hello and welcome to what i hope is the only triple edition of the friday 5 at 5 to 5 i will ever have to do. i’d like to in part blame the sun for this lapse in posting but honestly it’s 90% down to me and my lack of time keeping and waning desire to listen to new music, there’s just so much y’know?
since we’re officially in h2 of the year, it feels like a good point to change things up a little, so going forward i’m going to do two things: one is to stop kidding myself that my blog will be out on a friday, the second is that i’m going to start doing a newsletter (lol) because my current marketing strategy of posting it on twitter and tagging the people i’ve reviewed in the hope that they’ll retweet is having very small results. as much as i’d like to be reaching a bigger audience by sitting on social media all day becoming parts of communities, my real life job has me sitting in front of a screen too often and i’m in a perpetual need of an LED detox. so i’ll be figuring that one out at some point this week and asking you to kindly subscribe to it in my next roundup and then i’ll aim to send it out on a monday. sound good? good.
i’ve not listened to much music lately, there’s not much i can say to that. i did book a couple of gigs (sigrid, years & years and dan owen) so that’s exciting for future me but current me is seething at the money he spent.
anyway, the sun is calling me and my laptop backlight isn’t very effective to be sitting out in it so i’ll be battling through these 60-something songs in little bursts. here we go:
- 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 I – FRIDAY 22 JUNE
amy shark + mark hoppus – psycho
i’ve been following mark hoppus on twitter for the longest time – he’s one of the few mainstream faces of that which was formerly known as “weird twitter”, which at some point without people noticing progressed from weird humour to dad-humour and political satire – and as someone who never really listened to blink 182, i was interested to hear what he would bring as a featuring artist. the answer is a suitably soft, indie-rom-com duet that’s got a very very very subtle touch of pop-punk to it as if this is an acoustic cover. quietly pleasant and a lovesick me from a couple of years ago would’ve clung to this with his desperate little hands but in the current landscape it’s sadly forgettable.
ariana grande + nicki minaj – the light is coming
last week, the duo released bed which was, at best, fine, so my hopes going into this weren’t as high as they were. man, i wish the light is coming was more for me, but i know that’s selfish. i’m sure this fits in some lane that i haven’t driven my earphones down enough to appreciate, i could maybe see me coming around to it whenever ariana’s album drops in context but as a standalone i’m not here for it.
billy raffoul – 1975
i can’t help but feel like this was a punt from raffoul to take on a year that is virtually a musical movement thanks to it’s namesaking band, and place it as the name of a song in order to get people to listen to it, which is exactly the reason i’m listening to it right now. that and the pictures on his spotify artist’s page are v handsome. 1975 is actually a cut from his ep of the same name which dropped on this new music friday, and it’s sickeningly pretty. i can’t quite figure out what line divides me liking an acoustic-guitar-driven, husky voiced artist and panning them as forgettable, but whatever it is is working in raffoul’s favour. i’d personally lose the strings in the background but that’s a minor gripe. this ep is going right on my to-spin list.
cheat codes + little mix – only you
i’m a big little mix fan, but as a feature artist on an edm track? it’s a miss. they are at their strongest when their music is about their vocals and this sadly isn’t the focus. it is sweet enough, it’s very like that last cheat codes song with demi lovato that i enjoyed, so maybe i shouldn’t write it off, but after one play i’m a little cold. maybe my gym will do the same for this as they did for solo by clean bandit feat. demi lovato and i’ll understand that it’s a banger. until then?
demi lovato – sober
speaking of demitria, here is a new song which didn’t perform this when i saw her in concert just the other week, whether that was for vocal reasons after her illness or she didn’t want to unveil it until it’s radio release. sober is a slow apologetic ballad about struggling with sobriety and you can tell there’s a lot of heart and honesty here which is great, but i was really hoping for a big vocal moment like stone cold or one of her other big ballads. anyway, i enjoyed it well enough for now.
florence + the machine – big god
as much as i initially enjoyed hunger, it slid off my current playlist pretty quickly. big god was the penultimate buzz track before high as hope dropped and it reaffirms my belief that florence is an album artist. she’s not incapable of a standalone hit, she just often works best when you have a cohesive body of songs all ready and lined up to play in carefully curated order. big god is decent, i’m not losing my mind over it, so i’ll just take it as an album track that her label contracted her to put out ahead of the big release.
