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Friday Lock-in: La Roux – Trouble in Paradise

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It’s been a long, five-year wait since La Roux‘s glorious debut album. Some thought it would never come, others forgot that La Roux was Bulletproof. Well, she’s still wearing that vest but this time she’s headed for paradise but rather than enjoying cocktails and learning to hula-dance she’s sitting in the hotel room weeping. Enter this week’s lock-in. We may be in the midst of winter but La Roux’s ’70s funk and tropical-synths may just be enough to pull us out of our Winter slumber.

Uptight Downtown

Lizzie: Did anyone live in the UK see Boots chemist flash mobs?

Hannah: Yeah and they do the jazz runs? Like- slide, slide, slide. Yeah they had an add campaign like that

Bianca: I think this is classier than a flash mob to be honest

Hannah: What’s classier than a flash mob

Bianca: QR codes. *laughs* This song never fails to get me moving

Sam: It’s such a perfect homage to ‘70s funk as well as re-appropriating it with the synths

Bianca: I love beginning the album with this

Hannah: Yeah, it throws you right to where she wants you to be

Sam: There’s something sombre about it too. It’s upbeat and tropical but also really dark

Bianca:  I think that’s her voice, it’s always been a bit pleady

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Kiss And Not Tell

Hannah: Both of the songs so far are very familiar. She’s hamming to those…

Bianca: Tropical beats

Hannah: Really familiar chord progressions

Bianca: It does remind me of a gameboy game a bit

Hannah: I’m jumping up and grabbing coins

Sam: Part of me wondered if her production partner, Ben Langmaid, was the melodic genius of it all and when I saw the album was nine tracks I thought she’d really struggled with it. I thought it would sound bland but I’m not worried at all so far

Hannah: It’s a modern twist on more classic combinations that we’ve already heard. She slots right back in after five years

Bianca: Yeah she’s back and better

Sam: No one writes slightly left-of-centre pop better than La Roux can

Cruel Sexuality

Hannah: It sounds like too much is happening

Lizzie: Going back to familiarity. I felt like I wanted to join in without knowing what’s going to come next

Sam: I think this one is beautiful, one of the best so far. It’s so subtle. The melody builds and builds and then the harmonies come in at the end. Everything is so non-explicit about it

Bianca: I really like the bass-line. I love that kind-of speaking part but it’s not speaking

Sam: She does a great third verse, La Roux

Bianca: I love how each song has their different ‘moments’. I remember with Klaxons it was A B A B A B, with this it is A B C B A C D…

Sam: This is so so perky but she’s talking about this guy who’s pissing her offlaroux2

Paradise Is You

Hannah: Really slow version of crocodile rock

Lizzie: Once you said that I couldn’t get it out of my head

Sam: I love this one. It’s a nice little break coming up to the mid-point of the album

Bianca: She needed a break

Sam: She does slow well. I can understand how this floats over you after listening to the whole thing

Bianca: I love how the synths sound like strings. It’s kind of like an electronic orchestra

Sam: I’m really impressed by how she’s kept the whole tropical paradise vibe running ever so slightly in the background. It’s not St.Lucia full-on or like when the Triple J thing was to sound like you’re in the Bahamas

Hannah: She’s using it as a thread to feed her way through the ‘70s and then the ‘80s. That’s the commonality but it’s such a subtle one

Bianca: It’s such a smorgasbord this one. She doesn’t need steel drums to get noticed

Sam: She’s not using obvious things. It doesn’t sound like anything in pop music today probably because she’s been isolated for five years

Sexotheque

Lizzie: Love it, love it. It’s on the money money money

Everyone: *laughs*

Lizzie: My work here is done

Sam: There’s many things I love about it. Firstly, she’s this omniscient narrator, fly on the wall that watches the whole situation go down and then comes out with this cracker “money, money, money” hook

Hannah: It’s such a funny way to express angst in a relationship with a pina colada and maracas

Lizzie: So passive-agressive

Bianca: Like crazy-eyes “I’m gonna kill you”

Sam: That’s why I love that she narrates it all. Like she’s not in the situation, well she probably was, but she’s detached and she’s watching over and dancing. There’s this girl that’s miserable because her boyfriend’s being a dick to her but it’s so upbeat. It’s like how cartoons have a way of expressing really sad moments in a really poignant and satirical way

Bianca: Comedic relief

Hannah: This is a song version of a meme

Tropical Chancer

Lizzie: It’s interesting. You can associate it with that tropical feel but she hasn’t gone too far. It’s been taken-back and it’s subtle. I love it

Sam: I think she was just born with good taste because she just knows where the line is and she treads it so carefully on her debut, holding back from going full-on into pop territory and on this one again she’s held back from getting people with maracas

Bianca: My favourite is the way she pronounces “chancer”. I really like her accent there

Sam: There’s something about the line, “You have to believe that I’m a dreamer”

Hannah: If you got back to the title Trouble In Paradise, the whole album really gives you that vibe. Everything is sweet but there’s still that darkness underneath

Sam: We’ve talked lots with other albums about not listening to the lyrics but this is the first time we’ve been picking them up

Bianca: It’s a heartbroken person on a really beautiful pacific island. Like you want to enjoy the scenery, the water is amazing but it’s not as good as it could be because you’re heartbroken

Sam: It’s like you’ve been left at the altar but you still have to go on the honeymoon

Silent Partner

Lizzie: I don’t like this song at all

Hannah: I feel a little bit anxious

Sam: It’s definitely the outlier of the album but there is something I do like about it which is on the first album she was part of La Roux and this time she sound like the lead-woman. She’s more aggressive and she’s taken control

Lizzie: Nah, I’m just anxious

Bianca: It’s a really long song. I would’ve loved for there to be a big drum break-down

Hannah: For a seven-minute song you have to have something that hooks you

Sam: But she’s been very restrained with her anger the whole time maybe this is when she’s decided to let loose. I like it actually

Lizzie: The breakdown is quite cool

Hannah: Yeah but it’s not good enough for 7 minutes

Bianca: I can definitely see how it was needed on the album. Everything was a bit crazy-happy

Sam: I feel a change. On Tropical Chancer she’s was a little bit annoyed and now she’s pissed offlaroux3

Let Me Down Gently

Bianca: That pause is just so good

Lizzie: And then the breakdown…ahhhhh

Sam: The silence just lingers almost too long

Hannah: It’s another perfect demonstration of her knowing where the line is and then pulling back

Sam: She’s just a brilliant pop writer. The whole album she’s mixed sadness with happiness and this is just total sadness

Bianca: So much angst, that guitar with the breakdown…

Sam: That brass sounds like she’s devastated

Hannah: There’s still the ‘70s feel but she’s gone from tropical to a much more subdued sound

Sam: The storm’s gone and this is the calm

Lizzie: It makes me feel sorry for her. Awww…

The Feeling

Sam: I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said apart from her voice sounds flawless

Bianca: How is her voice so high but not grating

Hannah: Or breathy

Sam: And she jams so many words into a voice…

Hannah: Without losing coherence. Ah, we’ve started finishing each other’s sentences

Lizzie: Think about the story of the album. She’s gone from paradise to the anger and the sadness and now this is mellowed out. Like, “ok now I’ve gotta move on”

Sam: The whole album sounds like a nice narrative packaged together and again, she’s found a line where it’s like “nine songs, that’s enough”

Bianca: Yeah, it doesn’t sound forced. She is just so natural. Maybe because she’s had five years to mull it over

Sam: Can you imagine that?

