Music

AIM

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MIA’s fifth album is fresh, vibrant and bold, encapsulating everything that is unique about her as an artist. Her songs are infused with politics and are as relevant as ever.

Throughout the album there is a consistent theme of opening borders and explicit references to the ongoing refugee crisis that has yet to be resolved in Europe and across the world.

MIA has been criticised for her writing but any fan knows that lazy lyrics are part of her style. She aims to be simple, to the point and in your face.

Blonde

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Frank Ocean is a 21st century enigma. His ability to surround himself in mystery is impressive, given that we are in a time where celebrities’ personal business is aired freely among all channels of social media and the television.

It has been a feat, especially after the breakthrough success of Channel Orange (2012), his debut studio album, earned him a shed load of award nominations and a top 5 spot in various end of year album lists. So the extraordinary hype surrounding Blonde has been justified.

Hopelessness

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In a year that has seen many great artists pass away, those still living and working among us can be overlooked. One such artist is Anohni, whose work under her former group Antony and the Johnsons has attracted international acclaim with albums such as the Mercury Prize-winning “I Am a Bird Now” and “The Crying Light”.

Her dramatic, other-worldly vocal style and intimate music have previously inhabited the world of torch song popularised by the likes of Marc Almond and the dark glamour of her mentor Lou Reed. But Anohni has undergone a remarkable transformation.

Songs for Our Mothers

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If you haven’t yet been exposed to Fat White Family, they are a South London six-piece that have gained prominence in the last two or three years, mainly through their energetic (and very, very messy) live shows.

Known for their low-fi, dirgy sound, they seem to aspire to the filthy style, shocking lyrics and chaotic atmosphere of bands such as The Fall, Nick Cave’s The Birthday Party, Butthole Surfers and certainly Industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle. If that’s what you’re into, they do it pretty well.

Art Angels

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Pop music is political again. If it’s not that X Factor alumni Little Mix tweeted against the bombing of Syria, it’s that one of the most critically acclaimed records of the year is about climate change. Art Angels is Canadian Claire Boucher’s fourth studio album, and certainly her most ambitious to date.

On this, her first self-produced album, vocals are layered on top of each other, creating an otherworldly electropop. Sounds of the rainforest and the natural world are heard over energetic beats.

A brief history of seven Bob Marley songs

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Marlon James’s wonderful novel A Brief History of Seven Killings was the worthy winner of last year’s Man Booker prize. It takes as its starting point a dramatic real life event — the attempted assassination of Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley in December 1976.

Marley survived the attack, defiantly performing at the open air benefit concert which sparked the controversy that led to the shooting. Later he addressed his assailants in the song “Ambush in the Night”.

HITNRUN Phase Two

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Unlike September’s poorly-received Phase One this surprise end-of-year release is a step away from digital production and back to the classic funky analogue sounds that Prince does so well.

This is not an entirely new album. Some of the tracks have been released already and can be found for free online, some have been performed in recent live shows and some are from Prince’s archive of thousands of songs he has previously recorded — but it doesn’t suffer for all that.

Iron Cages

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Rizzla is a New York-based DJ and producer of electronic music, a well known figure in the city’s vibrant underground club scene, part of “queer artist collective” Kunq, and resident at innovative nights like Ghe20 G0th1k and “queer dancehall party” Reggay.

The Iron Cages EP on the Fade To Mind label is his first “official” release, though he has been producing for several years and DJing for longer. It serves as a great introduction to a fascinating artist and music scene.

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