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18th October, NMF!

This is quite possibly the best new music Friday of 2019 so far, and to accommodate the extra rise in effort this week, we’ll be highlighting a few more exceptional works. With Caroline Polachek dropping one of the best albums of the year, Sasha Sloan releasing her new EP, and Katy Perry returning with another banging pop song… It’s one hell of a week.

CAROLINE POLACHEK / PANG

‘Pang’, the title track from Polachek’s mind-blowing new album, starts simply with a smattering of electronic bleeps before launching its charm offensive. A smack in the face to anyone who swears that electronic pop songs can’t accurately bring the human emotion that real instruments can, ‘Pang’ delicately explores that deep seated feeling in our chests, and might just be one of the strongest songs of the entire year. Beautifully minimal but bursting outwards when it needs to. Danny L Harle’s style continues to evolve in such an epic way that it really does feel like we’re looking at one of the next big producers of our time.

KATY PERRY / HARLEY’S IN HAWAII

Although ‘Never Really Over’ and ‘Small Talk’ occupy similar lanes to material Perry has worked on before, namely taking influence from the monumental Teenage Dream era and its pop sledgehammers, there wasn’t really any kind of expectation as to how ‘Harley’s…’ would sound once it eventually dropped – save for those leaked music video images from months ago. Luckily it’s everything you didn’t expect it to be and more. Following up from Witness album track ‘Tsunami’, it’s a sultry tropico-bop that feels more inspired by Ariana Grande than Perry’s back catalogue. And god damn, does she own it, especially when those last minute ad-libs come soaring through.

LIZ / LAGUNA NIGHTS

Liz clearly sold a part of her soul to some demon somewhere, having featured as a highlight on this very blog several times in the past few weeks, but the music continues to just astound in totally different ways each time. ‘Laguna Nights’ might be her best yet, a nostalgic 00’s floor-banger that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Selena Gomez greatest hits album. It works because of the sheer charisma in her delivery, taking us back on a time-warp to the times it clearly takes inspiration from. For those 4 minutes, you can lost in it, and that only happens with the very best.

L DEVINE / PEACHY KEEN

Had you told me that a song that samples ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ and sounds exactly like Terror Jr. would be Devine’s next release, I’d have spat in your eye. But ‘Peachy Keen’ is exactly that, and she does it so well that there’s almost no doubt that her sound was ever anything but. Smartly, it toys with the sample ever so, leaving the brain to piece together where it has heard it from. This might be Devine’s best effort yet.

SOFI DE LA TORRE / DIMELO

‘Dimelo’, meaning ‘Tell Me’, is one of Sofi’s slowest efforts yet. Still accompanied with her bedroom-style beats, it’s a stunningly intimate ballad that aims right for the heart from the very start. Nobody quite does ballads like Sofi, and that’s in part due to the beautiful delivery every time. It takes charm to blend two tongues together and for that to translate to everyone, regardless of the language they know, and it comes across effortlessly here. The pain and heartbreak practically drip from every word.

SASHA SLOAN / TOO SAD TO CRY

Speaking of heart-slashing lyricism and delivery, Sasha Sloan’s new album comes equipped with one of the most powerful lyrical creations of her entire work so far.

I’m too sad to cry, too high to get up
Don’t even try ’cause I’m scared to fuck up
Don’t like to talk, I just lay in my bed
Don’t even try to go out with my friends
Lied to my doctor, she knew I was faking
Gave me some pills, but I’m too scared to take them
I try and I try, but I’m too sad to cry

I mean, take a look at that right there. There’s an exceptional talent here and a bravery to discuss the hardest of topics as if they were nothing, and it’s much harder than anyone will ever give credit for. The song itself stands right back and lets those lyrics take the spotlight, until Sasha steps forward with some delicious vocals in the second half. It’s just… stunning.

