“We get to choose our families; we are not limited by biology. We get to make ourselves, and we get to make our families,” says Janet Mock at the beginning of “Charcoal Baby.” The sentiment ripples through Blood Orange’s new track like a stone plopped into a pond. The first single from Negro Swan feels like a natural extension of 2016’s Freetown Sound, a moving and still-searing personal document of national trauma and personal pain. Everything about it feels familiar, in the best sense, from the recorded monologues to the unfussily complex arrangement—in this case, the star is the guitar riff, a glimmering turnaround that is equal parts Rick James and John Frusciante. The groove is patient and loose, and overlaid with a distant saxophone solo and some warped synthesizers.
Most welcome is the warm haze that settles over the song, the same late-summer shimmer that made Freetown Sound feel like a transmission from somewhere better than here. Hynes’ heartfelt laments—about struggling to feel less alone, about waking up already feeling the undertow of sadness—seems to be reaching you via aerosol can: atomized, swirling around the instruments, and dissolving on contact. His voice is thin but sturdy and pliable, and it wraps itself around the song’s sinuous melody like a strong pair of arms, holding you in.
MALLRAT is at the point in her career that when she speaks, the world listens, and the release of her In The Sky EP last week has put her at the forefront of delicate pop music. Despite her success, she remains incredibly incisive and can still find glorious moments in some of life’s most uninteresting moments. Love is everywhere, even when we don’t want it to be, and on ‘Groceries’, Mallrat is putting that front and centre.
In the maelstrom of loud and explosive pop music, Mallrat is all about those quiet breaths in between. While ‘Better’ was certainly anthemic and ‘UFO’ was a little twisted – in the best way possible, ‘Groceries’ is proof that even the quaintest of songs will still shine. It’s a fragile and charming track, laden with a shimmering guitar melody and the undeniable appeal of Mallrat‘s voice. In a song about loving someone when you really don’t want to – “This sucks, I’m lovesick/Too important to rush this” – she has tapped into the unpredictable ventures our mind and our heart takes us down, and given them a shiny, glittering coat of paint.
The biggest reason behind the appeal of Mallrat‘s ‘Groceries’ is its stunning simplicity, not needing to do too much to create an entire world of magic. That’s because everything about Mallrat is magical. Her perceptiveness, her incisiveness and her seeming inability to make a bad song not only makes her endlessly relatable, but provides her own lane for her to zoom in – and she’s going full speed ahead.
In the run up to UK producer George FitzGerald’s All That Must Be album release, the follow up to 2015’s Fading Love, it felt like anything was possible.
The artist was following a body of work that chronicled a complicated relationship with dance music, and while it was merely just a semi-departure, this time felt different. FitzGerald had just gone so far as to tell Resident Advisor that he was becoming tired of DJing and club culture. So when it came for the time that the world delve into All That Must Be, the album was rife with lush tones and vocal arrangements that felt more like an ode to the live experience, in the vein of artists like Lane 8, than any other type of his previous dance music material.
If FitzGerald hadn’t moved into a more songwriter oriented approach, trading his breakdowns for wistful vocal arrangements and cerulean seas of sonic expansiveness, it’s likely that All That Must Be would have sounded more like DJ Seinfeld’s recent take on the album cut “Burns.” Seinfeld’s use of old school breakbeats — reminiscent of the ones that Bicep’s 2017 track “Glue” uses — breathes new life into the track, which is not to say that FitzGerald had shyed away completely from dance propulsion’s on the number, but that it feels like a missed opportunity when listening to DJ Seinfeld’s take. DJ Seinfeld’s “Burns” remix is a testament to creativity, the possibilities of reinterpretation and the importance of true artist to artist camaraderie.
Miami-based young gun Marks is linking up once again with Coyote Records to release his first full-length beat-tape.
Titled ‘Crush’, the 10-track offering was written during Florida’s hurricane season and sees the producer toy with his trademark downcast aesthetic as he offers up a cohesive, melodic project inflected with grime, d‘n’b and emotional underground sounds in steadfast Coyote style.