I’m going to start with a hero of mine this week. We all have those albums that find us at just the right time and have a profound effect on our lives. So gather round, children, for here is the story of how Róisín Murphy and Moloko changed mine. It was 2003, and I was on holiday with my (ugh) sugar daddy. I was 23. He was 40-ish, and he had just flown me to New Orleans to meet him while he was on a business trip. Oh yes, he was also a long distance daddy. When we were together, he was loving, jealous, and the sex was incredible. I had never had that kind of attention from a man before, and I was hooked. But when we were a part, it felt very much like I was out-of-sight, out-of-mind. I kept hanging on because I think I believed that if we could stick it out until we were in the same city, things would change. Yeah. I was 23. So while wandering the streets of NOLA, I went into an incredible record store that specialized in imports, especially euro dance singles and albums. Moloko’s album, Statues, was in one of the listening bays. I got half way through the first track, “Familiar Feeling,” and immediately bought the CD. I listened to it back at the hotel while lying on the bed, waiting for my lover to come back from his conference. Statues, it turned out, was the most beautiful dance break-up album ever recorded. Róisín Murphy and Mark Brydon (her boyfriend and the other half of Moloko) had broken up some time before it was recorded, but they were contractually obligated to make another album. And it gave me all the feels. It starts out on a high, with “Familiar Feeling” a song about love and connection, and then it moves into moving into hurt, separation, longing and acceptance. In the 57 minute span of that album, I made a decision, perhaps the first true decision that I had made during the very foggy 9 months that I spent with this guy. I knew exactly what I would do. We would have a great weekend, say goodbye, and then I would fly home and never call him. And he would never call me—because he never did. I had always been the one to pick up the phone. And that was exactly how it happened.
But enough about that asshole, let’s talk more about Róisín! Róisín Murphy is an Irish disco goddess. Since forging her own path as a solo artist, she has carved out a niche as an electronic music oddball a la Björk. Her vocal delivery is jazzy, broad, and above all, theatrical. And as you can see, with her quirky fashion sense and penchant for odd headpieces, she can go toe-to-toe with Björk on the catwalk of weirdness too.
Róisín has been incredibly prolific over the last 3 years, releasing multiple singles and collaborations as well as an EP of Italian pop music in 2014, Mi Senti, a solo album in 2015, Hairless Toys, which was nominated for the Mercury Prize, and another album to be released this July, Take Her Up to Monto. The two advance tracks from Monto sound a bit more club-driven than her last outing, though still typically idiosyncratic. Here is the video for “Ten Miles High.”
Next up is a relative newcomer, who has gained a lot of attention via Soundcloud and YouTube, Shura. Over the past year, Shura has released several singles, including a pair of melancholy R&B singles that perfectly capture the shy awkwardness of young love, “Touch” and “2Shy.” Her debut album, Nothing’s Real, will be released on July 8th, 2016, and at least a few of the other advanced tracks have been a bit more upbeat. Remix fans, be sure to listen to the excellent Four Tet remix of “Touch” and the Jungle remix of “Indecision.” But for now check out the video for “2Shy”:
WILD BEASTS! Yes, Wild Beasts are back with a surprising new sound on the track, “Get My Bang.” True, they’ve toyed with the dance floor before. They’ve remixed Lady Gaga, and synths have featured heavily on many of their best tracks. But this new single contains samples and heavily altered backing vocals, which is definitely a leap in a new direction. Will their next album, Boy King, due out in August, be a full on dance album? We will have to wait and see. Meanwhile, enjoy lead singer Hayden Thorpe’s awkward dancing in the new video.
I rarely get excited by new rock bands anymore, indie or otherwise. But Catfish and the Bottlemen’s first album The Balcony, really hooked me. It sounded earnest and fresh in a way that a lot of other indie rock bands do not. If you are a fan of The Cribs or the Kooks, Catfish may be your cup of tea as well. The first thing I notice about their follow-up album, The Ride, is that it is a bit quieter. There are still plenty of big guitar riffs, but the edges have been smoothed and polished a bit—something that might annoy me if the songwriting was not still so strong. Give a listen to the first single, “Soundcheck.”
Speaking of rock, The Kills are finally back with the new album Ash & Ice. I am a big fan of Allison Mosshart, but more VV and less Baby Ruthless. If you’re not aware, those are her stage names: VV for The Kills, and Baby Ruthless when she plays with The Dead Weather. Oh, you silly rock stars! There’s something about The Kills’ cold, angular songs that I really enjoy as opposed to the big, loosely structured sound of The Dead Weather. I for one am thankful that we have another album from The Kills. They had to take quite a break while Jamie Hince recovered from a hand injury and re-learned how to play guitar (and divorced Kate Moss—yeah, that Kate Moss). Here is the third video released from Ash & Ice for the track “Siberian Nights.”
And finally, I know I just featured her in my last blog, but you need to hear Lizzo’s new single. This is your personal empowerment, kiss-off to your ex, song of the summer. Maybe it was all the that ex-talk that brough this song to mind, but no, I think it’s just that this song is “Good As Hell.” Try to listen to the whole thing without tossing your hair and checking your nails. I dare you.
Actor, writer, painter. Drinks too much whiskey. Eats too much cheese.