Friday, 30 December 2016

Top Ten Albums of 2016: 5 -> 1

Check out the first part of my Top Ten RIGHT HERE so you're not complaining that I didn't include that album... although I probably didn't.

5. Hoodie Allen - Happy Camper

This is a really strange choice for me but I can't put into words how much fun I've had listening to this album. Happy Camper was one of those records that came out in January when I thought "well, hell, there's nothing else on so I might as well listen to this". What an excellent decision that was. Hoodie Allen's storytelling through song is some of the best I've heard this year, for example stressing out about a girl not texting back on 'Intro To Anxiety'. Also you should have seen my face the first time I heard that The Used/Bert Mccracken lyric on '25th Hour'. I was shook. Despite references to Instagram and getting bitches after shows, Happy Camper isn't gimmicky, it's just a straight up good time. The dip in pace from 'Too Invested' and 'Surprise Party' (although this song is a bit much for me but still) onwards is really nicely timed too, and proves this record definitely isn't a one trick pony. If you're looking for a hip hop record to have a good time to, this is your guy.
Apple Music / Spotify

4. Thomston - Topograph

And the world let out a sigh of joy and relief as Thomston, real name Thomas Stoneman (you never would have guessed), released his debut album. Packed extremely tightly with geography references and songs with more atmosphere than the o-zone layer itself, Topograph is everything I dreamed of and more. I'd like to take a second to reflect on 'Rocketfuel' being hands down one of the songs of the year; far removed from a typical Thomston track in terms of being a proper pop banger but still makes complete sense on this record. Alongside that there are multiple "Songs To Cry To" on Topograph, notably 'Headspace' and 'Heart Is Cement'. I actually became so intensely overcome with emotion re-listening to this album that compiling this piece of prose has taken quite some time. If Topograph has taught us anything it's that Stoneman has a bright future of writing massive choruses and heartfelt pop songs ahead of him. I am so utterly thrilled that this album is excellent but also distraught that I don't own a physical copy of it.
Apple Music / Spotify

3. Raleigh Ritchie - You're A Man Now, Boy

The only album released this year I'm not mad about being 18 tracks long, mostly because a lot of these songs were previously released on earlier EPs but it's lovely to have everything tied together so succinctly on You're A Man Now, Boy. I've been a fan of Raleigh Ritchie for a few years and I was so looking forward to hearing this full length. My favourite thing about Raleigh Ritchie's (real name Jacob Anderson) songwriting is how honest and real everything seems. You're A Man Now, Boy is riddled with tales of anxiety and low self-esteem but also so much self-empowerment and motivation to be better and succeed. 'Bloodsport' has been firmly placed in my favourite songs of all time for a couple of years now and it blows my mind that there are more songs on this album that even close to the calibre of that one. 'Keep It Simple' and 'Life In A Box' are songs that reaffirm that as a listener, you're not the only human who feels self-doubt. Also, if you haven't seen Raleigh Ritchie live, rectify that because he's really great. And he just released a new EP called Mind The Gap which is excellent too, so we've been really spoilt by him this year.
Apple Music / Spotify

2. Lucas Nord - Company

Can you believe that at the start of 2016 I'd never listened to Lucas Nord before? What a state I was. Company ties with the album at number one for the record I've listened to most this year. There's some rule-bending because although Company is an album it is only seven tracks long so... not really sure about including it on this list but also... I can do what I like. But because of its length Company is so easy to just put on and jam to for a bit. Not only that but this is the most infectiously catchy body of work released in 2016. At a time when we're all highly vigilant about how impeccable Swedes are at making pop music, Lucas Nord goes above and beyond with each of the songs on Company. Zara Larsson aside, you're lying to yourself if you don't think 'Don't Need Your Love' is the best pop song we've been blessed with this year. The most mind-blowing thing is that any of these tracks, especially 'Faking' and 'Do About It', could well within their own right be singles and be huge. Give this a spin if you haven't heard it yet; wall to wall bangers from the get go.
Apple Music / Spotify

1. With Confidence - Better Weather

It's deja vu time, because as with my album of the year from Broadside last year, I absolutely hated With Confidence when I first heard them. Maybe it's a thing with pop punk bands, they just take a little longer to get used to. With Confidence are a four piece from Sydney (yep, that one in Australia) and with their debut full length, Better Weather, they have proved they are not the 5SOS cast offs I originally believed they were. There's absolutely no denying that this album is super sugary sweeter than State Champs pop punk, not that gritty stuff you get from The Wonder Years, but With Confidence do it so well, it's really not an issue. Standout singles 'We'll Be Okay' and 'Voldemort' transcend far beyond other songs from this genre released in 2016, and even the slower-paced 'Gravity' and 'Higher' are really excellent efforts. Last time With Confidence were in the UK I was still lying to myself about how good they were, so I really can't wait to make up for that when they headline over here during February and March, unbelievably with the aforementioned Broadside. Calling it now, the most wild tour of 2017.
Apple Music / Spotify

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Top Ten Albums of 2016: 10 -> 6

My Top Ten EPs of 2016 can be found here: Part one (10 -> 6) and Part two (5 -> 1)

This list is pretty haphazard and not really too well thought out but it's almost a pre-requisite to having a blog, isn't it? So strap in for a wild ride. First some honourable mentions:

The Knocks - 55
Flume - Skin
Banks - The Altar

10. A Loss For Words - Crises

Is it fair to include the final album from my favourite band ever if it was only released two days ago? Well, as I told you yesterday, my blog, my rules. Obviously I haven't listened to Crises enough for it to truly be one of my albums of the year but I think I'd really regret not including it, especially considering how much their previous album, Before It Caves, grew on me. There's a lot going on throughout this record, notably the sheer number of guest features, which would typically be a criticism but it's so welcome given this is the band's final full-length. Reminiscent of their earlier material 'Lucida' and 'Oh Fractal Heart' are clear stand outs whereas tracks like opener 'Existential Crisis at the Cask 'n Flagon' build on the themes on A Loss For Words' last album. The most heartbreaking thing is that we'll never get to hear these songs live. RIP A Loss For Words.
Apple Music / Spotify

9. Daya - Sit Still, Look Pretty

So this is kind of different, huh? There's generally an expectation that debut albums from major label signed 18 year old female pop singer's are going to be pretty cookie cutter boardroom penned radio hits for the masses. Not Sit Still, Look Pretty, and that's very apparent straight away during first track, 'Dare'. Sure, there are some songs on here that are suitably average, but disgustingly infectious and fun tracks like 'Thirsty', 'Talk' and 'Cool' really make up for it. Essentially, the same team had a hand in writing the majority of her songs on this record, which is interesting not only because the songs are all really good pop hits, but they also all seem to encapsulate what Daya is about pretty well. Although, it is a little disappointing how few writing credits Daya herself has. It's also a mild travesty that Daya isn't world renowned and huge after the year she's had with The Chainsmoker's 'Don't Look Down' along with her own viral hit 'Hide Away'. Here's to the future for a truly exciting commercial pop act.
Apple Music / Spotify

8. Tove Lo - Lady Wood

The mighty return of our Swedish queen, Tove Lo. I'm not generally a fan of the concept album but Tove Lo seems to make them make sense. Tove Lo's debut, Queen Of The Clouds, was my album of the year back in 2014 and obviously I haven't enjoyed Lady Wood as much, but anyone who claims this album isn't good is downright incorrect. Our queen is simply the master of the middle eight. How does she do it? A perfect middle eight at every turn strewn through impeccably crafted electronically tinged pop music. It's really refreshing to be graced with a popstar who is so open about their sexuality in a genuine and uncontrived way as Tove Lo is. For that to then go hand in hand with the music that she's making as well as the Fairy Dust short film that went alongside the first half of this album is an absolute dream. Which brings me to the masterpiece that is 'Vibes' - has there ever been a more perfect "Are you sure this is the best one of the album? Oh shit, she just did THAT."? No, I didn't think so.
Apple Music / Spotify


7. Allan Kingdom - Northern Lights

I truly did not expect to be taken by this album(/mixtape... not sure what this is billed as) as I was and as I still am. I don't really think I'd heard much from Allan Kingdom other than his hook on Kanye's 'All Day' but here we are with Northern Lights sitting pretty in my top ten albums of the year. I'm in awe of a hip hop artist being able to create tracks as catchy as Kingdom does without the helping hand of guest artists on every chorus. With tracks like 'The Ride', 'Disconnect' and 'Monkey See', this is the kind of album I would gladly hand over to anyone who wasn't a fan of hip hop to show them what they've been missing out on. Kingdom has such a unique style of delivery it makes for such a captivating record especially amongst so many young rappers, it's a feat just to push through. I've gotta hand it to D.R.A.M. on 'Renovate' too; have you heard a more iconic duo from 2016? I'll wait.
Apple Music / Spotify


6. Gallant - Ology

Ology deserved far more of my time and everyone else's in 2016. Gallant has had the most wild year and I could not be more stoked for such a genuinely incredible artist to truly be doing so well. I've been a fan of Gallant for a couple of years and I don't think I would have ever predicted the meteoric rise that he's seen, despite Ology being a genuine masterclass in R&B. Whether it's soul laden 'Shotgun', pop-centric 'Episode' or the straight up seductive current R&B vibes of 'Miyazaki', this album has it all. It's also a given that Gallant's vocals are out of this world throughout but you truly have not heard even a morsel of his capabilities until you've seen him live. It will blow your mind. I've just checked out the producers on the album and I had no idea the majority of the tracks were produced by STiNT whose tracks/remixes I've praised previously on the blog, AND there's a track produced by my fave Maths Time Joy, who knew!
Apple Music / Spotify

Catch you tomorrow for my top five albums of 2016.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Top Ten EPs of 2016: 5 -> 1

Check out part one of this little list here otherwise you won't know what the hell is going on. Well, you will, I'd hope you'd be able to grasp how a list works, but just check it out anyway, will you?

5. Grumble Bee - Disconnect

Disconnect is the first of three debut EPs in a row in this half of my top ten. Grumble Bee is just one guy, Jack Bennett, and it still blows my mind a little bit that (I think I'm right in saying this) everything on this EP, all the parts, were written by Bennett himself. Not only is Disconnect a great rock release it's complex and well thought out. Back in May I interviewed Bennett for New Roots (New Roots seems to have played a large part in this list thus far) and he mentioned about wanting to support Dance Gavin Dance on their Autumn tour. I made the assumption that they were a fairly big influence and it makes sense with the layering and twists and turns throughout Disconnect. Alongside that Bennett's raspy vocals are incredible on every track. Grumble Bee has been a really nice addition to British rock in 2016.

4. CHINAH - Once The Lights Are On

I haven't listened to everyone's favourite Danish trio for a little while but going back through releases this year Once The Lights Are On is one that stood out a mile. So very precious. From start to finish this EP is the absolute most pure thing ever, incredibly crafted indie pop songs with a dash of R&B and some super tight production. Tracks like 'We Go Back' and 'Away From Me' are so subtly infectious, as well. CHINAH's choruses aren't blatantly catchy but you'll inevitably find yourself singing and nodding along to tracks from Once The Lights Are On long after you've finished listening. In a fairly unexpected turn of events this is the only Nordic band/artist to feature in my EPs list. Listening to this EP again, there's something about it that really connects (in my head, at least) with the colder months, so what an amazing time to visit or revisit it.

3. Léks Rivers - Badlands

I've said so much about Léks Rivers recently (and there's more to come next week too) that I'm quite literally running out of words in the from the English dictionary. Four track EP Badlands was released less that a month ago but three weeks is more than enough time to fall in love with something, right? The oldest song of the four is 'Soho Knights', originally "released" last year, it's been given a re-vamp for the EP with enhanced (technical term to follow) brass bits. Overall, I'm just absolutely fascinated with the amount of elements, genres, and stories packed in to the space of 15 minutes. Badlands isn't instantaneously or typically catchy and it's quite blatantly not written for radio but it's so diverse and it'll keep you on your toes from start to finish, there's genuinely something for everybody on here.