kawala – mighty river
ah yes, like the animal, i get it. that was long introduction that built to uhm something like a chorus? nah ok that’s being mean, i actually quite like this, as a signifier of kawala i can get on board and i’ll put their ep, of which this is the only new track vis-à-vis it’s nmf inclusion, onto my to-spin playlist. i’m expecting some strong guitars, light percussion and good harmonies from that. ones to watch maybe?
lizzo – boys
i’ve been spinning good as hell since it’s featuring on the drag race for lip sync a couple weeks back so i’m coming into boys with that as my basis for lizzo. a beat like justin timberlake’s sexy back, some undeniable snappy summer vibes, funky, satisfying rap, a banger that’s really hitting me right in the sweet spot.
maddison – sinking like a stone
somewhere sublte indie-rock elements worked into a pop punk vocal, a demanding build that rises into a heavy hype chorus, the song you’d expect to be the intro track to an album or a live show to get you psyched up for what’s yet to come.
meghan trainor – all the ways
no excuses was such a sticky earworm i’ve only just just removed it from my current rotations, and as much as i will generally aim to avoid the stigma subject, i’m getting on board with meghan trainor. you can tell that she knows her way around a hook, and all the ways is a thematically sickly but not overly sweet in delivery, a meghan trainor song that aims to highlight her vocals. it’s cute, i feel like i could like this on repeat play so i’ll allow it.
nas + kanye west – cops shot the kid
kanye’s output this past month or so has been frankly too much. from title alone i was expecting a less intelligent version of this is america (which yes, i know, is in itself a bit of a rip off). cops shot the kid a little repetitive which has been apparent in most things kanye has touched lately, maybe there’s some subtle psyche-affecting thing going on here because the “the cop shot the kid” sample line is relentless, so much so that i couldn’t even focus on what either artist was saying. kinda haunting, don’t know if i’d listen again for pleasure, but there’s something weird going on here that i’d like to revisit.
panic! at the disco – hey ma look, i made it/dancing’s not a crime
most of pop-punk, as with many genres, is so samey, but when it’s good it’s great. panic! were never ones i gave any time to during their prominent era, but i quite enjoyed say amen from a couple of months ago so i’ve put both nmf features in for a listen. hey ma is kinda euphoric-anthemic, it’s doing what it says on the tin and the trumpets are making me want to dance – would be a good song to see live i reckon. dancing’s not a crime is a further extension of this rhythmic joyful feeling that’s sweeping my body, upbeat and uplifting i feel good to be alive on this summer’s day. album has been playlisted.
paul mccartney – come on to me
i don’t know how much he actually had to do with fourfiveseconds other than strumming along a simple guitar part, but he was in it so i’m staying open to mccartney putting out new music in 2018. sounds a bit like an elton john co-write, it’s cheerful and piano heavy and is either better than most efforts by artists from yesteryear putting out new music or i’m just not listening to the new music from artists of yesteryear (because realistically i’m in it to eventually see music in a live setting and i’ll never be willing to part with the dolla to see a former beatles member) but it’ll fit nicely in my happy playlist so that’s a thumbs up from me.
tash sultana – salvation
if you haven’t seen the 8 minute version of sultana’s jungle i suggest you check it out because it is an experience and one of the most exciting things in music i’ve heard in recent memory. salvation is a bit more jazz-blues-funk than i’d probably listen to, but then her fellow aussie matt corby (my personal musical idol)’s last/debut album was very this-sound (collab??) and it grew on my massively. she’s clearly a good musician and songwriter and it may not be the commercial fodder i’m used to but i feel like further exposure will let me absolutely love this.
yaffle + linying – summer
good. got distracted during my playthrough but that doesn’t negate the fact i enjoyed it and maybe you will too! a summer tune.
years & years – palo santo
i’m super stoked for any new years and years, not least because i booked tickets to their glasgow show later this year (someone come with me please). palo santo feels familiar to ties from communion, i’m appreciative that they’re such a sound artist, subtle changes and minor upgrades but still the same artist with the same sound. i am beyond excited for their album drop, i was never going to not like this so i don’t know how much i should be recommending it to any casual fans, but this is the best song i’ve heard from part i.
