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

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:

Make sure to follow!

Music

25th October, NMF!

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:

Music

October 11th, NMF!

Here are the very best of the best for this weeks NEW MUSIC FRIDAY. Headed by the amazing ‘Talk Deep’, just you wait until you get to number five.

E^ST / TALK DEEP

The best of things fit comfortably, slotting right in between expectation and surprise, in our nostalgic range of taste. ‘TALK DEEP’ knows what you expect from it and isn’t afraid to deliver it with a little squirt of glitter, delivered handily in the form of a triple-punch chorus. With a breakdown that elicits pure nostalgic joy, it’s easily one of the best of the year already. Sometimes music just feels alive, and this is one of them.

BISHOP BRIGGS / JEKYLL & HIDE

In her most recent world tour, well known songstress P!nk proclaimed Briggs’ ‘River’ as a song she would have loved to have recorded. Might she feel a little relieved then considering the clear Funhouse-esque production that accompanies this pounding chorus, its twisted circus vibe peeking through the curtains at every integral moment. Around it is a monstrously addictive track, one which you could actually envision P!nk going on to perform again, that also recalls Halsey’s pop-tinged alternative style. It really is that piano that makes this amazing though, and that last relentless run to the end.

WINONA OAK / LET ME KNOW

‘Let Me Know’ is steeped in influence, from Aplin to Mumford and Sons, but its the contrasting quiet moments that allows this to really sink in. The chorus might be delightfully packed with pounding drums and surging strings, but those little moments where we find Winona’s voice deftly carrying the quiet air – they’re really special. It’s because of them the huge chorus can come careening in, taking your breath away. More moments like this please, Oak!

NILUFER YANYA / H34T RISES

Hilariously we follow one of the largest productions of the week with a Garageband minimalism that works just as well, if not better, than the gargantuan approach. ‘H34T RISES’ brings your typical basement production with some high quality songwriting, proving that sometimes you don’t need all the extras if you have the hooks. And this is packed full of them.

SONDR / SO BLUE

Speaking of nostalgia, there’s always at least one summer song that becomes inexplicably huge simply by sampling something we’ve all connected with in our childhood. In this case it’s the phenomenally underappreciated ‘Blue’ which has been transformed into a glacial BANKS song for the nightclub, somehow losing none of the quirky charm of the original… Sometimes you just can’t predict what’s going to work together.

KATY PERRY / SMALL TALK (LOST KINGS REMIX)

Special bonus status for one of our favourite songs of the year, gifted with several brilliant remixes before her new single release next week. ‘Sweet Talk’ is a fairly simple Puth production, swapping Perry’s usual bellowing for a more subtle approach, but each remix brings that back to the forefront. This remix, in particular, sounds as close to classic 2012 pop music as you’re going to get this year placed in a blender with some quirky electro-dance synths and… it works! Quite honestly the output coming from Perry this year is sensational. Bring on the book!

Whilst you’re here. be sure to also check out:

  • Harry Styles new effort ‘Lights Out’, a short walk from Zayn’s own output, and the fascinatingly sexual music video.
  • MisterWives ‘the end’, the most gorgeous indie film-ending song if there ever was one.
  • Hayley Kiyoko’s fantastically produced ‘Demons’, a nice big quirky step from her usual output.
  • The OTHER ‘Small Talk’ remix by Sofi Tukker, which is so good I kind of wish it was the original song? Can Sofi Tukker do any wrong?
Music

27th September, NMF!

CECILY / AWAKE

Her Spotify ‘about’ section might be about twenty years too late in that it actively namechecks her as a counter to the ‘Britney’s of the world’ (Someone might want to tell her management that Billie Eilish is the new thing?) but ‘Awake’ is brilliant enough for me to completely disregard that. The Julia Michael’s style verses lead you to believe this is heading one particular way, only for a huge Chvrches chorus to bound in with the most satisfying of stabbing synths. Don’t go, don’t leave! she begs, and honestly I feel like never leaving. What a bloody good song.

ALLIE X / FRESH LAUNDRY

There’s a hidden secret among the deepest pop fans, and her name is Allie X. Constantly releasing the tightest of pop songs, she’s been tapped by Troye Sivan and even ripped off by Taylor Swift, and yet her name continues to be that criminal secret reserved for pop lovers. ‘Fresh Laundry’ isn’t going to change that, and you could argue that if her last effort wasn’t able to do that then it might never happen, but it is the most exciting she’s been in years. The constant state of refinement is astounding in retrospect, ‘Fresh Laundry’ sounding both at place with her almost five year old material and also a hyper-polished version of it, it’s soft and introspective in all the right ways. Opening up her dream-pop to a much warmer palette, it’s understated and frankly brilliant.