2. ABRA - PRINCESS

I was not familiar with ABRA's work prior to PRINCESS but god damn do I feel like I've been missing out now. There has not been a body of work released this year more intrusively seductive than this EP. If I owned a seedy club I'd just put this on repeat all day every day. I don't know if it comes from watching the videos but PRINCESS conjures up images shrouded in neon pink for me. Abra's dark electronic infused R&B is really sets her apart from other artists but there are still various hints of commercial appeal scattered throughout. 'CRYBABY' is not only my favourite track on this EP but one of my favourites of the year, not least for THAT line about Poseidon. ABRA, the girl I both want to be and want to be with.

1. Omaha - Young Hearts

Disclaimer: I'm counting Young Hearts as an EP because even though it has seven entire tracks, it's only 22 minutes long. My blog, my rules, @ me if you have a problem with it. I loved this EP when I heard it; I loved it even more when life happened and the songs on this EP clicked. To me, it's a really strange concept to relate to someone else's lyrics and story, so it's absolutely nuts that that's how I feel about so much of Young Hearts. Omaha have hands down written and performed seven really great pop rock songs, and the fact that the lyrics aren't shrouded in metaphors makes this a relatable release for pretty much anyone who has had a rocky relationship with someone else. Is this EP critically speaking "better" than the other releases on this list? Maybe not, but it's definitely the one I've enjoyed the most in 2016. The most upsetting thing about this is that Omaha don't seem to be a band anymore. They've changed their name on Twitter to Glaciers and I can't find their Facebook page at all. There's some kind of metaphor for the story of my life lost in here. It's been half an hour since I discovered Omaha's change/demise and I don't really know what to do with myself...

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Top Ten EPs of 2016: 10 -> 6

What are you talking about? No of course I haven't rush written this list because I've realised it's 27th December. Calm down.

First thing's first, I have listened to so much music this year and therefore could not possibly fit everything in to two Top Ten lists so my honourable EP mentions are as follows:

Catch Fire - The Distance I Am From You
Sad Blood - Legion Of Gloom
Frenship - Truce
RKCB - In Contrast

10. Coloured In - Depress and Let Go

If you'd told me at the start of the year that one of my End Of Year lists was going to include a release that features an eight minute long song I would not have believed you. Yet here we are. Coloured In are a grunge/punk three piece from Kent and are probably the most obscure band on this list in terms of what I'm generally into but I was really taken aback by Depress and Let Go. Despite it's dark and gloominess the almost pop rock hooks on both 'Slow' and the nigh on nine minute spectacle 'Sideways' reeled me in. Coloured In's grasp of grunge is so impressive for a band so young in their career. With the EP's title in mind, this isn't a release to accompany your moping, it's one to soundtrack you being your very best: "You can change the world, you must change the world."


9. Penthouse - Solemn

I have Isha and New Roots to thank for this one. I reviewed Solemn for the final issue of New Roots a few months back and I was really surprised by the calibre of tracks on this EP considering Penthouse have only been being Penthouse since the start of the year. At the crux of it, I guess Penthouse kind of come from the same scene as Coloured In but these two releases sound completely different. On Solemn, Penthouse take us on a wild journey down every punk alley they could cram into 20 minutes; from the the blink and you'll miss it pop punk on 'Heatwave' to the grunge laden 'Black Shoes', squeezed between songs during which they really hone their craft on either side. I've just seen on The Internet that they've gone through some line-up changes recently and I truly hope that doesn't stunt what the band have started on this debut EP because it's stellar.

8. Tom Aspaul - LEFT

How could I even dream of not including Tom Aspaul? I couldn't. LEFT is Aspaul's first proper solo release, you know, something that wasn't just a standalone single, for about a year and a half and what a welcome return it is! LEFT is a bitesize taster of slightly peculiar sounding excellently produced pop. I absolutely adore Aspaul's songwriting, it feels miles apart from anything that other artists are bringing out. Both 'Burnt Out' and 'Messy' are the perfect pre-drink songs, tracks to get you just the perfect amount of party ready. Those tracks intertwined with the slightly more mellow 'Never Complaining' and 'Perfection' make for one of the year's most flawless EPs. If you'd like to hear more about the LEFT EP right from Tom Aspaul's mouth you can check out the first episode of The Middle Eight Podcast right here.

7. Blood Youth - Closure

Blood Youth's second EP, Closure, is another one that I reviewed for New Roots earlier on in the year and I'm still as hung up as I was then that the run-time for this release is a mere 13 minutes. As far as British metal bands and releases go for 2016 it's only too right that Blood Youth should be regarded amongst those like Architects and Bury Tomorrow. The diversity in the four piece's skill-set is apparent almost immediately apparent as serene opener 'Breathe' launches into the audacious '24/7'. I genuinely haven't enjoyed a truly heavy record this year as much as I've enjoyed Closure, especially the absolutely incredible 'Mood Swings'. It's not easy to fit in a hooky sing-along chorus like the one in this song in to a release like this and maintain the heaviness and integrity throughout. Blood Youth are definitely releasing an album next year and I'm super stoked for it.

6. JMR - Ritual

I first posted JMR's singles 'Shivers' and 'Closer' way back in 2014 and I don't think I'd heard anything from him until wham March this year, Ritual appears and everything was, in that moment, perfect. This is probably the most sonically stunning release on this list, I think, from start to finish it's just absolutely beautiful. Vocally, JMR is absolutely faultless throughout and the production on every track is so sleek. Criticise me as much as you like for the fact that I am madly in love with the "ballads" on Ritual but I dare you to listen to 'Shivers' and not cry... or at least become mildly overwhelmed with emotion. What I love the most about Ritual is the shift from the first three tracks to the more upbeat 'Found My Religion' and 'Bad For Good'. This EP is genuinely a masterclass in how to pull off incredible R&B. There are also hints that some new JMR stuff in on the way and I am so excited.

Join me tomorrow for 5 -> 1 because I know you're stoked for it.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Little Simz feat Syd - Shotgun

Syd is the woman of my dreams.

