Needle on the Record: Years & Years, Hypernatural and Martina Topley Bird

Olly Alexander shares another track from ‘Night Call’. 

Years & Years fans have just few days to hear their new album. Night Call will be out on Friday 21st January, it’s Years & Years third album and the first since it morphed into a solo project for Olly Alexander. He also appears to have turned into a merman.

We’ve already loved the singles Sweet Talker,  Crave and Starstruck. The standard version of the album will have 11 tracks, while the deluxe version contains 3 extra tunes plus two collaborations with Kylie Minogue, her remix of Starstruck and A Second to Midnight which appeared on her Disco – Guest List Edition last year.

Ahead of the album’s release one more tune has been released, it’s called Sooner or Later. Alexander hosted a New Years celebration on the BBC and they received hundreds of complaints about him being just too sexy.  

Take a listen to the latest tune.   

Fresh Tracks

Download these new tunes

Bloc Party – Traps sounds like their classic work, roaring guitars and Kele’s distinctive vocals Cat Power – Against the Wind on her new covers album Cat Power transforms this Bob Seger FM radio staple Kae Tempest – feat Kevin Abstract – More Pressure beats and brilliant spoken word  Helen Shanahan – Deer in Headlights her third album is due out in March and this first taste is a delightful tune Jake Xerxes Fussell – Frolic meandering guitars, mellow keys and distant vocals create at atmosphere for afternoon daydreaming Dolly Parton – Big Dreams and Faded Dreams the first track from her upcoming 48th album is equal parts country and soul with a nod to Creedence Clearwater Revival Anthony Ross Costanzo & Justin Vivian Bond – Autumn Leaves a powerful combination of cabaret and opera from the queer musicians      

Martina Topley Bird delivers long awaited forth album

Martina Topley Bird | Forever I Wait | ★ ★ ★ ★

Martina Topley Bird came to prominence in the 1990’s as one of the biggest voices in the trip-hop music genre. She collaborated with Tricky on his first four albums, worked with Massive Attack, The Prodigy, Clark and The Gorillaz. She’s put out three albums of her own material, but this is her first album in over a decade.

This new album, which was released digitally last year, is the first time she’s also been in producer’s chair. Over the last decade the artist has spent time living in Baltimore, and London, and she’s now based in Spain.   

The record a clever mix of electronica and indie guitar vibes with Topley Bird’s distinctive voice gliding through the arrangements. Opener Pure Heart is a guitar based track, but there are quirky electronic sounds in the background, her singing switches between song and spoken word. Wanted is luscious, gentle chords backed by light percussions with soaring ethereal vocals. Weasel has tight twisting lyrics, while Hunt and Wyman have a darker tone. 

Game is an upbeat number, while Collide moves into drum n bass territory with it’s fast percussion and lyrics about corporate greed. Blood keeps the fast moving beats teamed up with a meditative vocal. The final track on the album Rain is filled with strings and creates a powerful sign-off. If you’re a lover of Massive Attack, Portishead, Alpha or Tricky, this new record will slot perfectly into your collection.   

The Presets are back with ‘You Belong’ 

Sydney’s New Year fireworks celebrations featured a brand new track from The Presets. You Belong is the first offering from the electronic duo who topped the charts with My People, This Boys in Love and Talk Like Hat. 

It’s the band first new music in a couple of years and it’s got their signature sound.


Hypernatural take inspiration from landscapes

Hypernatural | Hypernatural | ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Dan Whitford from Australian electronic band Cut/Copy has a new project. Hypernatural sees him teaming up with Mike Gamwell (Knightlife) and Mirko Vogel. The trio travelled to Swedish coasts and the Scottish highlands to capture sounds and created music inspired by the landscapes.

While the music wasn’t originally created with an album in mind, they discovered they had made enough to put one out and it’s a beautiful mix of sounds that fall somewhere between music to chill out to, and music to dance to. With just 7 tracks on the record it’s a lovely journey that clocks in at just over half an hour of listening.

The record open up with Longboat a mix of gentle melodies, percussive beats and the sound of waves crashing in the background. Thunder can be heard as Stormfront commences before warm synthesizers and chants take over, building layers and layers upon each other before dropping into a funky bass driven sound.

Changing Tides builds it’s intensity, like the ebb and flow of the water affected by the movement of the moon. There are vocals but they are distorted and electronic, it could be a language from centuries ago, or a computer speaking from the future, it’s both timeless and fresh.

Spirit Walk brings an unexpected beat driven tune, half way through it pauses for a moment, like holding your breath for a moment, before returning with a slightly different and intriguing sound.  The magic continues with Unknown Caller before a new sound is introduced on New Dawn. Things get darker and scratchier, but the sweeping melodies remain underneath.

The album closes with the uplifting Valley which brings the journey to a perfect close.   

Graeme Watson

Read previous editions of music column Needle on the Record

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