Meet Phlo Finister.
The California-bred, Youthquaker-inspired (that’s a 1960′s cultural moment, FYI) songstress has been floating (read: phloating) around for a while now: In fact, she’s been slowly generating buzz and releasing music over the past few years, even briefly retiring from music at one point in December. As it turned out, all she needed was time — and time was quite kind to her.
Now, Phlo’s preparing to release a debut EP in the UK on Night Beach Records called Poster Girl on July 29, co-produced by Benny Cassette and Andrew Dawson, who is best known for his work with Kanye West, Nas, Jay-Z and, most recently, with the Pet Shop Boys on their shimmering 2012 record, Elysium.
Sparse, ghostly and desolate, Poster Girl is already shaping up to become an essential haunt for your late night listening sessions: Think Cassie and Aaliyah at their loneliest, Lana Del Rey at her summertime saddest, Natalie Walker at her dreamiest and The Weeknd at his Weekndiest (oh, how I love the Weeknd.)
We need to talk about The Weeknd.
Despite the fact that I’ve been using the 23-year-old Canadian R&B producer/singer-songwriter’s signature sound to describe the output of several pop stars over the past year, I’ve somehow failed to acknowledge his own sublime catalog on MuuMuse. So, let’s fix that.
Earlier this week, I posted my favorite singles from 2012. And now, it’s time for the albums.
Unlike last year, 2012 was not a very strong year for mainstream pop acts–at all. Most of the releases from pop’s biggest players, including P!nk, Nicki Minaj, One Direction, Christina Aguilera, Ke$ha and Adam Lambert–were largely ‘okay’ at best, playing like rehashes of previous successes and hopping on radio trends du jour. The result was a yearlong onslaught of dubstep breakdowns and guitar-led YOLO dance-pop (“Live While We’re Young,” “Die Young,” “Starships,” et al.) Even the Queen of Reinvention herself–as much as I wouldn’t normally dare to admit this–bowed to some occasionally cringeworthy youth pandering on her 12th studio album, MDNA. (And could she ever really recover from Cher‘s merciless shade?)
But whereas conventional pop faltered, dozens of up-and-coming players from around the world shined bright (like a diamond), resulting in music that actually was–and still is–largely ahead of the curve: A Swedish trance-pop songstress, a Canadian R&B crooner, a British neo-soul darling and of course, a certain American-born throwback chanteuse that set the nation on fire in a red, white and blue blaze of glory.
Here are my Top 20 albums of 2012. As with the singles, there’s a Spotify link at the very end to hear all Top 20 albums in a row. Enjoy, and I’ll see you in 2013!
One of MuuMuse’s favorite up-and-coming acts, Tinashe, has done a lot of growing up these days.
After separating from short-lived girl group The Stunners in 2010 and releasing “Artificial People,” her collaboration with OFM back in September of 2011, the blossoming 19-year-old singer-songwriter has just released In Case We Die on February 1, a conceptual mixtape (yes, that means free!) that serves up an unexpectedly more mature, introspective sound than any of her dance-pop productions of the past.
“I was very inspired by the thought of a lover’s last words before death–bearing their soul and their secrets before it was too late…and trying to capture that half-fear we all secretly have that the inevitable is sooner than we are ready for,” she explains of the mixtape.
The collection was reportedly self-penned, produced and record alone over a three week period. And if that’s truly the case, then Tinashe has just become more of a “One to Watch” artist than ever.
Harnessing the ghostly trip-hop production of artists like Canadian spook-R&B maker The Weeknd, Kanye West, and even subtle shades of Prince, the mixtape glides along wisps of drippy beats, echoed yelps, sultry Cassie-like icy R&B and strange, atmospheric sounds in the distance.
There’s plenty to soak in from this rich 15-track collection of tunes–from the moans and purrs above the super slow, slinky swag of “Boss,” to the autotuned Kanye-like grit of “Another Season,” to the unbelievably amazing “I Tried”: “I want you to know that I tried!” the songstress yelps above the song’s soldiering hip-hop thump and blazing synthesizers.
While not everything on this mixtape is as Top 40-friendly as her past releases (though tracks like “This Feeling” bounces with enough of a Rihanna-like bump to certainly prick some ears at radio), In Case We Die is by far her most impressive moment yet–an incredible display of stone-cold serious artistry, featuring daring production and introspective lyricism that deserves to have the blogosphere going positively abuzz.
Pay attention now, because this collection should seriously not be overlooked.
In Case We Die was released on February 1. (Download Now)
Last weekend, my bloggy BFFL Jon ALi and I went on a road trip to Boston. And in between the scream-singing of a majority of Talk That Talk (and some Kat DeLuna, but we’re not talking about that right now), Jon played me some of his favorite mixes from Mademoiselle Gaga‘s brand new remix album: Born This Way: The Remix.
The entire remix package is actually a pretty schweet deal, full of both throbbing, cardio-friendly House cuts and unconventionally moody re-inventions of the originals.
Along with offerings by some of MuuMuse’s favorite acts (including Hurts and Goldfrapp), instant favorites from the bunch include the haunting, dissonant re-rub of “Marry The Night” by The Weeknd & Illangelo, the brooding Depeche Mode-esque “Bloody Mary” mix by The Horrors and the reliably amazing throbbing mix of “Edge of Glory” by Sultan & Ned Shepard (who’ve worked on countless smashes with MuuMuse favorite Nadia Ali).
But my all-time favorite of the bunch so far is “Electric Chapel,” a track I’d never paid much attention to when listening to Born This Way. As it turns out, the remix was crafted by Two Door Cinema Club, the UK indie-pop trio that I “Introduuced” in the early, early days of MuuMuse back around January of ’09. (I know…positively ancient!)
As Jon explained before hitting play, the “Electric Chapel” mix is basically the ultimate stripper anthem. In fact, I’ve already assembled a tasteful nun habit to perform the mix during my nightly revue at The Cock, so watch out for that.
To celebrate the release, MuuMuse is giving away FIVE COPIES of Born This Way: The Remix.
To enter to win, follow me on Twitter (@MuuMuse) and tweet me with the following phrase:
I want to be born again with @MuuMuse! #BornThisWayTheRemix http://bit.ly/uBEEUi
Five winners will be selected and notified on Tuesday, November 29. US entries only, please.
NOW DANCE, YOU MOTHERFUCKERS.
Born This Way: The Remix was released on November 21. (iTunes)