Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Give Pop A Chance's Best Of July Round-Up: INCLUDING 15-TRACK MIX!


Azealia Banks finally dropped her mixtape Fantasea this month, to a gleeful response from this blogger. A mix of bass-heavy hip hop, underground dance and house, working with a plethora of brilliant underground producers, highlights including the camp, high fashion house anthem "Fierce" (0:00 in the mix), and brilliantly explicit moombahton flirtation "Esta Noche" (42:41), penned by Munchi.

Bat For Lashes also finally released a new single, a simple piano and voice lament, the heartbreaking "Laura" (28:42).

If you've not heard Grimes latest work with producers Blood Diamonds, the track "Phone Sex" is as balearic and blissful as it is dark and disturbing, sweetened considerably by some pretty steel drums and poppy beat. Whilst you're checking this out, the Unicorn Kid remix (45:52) is also worth a listen or 10; the kid only goes from strength to strength, his production values having never sounded more chart friendly, whilst never losing the 90s rave vibe that gives everything he touches such a joyously euphoric sound.

Anyone missing their indiepop need look no further than The Crookes, whose debut record Hold Fast is pumped with youthful energy and earworm hooks. Particularly exciting is single "Maybe in the Dark" (26:14), oozing the same desperate teenage woes of their equally likeable peers The Heartbreaks.

After opening many a recent set with the track, Crystal Castles (10:46) finally shared a studio version of the dark, difficult and foreboding "Plague", sounding like a rave caught in a tornado, with Alice Glass crying "I am the plague!" with trademark alarming gusto in the chorus.

Etta Bond's free EP Emergency Room, produced at the dirty dubstep hands of 22 year old London producer Raf Riley, made early preview "Ask Me To Stay", seem like the weak pleas of an innocent girl in comparison to aggressive anthems about vomiting, fake tan and kissing on the tube. "Boring Bitches" (3:06) is a clear standout, with Etta's enraged party girl rant at said bitches and a drop to make you bleed from the eyes.

Pnau getting access to some of Elton John's back catalogue was a bizarre project, but a successful, lush sounding one, with Pnau merging slick 70s disco sounds with a gorgeous 80s warmpad sheen, particularly on the heartbreakingly beautiful tragic disco anthem "Sad" (23:00).

My favourite remix of the month has got to go to the Krystal Klear mix of the latest Marina & The Diamonds single "Power & Control" (32:58). The Manc producer takes the initially plodding track and turns it into a 1992 house banger, complete with token bubbling organ basslines and bright piano hits.

Passion Pit returned to their early bubblegum hyperpop tendencies of early tracks like "Smile Upon Me" for a brief moment on their sophomore effort Gossamer, for the cut and paste joy of "I'll Be Alright" (18:39), which stands out like a blinding ray of sunshine on a generally emotionally heavy album. Although lyrically its just as paranoid as the rest of the record, you wouldn't guess by all the cheery melodies flying around.

The debut album by electronic bass band Purity Ring however had no shortage of highlights, with the gory words and meatgrinder bassline of "Fineshrine" (7:19) and hypnotic middle eastern bells and sugar sweet melodies of "Amenamy" (36:21) proving to be amoungst the best.

Just when you thought M83's "Midnight City" (14:59) had done its fair share of rounds, eerie electropop act Saint Saviour posts a cover so good that it will undoubtedly do its own fair share. But with haunting synth pads, distant cooing vocals and an addictive rework of the already addictive main refrain, it almost deserves to stand on its own as an original work, such is the creativity on show here.

Bass producers Lunice and Hudson Mohawke's duo project TNGHT also had released its first EP, and the dance world is already trembling under the weight of the brass bass line in "Higher Ground" (39:44).

But the real event of July was The xx finally releasing their comeback single, "Angels" (50:09). Read my review of it here.

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