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.

The BEST of the BEST are here every single week:

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June 28th, NMF!

AGNES / LIMELIGHT, I TRANCE

Seven years since she last gifted us with the masterpiece pop album Veritas, in which Agnes subverted all expectation and delivered one of the strongest pop albums of the decade; she’s back… and she’s done it again. There’s still an undeniable thread here, you’ll be expecting a European-style SMASH and that’s what you’ll get – but this dual release presents her yet again at the forefront of exciting and ever-changing pop music. ‘Limelight’ is the safer of the two: a typical Agnes mega-smash with enormous chorus fed through a dance filter. ‘I Trance’ is the delicious experiment: a Kylie-esque exploration of dance. What a woman.

KULT KYSS / RITUALS

‘Rituals’ is future pop to its core, evoking Kate Boy’s aggressive ‘One’ with its heavy synths and moody atmosphere. As with KB, the production is just one sparkly part of the package – the vocals being just as important in their world building. It’s the kind of sound I want more mainstream acts to co-opt and integrate their own sound, like when Katy Perry released ‘E.T’.

KIM PETRAS / ICY

Kim Petras’ problematic existence has been easiest to deny when her music occupied a relatively anonymous and fairly-good-but-not-amazing territory. ‘Icy’, part of her new album Clarity, may mark the end of that. Whilst still tied to Luke, and thus sounding like something you’d find The Weeknd releasing, it’s easily the best thing she’s put her name to yet. A fitting vocal for the subject material, where often she can sound slightly trill, it works perfectly to showcase the coldness she’s singing about.

MUNA / WHO

Queens of emotion, MUNA have followed their alt-banger ‘Number One Fan’ with a much more familiar ballad dedicated to obsessional stalking and unrequited love. Katie’s vocals will forever be the highlight, transforming what might be simple lyricism into heartbreaking odes of pain. It’s something they mastered with their debut, so definitely reassuring to see it return so well here.

PURE SHORES / RUSHING

Marlene and Ji helmed the best song of 2018 last year, Ear Candy, and have since teamed up to become production duo extraordinaire’s Pure Shores. ‘Rushing’ is their first release together, giving us a great first glimpse into the dance-pop they hopefully intend to keep on releasing. If there’s anyone that understands how to make a light and breezy pop song with enough substance to pierce your skull, it’s Marlene and Ji.

This might be the most packed week in recent memory… On top of the above highlights, we have new songs from Ellie Goulding, Sasha Sloan, Julia Michaels, George Maple, Jada, Iggy Azalea, Sofia Karlberg and even MORE. Make sure to follow our dedicated playlist to keep up with the best of the best!

May 3rd, NMF!

This New Music Friday is brought to you on a Saturday, mostly because humans have not yet developed the ability to survive without sleeping and my body sporadically decided that it needed to collapse and sleep for an extended period of time. Luckily for us, great music is a continuous certainty:

THE MIDNIGHT / AMERICA ONLINE

The Midnight have, in my mind, established themselves as absolute production royalty. For a while now they’ve been dropping consistently evocative and excellently produced tracks like ‘America Online’ that successfully blend video-game synths, Deadmau5-esque house music and a brief time-trip back 30 years. Now that isn’t necessarily a perspective that hasn’t been tapped out by the masses, but ‘America Online’ is a perfect example of why they’re doing it so well – their amalgamation of sounds manages to summon so many nostalgic memories, it’s like I’ve literally been sucked into a Nintendo 64.

LUNA SHADOWS / lowercase

Luna Shadows takes aim at bisexuals everywhere that refuse to conform to typical grammar rules. Luna Shadows occupies a space somewhere between So Below, BANKS and Cappa – that defiant and epic production coupled with a great pop sensibility and a characteristically pointed vocal. ‘lowercase’ is one of those terribly exciting first singles that comes out of nowhere sometimes and shows an artist is ready to tell you something. What also helps is that the chorus is just as huge as the amount of character on display.

BANKS / GIMME

In a completely unsurprising move, BANKS has recruited the phenomenal Kito on the first step to her third album. Now anyone that listened to Kito’s latest EP will understand why that is so unsurprising, as not only was the material’s influence clear as day but it managed to elevate what was once unique to Banks’ production entirely. ‘Gimme’ is crisp, dark and an instant hitter – immediately sounding like a classic Banks song whilst also introducing some very welcome dance elements. At the heart of it we still have that clawing, sexual Banks song – Gillian’s characteristic vocal as angsty and powerful as ever despite some difficulty making out the words themselves. It’s a masterstroke pairing and the best thing she has released in years.

MOLLY HAMMAR / WORDS

Put simply, ‘Words’ is just a simple and very, very good pop song. Not necessarily delivering anything different, but with a chorus and a bass-line that would sound good blaring from every radio around the country. It should surprise absolutely nobody to know that she’s another Scandinavian talent, the production bringing to mind Janice and Sabina Ddumba, it’s just yet another example of Stockholm producing the damn goods.

BILLIE / PILLOW TALK

Billie continues to fascinate me with each new release; her music is the opposite of timeless, each one the equivalent of a time machine for the mind. ‘Pillow Talk’ is no different, from the GBA synths to the distant vocal and trance-lite bridge. At the center of it all is an artist that perfectly understands that voice and image, creating these little time warp bops.

FRAWLEY / HARD BOY

Imagine having the balls to sample ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ for your debut single? Deciding to strip down what may be one of the most recognisable choruses of all time for your own? If not commendable then it’s unfortunately stupid. Whether it succeeds or not is not for me to say, but I did feel compelled to list it due to the above – I want to know what people think. Is it a great way to kick yourself off or… the worst way ever?

There’s PLENTY more this week that I’ll briefly get into:

Ina Wroldsen has returned with ‘Body Parts’, a somewhat Sia-by-numbers ballad of self-empowerment.

Mags has dropped a new EP, conversations I’ve had with myself, of which ‘play it cool’ is the best. It’s really good at establishing more of who she is than who she is trying to be. Give it a listen.

Iggy Azalea is back with ‘Started’, another “I’m rich, b*tch” anthem that deserves credit again because the music video shows someone who is so completely dedicated to their craft despite the success it receives.

Shawn Mendes is back with the simple but cute ‘If I Can’t Have You’ with a music video all about trying to muster up the energy to go to the gym. His albums are where the great material is, so we’re excited.

Check out Froyo with ‘Blue’ if you’re into classic Busted punk-pop.

And as always there is plenty more to be found on the below playlists WEEKLY: