Some three years after The xx released their self-titled debut album, they are returning with a new record, Coexist, due for release in September.
Last time out, the London group picked up the Mercury prize amidst mountains of praise and hype for their downbeat pop soundscapes. Inevitably there will now be questions as to whether they can avoid the time honoured "curse of the Mercury". This week they released the first single from the LP online. The song, "Angels", can be found streaming, among other places, at thexx.info/angels – it doesn't stray far from the template of their debut, with sparse sounds playing under Romy Croft's hushed romantic vocals. I'm not entirely sold on the whole thing, but I did like the twinkling of the lead melody and drum sounds.
A summer sound worth dipping into
I'm rather taken with the new song by west coast rapper Kendrick Lamar. The track "Swimming Pools (Drank)" features on his oddly-titled forthcoming album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, due in October. It finds Lamar displaying his impressively varied rapping range over some particularly tight production from T-Minus. Hear it at snd.sc/Sk0koz.
A bright spark – and a brooding earworm
I recently happened across a song called "I Make Sparks" by emerging Irish artist Katie Kim, and it's been haunting my brain ever since. The track is a gorgeous brooding brew of Kim's almost whispered vocals, rudimentary guitar strumming and mournful surrounding sounds. The song features on Kim's collection Vaults Vol 1 that is one of three albums of lo-fi experimental pop the Waterford singer has recorded, all of which can be found at katiekim.bandcamp.com.
Out of Africa: a tUnE-yArDs mix
US musician Merrill Garbus, the particularly big brain behind tUnE-yArDs, has made no secret of her interest in Africa, with elements of Afrobeat and Afropop showing up in her own music. Despite admitting to a "limited knowledge" of such a vast array of music, Garbus has put together a rather lovely mixtape for the website okayafrica.com, focusing largely on vintage cuts from East Africa. Find it at ind.pn/OJZxtd.