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Video of the Moment #1929: Jamie xx

 
By on Thursday, 1st October 2015 at 6:00 pm
 

One of the bookies’ current favourites for a 2015 Mercury Prize nomination for his debut solo album ‘In Colour’, Jamie xx has a new video this week out for ‘I Know There’s Gonna Be’. It features the vocal talents of American hip hop artist Young Thug and Jamaican dancehall artist Popcaan.

The promo starts serenely enough, with beautiful views over a city by the water, and then it turns into a dance floor banger. You’d expecting nothing less from Jamie xx, though, am I right? Watch it below. ‘In Colour’ is out now on Beggars imprint Young Turks.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjLBB-TMa84[/youtube]

 

Live Gig Video: Jamie xx and friends perform ‘Loud Places’ from his debut album ‘In Colour’ on Seth Meyers

 
By on Friday, 19th June 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

Jamie xx released this month an album that will likely go down in the annals of popular history as one of the most polarising releases in electronic and dance music. You can read my essay on the industry’s response here.

An early taster from ‘In Colour’, the single ‘Loud Places’, features the ethereal lead vocals from Jamie’s xx bandmate Romy Madley-Croft, so when the time came to play this live on late night American television, it made total sense to include her, along with the xx’s bassist Oliver Sim, as part of the performance. With a full band and a bevy of gospel backup singers, it’s a feast for the eyes and ears to behold. Watch it below.

 

You’re in Ecstasy Without Me: How Jamie xx and his debut album ‘In Colour’ managed to polarise the entire music industry

 
By on Friday, 5th June 2015 at 11:00 am
 

The 1st of June 2015 will forever be marked by the highly-anticipated release of the debut solo album by Jamie Smith, known better by his now longtime alter-ego Jamie xx. Smith owes much to his integral position in the Mercury Prize-winning trio, as his membership to it has been nothing but positive, without a doubt opened doors to him in the worlds of production and DJaying. His remix prowess began in earnest when he worked on Florence and the Machine‘s cover of Candi Staton’s ‘You’ve Got the Love’ in 2009, progressing through remixes of his own band, Adele, Radiohead and Four Tet. I can’t even begin to quantify the number of festivals and line-up posters I’ve seen his name listed on, including the Californian desert dance party known as Coachella 2015. Not bad at all, son. Not bad at all.

The electronic-driven contents of ‘In Colour’, now available from Young Turks on both sides of the Atlantic, has been a labour of love and culmination of his professional life over the last 7 years. Clearly, it’s an important record for the 26-year old and one I’m glad he was able to release now, because it’s part of his continuing musical story. And yet, depending on who you talk to or indeed, to which circles you belong, its legacy as Smith’s first solo effort has already been called into question, and for an album that has been alive for less than a week.

The heart of ‘In Colour’, at least how I understand it, is Smith’s “almost obsessive chronicling of in early UK dance music”, its many genres translated into in his own versions to honour what has come before but still make something new and fresh of his very own. Personally, I think it’s pretty neat that someone still relatively young himself yet already very influential to many young music listeners is open and willing to admit how important music of the past has been to him as an developing artist.

Some have asked whether or not this LP is ground-breaking, some going so far as questioning if this collection deserves all the sales and accolades it will get. Others have hit out at Smith, saying that in a similar vein to the extremely popular xx, whose music has backed adverts such as those for the 2010 Winter Olympics and 90210, the album is simply uninspired landfill indie (or, I guess, landfill dance) for the masses and by default, has no artistic merit.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GD5BEh268p8[/youtube]

I suppose with the internet at everyone’s fingertips these days, one could argue that we all have the means to research each and every one of Jamie xx’s touchstones on ‘In Colour’, whether it be house, grime, dancehall or whatnot. In terms of what is ground-breaking or not, that’s really up to the listener, isn’t it? If social media during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London taught us anything, it’s that every single music listener on this planet doesn’t have the same background, so one young girl’s perception of ‘Wish You Were Here’ as a new Ed Sheeran song, while incorrect, can be forgiven. Somewhat. In terms of sales and accolades, this is entirely moot, a foregone conclusion, what with Pitchfork alone giving it a near perfect 9.3 (only dwarfed by a few records such as Kanye West’s perfect rating for ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ in 2010 – not touching that).

‘In Colour’ as a whole was the album up for discussion on last night’s edition of Steve Lamacq’s Roundtable on 6 Music. The three-man panel had starkly different impressions of ‘SeeSaw’ from the album, which like earlier taster ‘Loud Places’ features the smoky vocals of Jamie’s xx bandmate Romy Madley-Croft. Louder Than War journalist John Robb commented of the track ‘SeeSaw’, “it’s just a bit too polished for me, really, it reminds me of flats built in city centres now, you think ‘who lives in those kinds of places?’ It sounds like what they’d listen to in them flats. The one thing I did like was the melancholy, the darkness to it.” Actor Robert Lonsdale’s assessment was middling, initially applauding Smith for “being brave for using lots of instruments and stuff like that, but then putting them through the synthesiser or the same effect or something, it all sounded…a lot of the album sounded quite similar.”

Lamacq’s fellow BBC presenter Tom Robinson provided the most even commentary, having admitted he’d already read reviews of it prior to coming into the studio and sensed the album’s polarising quality to the music community. He noted that in one review, Jamie Smith had been equated to the Sam Smith of dance music. Lammo winced at this suggestion, but Robinson dismissed it, saying, “Sam Smith is extremely good at what he does. It’s exactly right for his target audience, and it’s beautifully done. Perfectly executed, and it sells by the bucketload. This is going to sell by the bucketload.” This led to Lammo asking Robinson if he thought Sam Smith was groundbreaking; Robinson said no, but was quick to point out that Jamie xx has an already established history of breaking boundaries in the past.

Even if Jamie xx wasn’t perceived as a groundbreaking artist in the past, I ask, why should that matter on how ‘In Colour’ does in the shops, or how people view it in 25, 50 years’ time? Leave any preconceived notions or gossip you’ve heard about an artist at the door: the most important thing should be how an album sounds to your virgin ears.

Electronic dance music has long had the bad reputation with non-dance music fans that it’s impossible to feel, understand or “get”, as if you must be part of some misfit, card-carrying group to truly appreciate it for all its analogue vs. digital intricacies. This debut album from Jamie xx has, for better or worse, been put in a good position to do and be a lot of things that other releases in the dance genre could never hope to accomplish. Like all music that is reviewed day after day, it is one thing to have an opinion. We should all have our own opinions and draw our own conclusions on what we like playing in our ears and what we do not. What I find counterproductive are the attacks on this album on the basis that this isn’t good art, it is somehow unworthy of popularity or indeed, it’s unworthy of praise because of this popularity. If the true concern is about what this album’s legacy will be, why don’t we wait that 50 years out and see?

 

In the Post #142: Jamie xx reveals ‘Loud Places’ single featuring Romy Madley-Croft, a cut from upcoming debut album ‘In Colour’

 
By on Friday, 3rd April 2015 at 3:00 pm
 

It’s hard to tell whether Jamie xx likes being extremely busy, or in fact, extremely quiet. His 2015 is looking pretty busy now, mind, having this week announced his debut solo album ‘In Colour’, due out through Beggars imprint Young Turks in June. It’s a chance for Smith to finally showcase his producer credentials on a full-length, and who better to feature on a new track to go with the album announcement…..Romy Madley-Croft. The very same one Smith collaborates with when he’s working the day job with the xx. Are we sure there’s not been some horrible mix-up at the label with these two albums….?

On the surface of Madley-Croft’s defenceless vocals, this could indeed be the latest rework of the xx. Read too much into those breathy vocals and you might even come to the conclusion that the pair are parting ways: “Didn’t I take you / to higher places you can’t reach without me?” she softly patters before the chorus. Smith more than makes his mark in those choruses; having softly built up the atmosphere with tropical guitars and Risset drums, he drops a two-step burst of electropop, punctuated by crisp keys and subtle handclap blows. It’s lush, subtle and sparse all at the same time, a far cry from his highly regarded remix of Florence and the Machine’s ‘You Got the Love’, but still reaching similar euphoric peaks.

