6. Mikky Ekko – Pull Me Down
We’d be very surprised if Mikky Ekko’s popularity doesn’t skyrocket in the coming months. Hailing from Nashville, his previous work meanders through alt-country, scuzzy electronica and choral pop, but he’s currently establishing himself as a forward thinking crooner and has recently caught the ear of Two Inch Punch and more notably, Rihanna. New single ‘Pull Me Down’ is a dreamy piece of soul with a hip-hop backbone courtesy of Clams Casino, operating in an uncharacteristically restrained manner. A very good thing in this instance, with the gentle vibe of the production complementing Ekko’s smooth, understated vocal, rather than stealing any focus. Definitely one for a Sunday morning, perhaps a little bit Radio 2, but sublime nonetheless.
7. Scuba – Talk Torque
You can’t help but feel like Scuba – formerly a kingpin of intelligent dubstep – is playing a massive fucking joke on everyone with the torrent of increasingly commercial house bangers he’s unleashed upon us the last 12 months. It began with ‘Adrenalin’ and ‘Never’, continued with ‘NE1BUTU’ and has now proceeded to another level entirely with non-album cut ‘Talk Torque’. Bassy techno forms the skeleton of this latest, with plenty of house claps fleshing it out. Whilst not quite entering Calvin Harris territory, what will ultimately stick in the brain is the vocal hook – a hook so fabulously 90s it’ll have you arranging an N-Trance PA before the day is through.
8. Solange – Losing You (Cyril Hahn Remix)
Cyril Hahn is a man with a lot of expectation upon his shoulders. After quietly wowing the house community with an impressive and surprisingly emotive rework of Destiny’s Child’s ‘Say My Name’, he set his own bar very high for what he’s follow up with. Understandably, he took his time, but has finally resurfaced with a rework of Solange’s already rather good ‘Losing You’ – and it doesn’t disappoint. His remix is deep, sparse and minimal yet just like his DC rework, also rather moving. Quite how he conjures up such magic from so few components we don’t know, but we look forward to guessing who he’ll take on next – if you’re listening Cyril, we reckon Alicia Keys would be excellent fodder.
9. Ryan Hemsworth – The Happy Mask Shop
Not unlike Cyril Hahn, Ryan Hemsworth is a man whose reputation has exploded pretty rapidly, although with more material on the table we can be more assured about his caliber. Sometime producer of cloud-rap duo Main Attraktionz and a member of the WEDIDIT collective (which also counts Shlohmo, Groundislava, Elan and D33J amongst it’s members), Hemsworth is a man who combines the roughness of trap and crunk with an stirring take on electronica. His ‘Last Words’ EP perfectly sums up this ethos, and ‘The Happy Mask Shop’ is our pick from it. Combining orchestral choirs and skittering 808 beats it’s sweeping, powerful and dramatic. Also worth 45 minutes of your time is his Fact Mix which blends his signature style with some tougher swag – and moreover, feels fresh and exciting in the same way Diplo did circa 2004.
10. Taylor Swift – State Of Grace
And finally, on a completely different tip, let’s discuss Taylor Swift. At the point where she could potentially blow up in the UK like she did in the US way back, new album ‘Red’ is quite the statement of intent. With up-to-date production and the ‘country’ tag played down massively, Swift (or at least the machine behind her) clearly have eyes on the big pop prize. She’s an easy sell in some ways – cute, pretty and adept at slotting into different styles, albeit lacking the personality of a Gaga or a Perry. However, on the Swift-does-Kelly Clarkson ‘State Of Grace’ everything falls into place perfectly. Upbeat pop rock production is the order of the day, and enough room is given for Swift’s not necessarily powerhouse vocals to breathe. It’s an excellent fit for her, and one that we hope develops more fully as her dominance grows.