Music

New Music Friday: 24th January!

Well, it’s one or the other this week; ballads or bops. Bangers or bores. A distinct 70-bpm difference. At what point do we think the year starts to evolve its own taste? Does it take a world-shifting popstar like Eilish, or is it a more subtle move? Well, right now it’s a depressing January and if that’s anything to go by, 2020 will be a difficult one. With that in mind, let’s crash into the good ones;

Hey, check it out. Not a complete shadow of a band coming out of nowhere to drop a Calvin Harris song that’s better than the actual Calvin Harris song that dropped this week. COY‘s ‘Promises’ is an absolute riot. Nostalgic synths, thumping bass, siren-esque female vocals, check, check, check.

Emmi Elliott certainly isn’t going to win points for artwork. One look at that and I’m expecting Irish Folk akin to Una Healy, consider my surprise when a glittery banger comes through the speakers instead. It’s basically that huge anonymous Spotify generated pop song that we all know with a fabulous chorus.

Zara Larsson just needs to get into buying these kind of bops, doesn’t she? Well, Dua Lipa started with songs as huge as this and she’s now a world conquering popstar so there’s always time for Clara. ‘Thank Me Later’ is a trip back a few years to the simpler pop of ‘Last Dance’ and ‘Teenage Dream’, and there’s always room for that.

Every now and then an artist comes along with such an individual character and so much promise that it gets so frustrating to see it not translating to mainstream success. L Devine is one of those artists. Positively brimming with potential, she already has a strong as hell discography and the imagery down too. ‘Boring People’, like ‘Peachy Keen’ before it, appears to be trying to rectify that. Palatable without sacrificing her resolve, it’s how samples are supposed to work. Shine through them!

WELL. SHE’S HERE. Arguably one of the strongest vocalists of our generation, Hayley Williams has been in the public eye for a number of years as part of Paramore. Now she’s going alone, as many have wished for a long time, and it’s not too far from what we’ve come to expect of the band. Clearly influenced by Eilish, it’s surprisingly succinct and delicate, which makes her whole solo move MORE exciting because god damn, that voice can do wonders, which peaks through for just a moment with the fabulous “Nothing cuts like a Mother.”

More, more, more below. Check them out:

Music

New Music Friday: 17th January

We’re back. The world is well rested and a whole new year of music is before us, with a few NMF’s under our belt, let me assure you that not much has been missed in the interim. If you don’t have time to check this blog out weekly, make sure to follow the dedicated Spotify playlist for weekly arrangements (Seriously I wake up at like 5AM just to update it).

THIS WEEK:

Gabrielle Aplin is back with the first properly good album of the year. Frankly her songwriting ability continues to astound me and anyone who can write a masterpiece like ‘Miss You’ deserves the world, but here we have proper good pop songs galore with off-kilter ‘Love Back’, the glimmering ‘Invisible’, the terrifyingly sad ‘Dear Happy’. It’s brilliant.

Luna Shadows has dropped the best Allie X song of the last few years. Fizzling production is the first thing you’ll notice, but its the chorus that’ll keep you there.

Rina Sawayama transcends time and space. Sometimes people are born to be popstars, you know? ‘Comme Des Garcons’ is a club-inspired bass-squirming letter to understatement. Following the brash ‘STFU!’, it’s just… keep me on my toes, Rina!

Halsey has a boring new album out that wasn’t always going to be boring but turned boring because she apparently wasn’t angry anymore. ‘Still Learning’ is really great so only continue this sentence if you’ve already listened to it once………………. Okay, so Ed Sheeran wrote this. He’s all over it, and it kind of ruins it, doesn’t it?

Ella Eyre can’t come to the phone right now, why? Because she’s DEAD.

Hayley Kiyoko rounds off her brilliant E.P/Project with the delightfully weird ‘she’. The verses are better than the chorus but they’re really good. So is the bridge.

Tove Lo‘s ‘Bikini Porn’ is the kind of song only she could release, and she’s recruited Finneas (of Billie Eilish family fame) to help. Unfortunately it’s not very good, but maybe it’s a huge grower? Admittedly ‘Disco Tits’ was exactly that.

Lauv is really good but trying to write about his new song is proving to be pre zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Music

December 6th, NMF!

Steamrolling right into Mariah Carey season, we have secured some broadly weird but faintly brilliant highlights for you. Forget the tinsel, dodge the baubles, it’s all about New Music Friday. A safe space from the sentimental drivel, I promise.

ELLEY DUHE / NATURE

Duhe’s experimental nature provides a constant excitement at the sight of her name. ‘Nature’ is not going to be what you expect, but it’s going to hit all the right buttons anyway. It’s a little Halsey, a little folksy, a little dancey, all these things you think wouldn’t go together at all, and it’s undeniable.

THE CHAINSMOKERS, AMY SHARK / THE REAPER

Here’s another mash of completely contrasting elements, working well again. You may already know Amy Shark for her sharp-as-nails songwriting skill and her work with Antanoff, and if you do you’ll know how out of the blue this collab feels. The Chainsmokers are as hit and miss as you can get, but when they get it right, and they get the right artist too, it’s a real hit. This doesn’t feel like a classic, but it does feel more interesting than anything they’ve done in years.

NF / PAID MY DUES

Okay, so you’re probably not going to be here for rap music. It’s a divisive genre. ‘Paid My Dues’, however, is quite simply brilliant. NF has been quietly carving a very impressive career, his clear rapping talent punching through every song, and ‘Paid My Dues’ shows exactly why. This isn’t the pop leaning chart-hitter complete with delicate melodic segments, of which he often releases, it’s a spitfire labyrinth of words that sets him up quite clearly as the Eminem prodigy.

KREWELLA, NUCLEYA / GOOD ON YOU

‘Good On You’ packages Krewella’s Pakistani heritage into their well-developed blueprint in an effort to deliver a timewarp into a much simpler dancefloor past. Palatable dance music with a bit of bite is their aesthetic, and at this point it’s exactly what we’ve come to want from them, but it’s a welcome cultural touch that gives it a little bit more dimension than usual.

TEYANA TAYLOR / WE GOT LOVE

Teyana’s ‘We Got Love’ is her spunkiest output yet, a dancefloor anthem that aims for the same heights of Lizzo’s ‘Truth Hurts’ and evokes Janelle Monae’s Prince-lite epics. And I could totally see it making it for the same reasons. In fact it’s so good that I can barely imagine a world in which this doesn’t take off.

BODIN / SOMEBODY

Yes, he’s Scandinavian. It’s CHVRCHES goes to Melodifestivalen, a pure sugar rush with the exact dreamy synths you’d expect and a chorus better than you expected. Excuse me while I go binge on this like glazed donuts.

Music

November 29th, NMF!

Compared to recent weeks, we have a weaker effort to sift through this time. Luckily there are a few gems in the rough for our highlights as we head towards the close of the year. Check them out:

ASHS / PARANOID

You may already know ASHS as Alyssa Reid, having had brief success in 2011 with ‘Alone Again’. Initially intended to be somewhat of a side project, Alyssa has decided to put ASHS at the forefront and… well, it’s a good job because quite honestly the songs are brilliant. ‘Paranoid’ is a breath of fresh air, it’s Terror Jr meets So Below with a more grounded touch, an absolutely infectious epic. At the heart of it is a stunning R&B ballad with an equally gorgeous melody, but its the production that builds on that created world. An absolute win from every angle.

CAPULETS / SWEET ENOUGH

It’s going to take a lot to rebuild Xenomania’s lost legacy, and unfortunately their excessive pop touch hasn’t been quite the same since the era of Girls Aloud, but every now and then there’s another snap of genius. ‘Sweet Enough’ is brilliant because it actually focuses in their typically sporadic style, culminating in a classic Eurythmics styled epic dragged into the 21st century. There’s still a lot of air in the system, and it’s crying out for a fuller vocal, but the production deserves the commendation because we need more of this Xenomania.

DEVON BALDWIN / FIRE

Devon should already be on your radar, especially considering I push her at every opportunity. Already delivering an EP worth of masterfully produced mid-tempos in 2019, ‘Fire’ picks up where she left off in a much warmer capacity. Her icy production and ethereal vocal is trademark at this point, and in that regard ‘Fire’ delivers everything you need from a Devon song; atmospheric production that only amplifies the breathtaking delivery in front of it.

MALOU PRYTZ / IF IT AIN’T LOVE

Taking inspiration from The Saturdays, this time with correct grammar, Malou provides the bubblegum you need to get you through the week. Though the delivery gives you a sharpness the likes of Carly Rae usually trade for a genre-trade wisp, the production is exactly as bouncy as you need it to be. Designed to be cranked out of the car window, this is a welcome splash of sugar in a pretty sour week.

PETE TONG, HER-O, ZARA LARSSON / WITH EVERY HEARTBEAT

Well, would you look at this. A cover of one of the greatest songs of all time is a highlight of the week, but just as much for its own reasons. Zara Larsson fits the role of Robyn to a T, delivering a heartbreakingly good vocal, and there’s even a full orchestra version on the album too. This is a song that never ages, never tires and ultimately anyone could toy with and still have a great result, but there really is something to be said about how much emotion this still manages to translate and pull through. Now I’m craving a remix with Zara leading!

