Friday, 21 April 2017

Last Week's Releases Today: Easter Fallout

It'll come as no surprise to anybody that I didn't get around to a LWRT post last week, but at the same time I wasn't particularly impressed with any of the albums from that Friday so here we are, another bumper edition of this wholly unnecessary feature I keep trying to make happen. Apologies for how Wall Of Text this post is too - still haven't quite figured that one out.

Albums and an EP Released Last Week:

Allan Kingdom - Lines I loved Allan Kingdom's Northern Lights project that he released at the start of 2016 so naturally I was expecting big things from his proper debut album. Overall, it's pretty much a disappointment. Kingdom seems to have dumbed down his material lyrically and his unique vocals and rapping style is far less apparent throughout. We do get a bit of this on opener 'Perfection' but unfortunately it doesn't last. There's really nothing endearing about this record and given Allan Kingdom's potential, it's a real shame. 4/14 tracks added to library.

Bishop Briggs - Bishop Briggs I've never really listened to Bishop Briggs before but it's fairly rapidly apparent that although the music she does is not something I like, she's very good at what she does. She bridges between indie singer/songwriter and alternative pop star which makes for quite an interesting bunch of songs. 'The Way I Do' and earlier single 'Wild Horses' are the standouts for me. If Bishop Briggs is pushed in the right places to the right audiences she could very well be huge. 2/6 tracks added to library.

Blood Youth - Beyond Repair Blood Youth were one of my tips for this year, I think in essence they're one of the best new heavy bands the UK has to offer... but this album is exactly what I didn't want from them. Firstly, I'm quite stumped on the production quality throughout the record because their EPs (at the time at least) sounded really polished, but this sounds like the quartet have reverted back to square one, which is really confusing. I mean, that snare sound from the word go in opener 'Making Waves' is pretty offensive. Whilst this album has received rave reviews from some rock publications, it just does metal "alright" and definitely does not re-invent the wheel. 2/10 tracks added to library.

Cold War Kids - LA DIVINE Cold War Kids are one of those bands I've been low key into for the last ten years but I've never really properly invested in. Well, that's changed upon the lead up to their sixth studio (?!) album. Although at times the tracklisting seems a little peculiar - 'Can We Hang On?' as the second track? - I really enjoyed this album. It's exciting to hear a band this far into their career still able to create a body of work that is this inventive and well-paced. I would very much be up for seeing this band live at some point in the near future. 7/14 tracks added to library.

Joey Bada$$ - All Amerikkkan Bada$$ - Joey Badass is one of those rappers who I know is good but so often he does hip hop in such a straight up 90s inspired manner that I find it hard to connect with. I'm a fan of the more pop tinged tracks on this album like 'TEMPTATION' and 'For My People'. Joey Badas$$ takes a very political standpoint for much of this record but it's done in a really digestable manner whereby it doesn't feel as though he's preaching the changes he desires on you, the listener. By way of that, a lot of the lyrics in these tracks stand out, for example, "Still got the last names of our slave owners" on 'LAND OF THE FREE', and "No I'm not a chicken, I never listen to FOX News" on 'SUPER PREDATOR'. Although it's not "for me", this is my second favourite hip hop album of the fortnight. 4/12 tracks added to library.

John Mayer - The Search For Everything I'm still quite taken aback that I've found John Mayer material that I like, but that hasn't stopped me from being highly confused about the state of The Search For Everything's release strategy. The first eight tracks were released across two four-track EPs and then the final four were plonked on the end of the album's release. I'll let it slide this time but if everybody could refrain from this in the future, that would be desirable. The acoustic slow croony songs on here are terrible, but the more upbeat pop songs are very good. 4/12 tracks added to library.

Kendrick Lamar - DAMN. I don't deal particularly well with Kendrick Lamar's music. I also don't deal particularly well with concept albums of hidden themes and clever shit like that, so going in to DAMN. I knew I wasn't going to feel the same about it at a lot of other people instantly did. In fact, the first third of the album I dismissed entirely on first listen. In a similar vein to Joey Bada$$, Kendrick does a lot of music that has very little pop sensibility to it and I find that quite tough to connect with. Honestly I'm just not the least bit fussed about ever having to hear any of these songs again, although I guess I enjoyed 'LOVE.'. No tracks added to library.

The Maine - Lovely Little Lonely The new and sixth studio album from The Maine is a peculiar affair for a myriad of reasons, most notably is that it isn't bad at all. I guess The Maine were kind of like the LANY of 2008, and in that respect, it's quite impressive that they've matured just the right amount to make a decent pop rock album almost ten years later. In addition to that, this record absolutely flies by, and 34 minutes feels more like 3-4 minutes. I can't imagine many people will pay attention to the existence of this release, but you have nothing to lose in doing so. 5/12 tracks added to library.

Spit Syndicate - One Good Shirt Had Us All Fly 2017: The year I fell in love with Sydney based hip hop projects. This is Spit Syndicate's fourth album (kind of... not including their mixtapes or One Day  (their crew) projects). The thing about this kind of hip hop coming out of Australia is that these artists know exactly how to balance fun tracks like 'Inhibitions' with songs that have a genuine political stance like 'Not In My Name'. This is undoubtedly my favourite album of the month, I'd say. 9/12 tracks added to library.

Tinie Tempah - Youth Sure, we may not have had a proper album from Tinie Tempah for four years, but was anybody really asking for a 17 track record from the guy? Pretty sure we weren't, but it's what we've received. Tinie Tempah is just not an album artist, is he? There are also points, 'Holy Moly' in particular, where I'm like "... does Tinie Tempah reckon he's a credible rapper?" but then there are tracks like 'Girls Like' and 'Not Letting Go' which are undeniably huge pop songs. It's almost impressive how hit or miss the tracks are on Youth because there's pretty much no in between. I don't think I'm even mad about nigh on every song having at least one featured artist, that seems to make sense for an artist like Tinie Tempah but it's emphasised more by the unnecessary length of the album as a whole. 4/17 tracks added to library.

Friday, 14 April 2017

I Opened 'Memories... Do Not Open' So You Don't Have To

It is no secret that The Chainsmokers are the worst pop/dance music duo on the face of the planet at this point in time, and it therefore will come as no surprise to you that I am far from impressed to see that the pair have just released their debut album. The Chainsmokers are Andrew "Drew" Taggart (AKA The Singing Chainsmoker) and The Other One (AKA Alexander "Alex" Pall).  It's important not to forget that this two-piece broke out with their quite frankly abysmal single '#Selfie'. I only mention it because everybody does seem to let that slide, and it's simply unacceptable.

Let's get this torture underway then, shall we? Lord, help us all.

The first three tracks are labelled "explicit" so I'm after some really fucking good swears. Have I heard opener 'The One' before? It's really hard to tell, isn't it, because all of their songs sound so damn similar. I was correct, 'The One' was released as a single a couple of weeks ago but it's pretty lacklustre. This surely isn't something I would release just prior to unleashing my debut album. The swear is good though, I'll say that, along with what I can only assume are co-writer Emily Warren's backing vocals. However, there are some absolute nonsense soundbites that sound as though an 11 year old has gotten a hold of the pre-sets on a keyboard for the first and is attempting to impress their friends in their music class.

Sorry, is The Singing Chainsmoker going to "vocalise" on every one of these songs because I'm actually not sure that's something I'm going to be able to handle. 'Break Up Every Night' features the line "she wants to break up every night, then tries to fuck me back to life". No thank you. Then all of a sudden this song is an electro-indie band track, and it's truly one of the worst I've ever heard, no doubt influenced by co-writers Smallpools. Captain Cuts who I like very much have co-produced and co-written this song too and honestly, I expected better. A real hot mess.