This latest arrangement flows with an ease and grace that feels like it’s been harder to bring to the fore in Smith’s previous works. Working on his own material from scratch like this, has once again freed even more electronic ingenuity in his hands. A full album of these refreshing delights isn’t due until June, but gives him the perfect opportunity to astound with his solo work before the cloak and dagger return of his more introvert other projects.

7/10

‘In Colour’, the debut album from Jamie xx, is released through Young Turks on the 1st of June.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TP9luRtEqjc[/youtube]

 

Field Day 2011: Coco’s Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Friday, 19th August 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Part two of Coco’s experiences at Field Day 2011… (Part 1 is here.)

Time was tight as I had to rush to Jamie xx’s set, I had less than 10 minutes to do so. And with no surprises at all, I found myself lost in Victoria Park again. Fortunately, I did end up at the right stage for Jamie xx. Whoa. It was a DJ set from him and people danced like wild animals – not joking. There was a man who kept crashing in the area in front of the barriers and he nailed a solo dance show, before he was sent away by the security. The heavy beats drove everyone crazy and I saw someone holding a rabbit toy in the crowd. It was pretty weird. There were also a lot of photographers taking pictures of Jamie xx non-stop throughout the set, and he didn’t look too impressed by that!

Fast forwarding a bit, I went to see James Blake next. Also a big, big rush and I got lost again. Never mind. The set started with some problems with James’ microphone, so he stopped and had it fixed after one song. That didn’t diminish the crowd’s enthusiasm, instead, the crowd got bigger. Before he played one of my favourite songs, ‘CMYK’; he said it was for people who knew the song. Shamefully, ‘CMYK’ didn’t get much reaction from the crowd. I was miming to it and the lighting was of lilac/light pink colour was gorgeous. I was lost for words when James played ‘I Never Learnt How To Share’. I was simply amazed by how he looped his own vocals and added another octave on top of the loop, in order to create the effect you hear in the album track. This time, the crowd didn’t surprise me by giving a big cheer at the ‘wrong song’. Everyone repeated the words “there’s a limit to your love” with James as he played ‘Limit To Your Love’. The whole set was near-perfect except the little technical flaw from the beginning. There was also a natural defect – the English weather didn’t cooperate and rained (quite heavily) during the middle of his set. I had no umbrella with me because I trusted the BBC and thought it was going to be sunny. (Boo.) Glad the rain stopped after James Blake’s mind-blowing set. I went to have a look at the Horrors. I’m not a huge fan of theirs but during the time I stayed, they did play some good tunes. Clashing with Wild Beasts, I left for the festival headliner.

Wild Beasts played the main stage and I was way back because I couldn’t get to the front. Due to my relatively small size, I couldn’t see anything at all, I could barely see the lights from the stage. The music was of high quality, they played a lot of songs from ‘Smother’. A bunch of people who stood next to me formed a human chain while they played ‘Bed Of Nails’. It’s nice to see how music bonds people together, literally. I saw a lot of ladies moving their bodies along to the music, and I am proud to say I was one of them, though I was probably lacking their expressiveness. Wild Beasts played a new song and told us to ‘get used to the sound’. The song was louder than stuff from ‘Smother’ and had a lot of toms in it. I’d say it was more similar to their old stuff than to ‘Smother’. I didn’t stay until the end of the set as I had to pack to leave London in the morning. Such a shame. Nevertheless, I was still content as I could hear ‘Albatross’ played live. Faultless.

In short, I experienced far too many clashes and I missed out the following acts when I really wanted to see: 2:54, Cloud Control, Clock Opera, SBTRKT, Tribes and Factory Floor. I kept seeing people praising Factory Floor’s set, that made me even more regretful. Having said that, I had a really good time and met a lot of people. I look forward to Field Day 2012!

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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