AMATUS

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Amatus is a bard for the modern age, accompanying her tales not with lutes, but synthesisers.

She produces, writes, and performs her own vision, with others offering additional instrumentals (such as Nate, Butter, Matt, Jared, Vince, and Mikaal), while Andy Baldwin and Jamie Segal mix the tunage. The result is an act reminiscent of M.I.A; Amatus portrays those same hypnotic, gotta-listen beats with the air-tight seal of poppy persuasion.

A self-proclaimed nerd and music junkie, Amatus has made music studios her natural habitat since age 14, absorbing lessons from either side of the glass. But it was only after Meshell Ndegeocello (a critically acclaimed songwriter and bassist) lent her a sequencing keyboard that Amatus truly began to emerge as an artist.

Now Broken Compass is her first solo step into the music scene: a five-piece party favour, freshly wrapped and crisply orchestrated. It reconciles R&B with electro and breezy hip-hop, any remaining cracks plugged with indie pop.

This Brookyln babe’s gotta good thing going.

RAS XIX

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Music is meant to bring us together. It is the bridge on which any colliding personalities can meet, and meet in peace.

Ras Xix knows the only way you can master music is by approaching it via different perspectives, and he’s been doing so, travelling to soak in new cultures and funnel them into his production.

Enter his eponymous album, the first accumulation of his efforts, and an overall lush experience. The lyrics are simply refined, with adept guitar and a chilled beat massaging the centre. The production’s neat, the effects sweet. Even when he ups the rock (as in Over), the takeoff is gentle, the landing sleek.

Most compelling for me was Las Arenas de Cartagena, written on the shores of Boca Grande in Colombia. While I can do without the cliche video (wherein a frustrated waitress finds freedom by stripping down to a bikini- blame LA?), the chorus is almost enough to sweep me off to the ocean.

DAMIAN WILDE

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

My first impression of Damian Wilde: Wow.

Regarding his history, character, and music, there’s a lot of Wow-worthy points. Firstly, and perhaps most interesting was his exposure to troubled souls at an early age. He remembers: “My mother was a nurse at Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital and she used to care for those who were on their way back to the ‘real world’ and had trouble adjusting. They became my carers and my friends.”

Years later, this open-mindedness and sensitivity is clearly reflected in his art. May 20 heralded his first lil’ slice of magic: Nouveau Noir, a five-track EP with enough flicker to burn any heart. He’s been described as alternative R&B, but to me, this is poetry. Poetry transcends labels.

Damian unblinkingly dissects the darker corners of “the fucked up state of being human”. His voice is sexily stripped, lone, sad, and minimalist, aching echoes, curling knuckles. This music is perfect for tears already shed and ones still to come. If you’re in that awful spot (and we’ve all been there) where you’re convinced nobody could understand, listening to Damian Wilde may grant gentle commiseration.

There are these perfect moments when you hear nothing but hungry fingers limping across piano keys, with Damian’s voice swelling air pockets in the skull. By the time percussion is introduced, you’re already paralysed. Damian’s world is one of mistakes and cigarettes, slanted brims, tired eyes, lonely barmaids, crippling honesty.

Sit in the smoke.

THE AGE OF THE UNIVERSE

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Want some hard, ripping rock to channel through the cosmos? Adjust your antennae to The Age of the Universe. They’ve got enough psych, prog and alt rock to last you all the way home.

This isn’t my usual flavour for a fix, but you’ve gotta give credit where its due. Singularity is a haunting debut, and I’m sure it’ll stick on the right ears.

But why waste time when their press release says it all for me?: “Think members of Pink Floyd jamming with someone from Muse and Black Sabbath.”

Spot on.

CHER LLOYD RELEASES THE BEST POP TRACK OF HER CAREER #HUMAN

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

It’s been almost three years since Cher Lloyd released her rambunctious debut album and regardless of sales or chart positions, her brand new sophomore release, Sorry I’m Late, is no fall from grace. In fact, this is a more polished, mature Lloyd, and the album is a solid piece of popography from an artist whose talent is apparent and evolving.

This is an album you want to buy. The track Human alone is worth the money. It sits on top of the heap as one of the best pop tracks released in 2014 and certainly the best in Lloyd’s career. Yes, I said it.

