Jonathan Hatchman (@JonHatchman) picks out the sounds and stories that have been making headlines over the last seven days... and presents them all as a handy playlist
Just nine days in and 2015 is already shaping up to be an exciting time for new music. Since the turn of the year, we’ve heard a handful of surprising returns as well as some great tracks from newer artists, but on the whole, it’s been filled with musical surprises. Perhaps the biggest music news story, thus far, has surrounded the unlikely collaboration between two musical icons in their own right – Paul McCartney and Kanye West. The pair and very different innovative musicians, of course, but their song Only One, which is set to appear on Yeezy’s forthcoming album, does somehow work. This time around, West has dropped his rapping vocal technique for a new flavour, slightly similar to what would be expected from his 808s & Heartbreaks LP, released a few years back. Only One features Kanye’s voice drenched in auto-tune as he conceptually sings from the perspective of his late Mother, while McCartney provides the striking piano that plays throughout the minimalist recording. The song is available to download from iTunes and is streaming exclusively on Kanyewest.com.
In other news of unexpected offerings, Pharrell Williams’ band N.E.R.D. have returned with the first of three songs recorded for the new SpongeBob SquarePants Movie Soundtrack. Probably following the success of Williams’ Despicable Me 2 soundtrack single Happy, having become one of the biggest pop hits of the past year, Squeeze Me comprises two and a half minutes of unsolicited fun, it’s not exactly Rock Star (Poser) or She Wants To Move, but what else would you expect for a song catered for an audience of school children? The outfit’s further two recordings are set to appear online any day now, but for now, here’s Squeeze Me.
Also returning this year are Cat’s Eyes. Formed as a collaboration between The Horrors frontman Faris Badwan and Canadian soprano singer Rachel Zeffira, the duo’s debut album released way back in 2011 was a beautiful breath of fresh air on to the alternative scene, and now they’ve made their unexpected return, also having scored a soundtrack for a film. However, in true indie style, rather than compiling tracks for one of the widest reaching cartoons of the 21st Century, they’ve kept things slightly underground with an album that’s set to accompany Peter Strickland’s The Duke Of Burgundy, which is set to hit cinemas in February. Just take one listen to the album’s celestially serene title-track to find remind yourself of why the country fell in love with the duo upon their first time around.
The beginning of a new year also brings the looming festival season into the not-too-distant foreground. The initial line-up waves for a handful of UK events have already been announced, one of the US' leading music festivals – Coachella - set to take place across the pond in California, for two weekends in April, has announced its 2015 lineup. Set to feature headliners AC/DC, Jack White, and Drake, as well as sets from the likes of Tame Impala, Florence & The Machine, and many more. Here’s a reminder of the first headliners’ live performance.
Pick Of The Week
One of the most promising young Hip-Hop talents in the world at the moment, Joey Bada$$ is set to release his awaited debut album B4.DA.$$ later this month, and his latest offering Teach Me, featuring a chorus hook from Kiesza, is set to showcase his 90s inspired sound to a whole new audience. Featuring a pop edge to the track that’s offered by Kiesza’s vocal as well as the fast tempo that provides a strong contrast to what we’ve come to expect from the 19 year-old Brooklynite across the past few years. And with the release of this new single, as well as his debut album, Bada$$ rise to the top seems inevitable.