Each new year seems to begin with a vague suggestion/vain hope that D'Angelo will finally follow-up his 2000 masterpiece album Voodoo.
The latest smoke signals have come in several forms: the neo-soul singer has signed up for a brief European tour – with a date in London – in a few weeks' time; last month, the Roots drummer Questlove – a friend and collaborator – said that the new record was "97 per cent finished"; and this week a fresh hint arrived in the shape of new music. Well, not exactly new, but it was something: a demo emerged of D'Angelo covering Soundgarden's 1994 grunge hit "Black Hole Sun" in his own inimitable way – trippy, psychedelic soul, strange vocals. Hear it at snd.sc/vdj332. Some doubt was thrown on its authenticity with Questlove weighing in on Twitter to say it was indeed a D'Angelo demo from about eight years ago and most certainly not on the new album. A few steps forward and a few steps back then.
Rocky gets a track out asap
Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky has been hailed as one of several names to look out for this year and has kicked things off by dropping a new track on his Tumblr, ind.pn/Ah8LRn. "Some new wave to start the year off right," he wrote before adding confidently: "Call us on a yacht 10 years from now we'll still be on top." The track, "Pretty Flacko", is a fine slow-burning affair with confrontational spitting from the rapper and a hazy, dubstep-infused production from spaceghostpurrp.
Tsunami aid is a work in progress
We are the Works in Progress is a benefit album in aid of the relief fund for last year's earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The 14-track record was organised by the dream-pop band Blonde Redhead, whose singer and guitarist Kazu Makino is from the country. It's released digitally next week with a physical LP following in February. Last week there was an early taste of it in the form of a song by Karin Dreijer Andersson, the Swedish electronic artist/singer best known for her work with The Knife and Fever Ray. Called "No Face", the minimal track, comprised of vocal cooing over sparse sounds, is streaming at ind.pn/xfxs50.
Baby tears mean trouble
Cassie Ramone of Vivian Girls, Kevin Morby of Woods and a few others have an extra curricular project called The Babies. They're putting out a release next week called Cry Along with The Babies through the New Images label, which is streaming lead-off single "Trouble" on the Soundcloud page – snd.sc/ sxPxc3. It's a gorgeous, lo-fi affair with scratchy, barely-there guitars and faint to-and-fro vocals from Ramone and Morby.