Bianca: Well, she couldn’t even sing for part of that because she had anxiety attacks, she thought she had throat cancer. But it was purely from stress and anxiety. I guess this is her breaking free

Sam: There was a point last year when I thought we weren’t going to see another La Roux album but the fact she’s come back and this is so impressive is amazing

Hannah: I think what’s impressive is she sounded like she never left. It’s slipped back into where you want to be

Sam: As soon as I heard Let Me Down Gently I was confident about this record

Bianca: This album also doesn’t make me pine for the old album. When we listened to Klaxons I wanted to go back and listen to their old stuff so I could remember how good they used to be

Lizzie: Yeah this stands on its own

 

Best Song

Bianca: Sexotheque

Hannah: Sexotheque

Sam: Yeah, Sexotheque

Lizzie: That one’s the money, money one yeah? Yeah, I like that one

Sam: Sexotheque and Uptight Downtown

Bianca: And Let Me Down Gently

 

Overall Score

Lizzie: 8.5

Hannah: 7, I don’t think it tops Jungle and I gave Jungle an 8. Maybe 7.5

Bianca: I’m going to give it a 9

Sam: Yeah for me it flies past Jungle. 9

 

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Listen to new Jhené Aiko, ‘The Pressure’

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Jhené Aiko is quickly becoming the top lady in R&B. Her last track To Love and Die was exquisite and her collaborations with Drake and Childish Gambino have shown she can steal the attention from the boys. Apparently her record, Souled Out, has been delayed until much later in the year but she’s given us a peace offering in the form of The PressureThe Pressure is a mid-tempo RnB jam that sees Aiko lay her silky smooth vocals over top. In the words of Alicia Keys, this girl is on fire.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/jhene-aiko-1/the-pressure[/soundcloud]

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Jeremih and Shlohmo Release EP ‘No More’

Having given us Bo Peep (Do You Right), when the duo collaborated for a Yours Truly Song From Scratch,” last year, which conversely went on to be one of the best alternative R&B tracks of 2013, a year later, LA producer Shlohmo and Chicago local Jeremih are back and have finally released their highly anticipated, well-teased, collaborative EP just in time for the weekend. The 6 track EP, No More, is fully downloadable at nomorenomorenomore.us in exchange for a humble email, while the title track No More, can be streamed below. Listen out for a guest appearance by Chicago local, Chance The Rapper, on the final track.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/shlohmo/shlohmo-jeremih-no-more[/soundcloud]

 

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Chiraq or Chi-Town? Choose Your Own Chicago

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A strangely anchoring dichotomy lies at the heart of Chicago’s hip-hop music scene, from which the most segregated and violent city in the United States pivots, bends, twists and turns itself around, looping together a rich tapestry of talent and cultural diversity.

One need only blink in the direction of the vastly differing career trajectories of Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco, two of the city’s hip-hop alumni, in order to realise this is a scene, filled with rules, codes and boundaries, yet undeniably open to contradiction and false word. Say what? On the one side stands self-proclaimed Messiah, Kanye, having irrevocably changed the face of hip-hop and R&B all the while *insert any one his “oh he just being Kanye,” antics here.* While on the other stands a comparatively humble Lupe Fiasco, conscious hip-hop advocate who takes advantage his position as a lyricist in the limelight to excoriate corporate America for its gas-guzzling tastes and establish youth empowerment initiatives.

Even the city’s latest YouTube-sensation-come-dance craze, “Bopping,” embodies the city’s unwillingness to present a unified whole other than in its collective and total abandonment of that very notion. Made famous by Lil Kemo’s appearance in Drill artist, King Louie’s video for My Niggaz, bopping, with its frenetic footwork on the bottom and loose freestyle of elbows and shoulder shrugs on top is, as Meagan Garvey notes, business on the bottom and party on top. 

In light of Vic Mensa’s new track, Feel That, come with us as we look at four of the cities male hip-hop artists, taking over from the Kanye’s and the Lupe’s and forging a path of their own. 

