Tuesday 31 January 2017

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness - Don't Speak For Me (True)

Anyone circa my age seems to have fallen in love with an Andrew McMahon project somewhere along the line. I skipped out on Something Corporate, I was most probably just too young, and hopped in at Jack's Mannequin's debut album Everything In Transit due to a hefty push from my favourite TV show at the time, One Tree Hill. Before (and even after, to be fair) the show's downhill sprint when it reached season 5, you've got to hand it the team at One Tree Hill for both their soundtrack every episode as well as the guest stars who featured on the show every now and again.

McMahon's bajillionth (read: fourth) project is titled Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, and we are approaching the second full length album release under this moniker. Prior to now I've found all of these "in the Wilderness" songs quite wet. Admittedly I didn't listen to the first album but from the singles and teaser tracks, this stuff wasn't for me. This was until I heard 'Don't Speak For Me (True)'; is this a nod to Jack's Mannequin or what?! 'Don't Speak For Me' is far less kids TV show singalong song, and instead a real contemporary pop jam with a huge chorus. McMahon is known for his affair for the piano but it's nice to hear that take more of a backseat, and to hear synths taking a more prominent yet not over the top position is really refreshing. Zombies On Broadway, the album, is out next Friday (10th February) and I am now very intrigued to hear it.

Gallant, Tablo, Eric Nam - Cave Me In

For me, personally, I don't think there could have possibly been a better time for this collaboration to come about. At the end of last year I went to see Gallant live and it was a wild and out of body experience. A show. I can not urge anybody enough to go and see him in real life because Christopher Gallant's vocals are absolutely mind-blowing. I stumbled across Eric Nam for the first time over the festive period when he released his single 'Body' featuring Timbaland, a pop/R&B jam, to be honest, it's exactly what you'd expect from Timbaland and a Korean-American artist.

I'm a strong advocate for K-pop crossing over to "Western audiences", and although 'Cave Me In' is sung entirely in English, I feel this just might be the place to start. I genuinely didn't expect to hear anything new from Gallant so soon, considering that he only released his debut album last Spring, but here we are! As suggested, 'Cave Me In' is a collaboration between the LA based R&B singer, the aforementioned Eric Nam, and Korean rapper Tablo - who believe it or not is 36 years old! My favourite thing about this song is that Gallant isn't at all over the top at any point. His vocals are still outstanding and effortless but in a really digestible and commercial radio friendly way. On top of that he sets a really great platform for Eric Nam, who doesn't get lost against Gallant's vocal talent, which was my first worry upon hearing they were on a track together.

The video was filmed in Hong Kong and looks stunning. I can't express enough how much nicer it is to have all of the artists on a collaboration in one location. It makes everything so much more marketable! The track is produced by Lophiile, real name Tyler 'Scout' Acord, who used to be in Issues, which is wild. I knew he was producing but I had no idea he was working on tracks as high profile as this! (He also produced RAY BLK's 'Patience (Freestyle)' so no doubt we'll hear much more from him this year.)

Monday 30 January 2017

25 Reasons I'm Annoyed at Ed Sheeran's 'Shape Of You' Video

Going through this video frame by frame there are actually a lot of really nice shots, my favourite being this one that I missed on my first two viewings. No qualms with the direction; the vast majority lie with the storyline.

1) The first five seconds inadvertently shows us everything we need to know about the narrative for this video. Essentially that means you aren't actually required to watch the following four minutes and 18 seconds with the added bonus of not having to listen to the song.

2) The song itself. I guess I could mute it... but why pacify my anger now? We're just getting started!

3) Is this video an excuse for Ed Sheeran to parade his terrible tattoos around? I actually wasn't sure how many of them were real but it would seem they all are... [Source]

4) Sheeran enters the gym showing complete disregard for all of the apparatus he passes. He should get a warning for that behaviour.

5) Things get perplexing when he opens an already in use locker. Is he new to this gym? If it's his first time here I'll forgive him for not knowing. After all, how was he to know the locker was in use as there was no sign of this whatsoever from the outside. It must be a very safe gym, in that case, as the locker's current user didn't feel the need to lock (the clue is in the name) the locker. Another option is that that is actually the locker Sheeran usually occupies and somebody has very rudely used it whilst he wasn't there and lulled him into a false sense of security by giving no clues towards its occupancy from the outside. Either way, I'm annoyed.

6) Enter Jennie Pegouskie. You're telling me that someone as stunning as her sets eyes on Ed Sheeran for two seconds and reckons she fancies him? Nah, I'm not having that.

7) Sheeran's trainer is the absolute worst. He tapes up his hands, holds the punch bag for him for one exercise and then completely disappears. I hope Sheeran's not paying him.

8) There's a short space of time where Sheeran is punching to the beat of the song, which was cool, but it doesn't last... and that was not cool.

9) Sheeran stops his training to gawp at a bent over Jennie Pegouskie. Charming.

10) Pegouskie hits Sheeran in the face with her locker door. Amazing! Or it would be if she didn't immediately follow it up with an apology. Grab your stuff and run, love, it's for the best.

11) Apparently hitting someone in the face with a locker door scores you a date in this universe. If I ever had any intention of stepping foot in any kind of gym I'd give it a go, alas, I do not desire to exercise ever, let alone in the company of others.

12) I'm honestly just upset that I have never been served such a whopping great portion of chicken and chips, let alone the size of that salad. Not to mention the crinkle cut chips, oh my God. Where is this eatery? I demand a reservation immediately.

13) Where the hell did this taxi come from? Where are we? Who owns this car? Was this make and model a specific request? We didn't even see them order a taxi so it must have just been sat there waiting for passengers. A bit too convenient if you ask me.

14) Whilst in the taxi, the pair are not wearing seatbelts which is extremely unsafe and to be quite honest, they should know better.

15) Did Sheeran's original trainer pack it in as soon as he saw Pegouskie? He knew there was simply no hope for him and just handed the job over.

16) The bit where it looks like they are about to dance but instead do not dance is my very least favourite bit in this entire video and it just might haunt me until the day I die. For God's sake. (Sidenote: Look how pasty Sheeran's legs are! I know it's not really his fault, but sometimes I just forget just how white white people really are.)

17) Pegouskie leaves without saying goodbye which is rude, even if the person I'm annoyed she didn't say goodbye to is Ed Sheeran.

