so it’s monday and i’m characteristically behind, but y’know maybe this works, maybe you need some good new music on a monday morning to pull you through the week assuming the prospect of sunny evenings isn’t doing that for you already.
i’ve spent most of the last two weeks slogging over work, basking in the warm sunshine with my dog and my pals, and catching up on the marvel movie universe so i could go and see infinity war which was so great and a nice way to round out a decade of superheroes, if only they would stop now before undoing such a great conclusive point with avengers 4. and of course eurovision was on saturday, which as euro-poppy as it can be is a masterclass in music professionalism and produced some great tracks i’ll have forgotten about come friday.
i also wanna take a sec to pay tribute to lead singer of frightened rabbit, scott hutchison. melancholy-tinged scottish indie-rock played as backing to my formative years and frabbit were behind a lot of the soundtrack. two fridays ago passed my friends and i were dancing around to the midnight organ fight album, which continues to stand up as a great album ten years later. a sad moment in music.
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
part 1 (from friday 4th may)
amber mark – love is stronger than pride
a simple, breezy, lounge-singer-sounding track that builds quiet momentum but doesn’t really know what to do with it, little chorus to show for itself and as much as i liked the style it didn’t stand out to in any way.
aquilo – seagull
i had to do a quick pause after seven seconds to check if i’d left a browser tab open or something because there are two things going on at once in this aquilo: a simple acoustic guitar level track with a noisey and obtrusive echoey background. maybe my coffee hasn’t kicked in yet but i don’t have the patience to try and enjoy this.
céline dion – ashes
this song is for the deadpool 2 soundtrack and it’s hard to think of it as anything more than tongue in cheek given the self-deprecating comedy that the first deadpool film is known for. either they’ve opted for a more serious tone to this film or more likely if this song has a prominent feature it’ll be for comedic effect. in any case, dion’s vocal is soaring as it always does. conceptually it’s a little cliché and i doubt it’ll have any commercial impact, but it has that cinematic quality that sounds a little eurovision-eqsue and will sweep you into whatever moment it’s going to be used for in the movie.
charlie puth – the way i am
puth’s album dropped this week, this being the penultimate marker the week prior but i’m all mixed up with being a week behind on reviews. i’d like it on the record that, for the first time i can remember, i actually am enjoying a track from charlie puth. is this a turning point? to be decided. the way i am is a funky, rock infused pop song that ticks enough of the right boxes and i’m sure puth fans will lap up gratefully. it sounds a bit like something i’d expect from the coming era of 5seconds of summer which is not a terrible thing.
christine aguilera, ty dolla $ign + 2 chainz – accelerate
i wanted to like this but i couldn’t. i’m her next lift is a bit more my speed but this is all chaos and i don’t know how to categorise it mentally so i’m not even going to try.
dagny – that feeling when
that feeling when lana del rey and sia got together to pen a track and give it to dagny. this is also reminding me a lot of a song by lissie from a couple weeks ago that i keep getting stuck in my head. i like the way the bass line wraps the music up and stuffs it into my ears, it’s really transporting me out of this nook in my favourite coffee shop, but i can’t help but feel like i’ve heard this already.
dan owen – what is a man
i’ve seen owen play this song twice, that is two times, live and both instances were dripping in melancholy and moody teen angst but lo and behold this trumpeting, upbeat number that i wouldn’t recognise if it weren’t for the lyrics. this is just really… good? it’s got a kinda james morrison love song vibe to it, but with deep killer vocals from owen, and if this isn’t on the soundtrack to reasonably well performing rom com in the next three years then i’ll eat my dang hat. a lovely surprise.
dan + shay – all to myself
a male vocal country tinged folk guitar song needs to needs to have a killer chorus or it’s never going to last past the final note. all to myself is a cute, happy and cheesy male vocal country tinged folk guitar that does not deliver on that choral promise.
dizzy – joshua
is this lorde? am i listening to sigrid? is it possible to listen to a song and not instantly think of an already popular artist? i like the opening lyric “joshua’s a gemini/he broke my heart”, there’s something that just feels write about a line that references a star sign that i can’t understand. joshua has that nice bassy clicky clappy dreamy thing going on that isn’t complicated or unpleasant, but could benefit from a chorus that i can actually get under my skin, which is why it killed me when dizzy sings the line “by the time it’s the chorus you nod and sing along” because i’m sorry hun but i’m not.
emma blackery – agenda
i’ve got to give her props for actually aiming for a chorus and i sort of like that children’s choir spelling out agenda thing that happens, and you know what i was ready to write this off but yeah she gave me a chorus in a musical landscape that is devoid of them, it’s not the best one i’ve ever heard but it’s fun and i like the message and good for you emma blackery and your pedestrian name, i’ll overlook that lily allen talk-sing moments and bliss out in the chvrches sounding moments instead. it’s a yes from me.
enrique iglesias + pitbull – move to miami
there was a small part of me that entertained getting tickets to the glasgow leg of enrique iglesias upcoming tour, but that would say that this song is worth a minimum of 44£ which, i’m sorry but, it’s not. i’ll always hold a little soft spot from the duo, but i’m still recovering from the shrapnel to the earholes i suffered during the latin-pop explosion of last year. i will not be moving to miami.
florence + the machine – hunger
i don’t know that it was about florence’s last album campaign that didn’t land for me, even though i still occasionally revisit third eye and what kind of man there was something that just hit too close to the paloma-faith-buy-my-new-album-from-asda-for-8.99£ that i couldn’t get past because i’m too affected in my musical decisions by my sideways perceptions of marketing campaigns. well, i’m ready to forgive and fill up on some new florence. hunger is easily more commercial than that track she put out for record store day a couple weeks back, it’s not as immediately deadly as kiss with a fist or dog days are over, but she really does know how to deliver that echoey climactic bridge doesn’t she? i’m happy to report that one of the most distinctive voices in modern music is back at it in fine form.
graace – kissing boys
i don’t know how i’m supposed to distinguish graace from the ten or twelve other sigridian dreamy female vocalist that are charging the new music ariwaves with force, which is sad because i do really think kissing boys has the scope to be among the cream of the crop. i love the chorus and how it she does those little vocal inflections, it reminds me of a good birdy song and i’m absolutely going to be putting this on my main playlist.
grace carter – saving grace
i really loved silhouette from carter from earlier this year – everything from her vocal to her aesthetic is on point for me and her songs (all two of them that i’ve heard) are just so considered sounding. there’s no assaulting wall of sound trying to distract me from a lack of tune which is surprisingly common, it’s just captivating, perfectly sung pop. her and only girl are my two future behemoths of this strand of r&b. a very alessia cara thing going on here. also love that the saving grace title can be read in a load of different ways. more! more! more!
henry land – i don’t care
female vocal was not what i was expecting. is henry land a dj? i don’t have internet and can’t check. it sounds like a dj track. not bad but the only i don’t care song that i have time for is still cheryl’s.
isák – in comparison
“this is not a love song to the person i’m in love with” is a lyric that i wish was in a song i was going to repeat over and over because as a line it has such a good hook potential that in comparison made the error if ignoring. sad, generic synth-pop.
jeremy zucker – wildfire
another friend for my all-lowercase-using bandwagon that i’m thinking about dismounting, here we have something that falls somewhere between fireflies by owl city and zayn, which is a meeting of minds that i don’t think anyone really wanted, needed or would ask for after hearing this. there are some nice moments here when the piano gets in a couple of notes and the outro isn’t awful, but i can’t stress how much we need to strike those synth choruses from the record.
jess glynne – i’ll be there
on the whole i like glynne. she’s delivered some of the best upbeat, commercially successful pop songs of the past five years even though from an aesthetic standpoint (which shouldn’t matter that much) i would never even consider going to a jess glynne concert. she’s not got that look, does she? i can’t picture her even though i’m looking at her face on this album artwork. i doubt that this bothers her though, i’ll be there is another methodically constructed upbeat track that delivers a chorus, a bridge and capitalises on her undeniable vocal that i’m unashamedly here for.
jessie reyez – body count
it’s funny how a well placed lyrics can make you stop for a second even if you’re about to lay into someone. “i dodge dick on the daily” which features in this song did that and i had a little smile to myself before getting back to thinking about how much i don’t care about jessie reyez. this has to be the fifth or sixth song i’ve heard from her (features included) and nada. nothing. i don’t care. sorry!
julia michaels + trippie red – jump
did julia michaels forget that the only thing we want from her are carbon copies of her crowning moment: bad liar by selena gomez? that’s why we liked are you from the fifty shades ost! i’m remaining open to michaels but this one is going straight on the dung heap.
kanye west – lift yourself/ye vs. the people
there’s something about old yeezus that i can’t image him sitting in a studio on his lonesome mixing tracks and putting something like lift yourself together. it sounds like something that someone showed him and he stood there nodding his head and was like “yes, this is my sound, i love it, i want it” and just bought it for himself and slotted himself into the last 30 seconds with literal scat lyrics. and then with ye vs the people i can’t help but feel in a world where we have so much poetic, intelligent rap that someone as high profile as west who bills himself as being the prophet can be so obvious. i appreciate how conversational it is, i feel like i’m listening to a debate which is not what i was expecting, as though it’s the beginning of a presidential campaign. the ti feature is strong and they blend together well, so i’m ready to put this on my playlists but i’m not going to shout about it too much. i’d be interested to see how these would’ve been received if west hadn’t gone on that wild depopularising streak of saying uninformed things about slavery and backing donald trump – but i suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that a man who has long been telling us he is a bit effed up and thinks the world is against him has come out as being effed up and turning the world against him. a man to be studied for the ages.
SKIP – lift yourself
SPIN – ye vs the people (starring ti as the people)
lake street dive – good kisser
i just realised that the initial of lake street dive is lsd which added a fun little easter egg, whether intentional or not, to my favourite discovery of 2018. they’re very alabama shakes which i’m always always here for and the lead singer is just glorious. good kisser isn’t their absolute finest effort, but it’s still a strong track with a lot of good vocal moments: a good introduction to them and they just dropped their new album that i’m ready to dig into. a happy boy i am.
leon bridges – forgive you
the problem i have with bridges is that he’s good but i just feel like i’m waiting for that one song that will make me say get fully behind him. forgive you is downbeat r&b with some nice instrumental moments that i didn’t enjoy enough to go listening to again.
marshmello, juicy j + james arthur – you can cry
there’s something about a bunch of men getting together in a room and laying down a track that doesn’t sit right with me in 2018. i’m happy for all their own individual success, i’m a long term fan of james arthur’s debut album but i wish people would stop collaborating for the sake of collaborating. i want to remember singers for their own songs a not associate them with irritating edm choruses. i get that the dj scene rests on the success of a good single and one smash can carry a dj throughout the festival circuit, but i don’t know who thought that this was a good idea.
next to neon – fashion
*1975 influence alert* who are next to neon? i don’t know, i’m without internet and i won’t be looking it up when i do. the album artwork is giving me zayn so i guess there’s some part of me that is telling me that i will like this song, it’s moody and synthy and the echoey chorus isn’t as bad as some of its genre peers, but at the rate i’m consuming music right now it’s not doing enough.
ryan blyth + bb diamond – raise a glass
maybe it’s my small musical mind but i’m getting a mix of girls aloud and jennifer lopez from raise a glass that on paper i should be all over but i can’t find enough in to get behind. maybe if i had some more context, if this wasn’t the first i’d heard from diamond + byth, then i’d feel a fondness to this thumping beat, but that isn’t the case.
shakey graves – kids these days
whether it’s an ironic title or a social commentary, naming a song kids these days isn’t doing you any favours off the bat. i like shakey graves, but only when he/they(?) stay in their acoustic folk lane. this is far too indie-band and not even memorable. skippity skip skip.
shawn mendes – youth feat. khalid
being ever early to the party, i’ve had khalid’s young, dumb & broke on repeat for the past couple of days, so i’m ready to accept him and his music into my life. but would i put him together wish shawn mendes? probably not. do you ever feel like with feature tracks they wanted to make a collaboration happen but only had a finite amount of time to do it in, tried one (1) single time and were like “ok we took so long to get this happening, this will have to do” when it is in fact not happening. i don’t hate it, but there’s nothing grabbing about youth so i probably won’t come back to it until mendes drops his eventual third album.