I'm not really a fan of Little Simz, generally, I don't really know why. You know when sometimes some things just don't really click with you? But it's possible that I just haven't paid enough attention. Either way, she's quite literally just released her new album Stillness In Wonderland and it has some cool surface level references to Alice In Wonderland and probably a lot deeper references that are likely to be apparent after listening properly. (CAN YOU TELL I HAVEN'T LISTENED TO THE WHOLE ALBUM YET? Yes? Good.)

My immediate favourite track on Stillness In Wonderland is Little Simz's (is that correct grammar? I'm not sure) is 'Shotgun' featuring Syd (Tha Kyd) of The Internet and OFWGKTA fame. Her voice is just an absolute dream. My absolute dream. And Little Simz works really well on this mellow The Internet-esque jazz instrumentation. I really don't think that this is a collaboration I ever would have put money on to work, but 'Shotgun' is a really great track. With the 90's like backing vocal "oohh"s too, there are quite a few elements within this song that point to it going down well on radio and with a mass market generally. I think I'd like to hear Little Simz do more pop leaning songs like this because she's pulled it off pretty flawlessly.

Also Syd's new solo album is finished. What a time to rejoice.



Wednesday, 21 December 2016

James Vickery - Epiphany


Toyed loads with whether I should post this or not and I decided I probably should because it is such a vibe. And there goes another excuse as to why I post stuff so late.

Somehow due to a minor blip in my paying of attention I didn't take note of James Vickery's feature on the Joe Hertz EP back in September. Bit embarrassing really seeing as I like to think I'm a strong advocate for good feat artists. Vickery appears on the opening track, 'Swimming', and it's definitely one of my favourites on How It Feels. And you know what's nice? When you have a bit of previous with someone before they release their first proper single. That's what's nice.

'Epiphany' is what appears to be James Vickery's "first proper single" and as mentioned, it is such a vibe. I think the reason I was conflicted about posting is because there are so many male artistes doing this similar sounding R&B slightly electronicy thing at the moment (just take a glance at SG Lewis, Louis Mattrs, Sam Sure etc). But when a good song is good why should the fact that the genre is popular deter the song from receiving the praise it deserves? Vocally, Vickery is great and I think that he'd probably sound even better live, in a setting where his voice isn't so shrouded by backing vocals at points. Looking forward to hearing other tracks he has in store.

EDIT: Really, should I have waited until Epiphany to post this?



Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Matt Woods - Aint No Use EP

I felt severely "meh" and *shrug* towards Matt Woods' music prior to December 2016. I'd definitely heard 'Impression' and 'In The Dark' last year and I probably even heard 'Ain't No Use' earlier this year and chose to brush it aside. Oh how times have changed.

If there's nothing else that I've taken from doing this blog, the thing I've learnt is that full releases are important and listening to a body of work as intended the way the artist and/or label compiled it is a really good idea. This is where (amongst various other releases on the planet) Matt Woods' Ain't No Use EP comes in. If anyone actually read this I'd definitely get some stick for this EP being packed full of what I'd often refer to as ballads, but luckily I'll probably escape that criticism. I'm struggling to pinpoint what it is exactly that separates Woods from other artists that sound a bit like this and I'm not sure why. His super pure sounding vocals, on top of simple piano led soul with a bunch of electronic elements piled on top. It sounds really good to be honest.

There are four tracks on Ain't No Use, and what really sells the EP to me, personally, are how "pop" the title track and recent single 'Nothing Less' are. These are so so great. And catchy. And good. Imagine the perfect about of "vibe"... well, that's what is featured in both of these. I also really like 'Styrofoam' as just a change in dynamic but still a good all-rounder. Idon'tlike'IfYouForgetMe'becausethat'saproperballadsolet'sjustglossoverthat. Would be up for seeing Matt Woods live next year, I reckon, because I don't think it would be boring and that's always a good mindset to have, isn't it?



Monday, 19 December 2016

Whethan feat Flux Pavilion and MAX - Savage

I have no idea who Whethan is but this track is mad real.

Some cold hard facts for you, Whethan's real name is Ethan Snoreck, which I guess makes a little bit of sense. Oh, Whethan is a school nickname, right, there we go! Although, Snoreck is such a great surname, imagine not using that for your stage name. I reckon I'd drop the Ethan but and literally just go for Snoreck. Undeniably great. Maybe it's just one of those things where you don't notice how good it is because you've had it your whole life? From reading his website bio I have also learnt that Whethan is (or at least was, at the time of writing) 17 years old and from Chicago. He was also the youngest producer to have a record released on Future Classic which bodes really well because nigh on everything on Future Classic is impeccable.

Whethan's just released a single featuring both Flux Pavilion and MAX. We are all well aware that MAX is a great feat artist so we're off to a good start. Does Flux Pavilion usually feat on stuff? I don't really know, but he's definitely a welcome addition to the squad on 'Savage'. I really rate Flux Pavilion, actually, whilst we're here, I went to see him at The Great Escape a few years ago playing a full band set at two o'clock in the morning or something ridiculous and it was exceedingly good.

So if we mix all of that together we are left with 'Savage' a highly inoffensive mixture of pop and trap that would most probably go down quite swimmingly at any Christmas or New Years party. I always find it a little disappointing that good EDM like this doesn't seem to cross over to the mainstream that often. Think of all of the vibes that could be had! If I was hosting a party at any point in the next month I'd add this to the soiree playlist at least three times.



Thursday, 15 December 2016

While She Sleeps - Hurricane

The new While She Sleeps album is going to be so wild, isn't it?

Last time I did a post about While She Sleeps it was just after they launched their Pledge campaign for their upcoming album and alongside that had released 'Civil Isolation'. In three short months While She Sleeps have exceeded their Pledge goal and announced that their forthcoming album will be called You Are We scheduled for release on 21st April 2017.

