Monday 29 February 2016

February 2016 - Things I Didn't Miss

February Playlists: Spotify / Deezer 

Albums I Missed in January That Were Actually Alright

Basement - Promise Everything
Bury Tomorrow - Earthbound
Charlie Puth - Nine Track Mind
Milk Teeth - Vile Child

Catch Fire - The Distance I Am From You (EP)

I'd heard Catch Fire's single 'Bad Behaviour' before listening to this EP and I recall thinking it was quite average pop punk. And I'm so bored of average pop punk. Although, isn't everyone? This four track EP was a really pleasant surprise. The production on The Distance I Am From You is really tight throughout which sets us all off on the right foot really. Along with that, there are some super nice moments here too. I will say, any pop punk band who can pull off the acoustic "ballad" is a band who deserve nice things and 'Introspective Pt. II' is a perfect example of this. I don't know if Catch Fire will be in the next wave of pop punk bands to "make it big" but it's definitely worth their time trying.

Charli XCX - Vroom Vroom (EP)

Could anyone anywhere ever expect anything less outrageous from a Charli XCX comeback? Once you're over how brash and obnoxious the title track is, it's actually quite fun, and to be honest with Rihanna's 'Work' being as popular as it is, I can't imagine anyone having a real problem with 'Vroom Vroom'. The same can be said for the equally as flamboyant 'Trophy'. 'Paradise' is however by far one of the worst songs I've heard this year. This EP is all well and good, but to be honest, when you've listened to an outfit like Holychild, Charli XCX's music just doesn't really cut it.


This is one of the two most stunning releases I've heard this month and it's crazy that this has come in the form of a debut EP. It's insane that this Danish trio only first surfaced with their debut track 'Away From Me' at the beginning of July. Fine Glindvad's perfect vocals paired with CHINAH's slow burning ambient electronic infused pop is what dreams are made of. You can read more about how much I love CHINAH here.

Croox - Tide (EP)

I fell head over heels in love with the opening track on Tide at the end of last year, so naturally I was excited to hear the rest of the four piece's new EP. Rest assured 'Crying' definitely still holds up but it is by far the standout on this release. 'Say Something' is great too but beyond those first two songs, Tide falls into "just another R&B EP" territory which is a real shame. Actually, that's not strictly true, this EP was/is good, I was just hoping for more. All in good time though, I guess, all in good time.

The Ballodometer Returns: Foxes - All I Need

Grumble Bee - Disconnect

Jack Bennett A.K.A. Grumble Bee could singlehandedly change my mind regarding how I feel about rock music in 2016. Everything about Disconnect is exciting, not just the fact that Bennett has written and played every instrument on this EP himself. The songs that make up this release are intricate and intelligent yet still entertaining for any rock fan; and the fact that one person has put all of this together? It's insane. I'm really looking forward to catching Grumble Bee live at some point this year because I can only imagine how good at music he is in the flesh.

Jack Garratt - Phase

Phase is an undeniabley objectively excellent album; I'm just over it. In a similar vein to Grumble Bee, although the music is of a different genre, it's important to recognise just how talented a musician Jack Garratt, the one man band, is. I can imagine that if this is the first time you've really been subjected to Garratt's music, you're going to have the most incredible time listening to Phase. I, however, have been listening to him for almost two years, and really disappointingly, this album hasn't surprised me or really brought anything new to the table. I've written a whole load more about the rise and fall of my love affair with Jack Garratt here.

Josef Salvat - Night Swim

I can't believe that Josef Salvat has only just released his debut album. It feels as though he's been bubbling under the surface of incredible music for so long. Along with CHINAH's EP, Night Swim matches it as one of this month's most stunning releases. There isn't a single moment on this album that isn't beautiful. There isn't a dull moment on here, and even the ballads are great. If the ballads are good, the album is essentially flawless.

Kloe - Teenage Craze (EP)

Teenage Craze is the most promising debut release you will hear from a new artist in 2016, and I'm ready to swear by that. Even when you consider that we'd heard three of these five tracks before we even entered into this year, I'm still prepared to stick by that opening statement. I wrote quite a bit on how all round rad Kloe is and how great 'Teenage Craze' is as a single earlier this month and you can check that out here.

Like Pacific - Distant Like You Asked

I'd never listened to Like Pacific before putting on their debut album earlier this month but I'm really glad I did. Whilst Distant Like You Asked isn't a groundbreaking pop punk album, it does hold a lot of promise for the Toronto based five-piece, especially when you listen to a track like 'Worthless Case'. This is an album for fans of the likes of State Champs and fellow Canadians Seaway; and they're opening the US leg of Neck Deep/State Champs' worldwide tour until the end of March. I'd be very interested in checking them out this side of the Atlantic in the near future.

