Sunday, April 24, 2016

SHREM'S SPECIAL: THE RETURN OF THE BIG BALLAD [Juliette Armanet + M83 feat. Susanne Sundfør + Kadhja Bonet]

Very unlike the sounds you normally find on my carousel of tunes, I'd like to dedicate this special one-off post to the good old-fashioned ballads. All three tracks I have selected for you are actually new but they're all paying exquisite homages to the golden eras of 1970's and 80's song-writing and balladry. Epic, big, irresistibly melodic and charmingly kitschy these 3 gems will take you on a bizarrely sentimental journey.

I have first come across Juliette Armanet on "Colette French Kiss" - jewel of a compilation, filled with up and coming French talents. Armanet's delicious slice of electro pop "L'amour en Solitaire", produced by the mighty Yuksek, was an instant favourite. Now the Parisian Pop mermaid returns, beguiling us with her angelic voice even more, with a Chanson Française à la vintage "Manque d'amour" which announces the release of her brand new EP "Cavalier Seule". This classic French Pop composition with subtle yet sumptuous production left me astounded. Françoise Hardy meets Air.

M83's latest album "Junk" seems to have divided not only their fanbase but the whole blogosphere. I have been completely enchanted by its concept and spectacular guest appearances. While "Time Wind" featuring Beck may be the catchiest moment on the entire album it's the magnificent collaboration with Norway's prime synth-pop diva Susanne Sundfør that stole the show for me. Accompanied by Sundfør's flawless vocal performance, the saxophone laden, wondrously camp "For The Kids" really does reminisce some obscure 80's lost classics. Irresistibly nostalgic and intentionally tacky.

"Remember The Rain" is a marvellous, richly arranged ballad from Los Angeles jazz vocalist Kadhja Bonet. The self-released single brought back some 70's vibes, intricate and generous string arrangements, timeless key changes and sophisticated melody hooks, delicately echoing Barbra Streisand's "Woman In Love". Heavenly.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


If I were to name the times Róisín Murphy went creatively off the beaten track, experimented with blending genres, styles and moods to create her very own wicked sonic fusions, or surprised audiences by releasing new music in complete opposition to what's expected of her, I would have to list most of her impressive repertoire to date. Expect the unexpected was always wise advice for all the Murphy devotees through the past 2 decades of her artistic activity. That's precisely how, aside from her natural charisma, the Irish chanteuse has remained a cult figure to this day.

Following a monumental Hairless Toys themed year, La Murphy is ready to drop her 4th solo (8th if we count Moloko's 4 records) studio album called "Take Her Up To Monto!" paying particular hommage to her home country, Ireland, with its title. "Mastermind" - the first teaser from the new material, unveiled yesterday on Pitchfork, is a further exploration of her avant-garde nature. This epic electro symphony begins with some subtle Moroderesque motives, reminiscent of his disco escapades, and fades away with a full on, uncompromising techno wall of sound, quasi-tribal beats and indigenous chants. Yet the track could not belong to anyone else. "Mastermind" electrifies with some classic Róisín Murphy vocal moments, ever-changing melody twists and mind-altering production from the wizard of all sounds bizarre and eclectic Mr Eddie Stevens himself.

It's rather challenging to write about someone I have already blogged about 110 times, someone whose career I have passionately followed for the past 20 years, without sounding biased. "Mastermind", however, promises another extravagant aural excursion from one of the planet's most unique artists. Never predictable, always reliable. Like Bowie or Grace Jones, Róisín Murphy continuously pushes the boundaries of POP music, redefines, revamps and restructures genres and successfully escapes banality, sadly so omnipresent on the current POP scene. Revolutionary. Completely unparalleled. Naturally eccentric.

You can download the unputdownable "Mastermind" immediately once you pre-order your copy of #THUTM on either CD, Vinyl or digitally on iTunes. The album is out on 8th July 2016 via Play It Again Sam.

Monday, April 18, 2016


Brooklyn record label Color Station continues to spoil us with exquisite releases. Following Akiine's enchanting "Neptune" EP they are offering "Young Blood" - a brand new, mesmerising single from Manchester's synth-pop superduo, Gymnast. The syncopated, dreamy soundscapes of "Young Blood" are the first listen from the band's forthcoming untitled EP, "a collection of songs shaped by the concept of liminality, the transition from one state of affairs to another — where no one is in control" as we read in the official press release. The richly produced layers of atmospheric synths, the subtle beats, the surprising mood and melody twists make the track an intriguing journey. I am curious to see what the artistic future may hold for this talented pair and I predict another stellar, non-cliché collection of ambitious Pop released under Color Station's vibrant umbrella of sounds.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


My fellow music blogger Pyrotek from No Snobs Allowed introduced me to this rare gem. Think early Jimi Tenor, psychedelic POP, Sébastien Tellier with a solid portion of Krautrock influences, some disco friendly riffs and a healthy dose of sonic insanity. Sung in German. Made in Switzerland. Sounds intriguing enough already? Just press play and get enchanted by Klaus Johann Grobe's "Geschichten aus erster Hand". One of the most original tracks I was lucky to discover so far in 2016. Excellent!