'Hurricane' seems to be the first proper single to be taken from You Are We and oh my God it's absolutely fucking incredible. Spending time around pop fans earlier this week, the stigma that metal has around those who aren't so familiar with it is immediately apparent. But I think band's like While She Sleeps are here to break that barrier down. There's absolutely no question about the "heaviness" of their music at all, and their ability to blend that with genuine pop choruses is phenomenal. A lot of people try to tell me about how many pop elements there are in their rock band's music but honestly, those elements so rarely actually exist. And that's what makes While She Sleeps so incredible. 'Hurricane's hook is second to none and it sets them apart from other popular rock and metal bands.

There's absolutely no doubt that You Are We is going to be While She Sleep's career highlight thus far as well as one of the greatest albums to look forward to in 2017. They're touring it in April next year too. I'd highly recommend getting to a show. I also reckon they'll probably headline that there metal stage at Slam Dunk next year too.



Monday, 12 December 2016

From The Depths Of My Inbox: Alexanderson and Kevin McGuire

Hi, this stuff's been sitting flagged in my inbox for a while, should probably post it all really.

Alexanderson - Issues

This is Alexanderson and his debut single 'Issues'. I'd assume Alexanderson's real name is Alex Anderson but if life has taught me anything it's that things are never as simple as they may seem. The word 'tectonic' appears in the first verse of 'Issues' which makes me think that maybe Alexanderson is the UK's answer to Thomston. (Insert some exposition to the audience here about how Thomston is a mixture of Thomas Stoneman's first and last name, and how his debut album released earlier this year is riddled with geography references.) This is a really nice little "dark pop" song for a debut though, isn't it? Apparently (it's in the press release) Alexanderson has spent the last five years writing and producing for others, and I personally would be intrigued as whether the world has unknowingly heard any of his previous work. Either way, Alexanderson seems like one worth keeping an eye on with an EP scheduled for release at some point next year.
EDIT: What if his name is Alexander Son??? No, my mind is blown. This is Maths Time Joy all over again.




Kevin McGuire - 3am

Bear with me lads, because this is not your typical WIIHAMB endorsed single, oh no. Kevin McGuire is a country music artiste from Glasgow. I would assume he's fairly young but I've honestly no idea so can't really comment. The press release describes Kevin McGuire's musical style as "Country-style songwriting mixed with RnB-Pop melodic ideas", which I think is a very fair assessment of the situation. 3am is an objectively great song regardless of genre, it's just that the blend of styles come together to make the track even better. It's different and different is good, especially as I'm well aware that a lot of things I like and post, generally speaking, sound quite similar. Will I follow all of Kevin McGuire's endeavours from here on in until the rest of time? I'm not sure. Am I fairly intrigued by his style and what he has to come in the future? Definitely.



Thursday, 8 December 2016

Pretty Sister - Thirsty

Oh my God, I am so straight for Pretty Sister. That is, categorically, the strangest sentence that you will read today. You're very welcome.

What I like most about Zak Waters' current project Pretty Sister is that his lyrics are so refreshingly and blatantly shameless. We heard this on 'Come To LA' earlier this year, featuring the line "come to LA and fuck me" and this all openly returns again on new single 'Thirsty'. Is this a good direction for pop music types? Should we force them to all be just as honest as Waters? This realness is a cool thing though, as well as being a little amusing it does actually resonate with normal people, doesn't it? No lame metaphors that allude to something but really mean quite the opposite.

Lyrical content aside, 'Thirsty' is a modern day masterclass of electronic pop meets funk. I saw a very complementary tweet about Pretty Sister the other day basically about this track being funkier than the new Bruno Mars album. Thinking about it, Pretty Sister would be quite a nice opener on that multi-million dollar generating worldwide tour that ol' Bruno is doing next year. Anyway, as I was saying, 'Thirsty' is actually quite different in terms of feel and tempo compared to the other tracks that Pretty Sister has put out thus far which is actually quite welcome. Waters' vocals are, as expected, an absolute treat as well. We must be due an EP or something soon, right?



Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Spit Syndicate - Inhibitions

Sometimes Australia's New Music Friday playlist throws up some real gems, songs that aren't so blatantly flying around elsewhere on the internet. Not too often, but sometimes. An example of this from way back in November is Spit Syndicate who continue to fuel my love for Australian hip hop.

You will all be terribly excited to learn that I have once again turned to Wikipedia and Facebook to do my research for today's post. Spit Syndicate are a duo from Sydney whose members Nick Lupi and Jimmy Nice join Horrorshow (who I posted a little while ago), Jackie Onassis (who I was really into a few years ago), and Joyride to form One Day crew. I don't quite know why I find the concept of "rap/hip hop crews" existing outside of the UK so peculiar, but I did, and there's absolutely zero justification for that thought process. There's something I find really cringeworthy about a lot of UK based white rappers, but I really don't find that's the same with Australians. I think in the UK white rappers are maybe trying to live up to precedents set by others in their field whereas from what I can tell about the "scene" in Australia, there doesn't seem to be the pressure to follow the same pattern. Really I have no idea, just a conclusion I've plucked out of thin air.

Anyway so this Spit Syndicate single is called 'Inhibitions' and it's really fun. The kind of song that you wish your friends knew all the words to as well for maximum impact. I absolutely love how chill yet packed with vibe the chorus is compared to the verses being just the right amount more "aggressive" (OMG am I in my 40s?) with the bass behind them. I have never before quite desired to get so lifted in a Mitsubishi as I do right now. Quite a lot goes on in this song too, there's a nice little interlude at the end. I have no idea what's going on in the Spit Syndicate camp at the moment but I'd image that if there's an album in the works that interlude would make a hell of a lot of sense.



Monday, 5 December 2016

Angel feat Rich Homie Quan - Fvxk With You

You remember Angel, right? One of the least searchable artist names of all time. For those who don't recall, Angel, London based singer type, released a load of stuff around 2012 and 2013 that did quite well UK chart and radio-wise. Also let us not forget his work on Fuse ODG's 'T.I.N.A.' Angel does seem to have been releasing tracks in the interim but I hadn't noticed until 'Fcxk With You' wound up on a New Music Friday playlist and what a joy that was to hear.