Lion Babe - Begin

American duo Lion Babe have been kicking around for a couple of years now, and they've only just released their debut album. The problem I have with Lion Babe is that they have the potential to be absolutely huge but their songs are just so forgettable. I don't know why, they just are. And that's really frustrating, especially when a lot of the tracks on this album are genuinely good pop songs. But what good is a pop song if you can't recall the chorus ten minutes later?

Majid Jordan - Majid Jordan

Look, I enjoy Majid Jordan as a musical outfit as much as the next person but they're a singles act. They do singles and their singles are enjoyable and I'll tell you why a Majid Jordan album doesn't work. It all kind of just sounds the same. One long song with a slight change of pace every now and again. However, as singles you don't notice because you're not listening to the songs back to back. It's a shame really, because I was looking quite forward to this album but it comes and goes with a resounding R&B "meh".

Raleigh Ritchie - You're A Man Now Boy

I can't justify to anybody why I much prefer Raleigh Ritchie's debut album to Jack Garratt's debut album but I do. These are comparable due to the amount of tracklist that we've heard before, but when it comes to You're A Man Now Boy I really don't care. As well as that, the songs we haven't heard are genuinely great and exciting including opener 'Welrd Is Mine', 'I Can Change' and 'Life In A Box'. The deluxe version is an hour and 15 minutes of original British R&B and it's probably one of the most genuine records featured on this post.

Say Anything - I Don't Think It Is

Oh look, it's a surprise album from Say Anything! I'd be lying if I said that I've followed Say Anything in any capacity but there is something so off the wall about Max Bemis and co.'s creations that they're hard to ignore. I Don't Think It Is is peculiar but no much more so than you'd expect from the likes of Say Anything. No two tracks on this album sound the same, in fact, some of them sound almost like a different band recorded in an entirely different era. It's definitely an interesting and worthwhile listen if you like to get weird though.

Simple Plan - Taking One For The Team

I didn't hate this album. Bear with me. Yes, it's terrible, and no, it's not a rock album by any stretch of the imagination. I've never liked Simple Plan and I've never thought that the Canadian five-piece are credible in the slightest. But I reckon I could stick Taking One For The Team on in the background in a cafe and probably have no one mention anything about how terrible it is. If you're not actually listening to it, it's almost alright. But then again, how good is an album that you have to not pay attention to in order for it to be okay?

That Poppy - Bubblebath

Look. I was as skeptical as the next guy about That Poppy. All you need to do is take a look at her frankly bizarre YouTube channel to see that things are all a bit nuts. I will also be the first to admit that I shouldn't have judged her music by those weird minute long vlogs. 'Money' is what I believe kids are referring to as a "bop". It's great. Never judge a musician by their online video presence is what we can learn from this venture.

Friday 26 February 2016

Falling In and Out of Love with One of the Most Exciting Artists on the Planet

May 2014 was the first time I heard Jack Garratt. The track was 'Water'. It was before I used to write about the songs I posted so I have very little idea about how I felt upon hearing Garratt's work for the first time, other than I thought there was a mild comparison to be made between him and City And Colour. Whilst this definitely isn't completely unjustified, it was unbeknown to me that Garratt was going to start releasing music that could not possibly be lumped into a category alongside any "similar artists".

Two months later we got to hear 'Worry' for the first time. I couldn't have been more excited and it delivered so much more than I could have expected. I actually included 'Worry' in my favourite songs of 2014 and I was still posting songs daily at this point, so I had a lot to choose from, but this one had clearly made a big impression on me. In October, Garratt's debut EP Remnants was released and passed me by a little to be honest. But I didn't have to wait long for what has become by far my favourite song in his catalogue, 'The Love You're Given'. At the time I had a huge friend crush on a boy I was talking to and the line "I've been tryna give you my love but you won't let me" struck a real chord with me. I couldn't begin to tell you how many times I've listened to that song.

So here we are, December 2014 and Jack Garratt is one of my "Artists I’d Like To Think Will Do Well in 2015". Vevo, who we've discussed do very little right other than things like this, also thought that Jack Garratt was worth you're time in 2015. And thank fuck for that. This was my first experience of what he could do live and it blew my mind. Like, "oh shit, this guy is a human octopus". As with every artist I stuck on my Tips for 2015 list, I didn't really like the first song that Garratt put out last year. But I wasn't phased about not really liking 'Chemical' because it was definitely still good. In April the track featured alongside 'The Love You're Given' on Synethesiac, Garratt's second EP.

So May is around the corner and my time to finally see Jack Garratt live is upon us. I've probably written about this a billion times but I queued for two hours to see him perform at The Great Escape last year. I was right at the back but the whole room was bursting with excitement for the musician standing before us. Less than two weeks later I'm standing in London's Village Underground watching a very similar set but enhanced to the max with the most intense laser show I've ever seen. I think there was something about watching Jack Garratt alone that got me really invested in what he was doing at this particular point in time, I'm not sure whether I would have felt the same feels if I'd been with other people and slightly less immersed.

A little while later, 'Weathered', a track that had featured in Garratt's live set was released as a single. People liked 'Weathered' which was cool. I don't like 'Weathered' which is almost to be expected, because it's a ballad. So, this is it; the start of the downward spiral of our relationship. In November I made a rash decision that meant I was only able to catch the latter half of Garratt's headline set at Shepherd's Bush Empire. I wasn't even bothered. In fact, I was annoyed that I hadn't just stayed at the first show I'd attended that night. Something about how I perceived Garratt's music and live show had changed. Maybe it was the venue size? There was something that still felt very real and personal about his on stage between song banter at Village Underground and although his personality and charisma are both 100% still in tact, there's some kind of authenticity that gets lost in bigger rooms.

It's present day. Garratt strolled into 2016 after winning the Brits Critics Choice award and topping the BBC's Sound of 2016 poll. It's also likely that by the end of the day he'll have a UK number one album too. And that's incredible. It's been amazing to watch the rise of such a talented musician but for no real reason, as Funeral For A Friend once greatly said, "I just can't feel the same about you anymore."

When Jack Garratt's debut album Phase was released last week I had no instant desire to listen to it and that broke my heart, especially after witnessing the online buzz from artists as well as my own friends. I gave it a spin a few days ago and all of the excitement I felt back in 2014 when I first heard 'Water' has near disappeared. And that is so annoying. A boy I spent a great deal of my time in Sixth Form attempting to impress tried striking up a conversation about Phase a couple of days ago. All I could say was "yeah of course it's good but I just don't really like Jack Garratt any more ", and his response was, "I'm done trying to impress you." There are very few things as frustrating as falling out of love with something just as your friends are falling in love with it.

Without a doubt, I still recognise that Jack Garratt is one of the very most talented and genuine musicians on the planet. And I've never met the guy but I'm not sure he even recognises how incredible he is in quite the same way that other people do. But personally, I just need something from him to recapture the awe I first felt two years ago. So Jack, this isn't the end, it's not you, it's me, and I think that for now we just some time apart.

Thursday 25 February 2016

The Gospel Youth - Resolutions / DST

Yes, of course I'll tell you why I love The Gospel Youth, thank you for asking.

In essence, this Brighton based recently turned five piece capture exactly what I loved about "pop rock" growing up and manage to put a more mature spin on it,  which makes their songs acceptable to listen to in your mid-twenties... or at any age in fact. I know I keep coming back to this, but Julian Bowen and Kev Deverick used to be in a band called The Auteur who I loved when I was sixteen and finding my feet with regards to discovering music that I liked on my own. Still now, Sam Little's vocals are so reminiscent of the bands I literally grew up listening to and I think that ounce of nostalgia is what makes the sound of this band so special to me. And I love the thought of teenagers in 2016 discovering the music that they will come to love through a band like The Gospel Youth.

"Thanks for that life story, Natalie, but what are we really here for?"
The Gospel Youth are doing a thing, and it's a cool thing at that.

With the current state of the music industry, bands and artists are constantly trying and testing new methods with their releases, live shows, merchandise and more. This, to me, is what keeps this industry exciting, albeit at times very annoying. The Gospel Youth have set up their very own crowdfunding scheme through Bandcamp that means for as little as £3 a month, you can receive downloads of the band's entire catalogue, listen to their forthcoming podcast and get your hands on discounted merch amongst a load of other cool things.

Not only that but The Gospel Youth will now be releasing new singles on a monthly basis. This is the bit I'm most excited about. This model literally worked a miracle for Oh Wonder, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it'll play out for a band with a completely different sound and style. To kick things off, The Gospel Youth have released two new songs for February, 'Resolutions' and 'DST'. Both tracks, and the video for 'DST', heavily focus on previous relationships, and both of these songs are so excellent that I am so painfully excited to hear what this band have in store over the next 11 months.

All of the actual info about everything is here

You can "pick up" super pretty vinyl(s) (I know there's no 's' but it's literally multiple and I don't know what to do) of the 'Resolutions'/'DST' here - I just did, so you should too

Finally, you can read the interview I did with The Gospel Youth at Hevy Fest last year here, if you feel that way inclined

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Three Become One #3: Knuckle Puck, BoatHouse, Vitamin

Steamrollin' out that #content for ya, lads.

Knuckle Puck - Pretense

I thought 'Pretense' had already been a single and had already had a video. It would appear that I was incorrect. 'Pretense' is, for me, by far the stand out track from Knuckle Puck's debut album Copacetic which was released last summer. Whilst this particular strand of pop punk isn't what I'm usually into, 'Pretense' is a modern day angsty anthem for any rock fan. After listening through to Copacetic again, there are underlying tones of tension and anger throughout, but these themes seem far rawer during 'Pretense'. Finally, this song is catchy as hell and it's clear as day why Knuckle Puck choose to end their live sets with it. After going over this, it's obvious that I probably should have given Copacetic more time last year; luckily music doesn't have a use by date.

BoatHouse feat Allan Kingdom: Lavish

"Natalie, you've already written a whole thing this month about how much you love Allan Kingdom, don't you think you could post about something else?" Nope. 'Lavish' is taken from the recently released Hibernation EP from Chicago producer Aidan Sigel-Bruse, A.K.A. BoatHouse. 'Lavish' sees Kingdom pit his unique vocal style up against a far more laidback track than the beats we've been hearing recently on the rapper's Northern Lights mixtape, but this really works. The entire Hibernation EP is available for free download if you go ahead and click on this link.

Vitamin: This Isn't Love

Although I wasn't mad keen on this track when I first heard it, Vitamin's Don Broco meets The 1975-esque video for 'This Isn't Love' got me hooked. I think Vitamin's bouncey indie rock is actually pretty under-appreciated compared to some of their peers at moment, but what can you do? Anyway, this extremely well lit pastel infused video sees the four members of Vitamin hanging around in their very own Heartbreak Hotel. So, now a billion or so listens later, I can't get enough of 'This Isn't Love' and its painfully catchy chorus. And just when you think things can't get any better, Vitamin are playing March's edition of New Shapesin London, which is great news if unlike me you aren't already busy. It's £5. That's literally undeniable.


Monday 22 February 2016

Chinah - Once The Lights Are On

As of last week, Chinah are currently my favourite band. They're also the first "band" I've posted about twice this year and I really hope that comes across as a testament to how much I love them.

For anyone not in the loop, (you poor thing, look at what you've been missing out on!) Chinah are a three-piece from Denmark and they're absolutely excellent. As well as that, they've just released their debut EP Once The Lights Are On which is equally as fantastic. I'm always a little skeptical when it comes to debut releases, especially when there's very little talk about tracklisting on the run-up to the release date. The concern is that a band's debut EP will just feature the few tracks we've already heard and nothing new, and I was worried about Chinah's debut following suit.

That'll teach me to think so little of a band as incredible as Chinah. Not only does Once The Lights Are On feature the three tracks we've all come to love over the last six months ('We Go Back', 'Minds' and 'Away From Me'), and recent EP teaser track 'Colder', but we're also treated to two more songs we've never heard studio versions of before. 'Never The Same' is a sassy sounding number with a catchy as hell chorus whilst 'If You Can Feel This' is a minimalist haunting close to the EP.

Alongside the excitement this EP has stirred up, Chinah also took off across Europe for a string of live dates. Since first seeing Chinah back in September there have been very few things I've wanted from music more than to watch them perform again. With this genre of alt-pop, I find there's always a risk of it coming across as quite dull in a live setting but Chinah manage to dispel any trace of boredom within the first few seconds of their set. After opening with Minds, frontwoman Fine Glindvad announces that this is the band's first headline show outside of Denmark and that they were going to play all of their songs, before launching into 'We Go Back'. There's something extra exciting about seeing a band early enough in their career that the only way they can fill their set-list at a headline gig is by playing every single song they have.

And you'd want nothing less. From the get go Chinah are unbelievably captivating; putting a live spin on to the songs we're familiar with there's never a dull moment. My favourite thing about Chinah is how humble and overwhelmed they seem as they finish 'Away From Me' and the basement that is Stoke Newington's Waiting Room erupts with applause that seems to last for minutes. It's at that point where I'm reassured that everyone in the room feels the same excitement I do for what the future has to hold for the trio; undoubtedly prosperous.

Friday 19 February 2016

Talking "Body": Elle Watson and Garren

What are the chances that of all the songs currently gathering dust in my drafts, the first two would have the same title?

Elle Watson: Body

My favourite blogger, Robin AKA Breaking More Waves, wrote a peculiar ol' piece on Elle Watson and her 'Body' last month but honestly, I think Robin knows me better than I know myself. I'm not going to re-write it because there's no need, and also because you can just read the real thing here, but Breaking More Waves is right about this one. As is more and more frequently the case with good things that feature on here, 'Body' is Watson's debut track and it's quite lovely and really similar in tone to some things that I like and some things that other like. I reckon if Shura and BB Diamond had a daughter, she would sound a bit like Elle Watson. Back to the BMW thing though, Robin's right, those "real" bloggers out there lost their shit over this song, and whilst that's not totally unjustified, this is definitely not the best thing we'll hear from Watson. Obviously, little old me hasn't heard anything other than 'Body' and the 2012 YouTube video that some other have mentioned has been made private, so it looks like the rest is a mystery... for now, at least.

Garren: Body

In essence, what I like about Garren is exactly what I liked about Oceaan and even Disclosure when I first heard them. Electronic music that's not overly complicated, and has a pop edge yet still possesses a kind of underground feel. 'Body' is this and it's excellent. Garren Langford who is from the Bay Area (I didn't realise this was an actual place because its name is so strange and in the UK things aren't called things like that - although I guess most places would just be called the cloudy area) is currently working on an EP but in the meantime is uploading an onslaught of remixes and tracks featuring samples to his Soundcloud page. I can't pinpoint exactly what it is that makes 'Body' a cut above the rest, but it just is. Also my two favourite words are attached to this track: free download. This currently goes for a majority of material on Garren's Soundcloud. Cheers mate.

Wednesday 17 February 2016

The Balladometer Returns: Foxes - All I Need

The thing about Foxes is that she's just quite average and her music doesn't really budge any further over mediocre on the scale either. This is a shame because I like Foxes but I just don't really feel as though there's much to gain from her music, you know? Anyway, I thought I'd give her second album All I Need a go because why not, and I had some pretty mixed feelings about it. In light of this, the only reasonable course of action was to use the balladometer in order to rate how good this record really is.

Apart from the soundbite of a child talking about "flying far far away" (I guess it's supposed to be her right?), the intro AKA 'Rise Up' is quite nice for something with no vocals, although due to this it obviously can't feature on the scale below. Proper actual opener 'Better Love' was not only co-written by, but also vocally features Dan Smith of Bastille fame. It's a nice surprise, especially as it's the only real feature on the album. The track isn't bad but it's not great, a strong 7.

I don't know whether it's just because I'm used to hearing 'Body Talk' as a single that I feel like I like it more? It's really hard to tell, because I know that I felt very "meh" towards it when I first heard it but listening through to the album I'd probably give it an 8 now.  The following track, 'Cruel' is where this album peaks and it's early but it's definitely worth it, by far the standout song of All I Need's sixteen-track roster. It's a 9. Why hasn't this been a single yet? Delving further into this track, Foxes co-wrote 'Cruel' with Kid Harpoon who is partly responsible for Years & Years bangers 'Desire' and 'Take Shelter' as well as Jessie Ware's 'Wildest Moments' so it's no surprise this is excellent really.

I'm sorry to say that it's largely downhill from hereon in, folks. 'If You Leave Me Now' is a full on 4/10 ballad and although it's not terrible it does get fairly boring after it starts to drag on. Recent single 'Amazing' is far from its title's description and probably should have been called "Average". With that, it receives a 5. Look, I know it's a ballad but 'Devil Side' is actually quite good which causes me problems because this is the balladometer after all, but the chorus is excellent. I'm ready for the backlash and I'm happy to give this a 6. 'Feet Don't Fail Me Now' is equally as "better than okay" so it can have a sweet 6 too.

Unfortunately, things go back to really not good when we get to 'Wicked Love', a song whose chorus I despise so much I can't bear to give the song anything more than a 2 overall. I'm not sorry. The worst bit is that it's not even a ballad. Initially I gave 'Scar' a 3 but I don't think it's actually that bad but it's definitely still a ballad... although I'm not sure whether this is just me recovering from 'Wicked Love'. We'll give it a 4 for now. We're upbeat again with 'Money' but it's just unfortunately really average and fairly uninspiring, so I'm not sure it deserves anything over a 5. Completing the "standard edition" of All I Need is the alright but dull 'On My Way', another 4 I'm afraid.

Lucky for us, "standard editions" don't exist and deluxe is the only option. And I don't joke when I say "lucky for us" because the first of the four bonus tracks is thankfully a banger. Don't be alarmed by 'Shoot Me Down's slow start because the build-up to the chorus is literally what I've been begging for for the last half an hour. Hit me with an 8/10. Miss Allen then slaps us around the face with another right good'un; 'Lose My Cool' is a solid 7. Unfortunately, title track 'All I Need' which didn't even make it on to the "main bit" of the album is quite disappointing although I guess that's what explains its positioning on the tracklisting; a 5, I'm afraid. Despite the nice teaser of 'Rise Up' we had right at the beginning of the album, the '(Reprise)' also falls a little flat. I think this whole thing would have been good as an intro to be honest, so I'm not really sure what went on here but it's probably a 6.

So where does all this leave us? Well, in conclusion the balladometer isn't really a balladometer in the slightest considering how good 'Devil Side' was and how awful 'Wicked Love' was. Instead, it's more just a Foxesometer. I don't mind but I do feel like the concept has been watered down a fair amount, alas, what can we do? And in case you were wondering maths fans, All I Need receives an overall score of 5.7/10.

Sunday 14 February 2016

DÉJÀ VideU: DiRTY RADiO - Numbers

Avid WIIHAMB fans (so... no one then) will be aware that one of my dumb self-constructed rules is not to post songs twice. This is annoying. Especially when a great video comes along for a song that's equally as great and I can't post about it because I said so. Well, not anymore folks, not anymore.

Let me remind you about DiRTY RADiO, a trio whose single 'Numbers' you may have glossed over back in November on the busy lead up to Christmas and end of year lists. The three-piece are from Vancouver in Canada; I've never been there, but it looks really nice on Google Images. They also make music that's a really good blend of R&B, pop and electronic/house danceness. Most importantly, they've just released a video for their aforementioned single, 'Numbers', and essentially I liked it so much that I wanted to post it again.

The video sees the trio hanging out around Philadelphia in the dark looking really cool. For real, if there were awards for musical groups having trendy hairstyles, DiRTY RADiO would win them all hands down. Whilst Shaddy serenades us in the foreground, Tonez and Waspy (were y'all christened with these names?) are handed colourful cartoon instruments to play on behind him. Anything with this much added illustration is bound to catch the eye of most people and keep you thoroughly entertained, especially as I'm fearing for their lives in those back alleys. Overall, 'Numbers' is so fun and is definitely worth both a watch and a listen.


Friday 12 February 2016

Six Reasons Why I Love Allan Kingdom

I've been trying to write something remotely substantial about Allan Kingdom for about a month now but I've found it fairly tricky because I don't feel as though I'm knowledgeable enough about hip hop to say anything with any real weight. In the back of my mind, that's not a valid reason at all, talk about what you like even if you have no idea what you're talking about, so that's kind of what I'm going for here.

What follows are six reasons why I love Allan Kingdom.

1) I feel as though a large proportion of us would be lying if we didn't admit that The Brit Awards 2015, almost a year ago now, was the first place we were thrown into contact with Allan Kingdom. Honesty is the best policy and I'm ready to confess that I am not a fan of Kanye West, however, my only takeaway from 'All Day' on that fateful February night was "I disper-er-ersed". There it was, I didn't know it yet, but my love affair with Allan Kingdom had begun because I was now enjoying my first Kanye song since The Good Life (or something as equally pop as that). For real tho, re-watch this and just watch Allan Kingdom.

2) Something that I really like about various corners of the music industry is that age is not a factor. One of those corners is hip hop. I genuinely think it's one of the few genres where regardless of how old you are, if you're good you exist and if you're not you don't. This is relevant because Allan Kingdom only just turned 22. Not only has Kingdom found what I would call "his sound" at such an "early" age but he's got a whole 30+ more years of making rad music for us to enjoy ahead.

3) At the ripe old age of 22, Allan Kingdom already has four mixtapes, an EP and an album with The Stand4rd under his belt. That's a lot of music already waiting to be consumed by you, dear listener/reader. Another great thing about hip hop which isn't as apparent in other genres is that I feel there's far less restraint on when and how music is released. Oh the beauty of a mixtape.

4) Speaking of which, it's probably worth touching on Allan Kingdom's actual musical exports. I couldn't tell you how many times I've listened to his latest mixtape, 'Northern Lights'. And this is really cool for me as someone who isn't generally a massive fan of rap albums, but Kingdom does something that makes he music so accessible to people who are just fans of music. Sure, this is a hip hop mixtape but there are so many poppy/catchy hooks and crazy danceable beats. I can't see you putting this album in front of anyone and them not appreciating the vast majority of it.You can download it for free here.

5) Look how cool he is. There's no better display of just how great of a human Allan Kingdom must be to be around than his new video for title track of his latest release, 'Northern Lights'. The clip sees Kingdom busting out some post-Hotline Bling moves in the snow accompanied by a load of colourful lights. I'd quite like to take him to the club just to see exactly how he tears up the dancefloor.

6) According to Wikipedia, one of his aliases used to be Peanut Butter Prince. Shut up and marry me already.

Tuesday 9 February 2016

Break The Rules: Sunbathers - Intimacy

I first heard this on Vinyl Noise's blog. They post cool stuff. And they're Scottish so they probably like beers and that. You should probably check them out really.

When I started What If I Had A Music Blog I constructed loads of whack pointless rules and constructs for myself that I needed to follow. At the time I guess they just gave me a little bit of focus but sometimes they get in the way of being able to share cool stuff. I will not be held down any longer! Basically the rule was(/is) to only post songs that are less than a month old. Which is probably fair but not today.

Sunbathers are a band based in Baltimore in that big ol' US of A over there. The five-piece released their debut self-titled EP in November of last year, and the opening track 'Intimacy' seems to have been seeping its way through the pipes of the internet ever since. And after just one listen, it's clear why. 'Intimacy' is a song that takes you on a journey, and if at any point your mind wanders, you're thrown back into completely different surroundings as the track grows and swirls around you. That's a contender for one of the lamest sentences I've written since GCSE English. I don't really know what more to say other than that this is a great indie pop song, the kind that you'd hear on The OC or One Tree Hill soundtracks in the background, you know? This would be perfect.

The four songs that follow on this EP are not as good, but I don't really mind. There are obvious hints throughout this five-track release that Sunbathers are destined for great things and do have the potential somewhere along the line to make it as a big indie pop/rock band. I don't doubt that this is a band who are going to go from strength to strength with every new release. It's early days for Sunbather and heat is showing no signs of letting up any time soon.

Sunbathers EP is available now as a pay whatever you like download, so you can get it for free if you so wish: HERE


Monday 8 February 2016

Wasn't Expecting That: D/C - Longing For You

Some songs D/C had online at one point aren't online anymore so for the purpose of this post we're going to pretend that they never actually existed.

London based Daniel Caplen recently uploaded a couple of demos to his Soundcloud page. These are now the only two tracks that feature on his stream alongside his October 2014 single 'The Fall', which I liked very much at the time. Anyway, so these demos; I never know what to really think about demos. Are they real? Are they not real? Will we hear them again when they're different or is this the beginning and the end of these songs? Basically, the point is, unlike various other blogs, despite looking immensely forward to listening to both 'Bad Man' and 'All My Sins', I just didn't (and still don't) really like them. And hey, I can see you frown, don't get me wrong, both of these tracks are really good, for real. They're just not for me.

After this, I didn't expect that two weeks later D/C would be throwing out a brand new fully mixed single for us to bite on. 'Longing For You' is such a step up from tracks like 'The Fall', you could undeniably refer to this "step" as a leap up. Something instantaneously noticeable about this new song is the tempo, it's far faster than the other tracks and I think that's what makes it so exciting from the word go. Along with the percussion driving 'Longing For You' forward the whole way through, the vocals layered throughout really take the wheel. My favourite thing about this track, though, is that despite being an epic R&B jam, it's perfectly crafted for dancing to, and whether that was intentional or not, I do not care because it's great. MORE PLEASE D/C.


Thursday 4 February 2016

I Got Vibe On It: RKCB, Ed Thomas

When you're not sure whether the title you've given a post is quite self-explanatory enough or not... although I guess in the end, it doesn't even matter-erer-erer.

RKCB - Future Being

Oh hey RKCB, you made me wait all that time for your debut EP (it's called Short Films, it's great, you can get it for free, all various info on that here) and now here you are just dishing out tracks like it's nothing. I see how it is, but I assure you that this is by no means a complaint. 'Future Being' seems to be a standalone track from the LA based duo and it's a fair bit heavier on the electronicy elements than some of their other material, but it really works and the vibe is still high. Also, this lowkey chorus sounds so UK early 2000s boyband. I don't know how familiar RKCB are with the likes of Another Level but this is mildly reminiscent. Also did you know that RKCB literally stands for the two guy's initials? Because I didn't, but now I do. And so do you. Finally, it's a free AF download - go wild!

Ed Thomas - Love Is Red

If you cast your mind way back just over a year ago now, you'll remember that Ed Thomas' debut EP Outlaws was one of my favourite EPs of 2014. You may not remember, however, that shortly after posting, Ed Thomas promised (this term is used very loosely, there were no promises actually made) that there was more to come in 2015. Now into 2016 this is clearly something that slipped both our minds entirely because straight out of thin air last week appeared 'Love Is Red'. Prepare for a grammatically incorrect sentence: Ed Thomas' voice is one of my favourites in music right now. And I say right now, I mean... since I first heard Chase & Status' 'Blk & Blu'. Although 'Love Is Red' is definitely more ballady than the sort of thing I generally like, the vocals are undeniable, and after hearing what Thomas has been working on with Louis Mattrs and Zak Abel I'm so excited to hear what's in store for his future solo material.

Wednesday 3 February 2016

Kloe - Teenage Craze

THIS IS IT. Can you hear me screaming? If you can't there is something wrong with your hearing because I am too hyped right now. For real. What a time to be alive. I don't quite know what I was expecting from the fourth and final (proper, we'll pretend the 'Intro' isn't a thing) track from Chloe Latimer's debut EP, but I was not in a million years (well... I mean... not on this EP) expecting this absolute pop banger. Where the fuck has this song been hiding and why have we not heard it until now? 'Teenage Craze' is a certified 5A YAAAAAS.

My first experience of hearing 'Teenage Craze' was last Friday night at Koko and my, was that an experience indeed. Kloe live in 2016 is quite different to Kloe live at New Shapes in summer 2015 at her first ever show in London. She's still just as baffled that anyone, even those close to her, are singing her lyrics back and she still exudes an aura of excitement. But 2016 Kloe knows how to own it. 2016 Kloe knows that her songs are excellent and that even on the eve (eve) of the release of her debut EP, also titled Teenage Craze, she has a track for every occassion. So imagine you're front row at Club NME late on a Friday night, waiting for the hits we all know and love, 'Grip', 'Feel' and 'Touch,' and then Kloe metaphorically slaps you round the face with this banger. I was not prepared.

Imagine a song that Popjustice would endorse to the moon and back and that's what you get and more with 'Teenage Craze'. A really feel good pop song written and performed by a Scottish teenager with an immense amount of talent and promise. The style here is almost reminiscent of what we've heard recently from Scandi popstars like Tove Lo, Tove Stryke and Zara Larsson but then the almost "spoken word" section could be straight out of a Charli XCX track. And it's important as a reader of this post that you don't think these are throw-away comparisons, they're an attempt at me trying to put into words how huge this really is. Also, as someone without an accent (a "London accent" isn't an accent and doesn't exist, it's not a thing, I don't have an accent) it's always fun to hear twangs of other people's accents in their songs, and there's a fair amount of that in 'Teenage Craze'. All in all, this song is so fun and I sincerely hope that there's more of this kind of vibe to come from future Kloe releases because it's pure unadulterated gold.

