On Hold

I’ve got more and more out of The Xx as time has gone on. At first I thought they were impressive but easier to admire than to love. That’s changed over the years since their debut and its follow up, even more so after Jamie Xx’s solo album from last year. News came out on Friday that their third album will be released in January and in advance of it comes a single called On Hold.

The opening section with Romy and Oliver trading lines starts out sounding like an 80s power ballad but stick with it. The synth stabs coming in forty seconds and then the repetitive vocal sample (Hall and Oates) at fifty seconds take it elsewhere, into higher places.

While I’m in the Xx zone this Jamie Xx edit of Sunset off second album Coexist is a wonderful bass and kick drum led thing of beauty. The repeated guitar line building up to Romy’s vocal drop is magnificent use of tension and release and the end section is pretty amazing too.

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Night Time

Listening to Jamie Xx’s solo album has sent me back to various related odds and sods, mainly remixes of The Xx. This one by Greg Wilson particularly but also a couple of John Talabot ones. I resisted the temptation to type the legendary Greg Wilson which by now appears to have become his forename, deservedly so. This remix pushes Romy’s vocal upfront, keeps the guitar line and adds a skippy house beat, perfect for that moment when the sun is just dipping down and you’ve got a glass of something cold. Reminds me of 1990s Everything But The Girl, a connection I hadn’t made until now.

Night Time (Greg Wilson Remix)

Loud Places

My first few listens of the Jamie Xx solo album have been very enjoyable- it’s got the tunes, it’s well paced, full of thumping and/or interesting drums and percussion, and moments of bittersweet euphoria. The sleeve’s lovely too. There’s a garage/dubstep influence on the some of the songs which keep it from being too tasteful and give it a rougher edge. The Rest Is Noise already sounds like being the song you’re going to hear out of open windows and on TV festival coverage. Another highlight is Loud Places, sung by bandmate Romy. This recent live performance from French TV has Romy singing and guitaring, a lively percussionist, a choir and Stella from Warpaint on drums.

In Colour

There’s been a lot of internet used up today with opinions about Spike Island, from naysayers and fans alike. I just read a review of the forthcoming Jamie xx solo album, In Colour, and then scurried off to listen to something off it. Listening to Gosh Jamie has taken that line from She Bangs The Drums and run with it- ‘the past is your’s the future’s mine’. It’s exhilarating, inventive and absorbing stuff. The staccato rhythm (sounding like the blood pumping through your head when you’re exercising and at full pelt), the build up and then the drama of the last two minutes is something else.

Wherever it was that I read the review said that Jamie’s album is about memories of UK rave and dance music (or something along those lines). That dance music is always about creating something new from the recent past. That this album is in colour compared to the black and white palette of The Xx. I’m up for all of that. Now I’m off to listen to Gosh again.

Chained

Something long and slow and laid back for Sunday morning, a remix of The Xx by John Talabot (he’s from Barcelona), sampling The Streets and released back in 2012. Listening to this won’t get you up and about and doing anything strenuous (getting out on the bike, clearing the shed out, tidying the garden…) but you will feel very relaxed while it’s playing.

Chained (John Talabot & Pionel Blinded Remix)

Double X

The xx release their second album, Coexist, today. Somehow I find them an easier band to admire than to love. Their first album was impressive but I never really got into it like I should have. The sound they create, the dubsteppy stuff, the sparse guitars and bass, the space, the twin vocals, are all done very well. This is a bonus track called Reconsider. Which I’m going to try to do.

Double X

The xx’s album revealed it’s charms slowly for me, and I’ve got to say I now think it’s pretty good. This remix by Four Tet however is stunning- as someone commented somewhere, it makes you think everyone should have a Four Tet remix.

The xx_01_VCR (Four Tet Remix).mp3