18) But she's left him a gum shield. At least it can be used as a promotional tool for his upcoming album. *eye-roll*

19) Why is Sheeran showing those two guys the picture that she left him? How would they know what's going on? Who are they?

20) Where is she even going? Why is this question not answered? She's only leaving to drive the plot of the video forward. You ain't fooling me.

21) Sheeran slots in his "Division" gum shield. Has no one told him that self promotion is lame? It's not like he even really needs to self-promote. It's not even like he's both Ed Sheeran the artist and Ed Sheeran the boxer in this video universe, so actually the gum shield is really null and void.

22) Who the bloody hell are all of these people and why have they turned up to watch this fight? How did they hear about it? Who is promoting this? We haven't even seen him discuss this fight with anybody. How did Sheeran even know what time to turn up etc?

23) The Twist. Spoiler: Ed Sheeran's actually turned up to a sumo wrestle so don's a sumo suit in order to compete. It's just really stupid for the duration from hereon in.

24) Can you actually believe so many of these people put money on Sheeran to win this fight?

25) Jenny Pegouskie deus ex machina.

Fours - Fade To Love

Things are terrible. I mean, things are always terrible, it's just that usually people don't seem to notice, but at the moment everyone's really aware of the whole "the world's an awful place" thing. There are ways to conquer that kind of thing though, and Fours are a band I would highly recommend for it. They have a new single, it's called 'Fade To Love' and if you're familiar with the quartet's previous efforts you will not be surprised to learn that this new song is the indie pop bop you've been waiting for. 'Fade To Love' isn't quite as sickly sweet (HA!) as their previous two singles but feels like a bridge between those tracks and their debut EP, which was released way back in 2015. This song is a very welcome slight change of pace to their catalogue, if you ask me.

Also, there's a video! It sees front-human Edith Violet taking on various personalties on Fours' own brand of Tinder, the Fade To Love app. I'm quite jealous, actually, that matey doing the swiping swipes right for every single personality. Sure, I bet both Foreign Secretary and Drug Dealer Edith have their benefits, but what's the use in a partner who is a Professional Penpal other than some nice note paper? And who even uses notepaper these days? I know I have some really nice note paper that I got as birthday presents when I was little. Have I ever used them? No. Do I have any desire or intention to use them in the future at any point? No. See, pointless.

Fours are playing their next London headline at the start of March, I suggest that you be there. It's only £5 which is a disgustingly cheap amount of money for the amount of fun that will no doubt ensue. Ticket link is here.

Thursday 26 January 2017

January Library Updated Again

There were a great deal of releases out this week but they were all quite underwhelming if I'm honest, which I am. My thoughts on most releases are below. I tried to listen to the AFI album but I was so bored I didn't make it past track four so thought it not fair to include.

Obviously you're more than welcome to follow that playlist right there right here.

Albums/EPs Added This Week:

Bernhoft - The Morning Comes Overall this EP is quite different to other stuff I've heard from Bernhoft, or at least, the other stuff I thought I'd heard from Bernhoft. The standout is still 'Visceral' which I posted here but it's impossible not to like the other tracks too. In fact, I was actually going to remove this EP from the library but listening to them again, in the least cliche way possible, these songs just effortlessly sink into you. I can't imagine anybody not enjoying The Morning Comes.

Lyves - Like Water A very long time ago (about nine months ago), I posted 'Darkest Hour' and Francesca Bergami sent me a really nice email that inevitably got lost in my inbox, but I'm really glad this track has come back around again on her debut EP and with a new video! Like Water is an absolutely lovely 15 minute long body of work that truly deserves everybody's time. I would also recommend as a great EP to cry to, because we all need one of those.

Shy Girls - Salt I'm really lost on Shy Girls because some of his material has shown an immense amount of potential but then I found this full-length, Salt, to be highly underwhelming. Nothing on this record is below average by any means but with so many artists making similar music you really have to go that extra mile to stand out. There are still some good tracks on here though, notably 'Say You Will' and 'You Like The Pain Too'.

Sophia Grace - Hollywood EP An artist who you guys are all going to have to start taking seriously one day because she deserves it. There's no immediate rush as Miss Brownlee is still only 13 years old, but a post-GCSEs Sophia Grace is likely going to be a force to be reckoned with. In fact, I recently referred to her as a pre-Daya Daya and just look at the year she's had! The best thing about the Hollywood EP is that all of the songs on it are unashamedly written for a girl in her early teens; they're fun and playful and tracks you'd want your tweenage daughter to be singing along and listening to.

Tkay Maidza - Tkay I'm six tracks in and I'm really not enjoying this album at all. The more club leaning songs with heavy production come across as really overwhelming. As soon as you hit the halfway point on Tkay, the album becomes so much more easily digestible. I think 14 tracks is just a bit too long for this debut effort and it results in great tracks like 'You Want' and 'At Least I Know' getting lost at the end, which is a darn shame.

Some of the Singles Added This Week:

The most exciting thing about these single additions is that I have finally found a John Mayer song I can stomach in 'Moving On and Getting Over'. There's also a new banger from Alex Mills titled 'Be Somebody', new/old slow jam 'Don't Need U' from Astronomyy, and a nice pop ditty entitled 'Something About You' from Tayler Buono. I've come around to the new Maggie Rogers track 'On + Off' and I've giving Tinie Tempah and Tinashe's collaboration on 'Text From Your Ex' the benefit of the doubt. Finally, I've stuck in the title track from the new While She Sleeps album 'You Are We' and Slaves' (US) new single 'I'd Rather See Your Star Explode'.

Albums Omitted This Week:

As It Is - Okay I doubt this album will even be that. 'Pretty Little Distance' is an All Time Low cover, right? It's just so uninspiring from start to finish; I'm going to finish it, but I'm going to be very bored doing so. Why don't they let the other matey (who isn't Patty Walters) sing more? The songs are so disinteresting and I am so bored. When will it end? 'The Coast Is Where Home Is' is actually embarassing. This is the longest 36 minutes of my year so far.

Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes - Modern Ruin This album is probably a compilation of Frank Carter's best pop-leaning material, but personally I just didn't really enjoy it. I can tell tracks like 'Lullaby' are really good and obviously they've had great mainstream radio success which is totally cool. It's just not something I'm into. It's something I think fans of pop rock tinged indie-punk would be fans of.

Loyle Carner - Yesterday's Gone I find Loyle Carner's voice really grating but I totally appreciate that he and his music don't sound much like anything or anyone else in the UK at the moment and that he does bring something different to the table. It's just not for me in the slightest. I do really like 'NO CD' though.

Jacob Sartorius - The Last Text EP There's actually a 'Frère Jacques' sample on the chorus of one of these songs which is baffling. I'll be honest, 'All My Friends' isn't that bad but it would be far better if it didn't just sound like a straight up Justin Bieber rip off.

WSTR - Red, Green or Inbetween Pop punk album is pop punk. Quite possibly more than any other UK band, I am indescribably infuriated that frontman matey from WSTR, based in Liverpool, has an American accent. If you played me a song from WSTR and a song from also not American band Neck Deep, I wouldn't know which was which. Imagine releasing an album this uninventive.

Elujay - Golden

Okay, so you're into Goldlink but his lyrics are just that bit too much? Well, I've found (via Bastien) the answer, and the answer is Elujay. Elujay is from allegedly 20 years old, again, it's just written like that in his Facebook bio and there's no way to tell how long ago it was written, so he may or may not have had at least one birthday since then, but he is at least 20 years old. I don't know why anyone's age matters, it doesn't really, does it? Elujay is from Oakland, California, which is somewhere I have had the pleasure of cruising around whilst playing Watch_Dogs2 (please note the correct stylisation), and in fact I am extremely stuck on both of the first two story missions that occur there. While we're here I'd actually like to say how cut up I am about where the main storyline goes when in Oakland because... I was not set up for an emotional rollercoaster.

Anyway, now we know some cold hard facts about Elujay, let's discuss (ha!) his new single, 'Golden'.  There are three producers on this track, Julia Lewis, Kev Choice, and Chris McClenney whose own EP I added to my January Library just last week. It really makes sense for him to be involved on 'Golden' because although Elujay's Facebook bio bills him as a rapper, there's so much R&B and funk going on here. I can only assume all of the vocals on 'Golden' are provided by Elujay himself, which, if correct, is cool because they seem quite diverse and that is important. It's just a nice summery bop really. It's quite similar to some of Jahkoy's stuff too, actually, but a bit more effortless. If you needed advice on how to write a chorus, you should probably turn to this guy. He's got me Googling pictures of actual Hennessy so I can picture the colour of this girl's skin. Is that taking things too far and/or too literally? Probably but I'm just invested, man.

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Wolfie feat Nadia Rose - Better Than Me

Hi, Wolfie is back but you knew that because it's plastered all over Twitter. Just in case you missed it though, I'm here to let you know... because obviously people who don't keep up to date with new music on Twitter's first stop is WIIHAMB. Yep. I wonder if people refferred to as being "back" get annoyed like "What do you mean? Where did I go? I've been here the whole time." Let me know, if it is annoying I won't do it again, or at least I'll try not to until I inevitably forget. All of my posts about Wolfie prior to now have been super weird (find them here if you're interested) so I feel it's only right to continue that tradition. My personal favourite is the one for 'Come Over' where I pitched an idea for the music video.

Wolfie's new single is called 'Better Than Nothing' and I think it feels like this is really the beginning of her time, right? It does, doesn't it? And we all know that I'm not Nadia Rose's biggest fan but enlisting her on this track seems like a pretty good A&R and PR move so shout out to The Industry. I'm actually really struggling to pinpoint exactly what makes 'Better Than Nothing' so good, which sounds terrible but I guess that means it's just an effortlessly great R&B song. In terms of potential for urban radio this pretty much hits every mark right? Sorry, I have no idea who died and left me in charge of chairing industry type discussion as portrayed in this paragraph. I'm excited for Wolfie this year, I didn't realise I was, but now I definitely am. Excited to hopefully (I mean, it's probably fairly likely) see her live this year too; I reckon her stage outfits will be very on point.

J. Cole - High For Hours

I'm not a fan of J. Cole. I wouldn't know what the guy looks like if I saw him in the street. I'm not particularly fussed on the music I've heard from him. To me, he's just another rapper. My friend, Kieran, explained to my friend, Dan, that one of the things he likes most about hip hop is the story telling. That's something I really enjoy in pop music but I find it often quite overwhelming in hip hop.  Well, J. Cole's gone and flipped that one on it's head.

Last year, everybody was saying that we'd start to hear far more politically charged songs as we entered 2017, which is to be expected given the universe's current climate. But I find there has to be a balance between a good song in its own right and lyrics that don't overcomplicate themselves. 'High For Hours' does exactly that. The key for songs like 'High For Hours' is being able to relate and share the same views as the songwriter especially on topics rarely discussed in music. The lines about women cheering for the death of Bin Laden really took me because at the time I was perplexed by exactly the same thing. J. Cole covers so many issues in the space of four minutes over a good beat with a chorus thrown in there as well. Imagine, at this point in time, thinking that hip hop is unintelligent. Oh and I'm totally not acting like no rapper has ever written a politically charged, complex, clever song before, this is just the one that's made my ears prick up, you know? The more interesting thing is, with the inevitable rise of these kinds of songs, will mainstream media push it more or will it all just fall by the wayside?

Monday 23 January 2017

Kilian & Jo and Erik Rapp - Suburbia (Castle & Acoustic Versions)

TL;DR: This is a brilliant song of which there are now three versions which are not remixes.

I never posted the original 'Suburbia' because as we're all now well aware, 2016 was a tough ride for WIIHAMB but Tom Aspaul and I did discuss how much we loved it during Episode 1 of The Middle Eight Podcast. Kilian & Jo are a German production duo, and Erik Rapp is a Swedish artiste who just released his own debut EP, Lovers, and prior to that appeared on Idol Sverige (Swedish Idol, duh) back in 2013. In August, together, they released pop-dance crossover song of the year 'Suburbia'. Not only are Rapp's vocals quite simply excuisite, the production on this track is mad tight. The "still I'm crushing on you" line is heart-wrenchingly relatable and the brass drop is so unique compared to what other producer types are doing. Yeah, I'm looking at you The Chainsmokers; you suck.

Even though it's been five months since 'Suburbia's original release, it's been given a little 2017 boost with two new versions. The most notable of these two is the 'Acoustic Version'. You'll recall that I loathe ballads, but this is in a whole other league. Featuring just Rapp, a piano and a non-descript string instrument, 'Suburbia' is completely transformed and it sounds absolutely incredible. The frustrating thing, however, is that this version is not available on the likes of Soundcloud or YouTube.  What is, instead, available is the 'Castle Version', similar in terms of Rapp and piano, but slightly different sans strings and added drum machine. It's good this one too though. I think that's really a testament to how incredible the crux of 'Suburbia's songwriting is. You can make all of these adjustments however great or slight and the song still shines through.

This really deserved and still deserves to be the biggest hit of our time.

Thursday 19 January 2017

January Library Update

Guess who is back? Correct, it's me. I was originally going to just keep updating the one post throughout the month but I thought that might get quite messy so I've decided against it. Let's see how long this lasts.

Details of albums, singles, and EPs that were both added and omitted in week one are here.

You can easily follow the playlist embedded below here. No one has yet, so that would be nice if you did. Just put it on shuffle or something for a little bit, you might enjoy it. Of course, you might not but it's worth a shot, right?

Albums/EPs Added This Week:

Chris McClenney - Portrait In Two A Bastien Rayno recommendation. This release is billed as an EP even though it's ten tracks long, which is baffling. I really enjoyed a few of the tracks from Portrait In Two, especially 'What You Mean To Me'; that one is outstanding. But I think anyone more interested in soul/funk/jazz will get even more enjoyment out of this "EP" than I did, so I'd recommend if that's what you're into.

Draper - Luminous I know very little about Draper as an artist, but what is evident from this six-track EP is that he's very good at picking up rising artists for collaborations. The highlights on this release include songs with Sam Sure, BB Diamond and Kyko. These are just really satisfying feel good dance tracks, not much more to it.

Erik Rapp - Lovers EP As proper debut pop EP releases go, this one pretty much hits the nail on the head. If 'Closer To You' was available on an online platform such as Soundcloud or YouTube that would no doubt be getting a post of its own because it's a banger. Rapp's story-telling through the other three songs is really good as well. Always shook by stuff like this from artists whose first language isn't English.

Nadia Rose - Highly Flammable This album is a really great example of why I don't generally talk about things I don't like. There's clearly nothing wrong with this record at all but I just don't think I'd ever listen to Nadia Rose of my own accord. I do really like the mix of different sounds and extracts from different aspects of urban music throughout this album, it does have a really fresh and exciting feel. Listening to Highly Flammable it's clear why Nadia Rose featured on so many 2017 tip lists. The only tracks I personally enjoyed were single 'Skwod' and 'Murder'. 'Crank It (Woah!)' was a weird one to slap on the end of this though, wasn't it?

Sohn - Rennen Sohn's debut took me quite a while to really fall in love with so I'd like to give Rennen more than a week too, just to see how it develops and all that. It's obviously good, but it's definitely a record that I think one could get more out of over time. The only track I haven't included is 'Falling', just not a fan of that one.

The xx - I See You I really like how much The xx have switched up the music they're making. With the calmer elements strewn throughout and Romy Croft and Oliver Sim's unmistakable dual vocals, I See You is definitely still The xx but their sound has progressed a lot. This isn't at all surprising given it has been over four years since the release of Coexist. However, I didn't find the slower and more stripped back cuts on I See You as captivating as a lot of their similar older material, which was a shame.

Zanski - Collapse EP When I added 'Acid' to the library last week I mentioned that I'd straight up lifted it from Bastien's playlist and I'm so glad he's on top of Zanski's movements because missing out on this EP would have been an absolute travesty for me. I think this might actually be my favourite release this week on its first listen. Amazing R&B pop vocals over super clean production. There are so many artists doing this kind of thing at the moment, it's so good to hear someone stand out from the crowd.

Some of the Singles Added This Week:

We're a bit thin on the ground this week for good singles. And by a bit I mean: very. We have good remixes of two excellent songs from last year, Aasanya's 'Burn Break Crash' and Flume's 'Say It', by Lophiile and Illenium respectively. I've chucked in a couple of Swedish language pop songs in, Adrijana's 'Nån som mig' ('Someone Like Me') and Martin Masarov's 'Tänka Påre' ('Think About'). My goal for this year (amongst other things) is to listen to more non-English language music and Scandipop seems like a good place to start. Syd (of The Internet and OFWGKTA fame) released a solo single which didn't blow me away but I'm convincing myself I like because I love her. My mate Taylor's band Guillotine released a new track called 'Butterflies', which is a nice little emo vibe if that's what you're into. And I've thrown in a couple of tracks straight up stolen from Matthew's May The Pop Be With You playlist too.

Albums Omitted This Week:

Bonobo - Migration This was just severely not for me. I don't really get on with instrumental stuff in general and I totally get why this album is good, and why others would be into it. But atmosphere building is not something I am into. I did really like 'Kerala' though, something about that kind of vocal sampling strangely seems to resonate with me. I've written a lot more about 'Kerala' here.

Code Orange - Forever I thought everybody said this album was good? This was really tough to get through and I did not enjoy it. I don't feel remorseful about these opinions.

Banks - Trainwreck

I think I mentioned this on here around the time it happened, but I can't remember, so I'll tell it again. My mum's friend Tim called a while back and said that he read my blog, which was cool in itself because my friends don't even read this. Well, I bring this (back) up now because Tim reckons that he found out about Banks via me and that's really cool. Made even cooler by the fact that Banks is just one of the most cool (i.e. coolest) humans on the planet. So that was a nice little story (that you may or may not have read before) for you there.

"But Natalie, why are we talking about Banks?" Because she's just released the music video for the best track on her latest album The Altar that wasn't 'Fuck With Myself', that's why. There were extremely mixed reviews for the album Miss Banks released back in September but opinions seemed unanimous on 'Trainwreck'. It was, is and will forever be a banger. I get really hung up on Banks some times because songs like 'Trainwreck' are so fresh and inventive and have still a commercial edge yet she doesn't receive a lot of mainstream exposure. It's all very annoying, to be honest.

And that's just the song itself, nevermind the visuals for 'Trainwreck'! Banks' videos are always top notch and this one, directed by Marie Schuller, is absolutely no exception to the rule. The video is artsy but not pretentious, and Banks herself is tremendously commanding throughout. The choreography in both the corridor and the bedroom scenes effortlessly double up as action sequences and the general use of the faceless goons was executed perfectly. I wish Banks was one of those artists who released a video for every single song she ever put out, alas...

Wednesday 18 January 2017

Bonobo - Kerala

Bonobo is an artist whose name floats around on the lips and tongues of tastemakers and prestigious music media types and has done for years, but prior to now I've never really had the chance to try and connect with Simon Green's music. Heading in to his most recent full length, Migration, I wasn't expecting to love the album a lot but it's definitely a record where you can appreciate the intricacies and craftsmanship involved. It just unexpectedly wasn't for me. And I may or may not have written a little bit more or less on that in my January Library Update which will be up... probably tomorrow.

One track I did think was extremely excellent though was 'Kerala'. Originally released back in November, I'm not sure if I heard it then and didn't get it or whether I missed it; either way, I've made it now. I've never been a fan of instrumental electronic stuff... or instrumental anything really, but just the addition of the vocal sampling on 'Kerala' was enough for me to do a complete 180. In fact, it reminded me a little (in structure, not in sound) of Burial's 'Archangel' which is one of my favourite songs of all time and changed my outlook on electronic music entirely. The more I listen to 'Kerala' the more I think it's ingeniously put together.

And if after two and a half months you haven't seen the Bison directed music video, that's definitely worth a watch too. A really simple idea executed very well. I long to see more music videos that really incorporate the song like the video for 'Kerala' does.

Tuesday 17 January 2017

Shakka - Don't Call Me

It's been some time. I haven't posted about Shakka since the release of his debut major label EP The Lost Boys at the end of 2015. It was actually the first post of the WIIHAMB re-vamp that properly kicked off at the start of 2016. I was so excited about The Lost Boys that I couldn't help but write at moderate length about the EP as a whole. My post is here and if you haven't listened to it you've really been missing out because it takes "concept album" to a new level. Such an innovative idea for your first big push as a major label artist. And obviously the tracks on it were great. I still love 'Say Nada'.

Back in November, Shakka released follow up EP The Island. It didn't follow the same narrative concept as the previous release, which was fine but unfortunately the tracks didn't quite live up to those on The Lost Boys... well, the tracks apart from 'Don't Call Me'. And we can resussitate this track because Shakka has just released the music video for it! The standout situation on this song is Shakka's vocal performance. Those notes are high, man. Imagine we could all sing like that. Actually, don't imagine that, that would be terrible. We all know that I'm very into "The Relatable Song" and that is exactly what 'Don't Call Me' is, set to this upbeat pop R&B viibe. That's what's cool about this track actually, it's quite melancholy... but the production and the beat doesn't really give that away at all. A musical juxtaposition.

Bottom line is, Shakka's really good and to me it doesn't seem like he really got the push he should have received on Sony past 'Say Nada' as a single. But (and don't take my word for it) it would appear that he may have been one of the artists on Columbia to get the axe after their recent "lol let's just get rid of all rising talent that we have because reasons" purge, so maybe that's a bit of a blessing for Shakka? Who knows, but we'll soon see.

Monday 16 January 2017

Goldlink feat April George - Rough Soul

No idea what's going on here. Goldlink originally put this track out a couple of months ago but apparently it's only just made it on to digital stores. Fine by me seeing as even though I drafted 'Rough Soul' to post last year, I didn't. 2016 was a terrible time overall for my relationship with WIIHAMB but look how on track I am now! Sure, that's mostly down to the fact I am sans full time job but you win some you lose some, you know?

I really rate Goldlink as an artist overall. Even though a lot of his tracks sound quite different, they're always unmistakably him. A lot of people I shared tracks from his album And After That We Didn't Talk with seemed to find some of his lyrics and lyrical themes a bit much, which is frustrating because I think Goldlink's general style is so much more sophisticated than that of many of his peers. And that's exactly how he can pull off tracks like 'Rough Soul'. Produced by Kintaro of The Internet (!!), this is even a cut above some of the band's own more recent material. This track is just so undeniably smooth, especially with the addition of April George's vocals on the chorus.

Friday 13 January 2017

Cosmo's Midnight - History

You'll recall Cosmo's Midnight (you will) from their track 'Walk With Me' released back in 2015, which was then followed by a string of remixes; my personal favourite was the one from KOA. Apparently back a year and a bit ago I was highly dismissive of the fact that all parties involved in this song were Australian, something which at this stage in my life excites me greatly. And as we're all now well aware Kučka who features on 'Walk With Me' is now a long time Flume collaborator. Australians doing it for themselves.

So, why am I chatting about a song released a year and a half ago? Because Cosmo's Midnight are back with a brand new single called 'History'. I interrupt this post to bring you the bulletin that the two guys who make up the duo that is Cosmo's Midnight are twins and being a (l)on(e)ly child I fully can not cope with this news. Anyway, The vocalist on 'History' isn't credited but sounds super familiar... and I would happily hedge a bet that it's Paige IV who features on Pon Cho's 'Frozen', a song that is so incredible it slipped through the cracks and I didn't end up posting last year. 'History' is a great pop meets dance track regardless of who the vocalist is. And of course I am wildly into millennial pandering lyrics like "We got too much history, and all you wanna do is fuck with me".

Cosmo's Midnight are touring in Australia and the US this year, which is nice if you live in either of those places. I don't so... I feel very nonchalant about that situation.

Thursday 12 January 2017

Aquilo - You Won't Know Where You Stand

Aquilo first put out 'You Won't Know Where You Stand' back in October and I was very nonchalant about the whole affair. To be honest, since tipping them as one of my Artists I'd Like To See Do Well in 2016 I haven't been a massive fan of the duo's works. But who cares if I'm a fan or not because these songs are categorically really good and everyone else is into it. Listening over 'You Won't Know Where You Stand' again now, I'm not too sure what my problem was. It's nowhere near as ballady as more recent track 'Sorry' or Christmas song 'So Close To Magic', but I guess we all make mistakes, don't we.

