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).
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
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.
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!
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!!!
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.
Spooky season’s penultimate week has arrived, along with it a pretty strong New Music Friday collection. Whilst nothing quite screams phantoms and ghouls, save maybe for the haunting Nina Nesbitt cover of Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’, there’s still plenty of highlight to dive into:
MURA MASA / NO HOPE GENERATION
Admittedly this trope of a generation left behind is fairly common nowadays, especially as those of us from that very generation starts making waves and having the audience to speak up on it, but Mura Masa has been quietly and expertly perfecting such a refined sound that moulds really well around it. The song relishes in a garageband-esque intimacy that wouldn’t sound amiss in a teen bedroom, cracking our necks as we scream along to it. The authenticity is what makes this so special, but the melodies and hooks it flits around on are just as divine.
CXLOE / DEVIL YOU DON’T
Commendation to anyone that writes around the phrase ‘Better the devil you know’ since Kylie Minogue already had one of the best songs of all time with that sentiment. Luckily for us ‘Devil You Don’t’ is sultry and seductive in all the right ways, opening as one song only for the chorus to switch up into something else entirely. CXLOE is on a bit of a run right now, her signature sound still a little murky, but this Allie X meets Spotify PopGirl mid-tempo is definitely more of the right thing.
PVRIS / OLD WOUNDS
PVRIS have, with the help of two phenomenal albums, established themselves as one of the finest female fronted rock bands of right now. ‘Old Wounds’, taken from their short new EP Hallucinations is more of what you expect and wish for from them: an intimate first half delivered with melancholic appeal, only for the shout-screaming to fade in with the anger. The way they unravel emotion with her vocals, knowing when to unreel the harsh production and when to keep it smaller, is one of the best things they’re doing right now.
AGNES / NOT DANGEROUS
Check out one of the highlights barely even having vocals in it this week, but that’s Agnes for you. You’ll know her for distilled Euro-pop like ‘Release Me’, which was a hit around the world, but what you won’t know is that following its success she has proven herself to be one of Sweden’s most intriguing artists – popping up every now and then with some of the most refined and interesting material of the year. This is taken from her new EP Nothing Can Compare and it melds perfectly with the rest of the material, the entire thing a perfect distillery of electronic music designed to get high to. Give it a chance.
TORINE / DANCING IN MY SLEEP
With Zara Larsson’s album shelved, and most probably scrapped, we’re forced to look elsewhere for material to fill that baby-Rihanna void. Luckily for us there’s plenty of songs taking the mantle, with Torine’s ‘Dancing In My Sleep’ in particular sounding exactly like the song you’d expect Zara to have followed ‘Ruin My Life’ with. Plucky strings, the stretchy chorus and mini breakdowns would sound right at home on both Zara’s first album and Rihanna’s LOUD.
Make sure you’re following the dedicated New Music Friday playlist to catch all the highlights in real time:
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.