I really don't think I was prepared for such a great R&B song from an artist I'd nigh on forgotten about. 'Fvxk With You' isn't overly intelligent or groundbreaking, but it's a fun song about fucking with you and I don't really know what more you wanted to be honest. Rich Homie Quan is a surprisingly good choice of featured artist, with his verse fitting pretty snuggly in to the middle eight section. The video is full of some lolz too. The subtitles throughout the opening dialogue are very self-aware and the main video girl sporting the Man U shirt whilst this video is blatantly filmed in America is just straight up amusing.

It's a shame about the rest of his Her EP from which this track is taken. It's not a particularly stand out effort overall and there's one track, 'Tongue Song', that really unnecessarily samples Sisqo's 'Thong Song'. The original is too iconic for mediocre samples, there's just really no need for it. With artist like Shakka on the rise, Angel's new EP quite simply isn't up to scratch with what fresher artists are doing at the moment.



Friday, 2 December 2016

Ed Thomas - Hollywood EP

Let me tell you about Ed Thomas. He's probably (and maybe slightly unjustly) best known for his involvement in Chase & Status' 2014 single (released on Brand New Machines, 2013) 'Blk & Blu', which if you ask me is one of the best songs on that album. The Zed Bias remix is great too just FYI. Shortly after that Thomas released his Outlaws EP which is absolutely stunning, so much so that it made it on to my favourite EP's (of which there were only five) of 2014. You can actually still download it for free here it would seem.

After releasing his heart-wrenching single 'Love Is Red' back in January, Thomas has finally given us something a little lengthier to get our teeth into in the form of new EP Hollywood. I know what you're thinking, "Hey Natalie, there is absolutely no doubt that you wouldn't consider the songs that Ed Thomas writes as ballads, so what's the deal?" Well... the deal is that I think Ed Thomas' voice is spectacular (can you tell I used a thesaurus?) and I think he puts a really interesting yet subtle spin on RnB.

The Hollywood EP is three tracks long and it's the final song that, personally, I think really stands out. As is easily concluded 'Swim Alone' is the most upbeat of the three tracks and it has a really cool slow burn build to the chorus which may or may not but probably will whack you right in the feels. I really hope that Ed Thomas' own material doesn't take a backseat for as long next time because the standard set by this material is too high to not be given the attention it deserves. I have no idea how much sense that last sentence makes, but there we go.



Tuesday, 29 November 2016

SOHN - Conrad

There's always an air of concern when it comes to music in January. It's often a dry desert-like place with tumbleweed everywhere you look. Oh, but not for 2017 lads, no, no, for we can look forward to a brand new SOHN album, HELLO WORLD! Sohn, real name Christopher Taylor, released his debut album Tremors back in 2014 and despite loving single 'Artifice' prior to it's release, the album as a whole took me a little while to get into. However, it wasn't long before Tremors cemented itself as one of my favourite records of that year. (Although bafflingly I didn't think it good enough to include in my albums of the year... not sure what went on there.)

The new single from SOHN's forthcoming (OMG the release date is literally 13th January!!) is called 'Conrad' and you truly don't realise how much you've missed hearing new music from SOHN until pressing play on this track. [I'm listening back to Tremors as I write this and oh my actual God it's so very excellent.] Obviously, as stated numerous times, I've been super slack throughout the entirety of 2016 and apparently I missed 'Signal' which SOHN released back at the start of September and that has really upset me. It's good, but it's not 'Conrad'. 'Conrad' opens with a vocal, it's ballsy but it's absolute genius. What follows is an onslaught of amazing pop and sleek as fuck production. I'm not sure I can really do it justice in words.



Jakil - Unforgiveable


I first posted Jakil about two years ago. It was a song called 'Istanbul'. I really liked it, I still do. At the time I said that I didn't think Jakil sounded like The 1975 despite other blog types saying they did. Fast forward to Summer 2016 and I state "Imagine The 1975’s sugary indie-popness but without Matty Healy’s annoying face and pompous personality and that’s kind of what Jakil are like." Hey, what's up, hello, welcome to the blog of contradictions where nothing here makes any sense!

Jakil's latest single is called 'Unforgivable'. The second line features the word "nasty". You know everybody has a few words that really make them squirm, like, just make you super uncomfortable? Well "nasty" is one of mine, but it's all in the delivery. Jakil's delivery? Well, it's quite good. You'll recall (or you won't) my words on Youth Club AKA the UK's catchiest band ever, well Jakil are kind of like their more subtle... subtler(?) counterpart. 'Unforgivable is just as groove laden and definitely packed with hooks, just with a bit more of an overall chilled vibe. The video for this song is really cool too, one of those videos that makes you wish you had cool friends to go to cool places and hang out with, you know?



Monday, 28 November 2016

Kudu Blue - NGFM

Kudu Blue are a band who are very good at what they do. The end.

Just kidding. You all (haha who? no one reads this!) remember Brighton based Kudu Blue, don't you? Good. And if you don't, you should. 'NGFM', which actually stands for 'Not Good For Me', is the five-piece's latest single and obviously it's just the next instalment in their pop/electronic crossover series. That's some terrible phrasing. That makes it sound like this isn't what they do normally. It is, and they do it really well. God, who lets me write this stuff? You really shouldn't. Maybe I start making posts a lot shorter and thus put a cap on my rambling.

'NGFM' is good and includes two sound effects you might not have heard in any other song in 2016: A dog barking, and glass shattering. What I want to know is whether that's a real dog or not and whether real glass was broken in the making of this song. Maybe I should have found out prior to writing and that could have been the groundbreaking journalism that everybody's been waiting for from WIIHAMB. Once again Clementine's vocals steal the show, especially during the pre-chorus and chorus itself. She seems to be demonstrating more and more versatility with each song Kudu Blue release. They also played their first London headline show a couple of weeks ago and it was all very good. If you haven't seen Kudu Blue yet (which is fairly likely) I'd highly recommend putting it at the top of your To Do List for 2017.


I Literally Listened To The New Bowling For Soup Album So You Don't Have To

I was at work listening to the latest Bowling For Soup album. I thought I'd share my mostly painful experience with my two colleagues, Dan and Kieran. The following details the events of a taxing 45 minutes.