'Bloodstream' opens with the line "I've been jumped three times this week", and when making music as bad as this, can anybody really be surprised by this news? This is one of those songs where the singer just moans about how tough their life is, and you're a bit like... "get over yourself, man". He continues with "I gave up three times this week", and I truly wish he was talking about his music career. He's not. Not even Phoebe Ryan can save this trainwreck.

I really wish that somebody I like as much as Emily Warren wasn't even remotely involved with The Chainsmokers. She's a good singer and a very talented writer of songs but when combined with this pair of clowns things can only get so good. 'Don't Say', the first of two tracks she's a credited featured artist on, is definitely the most bearable song on Memories... thus far but it's dumbed down with it's unnecessary chorus drop. Oh and there's a fucking skit on the end. Cancelled. Sorry Emily. Her second vocal feature 'My Type' sounds very promising... until another unnecessary drop. It's a shame really. Do The Chainsmokers think they need to do this on every song they put out? This is okay though. Thank God for Miss Warren to be honest, she's an unsung hero of so much dance-tinged pop music of the last couple of years. I could invest in 'My Type' being a single, I think, but I'd definitely need them to do some re-hashing of the terrible electronic bits on the chorus.

Hold on. Everybody, I haven't reached the chorus yet, but I think this album has a stand out (whaattt the fuck??) and I think it might be 'It Won't Kill Ya'. Track seven features vocals from Louane, who appeared on France's version of The Voice, and is co-written by serial David Guetta collaborator Sam Martin. I guess this starts off with Louane sounding a bit like Daya, doesn't it? But it's very good. No doubt the chorus will ruin everything. Right on cue. Someone needs to let The Chainsmokers know that sometimes less is more. 'It Won't Kill Ya' does have a very different sound to the other tracks on Memories... Do Not Open, and it'll come as no surprise that there's definitely a more European-EDM feel to the song but it sure is a welcome change to the monotonous drops and melodies The Chainsmokers are accustomed to. I bet The Chainsmokers reckon it's really funny that 'Paris' follows this song on the album.

With 'Honest' we're right back to square one; The Singing Chainsmoker is vocalising, there are terrible electronic noises, and a chorus so flat it's hard to even pick out. Next! I'm not a fan of Jhene Aiko but how on earth did she get roped into this? 'Wake Up Alone' is another Emily Warren co-write but it's not a patch on the two songs she sings on herself. I think I've reached a point on this album that I don't believe anybody else on the planet will get to. Seriously, ten tracks into a The Chainsmokers album, is there really any need to delve deeper?

'Young' opens with an acoustic guitar. We really don't need this, do we? I think this is an attempt to prepare us for the final track which features Florida Georgia Line. Something I'll mention, that I haven't brought up yet, is that whilst The Singing Chainsmoker has a writing credit on every single one of these tracks, The Other Chainsmoker does not, which is something I find quite interesting. I can only assume that he solely works on production, but it's a set up I think is fairly amusing. 'Young's lyrics are just a load of nonsense about things being "hard when you're young" by the way. We're here, the final track, 'Last Day Alive' featuring Florida Georgia Line. This definitely isn't the EDM-country-crossover I was dreading and that's taken me aback quite a lot, but of course it is the typical Chainsmoker formula I've come to expect over the last eleven songs.

There are not more than three tracks on Memories... Do Not Open that I ever wish to hear again. In that respect, I would strongly recommend that we're all better off keeping this album firmly closed for the rest of time, maybe holding it ajar every now and then for Emily Warren to slip out and sprinkle the charts with some good pop music before retreating to the basement The Chainsmokers no doubt lock her up in for large chunks of the year.

Monday, 10 April 2017

WENS - Bleed

I won't lie. When do I? This is one of those songs I added to my blog queue and completely forgot what it sounded like between then and now other than "probably quite good". I don't know when I wrote those three sentences... but I don't remember doing so, so we're keeping them in for comic affect. I've spent a solid five minutes looking at WENS' social media trying to workout 1) where she's usually based and 2) where she is currently. No, of course this doesn't matter in the slightest, but it's one of those things I just like to know. All good sources say WENS is based in LA, it's just that she seems to tweet from/about London every so often and that got me tied up.

Last summer WENS put out her first track (well, according to Soundcloud, at least) 'Bones' which on a refresher listen I seem to vaguely remember, but it's got nothing on new single 'Bleed'. 'Bleed' is dark and moody and great to listen to when feeling even mildly emotional about a love interest of any kind. My current personal preferred love interest is one I am zero percent romantically involved with outside of my head. They are really fun to angrily lip sync the "don't call me baby" hook at. I'm totally living for the harmonies on 'Bleed's chorus too, I love it when solo artists harmonise with themselves on studio versions of things. I guess that happens a lot, doesn't it? It's just done exceptionally here.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Last Week's Releases Today: Apparently It's April

So much stuff released last Friday, it's Tuesday and I am waders deep in. It's now the end of the week that I've basically culled everything that I thought was even a bit rubbish because you know what? If you're release is terrible, why should I waste my time listening to it? A shocking amount of sub-par nothingness EPs released last week, so much so that I haven't bothered even mentioning them below, but one in a brand new segment that I may or may not bring you every week.

Albums and an EP Released Last Week:

Alex Vargas - Cohere It feels like we've heard a lot of the songs that feature on Alex Vargas' debut album before and this is made even more apparent by the appearance of the single artwork rather than the album artwork on Spotify for a couple of the previously released tracks. I don't even know how one does that and I've been working with release metadata for the past four and a half years. (See above that this has actually ruined the playlist thumbnail.) This is all a bit by the by, although I still reckon single 'Higher Love' is a standout from the record. I'm not a fan of interludes on anything ever but once you sift those out Cohere is very good whilst retaining coherence. I think Alex Vargas may frequently get dismissed as another singer/songwriter type but the way tracks like 'Tidal' and 'Renegade' incorporate dance/electronic elements, for example the DnB feel of the former, does allow Vargas to bring something new to the table. 7/17 tracks added to library - 17 sounds like a hell of a lot, doesn't it? Too many for a debut I think, regardless of interludes.

Carter Reeves - Fresh Fruit EP This is Carter Reeves' first EP, and after falling in love with his debut single 'Fresh Fruit', I had really high hopes for these five tracks but I'm quite disappointed. 'Fresh Fruit' opens the release and it's still as quirky, fun and innovative as the first time I heard it, but the tracks that follow it fall into more typical indie-RnB territory. Fresh Fruit has grown on me a lot though through multiple listens, 'Say Yeah' in particular. Most of all I'm a big fan of the brass elements that run through the tracks; those instruments are used sparingly yet effectively and that's a cool thing to nail. 3/5 tracks added to library.

Charlotte OC - Careless People I'm not sure Charlotte OC is a human whose music I would typically like so listening to her debut album is a bit peculiar. Would I ever actively listen to these songs again regardless of how objectively good they are. And also I'm not having a great deal of fun listening I this, you know? This all implies her album isn't good which isn't true, but it does feel quite sophisticated, a little too much so for me. There are some nice pop tracks on here though including 'Darkest Hour' and 'Running Back To You'. 3/11 tracks added to library.

Chase Atlantic - Part Two I still can't work out if what these guys do is good or not, but it just seems to edge better than average. This is only their second EP with this new musical direction but I'm not sure how long they'll be able to recycle this formula for. The elements that made Chapter One good are still the highlights on Chapter Two, saxophone sections that just work and the vocal balance between the whiney one and the other one. It'll be all about marketing for Chase Atlantic; get that right and they'll be well on their way. 2/3 tracks added to library.

