sorry i’m late, it took me a while to even think about listening to anything new since i heard cheat by emily burns which is a real and true anthem for the modern era. it’s simplistic and on the nose and it doesn’t hold for any bullshit, and it is presented in such a fun and non-angry way, what a refreshing time to be alive. last week just got away from me so i decided to double up because my feeling is that you’re more likely to read one blog post than two, right?
on a personal note, i might be getting some real life unpaid work for an established music website which is exciting but i don’t want to get ahead of myself and say what it is yet, so if i don’t mention it again then take that as it not having panned out.
i don’t know how many more times i can tell you to listen to cheat by emily burns although i should probably say that last week also had some other good new songs, including but not limited to feeling you by glades and longer than i thought by loote feat. the one and only joe jonas. also, i listened to james bay’s new album and it had some nice stuff on there so i’ve mellowed and accepted this new turn of his + also kanye’s new album(?) i begrudgingly really enjoyed.
anyway, i’ll get to it then, shall i? here’s the links to the 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 – songs from friday 1st june
the 1975 – give yourself a try
the 1975 are a good example of how the success of music is built on creating dedicated fanbases wow what a profound and insightful thought iain you should try and be a music journalist. don’t get me wrong, i’ve liked a bunch of their singles (ugh!, the sound, chocolate) but i don’t honestly think of their sound as anything better than the other synth-pop bands that are out their peddling their own stuff. give yourself a try is fine, it’s got a good beat and it’s very sweet-sixteen sounding. i know front man mat healy pours a lot of himself into songs, i’m sure there’s a lot of emotional depth here but i’m not really one to delve into lyrics unless the lyrics catch my ears, and i just tuned this out. i’m sure the all the hundreds of thousands of fans out there will slurp this up as another slam dunk, so i’ll give this a tentative tick for relistening, but not totally grabbed on the first play.
the academic – better (the abbey road sessions)
when i heard fake id earlier this year it was a surprise earworm in a very “you’re sixteen and trying to live your best life drinking alcohol in any way possible” good vibes kinda way, so i wasn’t expeting something credibly nice and heartfelt from the academic. better has emotion seeping from every single note, the hook is gentle and sweet and grips you for the whole song – will it get repetitive? i don’t know – and if i were such the person to have a sad love songs playlist then this would take the new top spot.
albin lee meldau – bounce
the only question you need to ask is: does this song bounce? the answer: no it does not. this is very aloe black, john newman new-wave-soul-that-nobody-really-likes and i’m tired of it. what this genre needs is a real band behind it to make me care, i don’t care about you’re voice i want to hear some good instrumental breakdown or something extra i’m b o r e d.
all saints – love lasts forever
i was too young or too unaware to know about all saints when they were in their prime so i can’t treat any of their comeback era with any nostalgia. i like the chorus, it’s fun and throwbacky, the bridge gains some traction and i’ve got a very abba feeling about it all, the echoey vocals are pretty and engaging. but four a four minute song at least half of it was just uninteresting and i don’t care.
anne-marie – leave (get out) – spotify singles
it’s good to hear an actual stripped down showcasing of anne-marie’s vocals because she’s actually a very good singer and that gets lost in some of her pop anthems. leave feels a little cliché laden, i reckon she probably wrote the lyrics in about fifteen minutes, but that aside it’s pretty pretty. i’m not one to listen to studio recorded acoustic music often, it wouldn’t sit right in my current playlist so this is probably the one and only spin this gets from me, but that’s not a knock.
catherine mcgrath + hunter hayes – didn’t let me forget
i said this when mcgrath’s last song came out: she’s doing the country thing that taylor swift did well and took her to where she is now. i’ll not proffer to know a lot about country music, for all i know there are a bunch of similarly-styled female country singers, but that doesn’t negate the fact that this is a really lovely love song. it’s understated and hunter hayes feels more like a genuine organic part of the song since it’s more of a backing vocal than a guest verse and i’m into it.
charli xcx – 5 in the morning
this was more of an out-of-interest-because-boys-was-such-a-slam-dunk listen than an any actual desire to hear from charli xcx listen. there’s nothing glaringly bad about this, it’s a perfectly listenable song and i wouldn’t be shocked to see this doing well stateside, but this bassy r&b is not for me.
drake – i’m upset
i am still not into drake, but i did give this the full the and a half minutes so you can’t say i’m not trying a little.
j hus – dark vader/dancing man
j hus dropped a little ep and not one but two tracks showed up on the nmf playlist so i was intrigued and happy to discover that this is a very accessible rap-reggae collection. i was listening to a podcast this morning about the new kanye music that said ye is in tune with keeping his music accessible on an immediate level so that you can connect with it quickly, and i’m getting that from both of these tracks from j hus. big summer vibes.
jack river – limo song
river, real name holly rankin, was behind the dreamy synth-pop song ballroom which i thoroughly enjoyed earlier this year and the more i listen to this genre the more i realise i need a dedicated playlist because there’s so much of it and it’s all so rich. i wouldn’t say that limo song is quite as exciting as her last effort, but it definitely fits the fodder bill and if i put my money where my mouth is and make the aforementioned playlist this will be dropped into it.
james arthur – you deserve better/at my weakest
arthur is such a touchy subject for a lot of people and i definitely liked him at all the wrong times. his first post-x-factor album was a favourite of mine, i loved a lot of stuff on there but there were those infamous homophobic comments hanging over it that made everyone whose opinions i respect put him in the bin. cut to 2016 and he rises from the ashes thanks to a man who can’t be moved rip off that people who have short memories and don’t care about the politics of a musician as long as the music is easy and catchy propelled to the chart summit and the consumer consciousness. i never got around to listening to album number two because it had been tainted by the syco label re-sign and by that point i’d lost interest, but here we are, arthur has not one but two new songs and i’m suckering in to give them a spin. you deserve better feels very chart friendly and of-the-moment, i could definitely hear shawn mendes singing this with that sad-but-club-friendly thing. i like the bass-guitar in the pre-chorus and the way arthur’s vocals break down. sure, the talk-singing thing is becoming a little overdone, but arthur was there doing it back in 2012 on the x-factor so you can’t say he’s jumping on a bandwagon. at my weakest is a soulful ballad which is arthur has no trouble selling. it’s by no means his strongest and i’m not in hate with it. bottom line, if his pr team do some good marketing then i might get on board with james arthur iii.
SPIN – ydb
SKIP – amw
kingdm, soran + reo cragun – your love
i thought for a second this was a years & years song because whichever of the three artists billed on this track is taking the lead vocal sounds very like olly alexander. your love is a bit funky, a bit moody and structurally by the book. there’s some subtle vocal backing that is giving me very a touch of early noughties boybands and the hook is repeated enough times that i think i just might give this one another go.
lady leshurr – black panther
“i’ll be at your door like a delivery from asda” is a fantastic line. i don’t think leshurr is for me, but lyrically this is definitely fun and worth listening to, her rapping style is really engaging and i like the “wakanda forever” fadeout, just not something i’d listen to on the day to day.
lily allen – lost my mind
for someone as prolific as lily allen, this feels quite safe, and i’m actually pretty here for it. the music itself really stuck out for me from the getgo because it’s a nice mix of reggae music and dream pop which i didn’t think would come together but surprisingly did. i could’ve used a more exciting chorus or something, this song is very much resting on the strength of the verse and allen’s vocals, so i know it’s not something i’ll listen to again but i enjoyed it well enough.
lykke li + aminé – two nights
it started off strong and i had a good feeling that this would be a healthy addition to my running playlist, lykke li’s sultry vocal is reminding me minogue comma kylie, and i like the disco-y elements to it, aminé’s verse is short and sweet, but it never really comes to anything so colour me disappointed.
mallrat – groceries
from the intro my tiny brain who knew nothing of mallrat was expecting male-fronted indie-rock, so instant nice surprise. it’s falling a little into that dreampop genre that i’m enjoying but there are definitely fingers in other pies and the production is just stunning and well layered. conceptually simple and relatable, a very natural sounding talk-singing bridge – i can safely say that this is the best track i’ve heard so far this week.
SPIN SPIN SPIN
maroon 5 + cardi b – girls like you
i go into so many new maroon 5 songs feeling hopeful but i rinsed their moves like jagger era so deeply and intensely that every time i hear adam levine’s vocals my bodily reaction is nausea. there isn’t too much falsetto so i can forgive it a little and cardi b is here with another home run, the hook is quite sweet and i’m mildly pleased to report that for the first time in a long time i’ll be playlisting a song by the five maroons.
mnek + hailee steinfeld – colour
if we’re talking about earworms, then mnek holds the top spot with tongue, which did not deserve the tepid commercial response it received. colour is less of a hit off the bat, it feels a little too generic and riding on the coattails of the latin/island pop explosions of recent times. i can see it doing well because you’re average music listener is really just looking for slight rehashings of the same thing over and over. steinfeld could be anybody which rebears the question i always think: “what was the point”? a cheerful, summery but uninspiring tune.
pete yorn + scarlett johansson – iguana bird
yes that is the one and only black widow serving vocals, which led me to discover that this is far from johansonn’s first foray into music. she collabed with yorn before and in 2015 she formed a band with the haim girls, interesting no? anyway, iguana bird is an instrument heavy duet that i would expect as part of an indie movie soundtrack, the leading lady offers up some nice vocals and whilst i won’t listen to this again i am not mad that i heard it.
samm henshaw – how does it feel?
i’ve managed to see samm with two ms henshaw twice, once as james bay support and once as the headliner, and the latter show was a surprisingly fantastic night for something i booked on a whim. he’s such an energetic performer and i left king tut’s feeling genuinely elated about life. how does it feel? is a slightly by the numbers contemporary soul song, it’s not setting me on fire, but it is serving as a nice reminder that henshaw still exists and i’m already setting money aside for those tickets.
shake shake go – come back to me
the opening “come on” had me holding my breath for a very showy, broadway, jessie-j-esque vocal, and though that instinct was proven, come back to me is a really fun, high energy indie-pop track. i can see this creeping into my consciousness and becoming a fav since i’m a big sucker for a unflinchingly happy song. give yourself a lift by giving this a spin.
st vincent – fast slow disco
fast slow disco is literally a reworked, uptempo version of slow disco from her album last year, and just well done st vincent for not overcomplicating it. it’s very disco, very robyn, there’s a pleasing choir backing and this feels like a contemporary take on an eighties banger. a real smash, thank you anne erin clark for being a talented and astute artist and giving us this gem.
SPIN SPIN SPIN
trophy eyes – you can count on me
we like yelly punk rock music in the house and so we were feeling very very optimistic after the opening chants. the lyrics are very teen-age friendly “some of my friends sell drugs/but i just sell sad songs/to the ones that feel alone”, the lead vocal is engaging and energetic and he sounds like he needs to clear his throat a little but if i were 16 again and had had any musical influence on my friends then i would’ve forced this upon them til we all screamed it at the top of our lungs.
weezer – africa
this is off the back of some 14 year old seeing if she could get weezer to cover africa and lo and behold here it is. it doesn’t rival toto’s original, but i like that they played along with the meme and delivered.
part 2 – songs from friday 8th june
alexis ffrench – moments
it’s kind of lovely and refreshing that something that is just pure piano is on the new music friday playlist, no? even if it was 58th out of 70 on the list. i’m super glad this was here to ease me in because i ran a friend to the airport this morning and my eyes are already burned out from concentrating so i just closed them and blissed out. if you’re looking for some piano music to put on and work on something or read or just have a lovely relaxing time to then i can wholeheartedly recommend this and, presumably, ffrench’s back catalogue. beautiful.
amy shark – don’t turn around
i saw a video of someone saying how popular female vocal styles have progressed from the oversinging full-of-licks antics of xtina and jessie j to a more breathy, guttural selena gomez-ish tone. shark is what australia is offering us in this latter trend, and the best i can say is unobjectionable. maybe i’ve just heard to many of these now, or maybe i’ve heard better (cheat by emily burns) but whatever the case this was bleakly forgettable.
becky hill – sunrise in the east
the only successful act from the voice uk ever who didn’t even make the top 4 on her series (the first and arguably only interesting one) has been putting out lowkey bangers and the people aren’t paying much attention!!!! from a selfish point of view, i’m hopeful that she tours in small venues and i can hear her live in a comfortable setting. this is another moody clubby slightly sexy pop track and i’m into it but in listening to it i’ve just realised how similar she sounds to dua lipa, doesn’t she? i’m growing tired of lipa (my own fault for rinsing her music when she was still on the rise) and i like the more raw tone that hill has but i’ll be interested to hear if the people will back it.
bülow – you & jennifer
my brain is too sleepy to make the connection as to who this sounds like so if someone could help me out that’d be great. i’m kinda into this i-know-what-you-did-go-f*ck-yourself thing that i’ve heard a fair bit of of late so the “you and jennifer/i know that you’re out with her/got pretend that your just friends/i’ll pretend that i’m not hurt” chorus has got me sipping my coffee and giving knowing looks to the brick wall behind my laptop. i’m bad at genres, what is this, synth pop? it’s short, it’s got some ufo and laserbeam noises which are fun, it’s catchy as hell and i love it.
chelcee grimes – just like that
grimes (no not that one) has been writing songs for other artists for a while, including some dua lipa tracks and louisa johnson’s ironically titled so good which has made itself so so so obvious here. this is a little fun i guess, but it’s that strain of clicky song you’d expect to hear in a musical from some mean girls in the primary school playground that i’m ready to bin after fifteen seconds. sorree chelcee not today.
dagny – used to you
dagny is one of the scandipop girls i am fully on board with and excited about, she seems so seasoned already, her voice isn’t that everywhere-whispy-breathy thing that so many female vocalists are doing and i seem to think about once every fifteen seconds, it’s just good genuine singing. very chvrches vibe, synth pop echoey gorgeousness. oh, and there’s an actual chorus and bridge and everything that my brain can connect to after one listen and i’m so so pleased to hear something genuinely good that is making me excited about music this afternoon.
dan caplen + ms banks – trouble
i’ve got caplen all woven together with mackelmore now after these days and that plinky piano intro had me fully expecting a verse from mr haggerty, but no. i adored flat champagne from caplen last year, it was my one of my songs of the summer and definitely his high point so far. trouble is pretty nice so i’m not here to fault it, it feels like one of the misfire singles that always comes between the number one feature spot but before his big commercially successful single as a lead artist. ms banks is a nice but uninspired inclusion, it’s not making me like it more but i suppose i don’t like it any less. sorry, my hopes were higher, and i’m going to give this another spin or two but i’m not sold just yet.
deaf havana – sinner
i like it when rock music gets some attention on the release radar, from a commercial singles-for-the-radio industry it’s a dwindling genre, but i’m always here for it. overall sinner is well put together pop punk, not an immediately grabby chorus so i can see this fading away for fans only, a nice bridge and stripped back ending that would do well in a live show and get everyone clapping and a showcase that there are still viable, accessible quote unquote rock bands out there.
girli – day month second
i got distracted by an email and some twitter notifications whilst this was playing but when i zoned back in i realised i was in the midst of an absolute banger. fun, full of energy, would have me feeling on top of the world if it came on intheclub.
hmltd – pictures of you
rock music on the nmf playlist part ii, a little heavier this time with a huskier vocal and some synthesised backing, a kind of creepy chorus about being addicted to looking at pictures of a person, some aspects i liked but no i don’t think this was for me.
i see rivers – i don’t know
what a change of pace dropping me into some twee acoustic trietting from norwegian trio i see rivers, i love that very gentle way it carried me and the obvious use of looping pedals was welcome and it has me feeling like i should be swimming in waterfalls or stargazing or some other spiritually beneficial activity.
jorja smith – on your own/goodbyes
i’d not taken to smith despite her undeniably glorious vocal ability and yet here her album is and the nmf playlist has cherrypicked these two for me to make me want to listen to the debut collection. skipped on your own after two minutes of nothing happening and i gave goodbyes the full three minutes and fifty seconds and still nothing? she feels like the support act that is perfectly competent at the singing part but her songs are so uneventful everyone would talk over them.
SKIP SKIP SKIP
just kiddin – body talk
for about fifteen minutes i proclaimed that just kiddin and their excellent track indiana was the years and years comeback song that we were all waiting for until the actual y&y comeback tracks sanctify and if you’re over me dropped and then i more or less forgot about this production duo. body talk is not as good as the song of the same name by foxes so i’m going to tell you it’s not worth your time.
lewis capaldi – tough
capaldi is on the line of being a genuine talent who is threating to become the butt of jokes by slipping into overly commercial another-white-man-with-a-husky-vocal territory but luckily the thing that is pulling him back for me at least is his aesthetic. he’s following the footsteps of fellow deep voiced cheeky boy george ezra if you take ten seconds to look at his twitter feed and see him being a nice and not serious and genuinely relatable person. tough isn’t his best, it’s good and it showcases his vocals but it’s the kind of thing the #realmusiccritics are going to wrinkle their nose at because on a superficial level it’s generic. but i like capaldi, he’s fun and easy going and tough is something i will be pleased to hear on his eventual album.
lykke li – so sad so sexy
so sad, so sexy, a big mood. this can go on the evergrowing dream-pop playlist i’ve not yet created, it creeps along and has that echoey thing that i like with li’s distinctive (slightly whiny) vocal. not much to say here if i’m honest, a bit slow for my regular rotation playlists but definitely pleasant.
the manor – tyson fury feat. donae’o
“geezer alert.” jesus christ.
nikhil – blind
this felt very like a soundtrack song for that big summer blockbuster that flopped and nobody remembers or wants to remember. it’s pretty, like if this came on in the background (which it actually did for me since i took time out of the last song to write a quick letter) then you wouldn’t skip it, it’s gentle and warm and nice and i can’t find any faults with it except that i’m not very excited.
passenger – why can’t i change
me and my mum are off to see passenger later this year, all his songs sound the same to me but i like the tone of his voice and he seems like someone who is just living his dream of being a musician and being cynical of everyone else so i’m looking forward to that. why can’t i change is more of his brand of folk rock that sounds like the song you would hear on some advert for a bank that wants to bring people together with a touching story about a child who loses their teddy bear and somehow it weathers the storm and makes its way back to her.
ruel – younger
i tipped ruel for future bieber/mendes levels of success last time as song of his came my way and i’m boldly going to stand by it having now heard younger. honestly, listen to this and tell me it wouldn’t fit on a shawn mendes album? it’s got a simple melody, it showcases his surpassingly deep pop vocal and whoever is looking after his career is doing well from a musical standpoint. i want this to do well please so i can be proven right thank you.
starley – love is love
i know it’s pride month and all, but i’d like people not to use it so obviously as a chip to cash please? not to negate the story at hand here about a girl who had to tell her parents she was gay and they were a but shaken by it, this is all important but i’d care for a wee bit more subtlety to it you know? i enjoyed love is love nonetheless, it’s a pretty pop number, and i hope there’s a remix that does as much for this as it did for call on me because that was a perfect running song.
sunset sons – running man
a nice indie rock song that i won’t remember but am not mad about hearing.
thomston – acid rain
acid rain is quite basic and it comes across as someone who wrote a song with a very thin concept and stretched it into an irritatingly long metaphor, but on the plus side thomston’s voice is a good un, the melody is easy to follow and would serve as a good track to support the lead single on an ep, it’s a poppy and commercial ballad with some orchestral moments and i like the overall mood its putting me in.
thrice – the grey
rock on the nmf part iii: the heaviest of all, and too heavy for me. i do like it on a basic level, if i were the type of person to listen to roaring guitars, fast drums and coarse vocals more then i could see me being a fan of this, but that’s not quite me just yet.
tove lo + lots of other people – bitches
you would have though that after girls which had one glaringly unnecessary feature artist they wouldn’t keep doing this but nope, five names on this track and i can’t tell any of them apart. sick of it. is bitches a good song? i don’t know i don’t care stop doing this.
why don’t we – hooked
i’ve tuned out now, i’ve had enough reviewing i’m hungry and i need to go and buy some new shorts before i can eat so this pop rock fodder with a boring hook needs to hurry up and shuffle on.
youngr – lost in translation
this wasn’t awful but i like i say i’ve given up