Natalie: I’m listening to the new Bowling For Soup album

Natalie: Lines from the BFS album, “and even in my sleep I still wanna do most of her friends”
Kieran: Oh, well, it would have to be his sleep, right? As he has limited mobility and isn’t nearly as attractive as he used to be

Natalie: Next song: “I’ve got shit to do and it don’t include you”
Natalie: “At least you’re good in bed”
Dan: Daaaaamn, leak this to the SJWs, field day opportunity
Natalie: I actually don’t know if I’m going to be able to push through the whole album 
Kieran: That bad eh?
Natalie: “I’ll fix the ozone layer, I’ll cure all disease, I’ll run for president and there’ll be world peace”
Dan: HEY JARED, YOU MISSED THE ELECTION MATE

Natalie: Track Three: “she’s not your normal mom, she likes to sing along … … … TO PUNK ROCK SONGS”
Dan: Oh track 3
Natalie: “She won my heart when she fixed the zipper on my Frank Turner hoodie”
Kieran: I hope it’s a song about still living with your mum in your 40s; I’m getting that impression
Natalie: No, it’s about his friend Diane, she’s really great… apparently
Kieran: I imagine Diane is not in fact, the girl all the bad guys want?
Natalie: WELL, I can neither confirm nor deny

Natalie: Track 4 titled Go To Bed Mad
Dan: NO I DON’T WANNA GO TO BEEEED MAD AT U
Natalie: more “these are the thoughts I have when I go to bed mad”
Dan: Is this album supposed to be comedy like old skl BFS?
Natalie: HOLD ON.  “then your boobs come out and I suddenly forget what we’re fighting about”
Kieran: May I just comment that never have I been in an argument with a partner and they have just taken their shirt off, nor has it happened to anybody I know
Natalie: You just don’t know the right types of people, clearly
Dan: Yeah Kieran, that’s just cos U AIN’T JARED
Kieran: Like, they’d be pretty angry and even the insinuation that taking off their clothes may help resolve the non-sexual issue we’re probably arguing about would only further infuriate them into a blind rage
Kieran: M8 look at Jard
Dan: Jard the Lard

Natalie: In more disappointing news track 5 is pretty… standard and average 

Natalie: Track 6 - the entire first line: “I’ve got a thing for a girl with a last name that would make you laugh out loud if you heard it with the first”. This song also sounds like 5SOS
Natalie: The song is called She Doesn’t Think That It’s Ever Gonna Work Out and I have to say I’m inclined to agree

Natalie: Track 7 is titled Don’t Be A Dick and the first line is “whatever happened to chivalry”. Read into this as you please
Natalie: “show some respect, just be a person”
Dan: ‘whatever happened to charity’ is what I read there
Kieran: The Chivalry Charity went bust, that’s why there’s little of it nowadays

Natalie: The entire chorus for Track 8 is the following: “stop doing that, stop doing that, stop doing that, stop, stop doing that, stop doing that, stop, stop doing that, stop doing that, stop doing that”
Kieran: “Stop doing this, stop doing this…ad infinitum…"
Kieran: It sounds awful but I feel slightly compelled to listen
Natalie: Plz dont

Natalie: Stopped paying attention and have no thoughts re track 9. There were lots of complaints about the lyrical content of the latest Blink record because they were singing about typical teenage things, and I think that’s also the problem in a lot of this album

Natalie: Track 10: “It’s been a while since you were mine but I don’t want you to sleep with him”. Oh right, not wanting her to sleep with him is a common theme throughout this song.
Dan: These lyrics do make me kinda sad. It’s like the cries of the eternal friend zone, I’M SUCH A NICE GUY YOU GOTTA DATE ME
Natalie: IT IS! OMG THAT’S WHAT THIS ENTIRE ALBUM IS
Dan: Theme: confirmed.
Dan: No one wants to hear a guy in his 40s writing pop punk songs about the friend zone, that’s just dark

Natalie: TRACK 11 IS A COUNTRY SONG AND I DONT THINK I CAN CONTINUE
Dan: Curious turn
Natalie: There’s whistling and guitar twanging, this is my worst nightmare
Kieran: WHISTLING
Dan: ‘My baby left me'
Dan: ‘And that old red truck don’t smell the same oh na-na'
Natalie: “I had my heart broken, I had just turned 19, I never knew that a girl could be so mean”
Natalie: There’s now a “la la la” section and more whistling
Dan: He seriously needs to chill haha
Natalie: It’s called Drinkin’ Beer On A Sunday 
Dan: I’d rather listen to Bruno sass on about banging than this awkward sadness from a man who should be over his teenage angst kieran
Natalie: WOULDN'T WE ALL
Dan: Trying to relate to the kids but just sounds depressed and scary, doesn’t even appear to have the comedy tone of the old songs
Natalie: Hold on now his Grandad is dying but he’s still thinking about drinkin’ beer on a sunday on his deathbed...
Dan: Loowwwng as I gawwt my beeeer, heeeyyy heeyy now
Natalie: LITERALLY, IT’S ACTUALLY THAT.
Dan: Can’t wait for the vid. Jared chewing on straw
Natalie: Christ I’m glad that’s over. 

Kieran: RIGHT, I’m going in
Natalie: NO. DON’T. DO. IT. KIERAN.

And we never heard from him ever again.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Leks Rivers - No Rest For The Wicked

I'm a fan of Leks Rivers. I have been for a year and a half or so. In fact, his track 'Soho Knights' made it on to my top tracks of 2015 last year (obviously, because that's when 2015 was). And I have been ever so patiently waiting since then for Leks Rivers to release new stuff... waiting and waiting and waiting...

And then a few weeks ago I went on to my Soundcloud profile, something I had not touched in a fair few months and sitting there was a message from Leks sent back in August about his then new track 'You're My X And Here's Y'. If the title alone doesn't grab you then you quite simply don't deserve nice things. In order to make up for lost time I put this track on repeat and everything was going swimmingly...