PART II – FRIDAY 29 JUNE
all time low – birthday
i’m not massively keen on all time low but i did like something’s gotta give from a couple of years ago (mostly because i was in a quote unquote band and we tried to cover it a number of times – no footage of this is online, but our old youtube channel is still kicking about if you want to check it out) so here we are and i’m listening to birthday. it’s upbeat (tick) it’s bubble-gum pop punk (tick) and i feel like i’m eight years old and listening to busted. cheery. i’m grateful for all these happy songs not killing my vibe on this one thousandth consecutive sunny day.
allen stone – warriors
my knowledge of allen stone starts and ends with his gorgeous acoustic track unaware thanks to eventual winner of american idol season 15 trent harmon performing it in his audition. warriors is some kind of funk-soul-pop song that is an amalgamation of onerepublic and aloe blacc and has the potential to be just the absolute worst. it is exactly the kind of needless music that is like throwing a hand grenade which depending on the mood could either explode into, uh, exploding stuff, or into confetti. my inner prejudices are against me today i’m afraid.
axwell /\ ingrosso + romans – dancing alone
club tunes are club tunes and i’m willing to open my heart and ears to a new one because it’s been a while, and whilst dancing alone is palatable and expertly functional it’s not the one to fill that little void.
benny benassi + soffi tukker – everybody needs a kiss
the soffi tucker album from earlier this year was a surprise hit for me, surprising because a) it was very clubby and b) i’d never heard of them before. this, like the above dancing alone, is genre efficient but not commercially engaging.
charli xcx – focus
the narrative about charli xcx can be put by someone far better than me, but the summation of it is that being a charli fan is pretty exhausting because she’s so painfully inconsistent being mostly uninteresting but then occasionally putting out something kinda killer like boys. i’ve not done any research as to why, so if you’re looking for answers keep looking, but the lyric in focus: “on repeat like it’s endless” feels like a good summary of how much you’d need to force yourself into listening this song before gleaning any kind of pleasure if you haven’t wilfully burst your eardrums before then.
connor youngblood – the birds of finland
you just know from title alone that this is going to be some slow build sweeping through the skies indie rock dreamscape of a song, and your expectations therein will not be let down. good for night time driving and feeling sad, which is a criticism or a compliment depending on who you are or what mood your in. for me right now in this moment?
deaf havana – hell
hell is the follow up to the actually quite good sinner, there’s something that always feels disingenuous about not liking a band from the start of their career (no?) plus going through back catalogues is a danger zone of clunkers, but if this is good i’m willing to bite and go back a bit to sniff out other songs that my inner 14 year old is yearning for. the verdict: i’m putting that moody little teen in his box again because present day me is not feeling it.
drake – 8 out of 10/talk up feat. jay z/in my feelings/don’t matter to me feat. michael jackson
i am gagged that there are four tracks from drake on the nmf playlist, there should be some laws against this, but i probably shouldn’t be since he is, inexplicably to me, the most played spotify artists in the entirety of this modern world. here it goes, i’m going to try again because i feel like i’m missing something about drake, so all four songs will be getting my attention right now. even just ten seconds into 8 out of 10 i’m already coming around – he is, lo and behold, actually rapping. was there a time when rappers becoming singers was ok’d? not that everyone needs to always stay in their lane, but like who really likes when ed sheeran raps? only a handful of people can do both well and drake isn’t one of em. singing. man. that was the problem with hotline bling and one dance. ok. i’m ready now. bit of an overlong outro on track no.1, i’m sure it’s about something but i’m not going to read into it, overall the first drake track i’ve heard in a long long time that didn’t grate on me. talk up is a bit too genre deep for me, but it feels credible and not a soft rap-pop crossover so i’m still tentatively on board in relative terms. there is quote unquote singing feat. autotune in in my feelings so i’m out. and finally another michael jackson posthumous feature, which feels unnecessary, we have the weeknd now, why do we need to dig up icons and dirty their legacy?
