Summer, by all accounts, is over and while you were busy traipsing around outside and ‘doing something with your life’ some of the most important musical happenings of 2014 were, well… happening. But fear not, we here at Venue spent our summer cowering in the dark, listening to obscure SoundCloud mixes and thinking about ‘post-cloud rap’ and have compiled all the best bits of music and news into one handy article so you can sound cool in front of those friends you couldn’t be bothered to meet up with over the break.
First off on our magical mystery tour is Spooky Black’s new EP Leaving. Tinged with the melancholy that comes with the end of summer but filled with enough sensuality to seduce, this is the perfect collection of tracks to ease you from those halcyon months of getting up at twelve to the upcoming days of getting up more like eleven. Billed by the blogosphere as the R&B Yung Lean, Spooky Black is the latest in a series of artists making a name for themselves by flipping the genre on its head. His music is mysterious and spacey, majestically sad in its reverb-drowned vocals and winding instrumentals, courtesy of defacto producer Kid HNRK. Just don’t put on Idle before the LCR.
You know they have a new album coming out, your housemates know they have a new album coming out, at this point your mum probably knows as well but hey, guess what? Alt-J have a new album coming out! Suitably recovered from the departure of bassist Gwil Sainsbury from the band, everyone’s favourite smart sing-along merchants have been dropping a track from the album every couple of weeks, as well as a few suitably bizarre music videos. It sounds like Alt-J, which is a good thing, the lyrics are still weirdly sexual, “turn you inside out to lick you like a crisp packet”, the instrumentals are still packed with pretty arpeggios and one of the lead tracks may or may not be about masturbating, which is really what you want in your crossover hits.
If you’re the kind of student that puts on Boiler Room mixes at pre-drinks then you could do a lot worse than Mix 2 by experimental hip hop group Clipping. At 18 minutes long it mixes party rap with the all the unsettling background noise you could want before a night at Hideout; watch out for the Metallica samples. Sticking to experimental hip hop, Jonwayne has been releasing a new track every Monday on his Soundcloud to critical acclaim and has some serious rhymes bound to provide anyone with a RapGenius account with hours of fun.
Jungle’s debut album of the same name failed to cause the stir of their early singles, but is still well worth a listen if you enjoyed the slick modern soul vibes of Busy Earnin and The Heat. Summery and almost too well produced throughout; Jungle would have been the soundtrack to all those inner-city garden parties during the heatwave if they hadn’t used up the good singles before it came out. Add in the fact that the Quietus ran a very effective takedown of the bands self-imposed mystery, revealing them to be privately educated heirs to capitalist fortunes rather than the all-encompassing collective they had claimed to be and what could have been the album of the summer fell victim to ever shifting favours of the blogosphere.
Moving us into less ennui-inducing territory is the news that two giants of the underground, Aphex Twin and Flying Lotus, are releasing albums this October. Both artists have previewed singles; the suitably obscurely titled Minipops 67 [120.2][sourcefield mix] and the Kendrick Lamar featuring Jazz explosion Can’t Catch Me respectively are gearing up to dominate in the next few months. Expect weird sounds aplenty on both albums and mind blowing collaborations including Herbie Hancock and Snoop Dogg on FlyLo’s fifth offering.
On the more chart side of things Nicki Minaj’s new album has been announced for the end of November which ,in light of Anaconda ,should be a welcome return to rap for the bewigged one after a string of average features and imitation Calvin Harris tracks. Another light in the impenetrable dark of Radio 1’s playlist is rather surprisingly Ariane Grande, whose new album features collaborations with The Weeknd and the hood pope himself A$AP Ferg. Cursory mentions go to Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit who really don’t need any more press but definitely had their moments over the past few months.
Now, get back inside and don’t tread any mud into the carpet.