Young Chop 

19 year old producer Young Chop, is an embodiment of the unlikely collisions that happen in the windy city. Credited with essentially creating the city’s prominent, hyper-masculine and violent Drill scene from a desktop computer in his mother’s home, a gang-affiliation free, straight-edged and clean-record Young Chop can be seen being driven around the south of Chicago by his mum in the Beemer he paid for, and, despite having ventured to Paris to collaborate with Kanye West on the latest Pusha T album, had never been to The Chicago Bean before Vice forced him up town on a webisode of Chiraq. A true demonstration of just how racially and socio-economically segregated Chicago can be. Now signed to Warner Records, Young Chop is one of the most sought after hip-hop producers in the western world, and has been an integral cog in the sky rocketing career of Bieber from the wrong side of the tracks, Chief Keef. Producing songs for the 3 Hunna member like I Don’t Like, Love Sosa, and of course, 3 Hunna. Young Chop has gone on to collaborate with Big Sean, Soulja Boy, Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa and Travi$ Scott.

Chief Keef 

This kid. If you know anything about the Drill music currently pouring out of Chicago, it’s likely that you’re also acquainted, almost to the point of exhaustion, with Gucci-flashing, dread lock-sucking, belt-enthusiast, Chief Keef. At a mere 17 years old, Keef is the face, inspiration and indeed pin-cushion of the entire movement. Having hit Young Chop up on Facebook, while on house arrest in his grandmother’s living room the two collaborated on his 2012’s album Finally Rich. A boy of few words, Keef is also the semi-absent star of Vice’s 8-part web series Chiraq and gained even more exposure when Pitchfork took him to shooting range for their interview, whereby violating the conditions of his parole. Keef represents a reality of Chicago often neglected by the media, and outsiders. A reality of projects and extreme poverty, in which guns are prevalent, death is old news and gang-affiliations everything. It’s a world in which reality and social-media seamless collide; Twitter is one’s jury and cases are fought on the streets, often resulting in real loss and heartache. Now signed with Interscope Records, Keef has performed and produced with the likes of Drake, Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa, 50 Cent and fellow drill artists Lil Durk, King Louie and Lil Reese.

Chance The Rapper 

Unlike the “brawl out,” gun-toting, motherF*&King spits of Chief Keef and his Drill affiliations, so intimately entwined in the city’s gang wars and gun violence, 20 year old classicist, Chancelor Bennett, aka, Chance the Rapper, offers us a different perspective on the same place called home, reminding us instead of Chicago’s soulful history with his rich textures and smooth rap throwbacks. Since his first mixtape 10 Day, partially recorded while on a 10 day suspension from high school, Chance’s second mixtape Acid Rap, filled with acid jazz sounds, and equal parts Eminem / Kanye references, has graced multiple “Best” lists, including Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and Complex Magazine’s. He has collaborated with the likes of future R&B stars, SZA and Tinashe, Childish Gambino, Joey Badass and fellow savemoney crew member Vic Mensa.

Vic Mensa

Off the back of the colossal popularity of his first solo mixtape Innantape that debuted earlier this year, Chicago local, and savemoney member, Vic Mensa has been touring with the likes of Disclosure and Danny Brown. Since turning his back on band Kids These Days and a shiny label deal, Mensa’s solo career has gone from strength to strength but it’s unlikely the bourgeoning superstar will be satisfied until he’s “earning more money than his dad.” Recently, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League producer, Cottontale, told The Fader “Mensa’s the rare talent who can write, produce and sing with equal flair. I don’t think he’s just a writer and rapper. He’s definitely a producer in his own right. He has a lot of potential.” Telling of the camaraderie that exists at the centre of Chicago’s hip-hop scene, Drill or otherwise, Mensa also appeared on an episode of Vice’s Chiraq, attempting to gather enough money to post bail for fellow savemoney crew member, the aptly titled, Joey Purp. That’s love.

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Courtney Barnett likes to eat ‘Pickles From The Jar’

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Courney Barnett‘s recent stint to the US seems to have influenced her penchant for pickles, made evident through her latest Pickles From The Jar. Listen to her always-quirky, candid turn of phrase in her new track below:

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/milk-records-2/pickles-from-the-jar-courtney[/soundcloud]

Barnett’s debut album is due for release in 2015.

