i write this opening with optimism because i’ve dragged out one of my dining room chairs, plugged in my extension cable and am basking in the sun with my dog. is today a good day for new music? who cares! it’s glorious, i hope you’ve spent as much of it outside as your day jobs have allowed. i feel like every time i’m getting the itch to find more stable work and get back into an office environment the universe serves me a day like this and i’m grateful all over again for the mostly steady freelance work that helps me get by and allows me to bask in these wonderful moments.
i haven’t actively listened to anything apart from no tears left to cry from the new crop last friday, but i mean was there any real need to? maybe i’ll revisit the other standouts in another week or so when i’ve calmed down enough to want to listen to something different. i was so caught up in loving the new ariana grande song that when i spoke about it to someone who flat out doesn’t like her i was in genuine disbelief that this was posible, but for the sake of our ongoing friendship i didn’t press the issue.
there’s nothing i’m super excited to listen to, a couple of albums came out this week that i might spin (anne-marie + janelle monáe) so there’s a couple of twofers on the list because the new music friday playlist couldn’t pick just one to highlight on release day.
and finally, before i get started, here are the links to the spotify playlists:
- the new music reviewed this week
- all the music from all the weeks
- all the songs i told you are worth a spin
- the best songs of 2018
after 6, 5&dime + janine fagan – upside down
if, like me, you organise your playlists alphabetically, meaning any artist with an a initial has to give it to me from the first note and it’s such a treat when you’re grabbed like this. upside down is a funky dancy song-you’ve-hear-before that you might expect to hear during your spin class as the instructor counts you in to a a big push. it’s also the kind of song that if you’d never heard it before and it came on whilst you were mid flow in the club it wouldn’t ruin the good vibe you have going. if only there were a memorable chorus. i would get behind this more, but can’t see it making it on to my main playlist so:
albin lee meldau – i need your love
there’s a nice soulful thing going on here, i’m getting aloe blacc/jamie n commons sounds, which is great, meldau’s tone is really slick but here’s the thing: all i want it a chorus that i’m actually going to remember. is it that hard? i’ve not made music but it’s been done in the past, i know it’s a thing that can happen, so who’s hiding all those sweet sweet choruses?
aloe blacc – brooklyn in the summer
what this song tells me is that aloe blacc has been listening too to much white soul music. seriously, is there a whitewashing sound filter that someone stamped on this song? don’t get me started on the thinness of the concept and the lyrics. a big yikes.
amelia caesar – i think we’re home
female vocalists with acoustic guitars playing slow acoustic music are often such a dry and dreary affair, so it is a rare treat to feel captivated from such an understated song. this feels like the scene in a tv show when someone is secretly musically talented and nobody else knows until the big talent show and they start playing and everyone gradually falls silent and listens. there’s a subtle rise of passion that creeps into caesar’s voice and builds into an alt-crescendo that has you hanging off of every word.
anne-marie – cry/trigger
i only recently got aboard the anne-marie train, her voice has a nasally quality that i didn’t like on rock-a-bye or ciao adios, which were both inarguably catchy so i can see why she’s become as prominent as she is – honestly, last year i was too busy stanning dua lipa to care about anyone else. for me, friends was a reset button that made me go oh i see what she’s about now, i get it. her album dropped and these were the two tracks offered up on the nmf playlist. cry, which took the top spot, is a glistening, stratospheric number that sounds like the song she should open her concert with. trigger is a bit poppier and feels more commercial and i think will stick with me longer. i’m irked by the lack of a big chorus on either track, she’s a big singer why doesn’t she do some big singing here? in any case, i’ll be listening to her new album in the next couple of days.
blossoms – how long will this last?
i don’t think a band like blossoms will ever really be for me. how long will this last? is a nice glittery indie-pop-rock song that feels very pre-00s high school disco with someone on the key-tar, guys with long floppy hair and girls in puffy dresses. a song for people who liked to dance but have absolutely no rhythm so just close their eyes, gradually spill the contents of their plastic cup down their arms and just sort of shake up and down, move different parts of their bodies, and bob their heads.
bobi andanov – faithful
i stand by andanov and i will continue to listen to his new releases, but i think he needs to find a more accessible genre to occupy. i don’t think his husky vocal fits this bass laden type of song, i definitely think he can sing well and his falsetto is lush, but i just don’t care for this at all. do you still love me is still his best song in my eyes and ears, and even though i can sense similarities i feel like he’s taken a wrong turn.
a boogie wit da hoodie – right moves
the xylophone sound will never not remind me a little of the rugrats them song, but i can see why it works in this style of rap because it’s light and makes me feel warm and summery. right moves is pretty basic, it doesn’t strike me in any way, i wouldn’t be like “you have to hear this track” but it would fit nicely in a sunny days easy listening playlist.
hatchie – sleep
90s dreampop in it’s most glorious form. from the get go the idyllic instrumental sweeps you in and transports you to that hazy teenage fantasy you remember from all the movies, capturing that feeling of tipsy merriment where you sway and hold your drink in the air forgetting all those troubles for a couple of minutes.
janelle monáe – i got the juice (feat. pharell)/so afraid
i was planning to save listening to anything else from monáe until i experienced her new music it in it’s visual album form but temptation is too great so i’ll save that mini motion picturefor another day. two lifts from it rightfully found there way onto the nmf playlist: the pharell featuring i got the juice and so afraid. the former is a bouncy piece of modern funk-pop that leans more on the pop influence. pharell is a good choice of feature as his light vocal doesn’t put anything unnecessarily harsh into the track, the lyrics are unfiltered, fun and just joyous and this definitely falls towards the single territory than album filler. so afraid begins as a rock vocal track, makes you feel like building into a high calibre synth-like chorus but doesn’t fall over that modern cliché line and instead gives you a long vocal crescendo that eases out at the last minute. i’m intending to return to dirty computer in full visual album review and a definitely excited to relive both whenever i do.
SPIN i got the juice
SKIP so afraid
jason mraz – have it all
there’s something undyingly nice about jason mraz, and even on the heart-wrenching likes of i won’t give up his positive persona shone through. in general i think he’s good sunday morning cooking playlist music with rare standalone exception. have it all is a simple, cheerful love song that is predictably mushy and isn’t memorable enough to warrant repeat attention.
keir – sadboy
i don’t think i necessarily agree with the bbc review that he’s an artist who will change everything. i’m not here to criticise his talent, i think his vocal is actually pretty nice, but he falls in that very james morrison/james bay/james arthur lane that really needs a big breakout hit for anyone to make time for the rest of his music. i think there are some nice bassy sections of sadboy that i feel like i could’ve gotten into if it weren’t for the fact that i’ve heard this song a dozen times by a dozen different people already.
keith urban + shy carter – my wave
after his julia michaels collab and looking at shy carter’s popular writing credentials (charlie puth’s one call away) i’m making the assumption that nice guy urban enjoyed working with lyricists so much and wanted them to share his spotlight. my wave is pretty much any other keith urban album track that had the country teased away from it and left an alright but forgettable pop-rock song slash an x-ambassadors track with some island pop influences.
lily moore – lying to yourself
i covered a lily moore song a couple weeks back and it bears rementioning that i saw her as a support act twice in under ten days. i actually remember lying to yourself from both of her sets, it showcased her vocal power which i think the recorded version doesn’t fully capture, but if it weren’t for the fact that i remember it i’d call it forgettable. reminds me of something amy winehouse might’ve put on one of her albums. it’s the kind of thing that isn’t bad but i don’t know when i would ever listen to it.
lost frequencies + james blunt – melody
it took me a while to come around to lost frequencies’ chart topping are you with me from a couple years back and listening to this james blunt feature i’m trying to figure out if melody is even a different song? the vocal patterns, the overall progression and almost everything feels like a carbon copy of their previous breakout smash hit. i can only assume lost frequencies is hoping to recapture his past success but is this something anyone really wanted? not bad but just not new.
mason ramsey – famous
looky look it’s the yodelling kid. there’s something beautifully horrifying about how quickly a record company can turn around an internet meme sensation into what they’re hoping will be a genuine-sounding recording artist. nothing against ramsey, he’s probably a sweet kid and i’m happy he’s found a wave to ride, but this is just very generic country song that wouldn’t make any impact without his viral yodelling background. also, there’s something kind of jarring about hearing a kid singing about wanting to be “famous for loving you”.
matt cardle – i’m not letting go yet
the matt cardle album i can only assume about eleven people were aware of/excited about dropped on friday and i’m not letting go is exactly the kind of generic pop-rock-electronic fodder you’d expect from a white male thirty-something x-factor winner over seven years into his career assuming he hasn’t made the leap into soap acting. i’ll admit i wasn’t going to be very open to this song before it played but i’m happy to report that my instinct held up.
needtobreathe – darling
the thing i love about needtobreathe is how authentic the vocal always sounds. there’s no overproduction, there’s not too much country, not too much rock, not too much blues, just a perfect balance of everything and channeling that into a slow guitar driven ballad like darling is a moving experience. there is a genuine, heartfelt emotional build that comes from years of experience and leaves you feeling comforted up until the final moments. i’m hoping and praying that they come back to the uk again for their next album campaign so i can wrap my ears around a live acoustic performance of this.
plan b – mercy
i was ready to give up on plan b, but doing my quick clickthroughs something about mercy took a hold of me. for the first 70 seconds i thought mercy was going to turn my opinion around, but then the chorus hit and it all just became too chaotic. some elements in there that i really liked, but the thumping edm chorus just threw it all off kilter and i was ready for it to end.
post malone – better now/stay
i don’t know a lot about post malone, but he is apparently the 6th most listened to artist in the world via spotify so i suppose that warrants some attention. the main hook in better now is the kind of thing i’d at most expect to hear as a featuring bridge rap verse on someone else’s track and stay is a bizarre pivot into a hazy guitar ballad. his voice has an ok roughness to it, but you’ve heard armfuls of people do it better. i don’t know if it’s because i’ve not trained myself to like this specific genre of rap/r&b but there’s something inherently basic about it. it’s just not captivating in any perceptible way, there’s nothing interesting here and i honestly don’t know who is listening to this?
ruel – dazed & confused
we had bieber, we had mendes, and here from australia comes ruel, so listen up. like a moodier version of the original vine pop-rock star, dazed & confused actually reminds me of something that baby driver ansel elgort has been giving out, but with youth on his side i’d like to predict that this 15 year old australian will gather his legions and begin his assault on the global charts. this track is a good starting point, not the song that will launch his international career, but the one that is making me say: yes, here is someone whose name you will know.
twin shadow + rainsford – sympathy
we love a string section in this house. twin shadow is someone who is currently sitting on my periphery and i’m willing to invest some time in him after discovering that his new album has just dropped. i can’t describe what i like about it just yet, i’ll need to go through it with more of a comb but there’s definitely something. maybe a little post malone-ish but if he were more interesting to listen to. i don’t think that sympathy is a standout but it’s got me intrigued.
zhu + joy. – stormy love, nm.
use of bird noises: check. a good one minute build: check. smokey vocals: check. a nice moody way to round out this weeks crop of new music. songs like this were made to be listened to. so many layers. put your headphones and feel every beat, you won’t regret it.