Mildly Obscure New Music That Will Enrich Your Spotify Playlist

If one of your resolutions was to make 2019 the year you listen to new music and broaden your Spotify playlist, this is for you.



New Music That Will Make Your Ears Happy In 2019
PHOTO | MC Hamper

With so much to look forward to in the next year from heavyweights like Rihanna, Cardi B, and Whitesnake – yes, that Whitesnake – it’s fair to say 2019 is going to be laden with some big releases. But what about new music? Are you looking to expand your sonar sensitivities and Spotify playlists?

From dipping my toes into pools of new music, I’ve tried to find some wheat amongst the chaff, the stuff that stands out a bit more than the rest.

Giant Swan: “Pax Britannica”

Techno with an underlying punk-edge, Giant Swan is into pounding filth. It has to be said, they’re one of the more interesting acts to emerge from the re-energized techno scene. They encompass the energy, but they throw in chaos as well, mainly controlled and to great effect.

If you fancy having your ears drums blown out so they vibrate like loose lips blowing strawberries, I’d recommend listening to last years’ “Pax Britannica” from Whities. It gets the heart going, that’s for sure.

Describing their sound, imagine if there was an incident on a motorway and both vehicles involved were traveling at such a speed that the passengers were all just a big ball of each other. Imagine those passengers are Factory Floor and Death Grips and this ball of mega-bodies is somehow granted the ability to make, release and perform music.

Solid Blake: “Tissue”

Electro, in the classic sense of the word, is a term stretched so much these days that the real stuff seems overlooked.

I loved the Two Lone Swordsmen back-in-the-day. The up-tempo nature of their brand of Electro always sat wonderfully with me. What’s more, they always had this aqua-marine thing going on buried deep in their rhythm tracks. Little bleeps and fizzes coming from a long forgotten underwater beacon, still emitting its sound for whoever hears it.

Glasgow-born, Norway based. Solid Blake has seemingly resurfaced from a deep-water dive and brought the sound source to ground. Here, she presents them more directly, reducing the distance.

This is exactly the sort of Electro I like. Last year’s Warp Room 4-track is a much more developed sound compared to the earlier Mario E.P. The beat, pads and those lovely first-beat-of-the-bar touches do the bulk of the work on this release. But don’t let that give you the idea that this is empty sounding music. Settling between the beat and the thin, precise lead synth parts are very well-rounded and full productions. The way Blake allows her sounds to develop and grow as the tracks play out has the guidance of a grand shepherd, resulting at times in a pretty ferocious snarl. This great producer will be on a few lists this year.

Matmos: “Plastic Anniversary”

Matmos’ new album, Plastic Anniversary, is not so much an anniversary than a celebration of one of mankind greatest double-edged swords: plastic. I think plastic is one of those divisive things; you can’t really say you like it, because environment, and you can’t really like it, for the same reason. Truth is, although not a huge consumer, most of what I hold dear is made largely of plastic. My wife and my family the only things that are completely free of it.

Matmos delve into their basement to drop an album made entirely of plastic. For those familiar with their work, you’ll not find this anything more than just Matmos being Matmos. For those who aren’t, I can tell you they make some great music. They always use the most insane sound sources. One album is made from anatomy parts, liposuction, and other bodily weird shit. They can be like techno, they can be really glitchy, but always interesting.

It’s out on Thrill Jockey, which now houses some of the artists I’ve followed for years, namely Mountains and Black to Comm. The latter, incidentally, has a new album out next year as well… and he’s just fabulous. Give Seven Horses for Seven Kings a blast when it comes out. In the interim, you can sample a track “Lethe” here.

Another Sky: “Avalanche”

One might say Another Sky are just another Goldsmith’s band. And while you’d be correct, there is something a bit special about them. Borrowing heavily from Radiohead, their sound is defined mainly by the unusual voice of their vocalist, Catrin Vincent. Enough of a thing in itself to make a band interesting, but there’s no holding back in terms of sonic dynamism.