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Ryan Hemsworth remixes Sinead Harnett’s ‘No Other Way’

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Ryan Hemsworth serves up the perfect balance of soul and well-crafted production in his most recent rework of London songwriter, Sinead Harnett’s ‘No Other Way’. The layered synths up the tempo from the original chilled track, to produce a dancey, yet thoughtful augmentation of the original.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/sineadharnettmusic/no-other-way-ryan-hemsworth-remix[/soundcloud]

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Throwaway Thursday 17 July

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This will probably mean nothing to you all because you’re all cashed up on tax returns and dropping a bucket of cash on iTunes, but if that’s true you’re most likely downloading the new Madden Brothers‘ song. So, in the interest of improving your iTunes library, here are some great tunes that happen to be free.

This week we’ve got a bunch of stuff that errs on the dancey side and are  available to download for free. A-Trak has remixed Foster The People’s Best Friend which will ready you for their mighty Splendour in the Grass set next week. Throttle have also done a disco-inspired remix of Sam Smith’s mammoth hit Stay With Me while GANZ has flipped Alison Wonderland’s pumping track, I Want U. Rome Fortune’s second collaboration with Four Tet, Lights Low, is also worth a listen and download.

You’ll want to clear a space around you for this one, pop some headphones on and get ready to dance. The best part is free also means freedom. Download these tunes and listen to them without a Wi-Fi connection, just like the old days (circa 2005).

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/the-in-terns/sets/throwaway-thursdays-17-july[/soundcloud]

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Vic Mensa unleashes the drug-fuelled ‘Feel That’

Vic Mensa‘s Down On My Luck has quickly become an interns favourite this year, this we are suitably excited about this lated release. The latest track is called Feel That and it’s another drug-induced, party tune that comes with a video that emulates that. There’s girls, clubs, amazing LA homes and a shooting style that descends into hazy visuals. Chance The Rapper even appears at one point. It like a poignant feature given those two are the biggest new names in rap right now.

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Montaigne on Michel de Montaigne, dragonflies and being a t-shirt and shorts kinda gal

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You only have to look at the top of the Singles and Album Charts in the US to know Australian females are killing it at the moment. Sia’s sixth album, 1000 Forms of Fear is the number one album while Iggy Azalea is holding the number one single in the country for the eighth week in a row. 18 year-old singer/songwriter Montaigne may be slightly more like the former than the latter, but she is nonetheless further proof of the healthy state of the Australian music scene.

Sydneysider Jessica Cerro has only just released her second single, I Am Not An End, and already she’s been added to high rotation on Triple J and become a buzzworthy name on websites around the country even before the release of her debut EP, Life of Montaigne.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/montaigne-music/i-am-not-an-end[/soundcloud]

Born from a diet of Owen Pallett, Arcade Fire, clouds and theatrics, Montaigne is crafting self-assured, pop-music with a grandiose far beyond her years. Speaking to the interns, Montaigne described her music as “Regina Spektor with the epicness of Coldplay”. The Coldplay reference comes from her first live encounter with the band whilst here on their Mylo Xyloto tour- a show she describes as “the best night of my life”.

She goes onto further cite her references as influences from Bjork to The National to Florence Welch and Marina and the Diamonds. This perhaps explains why her music sounds so epic for an 18 year-old singer who, two years ago, wasn’t sure if she wanted to be a musician.

In 2012, Cerro was a finalist on Triple J’s Unearthed High. While she didn’t win, she calls it a “blessing in disguise”. “I didn’t even know if I wanted to be a musician full time”, she said, continuing, “but now I am sure that’s exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

She’s used the two years since to finish her studies, define her sound and find an image. “Everybody kept asking what my image was going to be and I wasn’t sure. I’m a t-shirt and shorts kinda girl”, she says. Since then she’s cut her hair off and found an image revolving around her “obsession of clouds”.

