New music playlist December 2016

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A good place to sit and think at fifty four
A good place to sit and think at fifty four

Whilst in no way wishing to sound smug (OK – maybe a bit smug) I am writing this from a rented holiday home in Florida. The sun, beer and grouper sandwiches may have influenced this month’s selections. The only cloud on the horizon is the amount of building work going on in the neighbourhood. I can put up with the sound of honest work but the loud radio that accompanies them is driving me round the twist. The preferred station has so far played nothing released after 1986. I may have to do a deal with them to at least play something new. They could do worse than start with this playlist.

Last month’s new music playlist kicked off with the Oh Hellos and this month we start with a band that have supported them in their early days. Cereus Bright hail from Knoxville, Tennessee and River Run is taken from their debut album Excuses. With hints of Fleet Foxes and War On Drugs, this is a real ear-worm that deserves (and gets) repeat plays. Touring the States through the winter months, it would be great to see them on the European festival circuit next year. Twitter

Ruth Berhe, better known as Ruth B, famously posted videos of herself on Vine, creating a buzz which led to a record contract. Her 2015 debut single,   Lost Boy, made the Top 20 in her native Canada and just nudged the Top 100 in the UK. In My Dreams showcases a beautiful, clear voice with just a hint of Christine McVie. Twitter

Stranger is taken from Lynx Hollow’s 2012 album Harbors. Californian David Shane is the driving force of the band and has been recording under his own name in the intervening years. However, September 2016 saw the release of a new single under the Lynx Hollow – maybe a sign of great things to come. Twitter

In Yorkshire we tend to know a thing or two about Brass Bands (and every other subject for that matter). However, if “brass band” makes you think of Floral Dance, thank again. There are a host of jazz /soul / hip hop brass bands from the States with Brooklyn’s Hypnotic Brass Ensemble being among the finest. Having witnessed them at first hand at the Wardrobe in Leeds a few years ago I am a big fan. Flipside is taken from their eponymous 2009 album. Twitter

AudioDamn! are a trio of Austrians currently based in the US. Their single Radar was released over a year ago and has started them on the road to fame in their adopted country, maybe Europe will follow in 2017. Radar seems like an almost effortless pop song – shades of Maroon 5 (?) ponting the way to bigger things to come. Twitter 

World Music has long been a term that I have disliked – where else would music come from? These days it is rare for any music to not have some influences from outside the immediate home of the musicians concerned. Vaudou Game are a good example. African musicians from Togo, now based in Lyon, France, combining traditional Vaudou rhythms with US funk to produce an irresistible fusion. La Vie C’est Bon was released as a single earlier this year. Facebook

Another example of the fusion of African and American influences comes in the form of Fantastic Negrito – a musician of Somali / Caribbean descent who was brought up in an orthodox Muslim household. When the family moved to Oakland, California and the young musician was exposed to the likes of Funkadelic. His is a fascinating backstory – read more here. Scary Woman is taken from the latest album The Last Days Of Oakland. Twitter

Guy Baron, aka Semi Precious, is a writer and producer from South London. No Distractions is a track from this year’s debut album Ultimate Lounge. Often constructed from samples and loops but with a soft dreamlike vocal added the album invites further listening. Twitter

Formed in 2014, Resistant Hearts is a wonderfully melodic combination of British songwriter John Brandon and American vocalist Tre’ Nation (aka Monte Pierre). Turn This Ship Around was released s a single in 2015. Twitter

Bristol’s Bella Loka are husband and wife Tea and David Boothby. Now based in London and recording at Abbey Road, the duo are attracting the attention of 6 Music and BBC Introducing.  There latest single, Well Done is a fresh, feel good, pop song that will worm its way deep inside your head. Twitter

Sheffield is a city with a vibrant music scene and rich tradition of bands making it big. Next in line could be Oddity Road, a four piece Indie Rock band poised for big things. Debut single Handshake is included here. Twitter

When I published the first of these playlists last month I had a list of around 20 songs I wanted to include but decided 12 was a good number. It has been good enough for most classic albums over the years so good enough for me. However, one mistake was to hold Human from that list, intending to lead with it this month. Of course, in the intervening weeks, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man has deservedly bagged a huge hit and sold out gigs across the country. A rich, powerful voice coupled with an assured performance on Later With Jools Holland has lead to a 2017 Brits Critics Choice Award. Rory Graham is going to be a huge star. Actually, just shy of 54m plays on Spotify suggests he may already be there! Twitter

Listen to the playlist on Spotify


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