Ider - Gut Me Like An Animal See Ider live. Before you do anything, see Ider live. Go in blind. Have no expectations. Know nothing. Then get back to me. This female duo are not the kind of thing I'd typically like in the slightest but I've witnessed first hand how good they are. Having released a string of singles last year, Gut Me Like An Animal is their first EP and it pretty much covers all their bases. Upbeat song that features a lyric about a "wasteman". Check. A shura produced slow jam. Check. Haunting eerie harmonies. Check. This pair are just the right side of weird to gather momentum amongst the masses and I can't wait to see where their music takes them. 3/4 tracks added to library.

Leah Mcfall - Ink You remember Leah Mcfall, off of that first series of The Voice? It's a shame she didn't get the label and release treatment she deserved because there are some really nice moments on this EP. Because her voice is so wild there are some crazy rad production quirks that use her trills to fill out the track like on opener 'Ink'. However there's obviously a counter to this, and those are average pop songs that don't seem to go anywhere or say anything, see 'Happy Human' or ballad 'Colours At A Funeral'. For an EP no one was particularly looking forward to or hyped about, this isn't a bad effort at all. 3/6 tracks added to library.

Releases I Listened To So You Don't Have To

G-Eazy - Step Brothers Fuck me, just when you thought he couldn't get any worse, he can. This was painful.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

WESLEE - Gassed

Let me tell you about Anchor. Myself and my bros Matthew and Pip (both of The Line Of Best Fit fame) have been dabbling in this Snapchat for radio like platform called Anchor. You have your own radio station where you can chat, import audio from other places, and play tracks from Soundcloud, Apple Music, and Spotify. You can also call in to other user's stations to force them to listen to your thoughts on what they're doing, as well as applaud stations that you listen to. The Anchor app is still only in it's second real iteration so the features are somewhat limited but it's definitely enough to get along with. You can find my station here. "Right, cool, but what has any of this got to do with Weslee?" I'm glad you asked. 'Gassed' was one of the first songs Pip put up on her station and I was so hyped on it that I called in to let her know... I might put that somewhere... because I'm hilarious.

Weslee actually originally put 'Gassed' out six months ago, which is some pretty poor form on everybody I know's behalf seeing as blogs, radio, and Spotify alike didn't start pushing this until about a month ago. I don't know what happened then, but as usual I'm turning up drunk to a party that everybody else has probably already got a hangover from. I've spoken a lot recently about my two favourite things in music at the moment, samples, and stripped back pop songs with tight as hell production. 'Gassed' nails the latter. Weslee's singer whose very secret name I do not know sounds super like Clementine from Kudu Blue at points, and it's taken me so long to work that similarity out I'm pretty pleased with myself. I am and quite possibly forever will be gassed - in a good way.

Monday, 3 April 2017

HANA2K - Jealousy

I was first made aware of Hana's existence way back at the end of 2014 (OH MY GOD!) when she must have been no older than an actual toddler. I genuinely can't believe that it's been that long that I've been waiting for new music from her. Nuts. Anyway so back in 2014 I received a very concise email pointing me towards Hana's track 'I Don't Want To' and I fell in love with it. It's actually one of the few tracks that I've frequently made my way back to Soundcloud's dreaded website to put on repeat. As is the way with most re-launching, 'I Don't Want To' is now no more, but I can only hope it sees a re-work or an update for the current times.

Now at the ripe old age of 17 Hana has returned as HANA2K (2000 is incidentally the year that she was born so that's me just busting your myths about what that means) and you know, I think she's ready to hit the ground running. I'm not sure how detrimental being based in South Wales is for one's pop career in 2017, and I'd assume Hana's working towards A-Levels too, but if anybody can make it work, I reckon she can. Her new single is called 'Jealousy' and although it's not as immediately gripping as I found 'I Don't Want To', it has these super subtle infectious pop quirks that seep into your memory. As pop songs go, 'Jealousy' is pretty stripped back but the production on Hana's vocals is really smooth - my favourite bit is the "a lot of flaws" line, just FYI.

I really hope that we hear more from Hana in 2017 because one song every three years really isn't enough to keep me going, you know? Also, I just stumbled upon this video, which I knew was coming but didn't realise was available yet, and I really love it; Wales looks well nice, doesn't it?

Alexander Oscar - Ocean View

You'll recall this time last week when I said that I was going to blitz through everything I hadn't posted in March so that I could start almost a-fresh in April? Well obviously that has not happened. And so we begin, once again, my quest to just get the hell through songs that have been floating around the world wide web for a month already. The first of these songs comes from Alexander Oliver, a Danish artist who released his debut single 'Ocean View' in March.

I realised but didn't really notice that 'Ocean View' is a song entirely about sex until it was pointed out by Julian on Twitter, and I've honestly had some really mixed feelings about this since. But as songs purely about sex go, this one doesn't come off as particularly seedy or cringeworthy at all. In fact 'Ocean View' does all of this in such an effortless way that it Alexander Oscar pulls off a great pop/RnB debut with no trouble. The video for this track is a strange one though because, personally, 'Ocean View' conjured up imagery of summer and, actually you know what I thought of, the The Chainsmokers lyric video for 'Closer' - that vibe. Also, how much does the video girl look like Lorde's European counterpart! Finally, Alexander Oscar doesn't half have a face for a pop career, does he? An extremely strong look.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Last Week's Releases Today: Marching Through

Can you believe it's quite literally the end of March already? Because I'll tell you this for nothing, I can not believe that. Leaving singles off here for this week else this post will literally never see the light of day. So here is your final instalment for the WIIHAMB March Library. You're welcome.

Albums and an EP Released Last Week:

Betty Who - The Valley It feels like Betty Who has been floating around for the best part of my adult life and I can't believe that this is only her second full length album. The Australian pop songstress has put out an absolute belter though. The Warren G feature is quite peculiar, but the Superfruit collaboration goes above and beyond. Obviously there are as many ballad-y bits on here as you'd expect from a pop album but they don't detract from all of the upbeat songs, which is reassuring. Overall, The Valley is a fun listen and I can't wait to finally see Betty Who live at The Great Escape this year. 7/13 tracks added to library.

Catch Fire - A Love That I Still Miss Catch Fire released their debut EP around this time last year and I was a massive fan of their ability not to fall victim to some of the classic UK pop punk tropes. I'm pleased to say that this has continued on A Love That I Still Miss. I have a real soft spot for how bitter a lot of the four-piece's lyrics are, and I love that they don't throw unnecessary metaphors in every other line, to the point where these songs are almost conversational. I really want to see Catch Fire get some really good support slots because I genuinely reckon they're worthy of it. 5/8 tracks added to library.

Creeper - Eternity, In Your Arms I fully loathe Creeper, their music makes me cringe to no end but you have to listen to stuff if you want to be able to have an opinion on it, don't you? I've never enjoyed theatrical rock/punk like AFI or MCR, and Creeper are just 2017's version of those bands. I quite liked 'Misery' because it just sounds so different to all of the other tracks (apart from 'Crickets', which I thought I might also like but unfortunately that was not the case). I will hand it to Creeper though, their artwork looks stunning and if I wasn't so stubborn I'd probably buy their purple LP just for decoration. No tracks added to library.

Goldlink - At What Cost This is Goldlink's third album, follow up to the excellently titled And After That, We Didn't Talk but I'll be honest wit cha, it's my least favourite record of his to date. Goldlink, where the hits at? Because they aren't here. I've really come around to 'Meditation', which I wasn't initially mad into, but feel like 'Crew' is the only real standout on this album and that's super disappointing considering Goldlink only has one verse on it. There's just so little going on here that's even mildly interesting or demanding of your attention. Whilst we're here isn't it odd that 'Rough Soul' doesn't actually appear on this album? 4/14 tracks added to library.

James Blunt - The Afterlove You know who has gone and done the latest Ed Sheeran album better, with a load more integrity, yet won't get even half the amount of credit they deserve for it - James Blunt. Just by the nature of the music that Blunt makes, this album is not for me, but the pop songs on it, namely 'Love Me Better' and 'Lose My Number' are good. The sad thing is that the majority of people my age won't even glance in The Afterlove's direction purely based on who James Blunt is. In their defence, I will say Blunt's harping on about his legacy with copious references to 'Your Beautiful' does get a little tiresome but that's what he's got to go on, I guess. 3/13 tracks added to library.

Lewis Watson - midnight I'm quite surprised that Lewis Watson is still doing music, to be honest, it feels like for someone still fairly young he's been at it for a while. This is a singer-songwriter album, I literally don't know what you're expecting from me or this album. The end. 1/11 tracks added to library.

mansionz - Mansionz This is a collaborative project between Blackbear and Mike Posner, and not only is it not particularly good, an entire album of it is really unnecessary. Apparently Mike Posner reckons he's a rapper now? I'm lost. There is a surprise of a really good pop song hidden amongst the drivel though, in the form of 'Wicked', which unfortunately features everybody's least favourite Gerald, G-Eazy. His verse is every chauvinistic entitled thing you could expect from him but try not to let that ruin this bop. 3/13 tracks added to library.

Mike Will Made-It - Ransom 2 The year is 2730 and Mike Will is still making things. This whole album is fucking terrible. You know what my favourite bit is, that he just followed up his debut album Ransom by making a sequel and when was the last time a sequel didn't suck? Man. This is so bad. Also, imagine having an album with this many features yet not including Ty Dolla $ign. Absolute rookie. I can't believe Kendrick Lamar and Pharrell Williams were roped into this. No tracks added to library.

Northlane - Mesmer Northlane surprise released their new album last week and everybody was pretty stoked on it for good reason. They balance typical metalcore, with more technical and progressive elements really well to the point where it's tricky to draw comparisons between Northlane and their peers. Incidentally, the songs that I've picked out from Mesmer all sound quite similar but you can't have it all, can you? 4/11 tracks added to library.

Tuxedo - Tuxedo II Tuxedo are an outfit that I always have really high hopes for and they never quite seem to meet expectations. In a similar vein to Mike Will, the lacklustre effort that's been put into the album title really doesn't set anybody up for success. Tuxedo definitely have the potential to write an entire album of absolute bangers but the majority of the songs on this record fall very far from that mark. It's disappointing, but no doubt I'll still be holding out by the time their next album comes around. 2/11 tracks added to library.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Club Drive - Spare Time

I just don't know what to do with Club Drive. I was so stoked on blitzing through blog posts on Monday night but I quite literally arrived at 'Spare Time' and I was... stumped. Club Drive are a four piece from Hertfordshire and prior to last year, they went by the name Tides. I've got some issues (not news) with bands who re-brand because I genuinely don't think it really makes much, if any, difference on how them or their music is perceived, even more so in this pop-rock scene where I think it's tricky to find a niche and get anyone to pay attention to you regardless. Not mad, just my thoughts.

As Tides, the quartet released an EP which I thoroughly enjoyed at the time, but I'm not sure how I'd feel if you handed it to me now. What I can be sure about is that Tides track and new Club Drive single 'Spare Time' is, and forever will be, a banger. It's not often that bands do a re-brand and retain songs from their previous iteration but I couldn't be more pleased that 'Spare Time' has not fallen by the wayside. A true cut above the rest of their songs, 'Spare Time' is not just a catchy pop-rock song, it's a strutting-down-the-street soundtrack. The vocal melodies throughout this track are, I think, what gives it the edge. Something must give it an edge because after two years I'm still not tired of it, and for me, that speaks volumes.

I still don't believe it's possible to embed Facebook videos somewhere that isn't Facebook, so the official video for this is not here.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Astrid S - Breathe

I am fully disturbed to learn that I have no written a standalone post about Norwegian princess Astrid S since December 2015, back when I was full shooken by 'Hyde', which, by the way, is still by far my favourite song of hers. Astrid S put out her debut EP, a self-titled effort, last spring, which I must have covered in some respect last year and I feel as though it also made the long shortlist for my favourite EPs of the year list in December. Something else I'd like to touch upon before we get to the new single in question is how insanely precious Astrid S is. If you look on her Facebook page there is an abundance of real life footage from her European tour in the Autumn featuring events like buying pizza for everybody in the queue to her show, taking fans for crepes and literally paying for a girl's flight after she missed her flight to a show earlier in the tour. True royalty amongst us mere mortals.

I absolutely adore songs that sound like they're born from real life experience, and that's exactly what 'Breathe' sounds like. This really feels like Astrid S' first potential hit and I am living for it. Not only is this an excellent pop song, but all of the references to air and the actions of breathing are a really cool lyrical touch - my personal favourite being, "if I could just inhale some chill". I've seen a lot of people complaining about Astrid's pronunciation of "astronaut" but imagine English literally not being your first language though. I think both this song and its video combined are really the level of art we wanted and didn't get from Zara Larsson this month, and I'll happily say that Astrid does gold paint better than Zara did silver glitter - and I loved that look. Speaking of this, 'Breathe's video is truly iconic and Cherry Cobra have down a stellar job of it. It's a fun 70s inspired clip that stars Astrid as one half of a criminal duo, robbing banks and wielding pistols. It's at this point a contender for one of my favourite videos of 2017.

Astrid S plays London's Scala in May but Scala is a venue that I refuse to step foot inside so unfortunately I will not be attending, but don't let that stop you.

Portugal. The Man - Feel It Still

I know very little about Portugal. The Man, which is quite embarrassing considering they've been active since 2004 and still sound as good as they do. Portugal. The Man are a five piece from Alaska, and that's exciting in itself really because the only other band I can think of that hail from Alaska are 36 Crazyfists and well... they're worlds apart. I highly doubt I've been looking particularly hard but it's always super interesting hearing music from areas of the planet that aren't entirely over-saturared with bands/artists of similar genres. But also they're now based in Portland, Oregon so I guess this was all a bit pointless, just like my life, but oh well.

Back in 2014, Portugal. The Man started work on their eighth studio album but it was eventually scrapped before the band took the time to write a whole new record, now titled Woodstock, which is supposedly set for released in June this year. Woodstock's lead single is 'Feel It Still' and I wish that every band could opt for a comeback that goes this hard. It's the instant setting of pace and sense of urgency, long before the vocals or brass section arrive, that's enough to get anybody excited. Then this insanely infectious chorus hook appears and I honestly don't think I've ever heard anything more sync-worthy - advertising companies will be being pitched 'Feel It Still' for the rest of time.

If I had any desire to be a decent journalist type I would have done some research and what follows would likely be a very different narrative, but as it happens, I am me. I've never listened to a full Portugal. The Man album, so I'm not too sure what we can hope to expect from Woodstock given this first single but surely it would be insane to think it'll be a let down? What an album for summer too!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Loop - As If

March is almost over and honestly that's just a concept I'm not sure I can handle In light of this terrifying fact, I need to blitz through a load of tracks that I've had sitting in my own personal "blog pending" playlist for the majority of the month. It's off to a good start since I was supposed to schedule this for this morning. So this week's posts will be slightly more frequent but also probably a bit shorter. Wow, the extent to which you don't care is astronomical. Okay, let's do this.