DJ SPOONY, SUGABABES / FLOWERS

If there was any justice in the world, this would be picked up by every radio station around the country and the UK would have no choice but to embrace back one of the greatest home grown girlbands we’ve ever had. Yes, girls, the original Sugababes are finally back, having fought for the name for a number of years. MKS, and the bulging vault of leaked tracks, is DEAD. ‘Flowers’ is the genius first step, fitting so well that you almost forget about the original song itself. Let’s hope there’s MORE to come and SOON.

P!NK, KHALID / HURTS 2B HUMAN (MIDNIGHT KIDS REMIX)

Well I certainly didn’t expect this floundering single to have fresh life breathed into it at this point of the campaign via one of my favourite remixes ever at this point. Not really taking the song apart at all, the song instead injects this wonderful explosion of emotion that sounds like it belonged there all along. Considering the emotional weight of the original song, it’s a real feat how well this manages to slot right in. This is… exactly what remixes are about.

Well there are eight major highlights above, and even then I could keep talking about songs we’ve missed. Highasakite have dropped a Part One EP, and ‘Just a Small Quake’ is monumentally stunning, Allie X has followed up with the delightfully catchy and breezy ‘Rings a Bell’, ORKID‘s ‘CloudsNdrivebys’ features such an infectious synth/trumpet blend that I want in every one of her songs from now on, and Fickle Friends have co-opted the Wii Theme Song (Bolded for impact, yes the Wii theme song) into their new album lead, ‘Amateurs’. It’s one HELL of a week.

Music

9th August, NMF!

It’s a special New Music Friday this week, we’ve compiled the very best of the best of every single piece of new music possibly released below:

KATY PERRY / SMALL TALK

I just can’t believe we went from stranger to lovers to strangers in a life-time.

Not content with releasing one of the biggest pop bangers of the past few years with ‘Never Really Over’, Perry has loaded her pop cannon with everything that makes her unique and special and has fired her load over the world. ‘Small Talk’ balances quirky and fun lyricism with crippling relativity, casually describing the awkwardness of remaining civil with someone that once touched your intimate parts. Who can’t possibly relate with that?

KATY PERRY / SMALL TALK

Sometimes a song is so good that it needs to be repeated. Often times that kind of song isn’t an all-out banger, because it’s easy to get tired of something so relentless, but in this case ‘Small Talk’ is the smartest of earworms – infecting your brain with minuscule hooks and zingers like ‘Everybody at the party thinks youre the best since sliced bread. It’s a charm that Katy pulls off well, especially considering the coldness of her last album, and it ultimately adds to the charm of the song.

KATY PERRY / SMALL TALK

Repeating these kind of songs once is never enough. They worm into your head cavity, bouncing around the bone until you’re humming the melody along in the middle of the busy office. So it needs to be put on again, and that bridge you despised at first opens itself up in its stupidly fun glory. Blah, blah, blah! She sings without a single inflection, threatening to careen the song off course at the last moment, only for it to be incorporated into the final crescendo with an assortment of other tricks. It’s stupid, it’s funny, it’s Katy Perry.

CXLOE, GNASH / SICK

Right firstly we’ll ignore the connotations to mental health and sickness, as though it’s something to wish for and attempt to develop in order to have a dramatic life. The song is fantastic, pushing CXLOE to the higher tiers of anonymous Spotify pop girl. It absolutely didn’t need the rap and frankly I’d have given her much more credit to command a song like this alone, but she absolutely dominated it as it is. The way the ‘Fuck me…. up’ drawls out with such character. Amazing.

CASSIE / SIMPLE THINGS

Cassie returns again with a triumphant bedroom-studio atmospheric dreambop. Yes, a lot of words for a simple song but sometimes a song doesn’t have to be throwing the entire kitchen sink at the wall to work. She seems to be dropping these brilliant excerpts of a completely new persona on the regular, but ‘Simple Things’ is the most promising. With tinges of Rihanna mixed with Swede-pop and her own golden touch – it is proof that simple sometimes is exactly what you need.

KATY PERRY / SMALL TALK

Oh what the hell, let’s play it again. Yes, it’s been on repeat 45 times today already but the hit doesn’t stop getting so sweet. This time, I’ll close my eyes and enjoy that subtle guitar pluck imbuing the verses with urgency.

