La Roux – Let Me Down Gently

Feels like an eternity since La Roux once shared her addictive “In for the Kill” with Kanye West years back, for a brilliant remix. She returned this year separated from frequent collaborator and producer off her self-titled debut ‘La Roux‘ with her sophomore effort Trouble in Paradise. A clear stand out Let Me Down Gently delivers a lush ballad slowly turning into a dance floor burner.

Ben Khan – Youth

After delivering three amazing demos last year, Ben Khan returned in the first half of the year with some more wizardry, but this time shrugging off all the Jai Paul comparisons which were bestowed upon him from the get go.Youth is ambitious but yet so polished and mastered at the same time, the pop elements are there, the soul remains and the brilliant guitar work shines.

One to watch.

Little Dragon – Pretty Girls

It’s no secret that the Scandinavians have a history of being highly proficient at crafting ambitious pop, but it’s the manner in which they execute them to near perfection that sticks out. Pretty Girls is no different, minimal but yet very focused and as usual the trademark synths are the backbone here accompanied by a bouncy groove.

Nao vs Ak Paul – So Good

The first time most people would have come across this gem by Nao & A.K. Paul the latter would have probably been the reason for doing so. That quickly changes once you delve into this synth infested frenzy, together with the occasional funky guitar, backed by warped vocals that radiantly mesh Nao’s highs and A.K’s lows. Nao voice is so beguiling and tingly, that she manages to steal the show here.

Ibeyi – River  

Lisa Kainde & Naomi Diaz, daughters of the legendary percussionist Miguel ‘Anga’ Diaz are simply magical. Blending yoruba chants, progressive instrumentation & the power to take their passengers take to a place only they know the co-ordinates to is. River is dedicated to the goddess of the river, Oshun, which they reaffirm in the closing stages of the song. Witnessing the girls live only elevates the beauty of this song, goosebumps are an understatement to say the least.

One’s to watch.

Jungle – Julia

If there were/was to be an argument for the most fun album of the year, Jungle’ eponymous effort would not be a far cry from that conversation.Julia just exemplifies this, the way the organs are just slightly tinkered with makes you feel as if that’s how an organ should always sound. Not quite disco or funk, but Jungle manage to evoke the same feeling without imitating.

Majid Jordan – Her

If you’ve listened to Majid Jordan’s (or Good People as they were back then) afterhours EP from a couple of years back, the brilliance of Hershouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Couple smart production, chic songwriting, add the involvement of ‘40’ you presume somewhere in the midst of this and you come out with a masterclass in balladry.

Travis Scott – Skyfall

Say what you want about his lyrical ability but when it comes to melodic trips, mind boggling drum patterns and manipulation of auto tune, the ease at which Travis Scott glides on songs is something to be marvelled at, simply put he understand how to tackle a song. Young Thug only adds to the excellence of this piece, never overshadowing or underwhelming, always complimenting.

Bombay Bicycle Club – Luna

If having what is possibly one of the best names a band could ever have wasn’t enough, the level of artistry these guys have displayed over the course of their tenure is rivalled by few. The Indian influences are very apparent but the way they manage to blend it with their own sonically concocted world is where Luna delivers.

Tirzah – No Romance

Repetition tends to be somewhat tedious no matter what the medium, however sometimes repetition (see what I did there) works and in this instance Tirzah executes that brilliantly. No Romance is just craftily left field whilst remaining populist at it’s best, her vocals bounce exquisitely over the playful instrumentation and in the end she simply delivers.

One to watch.

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Words by Viv  (@VivienKongolo)