This week Festicket's staff picks include a mixed bag of hard-hitting UK rap, Neil Young-inspired melancholic pop, (pre-)post-Brexit heartbreak, as well as jazz from both sides of the Atlantic. Find our playlist below and some words on our particular favourites beneath it.
Amber Arcades – European Heartbreak
Admittedly, an album that seems on the face of it to be a Brexit-inspired breakup album (‘Europe, it’s not you / I’m starting to think it’s me / My left ideals and university degree’) sounds like the last thing I would want to listen to on a Friday afternoon. I like new music that helps me momentarily depart from the ubiquitous and stale conversation that seems at its heart quite fruitless these days.
But European Heartbreak, the second studio-album from Utrecht’s Annelotte de Graaf as Amber Arcades feels like falling in and out of love at the same time. Halcyon, 60s-era production and textures guide de Graaf’s ode to her home-continent as she somehow comfortingly muses on the weaving and unweaving of identity and love. JB
BADBADNOTGOOD x Little Dragon – 'Tried'
Coming as a slight surprise, this week Toronto jazz group BADBADNOTGOOD announced a joint excursion with Swedish electronic artists Little Dragon.
When you see the Venn diagram of accomplices include the likes of Kaytranada, a shared effort seemed inevitable with both bands serial collaborators within the realms of R’n’B, hip-hop, and electronica.
Retaining the substantial elements of BADBADNOTGOOD’s progressive hip-hop aesthetic, ’Tried’ sonically ventures into neo-psychedelic soul territories previously unexplored by the Canadian instrumentalists. This is in part due to Yukumi Nagano’s (Little Dragon) sultry yet longing delivery - merging lyrics that attempt to pick up the pieces of heartbreak with the subtle, breezy lo-fi production, culminating in a Californian-soaked ode to the summer that has painfully slipped through the fingers. TC
Little Simz – ‘Boss’
As its title promises, the second track released this week from UK rapper Little Simz flaunts, if not hurls, self-assured authority and confidence. From that mean, distorted bass line to way she brazenly spits ‘I don’t need that stress / I’m a boss in a fucking dress’, Simbi Ajikawo is clearly back with vengeance, with both this track and “Offence” seeming to take up from where ‘Good For What’, the vitriolic closing track from the otherwise more jazz and R&B-focussed 2017 record Stillness In Wonderland, left off. JB
Westerman – ‘Albatross’
Maybe the best thing I can say about Westerman’s latest single ‘Albatross’ – from a forthcoming EP entitled Ark – is that I couldn’t settle on who/what it reminded me of.
He cites Neil Young as a key influence, but weirdly it was the Graham Nash penned ‘Our House’ by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young that came to mind at points listening to this; possibly because of the cosy and inviting quality that pervades.
Everything Everything’s more tender offerings also entered the fray as to why it sounded vaguely familiar. But in reality the faintly melancholy vocal tones, understated production and pop sensibilities manage to make it all quite enchanting, even though it isn’t really doing anything hugely spectacular or original. JK
Moses Boyd – Displaces Diaspora
The London jazz scene is absolutely killing it right now. Acts like Ezra Collective, Nubya Garcia, and Sons of Kemet are all showing what the city has to offer in terms of straight up jazz. The talent is unbelievable. But it somehow gets even more impressive when you add in acts like Henry Wu, Floating Points, and Moses Boyd who meld the trad. jazz with various other sounds.
With the release of his new album Displaces Diaspora, Moses Boyd cements his place atop the London scene, combining African rhythms with jazz, hip hop, and electronic sensibilities. There's even some auto-tuned traditional African vocals. What else do you need to soundtrack your weekend? AW