Better late than never, right? Way better, actually.
After nine months of recording in between studios in the UK and the US, singer/songwriter/drummer/guitarist/model/pop extraordinaire Florrie has at long last revealed her latest collection of independent tunes, her final self-released set before treading into major label waters later this year.
As with 2010′s Introduction EP and last year’s outstanding Experiments EP, the Late EP finds the multi-talented songstress supplying endless, swinging ’60′s-inspired melodies, delicious disco stomps and razor-sharp hooks, as can only be expertly crafted by someone recruited to the in-house band of Britain’s almighty pop production troupe, Xenomania.
Strutting atop a deep, funky disco bass line, “Shot You Down” kicks off the collection with…well, a bang. “I shot him down, down, down,” Florrie chants during the song’s catchy opening, giving a quick nod to Cher‘s “Bang Bang” (and perhaps Madonna‘s “Gang Bang”), similar to the Ting Tings‘ “Shut Up And Watch Me Go.” And then all at once, the track explodes: “I pulled the trigger on our love/Keep messing me around/Got my finger on the gun/Bang bang, I shot you down,” Florrie repeats atop a swirling, sparkling synth melody.
Each second of the track finds Florrie throwing another hook our way: “Left, right, left, right, left, right,” she quietly purrs after the first chorus. “Thinking about it…ooooh, baby!” she coos seconds later, briefly delivering a Donna Summer moment of dreamy disco falsetto. Everything was catchy, and nothing hurt.
“I’m Gonna Get You Back,” on the other hand, might be the EP’s most left-of-center production, and evidence of Florrie’s growth as an artist. Filled with jagged licks of electric guitar, a reverb-heavy chorus and menacing electronica, the track finds Florrie going more alt-pop than ever: “I won’t stop ’til I get you back/I’m gonna get you back,” Florrie howls, bringing a touch of Sky Ferreira‘s intensity to mind–and perhaps even a little Garbage-lite.
“Every Inch,” on the other hand, plays like the best Girls Aloud tune the ladies never recorded. Between the bridge of haunted moans (pure “Crocodile Tears”), mile-a-minute monotone hooks (pure “Graffiti My Soul”) and sassy kiss-off lyrics (pure “Sexy! No, No, No”), the song could have easily been tackled in the well-manicured hands of Nadine and the girls. “You got money in your pocket and your clothes are looking hot/But I ain’t looking for somebody like you,” Florrie taunts above a ’60′s surf guitar-meets-’90′s Hi-NRG-meets-21st century synth-pop pulse.
Appropriately, the EP closes with “To The End,” a moody, tranced-out production. As the guitar strum quickens and the synthesizers surge dramatically, the track builds to frightening heights–at last bursting into its supersonic chorus that screams Stuart Price (Confessions On A Dance Floor/Aphrodite): “Baby, we will take this to the end!” Florrie declares above the pounding beats, not unlike any of Sophie Ellis-Bextor‘s chilly disco-pop anthems. “Every little piece of me, I’ll give to you for free/Happiness don’t mean a thing until you let it in,” she later chants in the song’s final few seconds, seemingly falling back down to Earth.
Every inch of the record is one carefully crafted hook after another; each pulsating beat more danceable and jaw-dropping than the next. With the Late EP, Florrie’s provided enough of a distraction (and more than a few melodies now forever lodged into our brain) to hold us off until her eventual major label debut. It’s long overdue.
The album is now streaming in full at Florrie’s official website.
Late EP was released on May 31. (iTunes)
It’s safe to say that 20-year-old Harlem rising rapper Azealia Banks is no longer “One to Watch.” By now, everyone’s already watching.
Back in late 2011, the LaGuardia High School alum (the superstar factory that’s brought us Nicki Minaj and Wynter Gordon, among others) released her unbelievably ferocious burst of energy, “212.” Rapping over a sample of Lazy Jay‘s “Float My Boat,” Banks’ infectious hooks and feisty, filthy-mouthed (yet somehow endearing?) rhymes are an instant win: “I’m fucking with you, Cutie Q/What’s your dick like homie, what are you into?” she spits above the frantic electro pulse. And then there’s that line: “I guess that cunt getting eaten!” Oh, and that other line: “I’mma ruin you, cunt!” (Or “kunt,” as she spells it on Twitter–that is, when she’s not giggling about Pokemon, warring with T.I. and Lil Kim or Instagramming insanely gorgeous shots snapped by fashion legend Rankin.)
The song exploded within just a few weeks and, along with the release of the co-penned Scissor Sisters‘ “Shady Love” (on which she appears) and a thoroughly incredible Coachella set, Banks suddenly found herself atop several “Most Anticipated” lists, including a spot on the BBC’s much coveted Sound of 2012 list.
Having now signed to Interscope/Polydor, Banks brings us the long awaited 1991 EP–a 4-track taste test released in advance of Banks’ upcoming mixtape due out in July, Fantastic. And though the title is a nod to the year Banks was born, it’s also a reference to the kinds of beats banging throughout.
“Liquorice” for example, which was also released in late 2011, sees Banks time-traveling back to Inner City territory, rapping above the same kinds of early ’90′s House beats that were bumping inside the clubs the year she was born. (Actually, it’s built around Lone‘s 2010 “Pineapple Crush.”) “I make hits, motherfucker/Do you jiggle ya dick when ya bitch pop singing on the liquorice hit?” she taunts on the brash, in-your-face temptation.
“1991″ and “Van Vogue”–the two new cuts from the EP, which were produced by Machinedrum–similarly bounce along early ’90′s House melodies and ballroom-ready, strut-friendly grooves. “Came in the game with a beat and a belt/Never for the fame, my feet on the ground,” Banks raps on the EP’s title track.
