Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Three Become One: Architects, Decade, Grumble Bee

UK rock edition. For rock fans. And fans of rock. And rocking. Rock.
You know when you use a word too much and it doesn't look or sound real any more? Yeah, that.

Architects - Gone With The Wind

This is the second track that we've heard from Architects' upcoming album All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us and I'm more than happy to declare that it's better than the first. This new album seems to be a continuation of what we heard on their last, with a heavy stance and powerful connotations. Sam Carter's vocals sound great on this too; a great balance between the screamy bits and the far less screamy bits. Also, the sing-along bits on this will probably be quite good won't they?  I always think that fans of the blog would be surprised that Architects are a band that I'm into considering the amount of pop that goes on here, but I'm not sure there are many fans of the blog so it's not really a problem!

Decade - Daisy May

You may or may not (probably the latter, realistically) recall that right at the beginning of the month I posted a couple of songs from Decade frontman Alex Sears' side-project, Sophomore. Well, about a week later Decade released the first song to be taken from their forthcoming second album; it's called 'Daisy May' and it's actually quite good. It's far less pop punk and far more 90s/early 00s rock with a little grunge thrown in. Very cvrrent. Like this is the kind of thing I would have really liked when I was getting into rock things in my early teenage years. Gonna be mad stoked if the rest of their album is a similar vibe to this to be honest. The middle eight bit is a mad vibe too.

Grumble Bee - Soft Filter, Black & White Picture

Grumble Bee is actually just one guy who does songs called Jack Bennett. This particular song, 'Soft Filter, Black & White Picture' is like the... slow one (??) from his debut EP and it's really quite good. It's also now accompanied by a lyric video which Bennett put together himself. That's quite a nice thing to add to your skill-set, I reckon, especially when it doesn't look half bad. I saw Grumble Bee live as a full band the other week and... honestly I was a little disappointed but I think this song was probably the one that sounded best. I'd be mad into seeing him do an acoustic set though, I think that'd be pretty faultless.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Alex Newell - Basically Over You (B.O.Y.)

Tuesdays, a day nobody likes. No one enjoys Tuesdays. I'm a strong advocate for Tuesdays being officially crowned the worst day of the week. Nobody is happy on a Tuesday. And for myself, on this particular Tuesday, as the professional procrastinator that I am, I've been lumped with a pretty huge to do list for my multiple extra curricular activities when all I really want to do is play Ratchet & Clank.

To help me get over this, the aptly titled 'Basically Over You' from former Glee star Alex Newell is wearing out my laptop speakers. Yes, it's Tuesday, but there's no reason we can't pretend that it's actually Friday night. Not only is this song an ode to 90s dance/pop, but it's fucking flawless.

The real treat is how downright fierce the video is though. I've never seen a human with so much sass giving another human what for in song form. Also Newell's ex in this video is current trending topic, Nyle DiMarco which is a very relevant casting. My favourite part is when he talks to Newell on the phone. The party that Newell throws in DiMarco's pretend flat looks like quite the rager too. My invitation must be in the post?

Monday, 25 April 2016

letlive. - Good Mourning, America

I wanted to wait to post this until after the weekend that's just passed because I just watched letlive. play various London venues three nights in a row, which was really great. At The Dome in Tufnell Park, 'Good Mourning, America' was probably the best song of their set. It's been almost two years since the release of their last album, The Blackest Beautiful, so it's definitely refreshing to hear them play something we haven't heard live before, and oh my god it sounds so good. I can not wait for them to come back to the UK (hopefully towards the end of the year) when everybody knows this song and for it to sound even more amazing live.

The best thing about this track is that it's undoubtedly letlive. but it opens them up to such a wider rock audience which is the greatest news. I'm so aware that there human beings on the planet who like punk and aren't into letlive. and that blows my mind because they're so amazing in every sense of being a band. This song has a chant, it has a catchy chorus, you can dance to it, you can throw yourself around in the pit to it. There are so many options and all of them are very feasible and simple to carry out.

All of letlive.'s songs have a message and have a lot of weight behind them but 'Good Mourning, America' is something everyone can get a handle on in terms of what they've experienced or what they've seen in the media. And that's cool.

