Khruangin & Leon Bridges – ‘Texas Sun’

Though I’ve been heavily enjoying the sound and vibe of Khruangbin‘s summerly Thai Funk during the past years I never imagined them with vocals, I must say. Surely, for many instrumental acts this marks the next logical step that often happens sooner or later in their career. And I know what you might say now – technically Khruangbin haven’t been a fully instrumental band but their vocals haven’t been the most prominent part of their music. But that’s about to change thanks to soul singer Leon Bridges who joins the trio for a new joint EP called Texas Sun. It was born out of a shared touring experience in 2018 and judging from the freshly released title-track this is a really natural fit. Bridges‘ tender vocals feel like a warm ray of sunlight on the already quite shimmering sound of Khruangbin, resulting in something hopefully nostalgic and beautiful. It was meant to be, so to say and you can now consider me hyped about the whole Texas Sun project. The EP arrives on February the 7th via Dead Oceans. (Norman Fleischer)

Algiers – ‘Void’

Like a three-minute whiplash, the new Algiers single crashes down onto the listener. Its short length it makes up for with almost unbearable intensity and fury. Void is the second release from the Atlanta quartet’s third record There is No Year, due in early 2020. Build on the noisy, garage side of the river, it pushes through the three minutes with dangerous pace. Former Bloc Party drummer Matt Tong relentlessly beats the skin of his drums driving adrenalin through your veins. From the urgency of the drums to the angry distortion of the guitar, the instruments come together to one raging tornado of violent punk rock. As energy-loaded as if it could break through walls with the sheer power of sound, ‘Void’ thunders along. Enhanced by the feverish vocal performance of lead singer, Franklin James Fisher, it accelerates to unstoppable speed. The dizzying release is as dark and rough as it gets and leaves a lingering void of silence after it is up. Luckily we don’t have to wait too long for the album! (Liv Toerkell)

Grant & Esther  – ‘As The Right Bell Sounds’

Writing a Christmas song is maybe the biggest dice role you can make in music, something that can result in anything from a bit of fun to a cheesy and cloying song that stinks your career out to a smash hit that pours money into your pension once a year. So at the very least, it’s brave for Swedish duo Grant (who released debut album In Bloom in 2018) and Esther (who’s sparkled across a few singles this year) to step into the arena and release their own Christmas candidate, As The Right Bell Sounds. Happily, they know that the trick to writing a good Christmas song is writing a good song that happens to be set at Christmas. It won’t be a surprise to find out that As The Right Bell Sounds features Amason‘s Pontus Winnberg on production and co-writing duties, as it’s a song that perfectly captures the soft, subtle graceful quality that’s his band’s speciality. Over a little sprinkle of piano, Grant and Esther summon the spirit of flickering candles and frost on the windows, and sadness in the shadow of the season that makes for the best Christmas songs. As the big day draws in, they’re leaving under the tree a song that even the more unsentimental of us can enjoy. “As The Right Bell Sounds is a love story that plays out on Christmas Eve”, they say. “It’s about not really feeling a part of the celebrations, and needing to get away a while to listen and long for someone”. (Austin Maloney)

PS: We also set up a really good Christmas playlist, in case you are in the mood for more festive tunes.

Jon Hopkins & Kelly Lee Owens  – ‘Luminous Spaces’

Jon Hopkins‘ 2018 masterpiece Singularity is one of my favourite albums of the past decade and I already stated that before. What I find most fascinating about it is the fact how it can emotionally connect with the listener (in that case: me) without the use of vocals and lyrics, simply due to its composing and the interaction of these various musical elements that always feel like they are perfectly balanced. Jon Hopkins got a rare talent for achieving this and it’s also quite fascinating to see in which direction his tracks go once you add vocals to this equation. He did that following the release of 2013’s Immunity and now he also did it with the song Luminous Beings from Singularity, although this joint venture with the magnificent Kelly Lee Owens turned into something more than just another remix. In a press release the producer reflects on this moment: “I sent Owens the parts, but what she sent back just felt like something totally new, and had the potential to be so much more than a remix. She’d recorded these beautiful, uplifting vocal lines and had come up with joyous new riffs that recalled for me the best bits of the ’90s trance/euphoria that I had grown up loving.” For Hopkins the song now comes with a beautiful sense of nostalgia and really like the heart-lifting turn it takes. The original already marked the most uplifting and beautiful moment on Singularity but Kelly Lee Owens adds a new level of humanity to it, making Luminious Space a absolutely mesmerizing listening experience. (Norman Fleischer) 

Porridge Radio  – ‘Lilac’

If you have not made any New Year’s Resolutions yet, here is one to make and to keep! Porridge Radio’s Dana Margolin shouts the mantra of their latest single Lilac over and over again, ‘I want us to be kinder to ourselves and to each other’. The Brighton-based quartet proves with their third single this year, that they are one to keep an eye on. Creating an unsettling dissonance between noisily screeching guitars and more minimalistic and peaceful episodes, the single is a real ride. Singing of ‘finding the power in powerlessness’ Margolin almost seems to fight against the raging crescendo of instruments. The cathartic screams come from deep inside and in the end becomes one with the magnetic force of the music. Porridge Radio are the latest addition to the Secretly Canadian family, following plenty of DIY releases over the past five years. The massive sound of this new single and this logical next step makes them a strong contender for ‘must-watch-bands in 2020’ if you ask us. This is just the first step on a hopefully pretty wonderful journey. (Liv Toerkell)

Find the 50 most essential fresh tracks in the ‘Nothing But Now’ Playlist!

Our Daily Tunes from December 2019

Ain’t it wonderful to start your day with a fresh piece of music? Every day the writers of NBHAP pick a new song for you, present them on our page and add the to the playlist you’ll find below. You can also sign up right here to receive them via your Facebook Messenger.

These have been our highlights from the past weeks.