Mark Ronson – ‘Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars)’
Inescapable in pop music just a few years ago, Mark Ronson has since adopted a lower profile – if you can call producing Sir Paul McCartney , Lil Wayne and Duran Duran as maintaining a low profile anyway – but he’s enlisted the voice of one of his most successful young buddies to kickstart his climb back to the top.
You could probably predict how ‘Uptown Funk’ will sound before you’d hear it and you’d most likely be right. The track’s chicken scratch guitar and colourful synths harken back to 1999-era Prince while Bruno Mars’ braggadocios come-ons are more in line with something that Sly Stone or Parliament-Funkadelic might be found flirting with. The lyrics aren’t going to be inspiring any college classes anytime soon but then that’s never been what funk is about anyway. Most importantly: this thing has one hell of a groove.
It’s big, it’s in your face, it’s got a super-tight horn section. It’s beautiful.
James Barlow @bassoddity
Hacktivist – ‘Deceive And Defy’
Hacktivist have been relentlessly mashing genres since their inception in 2011 and their latest track ‘Deceive And Defy’ is no exception. Featuring guest vocals from Heart In Hand’s Charlie Holmes, the song is three minutes of intensely chuggy bass and politically charged lyrics. Holmes’ vocals sit pretty flawlessly alongside Ben Marvin’s gravelly growl. In contrast to the rapped verses, with their gentle electronic programming, the choruses host some huge guitar parts giving ‘Deceive And Defy’ a hefty metal injection. Hacktivist have absolutely smashed it. Again.
Callum Cornwell @CallumJack93
Bastille – ‘Weapon (vs. Angel Haze vs. F*U*G*Z vs Braque)’
Bad Blood was one of last year’s most original records, with impressive songs like ‘Pompeii’ and ‘The Things We Lost In The Fire’ on the track list and whilst their latest tune ‘Weapon’ (vs Angel Haze vs F*U*G*Z) still has that signature, electronic sound they are known for, they have changed their path slightly and gone down the down the hip hop route.
The heavy bass and synthesisers along with the high ranging vocals shares similarities with some of Justin Timberlake’s latest work e.g. ‘TKO’ and like ‘TKO’, ‘Weapon’ has absolutely flawless production. Each one of the beats Bastille have used flow perfectly together and the sound quality is brilliant. The fact that Bastille have collaborated with a rapper seems a little strange but they use Angel Haze’s quick, hard hitting style to their advantage. There’s quite a serious tone to the song which is perhaps also due to the gospel like choir – it’s a little melancholy.
Ultimately, whilst at first the change of sound might be a bit disconcerting to fans, ‘Weapon’ is a brilliant addition to Bastille’s music collection.
Mikki Ekko – Mourning Doves
Mikki Ekko is a rather sensitive fella. To coincide with the announcement of his debut album Time, the curly-haired crooner has shared an entirely endearing ballad titled ‘Mourning Doves’ that really epitomises his sentimental singing. However, the introduction of a shrieking circular saw synth adds a piercing brusqueness on top of mournful pianos that makes for a strangely beautiful ugliness. It’s like the grief-stricken thoughts of a teenage poet being repetitively zapped by the intrusive pain of a love lost. If you’re the kind of person that finds a strange comfort in sadness and you like hopeless romanticism, then this song was made for you to cry happy tears.
Nathan Butler @PeakFiDem
Lion Babe – ‘Jump Hi (feat. Childish Gambino)’
I came to this track solely for the Childish Gambino guest feature but found it so enchanting that I’d forgotten the rapper was even in it before his verse came around. It’s a simple song that rides a layered loop of thick percussion and rolling piano and Gambino delivers in his trademark pop-culture referencing cameo but it is Jillian Hervey’s soulful, Erykah Badu-esque vocals that own it
The track came out a few weeks ago now, but the accompanying video for it brings a new playfulness to it as we see Hervey and bandmate Lucas Goodman prancing around New York City and fittingly jumping pretty darn high.
James Barlow @BassOddity