Hugo Manuel of Oxford, UK's Jonquil and the Blessing Force collective also makes music under the name Chad Valley. As such, he's concocted a winning mix of electronic indie pop and left-field R&B, run through an array of sparkling synths and topped by Manuel's open-hearted vocals. His second record Young Hunger came out last month on Cascine and features collabos with Twin Shadow, Glasser, Active Child, and El Perro Del Mar. We checked in to see what Manuel has been listening to lately.
First a track from the album....
Pure Bathing Culture
My favorite new band. There was a real sit up straight and pay attention moment when I first heard "Silver Shore's Lake" from their debut EP. That happens so rarely to me, I am very hard to please. There is something very 80's-Joni Mitchell about the singing, the phrasing and the melodies, and the guitar playing is sublime. So melodic yet grounded in the way a rhythm guitar part should be. This is the kind of guitar playing that makes me wish I could play. I have had a guitar in my possession since I was like 14, yet I can never get beyond fiddling around like an infant. Anyway, they have a fantastic 4-track EP and a great video and not much else. I dunno if they are going to conquer the world or anything, but I really love this in a big way.
These guys are on the same label as me, Cascine, and I met them for the first time recently at CMJ in New York at the Cascine showcase which was a real pleasure. They told me that the reason they first approached Cascine was because they heard a song from my first EP and thought that it would be a good fit, which it was and it is! So we're like kindred spirits I think, fellow lovers of New Jack Swing and shitty digital synths that no one else wants. "Gentle Man," which I think is going to be on their forthcoming album, is a massive hit and should be heard by all.
I haven't gone deep into his catalog because these days I just listen to "Let Me Love You" over and over again. I love this kind of pop music that is happening a lot at the moment. Big break downs and big synths, almost like the kind of trance that was big in the UK in the 90's, but with a soulful edge - there is nothing soulful about most trance. A few years back I was thinking to myself that there would be a revival of trance somehow, and i think this is where its happening. Anyway, I'm a sucker for music like this... see also David Guetta feat. Afrojack - "Louder Than Words." That tune has balls.
I'm new to this. My friend Orlando from Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs put me on to Miguel's song "Adorn," which is a standout for him for sure. The album is good though, its the kind of album (like Channel Orange) that I hoped would be made and now its has, two or three times over. Its R&B that maintains its pop appeal, but also cuts out the filler that you always see in pop albums. Its a shame that albums by people like Ne-Yo or Katy Perry have so many awful tracks on them that just don't fit in with the aesthetic of the album at all. I guess it all has to do with the way these albums are made, with different writers and producers for every song, or even different writers for every section of every song; its doesn't seem like a natural way to make music, but I guess its an easy way to knock out product quickly.
"Your Drums, Your Love" has an incredible hook and there is beautiful production to this. Its informed by the British underground dance scene as much as mainstream 90's R&B and I think the balance is perfect. These guys are going far, and I find it fascinating to watch their progression to that level. I can see a theme to my choices here. I am getting rather predictable, but the R&B thing is so important to me at the moment -- its like having this music that I love validated by lots of other like-minded people.
So on a pretty different tip, I am a huge fan of Peter, Bjorn and John, and so hearing about a new Peter Morén solo album was something I got very excited about, and the first song to be released from that album, "Odyssen" is a standout mega-hit, I might have to learn Swedish so I can sing along, because its that kind of chorus that you can't help but get addicted to hearing. Great production on this too. I love the tape echo trail in the breakdown. Tape echo is a friend of mine.