Both singles off Life of Montaigne, I’m A Fantastic Wreck and I Am Not An End have been picked up by Triple J. “It’s awesome Triple J and blogs are picking it up, it seems to be happening so quickly”, she says. Until recently Montaigne was managed by her Mum. She explains, “I’ve only just got a manager which is great because now I can go back to having a normal relationship with my Mum”.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/montaigne-music/im-a-fantastic-wreck[/soundcloud]

Cerro sounds genuinely giddy about her success and confident in talking about her influences both sonic and sociological. She says, “I’m more influenced by concepts than sounds”. In particular, she is most influenced by French Renaissance writer, Michel De Montaigne, who was known for his depictions of the human-race. His most famous phrase, “Que sçay-je?” meaning literally ‘What Know I?’ comes across in Cerro’s songs as she takes on a very personal self-exploration, particularly on the self-deprecating yet triumphant, I’m A Fantastic Wreck.

However, Montaigne says that Michel De Montaigne’s theories are not the topic of her songs, rather just a notion. “He’s not a direct lyrical influence”, she says, “I just kinda want him to be attached to my music, so people think of my music kinda like that”.

The EP, which is due out this year, is described by Cerro as “a mix of everything…a mix of the two styles of the singes”. She “just hopes everybody likes it”.

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1. What is the best end to a movie?

“That’s hard. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the Kings… It’s really cute.”

2. If you had to re-record an entire album, what would it be?

“ Bjork- Post. I just love that record.”

3. Describe your music with one animal?

“Dragonfly.”

4. Do you believe Shakespeare wrote his own plays?

“Yeah, I reckon he did.”

5. Your favourite trend from your childhood?

“Definitely tamagotchi.”

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Kwamie Liv is ‘comin THRU’

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What happens when you cross M.I.A with a little bit of Lana Del Rey and Robyn? You get Kwamie Liv– a Danish artist who is an amalgamation of the best qualities of all three. Already she’s impressed with 5am and Follow You but comin THRU is by far her most immediately likeable taste. Sweet, solemn verses are juxtaposed with a chorus that has the effortless flow of M.I.A’s Paper Planes without the need for ridiculous hand actions. There was a certain lo-fi quality to her last track, Follow You, but comin THRU is having none of that. It’s a crisp, slice of perfection that is difficult to box into one genre.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/kwamieliv/comin-thru-1[/soundcloud]

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GEoRGiA follows-up ‘Be Ache’ with ‘Digits’

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We featured GEoRGiA‘s first track, Be Ache, on the interns back in June and have waited for a follow-up to the l0-fi wonder ever since. Today, as if by magic, another one has appeared titled, Digits. Where Be Ache was a manic collision of sounds, Digits is a far more demure, streamlined affair. The beat still packs a punch but you really get to hear GEoRGiA’s sweet and sour vocals here alongside a mellow synth-line. It’s a definite nod to RnB but there is also an industrial rawness to it not unlike Kanye West‘s Yeezus. Digits has a progressed feel for melody than Be Ache and is likely to work it’s way into the playlists of more listeners. One of 2014’s names to watch.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/georgia_hb/digits[/soundcloud]

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Listen to Perfume Genius’ bold, ‘Queen’

Perfume Genius Announces New Album Too Bright, Shares One more comeback for the day, I promise. You may remember Seattle-based artist, Perfume Genius‘ 2012 record Put Your Back N It. It was a haunting and melancholic yet underrated record that still sounds relevant today. If that record didn’t put him in some people’s psyche, his bold new single, Queen, is bound to. Queen is taken from his forthcoming album, Too Bright, which will be released on 23 September. It’s production is far denser than anything he’s done before with haunting whistles, brave percussion and a vocal that sees Mike Hadreas (aka. Perfume Genius) take charge like never before.

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