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Welcome to my December 2017 Playlist, originally published in PHOENIX Magazine.

From Yaeji’s Dancefloor Bangers to Gorillaz Garage Palace: Enter Party Season With Our Winter Playlist

  1. Frenzy, Fear by Lost Horizons
  2. Cover Me by Depeche Mode
  3. Drink I’m Sippin On by Yaeji
  4. Do It by Rae Morris
  5. Ingenue by Jono McCleery
  6. Ordinary Madness (RAC Mix) by Joe Goddard featuring SLO
  7. No Such Thing by Avelino
  8. Bateu by Yuksek
  9. 2daBeat by Super Flu
  10. One Day by Justin Jay featuring Hila Plitmann
  11. Want Me More by NAATIONS
  12. Angel by Femme
  13. Paradise (Skream Remix) by Back Talk featuring Idris Elba
  14. Raingurl by Yaeji
  15. Garage Palace by Gorillaz featuring Little Simz
  16. I Took Your Picture by Cults
  17. Empath by Keeno
  18. Smalltown Boy (Arnaud Rebotini Remix) by Bronski Beat
  19. Leap Of Faith by Mr Jukes featuring De La Soul and Horace Andy
  20. Start Again by Sam Fender

Listen In Full

Track By Track

1. Frenzy, Fear Lost Horizons

Bella Union is an excellent UK-based independent label frequently featured within the music pages of PHOENIX, so it’s wonderful to welcome its boss Simon Raymonde to the playlist, together with drummer Richie Thomas, under their colab moniker Lost Horizons. Their debut album “Ojalá” was released last month to much critical and tastemaker acclaim, featuring guest appearances from former Midlake frontman Tim Smith, Leila Moss of The Duke Spirit and Ghostpoet, and Karen Peris of The Innocence Mission. This sublime track ‘Frenzy, Fear’ features Ed Riman of Hilang Child on vocals, with Simon on piano – a beautiful echo of Raymonde’s past incarnations with This Mortal Coil and Cocteau Twins.

2. Cover Me Depeche Mode

Synth-pop pioneers Depeche Mode released their latest album Spirit earlier this year, their creative fire still burning fiercely and showing no signs of slowing down. Their Spirit tour rocked stadiums worldwide, and each of their singles each came with killer remixes from leading lights such as Erol Alkan, Warpaint, Chris Liebing, Solomun, Maya Jane Coles, Claptone and Patrice Bäumel. This stand-out release ‘Cover Me’ arrived fully formed, a masterclass in songwriting, structure, and atmospheric electronic arrangement, as one might well expect from the Basildon maestros. The poignant video, directed by long-time collaborator Anton Corbijn, features lead singer Dave Gahan in the guise of an astronaut, wandering stranded and aimless around LA before apparently launching into space – or does he? It’s either a stunning meditation on mortality, or a fitting metaphor for this stellar band at the top of their game.

3. Drink I’m Sippin On Yaeji

PHOENIX favourite Yaeji returns to our playlist with two distinctive bangers this month. ‘Drink I’m Sippin On’ is a smooth and characteristically bass-heavy R&B flavoured jam with Yaeji’s distinctive catchy vocals. The video picked up over 2.7 m views in one month as her global following grows. Her astonishing make-up tutorial ‘Last Breath’ is also a “must see”. With her fresh sound, distinctive image and subtle depths, we think 2018 could be the year of Yaeji. More on her soon…

4. Do It Rae Morris

The combination of the right song, singer and production can add up to more than the sum of its artistic parts. On her forthcoming collection Someone Out There (release date 2nd February), Rae Morris demonstrates an uncanny knack for achieving this elusive alchemical combination. Her immaculate lead single ‘Reborn’ was featured in our July playlist and this follow up, ‘Do It’, is a genuine delight in itself – a joyful personal tale of letting go and jumping in to the unknown. Rae is an astonishing vocal and songwriting talent, and PHOENIX wishes her every success. JFDI indeed.

