RUEL – Dazed & Confused
Allude to Led Zep at thy peril – but the fifteen year old Aussie has nothing to worry about. This track places his malleable, gravely voice front and centre, with distorted bass and riffs juddering under analogue fuzz. Grizzled R&B.
J. Cole – ATM
Is there any doubt now that hip-hop is the place where boundaries are being pushed? It’s easy to disregard a rap song about cash – there’s too many cliches weighing against it. ‘ATM’ is a subversion of the trope, though it’s presented with such confidence it sounds like a brag all its own. “Can’t take it when you die” is a perfect soundbite. The presentation, as post To Pimp a Butterfly rap often is, comes as loungey keys. One of the best of the year.
Miguel – Come Through and Chill ft. J. Cole, Salaam Remi
After all these years no one does chill quite like Miguel. Smart-mouthed, subversive, expansive. It may be sex music, but that’s not all it is. There’s a depth to the composition, an exercise in circular loops that somehow grow with each rotation. Pure exotica.
Kyle Falconer – Poor Me
Frontmen don’t come any more open or loveable than Kyle Falconer. Interviewed him years ago for another site. His battles with alcohol are long standing. ‘Poor Me’ is candid, eschewing navel-gazing for an entertaining and closely-written personal. As off-shoots go this has the strings and sense of fun in common with Last Shadow Puppets’ ‘The Age of the Understatement’.
HRVY, Malu Trevejo – Hasta Luego
I shouldn’t like this, really, but here we are. Beat is tight and the bars en espanol feel genuine. HRVY may be 80% fade and hairspray, but his voice fits this material well. Curmudgeons be damned – this isn’t half bad.