FORM Arcosanti delivers impeccably curated lineup including Chance The Rapper, Skrillex, Charli XCX and more for fifth annual installment

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nicole-miglis-form-arcosanti-2016

It has been half a decade since Hundred Waters began bringing their creative friends to Arizona’s high desert micro-city, Arocosanti. Now, the OWSLA-championed trio have curated their finest lineup yet ahead of the fifth installment of FORM Arcosanti. The model-challenging festival alternative is gearing up for its biggest edition in yet, with a bill topped by newcomers Chance The Rapper, Charli XCX, The Black Madonna, Fleet Foxes and Beach House. FORM participants experience intimate annual performances by Skrillex and Hundred Waters, along with slated appearances this year by Mija, SOPHIE, Tennyson, Daniel Caesar and more. Local Arizona legends, Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra are also scheduled to make their festival debut.

form5-dancing-astro-flyer

The weekend-long event applies meticulous focus on creating an inclusive, inviting, and creative space not only for performances and visual showcases, but for education and social discourse as well. This year FORM has partnered with the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Chance The Rapper’s youth-empowerment initiative SocialWorks.

The fifth iteration of FORM is scheduled to take place from May 11-13.

Let’s Eat Grandma – “HOT PINK” Video

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Back in 2016, the British avant-pop duo Let’s Eat Grandma — made up of Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton, then just 17 years old — released their debut I, Gemini. It was a striking and hauntingly whimsical collection of songs that veered off in all sorts of unpredictable directions, from gleaming pop to pastoral folk … More »

SOPHIE’s ‘Faceshopping’ accentuates her distinct brand of provocative pop

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sophie_faceshopping

The immensely curious pop amalgam SOPHIE has released a gritty new electronic single called “Faceshopping.“

Like her sweltering 2017 single “Ponyboy,” which opened listeners up to her vast textural aura, “Faceshopping” uses synth stabs and playful vocal interjections, courtesy of Cecile Believe.

The track may be a bit off-putting to more reserved pop listeners, though it’s safe to say she’s not holding her breath for those listeners’ approval and — with a metallic sheen this bright — she shouldn’t.

SOPHIE’s forthcoming LP is expected to drop this year.

SOPHIE – “Faceshopping”

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Although nothing has been announced yet, it looks like SOPHIE’s current project — rumored to be a debut album called Whole New World — is going to be a real coming out party for the producer. She bared both her soul and her face for the first time in the music video for first single … More »

Music Review: Charli XCX – Pop 2

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Charli XCX

Pop 2

[Asylum; 2017]

Rating: 4/5

She wasn’t supposed to make it past 25. Charlotte Aitchison’s Charli XCX persona has never been geared toward longevity. Whether braving an apocalyptic day of reckoning on “Nuclear Seasons” or literalizing her mortality on “Die Tonight,” the Cambridge singer has long displayed a sense of fatalism in her music. On True Romance, Charli’s oncoming demise demanded romantic consummation, no matter how transitory. On Sucker, she combated encroaching death with puerile hedonism and carnal distraction. And unlike compatriots and fellow Bacchanalia frontline journalists Arctic Monkeys, whose distaste for English nightlife is so acute you might mistake them for teetotalers, Charli revels in the debauchery of the London club scene, viewing its inevitable hangover as fait accompli and, consequently, a nonissue. This is why her career never seemed likely to sustain itself; the good times were bound to kill this death-obsessed girl. But the joke’s on us: she’s still alive, and on Pop 2, Charli XCX returns for more profligacy, yet this time with a keener perspective recalibrated by the nuances of young adult maturity.

There’s a certain territoriality and arrogance in Charli naming her mixtape Pop 2, but much of her music is spent negotiating the line between admirable confidence and aggressive hauteur. Charli spent roughly half of Sucker explaining that she was too good for you — even if she’ll mete out second and third chances for the sake of comfort and familiarity — while elsewhere flaunting her superhuman tolerance to narcotics and a vast wealth that puts Croesus to shame. And so on Pop 2, we see more of the cocksureness Charli exhibits in spades, as on the escapist-affirmative “Out of My Head” (ft. Tove Lo and ALMA), as well as a self-assured autonomy on tracks like the prurient, cloying “Unlock It” (ft. Kim Petras and Jay Park).

Yet on most of these tracks, Charli XCX sounds to have abjured the truculence and grandeur that granted her notoriety on singles like “Boom Clap,” “Fancy,” and “I Love It,” with much emphasis on her guests, which include Carly Rae Jepsen, CupcakKe, Mykki Blanco, Pabllo Vittar, MØ, Dorian Electra, and more. The Caroline Polachek duet “Tears” finds the singer reckoning with her proclivity for caprice, singing “I killed our life, I’m crazy […] Door shut tight, that ain’t love, no.” In place of her trademark overconfidence, Charli delivers a comparatively unadorned performance, signaling what seems to be genuine feelings of remorse. She may not be the most convincing agent of regret, but Charli didn’t pen these songs in hopes of credence or validation. Instead, she’s singing for her own benefit, to make sense of the needless waffling and unrest in her relationships. More power to her.