A+

THE DEVINE XPERIENCE

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Electronica’s a funny thing. I always expect every act to sound the same, because really, how much can one do with remixes, samples, and synthesizers?

Turns out a lot. The Devine Xperience, recently signed to Keoki records, are birthing alternative realities with their time-defying, super-charging, futuristic melodies.

Anything with the “dubstep” tag used to be met with my immediate suspicion and scorn. Yet The Devine Xperience softens the hard-hitting bass lines typically associated with the genre by infusing a slough of musical movements, such as trance, acid, and electro. Plus, Vanessa’s voice keeps my ears rapt with attention.

Robert (who writes all the music) has this to say of the project:

“I try to take listeners on a journey into their innermost senses, almost as though I’m acting as a musical shaman.”

That goal is unequivocally reached! This album is right up there with chakra chants and Korean meditation music for hitting the sweet spot of a vision quest. Seriously: during Completely In A Trance, close your eyes right when Vanessa says so. Your lobes will fuzz!

Disorientation is made surprisingly soothing with this dimension-bending, pleasantly unique release.

ODD HOURS

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Internet, meet Odd Hours. I’m sure you’ll get along.

Natasha: vocals/keys. Tim: guitar. Clint: bass. Randy: drums. The details are more difficult to put in word-y terms. At first listen you may think “it’s just another rock act”, but the instruments lend a druggy distortion, adding an extra kick to the set.

Mostly it leaves you confused, which I think is what they want. They take creative cues anywhere from NIN to Siouxsie and the Banshees (Natasha does have a similar look…)

I’ll let the video do the talking.

LOVESICK SAINTS

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Lovesick Saints feel familiar. My first thought when I saw the name was, “Don’t I know them?”

Well, I do now!

They seem to sit amongst the “new” faces of punk, a radio-ready strain pioneered by acts such as Hot Water Music and The Gaslight Anthem. A softer edge, but a tighter set. Even their latest EP title speaks to popular appeal: Dia De Los Meurtos. (My Etsy feed is saturated in sugar skulls!)

Though they aren’t as raw as my preferred acts, they have just enough spice to make you sweat. They’re dry skin on the outskirts of Vegas, ice flushed through the eye. When I listen to them I see half-dead desert highways, signs bleeding neon on the stars.

All in all they stick to the expected, enough that you feel at home in the sound. With long-ish instrumental spaces, it’s easy to find lulls between the vocal-doubled, emotive choruses. Before you know it, you’ll be tapping your toe in your sleep.

Check out War Story, a surprisingly poignant tribute to lost soldiers.

MANGOSEED

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

I just got back from the UK, and I’m already missing it. I was missing it soon as the plane landed. Okay, before that.

It’ll be a while before I can afford another plane ticket. So what better way to “get back” than through my speakers?

When someone resonates with a particular culture, nation or location, their music feeds off the spirit in their blood. Then you can listen, and tap in to where you wanna be.

But enough yammering! Let’s steer the spotlight where it belongs: on Mangoseed, a Brixton-based band thriving in reggae, ska, and funky rock n’ roll. (I hardly saw any of Brixton when I was in London, but the lil’ bit I saw was wonderful. Sad and rough, but gorgeous.)

On paper, Mangoseed are a traditional four-piece suite: vocals, guitar, bass, drums. But they take so much from so many influences, stirring that into their own magical brew. Their lyrics are saturated with all the pain and brilliance of history. An area like Brixton is rife with human struggle and human triumph, dangers, dreams, delicacies. The uniqueness of Southern London combines with their Jamaican, Australian, Irish and Trinidadian roots. The reggae melts the rock; together they fizz with electricity. It’s an intelligent, bracing, spiritual current, and it hits hard!

I can’t believe Basquiat is their debut. How long were they stacking this talent?! Lioness is a shocking opener, Careful smooths the curves but “keeps it movin”, and on. And on. And on.

I love music that teaches me something about my limbs. Mangoseed makes me move in ways I wouldn’t expect. I’ll catch a glance of myself in the mirror and think, “WHAT are my legs DOING?” This album makes me twitch and flail like a giddy freak.

What more could I ask for?