SKIPx4 but i didn’t hate the first two so that’s progress.
florence + the machine – south london forever/patricia
two more from florence on the day of her album, high as hope’s, release, which i probably won’t listen to any time soon. i’m anti london nostalgia because frankly life in the uk exists outside of our nation’s capital city too, so it’s hard to care much about south london forever’s message. it’s light and breezy and unobjectionable, there’s a nice lift in the middle, but it’s not inspiring me to listen to the record. patricia is instantly more grabby, there’s dark mood which florence does best, and then when it kicks in we have classic florence, but… it’s just not there. it’s such a rehash of what we’ve heard from her without bringing anything interesting. if anyone knows of any verifiably good tracks from the album that i have missed by not listening to it please let me know because i won’t be seeking them out.
gavin james – the middle
i’m trying to stop being unfairly bitter towards white guys with guitars and whiny voices because in my heart i know that there has been some good stuff in there and there will be some good stuff to come out of it in the future, there’s just something about gavin james that makes me feel icky, but i liked one of his songs once so is there hope? the middle is very lloyds tsb advert, acoustic mumford and sons, basic, unmemorable, oohs and ahhs and whistles (they’re not there but i can hear whistling i swear) and i’m ready for it to be finished thank you.
ina wroldsen – mother
ooh! some dream pop with a big chorus! i like it!! i’ll even overlook that it sounds a bit like julia michaels. i stan it. slow burner, slow builder, fake out instrumental chorus that actually crashes vocals in at the last second like, surprise, you thought i was copping out but no, here i am! it reminds me a bit of gabrielle aplin’s first album if it had an injection of anthemic-ness.
kris allen – when all the stars have died
i’ve long been a fan of kris allen, aka the american idol winner who pipped queen’s new front man adam lambert to the post. he does very light happy, occasionally melancholy, white guy with guitar love songs. in terms of social media personability, think akin to tom fletcher (except that i like him and i can’t say the same for the mcfly member) he’s just an all around lovely guy with a nice voice. when all the stars have died is… not his best. it’s a bit too slow and dreamy in the verses, the chorus is a bit powerful for a few seconds though so it’s alright, it feels a bit like one of his old album tracks that i didn’t take to. anyway, go and listen to his first or second album or maybe even the third, i reckon you could find something on there that you’ll like.
lake street dive – walking on broken glass
jazzy and fun. i’m still looking for another hitter from lake street dive because they’re my favourite discovery of 2018 so far. rachel price sounds divine as ever, she’s such a good vocalist, they’re such a good band and i’ll never stop yelling about it unless i find out their politics are bad or something. a nice cover of an annie lennox song.
laurel – same mistakes
laurel (pron. yanny) likes to spell her name in all caps but we don’t do that here on this blog. i actually got confused because i thought for a second i’d accidentally queued another lake street dive or florence and the machine song, but nope, it’s laurel just serving up some similar sounding vocals. i think i’m too disappointed by florence and this is too much her style and just not good enough that i can’t get behind it.
onerepublic – connection
another day, another song from onerepublic i will myself to enjoy. hmm, we were pretty close with this one, it was a bit 21 pilots and not too x-ambassadors but maybe a little too chainsmokers? the chorus is just too annoying “can i get can i get a connection” no ryan tedder you can’t today goodbye.
nonono – ego
this is almost as and dancy and not quite as upbeat as i was hoping from the band that brought you pumpin blood. ego is nice, it just doesn’t really go places. forgettable.
pale waves – noises
do i have time for four minutes of 1975-esqu dream pop today? i listened to the whole thing but nothing about it grabbed me. another fitting piece for the pale waves album but not one i’ll listen to independently of it if at all.
passenger – runaway
this is a song by passenger and it sounds like a song by passenger. it has some nice brass instruments that makes it feel a little wild west country, a little edward sharp and the magnetic zeros, nothing groundbreaking, it’s not a hit single, it’s just more passenger and i’m sure this will be just lovely when i see him next month, maybe i’ll have more to say about it then.
rak-su + banx & ranx – pyro ting
take us back ten years ago (i had to do a google search and nearly fell off my chair) to the time when x-factor honed bands like jls would create insane amounts of buzz and i feel like rak-su would have a real shot at finding a respectable level of success because people would’ve paid a bit of attention, but as much as this it loud and bangs a bit there’s just nothing here that i find interesting? the syco team really have lost their touch.
sachi + e^st – hollywood angel
dancy and fun but not enough, i’ve run out of patience.
