Roundup: November, #1
Image: Because Music
From subversive hyperpop to an unexpected take from one of Africa’s rising talents, we roundup our favourite releases of the week. In no particular order:
SHYGIRL – Cleo
For her latest single, British rapper and DJ SHYGIRL finds herself transfixed by the glamour of Old Hollywood and the fantasy of 90’s ballroom runways on the Jakwob & Sega Bodega produced track. Using the latter’s propulsive deep house strut, she crafts an image of herself as a silver screen Cleopatra backed by swirling, operatic strings and an Oscar worthy earworm hook. The track’s extended string intro is appropriately dramatic and by the time the bass drops, SHYGIRL’s pretty much snatched all the trophies. Accompanied by a beguiling music video featuring SHYGIRL watching scenes of herself being fabulous on a big screen, Cleo is the perfect anthem to get you feeling your oats before the club. Download it here.
Jessy Lanza ft. Lorraine James – Seven 55
Canadian producer and singer-songwriter Jessy Lanza was recently announced as the next contributing artist to !K7’s ongoing DJ-Kicks compilation series, following the previous one from Disclosure. To announce the news Lanza shared Seven 55, a joint effort with London producer Lorraine James that fuses the artists’ signatures together with Lanza’s crystalline vocals paired against James’s glitchy, elliptical rhythms and sliding sub-bass modulations. Full of yearning and a strange, dreamlike quality due in part to chiming, electronic steel drum keys, Seven 55 was written by Lanza “about a close friend and his inability to commit. I fantasized about the women caught in his web and wrote ‘Seven 55’ from their point of view.” Pre-order Jessy Lanza DJ-Kicks here.
Charli XCX, Caroline Polachek, Christine & The Queens – New Shapes
With the release of Good Ones earlier this year, it was pretty clear that Charli XCX was aiming for pop dominance with her recently announced new album, Crash (out in March). While we could watch XCX dance on her lover’s grave all night, we were left to wonder if Crash would ultimately sacrifice her alternative pop instincts for more radio service. New Shapes sort of answers this question, and sees XCX team up with friends and fellow alt-pop stars Caroline Polachek and Christine & The Queens. Similar to Gone, XCX’s previous collaboration with Christine, New Shapes has a retro synthpop feel to it, with lo-fi drum fills and vintage keyboard synths. It’s markedly more poppier though, in the vein of The 1975. Polachek’s verse is unsurprisingly divine, and as a whole New Shapes is an intriguing further look into what is shaping up to be XCX’s most sonically diverse work to date. Pre-order Crash here.
Rose Bonica – I Have No Words Left
Cape Town producer Rose Bonica’s music has pretty much always been entirely its own beast. Her experimental techno formulations are unmatched in terms of style, with her distinctive production aesthetic becoming unmistakable and seeing Bonica achieve recognition beyond Africa’s shores. I Have No Words Left is one such case in point, released through the UK’s Take Away Jazz Records. Considering this, the actual sound of I Have No Words Left may come as a surprise. Opening with Bonica’s signature rubberised synths bouncing like metallic ping-pong balls, I Have No Words quickly unfolds into a propulsive and dancefloor ready tech track with an ominous looping chord riff and some of the most haunting vocals we’ve ever heard from her. At first glance it feels more straightforward than her usual abstractions, but once the layers of I Have No Words Left begin to reveal themselves it becomes clear that what we are actually witnessing is an evolution. Download it here.
Dorian Electra – My Agenda
At once subversive and entirely insane, it’s impossible not to be captivated by Dorian Electra. The (genius) court jester of hyperpop, Electra has crafted an image and aesthetic for themselves and their artistry that functions on a certain frequency of humour and grotesqueness but subverts heteronormative culture at every turn. While everything about Electra is ridiculously OTT, it’s this juxtaposition of queer imagery with bro-ish, jocky humour that really keeps us fascinated. My Agenda is the perfect example; a track about spreading ‘The Gay Agenda’ that courses through genres with traditionally straight audience such as trap, nu-metal and dubstep is pretty much designed to ignite the gay panic of conservatives around the world. The music video uses this same juxtaposition, telling the story of Electra as an agent spreading the Gay Agenda via the water supply by mashing together tropes from video games, extreme sports and queer iconogrpahy. A guest appearance and screamo verse from Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova as she hijacks a rainbow airplane full of furries is the least strange part. That would be the gigantic frog monster with rainbow laser eyes born from Electra dropping a nuke labelled “Pride Through Strength” unto the world, achieving ultimate gay domination. Sort of like this video. Download and stream My Agenda (Deluxe) here.