New artist of the week: Nick Mulvey
A former member of the jazz band Portico Quartet. Mulvey left the band in 2011 to concentrate on a solo career as a singer-songwriter. A dangerous move but one that so far has worked out pretty well for the Cambridge man.
Already named as one of the BBC Sound of 2014 poll nominees, Mulvey's music is light and airy and he's a singer-songwriter who sounds like he has a personality.
His first two EPs introduced his style: bright and poppy, English-accented with African and Latin guitar styles on display. Songs like Cucurucu, an insanely catchy number, are the kind of ditties that are currently soundtracking someone's full moon party in Thailand or backpacking holiday in Vietnam.
He impressed at SXSW last month in Texas and a European tour has pretty much sold out. He's already played Dublin, last November at the Unitarian Church. His forthcoming single Meet Me There will be the last before his major label debut album First Mind in May.
Tracks of the week Ben Khan – Youth
There's huge support in the UK for this new London producer/ musician. He's got an upbeat R&B soul pop sound and Youth with its "whoop" vocal sample and Jai Paul-esque vibes is a thing of aural beauty.
SAM SMITH – STAY WITH ME
He has already been ordained as the critics' choice for 2014 thanks to a collaboration with Disclosure and some fine early singles. He's knocked it out of the park with Stay With Me though, a gospel-fused great ballad of mainstream-acceptance proportions. It makes him sound like the male Adele.
ANNIE EVE – BODYWEIGHT
Take a dash of Daughter, a smidgen of Soak and a lil pinch of Laura Marling and you might come up with Annie Eve, a new English singer-songwriter who is releasing music on Young & Lost Club, a one-time home for Bastille, Bombay Bicycle Club and Little Green Cars.
It's hard to think about Kurt Cobain's passing, which happened 20 years ago tomorrow, without feeling a tinge of sadness for what might have been.
Thankfully, though, he'd already put the wheels in motion on an extraordinary musical movement by the time he left us. So here, in memory of Kurt and the genre to which he gave life, are our top 10 picks from Seattle grunge.
1. NIRVANA – SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT
Yes, this tune changed music forever and, yes, its place in history is largely circumstantial. But let's not get wrapped up in symbolism or sentimentality: this song makes the list because it damn well rocks.
2. SOUNDGARDEN – BLACK HOLE SUN
Chris Cornell's powerful vocal complements Kim Thayil's piercing lead guitar line to perfection.
3. ALICE IN CHAINS – ROOSTER
Opens with a soft Seattle flange and finishes with a crescendo of beautiful, grungey noise.
4. CANDLEBOX – FAR BEHIND
This tune lays bare the pioneering influence that Cobain and his bandmates had on the genre.
5. PEARL JAM – THE FIXER
The grunge movement provided us with some of the greatest rock vocalists ever to breathe into a mic and chief amongst them was Eddie Vedder – he's at his absolute best in this cracker.
6. NIRVANA – HEART-SHAPED BOX
It's hard to choose just two Nirvana tunes to feature here – but we've got to be strict with ourselves, and this powerful piece ticks all the (heart-shaped) boxes.
7. TEMPLE OF THE DOG – HUNGER STRIKE
A clear precursor to the West Coast Rock that would dominate US music for much the late 1990s, this is high on intensity and low on tempo.
8. SCREAMING TREES – DYING DAYS
A momentum builder – because no genre loves building and layering on momentum quite like grunge.
9. MUDHONEY – SUCK YOU DRY
Despite its rough'n'ready image, you just won't get by in grunge without extraordinary technical proficiency – Suck You Dry is a testament to this.
10. MOTHER LOVE BONE – HOLY ROLLER
For anyone who believed that grunge represented a clean break from the hair rock of the 1980s, Mother Love Bone's Holy Roller is a clear demonstration of where the twain did meet.
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