st paul & the broken bones – apollo
i’ve regretfully put off seeing st paul twice for, y’know, money reasons… but i’m adamant i’ll catch them this time round because they’re such a good band, seriously, listen to this and tell me it wouldn’t be a good time. old school soul with a bit of funk thrown in, the kind of credible sound the aloe blaccs and john newmans of the world could only dream of – it pays to be a in band and not just an over glorified frontman. funky, fun and a good summery tune for your friday.
xylo – don’t panic
i actually listened to this after the years and years track because i cant do my alphabet apparently, and i was hesitant to put it on because i wanted to end on a high but it’s nice enough that i don’t regret it. a decent pop song, it’s not something you haven’t heard before but the chorus is fun and i’m interested to hear more from xylo in the future.
years & years – all for you
i like that one of my faves is so late alphabetically so i can all but guarantee a lift in the final moments of what can be a total slog of music listening, and i’m thrilled that their new album is finally here. it was a short campaign in terms of output, enough to build hype but not too long from release of sanctuary to release of album. all for you is just the right mix of their upbeat stuff (if you’re over me) and their moodier stuff (sanctify), i’m ready to dance to this right now thank the lord for the best song i’ve heard in this batch by a clear mile.
PART III – FRIDAY 6 JULY
anna meredith, scottish ensemble + john morton – anno / four seasons: stoop – spring
i mostly just wanted to flag up this because i am confused and astounded that this is being spotlighted on the nmf playlist (yes it was near the bottom and most people don’t get that far) because it is literally just a cacophony of near incoherent noise for three minutes??? i think, going on title, it is meant to be a take on vivaldi’s spring which, fun fact, i was apparently born to, but i’m struggling to hear it. very soundtracky, i feel actually quite tense like my head needs to let out a burst of steam from my ears. surreal.
big narstie + ed sheeran – hello hi 2
i was hopeful in seeing the names for this collab that i would get to report that this is terrible, like, i never wanted to be someone who drags things for the sake of dragging them but i felt my face contorting into a grin like that of professor umbridge from the harry potter series. ed sheeran rapping, dear lord, i tolerate on his own tracks because he usually decides to sing a little and make it in some way enjoyable but i am happy to report that this is indeed very loud and distinctly terrible. is it a joke track? who thought we actually needed this? yikes.
boniface – dear megan
almost anything would’ve been light relief after that sheeran-narstie monstrosity, so i’m not sure if this is actually very good or not. it’s the right point between indie rock and whatever it is that the 1975 do, i could see this hopping into the final third of my running playlist to take me home, and i enjoyed the lyric “meet me in the middle of the flat earth” so i’m into it.
caggie – here we are again
boo the river thames! boo london imagery! nah i actually quite like this, its very dream pop but with a decent chorus and in the commercial lane to the point i could actually see myself putting this on rather than it just being a part of a playlist. this is actually caggie’s first single which is always exciting, i’m going to stan now so i can say i’ve been here before she was popular, ok? ok.
*UPDATE* i now know that caggie is from made in chelsea but y’know what i still stan
forest blakk – tread lightly
slow piano build, pretty male vocals, the tease of a big second chorus to come which actually does arrive, the kind of song you’d expect someone winning american idol to come out with back in 2007 which frankly is one of my favourite genres for a sombre occasion. lyrically a little cliché but it all fits together.
francis and the lights – try tho we might to
francis and his lights’ new song is good for lying in the bath with some candles (but only by yourself) and feeling reflective about lost loves and mistakes you’ve made and feeling sad about life in general and is reminding of perfume genius’ put your back n 2 it album. try tho we might to is vocally beautiful and simple and i’m not going to playlist it but i appreciate it all the same.
jason mraz – might as well dance
there was a time when seeing mraz’s name was exciting, but now all i really hope for is that it’s a bit catchy and not falling into that white man with guitar generic coffee shop background playlist. he’s the kind of artist that’s fooled himself into thinking that all of his fans like his guitar solo interludes as much as he does (see also: john mayer) and i know this is unfair dragging because music is about whatever you want it to be it doesn’t have to be exactly what i want but i just can’t get behind it. the lyrics are predictably cutesy and cringey and cliché and sure it’s fun and a little catchy enough but the good doesn’t quite outweigh the annoying. i’ll put it in my happy playlist but nowhere that gets regular rotation.