AND THEN BOOM. Before I know it Leks is back with another new track, a proper real life actual single. You know, one that's actually available on platforms other than Soundcloud. Praise the Lord for we have been #blessed. This track is called 'No Rest For The Wicked' and it seems to be released on Black Butter Records which is interesting. I have very mixed feelings towards Black Butter, the artists on their roster, and what they do with them... however... this is looking pretty good.

I don't think there's anyone on in the UK making music as interesting as what Leks Rivers is doing at the moment. I think it would be nigh on impossible to try to categorise a track like 'No Rest For The Wicked' into a specific genre. It spans absolutely everything. I can only imagine the broad array of this guy's influences. Initially I wanted to put Leks Rivers down as a hip hop artist but there are RnB vocals lines in abundance and a pretty heavily used guitar alongside rock drums throughout. None of this categorisation really matters though. Just rest assured that there's someone on the planet creating "urban" music that sounds like nothing you've heard before and it's absolutely incredible.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Venus Demilo - Bite My Tongue


Hi everybody, I wanted to put this in the 'If You're Blogging This It's Too Late' post earlier this week but also I wanted to chat at greater length about this particular song because I think it's really good, basically. I know nothing about this... ensemble at the point in typing so let's do my favourite thing of research whilst I blog. You're in for a wild one WIIHAMB fans. (I know there are no fans, it's just a figure of speech.)


It would appear that this group is built up of four members. Venus Demilo is an odd name. Do you reckon that's somebody's real life actual name? I sure bet it's very searchable. A quick Google shows that Venus de Milo is in fact a Greek statue, one of the most famous of it's kind I'll have you know. You'd recognise it if you saw it. But this has made the band themselves far less searchable... alas, the scrolling continues. I think I actually found this track in an email, which I may indeed now refer to. (Please note, it is indeed extremely rare that I go through my emails but on this particular occasion, what a treat it was!)

Venus Demilo are a four piece from Liverpool. They have a new member; she's called Fran Fitzpatrick, and let's discuss what she's brought to Venus Demilo with their new single (released precisely a month and a half ago) 'Bite My Tongue' and how it differs, in the best way, from the band's previous singles. 'Bite My Tongue' is shimmy-worthy indie pop at it's finest from start to finish and although this starts with the guitar in the first verse, having Fran in tow with the keys and the ability to whack these vocal samples and the like in the live show I reckon would be pretty nice.

Hey, if you like my mates in Fours, I think you'll really dig this. I have pretty high hopes for this band  based solely on my reaction to 'Bite My Tongue'. They're the kind of band that would go do very well on a commercial front, on radio, getting some nice support slots and the like. Ones to watch.


Monday, 14 November 2016

If You're Blogging This It's Too Late Part Three: Klyne, Youth Club, George Maple

Oh would you look at that, it's mid-month and guess who decided to start blogging again. You'd be correct, it's me.

Klyne - Water Flow

My favourite Dutch duo Klyne are back with their new single 'Water Flow', continuing their stream of pop/R&B/soul vibes channelling throughout Western Europe. What really stands out about songs from Klyne is that they're interesting, innovative and different without being too off-the-wall for your average music fan. Tracks like 'Water Flow' are simple yet effective; the percussion in particular really sets this apart from not only Klyne's other tracks but also other R&B type duos available on the market. Klyne are playing a short string of dates across Europe at the start of December, sort yourself out and go to one of them.



Youth Club - Sorry

Is it fair to say that all of the bands in the land, it's Youth Club who write the catchiest songs? BECAUSE I RECKON IT IS. I don't know when it ends. Does it end? Will this Southend based four piece ever write a song that doesn't get stuck in your head for at least forever? Probably not. 'Sorry' is Youth Club's new single and as you should have been able to put together by now, it's very good. Sorry is a little more down tempo than some of the band's previous efforts but is still packed full of groove and a chorus you can shimmy along to. Also, not forgetting the "steel drum" middle eight section, what a thing to put in a song. The video narrative is fairly lost on me but that's neither here nor there really.



George Maple - Lover

What a woman. How does every song that rising Australian star George Maple puts out sound so seductive. It's things like this that make me feel ever more increasingly inferior to anyone from Australia, despite my apparent faux accent. Maple's voice never fails to be the smoothest and most sultry thing on the planet. In other news, she's in London at the moment, and guess what, she's not even performing a show which breaks my little heart because I would pay tremendously good money to watch this all unfold live. Come back soon please, preferably with an album or something of the like in tow. Thanks.


Thursday, 3 November 2016

The Middle Eight Podcast: Episode 001 - Tom Aspaul



There it is. My first full podcast. Terrifying. Sorry that I'm really quiet during the latter half, it sounds like I was literally in a different room. Will endeavour to be better next time.

Here's a Spotify playlist featuring all of the songs that we chatted about:



And here's everything else we discussed and also everything you need to know:

Recent Releases


Lady Gaga - Joanne (album) - Apple Music / Spotify
Kilian & Jo feat Erik Rapp - Suburbia - YouTube / Soundcloud / Apple Music / Spotify
Lost Kings feat Emily Warren - Phone Down - YouTube / Soundcloud / Apple Music / Spotify
The Chainsmokers - Closer video and THAT interview

The Works of Tom Aspaul


Tom Aspaul - Good Together - YouTube / Soundcloud / Apple Music / Spotify
Tom Aspaul - Revelation Mixtape - YouTube / Soundcloud
XYconstant feat Tom Aspaul - Do It Well - YouTube / Soundcloud / Apple Music / Spotify

Tom Aspaul - LEFT (EP) - Apple Music
Never Complaining - YouTube / Soundcloud / Apple Music / Spotify
Burnt Out - YouTube / Soundcloud / Apple Music / Spotify

Tom's Favourite Tracks Of The Moment


M.I.A. - Freedun - YouTube / Soundcloud / Apple Music / Spotify
Becky Hill - Warm - YouTube / Soundcloud / Apple Music / Spotify
Rose Elinor Dougall - YouTube / Apple Music / Spotify

Follow Tom on Twitter here and Instagram here, and like him on Facebook here

If there's anything else that you're desperate to know or anything I've missed let me know.

Also thanks so much to Dan Twining for my little jingle and Kieran Dickson for the ol' artwork!.