Player Piano unveils a video that needs to be seen to be believed!



Naming yourself after a 1952 Kurt Vonnegut Jr. book about the deterioration of society due to automation was always going to ask questions and raise eyebrows. Luckily, however, Jeremy Radway AKA Player Piano layer their songs full of irony, sentimentality and devastating hooks to make you realise, like the book in question, that’s it’s all a bit of a sardonic joke.



Sounding like a psych pop cover of Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer, with David Byrne on vocals, Kings and Queens pulls you in and sucker punches you with melody after melody until you are left reeling in the corner and begging for mercy. However being duffed up by delicious pop songs sounds like a perfect afternoon to me. When you surrender to its skewed charm



But the star of the show is the video. Constructed from six thousand yes 6,000 chalk drawings and painstakingly put together by TJ Reynolds, it looks like nothing else this year, which is handy as that’s how it sound too! If seeing is believing then hearing is, well, convincing us of Reynolds’ talent.



In the Vonnegut’s novel the player piano represents that learning to play an instrument in your spare time is pointless as machines can do a ‘better’ job. Luckily for us this isn’t the case, just yet, and thanks to Reynolds’ dedication and devotion to his art we’ve got songs like these to enjoy and cherish.



Kings and Queens is out now while the album Radio Love is out on July 1st.











thisyearinmusic on Kindle Blogs

Jupiter Cats unveil the first offering from their debut album to an unsuspecting world



London’s post-pop duo Jupiter Cats are a music fans dream and nightmare. They make music inspired by their collective loves. Rock, ska, pop, hip-hop, funk and indie are all liberally poured into a blender and pulsed for an hour until everything is a kaleidoscopic gloop. Then it’s decanted into luridly shaped baking trays and bunged in the oven until they look done. The main selling fact is that this noisy duo keep their identities hidden under garishly knitted balaclavas, but we have our ideas about who they really are…



Jupiter Cats are now on the brink of releasing their debut album, The Truant through Foof Records, and a teaser single, A Disengagement Party, has just recently been released. At four and a half minutes this mutated post-pop gem surges and skews around twisted melodies and avuncular rhythms, much like the Thames does through London, until it reaches its (ill)logical conclusion. Basically it’s big loud, proud and fun.



However A Disengagement Party jumps around from sounding like George Harrison’s Something, War’s Low Rider and Del Shannon’s Runaway so much its hard to get what the song is really about. While this is great as they are all bangers, as it keeps us on our collective toes and stops the song from getting boring and formulaic, after repeat listens though you feel that Jupiter Cats, and the song, would be better to keeping to just one genre and style and nailing that, rather than showing how diverse their psychic record collections are.



Saying that everyone here at thisyearinmusic is waiting with baited breath for the release of The Truant as we can’t wait to hear what Jupiter Cats come up with next, and more importantly if they can match their creative ideas.



A Disengagement Party is released as a free download on June 17th via Foof Records












thisyearinmusic on Kindle Blogs

Baishe Kings remind us why we got excited about them in the first place on new mixtape SuperKush



“I can see the see, can you see the wave? Oh my days, trying to find a rave” is one of the first lyrics you hear on Baishe Kings’ new mixtape SuperKush. If you’ve never heard of South London’s best kept Hip-Hop secret, this tells you everything you need to know. Their lyrics are filled with these subtle lines that mix England’s past with its present. Oh my days was a line I grew up hearing every day and after I turned twelve I heard about raves most day, but until this exact moment I’ve never heard the two together. If you are a fan of everything Baishe, then this line will make you smile as you know they haven’t lost any of their charm and comic timing.



If this is your first time listening to the Baishe Kings, don’t try and force it and follow everything from start to finish, as you’ll miss some amazing name drops and beats. Instead just let it wash over you, but keep an ear open for some reference that seems tailor made just for you. While the lyrics are the heavy weight title main event, to use a Baishe wrestling reference, the music is definitely worthy of a ladder match or intercontinental title match. The beats are laid back with inventive samples that pop and fizz in the background, rather than banging and slamming in your face. If you think Tricky and Prince Paul you’re on the right track. In fact SuperKush sounds like the Baishe Kings only had the Tricky vs. the Gravediggaz EP as kids and decided to make music that sounds like it.



But enough about the music what about the all-important lyrics? If I was to list all the amazing rhymes on SuperKush this would just be an annotated lyrics sheet. Instead I’ll pick out a few that made me smile. Pennies contains a lyric that sums up Baishe Kings, and no it’s not about wrestling! “Hmm Bop, that’s Hanson. HA! That samples Hanson” gets spit, but there is almost a lack of belief that they’ve firstly sampled Hanson and secondly got away with it! You can almost hear him corpsing as he delivers it. Pennies also features the line “Ip dip dog shit, your boss is an idiot” takes a playground rhyme, but subverts it so that it applies to everyone’s feeling about their boss. Paperboy has the surreal line “Paper, paper, paper, big boy paper. A4 paper”.



As this is Baishe Kings have already released an album and two mixtapes so far this year, the quality on SuperKush is pretty high and consistent to what’s come before. This is only downside with the release. If these songs have just been gathering virtual dust why weren’t they released before, but if the deck is being cleared, when is the new ‘new’ material out? This will be answered in due course. And that’s the bottom line as the Baishe Kings say so!









thisyearinmusic on Kindle Blogs

Inmiriam’s brand of post-pop is a joy to behold



Pop songs are generally written about love and loss. These are the themes that have always excited audiences and delivered that big emotional punch. “I love you, and can’t live without you” is something that has been retold and packaged since pop music started. London based InMiriam has other ideas.