justin jesso – my body
justin jesso is, apparently, a songwriter turned solo artist and my body is his single. i can’t tell if the hook “my mind is telling me no but my body ain’t listening” is a good choice or not, sampling lyrics from such recognisable songs can usually go one of two ways, but lyrics aside it’s a decent enough pop song, it’s a bit formulaic but it bangs a little, or maybe my headphones are turned up too loud, it’s kinda like jealous by nick jonas and i’ll probably hate this in a week but:
justin timberlake – soulmate
i can only guess, following tepid response to man of the woods, that this is jt’s stab at a song for the summer, the opening lyrics is “summer starts now” – a little slow on the uptake jt buddy, it’s been summer for a decade now. quite repetitive, and as we all know a crusade of repetition is what we do to a hook that is otherwise weak and forgettable in a song that is at best ok. nice try though, back to acting please.
niall horan – finally free
this song snuck out as a soundtrack lift from ~hotly anticipated~ animated movie small foot, which i believe to be about a baby big foot but won’t be googling to find out if this is correct. who would’ve thought that horan would’ve had the most consistent post-1d career? yeah, this is a bit singing-show-winners-single and the lyrics are a little eyerolly, but it’s for a kids film and it stomps and is feel good and you know it will be used it a heart-warming montage in the film and hell i am very here for it.
sam lavery – bad boys
my initial thought because i recognised the very pedestrian name is that it was the musical endeavour of some made in chelsea alumni, but in fact, sam lavery placed 7th in the 2016 series of x-factor. unfortunately, this is no where near as good as her fellow x-factor alumni Alexandra burke’s debut bad boys feat. flo rida, it’s another female vocal pop song with an easy hook that doesn’t give me anything interesting to work with to write about it. the kind of song that, if released by a known artist, would struggle to dent the charts.
studio black + emily burns – friends don’t kiss friends
buy cheat by emily burns on itunes, it’s one of my top three songs of the year. friends don’t kiss friends is another conceptually simple but lovely sounding contribution to pop from burns (she’s the feature but this is so cohesive with her solo music). not my favourite of hers but even the ones i’ve been unsure of have grown on me so i’ll allow it and if you’re around me in 8-10 days expect me to be singing the hook under my breath. emily burns goes on tour challenge!
tom grennan – aboard
i was a bit keen to see tom grennan because i shamelessly loved barbed wire even though it’s against many of my musical principals for me to like him, but the scottish day he is playing later this year i already have locked in for someone else, so i go into this hopeful that he gets progressively worse or more annoying to ease my irritation at gig clashes. i’m happy now to report having listened to aboard, which is simply fine, that the lyrics are tired and it leans too far into the shouty john newman field of music and i won’t be getting behind him until further notice.
tommy – front
this is tommy’s first single on spotify and what a moody way to kick off. it’s a little bit black keys-ish, but if a solo singer songwriter was covering a black keys song. i’m intrigued tommy, i’ll see what else you have to offer in future, i hope you are the support act to a gig i go to in the future.
ward thomas – lie like me
british country music will never feel authentic because of the americanised style of singing to fit into the genre. this is leaning down the pop country route, it’s kinda by the numbers, i think i’ve just about run out of words for the year, i have just enough left to say that this isn’t really for me.
xira – locks changed
another debut single!! so many today!! i think xira is from the aussie side of the world since i found this on the au/nz nmf playlist, and off the bat i’m getting some lorde influences. there are some slightly squeaky parts of her voice which aren’t the best, but i like the layered vocals and i like how the second part of chorus changes direction so sharply and the overall breathiness is surprisingly captivating. another artist i will be stanning going forward and only partly for bragging rights.
years & years – hallelujah/karma
happy palo santo day everybody! the album is finally out, so i’m only giving these two a cursory listen and review because i know i’ll love them, before i dive into a weekend of playing nothing but years and years. hallelujah is not, blessedly, a cover of the leonard cohen song, it simply pulls you up to dance and doesn’t let you sit back down for its entire two hundred and nineteen seconds. karma is probably the most basic of the songs from the album i’ve heard, but i’m sure it’ll quietly be putting its hooks into me as i listen to palo santo on repeat for the indefinite.