Friday, April 15, 2016


Ramona Gonzalez aka Nite Jewel was never short of musical surprises. From her early unconventional experiments with electronica, through the fruitful collaboration with the Modern Funk wizard DâM-FunK to the magnificent "One Second of Love" and her other synth-pop excursions, she was never banal or predictable. Now the lo-fi artist from Los Angeles returns with a real jewel of a song. No other track this year, apart from Jessy Lanza’s inescapable "ItMeans I Love You", impressed me so much. "Boo Hoo" is an intricately crafted sonic mish-mash of electro pop, future R&B and nu disco à la Glass Candy. The flawless production goes hand in hand with a very solid songwriting here. "Boo Hoo" announces the release of Nite Jewel’s 3rd studio album "Liquid Cool" which drops 10th June via her own label Gloriette. See the full tracklist below (via Pitchfork):

01 Nothing but Scenery
02 Was That a Sign
03 You Now
04 Kiss the Screen
05 Over the Weekend
06 Boo Hoo
07 I Mean It
08 Running Out Of Time
09 All My Life

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

SHREM'S DOUBLE TROUBLE: "DIVE" - Blondage /// "LIPSLAP" - Kero Kero Bonito (ケロケロボニト)

I'd like to share two irresistible synth-pop gems with you today.

First up newly rebranded Blondage previously known as Rangleklods (remember the infectious "Lost U" which conquered our 2015 year end chart in December?) with their new single - the joyfully upbeat, dancefloor-friendly "Dive" which immediately heralds the summer with its first notes. Pernille and Esben describe the track in their own words:

"Dive is the pop banger we’ve been wanting to make for a long time. It’s about being broke but happy. And suffering the consequences of not wanting to miss out on anything in life."

There's more to come from the Danish duo this year, watch this space!

The second track comes from the neon candy flavoured London trio Kero Kero Bonito (ケロケロボニト). Their sound is a vibrant mixture of tongue-n-cheek electro pop, J-Pop, PC Music and house. "Lipslap" may be their most memorable effort since "Sick Beat". Youthful, catchy and fun!

Monday, April 11, 2016

SHREM'S LIST OBSESSION: Top 200 Best Tracks of the 1980's part 10 [20-1]

20 "Sign 'O' the Times" - Prince (1987)

19 "Get a Life" - Soul II Soul (1989)

18 "Nasty" - Janet Jackson (1986)

17 "You're The One For Me" - D'Train (1981)

16 "Love Will Save The Day" - Whitney Houston (1988)

15 "Im Nin Alu" - Ofra Haza (1987)

14 "Ain't Nobody Better" - Inner City (1989)

13 "Love Is A Stranger" - Eurythmics (1982)

12 "Physical Attraction" - Madonna (1983)

11 "U Got The Look" - Prince & Sheena Easton (1987)

10 "West End Girls" - Pet Shop Boys (1985)

9 "Real Love" - Jody Watley (1989)

8 "Keep On Movin'" - Soul II Soul feat. Caron Wheeler (1989)

7 "Big Fun" - Inner City (1988)

6 "Angel" - Madonna (1985)

5 "Beethoven (I Love To Listen To)" - Eurythmics (1987)

4 "Rhythm Nation" - Janet Jackson (1989)

3 "Peek-A-Boo" - Siouxsie & The Banshees (1988)

2 "Into The Groove" - Madonna (1985)

1 "Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)" - Soul II Soul feat. Caron Wheeler (1989)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

SHREM'S LIST OBSESSION: Top 200 Best Tracks of the 1980's part 9 [40-21]

40 "Father Figure" - George Michael (1987)

39 "Wordy Rappinghood" - Tom Tom Club (1981)

38 "Rockin' Back Inside My Heart" - Julee Cruise (1989)

37 "Here Comes The Rain Again" - Eurythmics (1983)

36 "Carolyn's Fingers" - Cocteau Twins (1988)

35 "Manchild" - Neneh Cherry (1989)

34 "Saturday Love" - Cherrelle & Alexander O'Neal (1985)

33 "Express Yourself" - Madonna (1989)

32 "Let's Dance" - David Bowie (1983)

31 "Girlfriend" - Pebbles (1987)

30 "Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend)" - Mel & Kim (1986)

29 "Birthday" - The Sugarcubes (1987)

28 "Controversy" - Prince (1981)

27 "Everything She Wants" - Wham (1984)

26 "Love Sensation" - Loleatta Holloway (1980)

25 "Let's Wait Awhile" - Janet Jackson (1987)

24 "Do Ya Wanna Funk" - Sylvester & Patrick Cowley (1982)

23 "Causing A Commotion" - Madonna (1987)

22 "Come Into My Life" - Joyce Sims (1987)

21 "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" - Eurythmics (1982)