In the last 40 seconds of “Delicious” (ft. Tommy Cash), the track shifts from a scrupulously produced club banger to a pristine choir. This is an apt metonym for the instrumentation and arrangements of Pop 2. With production help from the likes of SOPHIE, Life Sim, King Henry, EASYFUN, and executive producer A. G. Cook, the music vacillates between synth-powered spectral screeches and jolts and immaculate choral beds, as if to reconcile the delineation between the impersonal nature of club life, with its ephemeral hookups, and the deceptive jubilance of a real, long-term relationship. The result is mixed bag, with the album’s industrial moments more engrossing by virtue of their immediacy and the more human elements of the production turning into a slog if left alone for too long.

For better or for worse, Charli XCX is embracing maturity on her fourth mixtape. Now 25 years (and some change) old, Charlotte Aitchison looks to be relieving herself of the “born to die young” credo she’s so ardently maintained for the past few years in favor of something more stable. And though she may not find what she’s looking for anytime soon, Charli XCX, on Pop 2, is at least looking down a new path.

The 50 Best Music Videos Of 2017

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In this space in past years, I’ve usually written about which music-video directors had the best years. It’s a variation of the auteur theory, as visionaries like Nabil and Hiro Murai have used artists as vehicles for their ideas and approaches. This year, though, it feels like the artists themselves who are driving things, and … More »

♫ Listen: Charli XCX – POP 2

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Listen, there’s no time: Saint Charli just dropped her new mixtape for the fourth day of Hanukkah, so just freakin listen to it okay?? And if the first track being a Charli/Carly teamup isn’t enough to get your dreidel spinning, well, sorry, there’s honestly no hope for you.

POP 2 is available to stream below via Spotify.

Stream Charli XCX Pop 2

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It’s been just about three years since Charli XCX’s last full-fledged LP, the brash and addictive Sucker. But in that time, the pop visionary and Millennial Pink enthusiast has been far from quiet, releasing a steady stream of music via EPs, singles, or mixtapes ahead of her heavily anticipated third … More »

SOPHIE – Ponyboy (Official Video)

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SOPHIE has released the official music video to accompany her track “Ponyboy.” The Los Angeles-based record producer, singer, songwriter, dancer and DJ started her career with a band called Motherland before releasing a string of singles and collaborations in 2014 that would help catapult her towards a mainstream breakthrough. Now, SOPHIE — with an album coming in the near future — is slated to become one of pop’s most invigorating figures.

The video features captivating light schemes that give rise to SOPHIE’s commanding vocals. As the camera shakes and SOPHIE leads two other women in a synchronized routine, the word “pony” and “boy” alternate on the background screen: the video is visually stimulating, the perfect fit for the ear candy that is “Ponyboy.”

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Charli XCX announces new mixtape Pop2, and holy crap it’s out next week!?!?

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Okay now, this right here… this is news. After tweet-teasing us into reporting that there were reports that she reportedly had a new mixtape reportedly on the way, Charli XCX has now officially announced that her new mixtape is official. It’s called Pop2, and it’s out December 15 via Atlantic. Okay bye…

Wait… there’s more!?

Yes, there isn’t just a new mixtape from Charli XCX, there’s a new mixtape from Charli XCX that features the likes of ALMA, Brooke Candy, Carly Rae Jepsen, Caroline Polachek, CupcakKe, Dorian Electra, Jay Park, Kim Petras, MØ, Mykki Blanco, Pabllo Vittar, Tommy Cash, Tove Lo, those stories and Andy Rooney tonight on 60 Minutes.

OH! Also: Season 3 of The Candy Shop with Charli XCX kicks off today at 12 PM EST on Beats 1. Wow.

Check out Pop2’s tracklist, and listen to first single “Out Of My Head” — featuring the aforementioned Tove Lo and ALMA, and produced by SOPHIE and A. G. Cook — down below! Pop2 is out next f’ing week. Ahhhhhhhhh!!!

Pop2 tracklist:

01. Backseat [ft. Carly Rae Jepsen]
02. Out Of My Head [ft. Tove Lo and ALMA]
03. Lucky
04. Tears [ft. Caroline Polachek]
05. I Got It [ft. Brooke Candy, CupcakKe and Pabllo Vittar]
06. Femmebot [ft. Dorian Electra and Mykki Blanco]
07. Delicious [ft. Tommy Cash]
08. Unlock It [ft. Kim Petras and Jay Park]
09. Porsche [ft. MØ]
10. Track 10