I’ve become much more selective when buying new music. Back in the 1990s when I was disc jockey, I’d buy new CDs just for a song and hope to find other gems.
Thus far in 2015, I’ve only bought eight new albums. Of those, four are from American artists and four are European — Zedd (Germany), Giorgio Moroder (Italy), and from the United Kingdom, Clean Bandit and Years & Years.
It really doesn’t surprise me that I still love European music since it dominated what I listened to in the 1980s, outside of Madonna and Janet Jackson, during the second “British Invasion”.
My latest find that I highly recommend is “Communion” by the English trio, Years & Years.
Years & Years is lead singer and keyboardist Olly Alexander, bassist Mikey Goldsworthy, and synth player Emre Turkmen.
I’m not sure where I heard “King”, the song that made me aware of Years & Years.
While it did get some Top 40 radio airplay in the United States and a decent amount of dance club play, the song topped the charts earlier this year in the U.K., Bulgaria, Croatia, and Scotland.
After getting “Communion” and listening to it on repeat, I’m amazed at the booming voice that comes from Olly and his waifish-body (and I mean that in a good way because I would love to be that thin again). Youth!
It’s such a bluesy sound that, at times, reminds me of amazing English singers Alison Moyet, Gabrielle, and Helen Terry.
Yes, here’s a slight detour in talking about the amazing debut from Years & Years.
If you’re reading my blog from the United States you might be on Google typing in each of those female vocalists I just mentioned.
In America, Alison had one Top 40 hit, “Invisible” (#31, 1985), even though she had nine hits in the U.K. (six reaching the Top Ten). Gabrielle had 16 Top 40 U.K. hits (ten reached the Top Ten), but only “Dreams” was a hit in the U.S. (#26, 1993, on the Hot 100, but #1 on the Dance chart). And, Helen Terry, scored just one modest hit in the U.K., but she’s famously known as the back-up singer on many of Culture Club’s biggest hits.
As much as I love “King” and so glad that it grabbed me and turned me on to Years & Years, my favorite song from “Communion” is “Shine”. It’s the latest release from the album and has already topped the charts in Scotland and reached #2 in the U.K.
Here are my other four favorite songs from the album that I recommend that you download now and put it on heavy rotation on your summer playlist.
And, a final note as you watch the videos, when you get to “Real”, it’s not only Olly’s voice that is mesmerizing. The captivating Ben Whishaw (from the incredible, touching, and sadly underappreciated movie, “Lilting”) really gets into the groove and is so alluring!
It just so happens that I arrive in San Francisco in late September, the same night that Olly, Emre, and Mikey will be playing live at The Fillmore and I plan on being there!
I’ve highlighted my favorites from the album that are mainly upbeat, but “Without” is a killer ballad.
While I’ve talked about Olly’s vocals throughout the blog, the sound of the trio is incredible.
“Communion” is very 2015, but it also takes me back to the very experimental and fun sounds of the early-1980s. You can’t listen to “Ties” without thinking of Jimmy Somerville and Bronski Beat.
When talking about Bronksi Beat, Alison Moyet, Gabrielle, Ben Whishaw and “Lilting”, I wish Years & Years great success because I don’t want to listen to “Communion” and think that they are “underappreciated” here in America, but loved throughout the world.
With Years & Years, I’ve found my fix to hold me over until Erasure (Andy Bell & Vince Clarke) release the follow-up to my favorite album of 2014, “The Violet Flame”.
“Communion” get an “A” and I can’t wait to get to San Francisco on September 28th to see the guys perform live.
If you’re still reading, you know I love Years & Years and their debut album. However, I’m featuring an amazing track from Alison, Gabrielle, and Bronski Beat.
Also, a poignant scene from “Lilting”. Discover now what you likely missed then!
Gabrielle — “Dreams”
Alison Moyet — “Whispering Your Name”
Bronski Beat — “Tell Me Why”