Available as a free download from All About She’s Official Bandcamp
Review: We’re sure there’s a debate to be had over the validity of criticisms levelled at work an artist has chosen to give away for free. Those who believe music to be still worth paying for do so because they’ve come to equate a certain price tag with a certain standard of quality – take the fiscal aspect away, and who are we to expect a knockout product?
It’s a minefield we’re not compelled to enter here, as a quick listen to this buzz release from All About She sees the London neo-garage-house trio emerge practically unscathed. The title proves to be indicative of the six-track collection; Go Slow comes to life at a leisurely pace, as if waking up hung-over in a dew-drenched field. Neither “Remedy” or “I Can’t Wait” aim to replicate the high-octane thrill of their late 2013 hit “Higher (Free)”, driven instead by padded basslines and singer Vanya Taylor’s soft, inviting tone.
The latter breezes by with an appearance from Jacob Banks and lashings of a music box-styled xylophone, but it’s only on the thumping “All Night” that the party truly starts. It’s followed by “Happiness”, a dark, bare-bones bop in which in which Taylor emotes for the Gods, complete with a “No, no, no!” refrain that’s almost impossible not to waggle your index finger to.
The only conceivable obstacle facing All About She (which is also includes producers James Tadgell and John Clare) could be the repetition of flourishes – chiming instrumentals, lush if overused harmonies – that run not only throughout Go Slow but also Sasha Keable’s charming Black Book EP, which the group produced last year.
But for now All About She seem more than content with their identity. When a grizzled voice states “this is me” at the end of ambient come-down joint “C’est Moi”, concerns over this free EP’s worth seem redundant. You simply can’t buy this kind of self-assurance.
Available to buy from iTunes
Review: Given their regal status in the industry, it takes a brave soul to even contemplate reworking the chrome-plated beats of Daft Punk. While the French duo may be best known for tracks propelled by a kind of cold vacuum-packed energy, their 2001 single “Digital Love” is unusually warm. The track excelled not only on the back of a guitar riff sampled from George Duke’s “I Love You More”, but also a rare emphasis on lyrics that amounted to more than glib party-baiting rhetoric.
Lines as bleakly sentimental as “Oh, I don’t know what to do […] We’ll make this dream come true / Why don’t you play the game?” flew over helmet-shielded heads thanks to the emotional impotence of the robotic voice that sang them. By lending them a human avatar, New York-based ballet dancer-turned-singer Almamy unearths a few new layers of a beloved post-millennial classic.
His cover is something of a grower, beginning with a subdued squawk of a voice that we were initially tempted to compare unfavourably to Eric Cartman on helium. The presentation is extremely raw and borderline confrontational, but multi-tracked harmonies and a burbling bassline soon come to brighten up the palette. By the one minute mark, this breathy timbre makes imperfect sense among the colourful production. As Almamy fattens up the track’s hook with a series of coos, “Digital Love” hits the same sweet spot as the vocoded sections of Lipps Inc.’s disco staple “Funkytown”.
Just as the track finds its footing, however, it descends into a breakdown that clumsily apes the industrial crush integral to Daft Punk’s DNA. It’s a bemusing but ultimately satisfying U-turn that solidifies the track’s sweaty, late-night feel.
Not only is Almamy playing the game his own way, he’s doing a damn good job of it.
Available to buy from iTunes
Review: A pseudo-harpsichord strain lands with an authoritative thud; its echoing presence still felt even when followed by successive stabs. A kick drum soon underscores a light, trembling squall: “You came without warning.”
The same cannot be said for Las Vegas-born teenager Shamir Bailey, whose sweet, affable features have been smeared across the pages of any alt music blog worth its salt since his icy house cocktail “If It Wasn’t True” gained traction this February. The sugar-coated apathy that won “True” its buzz is nowhere to be found on “I Know It’s A Good Thing”, a gospel-drenched ballad prone to lyrical regurgitation; once over a stark, church atrium-like soundscape, and again over a euphoric build powered by handclaps and a captivating vocal.
The swerve in tone is almost disorientating. The cloudy pessimism of lines such as “I would say I’m happy, but they say talk is cheap” take on a whole new significance in the celestial light Shamir recasts them in. It’s a revelatory song, one that could just as easily be synced with a bride and groom’s first dance as it could with an Apple campaign (or, indeed, a runway show at Paris Fashion Week), and engages just enough with the house music trend to feel current, but also marks out the long-term versatility of the artist behind it.
Elsewhere on the Northtown E.P., Shamir asserts his dance credentials on the still-brilliant “If It Wasn’t True” and “Sometimes A Man”, which attempts to mix its predecessor’s dispassionate throb with kitchen-sink production tricks. Sirens, growling vocal hooks, and crisp synth breakdowns all fight to make up for the track’s unflappable lack of melody, but it still carries a dark and compelling mystique.
The ballads rounding off the package – the sparse “I Will Never Be Able To Love”, a faithful cover of Lindi Ortega’s “Lived And Died Alone” – give weight to the hedonistic bent of the dance cuts. But as admirable as his abstinence from all things romance is, that final hopeful minute of “I Know It’s A Good Thing” will always beg to differ – at least until his first full-length arrives to add further dimensions to this fascinating character.