(Apart from Katy, what were your favourites of the week?)

Music

2nd August, NMF!

August kicks off with a bang as the delightful Alice Chater returns with a dance banger, Carly Rae and Kiesza sign themselves up to features that are actually good and Ava Max double dropped suprisingly adequate pop songs despite a whole new upcoming single campaign. Here’s our best of the best:

Vocally Alice Chater is at that infamous Jessie J level of overwhelmingly competent, though our blonde diva in waiting is somewhat of a triple threat – glorious tunes, impeccable dancing skill and a towering voice. ‘Tonight’ follows in the footsteps of ‘Thief’, a somewhat anonymous megabop that sounds dangerously similar to ‘One Last Time’, in establishing Alice’s pop persona. You’d think talent was enough but we also need the songs.

I’m not quite sure whether ‘Tonight’ is that song just yet, but it’s the first time we’re glimpsing Alice Chater away from the samples and similar sounding sonic palettes. At times it really does sound like a remix, with the verses clearly missing something, but 1. crucially the chorus is huge enough for that not to matter 2. The music video, available here, is a total 10/10 blast (as are all of her music videos for that matter) and 3. the middle-8 is otherworldly. Honestly I almost crashed my car this morning when she came Ooooooooh-ing through the speakers.

Carly Rae has been a bit of an enigma this year, firstly for following one of the greatest and most refined pop albums of all time with a disappointing and a somewhat half-baked return, mostly because it kind of feels like her interest in her own sound has stagnated somewhat. It’s back to square one, and she’s jumped on a feature with the very underrated Gryffin – now you only have to look at the artwork and you know how this is going to go, but it does subvert the drop with a gorgeous horn/synth mix solo that suits Carly’s voice perfectly. It’s a kind of tiny moment of wonder that I hope inspires Carly going forward. Production aside, this is essentially a Carly song – so it’s not too farfetched to imagine a world in which she embraces this a little.

I hear sounds in the hallway, rocking chairs are moving on their own” Ava croons softly in what sounds like a misplaced Halloween reference. Ava Max is fairly easy to understand, her persona has been crafted that way, and thus ‘Freaking Me Out’ isn’t aiming to surprise as much as appease the listener. It does manage to have these small surprising moments of glory throughout though, imbuing it with character, like the ‘du du du’ middle eight section (complete with flutes!) that comes and goes within seconds. As long as she keeps this little surprises up, she’s good.

As a total sucker for emotional dramas and teen-flicks, 13 Reasons Why is the biggest guilty pleasure I’m happy to admit to. ‘fuck, i’m lonely’ sees rising star Lauv team up with Anne-Marie in a stunningly intimate duet about loneliness and the refusal to get over someone. Admittedly a worn topic, particularly when you think about the other party who is receiving these endless calls, but smartly coupling with 13 Reasons Why – which deals with teen angst and suicide, amongst a breadth of other things – gives it the extra dimension it needs. Lauv is doing a storming job right now openly exploring feelings in his music, which is not easy for males in the media right now, and ‘fuck, i’m lonely’ is another string to that bow.

Mabel’s album, High Expectations, is out now and ‘Put Your Name On It’ is easily the best thing from it that hasn’t already been released. Whilst she’s been at the helm of quite a handful of big hits now, most notably the recent ‘Don’t Call Me Up’, it has taken this long to put out a piece of work. ‘Put Your Name On It’ recalls her features (‘Ring Ring’, ‘Fine Line’) but showcasing her charismatic ability to command it by herself. It definitely seems as though she’s being lined up to be the next Dua Lipa, and frankly she has the material to match, so hopefully this is her ‘New Rules’.

There’s plenty more to listen to this month, as always it’s documented in our weekly ‘Eyes On…’ playlist here:

Give it a follow and make sure to tell us what songs you’re enjoying this month!

Eyes On…

Music

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!

Music

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:

Music

April 12th, NMF!