Kloe's Teenage Craze EP is released this Friday, 5th February. You should probably buy/stream it.

Tuesday 2 February 2016

January 2016 - Things I Did and Didn't Miss

I know, I know, I know, I hate these round up things but so much happened this month and I wasn't expecting it because really, who expects anything from January? I've also just been mega slack and lazy and now I'm ill so basically here's everything I did and didn't cover.

January Playlists: Spotify / Deezer

(Everything in these here playlists has featured in writing this month, in some capacity. It'll be lengthier next month, I promise, or at least, I really hope so.)

Alex Vargas - Giving Up The Ghost

Vargas' debut EP is packed tightly with radio friendly singer/songwriter, slightly Jack Garratt-esque, tightly produced jams. His vocals are absolutely excellent too and looking back, I think Alex Vargas was probably a glaring omission from everyone's Ones To Watch lists for 2016. I hope he at least releases another EP this year too, for fear of this one falling into the Q1 abyss by the time we reach the  end of 2016.

Allan Kingdom - Nothern Lights

I don't think I've had as much fun with an album as I have with Allan Kingdom's 'Northern Lights' in a long time. There are a lot of elements on this record that I think appeal to those who tend to only listen to more commercial hip hop artists. The best way I can think of to describe this would be "Fetty Wap with a hundred times more talent but the same amount of mass appeal." [Free Download Alert]

Anderson Paak - Malibu

'Malibu' is an album that although I know is really good, I couldn't really get in to and that was a real shame for me. Like, once I got a feel for it, there were a long string of songs I enjoyed but thinking back on the album I can't remember any of them. This is more a case of 'Malibu' isn't for me rather than a case of 'Malibu' isn't an album worth listening to, because it definitely is.

Hoodie Allen - Happy Camper - ALBUM OF THE MONTH

I don't know how cool it is to like Hoodie Allen or to tell people that you like Hoodie Allen. Hell, I don't really know how cool Hoodie Allen is, but I rate this album very highly. After my first listen I actually think I played it three times in a row. That's how into it I was. Also, when was the last time you heard a rapper namecheck The Used's Bert McCracken?! Yeah, thought so.

Lostboycrow - Sigh For Me

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of Justin Bieber's latest album (bear with me) and it's mostly down to the fact that I think there are artists who create music of a similar genre but a hell of a lot better. Lostboycrow is one of those people. His brand of soulful R&B pop is both exciting and intriguing and this is more than evident on his debut EP, 'Sigh For Me', a showcase of the plethora of musical things Lostboycrow is capable of. [Free Download Alert]

Rachel Platten - Wildfire

I've written an entire thing about this album already and you can read it here.

Walking On Cars - Everything This Way

Okay so I did a bad thing, in that I totally overplayed every single released thus far from 'Everything This Way', of which there are quite a few, so I've actually only listened to this album once since its release. But who needs to listen to an album ten times to decide that it's great? Nobody, because if something is good you know the first time you hear it. Case closed.

Weatherstate - Dumbstruck

This is a funny one, because I actually gave Weatherstate a mildly unflattering review for a live show I saw them play last year in (rad as fuck female led DIY mag) New Roots, but man, this EP isn't half bad at all. Like, I was more than impressed with it, and whilst it's probably not something I'll rush to listen to again, it's definitely a release for all fans of pop punk and general rock to check out.

Wet - Don't You

I'm late to the Wet party and say what you want but rest assured that I am making the hell up for lost time with their debut album 'Don't You'. For real, I listened to it at least three times on its release day. And it's really great alt-pop that I probably wouldn't normally like, but something about the trio is so enticing that I'm just mad into them. I am also probably now going to source a ticket for their UK tour in March.

X Ambassadors - VHS

I was actually quite close to writing a lengthier thing on this album, a la Rachel Platten, but as is ever so common with this blog, I didn't get around to it. I've been a fan of X Ambassadors for quite some time and I can't believe that in the UK we've only just received their debut album. The concept of 'VHS' is interesting too, packed with audio clips between songs, from what I'd like to assume are the bands home video archives, that provide a nice bit of narrative for the album.

For anybody who's interested, I also went to see Adam French and Louis Mattrs, with added Joel Baker, live in January and that was nice. They were all good, but writing about live things makes me super twitchy in a really weird way, like I'm kind of not worthy of talking about it. I don't really know. But there's something I do really want to write about one of those so maybe that will happen soon, maybe it won't. Who knows.

Oh, and Anti? Well, I don't hate it. In fact I liked the majority of it really, apart from the ballad wall at the end. That was awful. Who put that there?