It's funny how some artists almost seem to be psychic. Monika's third album, Secret in the Dark, was released last October with low expectations. We'll probably never know how it shed its obscurity three months later. What we do know is that this 28-year-old from Athens has distilled some excellent melodies on the title track that blur the line between funk and 80s new wave. Start enjoying this one now, or wait three months and you'll be hearing it at the grocery store.
Monika, "Secret In The Dark"
The Netherlands: Bombay
Some people see 2016 as nothing but the prolongation of a rotten year in which "can't-be-bothered" won out over being binational. Others have decided to show their teeth and go careening full speed towards the walls of conformity. That's the case for Bombay, a completely crazy group from Amsterdam that seems to have gotten its name, not from the city in India, but from the weapon of mass destruction.
Bombay, "Slow Motion"
United Kingdom: Bloc Party
Kele Okekeri's band doesn’t get talked about much lately, since for the past three years the group from Essex has shown no signs of life. Yet Bloc Party has never worried about being consistent. After their first hit album, Silent Alarm, the four Brits got distracted by various collaborations, experiments and solo efforts. But on the 29th of January, Bloc Party made a true comeback, with two new members, a new album and lots of new (and good) ideas. Hymns, with its diverse, pop feel, is the best news early 2016 has to offer.
Bloc Party, "The Good News"
For a long time, Thibaud Berland liked to compare his music to "a dessert or a really good cheese that you'd share with your friends." That's it. The DJ expresses himself as much as he sings. His magic formula can be found in the fine, sweet metaphors of his arrangements, or on the cover of his first album (which shows his tall, lanky form on a square of chocolate). On his second album, Breakbot mixes up the same ingredients as before: synth, groove, Irfane's voice, and a certain kitsch that puts listeners behind the wheel in an episode of Knight Rider, driving along the Pacific Ocean somewhere between Malibu and Santa Barbara. On Still Waters, the wild-haired DJ adds a little more structure. The same recipe, but without the bubbles this time. There's no chart-topping "Baby I'm Yours," but there are plenty of reasons to go back for seconds of this dessert.
Breakbot, "Get Lost"
Heaven: Maurice White (1941-2016)
Because Earth, Wind and Fire's lead singer sold millions of albums in Europe. For his costumes. For his joy. For his groove. For his genius.
Earth, Wind And Fire, "In The Stone"