P!NK, CASH CASH / CAN WE PRETEND

“‘Cause honestly reality, it bores me.”

During the release of Beautiful Trauma, P!nk lamented about recording too many songs for the album and having to shelve a majority in favor of its typical, Adult-Contemporary sound. Hurts 2B Human has to be approached with this context; an outlier to her typical discography, released at her commercial peak because it can be. ‘Can We Pretend’ was clearly inspired by the phenomenal ‘What About Us’ remix that surprisingly bothered the iTunes charts, and comes equipped with their trademark production and drop. It would have been gorgeous to hear the original song before the remix, but it’s nice to see P!nk trying something completely different. And it bops!

ELLIE GOULDING / SIXTEEN

“We held on with the best intent, just two kids who kicked it on MSN.”

Ellie Goulding utilised the now infamous vocal chop breakdown way before it was popularised, with the anthemic ‘Anything Could Happen’, and ‘Sixteen’ feels like a swift return mixed with Rita Ora’s ‘Anywhere’. The weighty and surprisingly fresh lyricism helps give it the edge, but it’s Ellie’s typical vocal that infuses it with some much-needed emotion. A tight balance between nostalgia and grief, ‘Sixteen’ only makes the mysterious upcoming album even more interesting.


SEEB, HIGHASAKITE / FREE TO GO

“Did it occur to you that I could be gone from you?”

Seeb is a name we haven’t heard from in a while, right? Luckily he’s recruited one of our current favourites, Highasakite, for a stunning slice of dreamy dance-pop. Great dance music knows how to translate emotion without excessive lyricism, and ‘Free to Go’ really doesn’t have to say much to translate its emotional weight; as the vocals soar and squeak, the synths feel just like the freedom being called out for. It’s dance music at its best.

HANNAH JANE LEWIS / NOT YOURS NEVER WAS

“Can’t remember but I think I kissed you first.”

If you can see past Hannah Jane Lewis having possibly the worst artist name of current times, you’ll actually find one of the most consistent pop artists of the past few years. ‘Not Yours Never Was’ heads her self-titled EP, and is a perfect introduction into HJL’s full-hearted pop sound. Like Ava Max, Betty Who, Nova Miller, Rita Ora – it’s a great heap of perfectly scooped, creamy and delicious vanilla ice cream.

MARK RONSON, LYKKE LI / LATE NIGHT FEELINGS

“I lay in silence, but silence talks.”

In a masterstroke of genius, Mark Ronson has recruited so sad, so sexy Lykke Li for the title track of his upcoming album. Her fragile and fragmented delivery is a perfect match for his self-described ‘retro sad banger’ approach. It gets particularly good at the end (of course) when the song slows right down, before slowly speeding right up – like a heartbeat gaining pace.

HEY VIOLET / BETTER BY MYSELF

“Maybe it’s the way you used me. Watered down my love, abused me…”

‘Better By Myself’ is a departure of sorts for Hey Violet, but it brings them closer in line with After Laughter-era Paramore. It’s a more complex and encapsulating sound, one that slowly unfolds as the three minutes tick over. A subtle earworm, it cleverly introduces new elements throughout before unveiling a positively dominating final chorus. If this is the sound they’re pursuing now, count. us. in.

NOW, NOW / ENDA

“I might hate myself in the morning, but I’d do it anyway.”

Now, Now are one of the greatest bands on the planet right now. If you haven’t already heard of them, you’re missing out and absolutely have to set aside time to do so now. Their sound pivoting around a HAIM-like folk-pop and a much sparser electronic vibe, ‘Enda’ twists the dial entirely to the latter. Listen, you’ll either love or despise this; it’s minimalistic and sparse with a noisy and abrasive ending, translating a melodramatic anguish as slow as they possibly can. It’s overwhelming and dark, an experimental introduction into what seems to be a much heavier approach to songwriting, one that we think shows the band is continuing to evolve. AND THAT’S SO EXCITING.

Follow our dedicated playlists for ALL the best music: