Monday 19 June 2017

Hot Singles In Your Area #1: FTSE, FARR, Janine

Well... this is new. AND HILARIOUS. We all know I don't actually enjoy writing so here we have a simple way for me to tell you about songs that are good by artists who are also good in an easily digestible and succinct manner. I used to do something similar last year but it wasn't half as witty as the title is now.

FTSE feat Shola Ama and Donae'o - Work U Out

Upon seeing Shola Ama's name alongside any track there's a pretty pre-conceived notion (for me, at least) of what that song is going to sound like. I was therefore surprised given Sam Manville AKA FTSE's previous works but also intrigued given said previous works. Manville in his FTSE guise alone has seamlessly transitioned between different pop and electronic sub-genres that it should really come as no shock that he's able to pull off this garage-esque track. I definitely don't believe it's something that an artist like FTSE strives for, but this is possibly the most commercially viable track that he's put his name to. Donea'o's verses are extremely tolerable on 'Work U Out', which is a pleasant surprise in itself too. Also, very strong summer vibe. Would recommend for literally right now.

FARR - Blades

This was a Bastien Rayno recommendation. I think I'd quite like a soundbite like off of MySpace songs that bands didn't want people ripping that just says "A Bastien Recommendation" every time one of these songs happens. I read somewhere that FARR are from London but that is not strictly true; in fact the duo are split across the Atlantic, which given their sound with a typical American R&B style vocal blended with sleek UK grounded production makes a lot of sense. 'Blades' is the pair's second single and it's far darker and weightier than their debut 'Down', but it definitely gives FARR an edge over their peers. This songs also has an absolutely stellar middle eight that breaks all the rules by not leading into a final chorus.

Janine - Unstable

I'm always a little cautious of artists using just their first name as their stage name. Where will I find you? How will I find you? How do I know you are you? Well, I sent a link to Janine's new single 'Unstable' to Matthew (you know, this guy) who informed me that Janine used to perform under the name Janine and the Mixtape. My smugness then quadrupled when I found a comment from renowned blog Disco Naïveté from four years ago saying that they didn't think Janine was "in it for much". Imagine hearing this new single now and being that wrong about a person. 'Unstable' is absolutely everything I love about a female pop/RnB singer/songwriter. Everything. Emotion, attitude, relatability, and a sultry as fuck contrasting middle eight section. Yes. Please. Slay me. Janine.

Saturday 17 June 2017

Last Fortnight's Releases Today: Sisters Are Doing That

It's Wednesday evening and I'm as curious as you are as to whether there will actually be a post below this come Friday. In quite a peculiar twist of fate, ladies are showing their superiority not only in UK Parliament this week (shout out to The Gal, Diane), but also this month's releases thus far have been dominated by females. And the stuff they're churning out is good too.

As you're aware by now, The Library:

I didn't particularly like Allie X pre-'That's So Us' but that really won me over and CollXtion II is a good listen overall with 'Casanova' being an extreme highlight. Amongst an ocean of singles and 17 tracks I was extremely skeptical about Dua Lipa but this album by and large is super fun. It's been such a long time in the making that everybody had every right to think it would be an underwhelming slog but that's not the case at all. If there are any further singles from it, which I don't doubt there will be, 'New Rules' has got to be up there. Another album that I forced myself to have an open mind for was Halsey's hopeless fountain kingdom, and I'm glad I did because some of these tracks, 'Walls Could Talk' and 'Bad At Love' in particular, pack a lot more punch than anything did on the first album. When you look past how pretentious everything about Halsey is, there does seem to be some light at the end of the tunnel.

In stark contrast we have Katy Perry who has churned out an absolute waste of a record. I thought I liked three songs on Witness but it's rapidly transpiring that 'Roulette' is the only track on there worth re-vising. I was really looking forward to RIVRS The Berlin Mixtape based on the two singles 'Man Of My Dreams' and 'Bad Karma' but unfortunately that too did not live up to expectations. Bea Miller released a new EP called chapter two: red. I listened to it once and decided two of the songs were okay but I literally don't have time for "okay" this month, you know? I have found the lead single from the latest Major Lazer EP, 'Know No Better', featuring Travis Scott (...), Camila Cabello (eye-roll), and Quavo (kill me), surprisingly enjoyable. The rest of the EP was a bit "typical Major Lazer" and I was not interested. Both the Marlene EP and the SZA album took me quite a while to get through but I've still picked out some of the good ones from there so all is not lost.

Tuesday 13 June 2017

Underrated: Big Boi - Mic Jack

Let me tell you a lil something about Big Boi: He out here creating hits and none of y'all pay any damn attention every single time. It's a heartbreaking state of affairs that I am straight up over. Obviously we're all familiar with Big Boi's output during the Outkast era, especially during the Speakerboxxx/The Love Below cycle, most notably on 'The Way You Move' and his verse on'Roses'. But even with the high profile attention that those tracks garnered, 'Hey Ya!' was (and is still) such an astronomical international success that Big Boi's works almost got left behind.

Fast-forward to 2010 and 17 year old me is at a stage in my life where I am heavily invested in predicting the next big hit. That was back in a time where things could be anticipated long before tracks were actually released physically and/or digitally. It was also a time when I was becoming extremely invested in Radio 1 specialist shows. There was this new single from Outkast's Big Boi and I'm not sure I've ever heard Zane Lowe back something as hard as he backed 'Shutterbug'. And I was with him. "This is it", I thought. "A summer smash like no other." It wasn't. It did peak at number 13 in the UK singles chart which I was surprised to learn the other day, but it deserved so much more. But here we are, seven years on and things don't really seem to have changed much for Big Boi.

Back in April Big Boi released a pair of new singles to launch the campaign for his forthcoming album, Boomiverse, scheduled for release this week. Now, you see, I don't believe in releasing more than one single at a time because I think it makes the campaign messy and both songs are never going to be equal amounts successful, however, 'Kill Jill' and 'Mic Jack' (title-wise at least) go hand in hand. These two tracks are pretty drastically different in terms of sound though, whilst 'Kill Jill' featuring Jeezy and Killer Mike takes a more straight up rap/hip hop route, 'Mic Jack' is a second chance at that summer smash. Or at least, it was. With Adam Levine on the chorus and unnamed female vocalist all over the outro, this is Big Boi doing possibly his best pop effort ever. But this song has been out for two months now and ain't nobody giving a fuck, which is something I find quite appalling. "Out the oven 'cause we never microwavin'". Why are you sleeping on this, universe? I don't understand. Justice for Big Boi and the Boomiverse era immediately. I will say that I'm fairly upset that the outro is just cut from the video version of the song, but it's legitimately one of the highlights. Also why isn't this female vocalist credited? There is no reason for her to be anonymous in this day and age.

Tuesday 6 June 2017

Emily Vaughn - Mood

(I know this has been knocking around for a little while now but I've been busy doing nothing.)

Emily Vaughn first appeared in the Blogosphere two years ago with her debut single 'Hollow'. At the time I was very impressed with the 19 year old's first track and I claimed that she had "the pop formula sussed". Whilst that definitely wasn't untrue in 2015, if released now 'Hollow' probably wouldn't stand a chance amongst other rising female pop types. The other two singles released between then and now, 'Better Off' and 'Think Twice' are equally good pop but not groundbreaking, which to be honest, had me a little worried... but fear not, Vaughn is back and better than ever for 2017.

In fact, 'Mood' is not only the best song to eye-roll to so far this year, but also the best song to side-eye scowl to. Those two things are very important to me, especially when having to deal with fuckboys in a similar vein to the scenario laid out in the track's lyrics. The problem is, it's June 2017 and I'm really over the word "sassy" but if we can pretend that it didn't become the overused internet term that it is... it's very much what I'd like to describe 'Mood' as, and it really hits the ground running. There's something about solitary finger clicking that screams attitude and control and domination, which is actually nuts that all of those things come from a snap. And from then on through the next three minutes the attitude is relentless. Has anybody ever been as over an ex as Emily Vaughn is right now? I think not.

Can I also give praise to the dance routine section of the video during the middle (not sure if it's) eight please, because I love that.

Monday 5 June 2017

Last Month's Releases Today: Just Another Manic May

Hello everybody, I thought it would be a really good idea to try and go to four festivals in five weeks alongside a full time job (which I've just passed my probation on btw, hello, I'm a fully fledged member of Domino Records (technically Double Six Rights Management but #yolo) now!) and attempted to preview a load of stuff. All of that has been way time consuming so this has fallen by the way-side. I actually haven't posted on here since pre-TGE and although it wasn't all that long ago, it feels like an age.

Running through everything good and bad I've listened to over the past four weeks seems like a ridiculous and boring idea, so here is my May Library and some highlights from the recent period.

I spoke about the Airling album last time I did this, you can read that here, and it has fast become one of my favourite records of the year so far. I was very much looking to Christopher's new album but it is such a hot mess for the most part that I'm glad I'm not actually writing more than this about it. I very much have got back in to skater punk via the new Gnarwolves album, to the point where I might even commit to seeing them live some time soon. My good ol' Twitter mate JMR released his new EP Boyish, which is essentially an album in terms of length, and it might take a couple of listens to get the feel of it but it's worth the effort. I really wanted to like more of the Paramore album than I did but I just don't think they nail the pop stuff as well as they think they do. And finally, my Queen, Mabel McVey put our her first EP Bedroom a couple of weeks ago and now we can all listen to 'Talk About Forever' comfortably.