Fuck, I can't wait for this new album. It's out in a month and a half. And it's going to be incredible.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Anna of the North - Baby

Anna of the North's name is just as majestic as her new (new-ish because we all know I'm mega slack and it actually came out almost a month ago lol yolo) song. Anna of the North is possibly so called because she's from Norway. But also that's me just guessing and I don't really have a clue why she's chosen that as her moniker but also, I don't really mind. Anyway, Anna makes us beg the ever so frequent question; what is it about Scandinavia that makes their pop music so good? Something in the waters I assume.

'Baby', Anna of the North's latest single, is just the type of pop excellence we've grown to expect from Northern Europe. After some social media stalking it would appear Anna only recently shot the video for this song, so I'm not as behind as I initially thought. Anyway, 'Baby' is lovely but it makes me feel warm and sad at the same time which is all quite weird. I think it's supposed to be a sad song... no, it definitely is. I think I could (oxymoron alert) happily cry to this on a Saturday night and quite possibly feel much better about life in general.

Also, Anna of the North is wrapping up a European tour supporting Kygo which is crazy huge and totally cool. She's also playing The Great Escape *holler* next month so that should be a right laugh/cry/bundle of emotions. Either way, I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Frenship - Carpet / Capsize

The advantage (there is possibly just the one) of being slack af for a couple of months is that when I do get myself in gear, there's more than one song from super active bands that I can ramble on about. And that's cool because words are hard so having double the songs to write about makes life a little easier. Thanks Frenship.

Lauv is commenting all over 'Carpet' on Soundcloud which is cool because I love Lauv even though he ignores me on Twitter, but it's okay, I can take it. He's a dream and anything that's Lauv endorsed is bound to be equally as dreamy. I quite like songs named after and centred around inanimate objects, so 'Carpet' is a pretty fun idea. I actually thought Frenship were from the UK because I never think about Americans having carpets... I'm sure they do, but it seemed like an odd concept to me; I don't know why. Alas, this two piece are based in LA. I'm also assuming they're a two piece because only two of them are pictured in their ol' profile pictures, but again, I could be wrong.

Frenship are very good and I've been thoroughly enjoying these two tracks a lot. The second of which is called 'Capsize' and it features Emily Warren. She kind of sounds a bit like Tove Lo (she probably really doesn't, but I really like her vox anyway) so that's cool. These two songs are taken from Frenship's forthcoming EP which is thrilling news because one can only assume that after hearing these, it'll most probably be exquisite.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Mabelshewill: SBTRKT feat D.R.A.M. & Mabel - I Feel Your Pain

I don't think I'm the only person who was disappointed by SBTRKT's latest release, eight-track long "mixtape", Save Yourself. And this is something I was quite looking forward too, especially seeing that there was a new Sampha collaboration, how could this go wrong? Well, the answer is, I don't really know, but somewhere along the lines, it did. However, out of all of this there is one redeeming quality on Save Yourself. It's Mabel.

'I Feel Your Pain' is definitely the standout on this effort, but for the first minute and half D.R.A.M. takes the reigns building up momentum until Queen Mabel steps in and absolutely slays the track to death. I think we're literally at a point right now where Mabel McVey's vocals are smooth enough to kill it on any track you put them on. She is 'I Feel Your Pain's, and honestly Save Yourself's, saving grace. And if it wasn't good enough already the real highlight of her verse is the "So what you gon' cry about it..." section. Slaughter them, Mabel, slay it.

Anyway, what I've found is if you just stick 'I Feel Your Pain' on repeat, D.R.A.M.'s "verse"(/section/half/whatever) actually works so much better post-Mabel because there's some kind of context to it. Standalone, the first half of the track comes across as a little aggressive and almost out of place, but when looped back it feels far more natural. I just wish I had even an iota as much praise for the rest of Save Yourself as I do for this song.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Pretty Sister - Come To LA

After pressing play on this, it was approximately three seconds before I'd lobbed it into my drafts. Unfortunately it has been idley sitting there for around a month but better late than never, to be quite honest. But look, you can't hit me with that vocal and think I'm gonna forget about your track in a hurry.

So, usually I'm pretty against crude lyrics in songs, for example when ZAYN was all "climb on board" and I was very "no thank you". It just makes me super uncomfortable, things like that are not for me, for real. I didn't realise what was going on during the chorus of 'Come To LA' the first time around, but I added it to my drafts playlist and was like "WOAH WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT" but the more the track went on, the less I cared about the meaning of what they were saying (but in a good way, you know, like I could look past it). Pretty Sister has created such a sophisticated track that the line "Come to LA and fuck me" sounds unbelievably classy. And how nuts is that?! My concern is, when your parents are like "yo what have you been up to" and 'Come to LA' is what you've been up to... how do you share that with them? A minor issue but one to bear in mind nevertheless.

So I've decided that Pretty Sister is just one guy...? I don't know and I don't really have time to do like a load of digging into this, so let's just go with that. But honestly, this guy's voice is my favourite thing to grace 2016 thus far. And I'm genuinely ready to pay for my own plane ticket to LA.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Skizzy Mars feat Olivver The Kid - I'm Ready

YouTube is a weird place. It's my day job so I'm more than qualified to state that as fact, but you don't need to know the platform well to be aware of that. For a track as inoffensive as 'I'm Ready' the amount of dislikes on the YouTube video is pretty unjust. Good job those 800 dislikes amount to nothing in real life.

One of my favourite things in songs ever are cross-genre references. I don't know if it's because I like so much different stuff that the references stand out to me. But there are so many here that I almost don't know what to do with myself, and they don't all just appear in Olivver The Kid's chorus; Skizzy himself namechecks both The Smiths and Kings Of Leon. This is probably up there with my favourite collabs of the year so far.  I really love hearing these two artists together; vocally their tones and general laidback vibes really compliment each other.

I wanted to hear the Skizzy Mars album before I posted this track because I wanted to praise the entity as a whole. And admittedly I've only listened to Alone Together once, but I thought it was kind of disappointingly average, with 'I'm Ready' was a pretty major standout. But as I say, that was only one listen. And also, Skizzy Mars is so young. Being a rapper with this much potential at 23 is so cool, and this is his debut album, so I am definitely more forgiving of some of the lyrics on Alone Together because of that. Anyway, so much to come from Skizzy, and let us not forget everything he's collab'd on recently (e.g. Chinah, Lostboycrow) has been fire.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Thomston x Wafia - Window Seat

I've barely posted this year (compared to at least once every weekday for the last couple years) yet I feel like I'm giving mad props to artists based Down Under in every post. Which is almost the case considering last week's Remixing Bowl post. I also just spent five minutes Googling what constituted as being Down Under to make sure that term covers New Zealand, and then I fell down an Australasia/Oceania Wikipedia rabbit hole. I bet people who live there don't even understand the difference between those terms. Like how I have no idea what the difference between The British Isles, Great Britain and the United Kingdom are. Anyway, this has been a tangent.

What I'm trying to say is, Wafia is from Australia, and Thomston is from New Zealand and the two of them have come together to create this mellow jam. I'm having a really tough time deciding whether 'Window Seat' is a happy or sad song and my brain gets even more conflicted with every line. It doesn't really matter because together both Wafia and Thomston sound exquisite and they're definitely two artists who I'd love to hear working together more in the future. Although I feel as though this would be unlikely, but we can always hope right?

Also isn't bae of the century Thomston working on his album right now? Won't that be out soon? That's cool with me, to be honest. No doubt it'll be great.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The Return of Saosin: The Silver String, Racing Toward A Red Light

Saosin as an entity are/is/are?is? a bit of a weird one for me because I've never been a huge fan of their music, well what there is of it, but I'm pretty excited for what's to come.

It doesn't seem like a coincidence to me that we're receiving the first bits of new music from Saosin in "seven years". Someone thought about that right? Like "Hey, our most well known song is probably 'Seven Years' and it's been exactly that long since we last put out a record so it all ties in quite nicely." Look, I'm not really bothered either way but I'd be annoyed if no one in their camp had noticed the link. The point is, it's 2016, Saosin are actually back, including their original vocalist Anthony Green, and in a month and a half we'll have a brand new album from them.