Instead InMiriam has decided to write a suite of songs that explores themes of addiction and faith. And what’s more, on lead single The Soul Does, she doesn’t use any beats. OK, ok, near the end there is a little bit of percussion, but compared to her peers, this is a beatless wonder!



Opening with just vocals and swaying synths The Soul Does sounds somewhere between Imogen Heap, Julee Cruise and Karen Carpenter. Everything is ethereal and lucid. However its InMiriam’s lyrics that really pack the punch. During the chorus she croons “But the soul does, what it needs to do, always, always” then she sings “And it can live without you, and it will, when it has to” you realise that this is experience talking and not some polite poetic story.



This is an EP to get excited about as it ignores pop’s very structured codes and conventions and goes off piste to forge its own path.



InMiriam is playing the Winemakers Club in Clerkenwell on July 3rd.











thisyearinmusic on Kindle Blogs

Slugabed returns to the Activia Benz for another



I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again the Acitiva Benz’ series is one of the most consistent and forward thinking singles clubs around today. After forty plus releases they are showing no signs of faltering, in both quality and imagination. But what marks the out isn’t that they pick the best new and existing talent around, but that they don’t charge for these releases.



The most recent, and forty fifth release sees Activia Benz’ founder and benevolent dictator Greg Feldwick AKA Slugabed returns to the fold, since last year’s hhhowllll. Like hhhhowllll Fuck Station Zero is a slow burner that sounds like Feldwick just plucked the elements out of the ether. The beats are lethargic and lysergic, the bass flows like a lyrical babbling brook, gently caressing our ears as the cool water rushes over our feet.


It’s been four years since Feldwick’s debut album Time Team on Ninja Tune, so let’s hope that its follow up is still in the pipeline. But if Feldwick has retired from long players, let’s hope that he still keeps releasing gentle bangers like this to fill the void!









thisyearinmusic on Kindle Blogs

Loyle Carner: Bringing the south back without trap!



For the last couple of years my love of Hip-Hop has been renewed. There are many reasons factors for this, but mainly that there are artists out there making the kind of music I used to love as a kid, but sadly had slipped from my periphery. The Hip-Hop I loved when I was young wasn’t gangsta rap. Yes it was fun to put on but after the giggles at the profanity and macho boasts had faded there wasn’t a great deal to keep me interested. What I really liked was the DAISY Age/Back-Pack Rap stuff. The music was full of incredible jazz and soul samples, and while the beats weren’t as hard hitting as the gangsta stuff, what they were saying had far more impact. Then the Wu-Tang thing happened, which in a weird way combined the gangsta and the Back-Pack stuff, to me anyway, and I was at one with the universe, Hip-Hop speaking.



In 2014 a mixtape popped up in my feed. It was for an unknown rapper called Loyle Carner.  It was called A Little Late. I didn’t think a great deal but I pressed play. Since pressing play Carner’s brand of Conscious Hip-Hop has been with me. Last year he released two singles and did a track with Kate Tempest, another reason for my renewed love of Hip-Hop. Now he’s released his third single Stars and Shards.



Opening with a laid-back laconic guitar riff, until Carner’s vocals and drums kick in and then we’re off. Again it’s another slice of social commentary about a low-rent characters who feel as real as anything in Penguin Classics or that the RSC perform. As Stars and Shards continues the tension is raised through the combination of Carner’s wordplay, and the dextrous instrumentation. This is what Carner does better than most of his peers. He limits the elements in his songs, a few instruments and a ‘simple’ track. But through this less is more approach he makes the listener pay more attention to what is going on, rather than bombarding us with a thousand channels of beats, bass and blips and beeps. Through focusing us thus, we get the message/moral of his story quicker as we don’t have to fight over bass drops and ‘clever’ production techniques. As Carner says himself “Bringing the south back without trap”



Where Carner excels is when, through his exquisite wordplay, he puts us in the exact moment he’s describing. Whether we have seen the exact events take place is by the by, what is important is that we can relate to it. Either because we have all either seen or experienced similar. His unflinching social commentary marks him apart from his peers. Rumour has it there is an album in the pipeline later this year, and that is something to get VERY excited about. But as I’ve been saying for a long time Loyle Carner is one to watch, it looks like everyone is starting to wake up and pay attention.











thisyearinmusic on Kindle Blogs

London’s Cat Videos look set to make a stir, but don’t try Googling them just yet.



Try Googling Cat Videos and see what comes up. Yup that’s right. Videos of cats. Some are funny, some are rubbish and others are sad. If you keep scrolling down you’ll eventually come across a London indie pop quartet. Sounding like Talking Heads being covered by a The Strokes and Two Door Cinema Club super group their music is full of angular riffs and stuttering drums. Needless to say its great music of a picnic in the park.



The only real downside to Cat Videos, apart from not being able to find them online that easily, is that so far in their career it’s all a bit 2-Dimensional. Yes the music is well written and arranged and the duelling guitars is a great touch, but lyrically we’ve heard it all before. But The Strokes never really pushed things forward lyrically did they?



It’s not all doom and gloom though. Cat Videos have recently been added to the BBC: Introducing The South playlist, which is rightly justified. Let’s hope that Cat Videos will flesh out their lyrics the same way they’ve fleshed out their sound, and eventually they’ll be the first result on Google. But if you’ll excuse me I’ve got to finish watching a video of cats failing to jump and getting stuck in vases…














thisyearinmusic on Kindle Blogs