With a background in Drama, it’s no surprise that–like Nicki Minaj–she’s prone to showing off her versatility, shifting between wild yelps, too cool for school spittin’, and even some R&B crooning. “NY rose me, Most High chose me,” Banks dreamily sings above the minor keys of the EP’s title track. (As it turns out, she’s got a pretty good singing voice.)
But her music lacks the squeaky pop sheen of Minaj, bouncing along extended beats and key changes that offer her more room to spit than a basic verse-chorus, verse-chorus build. Her eyebrow-raising lyrics, too, are bound to inspire a comparison or two: Boastful, aggressively sexual and always frank, Banks’ cocky flow (with so, so, so many references to her vagina!) recalls Lil Kim, as well as shades of Missy Elliot and Eve. But between the ever-shifting House rhythms and her varied style of rapping, Banks brings a unique style that’s less easily categorized, a la M.I.A. or Santigold.
1991 is refreshingly innovative, full of danceable beats, slick hooks and a mile-a-minute flow. It’s all the reason why Banks has been pegged as a hotly-tipped artist for months now–and why that hype’s more than deserved.
Whether or not she’ll prove herself with her upcoming debut in Fall, Broke with Expensive Taste (which will feature production by several pop titans, including Paul Epworth and Diplo)? That’s the real challenge. I look forward to watching her win.
1991 EP was released on May 29. (iTunes)
“‘Oh my God, you look just like Shakira! No, no–you’re Catherine Zeta!’ ‘Actually, my name’s Marina,’” she sang on “Hollywood,” the second single off of 2010′s The Family Jewels.
It’s been over two years since her debut, and Marina + The Diamonds is back with yet another identity crisis for her second go-around in the studio–and this time, she’s evoking a cold, cruel bitch named Electra Heart.
After serving up endlessly ferocious features on tracks like “Bottoms Up” by Trey Songz, Usher‘s “Lil Freak,” Jay Sean‘s “2012 (It Ain’t The End)” and her grand triumph, a spotlight stealing verse on Kanye West‘s star-studded “Monster,” Nicki Minaj‘s 2010 debut Pink Friday should have been a roaring proclamation that the new face of female rap had finally arrived.
Instead, the album turned out to be a plodding series of motivational cliches and lukewarm midtempos about overcoming obstacles, following your dreams and rising above. And that’s fair–after all, she managed to defy expectations, skyrocket to the top of the charts, reinvent the boundaries of female rap (and rap in general) and ultimately became the most important thing to happen to female rap since Lil’ Kim and Missy Elliott in the span of about two years.
Still, the album equivalent of one Taylor Swift surprise face after another about being on top wasn’t nearly as captivating as the fire she was spitting on everyone else’s songs. By the end, the album barely showcased why her star rose so quickly in the first place.
Two more years have passed, and Minaj is back for another solo round–Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded–and this time, she’s actually packing some heat.
Music, as a wise woman once declared, makes the people come together.
As with his 2010 studio album Believe, Progressive House DJ/producer Morgan Page‘s third effort In The Air relies on vocal contributions by talented singers hailing from a multitude of genres. As he explained of his new album: “This record exists between the club and pop worlds with a little bit of indie thrown in there as well. I wanted to try some new flavors and attitudes, while keeping my sound intact.”
Accordingly, there’s a slew of new names to add to Morgan’s ever-growing list of collaborations, including Tegan & Sara (who aren’t actually strangers to the dance scene, having already guested on the brilliant “Feel It In My Bones” off of Tiesto‘s Kaleidoscope in 2009), as well as singer-songwriters like Greg Laswell, Shelley Harland and Coury Palermo.
“In The Air,” the album’s opening track, lead single and namesake, also happens to be Page’s first #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Airplay Chart–and rightfully so, as it’s one of the best songs of 2011: Co-produced by BT, Sultan and Ned Shepard and featuring the vocals of frequent Telepopmusik collaborator Angela McCluskey, the crisp, chill-inducing powerhouse dance anthem was perfectly timed along with the changing season when it topped the chart in October: “I’m feeling a change in the air,” McCluskey hauntingly croons above the song’s pulsing beat.
The album’s second single on the other hand, “Body Work,” finds the EDM maestro working up a sweat with Canadian sister act Tegan & Sara. After the pounding club mix of the song was unleashed in late 2011, Page unveiled the album version back in February 2012; a slightly more pensive take on the track, underscoring the tender (if not slightly awkward) tone of the Canadian duo’s sexually-charged club thumper. “You do your body work/I feel my pulse working overtime/I get shy in these lights/I feel your body doing overtime,” the twins anxiously warble.
Beyond the album’s two massive singles, there’s plenty of highlights packed into the eclectic (yet cohesive) record, including “Where Did You Go?” with Jonathan Mendelsohn and Greg Laswell’s stunning album closer “Addicted,” which finds the singer achingly recounting the details of his troubled relationship atop a gorgeous, piano-tinged melody. “I might be addicted to how you always get the best of me,” Laswell sorrowfully croons above the soaring chorus.
Two of my favorite voices also make an appearance: There’s the tranced-out “Carry Me” starring omnipresent dance floor queen Nadia Ali and her distinctively melodic vocals, as well as “Gimme Plenty,” which features nu-jazz troupe Bitter:Sweet‘s Shana Halligan. (A very unexpected and happy surprise!) The songs sees the songstress singing lush Britney-like commands across the sultry, bouncing chorus: “Gimme more, gimme love, gimme plenty,” she coos.
In The Air is an absolute treat from start to finish, featuring solid production value that trumps Morgan’s previous record and plenty of soul-searching lyricism that go beyond the oft-basic themes of so many dance tunes on heavy rotation in the clubs. Every song’s a smash, filled with emotion and pulsating energy–the best qualities that EDM has to offer.
Check out a sample mega-mix of the album below…