In the meantime we've been given two songs to wet our appetite. Looks can be deceiving, as the videos to both tracks were filmed in the same location but I can promise you that the two songs sound pretty different. On both 'The Silver String' and 'Racing Toward A Red Light' it's really interesting to hear the band still sound like they did 10+ years ago but at the same time manage to bring something current and exciting to the table. 'The Silver String' is definitely the "poppier" of the two tracks as 'Racing Toward A Red Light' features some far more technical guitar lines but they don't overcomplicate the song in the slightest. My only concern with the latter track in particular is the amount of vocals that overlap and how Anthony Green is going to pull off those sections live. But I'm sure they've probably already thought about that.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Kudu Blue - Vicinity

I've been slack. I've had this song drafted for an actual entire month. Forgive me because it's here now and everything can be put right.

I always get really taken aback when I see bands/things, especially ones that sound as huge as Kudu Blue and their track 'Vicinity', are from the UK. I don't know why, I guess, I just associate these kind of massive sounding productions with America, and that's fucked up. This isn't the first time that this has happened and I don't know why I don't think that we can produce stuff like this in the UK because it's quite evident from Kudu Blue that massive sounding cross-genre pop stuff is not a problem in the slightest.

I can't find the names of any of the members of this five-piece (maybe I'm not looking hard enough?) which is all well and good until I wanna be like "yo, this chick's vocals are nuts on 'Vicinity'" and you never know how well someone is going to take being referred to as "this chick"... but it's too late for that now. And the repetitive vocal sample on this track is so good too, everything about this is so good - I'm assuming that's a sample but it could very well be what happens like, who knows these days.

Kudu Blue are based in Brighton which is really helpful because they're also playing The Great Escape next month which is quite simply lovely news.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Remixing Bowl: Wafia, St. Albion, HUNTAR

Hi there, if I'm ill and I don't tell you about it, am I actually ill?
Anyway, today's title is one of the few thousand examples of why I don't write headlines for genuine publications. In essence, some songs I think are cool have received equally if not more cool remixes recently and I want to share them here, with you. I'm so behind on "new things" and I will no doubt listen to something tomorrow that I could have included here, but hey, you can't have it all.

Wafia - Heartburn (Jaramix)

I see what you did there Jarami, putting your name and "mix" together. I like it, I like it a lot. I'm also really into what Jarami has done with rising Australian pop/RnB starlet Wafia's 'Heartburn'. I already posted a Jarami remix this year, didn't I? The Chinah one. Yes, these guys are good at the ol' remix thing. On this occasion they've made the already pretty vibey 'Heartburn' extra vibey, warmer and more danceable than it was before. They also haven't done much with Wafia's vocals which is cool and I think was a pretty solid move.

St. Albion feat Teischa - Hold On (UNO Stereo remix)

I only featured 'Hold On' last month and I was like "man, this is cool but like I can't post the same song two months in a row... can I?" Well thanks to this new painfully named Remixing Bowl feature, I damn well can. The press release for this track describes it as "groovy" which, regardless of how many grooves a song possesses, makes me feel very uncomfortable. Thank God for UNO Stereo's "future disco" which is about as carefree as they come. Stuff coming out of Australia is so good at the moment, like seriously worth checking out. The only downside is just that they're so far away *sad emojis* (Also, this is a free download!)

Huntar - SK1N (Wingtip remix)

I actually find it hard to write about Huntar seriously/with any kind of conviction anymore (sorry m8) but I'm going to try my best.  I didn't really like 'SK1N' when it surfaced last year, most probably because it's verging on being too ballady. But Wingtip's got my back, albeit almost a year on, but you can't rush (near) perfection. Live, Huntar puts various dance/D&B spins on a few of his tracks I would relish in this Wingtip version of 'SK1N' being what happens live from now on but I'm totally aware that's not going to happen. Anyway, this is great and for all fans of any of Huntar's stuff to be honest.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Sophomore - LOVE U BAD / i feel like somebody else

Back when I was... I don't know, eighteen or so, I really liked Decade. Rock/pop/punk five-piece from Bath, Decade. A little less further back, in 2012/2013, Decade frontman Alex Sears released a couple of EPs under the moniker of Sophomore. I've been a fan of Sears' solo stuff even before I had this blog (on Tumblr) and one of his fairly early tracks is on my personal Tumblr filed under the tag whatifihadamusicblog. Anyway so the latter of the two earlier Sophomore EPs was (it still is) called The Blue EP and I still really like some of the songs from it, especially 'I Hate Your Guts'.