Musically, the mix of real and synthetic instruments drift in and out, acoustic guitars and beats that keep the spirit of early-Four Tet alive and fuzzed out almost post-rock euphoric swells. “Avalanche”, in particular, is quite the diddy.

Hopefully, Another Sky won’t be another example of a good British band not getting the exposure it needs to flourish – Lunacre, I still hold out for you. But we’ll see. With Alt-J still making waves, one could argue this kind of music is represented all-the-well.

Kim Petras: “Close Your Eyes”

I was introduced to this pop starlet by my wife, who, knowing my penchant for a good pop song, sang it repeatedly at me until the time came to hear it properly. Petras is a famous transgender model, completing her transition when she was 11 years old. One would’ve thought that that would be enough to get tongues wagging and create a press frenzy without having to release anything.

The truth is, Heart To Break is a damn good pop song. Written with Dr. Luke, it has all of the tropes of the Max Martin factory of hit-making, which regardless of how you feel about the genre these guys wade, and no matter how ashamed you may feel in admitting it, they write some seriously good songs.

Anyways, if the ’80s is your favorite genre, but prefer contemporary production tricks, with blatant Daft Punk leanings, then give Petras a go. It’s shameful. It really is! You should be ashamed of yourself.

Flohio: “Wild Yout’”

Since the British government tried to clamp down garage music in the early 2000s, forcing the genre underground, the scene’s momentum has re-ignited. At the time, there were occasional breakout heroes such as Dizzy Rascal and Wiley, but neither generated enough enthusiasm in the mainstream to garner a real second chance for good U.K urban music.

That’s all changed now. But, like all scenes, the main voices in the populous aren’t always the most representative of the genre; Giggs and Stormzy. Thankfully there are artists like Flohio who… flow yao. And not a mumble in range. She kicks!

Quarter Mirrors

I’ll end with the reason I’m going to flagellate myself for the next five hours. Have you heard of Quarter Mirrors? You haven’t? Excellent. Allow me to explain.

The moniker of this writer, Quarter Mirrors is electronics in every guise. Slow building, noisy, at times unsettling, but always interesting. You’ll be hearing it in offices, in muzak renditions, busked and copied from 2019.

Seriously, though. There’ll be a spate of releases in the coming year. For those who like noise, ambient, drone, soundscapes, pretentiousness, etc, check it out. The sound has matured since the 2017 release of A June in May/Strait of Mast split. And that’s my self-promotion quota for 2019 used up! Have a listen here.

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Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Yachty Star in New ‘Sonic’ Music Video



When you think of Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Yachty and Sueco the Child, what springs to mind? If your answer is Sonic the Hedgehog, you’re ahead of the curve.

The quartet has teamed up to record “Speed Me Up,” the lead song on the upcoming Sonic movie soundtrack. They appear in the just-released video as 8-bit avatars and sing about topics including Sonic’s pal Knuckles and the fast-moving world of their lives.

The video starts with Wiz blowing into a Sega Genesis game cartridge and, real talk, you’ll be hooked from there. He’s then transported to the pixelated world of Sonic the Hedgehog, teaming up with Sonic and his fellow rappers to collect rings, jam out in Sonic’s bedroom and take on the evil Dr. Robotnik, played by Jim Carrey.

The song is the first drop from the soundtrack by Atlantic Records.

Things haven’t been smooth sailing for the Sonic movie. The first trailer featured Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise, which felt really ill-fitting. The movie was scheduled for release in November 2019, but the initial rendering of everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog was met with less than positive feedback, leading to a design overhaul and a three-month delay on release. It’s now scheduled for release on February 14. Romantic!

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Legendary Guitarist Carlos Santana to Launch Premium Cannabis Brand



Carlos Santana
PHOTO | Carlos Santana

Legendary guitarist and long-time cannabis advocate Carlos Santana is getting into the business, becoming the latest musician to partner with Left Coast Ventures.

