Beck is known for constant creative reinvention, and that trend continues with his new single, “Dreams.” The track, Beck’s first new music since last year’s folk-heavy Morning Phase, finds the musician exploring his falsetto over a soulful dance-rock groove built on a chunky electric guitar and programmed drums. “Dreams” was written by Beck, Greg Kurstin and Andrew Wyatt, with all vocals and instruments performed by Beck and Kurstin. The song was produced by Beck and Kurstin, and mixed by Serban Ghenea.
Amazon Acoustics is a forthcoming Amazon Music playlist of exclusive covers and original songs from over 30 artists. It features the Walkmen’s Petter Matthew Bauer covering St. Vincent’s “Prince Johnny”, the Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser covering Beach House’s “Astronaut”, the Districts doing David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes”, and Jessie Baylin doing Harry Nilsson’s “He Needs Me” (from Popeye), among others. Listen to Surfer Blood‘s acoustic cover of OutKast‘s “Hey Ya” above.
Before the legendary New York jazz drummer Steve Reid passed away in 2010, Kieran Hebden (bka Four Tet) collaborated with him on a variety of projects. They released three albums — Tongues (2007), NYC (2008), and the posthumous Live At The South Bank (2011) — and at one point covered the Detroit-based producer Derrick May’s seminal techno single “Strings Of Life.” The cover was first heard on a Reid tribute podcast hosted by Gilles Peterson, and today, Hebden formally releases the track. “Strings Of Life” will be pressed in a limited run of 525 and will include another collaborative track, “Tongues,” and as Four Tet mentioned on Twitter, the record is titled TEXT035. All of the proceeds will go to the Steve Reid Foundation, an organization started by Gilles Peterson that raises money to support struggling musicians with health problems. Listen to Reid and Hebden cover “Strings Of Life” below.
The British artist – real name Victoria Hesketh – will release ‘Working Girl’ on July 10 via On Repeat. It follows on from her 2009 debut ‘Hands’, 2013’s ‘Nocturnes’ and last year’s ‘Business Pleasure’ EP. ‘Working Girl’ was produced by Ariel Rechtshaid and features collaborations with Simian Mobile Disco’s Jas Shaw, Com Truise, Grades and Jeppe Laursen. It will feature three tracks (‘Business Pleasure’, ‘Taste It’, ‘Heroine’) from her aforementioned 2014 EP.
Panda Bear – Crosswords (Pete Rock Remix)
Legendary rapper and producer Pete Rock has just released Petestrumentals 2, the sequel to one of the best-ever hip-hop instrumental albums. And as part of the recent productivity spate, he contributed to a remix of Animal Collective member Panda Bear’s “Crosswords” — off recent album Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper — to a remix EP called PBVSGR, set to be released by Domino June 29.
“No label, No pr, No publisher, No manager, No pa, No stylist, No Instagram, No meat, No dairy, No egg & No Fluoride”. Nix the veganism and toothpaste preference and JME’s Twitter bio gives a succinct manifesto for Boy Better Know (BBK). A statement of independence, the sentiment runs deep through the record label that he and brother Skepta founded with Wiley in 2005. Going it alone has served them well. Skepta charted last year with That’s Not Me and gave a career-defining Glastonbury performance. He leads the way as BBK carve out a chunk of the mainstream – while keeping their integrity intact and the till receipts to themselves. Meanwhile, every billboard and spare bit of wall in East London (and I imagine further afield) has been plastered, with adverts for Jamie XX’s album In Colour for a while now. After defining a genre with The XX, he has teased with a little production work here and a few remixes there. All the while continuing where he, Romy Madley-Croft and Oliver Sim left off, writing some of the best pop music going in a style that is distinctly his. In Colour goes big on the 90s rave culture that has always informed his sound. The album has been celebrated by critics, being awarded 9.6 by Pitchfork – the music review site’s highest rating this year.
With a smile on his face, author Stephen Witt told me that before publishing his first book, “There was no mention anywhere that the only reason the MP3 succeeded as a technology was because of the greatest wave of copyright infringement and piracy that the world had ever seen.” MP3s are as ubiquitous as music itself, but have we ever really asked ourselves how this new technology came to be so universal, or who exactly was responsible for its pandemic spread, which crippled the music industry at large?
In Witt’s incredible, possibly canonical How Music Got Free (out now from Viking), the writer traces how the audio compression technology went from almost dying in a format war with the MP2 (a Betamax vs. VHS type of battle) and tracks down the patient zero of music piracy and album leaks: a savvy rough rider named Dell Glover, who worked in a North Carolina CD plant and smuggled out almost every major album released in the aughts under his oversized belt buckle. Without this one tatted-out guy, online piracy would have been impossible, MP3s wouldn’t have gained an online user base, and the technology would have likely become just be a blip in media history.
In ripped white jeans and a midriff-baring SoundCloud T-shirt, 20-year-old Toni Romiti belts one of her modern R&B-flavored songs to a roomful of strangers. She hits the notes, bobs to the beat, flips her long, magenta-streaked hair. Still, as she finishes her opening number, there’s a hint that she’s not yet a polished live performer: “That was the first one,” she says abruptly. Her audience is all enthusiasm. Romiti is singing to the New York office of SoundCloud, the fast-growing Internet audio service that’s attempting to turn the corner from popular app to viable business. SoundClouders, as the company refers to grass-roots music makers such as Romiti, are the soul of the enterprise. If her career takes off, she’ll owe much to SoundCloud. She made her first recording on its app and has since attracted 70,000 followers and scored a handful of gigs she hopes will lead to a tour. When her first successful song took off, she recalls, she was getting 1,000 plays an hour. “I just sat at my computer and cried all day,” she says. “SoundCloud changed my life.”