5. Ingenue Jono McCleery

Continuing on the theme of letting go, one of the UK’s finest singer songwriters, Jono McCleery, is on sparkling form with a stunning remake of the Atoms For Peace song ‘Ingenue’. With an earthy harmonium at its foundation, McCleery’s vocal performance was recorded in one take with additional percussion and bass added later. He explains the artistic journey: “As I began to learn the song the lyrics became more symbolic, particularly the lyric “seeds of a dandelion blow away” – the notion of letting go, and the idea that hope is fragile.”

6. Ordinary Madness (RAC Mix) Joe Goddard featuring SLO

PHOENIX favourite and Hot Chip / Two Bears member Joe Goddard released his wonderful second album Electric Lines earlier this year, and ‘Ordinary Madness’ originally arrived as a poppy and accessible R&B-flavoured opening track. Some months later, Grammy-winning Portuguese producer RAC has transformed the track into a subtle, guitar driven, balearic-inspired arrangement, bringing SLO’s vocals to the front. Chilled to perfection.

7. No Such Thing Avelino

Having firmly cemented his “Gr8ness” with the explosive release of his single ‘Energy’, featuring long-time friends and grime heavyweights Stormzy and Skepta, London’s Avelino recently returned with his “playlist” concept album No Bullshit. The Tottenham lyricist demonstrates a distinctive flow and lyrical dexterity, weaving an effortless synergy between melody and rapping. ‘No Such Thing’ showcases both his lyrical versatility and his nuanced approach to love and life. One to watch, no bullshit.

8. Bateu Yüksek

Pierre-Alexandre Busson aka Yüksek is a French electronic music producer, remixer, singer and DJ. Yüksek means “high” in Turkish, and ‘Bateu’ is a percussive electronic jam to take you higher. The track flows, builds and crescendos to grin-inducing perfection – this fluid dancefloor-friendly cut wouldn’t sound out of place in a late-night Balearic deep-disco set. Pure heat.

9. 2daBeat Super Flu

Hailing from Halle in Germany, Felix Thielemann and Mathias Schwarz – aka Super Flu – are one of dance music’s most unique acts, their ambitious sound covering a lot of ground, from classic house to orchestral. A cut from their new album Musik 3 DaBeat is a sublime tour through retro drum-machine grooves, hints of jazz, and a joyous sample which drops halfway. This track is a sonic journey which demonstrates exactly why Super Flu have been gathering props from music aficionados and industry tastemakers alike. Check out the companion remix album Musik 3+ which features 13 innovative reworks from the likes of Deetron, Solomun and Mathias Kaden.

10. One Day Justin Jay feat. Hila Plitmann

Following on from the success of his debut album Fantastic Voyage, Justin Jay is back and more energised than ever, releasing his second album Home on his own imprint. Home embodies a monumental quest in Justin’s life as an artist, singer and songwriter, with a nod to Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. ‘One Day’ is certainly heroic in scope, and wouldn’t sound of place in the closing credits for a Baz Lurmann film. Perhaps a scene where Nicole Kidman (of course) could be rescued from the clutches of a villain (played by electronic producer Com Truise) by a spaceship which looks a bit like a giant 1920s chandelier.

11. Want Me More NAATIONS

NAATIONS have busy been building their distinct musical identity, picking up fans all over the world, and delivering a massive colab with Duke Dumont & Gorgon City for their summer anthem ‘Real Life’ along the way. NAATIONS is made up of super-talented singer/songwriter Nat Dunn and producer Nicky Night Time, part of underrated electronic pioneers Van She. Like much of their work, ‘Want Me More’ combines an old-school breaks feel with soulful brass, soaring vocals, and a stadium-sized chorus; a winning combination which is only going to make them more friends all over the world.

12. Angel Femme

Over the past few years, FEMME has been gathering plaudits from the likes of Vogue, Dazed & Confused, Nylon Magazine and Noisey, as well as sound-tracking catwalk shows by Stella McCartney, and touring the USA with Charli XCX and Elliphant. FEMME’s feisty attitude returns with ‘Angel’, a catchy take on modern relationships and the dating game. Woe betide any pouty pick-up artists – FEMME has got your number, with a “yeah right” mantra, and one eyebrow permanently raised. FEMME is also no slouch when it comes to creative independence. She combines addictive beats, sassy delivery and effervescent melodies on her own terms, taking total control of every stage of production, including the video shot in Miami. Catch her this month in Manchester, Glasgow and Heaven, London.