KITO, EMPRESS OF / WILD GIRL

Kito’s expressive production skills have started garnering her some mainstream attention, in particular being picked up by BANKS for her amazing lead single ‘Gimme’ this year, but luckily there’s still plenty of talent still in the locker for herself. Teaming up with the criminally underrated Empress Of, ‘Wild Girl’ is a Tove Lo meets BANKS understated banger that I’m desperately hoping is leading to another EP. Whilst it doesn’t quite hit as hard as last years EP, HAANI, the production still bubbles and froths in all the right places.

LIZ, AJA / LOTTERY

00’s nostalgia might be bubbling beneath the mainstream but anyone with their finger on the pulse will realise the wave that is building, with the likes of Slayyyter and LIZ surfing the high tide. ‘Lottery’ is almost entirely early Britney, to the point where you can visibly imagine this fitting on her sophomore or even Blackout. This is an influence Liz has embraced, with her citing Britney, the 00s and the MIA-Nadia Oh as inspiration, and ‘Lottery’ revels in it. We won’t talk about the feature, which almost torpedoes the whole thing, but luckily the chorus shines through.

FLUME, VERA BLUE / RUSHING BACK

Sometimes the best pop music isn’t afraid to get a little abrasive, choosing a sonic palette that screeches a little instead of basking in familiarity. Flume already demonstrated a masterful production touch in his 2019 mixtape, Hi This Is Flume, and the pop singles he’s released around it use similar production choices well whilst maintaining the strength of a melodic pop song throughout. Drafting in songwriting excellence Vera Blue, who herself is moving away from her folk roots to explore a more electronic route, means there’s a big beating heart at the center of this all – her familiar vocal pulling it back in as the production veers wildly. It’s a masterful collaboration of the two.

Also this week:

Franky Wah has recruited Robinson for a really dreamy trance song, ‘Hide’.

Elohim continues to release material that isn’t as good as her debut, but it’s still great in a Tove Styrke kind-of way. ‘Paradise’ is a bop.

Charlotte Lawrence is releasing more ASMR pop with ‘Navy Blue’, a gorgeous ballad that has the tiniest of verses and the biggest chorus.

‘Extra Fries’ by ILIRA is the exact song we need for bulking season, even if it sounds like she’s written it over the backing of every other song of hers?

Music

30th August, NMF!

August is coming to a close as we head closer and closer to spooky season, which means the big heavy hitters will be coming pretty soon to release their new albums. For now, buckle up and listen to these incredible highlights of the week:

LIZ / BTR 2GTHR

LIZ seems to have lit a rocket beneath her feet as I haven’t noticed material skyrocket in quality like this in quite some time. Despite a plethora of synth-girls attempting this type of style right now, most notably Slayyyter who featured in Liz’s latest single, ‘BTR 2GTHR’ manages to eclipse them by bathing in the influence of 90s dance/trance. It’s a fantastic and quirky release that evokes classic dance music just as much as it does contemporary pop, and god damn I haven’t been as excited about pop music as this makes me feel.

CHARLI XCX, HAIM / WARM

Speaking of quirky synthstress, Charli XCX is continuing her album rollout by teaming up with summer girl’s HAIM for the deliciously balanced ‘Warm’. Introducing a much needed warmness in Charli’s typically icy cold production, ‘Warm’ is one hell of an earworm – slowly etching itself into your cold skull with each chorus. And that’s before HAIM even show face, which actually ends up overshadowing Charli herself with their smooth as silk harmonies.

EA KAYA / BACK OF YOUR HEAD

Zara Larsson has seemingly fallen foul to the sophomore curse, inevitably shelving her album release in the guise of ‘wanting better material’. If it’s better Zara Larsson material you’re looking for, ‘Back of Your Head’ is right here. Entirely self-written, ‘Back…’ is stunningly mature with a melody to die for, an enthusiastic empowerment anthem for the cold nights. One thing is for sure, this song will be bouncing around the back of my head for the rest of the week.

TONES AND I / THE KIDS ARE COMING

There’s no escaping Billie Eilish right now, even if it’s not Billie herself. ‘The Kids Are Coming’ might be the closest not-Billie-Billie song I’ve ever heard, but crushed together with a touch of Eurovision charm and ludicrousness. Designed to be listened to with earphones, don’t give it your first listen without them – each little production choice popping in like poltergeists in the background, it’s absolutely undeniable in both its pretentiousness and charm.

LANA DEL REY / NORMAN FUCKING ROTHWELL

Everyone will have an opinion on once reigning hipster queen Lana Del Rey, and over the years her material has shifted around in both inspiration and emotional weight. ‘Norman fucking Rothwell’ is the best thing she has possibly released since her first album, an evocative and powerful ballad that doesn’t revolutionize who Lana is but truly feels like the peak of everything she has worked on so far. It really does feel like everything led to this song, and it really is a masterclass in the much sought after bluesy vibe she typically gets assigned to. With warm strings, an exuberant vocal and a crippling melody throughout… there’s really not much else to say about this other than… wow.

make sure you give our dedicated playlist a little spin this week too, as there are plenty of other amazing songs that dropped this week, from Alphabeat to Post Malone, that deserve your attention.

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?)