On the record
JIM CARROLLon music
On the indie side of things, there’s a line that a small number of labels are providing perfect examples for others to follow. For instance, I’ve lost count of the number of pieces I’ve read about how XL Records have bucked every trend in the business. The latest such piece is a report on US National Public Radio’s Morning Edition about the “record label with a Midas touch”.
The reason for the focus on Richard Russell’s label comes down to the runaway success of Adele and attempts by pundits to try to explain how it happened. There are also efforts to draw lessons for the wider industry from how the west London label, with a small, bespoke roster, operates.
In truth, it’s rather simple. As with other indie labels that have lasted a long time, it comes down to a belief in talent. (Laurence Bell’s Domino Records is another fine example, it has just launched the Domino Drop membership scheme.) Sometimes, it doesn’t work out (the XL biographies always gloss over the label’s dealings with Azealia Banks, for example) but, more often than not, the label and the act come to the same way of thinking about what’s going on and how best to develop that talent.
The what-aboutery and attempts to extrapolate a model from the XL and Adele story misses the point. You can’t simply replicate what happened with 21. The lesson is the same as it ever was: it’s about spotting talent, developing acts and trusting your instinct.
London-based duo Luca Santucci and Ben Fitzgerald have been sending many into quiet raptures with glorious lovelorn tunes such as Need Someone. New EP for Kaya Kaya, Knuckledown, is equally alluring, with heartbreaking vocals, striking electronic soul bleeps and some squalling seagulls in the mix.
WE WERE EVERGREEN
Sweet gleeful, layered, sunny, lo-fi pop from a French trio armed to thrill with a battery of instruments, including ukulele, banjo, toy piano, kazoo and glockenspiel. But don’t write them off as tweecore: tracks such as Second Hand and Summer Flings come with mighty hooks that linger long in your memory. Wewereevergreen.com
NORTH SIDE DRIVE
Eerie, evocative, graceful piano and strings from Former Monarchs drummer Jonathan Pearson which will remind you of the minimalist panache of Hauschka and Nils Frahm. Look out for the Corkman’s debut EP in the coming months.
Kanye West & Jay-ZWatch the Throne (Roc-A-Fella)
Relive last weekend’s gigs of the year from the hip-hop megastars with their grandstanding album from 2011.
FawsBlue Notes EP (Self release)
Second set of late-night soundtracks from the anonymous Dublin-based producer. EP highlight Whitney sees him/her make hay with the late Whitney Houston’s It’s Not Right, But It’s OK.
Jessica Lauren FourWhite Mountain (Freestyle)
Beautiful, new-school, spacey, atmospheric jazz shuffle from the London pianist’s latest release – her first for London’s Freestyle Records.
Frank OceanPyramids (Def Jam)
Get set for the Odd Future crooner’s upcoming Channel Orange album with this dramatic, nine-minute epic.
ChromaticsNight Drive (Italians Do It Better)
Recent Forbidden Fruit hit act’s nocturnal, noir-disco delight from 2007.