The artist you’ve definitely heard but may not know about is the very talented Devonté Hynes who goes by the name Blood Orange. The UK-born artist who lives/works in New York City has written for major acts like Florence and the Machine, The Chemical Brothers, Sky Ferreira and Britney Spears among others. Hynes’ latest release, Cupid Deluxe, is a refreshingly modern take on traditional R&B, and eloquently combines fragments of dance, jazz, electronic, rap and soul music. My first listen was to the track You’re Not Good Enough—which immediately stopped me in my tracks because my first short-lived impression was that it felt like a really cool combination of two of my favorite acts Prince and MGMT.
Cover art from the Blood Orange album, Cupid Deluxe.
On closer inspection there is really no one like Blood Orange. Cupid Deluxe is a mixture of sounds and genres that you’ll try to make comparisons to but won’t readily find anywhere else. This is not an over-produced pop record—there is a bit of a rough-cut indie feel to it but the writing plays it as a strength, rather than a weakness. The tracks are beautifully layered and distinct, which is a nice acoustic change from the ‘wall of sound’ and lo-fi mixes popular with many producers right now. Collaborator Samantha Urbani of Friends is all over the record, lending beautiful vocal leads and backups that complement Hynes’ voice well.
A selfie from Haynes’ Instagram account.
You’ll definitely want to check out the Blood Orange YouTube Channel because Devonté has a unique presence, dances beautifully and the videos are artistically executed. I’m not one to over-analyze an artist’s lyrics because I truly feel that the best music is relatable to people for different reasons and to dissect lyrics ruins the beauty and mystery of that—but I think there are some good themes going on that I’ll leave up to you to discover!
Another band I love right now is Holy Ghost! The electro-indie-dance-pop New York City duo of Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel are also slated to be part of the Coachella 2014 lineup. As I was researching this story and their new album Dynamics I discovered that the group had done a bootleg remix of Blood Orange’s You’re Not Good Enough that you’ll find on their Facebook page—how’s that for synergy! They’ve also done remixes for Moby and MGMT, so I guess it’s inevitable that their music would eventually find me.
Cover art from Holy Ghost!’s album Dynamics.
Dynamics is full of straight-ahead electronic ear-pleasing dancy goodness. It’s the kind of music that comes from the roots long established by bands like Erasure, Pet Shop Boys (which I wrote about here) and New Order. It doesn’t necessarily break new ground but it’s exactly the kind of music that always makes me happy!