The products will include premium cannabis and hemp CBD products specifically chosen to pay homage to Santana’s Latin heritage while leveraging the power of ancient therapies and enable consumers to uncover and “follow their light,” according to Left Coast Ventures.

According to a press release, the collab will “honor Santana’s heritage while incorporating his divine philosophies by identifying strains and products that promote the spiritual consciousness and wellness effects of cannabis.”

The cannabis line will include flower and pre-rolls and is expected for a summer 2020 launch in select Californian dispensaries.

The hemp CBD brand is looking at a fall launch and will include topicals with formulations inspired by Santana’s family.

“Cannabis is a window or a door to different awareness of consciousness,” said Santana in a statement. “It gives you the choice to perceive through a different filter of awakening and healing, the misperception of distance as an illusion, which keeps you from being centered in your essence-core. It helps you arrive at knowing, accepting and owning a quality of life that is being with joy!”

10-time Grammy winner, Woodstock veteran and Hall of Fame guitarist Santana is the latest musician to join Left Coast Ventures’ list of partners. The company has previously launched cannabis products with Mickey Hart, drummer of the Grateful Dead (Mind Your Head) and the Bob Marley estate (Marley Natural).

“We are excited to launch cannabis and hemp CBD brands that deeply respect Latin heritage and celebrate the unique light of every individual,” said Brett Cummings, CEO of Left Coast Ventures.

“It’s a true honor to work with a dynamic legendary musician like Santana who has influenced millions through his music and shares our values and passion to legitimize the future of cannabis.”

Carlos Santana is currently on a world tour. Find out if he’s playing near you.

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Sharon Stone Sues Chanel West Coast Over “Sharon Stoned”



Sharon Stoned

From shout-outs to disses, namedrops are nothing new in rap. But when does a shout-out become something more? That’s a question Sharon Stone is asking Chanel West Coast — through her lawyers.

The iconic actress is suing the rapper for using her name “for commercial purposes” in the track “Sharon Stoned” without Stone’s consent.

The suit notes that the 2018 track turns Stone’s name into a hook, with the music video that followed in April of this year recreating scenes from Stone’s movies, including the interrogation scene from Basic Instinct.

It alleges that Chanel West Coast, whose real name is Chelsea Chanel Dudley, is “an aspiring rap artist who has desperately sought to garner credibility and stature in the hip-hop community,” by “attempting to capitalize on the former’s “extraordinary level of popularity and fame,” and it was the rapper’s intention to “trade on the fame and publicity rights of Sharon Stone for commercial gain.”

The suit contains a detailed breakdown of Stone’s career, from her roles and philanthropic endeavors, which is why she “maintains strict control over the manner in which her name, likeness, image, identity and persona are used,” and claims that Dudley infringed upon Stone’s identity and used Stone’s name “as a celebrity endorser” by using Stone’s name with “mantra-like repetition” in the lyrics, as “Defendant Dudley gratuitously repeats the name ‘Sharon Stone’ thirty-three times and the name ‘Sharon’ ninety-nine times.”

Stone also has an issue with the accompanying music video that uses her likeness as “celebrity endorser to promote the sale of cannabis paraphernalia without her permission or consent,” due to the product placement for Shine Papers.

The suit claims that the song and video show a “disregard of Sharon Stone’s right of privacy and publicity, and of her exclusive right to control the use and exploitation of her name, likeness, image, identity and persona,” and seeks punitive damages and any profits Dudley may have made from the song and video.

The suit contains quotes from Dudley in which she discusses wanting to “redo some classic, iconic Sharon Stone movie scenes” in the music video.

Dudley said in a statement that she was “surprised and disappointed” and claimed Stone was fully aware of the song, being set to appear in the music video, but “[Sharon] pulled out of participating in the music video the day of the shoot after months of conversations, in-person meetings with myself and the director, two dance rehearsals and even had her own ideas that she shared with myself and my team for the collaborative on the video.”

“To be frank, the entire production team and myself were surprised when she walked off,” said Dudley.

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