It would be whack; I’d be singing about trainers.” - Words by Dominic Haley
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