We’ve uncovered a massive 28 highlights this week, which can all be found below in our Eyes On NMF Playlist, so do check it out for any that you might have missed and give it a follow. That way you’ll never miss a great song!

Music

November 22nd, NMF!

Here are the highlights for this week’s New Music Friday, an eclectic mix that’s bound to contain at least a little fuel for inner thoughts. We’re starting to approach a pretty exciting point in time where artists, such as Harry Styles and Maggie Rogers, are kicking off their new campaigns. So let’s get into that:

YAEGAR / I TRIED

It’s difficult being a rising pop girl in the era of Spotify, especially considering the comparisons of female-kind are common enough, but it’s difficult having to establish your own blazing identity so clearly in each song. How do you go about it? Sometimes you’ve a vocal inflection which kind of does the work for you, sometimes you build on another artists work with a similar sound and sometimes you have to put the work into the production – the most immediate way to identify yourself. Yaegar has been kind of smashing all three, identifying herself as one to absolutely watch. ‘I Tried’ is an Alexandra Burke/Zara Larson hybrid that made me gasp with the first play, with a succinct melody and house-meets-pop production. It’s a real damn highlight.

RINA SAWAYAMA / STFU!

Hilariously having spoken about the troubles of defining your identity in this new social generation, you have an artist that has absolutely no trouble doing so. If you didn’t like the Poppy track a few weeks back, I’d give this a swerve. It doesn’t necessarily do anything she hasn’t already been doing, but the hybrid of nu-metal and shiny pop is a perfect fit for Rina’s aggressive sweetness. Arguably her best work since ‘Alterlife’ because of the sheer confidence on display, much like ‘Alterlife’, it’s just impossible to ignore Rina at the center here, and it takes real character to bring sweetness to the harsh, but it’s so easy for her here.

LOLO ZOUAI / MONEY DIAMONDS ROSES

‘Money Diamonds Roses’ might be the best song of the week, but it’s not designed to tell you that on first listen. I can already tell this will steep itself in me, each melody and haunting verse unfolding slowly, with production that sounds just so fresh and engaging. There’s something creepily horror-esque about the production, only aided by her stretched coos, and quite honestly by time the three minutes is up you’ve felt like you’ve travelled through a whole new world. Some creepy abandoned fairground with this blaring out of the speakers.

THE JAPANESE HOUSE / CHEWING COTTON WOOL

This is about as intimate a ballad as you’re ever going to get, but I beg of you give it a chance. It’s a real delve into a melancholic mind, and blissfully so, with such a perfect minimalism that keeps you in that crisp atmosphere the entire time. A beautiful but unconventional love letter, it really does encapsulate a love so clean and pure.

NIIA / WHATEVER YOU GOT

If you have bled Mark Ronson’s recent output dry and are looking for something else, it’s right here. A gorgeous blend of soulful piano before the funk drives in, immediately placing itself here in 2019 with the recent trend, there’s a gorgeous sense of authenticity in it, as though Niia has always sung these kind of songs. It’s such a perfect influence that I’m really hoping it’s not a one off.

That’s it for the highlights, but there’s a few more hidden ones you should give a try;

Alma has revisited what she tried to do with ‘Cowboy’ to a much better resolution with ‘Bad News Baby’.
HAIM continue their quality resurgence with their best ballad yet, a folk classic already, with ‘Hallelujah’.
Violet Days new song ‘Lovers or Losers’ follows a blueprint you’ll feel like you know on first listen, but it’s still a real cracker.
Also a few people have started releasing Christmas songs so keep well away from them!!!

Music

15th November, NMF!

What a stellar week. Something about the cold of winter imbues the subtlest of melodies with melancholy, and I’m here for it. BUT don’t fear, there’s also a few classic bops here to keep you warm too.

BILLIE EILISH / EVERYTHING I WANTED

You would be forgiven for assuming this is going to be more of what took Billie to the top, namely the bravado filled stomper that is ‘Bad Guy’, but you’ll be taken aback when you see it’s much more akin to her delicately devastating moments like ‘Lovely’ and ‘I Love You’. There’s a deep melancholy to the delivery and lyricism, admitting dreaming about her own suicide, even with the uplifting chorus. It’s a masterclass in less-is-more with captivating flourishes in the production, underlining what is a gorgeous ballad with a proper beating heart. Lovely.

LIZ / INTUITION

I’m almost aghast at just how much influence Liz is prepared to instill through her recent output, each one sounding further placed in time than the last, and ‘Intuition’ is just… well, it’s spellbinding. Quite honestly I’m prepared for her to not receive the acclaim she deserves but for this sound to slowly creep its way into the mainstream anyway. Ride that wave, Liz. We’ll remember you at the fore-front with Rina.

HAYLEY KIYOKO / L.O.V.E. ME

Another song that relishes in a classic sound this week is the toe-tapping ‘L.O.V.E Me’, sounding like a lost boy-band classic number one. It’s easily one of Kiyoko’s best efforts yet and also probably her most immediate, packed full of incredible hooks that, I’m hoping, will draw in listeners from everywhere and every age. It’s the kind of song you can imagine Little Mix snapping up with a heartbeat, but Kiyoko is center stage and imbuing it with everything it needs.

GRIFF / SOUND OF YOUR VOICE

Who knew one of the best songs of the week would invoke such strong memories of Super Mario in me? It’s those delicious little vocal snippets, the production sounded like some sort of Gameboy Advance jingle. It’s addictive enough as it is, then you’ve got such a great vocal delivery and one of the best choruses of the year so far. By the end of the three minutes I’m practically bouncing on the ball of my feet like Mario bopping his head into a question block.

ELLEY DUHE / GOOD DIE YOUNG

Elley Duhe has been my one to watch for a while, and I’m a total sucker for any moody and brooding bass-synth driven mid-tempo as it is, so how lucky am I that Elley has produced something that practically perfects that? Nobody quite sings like Elley, some gorgeous blend of Ellie Goulding and Sia, and she uses it to great effect with haunting belts and ad-libs. It also helps that this reminds me of So Below’s recent output, perfect for the dark and rainy nights, and I’m already making another playlist just for that now.

Music

8th November, NMF!

What initially seemed a weakish week has already started to open up to me, with some major subtle hits hidden among the rough. The highlights are highlights because of how well they hit on first listen but don’t discredit the rest of the list, there’s some real gems this week.

POPPY / BLOODMONEY

Poppy’s rapid evolution has been an absolute sight to watch, despite the harshness always being a key product in her music, there’s a real new pounding angst and rebellion that you’d expect from The Pretty Reckless. It fits better than it really ought to, and what might come off as pretentious for anyone else (a whisper-talk section about losing your soul) just kind of… fits in this chaotic landscape? There’s also the fact her voice often evokes classic Avril Lavigne, and it leans into that pop styling just as much as the harsh rock. Fearless and FAB.

HANA / ANXIOUS ALIEN

Rather brilliantly, HANA produced her entire new album in a Twitch Livestream over one month. The real kicker though is that the album is damn good, sounding as expansive as a full campaign led-album. ‘Anxious Alien’ feels like the perfect evolution for HANA, with similar vibes to Skott, in all of its Alisha’s Attic glory. With such a sparse and repetitive drum beat, you really need the melody to shine and it does.

IGGY AZALEA, ALICE CHATER / LOLA

Powerhouse vocalist Alice teams up with creative genius Iggy for this ‘I Like It’-inspired-party anthem. Admittedly it’s the video which makes this shine the most, which might be both parties best yet, but at the heart of it there’s a really fun pop song that sounds like the biggest chance of a hit Iggy has had in years. Switching from Alice’s dreamy vocals to Iggy’s industrial rapping style, it’s almost impossible not to be drawn in.

ROSALIA / A PALE

Well, the award for causing the greatest whiplash of the week goes to ‘A Pal lé’, a snarling anthem that is easily her best yet. Transcending the language barrier with an addictive bassline, Rosalia commands the entire room. With her name slowly becoming renowned around the world, each song racking up millions of streams, its hard to deny the power this song clearly has. It’s Rihanna meets Billie Eilish but also with her own distinct vibe, a vibe I need MORE of.

CAMELPHAT, JEM COOKE / RABBIT HOLE

‘Rabbit Hole’ fits here not because it’s a brilliant trance-dance song, but because there are parts in which Jem Cooke sounds exactly like Adele, that trademark inflection on certain parts of a word. It’s got me wondering about the kind of thing Adele could do would she ever choose to release something with a bit of a bite again, or even package out some remixes too. It’s easy enough to get lost in this gorgeous beat, but its the vocal that really takes it to the next level. Do give us something like this, Adele. If Sam Smith can do it, so can you.

SONIA / I DON’T KNOW

This had me at the Sting guitar intro, and it just had to prove itself from there. Luckily Sonia is kind of proving herself as some kind of minimal prodigy, her songs intimate and affecting, and ‘I Don’t Know’ is her best yet. At some point you do need a spark, but for now these brain-drilling epics are tingling my spine, instilling a real interest in what she continues to do. It’s that last closing minute, where it gets really stripped back, that brings it to where it needs to be, the guitar shifting into a stunning R&B-esque refrain, and suddenly I’m repeating just to hear the song all over again.

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