This week's first track is from Loop, known outside of her pop persona as Georgia Buchanan. Loop does straight up no-nonsense pop music, and new single 'As If' shows a slightly edgier and sassier side to her than we heard on her previous singles. The crux of this, in my opinion, is the effective yet subtle swear in the second verse. I'm really picky about how I feel regarding often unnecessary swears in songs but this one really hits the spot. I think this is my favourite Loop song thus far, and I'm confident that this was the track I recall enjoying the most upon seeing Loop live. Originally I'd written something about how if previous form is anything to go by we could probably expect an 'As If' remix sometime soon but I just read that Loop is in fact releasing her debut EP next month which is far more exciting than a singular remix.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Last Week's Releases Today: So Okay

Good Lord. Let's just get this one over with. My favourite thing about this week though, actually, if I might, is that we have two completely opposite ends of the J-Lo spectrum scattered throughout the releases below and it's... well, it's laughable.

Selected Singles Added This Week:

A really strange bunch this week. The one song I can't get over is from a duo called 1 AMVRKA, a country and hip hop blend that really shouldn't work but I'm kind of obsessed with 'American Muscle'. Comebacks from pop-rock veterans Weezer and Blink 182 which I really rate, especially Blink's 'Parking Lot' which was quite an unexpected return to "classic pop punk". 'Can't Bring This Down', Bridgit Mendler's new collaboration with Pell further muddies the waters on what we're to expect from her as an artist but if the song is good, don't knock it, I guess? And finally an unexpected D'n'B banger called 'Questions' from High Contrast.

EPs Released Last Week:

Chloe Martini - Never Twice The Same I'm not sure how I even came across this because I've no idea who the hell Chloe Martini is. She is in fact a Polish DJ/producer who has enlisted a string of popular UK based singers to feature throughout her second EP. Both the BB Diamond and Anne-Marie featuring tracks go down a treat as slices of current radio ready electro-pop. As can be expected taking a look at her other recent solo efforts 'Faking It' starring Vanessa White is as dull as to be expected. 'Change Of Heart' feels like a throwback to something I can't quite place my finger on, but I'm into it. 3/5 tracks added to library.

High Tides - I'm Not Giving Up, I'm Just Starting Over No, I can't tell you what I like about this particular band because at times I think they really sound like Neck Deep, and we all know I think they're in the top five worst bands on the planet. There's absolutely no excusing this matey's faux American accent, I'll tell you that for nothing. But something about some of the songs on this EP feel surprisingly well crafted for just another UK pop punk band. I genuinely reckon if High Tides can pull this off live, they've got a shot at some sweet support slots in the near future. But I'm not sure if that line in 'Home' is about making him "feel better" or "feel badder". 3/8 tracks added to library.

Noréll - IY We have another Danish trio joining the ranks this week. I was really unsure about Noréll, I think I am still quite unsure but the pre-chorus on 'Toxic Love' convinced me that I can't simply ignore them. No idea what's going on in Denmark at the moment but there's gotta be some kind of pop revolution, right? I think, even though I'm not overwhelmed by IY, there's no doubt that there's definitely excitement and potential here. I'm keen to see what they do next. 3/5 tracks added to library.

Petrie - Slurs *A Bastien Rayno recommendation* (I want a soundbite that says that in a voiceover voice like artists used to put over songs on MySpace.) Petrie are a duo making music that's so off the wall I'm not sure I could even categorise it if I wanted to... but everyone else is calling it "alt-pop". The entire EP is only 12 minutes long so that's enough to knock you off your feet blink-and-you-miss-it style. The title track is definitely a cut above the other songs on Slurs but it all feels like a very good introduction to what this pair are capable of. 3/5 tracks added to library.

Strong Asian Mothers - Animal This EP came out a few weeks ago but prior to last week I had no idea that Strong Asian Mothers weren't just another terrible indie band. I was very wrong. This three track EP is a whirlwind 13 minutes of good electronic indie pop, and it really feels as though this band should be on their debut album by now. I don't know why I feel this way, I just do. Anyway, this EP was just a nice personal discovery that I thought I'd throw in. 3/4 tracks added to library.

Albums Released Last Week:

Drake - More Life I'm really glad that we're all able to agree that More Life is miles better than whatever the heck Views was. But having said that, it's the features that make this album (playlist, whatever, it's a goddamn album) as good as it is, the English artist features to be specific. In fact the only track I've kept that's featureless is 'Teenage Fever' which I think is possibly one of the best uses of a sample in 2017 thus far. This is J-Lo's standout moment of the week; it's faultless. Speaking of samples, this video from Genius (and their one for Views actually) is really good. I do still think Drake is the wettest man in hip hop; the guy needs to get a grip. I'd actually quite like him to find a niche that isn't pandering to dancehall or grime, just do your own thing, man. 5/22 tracks added to library.

Frances - Things I Never Said I find artists like Frances really difficult to cover in any respect because they're just not remotely for me in any guise. I really love 'No Matter' which is by far Frances' most upbeat track to date but I just found the rest of her debut record super bland. I thought I liked 'Say It Again' but I'm actually not sure I do. Also I've already added the Basic Tape remix of 'No Matter' to this month's library so I guess that means: No tracks added to library.

Pitbull - Climate ChangeHere's the thing with Pitbull; regardless of how good or bad any of his songs are, he sounds exactly the same on them all, his verses are the same on them all and the subject matter is the same on them all. Am I surprised? No. Was listening to this album a bit of a waste of time? Yes. The low point of Jennifer Lopez's career this week is her appearance on 'Sexy Body'... featuring a sample from a cover... of a cover. Please, let Zara slay in peace. There are two redeeming moments on Climate Change though, the first being Ty Dolla $ign's track 'Better On Me', nothing he does is bad so need I say more. The second comes in the form of Pitbull's unnecessary (but I'll take it) version of the Ape Drums remix of Steven A. Clark's 'Can't Have'. The original was one of my very favourite tracks of 2015 so honestly, I'm just stoked for Clark and hopefully the interest he'll receive from this. 2/12 tracks added to library.

Zara Larsson - So Good Unfortunately, this album is not what any of us wanted. Overall, it's an "alright" pop album, isn't it? We've already heard the standout moments as singles and the only other track that comes anywhere close is 'Funeral'. There are a lot of ballads on here so obviously those were a write off for me, but even on the more upbeat songs the choruses seem to fall really flat throughout. This record is just really disappointing. I would assume that we may see a deluxe version make an appearance some time in the autumn possibly featuring some of the tracks her fans are upset didn't make the cut this time around. Also, I absolutely loathe the Clean Bandit song - I've somehow categorised it as a ballad and I wish so much that it wasn't Zara Larsson featured on it. 9/15 tracks added to library.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Grace Pitts - Cold Without You

I've been getting really emotional to this song over the past couple of weeks. I might actually start a playlist of songs to cry to. Like, proper great songs, that aren't ballads that are just good for weeping. Grace Pitts sounds super young, there's some prominent innocence that comes through on her voice, however I've no idea how old she actually is and to be honest it doesn't really matter. Pitts is from Sydney and oh my goodness I'm so about Australia and it's neighbouring New Zealand this year. For real, that's where it's at.

Pitts' new single is called 'Cold Without You' and there are so many elements of it that I absolutely adore, starting with the production. Lord, I could scream, everything is so perfect. The "I can feel your heartbeat through the phone" line sounds almost like it was recorded down a phone, I don't know how, but it just works. The subtle echo on her voice and the backing vocal "are you gone" are enough to give even the stone hearted amongst us (me) chills. There's just something so refreshing about a song that's this well-produced yet still this subtle. The instrumental outro doesn't even feel excessive even though it's a lot more built up than the rest of the track. God, this is just exceptional.

