August 28th, NMF!

DOWNLOAD ALBUM: Katy Perry – Smile

KATY PERRY / CRY ABOUT IT LATER

Frankly I can’t begin this without addressing the reviews Katy’s new album has been getting across the board. Each seem to have a problem with her mere existence and her insistence on releasing empowering music in a pandemic (something only she seems to deserve the criticism for). Screw the reviews, ignore them, because the album is a total triumph and possibly her best yet. ‘Cry About It Later’ brings masterful songwriters Sasha Sloan and Noonie Bao on board, and the result is a pulsing anthem to letting go of the pain for at least one night. With that sparkling pop-polish that we’ve come to know Katy for, it really is a triumph.

LUNA SHADOWS / THE NINETIES

‘The Nineties’ soars in part because of its dedicated video-game identity and production, which is still relatively fresh with its Allie-X/Terror Jr style melody and slinky synthline, but it’s the earworm of a chorus that takes this up a notch. Some songs just don’t need to explode.

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DISCLOSURE, KELIS / WATCH YOUR STEP

Kelis as a vocalist does not garner the praise she deserves, perhaps because of a career overshadowed at times by the fine gimmickry of ‘Milkshake’. Here she flits from smooth to raspy, a perfect fit for the more subdued production, and really Kelis was built for dance music. Helped too by Disclosure’s evolved touch – there’s an unexpected depth to this that takes you right back to the dirty dance floor.

Download MP3: Sasha Sloan — House with No Mirrors | by Simondominique |  Aug, 2020 | Medium

SASHA SLOAN / HOUSE WITH NO MIRRORS

Not content with having one song on the list with her efforts involved, Sloan surprise dropped the next single from her debut album and it’s that exact kind of introspective and cut-throat mid-tempo we’ve gotten used to with her by now. Inspired by her eating disorder developments and her dysmorphia, it’s a delicate undertaking of how much of an impact our thoughts can have on us. It’s pretty damn easy to see why people are snapping Sloan songs up left and right recently.

Katy Perry - Resilient - 9jaballers.site

KATY PERRY / TEARY EYES

Yes, Perry deserves a second treatment here. ‘Teary Eyes’ is that exact frothy sequel to ‘Hummingbird Heartbeat’ and ‘Walking on Air’ we’ve been calling for. There really isn’t anything quite like it, and it’s hard not to swept up in its relentlessness, especially as that final chorus fires in. As above, there’s completely void criticism that Perry is trying to be overly happy in a dark time but if not now, when? Trust me, get those headphones on and let yourself float away to this sherbet-filled mega banger.

That’s it for our highlights, but remember that you can catch all the rest on our dedicated playlist below!

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.

July 19th, NMF!

Here are the best five tracks of this wonderful New Music Friday:

SAM SMITH / HOW DO YOU SLEEP?

Did I really expect a Sam Smith song to be my favourite of the week? When typically his songs would be reserved for insomnia drenched nights, ‘How Do You Sleep?’ is an exciting evolution of a newly expressive artist. The video, which is great, is an overt celebration of his queerness and I can’t help but be ecstatic watching Sam’s slow revelation that his queerness does not need to be hidden anymore. What’s best is that, even if this does have a high pitched trap-drop, this doesn’t sound a single step out of place? It’s effortlessly cool, an utter slow jam that we think is going to be huge.

SOFI DE LA TORRE / PERO NO

‘Pero No’ follows ‘Estamos Mal’ in reestablishing Sofi with her Spanish roots, continuing to showcase her exceptional songwriting skill in her native tongue. Now I’m not a fluent speaker, but that doesn’t stop me positively soaking in everything here – it’s succulent and warm, a melancholic and yet blissful summer bop thanks to her typical emotionally charged vocals. Again this is Sofi excelling at what she knows and is very good at.

CHARLOTTE LAWRENCE / WHY DO YOU LOVE ME?

With Billie Eilish on the way to being the next big thing, it was only a matter of time before someone starting to draw inspiration from her very unique sound. ‘Why Do You Love Me’ is going to be the first of many, and it’s so similar to something Billie would put out that it’s almost disturbing. The ASMR vocals, the plinky bass, the slightly demented chorus – it’s ALL here. I almost admire the sheer change in sound to this from everything before to be honest!