sia, diplo & labyrinth – genius
i’m so so so here for this collaborative project. lsd. it’s so primary school level of creativity and so clever at the same time, like only serendipity that this would fall into place so nicely. is it any good? initially, it’s not an obviously cohesive hitter, but i think there are enough layers in here and enough individually good moments that i would like to give it a couple more spins and see what it coughs up.
snow patrol – what if this is all the love you ever get?
if snow patrol weren’t already a well established band then no way would this absolute snoozefest be getting any kind of promotion. more like slow patrol.
tove styrke – sway
here was me, sitting in my little nook, poised to champion this song that teased the potential of a huge pop song with a huge, tempo driven chorus but alas, a promising build to a low plateau with an underwhelming view. i’ll bite though, the verses are strong and i’ve written off too many great pop songs for minor technicalities so i’m going to ride the inkling that i could really get into this if i gave it a few more listens.
troye sivan – bloom
i’d heard a lot of buzz about bloom mainly because of it’s subject matter (i’ll let you do your own googling if you don’t know) but it hasn’t delivered on that promise. i want to love sivan, i definitely like him but bloom is simply just fine. there’s a chorus, there’s a beat, it’s a song. i’m sure there a lot of people getting a kick out of it but i’m not one of them.
yogi, maleek berry, ray blk + kid ink – baby
part 2 (from friday 11th may)
aeris roves – feel me
my ears are telling me that this is a zayn song, but i guess that ex-one directioner is the mainstream embodiment of that genre and there is this whole strand of music that i don’t know how to describe except attributing it to that wannabe troubadour. anyway, i like the vibe enough and if i had a playlist that encapsulated this moody branch of r&b then i’d sling it in there, it’s one of those songs that falls in the category of being entirely unobjectionable and i’d never be mad if it came one but i’m not going to seek it out.
arctic monkeys – four out of five
i’d heard only bad things about the new arctic monkeys which didn’t bode well for someone who has enjoyed approximately two (2) arctic monkeys songs, and with a time stamp of over five minutes i was already already itching for it to end before i clicked play. aren’t they renowned for being one of those great live bands? are you really telling me that this is song that is helming this next era? my theory is that they don’t want any new fans and are trying to stop a new swarm of music depraved teens from clinging on to them and preventing their already loyal legion from being able to see them crank out for the thousandth time the song about looking good on the dance floor.
bastille – quarter past midnight
i was all set to lay into the bastille boys when their anti-choral pre-chorus kicked in for jumping on this hideous trend of a slow hook in an otherwise uptempo song. cheeky. this isn’t peak bastille, it’s not as instantly as likeable as say pompeii, laura palmer or bite down, though it does serve their signature sound and pretty well encapsulates that quarter past midnight sound they’re shooting for. deserves a replay and it has got me looking forward to the album.
bonnie mckee – mad mad world
my thing about bonnie mckee is that she has missed her window. she has it there what, a decade ago? she’s been behind a lot of big pop hits that i can’t name because i’m without wifi, some by katy perry i think, but my point being that sometimes it’s better to stay in the writers room (we already have one julia michaels too many) and leave these dated pop numbers to your big artist friends with crumbling careers.
charlie puth – patient
dear music industry moguls, please leave songs like this in the depths of the charlie puth album for charlie puth fans only and don’t peddle this mediocre ballad of mediocrity to the masses via single format so my only memory of it can be “that songs was fine, didn’t hate it” if it even has the gall to cross my mind after this one (and i hope only) listen. amen.
childish gambino – this is america
i don’t consume music visually. i might eventually think about checking out a song’s music video out of curiosity, but i haven’t seen lemonade or beyonce or dirty computer and maybe one day i will engage in the visual album but it’s just not something that sounds like something me in this time of my life wants. i say this because the thing about this is america is that one of it’s strengths is, i’m told, in the video, and i don’t currently have wifi so i can’t spin it as the childish god intended, which is unfortunate because as a casual listener and general fan of donald glover and his musical endeavours i’m not getting anything from this from audio alone. maybe i’ll revisit and tweet about how wrong i was in a couple of weeks time, but for now it’s just kinda forgettable.
christina aguilera – twice
here’s the kicker: this isn’t bad. if i didn’t already know so much about aguilera and her prolific career and this was a cut from an up and coming singers ep i might might be interested in twice for about fifteen seconds before hitting the skip button and listening to one of my new up and coming faves instead. what a waste of talent on such a nothing song. there are exactly zero moments in this ballad that makes me want to sing along which is fundamental to commercial balladry. i need hits, heartbreak or i need you to step back, christina.
courtship. – nice guy
funky, full sounding indie-pop-rock. i like the build to the hook, i like the dancy breakdown but i would prefer more of a chorus so that i would be totally sold on this song. wing and a prayer, i like it, it’s fun and i could see this on a summer mix which i need to get around to making already so i can drive around with my window down.
eliza – alone & unafraid
i only just realised how much eliza née doolittle and jessie ware sound alike, which given the absolute perfection that is the latter’s most recent album glasshouse, anything with this sound that doesn’t hit the lowest of those heights isn’t worth my time frankly. i’m all for eliza making her long-awaited-by-me-and-me-only return but this indulgent bluesy synthy number isn’t it, no matter how gorgeous some of those vocal moments are. the final 60 seconds or so actually picks up a bit and i almost almost uturned but you need to give more than one minute out of four that’s enjoyable to make me want to go back to it.
the fedz – the traveller
the opening verse had me expecting a rap feature but instead we have a lovely gospel backed chorus which sounds like what aloe blacc is trying his hardest to make happen but can’t because of his polarising voice. the fedz, whoever that is, has a lovely tone and a well controlled vocal, the song is structurally basic and ticks those easy boxes so that you can focus on the strength of the chorus. i’m buying it. something in my gut is telling me that i shouldn’t, but i’m buying it.
girlhood – milk and honey
i slung this on the playlist because it shares a title with that quote unquote poetry by rupi kaur whose work i like to take every chance i can to say is empty trash that you have to be emotionally unintelligent to find any joy in. don’t care much for this song, it’s very female 90s hip hop balladry.
greta isaac – undone
five parts haim three parts julia michaels two parts indie-girl, a sprinkle of island pop influence and you’ve got undone. it’s fun, it’s pacey, it’s more interesting than a lot of songs i’ve heard this week which makes it refreshing and i think it’s just cheerful enough that if it came on shuffle i’d ride it out. i kept thinking the “i’m gonna be” refrain was her saying “i’ve gotta pee” which gave me a kick. a pretty little number.
ina wroldsen – remember me
sounds like a eurovision song that i wouldn’t write down as one to remember. it’s not uncommercial sounding but there’s something missing that makes me want to pay it any further mind. go and watch the fantastic disney film coco and appreciate the better, heartbreaking song also titled remember me instead.
james bay – slide
james, honey, you can do better than this. you know how to write a sad song hook, you’ve got fistfuls of them on your first album. did you use them all up? stop resting on the successes of your debut, i want to hear you sing sad songs but i know that you’re capable of more. there had better be a lot more to come than this forgettable, vocally uninteresting track or i’ll be disappointed.
john mayer – new light
i always think that i like john mayer’s music until i hear new john mayer songs and then i remember how much music he has produced and what a tiny percentage of that i actively listened to. what was the last interesting, non-basic sounding, genuinely memorable song that he did? wildfire? the breakdown at around the two minute mark is about the best part of this otherwise by the numbers guitar-funk song.
jungle – happy man
jungle will always and forever go down as one of the best live experiences i’ve had, i don’t even care if i like they’re songs on an individual level because they’re just so much fun. happy man could not be a more perfect title for this classic jungle-sounding summer jam.
kiiara – messy
pop girl fodder. it’s sad because i think there’s a good song in here somewhere, i’d maybe like it with a smokier vocal like selena gomez and a touch more production but it’s just not there.
maisie peters – worst of you
child pedestrian name aside, i am thrilled to be listening to an actually memorable song. the build to the chorus is pretty, it’s a little bit julia michaels sounding but in the times when julia michaels is being good, and even though the chorus itself doesn’t necessarily go off, it takes you somewhere different and i really like that. i also like the fact that you can hear she’s an english girl in her tone which a lot of female vocalists mask. nice one.
meghan trainor – let you be right
i’ve been shamelessly blasting no excuses for weeks now because that was a catchy upbeat banger and say what you will about trainor but she knows her way around a hook. let you be right isn’t nearly as sickeningly endearing as the last single, it’s much more album track which i’m attributing to the funk-laden chorus that from a standpoint of personal preference is ruining. i don’t really care for bass-guitar funk which is too heavy here but that aside not her strongest effort by a long way.
nina nesbitt – the sun will come up, the seasons will change
very atmospheric, but a little repetitive and lacking which is disappointing given how much i enjoyed nesbitt’s last single. it’s smooth and a little bit imogen heap which i’m sure appeals to someone but that someone isn’t me.
noah cyrus + max – team
cyrus the younger has the benefit of holding a recognisable tone which is gold dust in the music industry, and as much as i liked i’m stuck this is a bit too close to the side-of-meghan-trainor-that-i-don’t-care-for sounding. think like i’m gonna lose you but not as catchy. cute enough and her vocal definitely there but i don’t think there’s much of a song here.
rito ora, cardi b, charli xcx + bebe rexha – girls
it was funny how the initial rumblings about this song moved for “this is a good pop song” to “the lyrics are offensive and lgbtq-phobic” so quickly. i’m not going to pick apart the politics at play here in the language of the lyrics, i have no problem with anybody trying to put out a bisexual anthem, and i know i’m not going to agree with everyone’s point of view and experience on it, but i just wish a song would talk about the subject in a way that doesn’t perpetuate it as a taboo or that engaging in same-sex relations needs some liquid courage. “i’m 50/50 and i’m never gonna hide it” is a nice sentiment and good for rita ora but i can’t get on board with this narrative. now excuse me as a i embrace hypocrisy and put this on my current playlist because i can’t argue with how much of a good pop song it is.
ruthanne – take my place
a well sung acoustic r&b pop ballad. it reminds me of a song that i can’t put my finger on. i’m internally griping because there’s not enough of a hook in here to make me love it instantly but props to ruthanne for vocally pretty track, going to revisit it because i think it will definitely benefit from repeat spins.
saarloos – changes
oh this was on eurovision last night wasn’t it? i’m sure it was. i’m mostly remembering it because the shoehorned lyrical predictabilities throughout that you always really get from a non-native english speaker who pens an english language song. uncomplex pop balladry that i didn’t have much time for on the mainstage and still isn’t doing anything for me.
selena gomez – back to you
this is more it ain’t me than bad liar which isn’t a bad thing but i’m yearning for more of the latter. it’s pretty nice, i think i’ll find it hard to play on repeat because it’s a little too like it ain’t me and i rinsed that on my running playlist last year, but it’s very classic selena: smokey tones, some soaring edm chorus work, a nice touch of guitar and layered vocal and i’m into it but as i say, i’ve heard it before so i can’t see it as having a long shelf life.
sia, diplo + labrinth – audio
i’ll save repeating myself what i said about lsd further up this roundup, i think that there’s definitely huge potential for this collaboration project but this isn’t the best that it has to offer. distinctive sia moments, labyrinth sounds great, it’s put together by the numbers, but not a commercial enough hook for this casual listener.
years & years – if you’re over me
i recently listened to communion and it’s such a perfect album and i’m so happy that olly alexander didn’t spout off into a solo career so that years & years have come together again for new music. where sanctify echoed back to debut y&y i get the feeling that if you’re over me is a signifier of things to come and i’m thrilled to say that i’m here for it. it’s fun and light and quirky and i can see colour exploding when i shut my eyes. we are blessed to have this musical trio in our musical landscape.
yonaka – f.w.t.b.
a fucky you anthem with lots of bang bangs and heavy girl rock that is very pretty reckless/the gossip sounding so if you’re into that then by all means.