Ängie - Spun

There's something that really doesn't sit well with me about kooky popstars. The "ooh look how weird and edgy I am, aren't I interesting?!" No, you're not; give me your music and take a seat whilst your audience let's you know whether we're actually interested or not. And this was my minor beef with Swedish singer/musician type Ängie, whom the Daily Star heralded “the most controversial star we’ve ever seen”, and The Sun reckoned she was “the most shocking pop star of 2016.” Get a grip. Debut single 'Smoke Weed Eat Pussy' [insert eye-roll here] and follow up 'Housewife Spliffin' aren't mildly contentious in a time like 2017, and they're not even particularly good songs.

But Ängie has turned that on it's head for new single 'Spun' and all of a sudden I am somewhat invested in her as a hero of pop music over the next nine months. Oh, for sure, I'm just as surprised as you are. 'Spun' is, as the kids would say, a bop. Despite Ängie's speak-singing and drug taking connotations still being fairly prevalent, they are supressed with this infectious (sorry) pop beat and a wild full on catchy hook. As someone with no interest in drugs I've Urban Dictionary'd the term "spun" and I am now well informed that it refers to being "under the influence of methamphetamine", and I truly wouldn't have expected anything less. I don't know how long Ängie can play on this for, but taking a slightly less in-your-face approach really seems to have worked on this track.

Ängie plays Hoxton Square Bar and Whatever-It-Is-This-Week on 5th April with Urban Cone (literally the worst band name ever) and my top mates in Fours. As Anthony said we'll see how much weed smoking she does and how much pussy she really eats. Too right. (Tickets are on Dice but everybody's keeping that very hush hush.)

[EDIT: Now with music video]

Friday, 17 March 2017

Last Week's Releases Today: Two Weeks Become One

Two weeks ago things were depressing, and by things I mean the fact that there were very few releases worth talking about as Ed Sheeran unleashed the monstrosity that is Divide. It was so tough for me, in fact, that I just couldn't muster one of these posts last week, so here's two periods of seven days rolled into one. NB: A lot of these comments are far longer than initially intended, so sorry for the essays, mates.

Selected Singles Added This Week:

A quick-fire recap: Benjamin Ingrosso's 'Good Lovin' is everything we could have wanted from a Swedish Justin Bieber. Eden Prince has put out a very good cover of JT's 'Señorita' and has not dared mess with those pronouns. LANY have a new song called 'Good Girls' that I'm now a bit fed up of. Mabel's first single from her debut EP 'Finders Keepers' is a grower you need to stick with. I have no idea who Sabrina Claudio is but 'Too Much Too Late' is like a cross between Syd & JoJo and it's fucking rad. Oh, and Skylar Stecker of all people bringing in an absolute belter. There's some others too, just check out the playlist, man.

EPs Released Last Week (And The Week Before):

CHINAH - Hints Since the inception of Off Bloom last year, CHINAH have had their work cut out defending their Best Danish Trio title but their new EP may have just edged them ahead again. I wasn't too keen on 'Even Love' or 'Can't Remember How It Feels' as standalone tracks but when put together on Hints everything sounds really cohesive. 'If I Stay' is definitely the hidden gem on this EP to the extent where I can't quite work out why it wasn't put out as a single. Overall I still prefer CHINAH's debut, Once The Lights Are On, but for a band still so early in their career, this slight dip in pace doesn't worry me at all. 5/7 tracks added to library.

KYKO - Wildlife Look, my issue isn't that Kyko's songs don't sound good, it's that they don't sound special. The production and sampling on Wildlife ('Horizon' especially) is impeccable. But is "trop pop" something we need in 2017? I'm not sure if my growing fear of "trop pop" stems from the atrocity that Natives (the band) have become but I do think it's something I'm trying to pretend doesn't exist. More pressing though, I just don't think Kyko's voice is particularly interesting to listen to which is: A Problem. After some time I've pretty much decided I don't like this EP at all. No tracks added to library.

LÉON - For You I didn't think I liked LÉON, yet here we are. This is a good example of why you should listen to an artist's new material even if you weren't arsed about what they were up to previously. Maybe it's the swears in the first too tracks that's given LÉON the edge to me now. (I have no idea how sweary she was previously, but I'm into it.) 'For You' and 'Sleep Deprived' really hit the "female singer/songwriter quirky yet chill and also very marketable and current" nail on the head. The other tracks, not so much, but we know how I feel about ballads. 2/4 tracks added to library.

Ralph - Ralph 'Cold To The Touch' is such a slamming start to this EP. Imagine all artists opened their debut EPs with a song that's this good. This EP is essentially a collection of everything Ralph has released thus far and then some. Unfortunately I'm not mad into the rest of this release but it definitely oozes a lot of potential. A Canadian to keep an eye on. 2/6 tracks added to library.

Albums Released Last Week (And The Week Before):

Can't Swim - Fail You Again I'm finding this album really fucking difficult to get in to and it's stupidly frustrating, even more so that the only reason I'm still going at it is because I want it to penetrate my skull. But it's just not happening. There's so much going on on Fail You Again in terms of themes and genre-melding, it is quite a lot to take in, and it just makes me super intrigued about what Can't Swim's audience is like. This isn't a bad album by any stretch, I just can't connect. No tracks added to library.

Charli XCX - Number 1 Angel Can you believe it's been over a year since the inception of 'Vroom Vroom'? With 2016's EP in mind, Number 1 Angel feels like the natural follow up. Featuring a vocal cast of exclusively female artists, this ten track "mixtape" isn't bad at all. In fact, it actually feels quite put todgether and sophisticated to even call it a mixtape, especially when put alongside similarly categorised bodies of work Charli XCX released before her first album. (Mid-flow thought: Completely forgot about the entire existence of 'After The Afterparty.) I think 'Roll With Me' is one of Charli's best songs to date, and opener 'Dreamer' is also very good despite my often questionable feels about Raye. I love Abra on 'Drugs' too, I mean, I love Abra on anything but this track is a good vibe. 4/10 tracks added to library.

Ed Sheeran - Divide This must genuinely be the worst best selling album of all time because by God is it nothing but a wet mess from start to finish. Remember way back when Ed was all over SBTV doing his sing-rapping and attempting to be an urban artist? Well, somewhere along the line that's had a pretty horrible run in with folk, dancehall and whatever the hell 'Bibia Be Ye Ye' is, and it's turned out for the worst. Is this no pop music's most rampant case of cultural appropriation yet? By and large, I'd say Divide is pretty drab and depressing but (singles aside) there's obviously 'Galway Girl' and 'New Man' slotted in to prevent listeners from falling asleep. I won't lie, I laughed out loud when 'Galway Girl' started and at no point did it get any less hilarious. 'New Man' is the only song I could have even possibly shown an interest in like and is that solely due to the Jessie Ware co-write? Possibly. I just genuinely can not fathom what anybody likes about this record. No tracks added to library.

Mallory Knox - Wired I used to be an extremely active Mallory Knox fan, proper used to love this band, but I've outgrown them and that alone is this Cambridge-ish based five piece's problem; in the past five years they've shown such little progression in style and ideas that there's no longer anything exciting about them. This is the same album you've heard twice before. Sure, there are good songs, 'Lucky Me', 'Giving It Up' and the title track, but beyond those there's barely anything to stick around for. 3/11 tracks added to library.

Minus The Bear - VOIDS Minus The Bear are a proper underrated band, aren't they? One of those where you just sit back and think, "why aren't this band huge?" Typically they aren't a band that I'd particularly like but there's so much appeal on VOIDS. The chorus on opener 'Last Kiss' is massive, the hooks on 'Invisible' are the kind indie bands can only dream of, and the frantic nature of 'Robotic Heart' is to die for. An upsettingly overlooked record by pretty much everyone. 5/10 tracks added to library.

Our Hollow Our Home - Hartsick I still, in 2017, fairly unashamedly enjoy metalcore and I think that Our Hollow, Our Home are one of the few new UK bands who do the genre quite well, but I've found this album taxing. At times it's a disappointing case of metalcore by numbers and that's definitely not something worth spending time on at this point in my life. More often than not I'm finding myself just waiting for the chorus to kick in and to be quite honest, ain't nobody got time for that. After about five listens I'm just straight up sacking Hartsick off to be honest. No tracks added to library.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Jakil - Every Time We Talk

I've had a couple of weeks to really let 'Every Time We Talk' set in and settle down so I'm not crazed fan-girl for it anymore, and I'm not sure if that's a good thing for this particular post or not. I don't know if people care about my own personal narratives when it comes to new songs; I had that revelation on the walk to work this morning. And then I was like, "well, this is a blog, not a zine, and it's about me, so I'm damn well gonna tell you my life narrative like you care even if you don't." I think I first heard this live towards the end of this year and if that is indeed true I can vividly recall hoping 'Every Time We Talk' was new and not old, because that's something that's really hard to tell if you're not given any background about songs you've never heard before.

In fact, it was new (well, probably not, but new-er) and made even better by being the first track Jakil have released in 2017. Imagine I made it this far into rambling before mentioning the artist. The state of this website. Jakil are a five piece, originally they are from Scotland, but now they live in London - following that pipe dream. Somewhere amongst this prose there's a point and I think the long and short of it is, 'Every Time We Talk' is incredible and one of my favourites so far this year. Something I still can't get over is the song's missing chorus. Where is it? Which bit is it? How can a song be this good but also at the same time not really have a chorus? Someone, please, explain to me how. I'm also usually pretty impressed with Jakil's ability to right quite sickly sweet 80s infused pop songs but not make them sound wet or cliche or cringeworthy. And as far as lyric videos go, this one's pretty on the money.

They're playing a show in Edinburgh next Thursday (literally a week from right now) and they also play Birthdays in London on the 12th April. Get get it.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Goldlink feat Brent Faiyaz and Shy Glizzy - Crew

Have I ever been around for the actual inception of a Goldlink song because I really don't think I have and that is the most absolute embarrassing thing considering how much I claim to love him. This is kind of not true anyway because Goldlink put out a new track called 'Meditation' with Jazmine Sullivan and Kaytranada, which on paper looks great, but I wasn't really into it. So where does that leave us? And by us I mean this post. Well, we'll just wind back to December when the twenty three year old rapper put out his previous collaboration 'Crew'.

I've made myself sound so much worse than I am, Goldlink dropped the music video for 'Crew' a mere couple of weeks ago so this song is still totally relevant. Hell, I think all of Goldlink's music will be relevant for the rest of time. I'm properly in love with Brent Faiyaz's hook on 'Crew' though, singers with vocals like this get me every single damn time. So smooth. So effortless. And it just works, especially against both Goldlink and Shy Glizzy's "flows". This song is worlds apart from Faiyaz's solo work as well, which is absolutely wild to listen to in the same sitting as 'Crew'. I super hated Shy Glizzy's verse when I first heard it but now I find myself bopping so hard down the street when it comes on. You've just gotta learn to take this stuff not even mildly seriously. Had a chat with a girl I work with today about how she doesn't like rap, largely, because it's misogynistic. Despite how I think that's a sweeping generalisation anyway, you have to take it all with a pinch of salt - Desiigner admitted that he has literally no broads in Atlanta. Why so serious, yo?

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Harrison Brome - Body High

Harrison Brome is a man from Canada, Vancouver to be specific, and it will come as no surprise that he makes music. Brome (whose real name I can not confirm nor deny) released his debut EP last summer; it was (and still is) called Fill Your Brains, but I'll be honest, it's not breath-taking. The opener is bland and 'Midnight Island' sounds like something Josef Salvat might have left behind in the studio. Actually, all six tracks sound like an amalgamation of those two things. There's a lot of him attempting to be sexy too and I'm not sure it really comes off. But, that was then and this is now.

Brome's new single, 'Body High', might as well be recorded by an entirely different artist, to be honest. In fact, it's so good that I'm not even remotely mad about the fairly brash use of the word "pussy" in the first verse. Brome's vocals on this are a cut above, especially when you consider that his voice is what carries the first thirty seconds of this track. The song also almost brings to life the whole "Body High" thing, it's not quite euphoric but it's definitely light and dreamy. The artwork is really nice too in a simple yet effective way. I am now, at this point in my life, intrigued as to what Harrison Brome will release next.

Monday, 13 March 2017

While She Sleeps feat Oli Sykes - Silence Speaks

It's just over a month until the release of While She Sleeps' third (or fourth, if you count The North Stands For Nothing but I'm never sure if we're supposed to include that as an album or not?!?!) album and as I've probably stated at least three times already, it's genuinely set to be the greatest rock/metal album out of the UK in 2017. I've been thinking about how acceptable it would be to put metal on the office Sonos and I've quietly concluded to myself that anything that sounds intricate, technical and crated (Night Verses, for example) or anything that's really melodic despite it's "aggression" and double bass drum pedals (like Architects) is probably acceptable. While She Sleeps fall effortlessly into the latter with everything we've heard thus far from You Are We.

The Sheffield based band's new track 'Silence Speaks' really feels like a proper single, not that previously released 'Hurricane' wasn't, it's just that this song is bang on the money. The chorus is hooky as fuck, the pace is relentless and the backing vocal "oooh" bits are a flawless touch. The only thing 'Silence Speaks' has that it really doesn't need is Oli Sykes. A quick scroll through the comments on the YouTube video and a lot of people (read: young Bring Me The Horizon fans) have "discovered" While She Sleeps through Oli Sykes being the featured artist, which is great. However, metal's poster boy doesn't really add anything that While She Sleeps don't already have covered. Finally, I'd like to just mention how stunning this Tom Welsh & Taylor Fawcett (Get Deluxe) directed video is, even more so considering the bulk is filmed in an empty warehouse.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

James Vickery - Lately

I thought we were destined to be mates, James Vickery and I, mostly due to his appreciation for pineapple on pizza. Those people with mutual feels on fruit on/in savoury things are hard to come by but there he was, on my timeline, just awaiting my echoed opinion. I even suggested we start some sort of pineapple on pizza society. Alas, none of this lasted long and on Shrove Tuesday Mr Vickery questioned the legitimacy of savoury pancakes. Have you ever tried Lil's Crepes at Street Food Union on Rupert St, Soho?! Thought not. You haven't lived.

Luckily, James Vickery's questionable opinions on sweet/savoury foods don't have any affect on his ability to write great songs... or maybe they do. Given that 'Lately' is only his second single, it's hard to tell. This is obviously all pretty much besides the point, but that's clearly how I roll and nobody's paying me for this so whatever*. 'Lately' is co-written and produced by WIIHAMB favourite Maths Time Joy, which essentially denotes it's guaranteed to be a banger before even hitting play. In keeping with the pair's  MO, 'Lately's tempo is slower than Vickery's debut single 'Epiphany' but the smooth vocals, catchy chorus and general vibes are ever present, screaming for radio.

There's an EP coming at some point and also some live soiree's on the horizon too apparently.

*I'm obviously not implying that anybody should be paying me for this, but I definitely would not turn it down.