Since September 2015, when Aquilo put out for the greatest lost single of our generation 'Good Girl' (well, to be fair, everybody should have probably realised this with the release of the 'Calling Me' video, but as a song 'Good Girl' really shook me), their eye for a good music video has been widely appreciated and the follow up has been highly anticipated (by me, at least). This brings us to Aquilo's Silhouettes Trilogy. Silhouettes is the title of the pair's forthcoming debut album, set for release in a couple of weeks, and as a preface to this we've received the first part of the trilogy, and music video for 'You Won't Know Where You Stand'. Directed by Eoin Glaister, the video tells the story of an ice skater and what appears to be her blossoming love life. At first I thought maybe the other two parts of this series might flesh the story in this video out a bit more... but now I'm not sure why that would happen or exactly what would go on with that. I'm pretty intrigued about the full series either way.

Wednesday 11 January 2017

January Library

This is something I started doing last year but never really explained it or told anybody about it so I'm going to do the same but better this year. Cool? Cool. So this isn't going to be the same as everybody else's #OMG #NMF Playlist; this is a long form legitimate library featuring the best (or the best bits of) releases each month. It'll include albums, EPs and any singles not posted in their own right on WIIHAMB. Songs/releases that receive their own individual posts are on this 2017 playlist.

Albums/EPs Added This Week:

AKA George - First Friday I saw Ethan from The LP Club (A thirteen year old boy who does suprisingly good album and single reviews on YouTube) losing his shit on Twitter about this guy so I thought I would listen to this, his debut(?) album. First Friday isn't particularly new or groundbreaking but there are so many interesting production quirks throughout, it's overall a really different take on pop music.

Great Good Fine OK - III My favourite release of the week. Apart from 'Thinking', ballady and boring. Although I don't think this is my favourite of GGFO's three EPs thus far it's still an exceptional body of pop music and an ensemble of really fun songs.

You Me At Six - Night People When it came to the second half of this album the songs seemed to quite suddenly get a lot more interesting and far less "standard You Me At Six" like we've heard on the past two or three albums. Quite notably, 'Give' is the best thing they've come out with in a long while, shame it's the final song on Night People really.

Some of the Singles Added This Week:

Sometimes songs are trash but good at the same time; introducing Cashmere Cat's 'Throw Myself A Party' featuring Starrah, 2 Chainz and Tory Lanez. Christopher is lowkey one of my favourite Nordic pop stars and the Dane's single 'Free Fall' is probably the most reputable song I've ever heard from him which bodes well for his career through 2017. I know nothing about Don Benjamin or his song 'Enough' featuring Decarlo other than it's a nice hip hop slow jam. I think there's a Lupe Fiasco album on the way? Which is cool because his verses on 'Wild Child' are great and make up for the super lame chorus sung by Jake Torrey. Final track of note is Zanski's 'Acid' which I've shamelessly lifted from Bastien's Songs I Never Skip playlist.

Omitted This Week:

Austin Mahone - ForMe+YouSomeone needs to stop this kid releasing music. He's not the discount Bieber you want him to be, the features namely Juicy J and Pitbull, on here are terrible and I find even the insiuation that anybody would have the nerve to sample or cover Modjo's 'Lady (Hear Me Tonight)' incredibly offensive. If for whatever reason, you do feel compelled to listen to this album, do yourself a favour and stop before 'Shake It For Me'.

David Bowie - No Plan I've never really listened to David Bowie before, so this was all very new for me but I personally did not enjoy these songs. I'm sure they're good but it's all very not for me.

Sundara Karma - Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect I find Sundara Karma quite uninspiring in general so to say this album was a struggle to get through would be a real understatement. I made it though, and I don't feel as though my life is in any which way better for it.

Follow WIIHAMB's January Library on Spotify here

Tuesday 10 January 2017

Bernhoft - Visceral

Oh my goodness, let me tell you about my first Bernhoft encounter. Way back in 2012 I was at my first Great Escape, it had rained Wednesday through Friday, but Saturday it was sunny and lovely and truly great. I was volunteering that year, and on Saturday my shift didn't start until late but I thought I'd head down for the day because... well, because it was free so why not? I was just on my way past Jubilee Square and there he was, Bernhoft, doing some insane looping and beatboxing and all sorts and I was like, well damn, this guy's good. But apart from 'C'mon Talk' I haven't really paid much attention to anything he's been up to. He even released an EP last year that I didn't even take note of, but that's all about to change.

Bernhoft has released a new single called 'Visceral'. I can't believe that this is an artist who has been putting out music of this standard for year and still isn't globally huge. That's just the way it is, I guess. I'm not sure of a good way to even describe the music that Bernhoft makes, it's pop but heavily electronic and hugely R&B influenced. There's far less obvious looping and vocal sampling going on throughout this track but there is a subtle nod during the chorus which works so well. The general message of the song is cool too; dealing with real issues but not in a condescending or preachy way.

Oh my goodness, his new EP, featuring 'Visceral' obviously, The Morning Comes is released on the 20th January. That's so soon. Cop it.

Joyzu - Running

I heard this song, I thought it was cool, and here we are. Joyzu are a duo from the US of A made up of Carson Wilms and Quinton Pope. I just read that they're both still in school, I don't know what kind of school, like you know in America they refer to "college" as still being school when we're sitting over here being like "no... I think you'll find that's university." Either way, to still be so young and pumping out music of the calibre of 'Running' is pretty cool.

I assume that one of Wilms or Pope does the vocals on 'Running' as there's no credited vocalist and Olivia Reid is featured on their two previous singles. The vocals work really well over this electronic style though, and have a really current vibe. To be honest, Joyzu could go up against some of the planet's hotly tipped electronic duos and give them a run for their money (no pun intended). 'Running' sounds as though it's in a completely different league to those previous singles I mentioned, rad vocal lines, an epic build, a good yet not intrusive drop, if they continue on this path they'll shoot to stardom in no time.

Monday 9 January 2017

Snakehips & MØ - Don't Leave

Despite a myriad of different writers on each single, these past three have done very well at capturing the whole millennial existential crises thing. First Tinashe and Chance whining about how they hate going out and getting drunk, then Zayn on one of the most under-rated songs of 2016 saving love for someone or something, and now MØ being a bit upset about being a fuck-up. Truth is, Karen, you're pretty successful and stuff now, don't pretend you're still like the rest of us.