So, time had passed, I'd enquired numerous times as to whether we'd ever receive any more Sophomore material and I'd almost given up hope. Hello, a wild March 2016 appears and along with it, so do two new Sophomore tracks. So, I'm hella stoked.

These tracks are far more emo/grunge drenched than the Decade material you may be used to (and also compared to previous Sophomore releases) but it's a really welcome change to hear a different side to Sears. First track 'LOVE U BAD' is as melancholy a love song as they come but the (forgive me) juxtaposition (*cringes*) between wanting to "drink your love"/"love you bad" and the sad chords etc is all quite good. I think this is my favourite of the two. 'i feel like somebody else' is far more upbeat and poppy in comparison to 'LOVE U BAD', not in comparison to songs in general. Look, this is why no one refers to me as a journalist or writer because words escape me when I'm actually attempting to write about things.

Basically, these two tracks are quite nice if you fancy a pop/emo vibe and they're both available to download for free right here (or below, whatever).

Sunday, 3 April 2016

March 2016 - Things I Didn't Miss

March Playlists: Spotify / Deezer

I've been slack, I know. And I really don't like it, it's not a lifestyle I want to lead. There's so much new music being pumped out at the moment too and I'm just letting it slip right through my fingers. This month I've spent a lot of time on New Roots Magazine, who put out an issue a couple of weeks ago and the April issue should be out some time early this week. It's genuinely such a cool little zine with a really passionate team behind it, so if you could check it out, that'd be great.

Anyway, I have actually managed to listen to a load of albums this month, here's what I thought of the ones I liked.

Baauer - Aa

You're foolish if you thought that 'Harlem Shake' was all Baauer was good for. Truly and utterly foolish especially because we've heard enough from the New York City based producer to know that that is simply not true. Aa is Baauer's debut full length and it may not be mindblowing but it is really good. 'GoGo!' and 'Body' are so reminiscent of tracks I was listening to when I was 18 and getting more into "underground" dance music. It's a really nice touch that the first half of Aa is entirely free of any featuring artists and it's proof that Baauer can pull off these releases singlehandedly. 'Temple' starring M.I.A. is my standout track on the album though. The Novelist feature on 'Day Ones' is excellent too, especially alongside Leikeli47 who goes unbelievably hard. On reflection, I'd pay good money to see Baauer live.

Blood Youth - Closure EP

I reviewed this for New Roots. Yay! You can check it out right here. Spoiler, I thought it was great.

Ducking Punches - Fizzy Brain

I'd never listened to Ducking Punches prior to March and I certainly hadn't realised that Fizzy Brain was their third album. Folk punk (they said it, not me) is not something that I was into growing up, hell, I don't think it's something I'm into now, and I'm fairly sure that if you'd played me anything from Ducking Punches a year or two ago I would have told you that I didn't like it. Well, I guess this is growing up. I know there are songs on this album that are pretty emotional and full on but I don't have feelings although I'd imagine those who do (most people) will really appreciate tracks like 'JFH' and 'House Guest'.  Meanwhile I'm more than happy to stick to the likes of 'Fun Fun Fun'.

Dustin Kensrue - Thoughts That Float On A Different Blood

I don't rrreally understand what on earth is going on here but Thrice frontman Dustin Kensrue has released a live acoustic covers album. There's a Radiohead cover, a Brand New cover and a Miley Cyrus cover on here, but if it weren't for the intro I probably would have made it a fair way into this release before realising these songs were all covers. Somehow Kensrue is able to make each of these tracks sound so original and like his own.


