February Playlist

Two months down and luckily people are still making music. Some of it we like and some of it you may have missed. These are the tracks that have caught our attention this February:

1. Kanye West: 30 Hours

The Life of Pablo, for whatever reason, hasn’t quite had the vice-like grip on the public that was anticipated. Still, laid-back self-analysis '30 Hours' is full of the little quirks that make Kanye worth returning to, not least the Arthur Russell sample that feeds the whole track. 

2. Esperanza Spalding: Earth To Heaven

'Earth To Heaven' is exactly how you’d imagine Esperanza Spalding would make a hit. The Portland former musical prodigy and virtuoso bassist makes a blended mixture of jazz, rock, soul and vocal lines that put Spalding in the same world as Laura Mvula and Lianne La Havas. Simply put, it’s splendid. 

3. Johnny Borrell and Zazou: Swim Like A Star

It’s simple to just label this as the final nail in the coffin for any Razorlight fans forlornly hoping for a return to form. Johnny and Zazou seem to have found their own dusty corner though, and while 'Swim Like A Star' is about as derivative as any Razorlight track, it’s slinky, well-crafted harmless fun.

4. Minor Victories: A Hundred Ropes

Be honest, how many supergroups do you like? Minor Victories – made up of Slowdive singer Rachel Goswell, Mogwai guitarist Stuart Braithwaite, Editors’ guitarist Justin Lockey and his brother James – have the chance to break the mould somewhat. 'A Hundred Ropes' manages to be both frenetic and murky at the same time, an interesting and promising combination. 

5. Greys: No Star

“Don’t shoot, I’m not the enemy” is the forced, pained lyric Greys singer Shehzaad Jiwani utters to begin this protest song against the Bataclan attacks in November. Perhaps it’s due to the context of the horror that surrounds this, but rarely has a screaming punk track felt so anguished. It’s such a fitting tribute from the Toronto group, and a must-listen.

6. Mogwai: Ether

'Ether' is written for the album Atomic, which is made up of reworked tracks from the soundtrack to the documentary Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise. In all honesty, it sounds like it, and not in a good way – the Hollywood clichés are sitting smugly on full show. However, with more to come, it’s far too early to give up on this yet. 

7. Cate Le Bon: Wonderful

 Jangly, out of control smash hit from the Welshest of indie singers. Xyophones, brass and the lyric “I wanna be a motion picture film” make this a freight train of charm, and a “soundtrack to the summer” track of the highest quality.

8. Mothers: Too Small For Eyes

 Dedicated to lead singer Kristine Leschper’s mother at their album launch in London last week, 'Too Small For Eyes' is beautiful lyrically and musically. The strings are used inventively enough to enhance the track, yet Leschper’s quivering vocal makes the song feel intimate, still. It’s a perfectly written lament. 

9. Jake Bugg: Gimme The Love

In a sense, it’s more of the same. No matter what sound hits you, you know the nuts and bolts of a Jake Bugg song. With some funk drums and a play with the reverb, you can feel Bugg’s sound getting bigger. Fans of his early simplicity, however, will not be disappointed. 

10. J. Ralph and Anohni: Manta Ray

Putting the Oscars' controversial decision not to ask nominated singer Anohni to perform at the ceremony last week to one side, you are left with what the lead singer of Antony and the Johnsons does best. A simple waltz-song with heartbreaking lyrics - "without my home, with no reflection / I cease to exist" - 'Manta Ray' is a pained plea for help from the Earth itself. At least some people are listening.