Let's dive in because I heard you were after some facts when it comes to Snakehip's inevitable new banger, 'Don't Leave'. We're going to talk songwriters. Obviously we have Karen Ørsted herself alongside Snakehips' Oliver Lee (what does the other one do? who knows) but after that things get a lot more interesting. First up is my fellow Croydon local, Raye. Did I not say less than a week ago that she had great songwriting ability inside her somewhere? I think I did. Next up is Joe Janiak is who that guy from Tove Lo's 'Vibes', you know, the song with the best pre-chorus of the entirety of 2016. I've never heard of the other two writers, Davie and Negin Djafari, and they don't seem to have any previous notable works however Djafari is Swedish so that all bodes well. And of course, would a Snakehips single be a Snakehips single if Cass Lowe wasn't in on the production.

As mentioned, Snakehips do this relatable lyric thing quite well and it will probably play quite a big part in this song's inevitable success. Tapping into the self-loathing of young people and being all relatable really works in Snakehips' favour. Alongside that, the best thing about 'Don't Leave' is that there's a real chorus and not just "a drop" which is a welcome change to electronic pop music generally but something that this duo seem to do quite well. With the rise in popularity of "the lyric video" in this day and age, I wonder if we'll see a real music video for this track... I assume we'll have to, right? 'Don't Leave' is performing fairly well on the iTunes chart at the moment but a real video could see it make a surge to the top, I'd say.

SOHN - Hard Liquor

Only four more days until we are graced with SOHN's second album Rennen. To keep us sweet in the ten day lead up to the release of the record we've been treated to new single 'Hard Liquor'. I'll be honest, every time I hear the "My baby don't turn around" lyric my mind jumps straight to Outkast's 'Hey Ya' before being rapidly shaken back to reality with the instrumentation and the line that follows. There's something so chillingly unique about SOHN's production and they way it fits together with his vocals and general songwriting talent.

Although some artists aren't miles away from tracks like 'Hard Liquor', no one else sounds quite like SOHN. Even SOHN doesn't sound like SOHN. Of the four songs we've already heard from Rennen, the title track, 'Signal' and the previously featured 'Conrad', none of these songs sound remotely similar however they band together and flow into one another flawlessly. One of my favourite things about 'Hard Liquor' is the song's progression and that's something that SOHN is really great at. A slower a soulful beginning that almost builds into a dance track with the fast drum beats.

I am also terribly excited about seeing SOHN live at the start of March, I will probably shed multiple tears.

Friday 6 January 2017

070 Shake - Honey

Thanks to Vevo Dscvr's Ones To Watch 2017 list I just heard this song for the first time and to say that I am shook would be a severe understatement. As it finished I was nearly in tears that I had stumbled upon something so fresh and innovative and good for music in 2017.

You know I mean business when the video is at the top of the post rather than at the bottom. 070 are a crew from New Jersey and they are quite legitimately about to turn your life upside down. Fronted by 19 year old Shake, I don't think there's anything that could prepare a human for the music this crew is making. So let's talk about 'Honey'. This track was originally released way back in August but the video above is brand new so like who cares about dates and stuff. 'Honey' appears on 070's album The 070 Project: Chapter One which was released last month. There's an absolute lifetime's worth of material on there and something for everyone, although alongside 'Honey' my favourite tracks were Shake's 'Through The Speakers' and Treee Safari's 'My Niggas', just so you know.

A recount of my first viewing of the 'Honey' video:

So what's going on here? First of all, Shake's vocals are so different, stuck somewhere between singing and rapping, yet still creating these catchy and repetitive lines. But if that's Shake... then who the hell are all these other people? I mean, this backing dancer routine is cool but is that all these three are going to do for the next six minutes?

Enter Ralphy River, the second in command. Another artist who is beautifully lost within this singing to rapping void and he compliments Shake so well. It's at this moment it all suddenly makes sense and I am in my element. The love interest is my honey, she stings like a bee, I don't know how to feel about her, I don't know how she feels about me.

Then in came Hack and I was physically and mentally shook. First I was all, "how dare he turn up without a shirt on" and that rapidly turned into, "oh my goodness, I think I'm pregnant". I think, what I'd refer to as the "middle eight" from Shake is my favourite part of this track. It's fascinating that this track is so exciting and energetic but there's this heartache at the crux of it.

And just as you're on the brink of tears at how incredible this six minute long journey has been thus far, Treee Safari is here to tip you right over the edge. When was the last time you heard that much emotion in one person's voice when they are quite simply repeating the same two lines? More than anything, I'm in love with how much fun the four of them are having in the last twenty seconds of this video. Have you seen a group of people have a better time performing in front of a production crew? Nah, didn't think so.

Here's the studio version of 'Honey' in case you wondered what that sounded like.

Thursday 5 January 2017

Artists I'd Like To See Do Well In 2017

You've seen all those tip lists for 2017 (they're here if you haven't)
And you've heard who my friends think you should lend your ear to this year (it's here if you haven't)
So now it's time for the full list of artists I'd like to see do well in 2017...

I've already spoken about my first three a fair bit, especially if you've listened to that there Podcast, but just in case you're a terrible guy and haven't got around to it yet, here's a little recap. We'll start with Harrogate metal quartet Blood Youth. After supporting the likes of While She Sleeps and Every Time I Die throughout 2016 with their two EPs Inside My Head and Closure in tow, the latter part of last year saw them go into the studio to record their debut album. As undoubtedly one of the UK's most exciting upcoming rock/metal bands, Blood Youth's forthcoming record is likely to expand on the huge chorus meets massive riffs dynamic we've heard on their earlier efforts.

Next up is Dan Caplen, formerly known as D/C, also tipped by Apple Music for big things in 2017. His debut EP Badman released last summer combined classic soul themes with modern R&B. I'll be honest, he's the type of artist I'd take my mum to see to prove that I don't just listen to "rubbish" or "noise". The final of my first three is Leks Rivers who I have spoken beyond extensively about over the last couple of months. He's so fucking good, I implore you to give his debut EP Badlands a listen. So many different influences and ideas packaged into a mere 15 minutes. You won't regret it.

Let's get on with the rest then shall we!


Great band, great guys, great songs, great live... generally just pretty great and probably one of the most likeable bands I've ever come across. I'm not sure exactly what Fours are up to at the moment, but I think it's safe to say we're not too far away from hearing a new single from them. Fours are the kind of band that could fool you into thinking it's Summer during even the very darkest of the Winter months. As I mentioned, they're an absolute hoot live so I would strongly recommend attending one of their real life musical soirees, their first of which is part of Communion's showcase this coming Sunday (8th January).

George Maple

*sharp inhale of breath*... *whispers* We're getting George Maple's debut album this year. YEAH, you heard me. Since the release of her debut EP Vacant Space all most two years ago we've been waiting for something even meatier to get our teeth into and 2017 is our time. Both of Ms. Maple's 2016 singles, 'Sticks And Horses' and 'Lover' allude to a feisty and no holds barred full length, as I'd assume we can expect to see those tracks make an appearance. I can also only pray that Maple makes the short trip over from Australia back to the UK for some shows this year, because that's something we have been severely deprived of thus far.


It's time. I've been stupidly in love with RKCB for a couple of years now. The kind of love that found me crying on late night trains home listening to their debut EP Short Films and then left me pining for more before the release of their latest EP In Contrast. The duo seem to have started a tradition of December releases which, if 2017 is anywhere near as tumultuous as 2016, is something to look forward to. The pair seriously stepped up their game last year with numerous collaborations as well as a short US tour in December. No doubt this year will be much of the same and hopefully they'll make it over to the UK for some dates too.

Astrid S

The most precious rising popstar the world of music could dream of, Astrid S is destined for stardom or at least a Nobel prize. Astrid S had already won we over with her single 'Hyde' at the end of 2015 and even more so with her debut EP release Hurts So Good last year, but it was the videos from her European tour in November that led to me to have my awakening. Not only was she buying her fans in the queues to her shows pizza, and taking them for crepes, she paid for a girl who missed her flight to an Astrid S show to fly to the next show instead. SHE PAID FOR THE FLIGHT. Astrid S is a fully fledged angel. I'd be surprised if we didn't hear any new music from Astrid this year, be it an EP or album. Either way, she's hot on Zara Larsson's heels as one of the most exciting young Nordic artists around.

Anna Straker

I've never posted Anna Straker on WIIHAMB before so she may seem a bit of an odd choice for an artist I'd like to see do well in 2017 but she's got this. Her Facebook page says that she's 19 years old... so she might be but there's always a chance that she's had a birthday and not got around to updating that yet, you can never really tell. Regardless, Straker is young and exciting when it comes to the kind of pop music she's making. She first started kicking up a storm over the summer with her single 'How We Are', a fun party tune for all involved. This track featured on her debut EP released in November alongside title track 'Serious', which really shows Straker's talents. Packed with 90s dance influences alongside catchy vocal lines, do I need to bother even providing an ounce more evidence as to why Anna Straker is one to keep an eye on? Nah, didn't think so.

Wednesday 4 January 2017

The Middle Eight Podcast: Episode 002 - Tips For 2017

Hi everybody, welcome back to The Middle Eight Podcast. First of all I'd like to apologise for the shoddy audio quality this month. It's a lot sketchier for the first ten minutes or so than it is for the rest of the episode. It's still a mystery as to what happened but I've tried to clean it all up as best I can with my limited skill-set. Will try harder to get good next time.

This month I asked my mates Ross Martin, Josie Robinson and Matthew Kent to join me to chat about some of our 2017 tips/artists to watch out for over the next year or so. Give it a listen to hear those as well as anecdotes of Josie's teenage years, Matthew being shaded on another podcast, and our thoughts on Spotify's Year In Music's absence.

Here's this episode's Spotify playlist:

And here's everything else you need to know:

Natalie's Tips

Blood Youth - Four piece metal band from Harrogate set to release their debut album in 2017.
Song to check out: 'Mood Swing' - music video / Apple Music / Spotify
Latest EP: Closure - Apple Music / Spotify

Dan Caplen - London based R&B/soul singer/songwriter formerly known as D/C and also tipped for big things this year by Apple Music.
Song to check out: 'Longing For You' - Soundcloud / Apple Music / Spotify
Debut EP: Badman - Apple Music / Spotify

Léks Rivers - Genre bending urban artist from London making waves after the release of his debut EP a mere month ago.
Song to check out: 'No Rest For The Wicked' - music video / Apple Music / Spotify
Debut EP: Badlands - Apple Music / Spotify

Ross' Tips

Bossy Love - Glasgow duo making off the wall electronic pop meets R&B bops.
Song to check out: 'Call Me Up' - Soundcloud / Apple Music / Spotify

Marian Hill - American duo who released their debut album in 2016 and have recently collaborated with Fifth Harmony member, Lauren Jauregeui
Song to check out: 'Back To Me' - SoundcloudApple Music / Spotify
Debut album: Act One - Apple Music / Spotify

Bishop Briggs - Energetic indie pop artist just announced to play Coachella 2017
Song to check out: 'Wild Horses' - music video / Apple Music / Spotify

Tell Ross what a great guy he is on Twitter and Instagram, and follow him on Spotify

Josie's Tips

Off Bloom - Danish trio now based in London channelling Eastern sounds on their debut EP released back in October
Song to check out: 'Love To Hate It' - music video / Apple Music / Spotify
Debut EP: Love To Hate It - Apple Music / Spotify

Skott - Much talked about Swedish singer signed to Chess Club Records with shows all across Europe lined up for 2017 including appearances at The Great Escape and Eurosonic
Song to check out: 'Wolf' - Soundcloud / Apple Music / Spotify

Pinegrove - New Jersey based indie band signed to Run For Cover Records and set to tour The UK and Europe throughout February/March
Song to check out: 'Aphasia' - Soundcloud / Apple Music / Spotify
Debut album: Cardinal - Apple Music / Spotify

Tell Josie she is a star on Twitter and Instagram, and follow her on Spotify and Apple Music

Matthew's Tips

Pronoun - Indie pop singer/songwriter and great playlist maker from New York
Song to check out: a million other things - SoundcloudApple Music / Spotify
Debut EP: There's no one new around you. - Apple Music / Spotify

Frank Gamble - Hannah Yaddi's new two-piece project creating pop hits and interesting visuals
Song to check out: 'Heart Speaks' - Soundcloud / Apple Music / Spotify

MUNA - Hotly tipped indie pop three piece releasing their debut album on 3rd February 2017
Song to check out: I Know A Place - Apple Music / Spotify
Debut EP: Loudspeaker - Apple Music / Spotify

Please for the love of God follow Matthew's Spotify playlists and follow him on Twitter and Instagram

Thanks so much again to Dan Twining for my little jingle and Joe Parsons-Dorman and Kieran Dickson for the ol' artwork!