A song for today #42: Sista Strange

 

Sometimes, you just connect with something.

A couple of weeks ago I was sent the debut track by Sista Strange, entitled ‘Friday Evening.’ It’s wonderful to hear something fresh and original sounding.

Sista Strange are a duo from South London. They are two girls – Jesley and CJ – and are both respectively 17 and 18 years old. ‘Friday Evening’ was written by the pair and  produced by them in their living room.

Over the course of less than two and a half minutes, they manage to sum up their influences and lay out their plans like a manifesto. I hear electronica, soul, hip-hop and drum’n’bass, served up as a kick-ass tune.

In their own words:’Sista Strange started through a series of experimental tracks we played around with in 2016 and passed back and forth through voice notes and emails. These felt super alien compared to the music we had been making in bands we were in at the time, and so we decided to turn them into a project that allows us to build our sound by mixing, chopping and freely incorporating whatever the hell we feel sounds good at the moment; whether that be minimalist drum and bass, sampling random sounds around London or integrating world sounds.’

I’m looking forward to hearing more very soon. Stream and download for free below.

 

A song for today #41: Simian Ghost

It has been a bit quiet round the blog, hasn’t it? Anyway, still here and every so often, something reaches me that I want to write about.

Today, it’s a track from a Swedish act called Simian Ghost, who will shortly release their new, self-titled album. It’s been a beautiful day today here in Scotland, and somehow this gorgeous piece of dancefloor pop just hits the spot.

Simian Ghost started out as a recording project by Swedish songwriter Sebastian Arnström and after two well received solo releases became a fully-fledged band a few years back.

In Sebastian’s own words: ‘“Stop Moving is a straight up disco track. We have done some stuff like that before, and we really liked it, especially playing it live. We wrote it last summer, when the world was still somewhat comprehensible. Now, as it continues to spiral out of control, we’re happy to offer a brief moment of musical respite from the chaos. It’s a song about letting go of your insecurities and falling into the arms of a well meaning stranger. It’s about giving yourself to the waves, trusting that they will carry you to a good place. We all need that sometimes.”

Don’t we just.

Not only that, but an unofficial fan video has emerged of Donald and Melania Trump appearing to dance to the song. Make of this what you will…

A song for today #40: Mined

Photo credit: Rosie Matheson for JFC Worldwide

Hello again. There are, as ever, no shortages of submissions in the inbox, and as ever, too little time to write about them and a computer that is playing silly buggers. Anyway…

This song and video from London’s Mined arrived in the inbox a few weeks ago, and both song and video are rather haunting, standing up to repeated play.

‘Mistakes’ is taken from his forthcoming EP Love’s Lows, which is due out in the spring.

According to the press release ‘Kofi Holmes Attivor aka Mined is – quite literally – a man of many names. Born to a Ghanaian family in Tooting in London, this electronica newcomer, philomath and a Molecular biologist was given eight names at birth. Raised on the RnB and soul from his parents’ record collection, he was granted his wish to get his first “sleek, silver Casio”. Putting his musical experiments on hold, Kevin pursued his other passion of science at University of York and a Molecular Cell biology degree. While investigating the sonic landscapes of Brian Eno’s “Music for Airports” and the work by artists like Spooky Black, Majical Cloudz and Foals, he started developing his own sound that embodied his philomath pursuits.’

The follow-up to last year’s also rather brilliant ‘Pangs’ debut single, if you’re fed up with the charts being full of the same artist, then get behind Mined and spread the word.

Album Review – Stormzy

Stormzy -‘Gang Signs & Prayer.’ (#Merky Records)

In case you were under a rock for the whole of 2016, the year saw a massive resurgence of Grime. Not just in terms of coverage, but also chart performance. Arguably Skepta winning the Mercury with Konnichiwa was the cherry on the top. This album is not only one of the most anticipated debuts of the year – but setting the seal on grime’s importance on the UK music scene of 2017. Yes, Stormzy has taken his place alongside the well-established faces of the genre – Wiley, Kano and Skepta, amongstothers – but also taking on the likes of Ed Sheeran, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man and Little Mix in the pop charts.

The album opens with the sound of a downpour – something we get a lot of in the British Isles – on album opener ‘First Things First.’ Similarly to Burial’s dubstep masterpiece Untrue (now astonishingly ten years old), this is an album that musically as much as lyrically evokes life in urban Britain.

The album has already produced two top ten hits – ‘Shut Up’ and ‘Big For Your Boots’ – tracks which give an excellent insight into bangers which showcase his eloquent rage. But that’s far from the whole story within. This is an album with different styles within. If you thought it was going to be all anger the two-part ‘Blinded by your Grace’ is Gospel meets soul in the style of a Motown legend like Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye. While American artists have often discussed God in their lyrics, it’s been less common here. But Gang Signs & Prayer is truly an apt name, and it seems to sit more easily than when Prince used to tell his audience that ‘God loves all of us. It seems genuine and thankful, rather than preachy.

In terms of broadening the lyrical picture ‘Velvet’ sees Stormzy making plans for travel with his girlfriend after she’s finished her degree and ‘Cigarettes and Cush’ he shows how heartfelt grime can be. Given the soul feel on a lot these tracks, comparisons could be made with Frank Ocean as much as Skepta and Wiley.

Clocking in at just under an hour, it’s a long album and as with many albums, there’s a lot to take in on just one listen that shows this needs to be listened to carefully and repeatedly. It can seem a sprawl – but one worth exploring.

Michael Omari – as he’s known to his Mum – may be only twenty three but there’s vision within here that hints at further greatness. He told the BBC that he used to work in quality assurance on an oil refinery – but that it wasn’t for him. That industry’s loss is our gain. He’s already won MOBOs – but the strength of this young man’s work is likely to see him add far more to his mantel piece over the next twelve months.

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