That is three slash four as in two weeks in one not as in three quarters, thank you. I missed last week, I was at home seeing my family and just y’know getting physically away from my bedroom as I was holed up in it for my copy deadline. Fortunately, thanks to my new condensed music listening and reviewing format, it doesn’t feel like such a mammoth task anymore to listen to 30+ songs every week and pick all the my favourite ones to write about. I had an excellent day yesterday reorganising all my stuff and just letting the songs in the list below play on a loop, and I have some organised thoughts to present to you about them.
Before that, I just want to give a little nod to Matt Corby, who I saw at SWG3 in Glasgow last week and who is still as amazing a singer as ever. I learned three things from that gig experience: 1) I am finally realising that if I’m not going to put in the effort to listen to a person’s new album before seeing them live then it’s probably not worth the money, because the first half of his set was one big jazzy enigma to me; 2) is not to stand in front of a pillar at a gig because people will literally stand with the back of their head two inches from your nose and there is no non-awkward way to ask someone in whispering-distance-in-a-crowded-place-away from you to please step forward a little; 3) Go and listen to Miracle Love by Matt Corby, it’s excellent.
Anyway, below are some songs I’ve really liked that came out in the past two weeks, and a few words about them. I cut it down a lot, including some good ones from Hozier and Florence + the Machine, but you’ll have no trouble finding them yourself if you like their music and want to check them out. Chances are you’ll already have listened to some of the below because, like I said, I’m playing catch up, but if you haven’t/you did and weren’t taken, maybe these words will convince you.
Alice Chater – Thief
Yes, that synthetic xylophone in the intro does sound a lot like One Last Time by Ariana Grande, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Whilst Grande might have pivoted from pop to R&B, it still feels exciting to hear her influence coming through in the melody to the vocal runs via Chater on Thief. One of 2019’s worthiest pop songs so far.
Alice Merton – Learn to Live
I am now fully convinced that Alice Merton is the slightly-more-pop version of Florence + the Machine – I get that same orchestral vibe, the same rush that I got when I listened to Kiss With a Fist and the music is just really good. Learn to Live was what Spotify’s Release Radar threw me up on the day her debut album, Mint, came out: it’s fast, punchy, and if you like it then go and listen to her other stuff too.
Ariana Grande – 7 Rings
The rap-led teasers for 7 Rings had done nothing for me and I wasn’t in a rush to listen to it first thing on Friday morning. But, of course, social media was awash with discussion and memes about it, so cut to Friday afternoon and I was in full on play-on-repeat-uninterrupted obsessive about it. From just about anyone else, the Favourite Things sample mixed with the lyrical boasts “Write my own checks like I write what I sing”; “Whoever said money can’t solve your problems/Must Not have had enough money to solve ’em”; and “My receipts be lookin’ like phone numbers” would’ve received a lot of jealous hissing from me, but as delivered by Ariana Grande, I felt like I was right up there being a baller with her. So dumb and great.
Better Oblivion Community Center – Dylan Thomas
Something about the rhythm and the lyrics of Dylan Thomas take it, for me, from being a forgettable folksy meander and plant it into the realms of excellence of Home by Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros. I’ll let my favourite verse sell itself the song to you: “If it’s advertised, we’ll try it/And buy some peace and quiet/And shut up at the silent retreat/They say you’ve gotta fake it/At least until you make it/That ghost is just a kid in a sheet”. A kid in a sheet, for goodness sake!
Call Me Loop – Silly Boy
So far, Call Me Loop has been putting out very pleasant-but-easy-to-forget pop songs, the kind that Dua Lipa and Rita Ora probably rejected. Silly Boy, is, at last, her song-with-a-good-hook. It clicks and pops, and though I’d still be tentative to call her one to watch, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
dodie – Monster
This is the song that you would expect a pop-loving alien to write. It beeps and boops and talks about “being human no more” and says “I will talk to you the only way I know how to.” Oh, and it’s delightful. These are the facts.
Frank Turner – Bar Staff
I was so, so sure that this was the guy from Bastille performing a musical number for an off broadway show about a small town bar, but apparently it’s not. I sort of hate that I like this so much because it’s opaquely annoying, but it’s also blatantly simple and cheerful and the stupid counting parts keep getting stuck in my head. So, let’s hear it for the bar staff I suppose.
James Morrison – My Love Goes On (feat. Joss Stone)
I used to be slightly embarrassed by my love of James Morrison, as when I went to see him live a few years ago it was me an a room full of a thousand mums, but given that I’ve given up caring about people’s opinions about my opinions, I love James Morrison, and anything he does pretty much deserves all of your time and attention, so if you haven’t been blessed by this blue eyed soul featuring the one and only Joss Stone, then treat yourself right now.
JD McCrary – Keep in Touch
I’m sorry for making you listen to this because it’s cheesy as hell, is performed by an 11 year old, and super damn catchy, it just came up on the New Music Friday and I liked it, ok? For reference, McCrary is the voice of young Simba in the new Lion King quote unquote live action movie. I genuinely hope this becomes a huge hit with kids and stays on the radio and annoys the hell out of everyone for the rest of the year.
Julia Michaels – Anixety (feat. Selena Gomez)/Happy
Michaels dropped and EP on Friday and it was pretty samey samey the whole way through, very light and clicky pop music that sounds like it’s for children but has swearwords in it, as you’d probably expect if you know about her, and I really liked it. The talk-singing parts are so perfect on these two songs, Selena Gomez is a nice complementing vocalists the lyrics are angsty (“I think I kill relationships for art/I start up all this shit to watch ’em fall apart/I pay my bills with it”) in an endearingly nobody-understands-me way because of the husky-toned to her vocals.
Lauv + Troye Sivan – i’m so tired…
A perfect dreamy pop song with a simple, lovely hook.
Roman Lewis – I’m a Fool for You
Up, down, turn around acoustic guitar fun that would be a highlight at a coffee house open mic night, that i listened to once for the pleasure, twice for the pain, and a load of times after that because it’s some real foot stomping fun.
Sigrid – Don’t Feel Like Crying
I almost cut this to bring the numbers down because it’s such left field song from Sigrid’s usually more bubblegum pop output, but when those string came in I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Not an instabanger as some of her priors, but as uplifting as the title suggest, and a solid reminder that she has a probably great album coming out soon.
unperfect – Gots To Give The Girl
If the summer breeze rippling through a neck scarf of the girl sitting in the convertible as it drives along roads with corn fields on either sides were a song, this would be it. unperfect are Xenomania’s newest girlband which pretty much guarantees them as ones to watch for the months and years ahead.