13. Paradise (Skream Remix) Back Talk feat. Idris Elba

Would you like to disappear down a dark techno rabbit-hole with Idris Elba? I bet you would. Well, your wish is Skream’s command in this epic rework of ‘Paradise’. Back Talk is a brand-new, collaborative, live electronic project consisting of Doorly, Trooko and Tan Dem, who plan to feature special guests on every release. On this debut, Elba sets a high bar – as well he might; The Man Who Should Be Bond is also a highly regarded big-room DJ on the international circuit.

14. Raingurl Yaeji

PHOENIX loves Yaeji so much we have included her twice in one playlist – an unprecedented event, but fully justified when you take into account her epic talent. Here she delivers a thoroughbred dancefloor banger and the perfect accompanying video, which she also directed. As one YouTube commentator enthused, “aesthetic so fine”. PHOENIX totally agrees.

15. Garage Palace Gorillaz feat. Little Simz

Gorillaz recently unleashed one of their live favourites as a surprise new track, ‘Garage Palace’ featuring Little Simz. The retro 8-bit video-game-visualiser video adds to Gorillaz’ long run of innovative and ground-breaking work. It ingeniously follows Simz through dark alleys and cloudy skies on a series of combats, missions and obstacles to reach the top of a tower block for her final battle – but not without the collective cartoon muscle of Gorillaz behind her, of course.

16. I Took Your Picture Cults

NYC-based Cults stars Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion, and their recent album Offering marks their first LP since 2013’s critically acclaimed Static. It also marks the beginning of a more collaborative phase for Cults. The duo have always traded ideas, but for the first time they sat down to jam out ideas together in a room. PHOENIX loves the results, and this lead single captures their dreamy 1980’s synth-pop throwback to perfection. Check out the video directed by Elliott Sellers.

17. Empath Keeno

Winchester-born producer Keeno showcases his highly polished skills with his latest collection All The Shimmering Things. His trademark production combines orchestral and cinematic elements with a strong dancefloor impact. We think you’ll love his new LP, but for our playlist we are digging into the vaults with this exclusive gem taken from an EP that Hospital Records released for their all-day drum & bass celebration at Let It Roll, earlier this year.

18. Smalltown Boy (Arnaud Rebotini Remix) Bronski Beat

Bronski Beat were an 80s phenomenon, out and proud, and on a mission to politicize what they saw was the inoffensive nature of contemporary gay performers at the time. Their debut single “Smalltown Boy” was about a gay teenager leaving his family and fleeing his hometown, and reached number three in the UK charts when it was released. 33 years later this seminal track gets a stunning update from dance music legend Arnaud Rebotini, as part of his original sound track for the indie French film, “Beats Per Minute.” The movie covers the AIDS crisis in France during the 1990s, and the remix is a fitting revival for an important cause. Check out the video for a taste of the 90s Parisian nightlife where the film takes place.

19. Leap Of Faith Mr Jukes feat. De La Soul and Horace Andy

Many moons ago, I was big into a type of rare vintage soul which was sometimes called Crossover. This largely mid-tempo genre sits somewhere in between the uptempo dancefloor thrills of Northern Soul, and the slick downtempo productions of Modern Soul and Two-Step. Tracks like Belita Woods ‘Magic Corner’ and Delegates Of Soul ‘I’ll Come Running Back’ would command top dollar on original 7” vinyl. So, it’s a real joy to hear Bombay Bicycle Club’s Jack Steadman, aka Mr Jukes, release this stunning jam, which is not a million miles away from the original funky Crossover goldmine. Guest vocals from De La Soul and reggae legend Horace Andy bring the sunshine in this slice of romantic mid-tempo magic.

20. Start Again Sam Fender

Following on from his previous single ‘Millennial’, Newcastle born and bred singer-songwriter Sam Fender is wasting no time, returning with the equally politically charged single ‘Start Again’. “Forget the media, and its duplicity, fooling you and me” – well said young man! For his second appearance on the PHOENIX playlist, Sam channels the edgy new-wave vibes of early Police with the more poetic stylings of Jeff Buckley, together with his own stylistic elements – which all combine to pack a powerful punch. You can check out Fender live at Riverside Newcastle on 7th December.

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