POETICAT

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Hailing from London and Lisbon, Poeticat is an experimental band who has successfully created a genre all their own. With comparisons ranging from Tool to The Slits, Siouxsie, Pussy Riot, Super Furry Animals, Lightning Bolt, Kate Nash, Plan B, Future of the Left, Art Brut, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Scroobius Pip – Poeticat’s sound is weird, eclectic and one of a kind.

The group recently released their debut EP, Smash The Floor.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of their sound. It’s different. It’s interesting. And it’s new.

Listen to the EP below and decide for yourself.

POP TITILLATION: ROBYN + RÖYKSOPP

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Ring the alarm! On May 26th, Scandinavian pop heavyweights Robyn + Röyksopp will release a collaborative mini-album entitled Do It Again. And if the lead single (of the same name) is any indication of what to expect, we’re in for something spectacular. But again, not that surprising considering the fact that Robyn is known for crafting some of the most intelligent, infectious, thought-provoking pop of our time.

Robyn and the Norwegian pair will also titillate audiences this summer on the Do It Again tour. Yes, titillate.

Can’t wait!

Listen to the first release below. Hashtag I freakin’ love Robyn!

IGGY

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Young rapper of the moment, Iggy Azalea, is out with her full-length debut The New Classic. The 23-year-old may be Australian, but judging by her Southern drawl, new listeners might mistake her for a girl from the streets of Atlanta, an obvious influence of her sound built from a mixture of Southern hip hop and T.I., who is often credited for mentoring her to stardom.

And although the album is getting mixed reviews, through 15 pop-coated tracks, Iggy makes her mark in a male-dominated field.

Walk The Line, the sparked-up opener, is a personal favorite.

Take a listen below.

[Related Post: Epic Combo: Iggy Azalea Feat. T.I.]

ON HEAVY ROTATION: PLUMB – ‘DON’T DESERVE YOU’

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

You’re the first face that I see
And the last thing I think about
You’re the reason that I’m alive
You’re what I can’t live without
You’re what I can’t live without

You never give up
When I’m falling apart
Your arms are always open wide
And you’re quick to forgive
When I make a mistake
You love me in the blink of an eye

I don’t deserve your love
But you give it to me anyway
Can’t get enough
You’re everything I need
And when I walk away
You take off running and come right after me
It’s what you do
And I don’t deserve you

You’re the light inside my eyes
You give me a reason to keep trying
You give me more than I could dream
And you bring me to my knees
You bring me to my knees

Your heart is gold and how am I the one
That you’ve chosen to love
I still can’t believe that you’re right next to me
After all that I’ve done

I don’t deserve your love
But you give it to me anyway
Can’t get enough
You’re everything I need
And when I walk away
You take off running and come right after me
It’s what you do
And I don’t deserve you

I don’t deserve a chance like this
I don’t deserve a love that gives me everything
You’re everything I want

I don’t deserve your love
But you give it to me anyway
Can’t get enough
You’re everything I need
And when I walk away
You take off running and come right after me
It’s what you do
And I don’t deserve you
And I don’t deserve you

[Related Post: Plumbness]

NEW ADDICTION: TOVE LO #TRUTHSERUM

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Swedish singer-songwriter Tove Lo is a grenade waiting to explode.

Nearly a year after dropping the addictive Habits, Tove Lo is poised for a U.S. breakthrough following the recent release of her debut EP Truth Serum. The title couldn’t be more fitting as the EP explores the explicit aftermath of a breakup. What’s great about Tove Lo, besides her obvious taste in creating stellar pop music, is her ability to be completely raw and honest with lyrics that sting.

Truth Serum is straight-up pop gold.

Tove Lo is set to take the EP center stage, making her New York concert debut on April 24th at Neon Gold’s Popshop showcase, held at The Westway, a former strip club.

Be on the lookout for more Tove Lo later this year as she preps the release of her full-length debut for Island Def Jam.

Tove Lo overload below!



NEW KYLIE IS MANDATORY #KISSMEONCE

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Kylie Minogue is a goddess. This is not up for debate. Not only does she look better than most of her younger contemporaries, she has consistently delivered quality dance-pop since the late 80s. And on top of that, her taste level is unbeatable, delivering visual goods without pretense.

If you’re looking for a great new pop record, Kylie’s new album (Kiss Me Once) is mandatory.

Check out the video treatment for the lead single, Into The Blue, below.