I've lost count of how many times I've listened to this EP over the past week or so, but it's been almost two years since I first posted 'Closer' and to say that the wait for the release of something EP-like has been agonising would be an understatement. 'Closer' features on this EP, as does a shiny new version of 'Shivers' complete with a hairs-stand-on-end string section. I like brand new things though so 'Found My Religion' is my favourite track on this release, and it's also the one that furthest from "ballad" and that's always something to bear in mind. For real, this EP is great though, if you like vibey pop RnB stuff in a similar vein to Thomston, you'll dig this.

Kiiara - low kii savage EP

Kiiara took #theblogs by storm last summer and her rise to internet buzz stardom was way too fast for her songs to be as purposefully contrived as some may think. Take 'Feels', for example. This is a genuine display of a teenager's emotions and the fact that the lyrics are so "internet" ("I got like way too many feels") works to Kiiara's favour. The production on this EP is absolutely flawless and not one ounce of me wants to think about what these songs would sound like without Felix Snow behind them. If I'd had this EP in my late teenage year I think I probably would have tweeted lyrics from it on a daily basis and that's the bottom line of the situation really.

The Knocks - 55

Going into this album I wasn't sure how well I'd fare just because some songs I really like ('Classic', 'Comfortable') and some songs I really don't ('I Wish'). But it quickly became apparent that it wasn't really going to be a problem. Past the first track this entire record is so feel good, enhanced by how easy it is to just press play on and not really need to think too hard about what's going on. 'Kiss The Sky' has become an early favourite for me on 55, then we hit 'The Key' in the middle and I just long to one day hear this in the club so I can "drop it, take it down low, make it touch the floor". This stomper is followed by 'Tied To You' and it's at this point that I'm not longer even mildly concerned for the future of The Knocks as pop/electronic masterminds.

Miike Snow - iii

iii is an undeniably great album, and I'm not sure whether one could definitively say that it's their best work to date, but it's definitely very good. Although, I say that but the opening trilogy of 'My Trigger', 'The Heart Of Me' and 'Genghis Khan' is probably the holiest of trinities you're going to stumble upon. The Charli xcx collaboration is a bit of a disappointment for me, I just expected something a little more, and it's followed by a ballad which completely loses me. The rest of the album is good but the real gem is the bonus track and unlikely collaboration with Run The Jewels on this remix of 'Heart Is Full'.

Muncie Girls - From Caplan To Belsize

This is another strange one for me, Muncie Girls are definitely not a band I would typically listen to, in a very similar vein to how I felt about Ducking Punches. I mean, for the past however long I thought they were called Munice Girls... which is not the case. But no matter how much I try to be indifferent towards From Caplan To Belsize, it's an objectively great little punk album. The only criticism I have is that the mixing can come across as a little strange at points with the vocals being quieter and harder to hear clearly, but that doesn't detract from how good the songs themselves are.

Poliça - United Crushers

From what I recall, I wasn't a big fan of Poliça's last full-length, Shulamith, so I was more than skeptical going into their new album. It turns out that United Crushers is actually really great and Channy Leaneagh's vocals are as strong and prominent as ever. To be fair, I think I need to put a lot more time into this album. Musically, Poliça are a lot more complex than it may appear on the surface; there's a lot going on throughout this record. With only a few listens I'd confidently say that 'Baby Sucks' is a definite standout though.

ZAYN - Mind of Mine

I think we're all okay with this album being okay. And it's definitely not outstanding and we all know that nothing ground-breaking happens during these 18 tracks, but it's alright. 'BeFoUr', 'sHe' and 'wRoNg' are genuinely good pop songs, and 'dRuNk' is a genuinely bad one. And that's how it goes really. There is one thing I take issue with though. I feel as though if your CV lists that you were previously of pop group with very young fanbase, One Direction, I'd be more cautious about lyrical themes and use of language. I get that he's 23 years old and wants to do his own thing. I'm 23. I get it. But there's some level or duty of respect towards the humans who are going to be listening to this album and it's just been completely ignored. But hey, at least now we know that ZAYN's gonna "fuck her right" even if she don't love him.