The self-titled debut album from Manchester band, Swiss Lips, has been a long time coming, having signed to Sony in 2011. Frontman Sam Hammond has been Twitter-vocal about record label strife causing delays on its launch, but it’s now arrived in the form of the vibrant punchbag-smacking release that you didn’t even know you needed.
The record taps into manic emotions and common experience, spray-painting them out in a rainbow synth-pop palette, unafraid of getting messy. It speaks of the confusion of love and the fear that comes with adulthood. It tells of the escape of wild nights and holds a lighter up for the loss of youth. There’s a buoyant strain of resilience and solidarity throughout and a moving intent to defend someone, everyone.
Rebel-spirited “Books” opens and the weightlifting “U Got The Power” carries the baton on in a power surge start that doesn’t waver. “Carolyn” alludes to the great story of Beat Generation figure Carolyn Cassady, whom Hammond became friends with in her last years. “Kid” is a standout track for me, it twists and pulls inside. I’m envisaging “Kid” (and gin) fuelled tears at some stage.
I was left with the sense that despite life’s hardship there is light, which is stronger, derived from unity. We’re together and it’s alright.
I present and exec-produce Back To The Future Sounds, a music series celebrating the vinyl and the digital music worlds on London Live. As for many of us, music is my absolute escape so my top ten summer picks either create fantastic stories or have great backgrounds to them.
‘Lost On The Way Home’ comes from the ever-evolving Canadian duo Chromeo. David Macklevitch and Patrick Gemayel met as kids, played together in a band at 15 and later produced hip-hop as Dave 1 and P-Thugg (I’m hoping these were initially joke names that stuck) before producing their own music under Chromeo. ‘Lost On The Way Home’ from their fourth album White Women is the smooth record necessary on the way back from wherever the boy messed with your heart and mind a little. Solange sings our lines and a vocal from Chromeo gives the man-view back in a dialogue that’s far cooler than a chat for a song implies. The nice bit of relatable drama pushed this over the line but the whole of White Women is studded with gems of a diamond level. You might decide I’m wrong in the knowledge that one of their tracks is called ‘Sexy Socialite’, but that’s the kind of diamond-shaped sweetie ring that makes your finger sticky. It still tastes good.
Not only did Kasabian deliver their signature electric-moody energy but they created something wild and bizarre to behold mid-headline set at Benicassim 2014. I’ve seen nothing like the animal hold that took over the men in the crowd when they played ‘Treat’ from their fifth album, 48:13. No exaggeration, there was a pervading, prowling hard-on confidence as men everywhere did the same rhythmic bop-boogie whilst two-stepping in on a lady. I can’t say it worked on all the girls but they were most definitely stunned. It worked on me: Kasabian rock seriously sexy.
‘Rude’ is the best kind of sing-along-song to behave ridiculously to. It comes from Canadian pop-reggae group Magic!, fronted by producer and songwriter Nasri Atweh. With their debut album Don’t Kill The Magic released this month, the group are on a mission to keep bubblegummy sparkle alive. I’ve spent my summer thus far hoping for chances to sing, “Why you gotta be so ruuuude?” and when chances were slim I orchestrated them. It’s been satisfying. Though in reference to the video – if any man turned up to marry me with a beanie on his head I’d probably decide that my dad was right.
‘Carolyn’, Swiss Lips
Swiss Lips’ ‘Carolyn’ sings of the mad thrill and timeless adventure of a boy and a girl living and loving by impulse and making their own rules. “Feet up on the dashboard”…of a convertible I bet, it’ll be red or black and someone will probably be looking for it. They’ll be heading to the waves, holding hands (or something), watching the stars and predicting the future… It’s easy to get carried away. Swiss Lips’ frontman and songwriter Sam Hammond was inspired by the richly textured life of Beat Generation writer and artist, Carolyn Cassady. Her unconventional marriage to Neal Cassady and their ardent relationship with Jack Kerouac is fascinating, complex and a bit insane. Fast forward five decades and an email from Hammond after learning the story movingly led them to become friends in the last years of her life. ‘Carolyn’ is typical of the Manchester-based band’s electro vibrancy, their sounds roll round my brain long after I’ve decided I’d better take them off repeat. Watch out for Swiss Lips’ debut album, there are loud whispers that it’s ready to launch.
Japanese hip-hop music producer and DJ Jun Seba produced the most soaringly exquisite and varied beats as Nujabes (his name spelt in reverse in Japanese order). Tragically, he died in a car accident in 2010 aged 36. The majority of his music and mixes are only on YouTube which feels desperately unworthy as their main platform. ‘Soul Searching’ is my favourite: one hour and 40 minutes of eternal music. It uses angel-dreamy vocals swirled through swooping strings and soothing piano mixed with hip-hop and jazz beats – all with a simplicity to it and a prevailing strength of heart and spirit.
I’m keeping it strictly summer with ‘Jubel’ from French team Klingande. They call their sound “melodic house” and for me the house is on a perfect beach (sorry). The piano and saxophone pulse reassuring waves of calm and it’s a beach where the masseurs can’t get in (I find little less relaxing than a massage from a stranger in front of other strangers myself), where bats and balls are banned, where there’s sun and shade and breeze and cute kids that play quietly and dolphins giggling and turtles looking after their babies on the white, white sand. I’ve gotten carried away again… Klingande’s love of the Swedish language inspired their name and those of their songs, with Klingande translating to ‘chiming’. Their debut album is on its way and will surely meet the hugely high expectations.
‘Take My Hand’, Charli XCX
Hertfordshire girl Charlotte Emma Aitchison is Charli XCX and she’s super cool. ‘Take My Hand’ from her second album True Romance (her first,’14’, was never officially released) falls under “indietronica” apparently, or “witch house” – who makes these up?! It’s a song for the night where you can and must be reckless. It’s dark and you don’t need to know the time and your phone’s out of battery but it’s alright. You’re in a midnight city with someone you’ve only just met and it’s fine because they don’t seem creepy. When you make it to the bar you’re with more safe strangers who render the night so Coyote Ugly unforgettable that it’ll carry you through decades of coupley bliss until he, or you, kisses the postman and it all goes to sh*t. Right now though it’s the best, particularly as a new Charli XCX album is due in September.
Swedish producers Sebastian Furrer and Alexander Björkland joined to form Cazzette in 2011 and they make “f*ck my problems” music; put it on to have a wild and erratic dance to something spacey. In ‘Run For Cover’ and ‘The Coming’ you star in the film or computer game and having made it to the end, just when you think you’re safe, the BIG BOSS comes to beat your ass. But naturally you’re black belted and whoop him and his baddies with poise and Cat Woman grace. Then as always there’s the long awaited kiss and ‘Sleepless’ is gorgeous for that. Cazzette prefer to define what I’ve been Nintendo-visualising as “dubhouse”. It seems the easy, single genre is a thing of the past.
Any of French DJs C2C’s tracks are worth lots of your time. Their electro-funk party vibe fuses with blues-country (‘Down The Road’), hip-hop (‘Together’) and Disney-sweet pop (‘Genius’) and still makes the most fabulous sense. ‘Arcades’ just has the edge on blood-racing energy, which’ll be hard to believe if you hear the others first. It’s tricky not to make a DJ setlist composed solely of Tetra, C2C’s debut album. It’d be too lazy but so understandable. Their DJ supremacy won them the DMC World Competition four times in a row, skills which are all over the album without drowning it. I’ve set myself up saying all ten picks create stories for me. The only story here is that C2C are just very bloody good.
‘Forever’, Pete Drake
The dream and romance of country musician Pete Drake’s 1964 hit ‘Forever’ is almost too much. Born Roddis Franklin Drake in Georgia in 1932 (think we can guess why he went for Pete), he might as well have been playing his co-star – the talking box – floating in the sky. This time it’s Drake and his talking steel guitar up with the clouds, swirling fuchsia petals down onto a summer breezy lane. More modern songs of this genuine depth of feeling please, to balance out the twerking and the wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.
Thank you to Grazia for publishing this! Link below…