Monday, 6 March 2017

MAALA - In My Head

Jason Derulo - In My Head, and Taylor Swift - Style. Get you a song that can do both. Well, thanks to Maala we can do exactly that. Maala is a singular man from New Zealand who released his debut album Composure last summer. The album was actually really good and I strongly believe that I should have given it far more time than I have but I'm in such a state with releases, can I be sure that I'll ever even listen to it again? But, given that it's been less than nine months since the release of this full length, I'm very surprised (in the best way) that we've been fed new music so soon.

'In My Head' is another pop gem from Maala, so much so that it actually sounds like it's co-written with your pop big shots a la Max Martin, Julia Michaels. As mentioned up there, the pre-chorus sounds a little bit like Taylor Swift's 'Style' and then the drop into the chorus mirrors (mostly due to having the same lyrics as) Jason Derulo's 'In My Head'. These things are not a problem at all because pop music is what it is and you know what... songs of all genres sound similar sometimes. The video accompaniment to 'In My Head' features Maala drinking wine, participating in a photoshoot and playing a show. If that isn't living the life, I don't know what is.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Last Week's Releases Today: A Pleasant Surprise

I'd really like to find some time this weekend to properly get back into this whole blog thing. Basically, I started a new job last week after almost three months off work so you'll forgive my tardiness. Here's the final update to February's library.

Selected Singles Added Last Week:

The real surprise of this week in terms of singles is that there are an entire two new versions of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape Of You’ and I don’t hate either of them. Whilst Stormzy is well and truly ruling the roost his new verse is more than welcome, and Major Lazer’s remix is also very good. In terms of things and people we’ve (collectively, you and I) never heard of before, Baynk’s (is that just pronounced like Bank?) ‘Poolside’ is very good; the same can be said for DAVID44’s ‘Stay’. Even more so than Ed Sheeran, the song I really didn’t expect to like this week comes from Billie Eilish and her unfortunate, but fortunate for us, ‘Bellyache’.

EPs and Albums Released Last Week:

Bea Miller - chapter one: blue What’s up with Bea Miller? Somebody needs to burst in on her in the studio, take control and give the girl some direction. Her single ‘yes girl’ which came out last year was so promising, but this three track EP is a mess. ‘song like you is so bog standard, ‘burning bridges’ has the makings of an excellent pop song but the chorus sample of ‘London Bridge is burning down’ is beyond dire, and ‘i can’t breathe’ is a Ruth B-esque ballad. No tracks added to library.

Brayton Bowman - 22 Minutes Later I guess this is fairly well known but Brayton Bowman and MNEK were previously an item, and thus MNEK has co-written and produced this entire EP to the point where it literally sounds like it could be a covers EP. The latter three tracks (WHAT'S REALLY GOOD?', 'Kustom Made', and 'Feel You') are quite good either way, but one cak only hope Bowman distances himself musically from MNEK on new material just so we can hear what kind of an artist he actually is. All of the spoken and interlude bits are straight up terrible though. 3/7 tracks added to library.

Guillotine - Sapphire I'm finding this EP really hit and miss personally. Sometimes I think parts of it sound great, and then other times I think those exact same parts don't sound great at all. Opener 'Butterflies' is definitely the standout but I guess everything just plateaus a bit from there. Guillotine do undoubtedly have the makings of a good band though and I have only positive expectations for whatever they put out next. I was sad to miss their first show last week though, but they're supporting The Maine soon which is wild. 1/5 tracks added to library.

John Mayer - The Search for Everything - Wave Two So John Mayer is putting out his new "album" via a series of four track EPs, is that right? If not, the situation is something similar. 'Still Feel Like Your Man' is alright but I will be zero percent fussed if I never hear it again. 'Helpless' is good. One of the other tracks is called 'Emoji of a Wave'... like come the fuck on, man. 1/4 tracks added to library.

Albums Released Last Week:

Decade - Pleasantries Album of the year so far, basically. This is by far the best material the Bath five piece have produced to date. I wasn't a fan of their debut album but Joe Marriner assured me that I'd like the follow up, and he was not wrong. Decade have melded the summery and upbeat elements from their earlier material with gloomy lyrics and a "current"/popular sound and pulled it off exceptionally. I genuinely think this is an album for any rock fan, it truly hits the nail on the head throughout. They're also on a headline tour next week, check it. Every single one of these songs added to the library.

Horrorshow - Bardo State Going into this album I'd only previously heard two tracks, 'If You Know What I Mean' (which I absolutely love) and new single 'Ceiling Fan', but I was so uncontrollably excited to listen to this record and not one iota of it disappoints. 'Astray' featuring much hyped (by me) Dan Caplen is one of my favourite songs of the year so far. It genuinely soars and I love it so much that I frequently struggle to get past it when listening to the album in full. (As frequently as is possible in under a week.) Cherry Blossom is also a stand out, I love that Horrorshow can pull off a song as sappy as this whilst still managing not to sound lame. All of these tracks added to library.

Stormzy - Gang Signs & Prayer I'm really torn over this album. When it's good, it's excellent but when it's not good, it's really boring. There are two issues with this album that kind of intertwine: 16 tracks is too many, and there are a lot of ballads. Whilst I appreciate that a change of pace is important, 'Velvet' does this really well', and wall to wall bangers might result in a headache, there are points where GSAP slows down to almost an entire halt at some points. It goes without saying that 'Big For Your Boots' is probably one of the greatest songs of our generation, but 'Don't Cry For Me' is the real gem tucked away towards the end of the record. Personally, I think it's one of the best vocal performances we've ever heard from Raleigh Ritchie and he is the perfect feature on such an honest song. 10/16 tracks added to library.

THEY. - Nü Religion: HYENA I don't like THEY. I haven't since their inception really, and the grammatical nightmare that their name induces is just the tip of the iceberg. As it goes, I wasn't expecting to enjoy any aspect of their debut full length, however, I have. That being said, we have heard a lot of these songs on the lead up to this album, including the three tracks from the duo's debut EP released two years ago. When they're good THEY. do enough to break apart from their RnB/hip hop peers to put their own stamp on the genre, but at other times, they're just a more mature Rae Sremmurd. 4/14 tracks added to library.

Thundercat - Drunk This album is a slog if ever I saw one. Imagine having 23 tracks on one singular album yet so many of those tracks being peculiar jazz interludes. Is this what jazz is in 2017? Not that it's something I would have cared for prior to now, but it's a mission to get through this thing, it really is. This was actually so much of a battle I don't have any real thoughts on it. 3/23 tracks added to library.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Off Bloom - Falcon Eye

I missed Off Bloom last year when they released their debut EP Love To Hate It. Well, I didn't miss them, but the blog missed out on them because of my much talked about slack nature throughout 2016. But in case you missed them too (I have no idea who this is directed at, I know nobody is reading) Off Bloom are a trio from Denmark making this insane off the wall pop music with an abundance of Eastern-influenced tinges. In addition, if you weren't aware of Off Bloom before now, we did discuss them  on the last episode of The Middle Eight Podcast, which you can listen to here.

'Falcon Eye' demonstrates this to a T, and it's made that bit better with the fact that no one else is making music that sounds anything close to this. Have you ever desired to shake it like you want it all? Because if not, this is the song that will not only unleash your desire to want it all, you might just end up having it all. Nope, I've no idea what I'm on about either. I recently missed Off Bloom supporting Raye in London, I had no idea they were on that show and I'm still pretty cut up about it. However, luckily for me the trio are supporting both LANY and Dua Lipa on their upcoming UK/Euro dates, and they've been announced for both Live At Leeds and Great Escape Festival. Given what a massive party tune 'Falcon Eye' is, I'd say it's probably worth catching them at at least one of those.