CHLOE MK / DAVID BOWIE

Immediately the title evokes Gaga and 80s driven pop music, and luckily the sonic build of the song does little to subvert that. Chloe has seemingly came from almost nowhere with perfectly crafted 00’s pop songs that remind me of the golden days of Gaga and the collection of stars, such as Natalia Kills, that followed her meteoric rise. ‘David Bowie’ is subtle and immaculate, doubling as a love song and a tragedy, and immediately sets Chloe apart from the other girls on the scene right now with its dedication and coolness. In a world of Ava Max’s, be a Chloe MK.

CHARLI XCX, CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS / GONE

Consider this a somewhat muted celebration of the new Charli XCX song, because we all know the type of electro-pop that she is capable of by now and unfortunately ‘Gone’ brings little new to the table. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but I have heard Charli XCX do this song a few times before and for that it loses an initial spark. WITH that aside, it’s a hook driven distillment of everything Charli has come to represent, and Christine stops in for a quick vocal too. I’d never noticed how similar they could sound before, but it’s certainly obvious here.

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:

April 26th, NMF!

P!nk is hurting, queer talent is thriving and Marina Diamandis is terrified of love – it’s new music Friday. Let’s get into it:

P!NK / HAPPY

P!nk teams up with the ever-impressive Sasha Sloan to create what may be her most brutally honest song since ‘Family Portrait’. It’s the sound of a mother, a lover, a pop star twenty years into their career, looking back on a life filled with anxiety and doubt. Sasha’s razor sharp lyricism is the perfect compliment to Moore’s terrifyingly tender vocals, but it doesn’t shy away from the hooks in delivering its message. If there’s any justice in the world, this needs to be enormous.

BETTA LEMME / PLAY

This would be the Queerest song you’ll hear today, had Dorian Electra not also released this week (see below). ‘Play’ is abrasive and absolutely bonkers, its main melody one of those instantly recognizable samples that makes you question why it hasn’t been sampled before, and its absolutely undeniable. Produced by Danny L Harle, it’s Aqua reborn for the thirsty pop fans. Did anyone ask for it? Who cares. I la la la la la love it.

SAM CREIGHTON / SMILE

‘Smile’ is just as fascinated with looking into the past as ‘Play’, though revels more in the inspiration than direct replication. You won’t realise at first; the song sounds like almost every other Spotify song by Astrid S, Tove Styrke, Orchid, Kiiara (I could go on), but the chorus is a masterful sledgehammer of 00s R&B dedicated to shutting down the sleazy mass of masculinity. “Tell me to smile, I dare you” – she practically begs, oozing with cool.

DORIAN ELECTRA / FLAMBOYANT

Queer talent often has to infiltrate a system by conforming before our own talent is recognized, and even then we can find our heterosexual counterparts commandeering our efforts as if they were always their own. Dorian Electra is an enigma that would inevitably frustrate the modern pop game, and ‘Flamboyant’ is a fantastic reclamation of a word that has been used against feminine queer men for years, but the true charm of it is how it balances on such a tight string of modern and fascinating production; twisting an obvious dark-club bop with a 90’s soundboard and a totally out-of-place but perfect piano riff – it’s a masterpiece in masquerading.

TERROR JR / LOVED BY YOU

‘Loved By You’ is the sound of Terror Jr carving out their niche for success, losing some of the jagged edges that made them so interesting in the process. It’s still brilliant enough to include here, and it’s easy to get lost in the relentless production and sweet vocal, but without their typical depth and running to a short 2:20, I’m left craving more.

MARINA / BELIEVE IN LOVE

Love + Fear campaign drama aside, Marina’s first album in four years had arrived with a dull thud. Skip immediately to the second side, to find the stunning tracks like ‘Believe In Love’. Admittedly it would appear Marina’s once quirky production and lyricism has been sandblasted away, but nobody quite delivers the quiet bliss of disassociation like Marina at her best. ‘Believe In Love’ is the sound of your mind floating away, caught in melodies and fears drifting by, it should have been the blueprint for the entire album.

FLETCHER / IF YOU’RE GONNA LIE

Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ ‘Under the Bridge’ continues to inspire some damn good pop music, the trend continues with ‘If You’re Gonna Lie’ – if Fletcher isn’t sued for stealing the guitar riff then I’m looking damn forward to the album this is taken from.

This incredible week doesn’t stop here, check out my playlists below for MORE MORE MORE of the week: