I can’t even believe as I type that I’ve kept this up for 15 straight weeks. Wow. Anyways, it is indeed a New Music Friday and a Good Friday and a BETTER FRIDAY because I have finally been paid! I owe my dad a shit ton of money for bankrolling me through redundancy and this first month of new employment but we won’t think about that now, when I have a (discounted) ASOS binge to celebrate and I’m only a week away from a total rebrand – more on that next week. Speaking of rebrands, as an FYI if you follow my 2017 playlist, I did an end of Q1 spring clean and deaded off anything I ended up skipping on the regular so it should be a more exciting listen. As for today, it’s a collaboration fest this week and in celebration, I too will be collaborating on this week’s reviews. You can listen along to everything covered HERE and scroll through for commentary from both me and my brother who is sitting next to me as I write this.
DNCE – ‘KISSING STRANGERS’ ft. NICKI MINAJ ☑️
DNCE were a much more exciting prospect as an irreverent, pop-leaning Alphabeat than the Maroon 5 knockoff they became towards the end of their first album campaign. ‘Kissing Strangers’ straddles the line and is undoubtedly a worthwhile listen, but doesn’t have any of the buoyancy or infectiousness of ‘Cake By The Ocean’. The Nicki verse is one of her weakest this year – what accent is she doing? – but I can imagine her presence in the video will be the highlight. This isn’t an exceptionally strong start to album 2 from DNCE, but it isn’t a torpedo either.
ANGUS SAYS: “Super catchy, it’s got a nice groove to it. You know I’m not big on Nicki Minaj so I didn’t rate that part, but as a hook it was decent. Who’s the guy again? [Joe Jonas] Oh is it? Decent vocals. Sounds a bit more mature… he’s not a Disney bitch anymore, and he’s better for it. I wouldn’t choose to listen to it myself but if it was on at a party I would jam to it.”
FRANK OCEAN – ‘BIKING’ ft. JAY Z & TYLER, THE CREATOR ☑️
I’m not even addressing whatever the fuck Jay is doing in the intro to this track – it’s almost as thought Frank found this off cut from a completely different song about bikes and thought he’d plonk it on here just for the sake of using up the leftovers before they go off. Anyways, the song proper starts about a minute in for me, with Frank’s smooth af vocal crooning over a warm guitar and tambourine groove. My boy Tyler puts in an almost pretty verse, and the overall biking/cycling/life metaphor that runs through the track puts me so at ease I almost forget that cyclists are my least favourite people. Another gorgeous, heart-achingly sunny melody from Frank. Can’t wait to hear this at Lovebox.
ANGUS SAYS: “Good, chill summer track, but it felt a bit disjointed? Maybe too many cooks. You know I love Tyler, so would definitely listen again.”
KENDRICK LAMAR – ‘LOYALTY’ ft. RIHANNA ☑️
Legends Only. Legends Only. Legends Only. Rihanna fades in and out on this track, backing up Kendrick across the many hooks and pre-choruses and laying down her own half-rapped/half-sung verses as they both affirm the importance of loyalty – both given and received. This isn’t an obvious banger, but it’s got all the ingredients for a slow burn hit. That “loyalty, loyalty, loyalty” refrain is a brain-searing earworm like I haven’t heard in a long time.
ANGUS SAYS: “The first thing I thought is that it has a more romantic vibe to it, but it’s not like Drake where it’s all soppy and you’re like ugh, grow a pair. It’s not that I dislike Drake – when he’s doing good, he’s doing good – but I like his harder stuff. ‘Cause Kendrick is such a good rapper he can rap about things that are less hard and still have some integrity. Like with Drake it can be a bit whatever, but that didn’t feel like a chore to get through…….. Rihanna and Drake broke up, didn’t they? [Yes] Is Rihanna single? [I think so] Is Kendrick single? [I don’t think so] Ohhhhh… OTP.”
KIIARA – ‘WHIPPIN’ ft. FELIX SNOW ☑️
This sounds so much like a Terror Jr track that never happened. The production skips and stutters and beeps and trills through a track that is 80% chorus, opening up for a heavier rap verse about two thirds in letting Kiiara flex her head voice without being sugar sweet all the way through. I think I love it a little bit? It might be my fave release of the week.
ANGUS SAYS: “Is she relatively new? [Yes] Okay, I liked it. It’s like the one I said I’d listen to if I was at a party, I wouldn’t choose to though. I don’t know, it just felt a bit basic… not in a bad way, just not particularly innovative. It’s not bad, but it’s not the best thing I’ve ever heard.”
LETHAL BIZZLE – ‘I WIN’ ft. SKEPTA
I hate the horn based beat, which is weird because I love horns in music, but something about the horns on ‘I Win’ are cheap. Bizzle and Skepta shine however, trading bars, hyping themselves up and shitting on the losers. I don’t really want to listen to this again, but I enjoyed it while it played.
ANGUS SAYS: “I really liked it! I wasn’t expecting to because I’m not usually very big on grime, but that was so steady… so good… If I went to the gym, that’s what would be on my iPod. It’s good motivational music.”
LINKIN PARK – ‘GOOD GOODBYE’ ft. PUSHA T & STORMZY
Confession: I have three Linkin Park albums on my iPod. I’ve always quite liked them, especially when they did that MTV special with Jay Z. I’m breaking my instant grat rule for this track because my brother is a massive Linkin Park fan and I’m interested to get his thoughts on Stormzy being up on this track (since I love Stormzy). As for me, I think this is a jam – it hasn’t reinvented the genre, but it hits a number of different spots – a melodic chorus, a great turn out from both Pusha and Stormzy and just enough angst to grab your feelings without dragging your mood down.
ANGUS SAYS: “I love it. I’ve always loved Linkin Park. What I hear from people when they say they’ve gone off them is that they’ve changed too much, but when you think how long they’ve been going and how many people they’ve collaborated with, that’s one of their best traits. So to listen to that and then ‘Numb’ for example, you can hear how they’ve grown as a group. They know how to integrate with different genres. [What did you think of Stormzy?] Yeah I guess he’s growing on me now… You’ve always tried to get me into grime and I’ve been like nah nah, but maybe I was wrong to write it off. Now I’ve had a taste of him I would listen to more.”
NOAH CYRUS – ‘STAY TOGETHER’ ☑️
Like Noah is a sister to Miley, ‘Stay Together’ could be a sister to ‘We Can’t Stop’. It has all the hallmarks of a fantastic, slightly melancholy party tune (this year’s ‘All My Friends’?): a sparse, hand clapping beat, descriptive story-telling verses and a drunken, swaying, arms-in-the-air carousing type of chorus. The kind of song you play at the end of the night as you tell all your friends you love them. I was racking my brains to figure out where I’d heard this before and I think it was kicking around as a potential Louisa Johnson cut at the beginning of last year? I don’t know if she ever vocalled it… having heard Noah on this, I don’t know if I’d want her to. It’s the personality in Noah’s voice that lifts the song. A banger, anyway, I like this a lot.
ANGUS SAYS: “She is very much her sister’s sister. They sound almost identical. I’m not sure if that’s gonna be good or bad for her. If that was playing in a shop I’d think it was Miley Cyrus. Indistinguishable. It sounds a bit more kiddie pop, she hasn’t gone full blown crazy party girl like Miley. She’s still very oooh fun times are cute! It’s catchy… not really my type of thing but I can respect it for what it is.”
ROYAL BLOOD – ‘LIGHTS OUT’
Remember when everyone acted like Royal Blood had saved guitar music but then they went away and literally no one missed them or was checking for them in any way or form? This is the first single from their second album and I couldn’t tell you the tune, because it doesn’t have one. It’s just guitar noise, drums and singing that doesn’t have a proper melodic structure. There’s a lot of “yeah!” to make up dead space. Royal Blood make rock music for people like me that don’t really like rock music, but honestly, I don’t really like this either. Garbage.
ANGUS SAYS: “I really like that. Much more my thing, obviously. They kinda sound like a more commercial Arctic Monkeys. [A more commercial Arctic Monkeys!?!] Yeah… they don’t sound so overtly British. Anyway I like a bit of rock, a bit of fuzz. I can see myself backtracking and listening to more of them.
SHAKKA – ‘ROLLIN’ ft. FRISCO ☑️
Shakka is one of Britain’s brightest talents – his voice is incredible, he’s got a good sense of how to fuse many different influences and scenes into something fresh and listenable, and as a live performer he brings the energy. ‘Rollin’, an updated version of his ‘Walking With Elephants’ cover, has a lot of that undeniable Shakka vibe – I feel super uplifted after listening to it. I’m still furious I missed his KOKO show for the £20 Music Prize last year, but I will rectify that massive error of judgement at Shepherd’s Bush Empire this October. Grab a ticket if you can.
ANGUS SAYS: “I didn’t think it was bad, I didn’t think it was good, I just thought it was okay. I don’t know why, I don’t have much to say about that one… apart from, I really dig that Jumaji reference. I liked it, but I don’t know where I would place that track in my life.”
TLC – ‘WAY BACK’ ft. SNOOP DOGG ☑️
From the moment T-Boz rasps that opening line, it’s so easy to remember why TLC were a dominant force in the 90s. You just don’t get mainstream vocals like that anymore. ‘Way Back’, a nostalgia drenched love song to a friendship is a double-layered throwback – lyrically it namedrops Prince and Michael Jackson among others, but the vibe and sound harks to those Funky Divas compilations of classic R&B tunes. That’s exactly what this is – a classic R&B tune.
ANGUS SAYS: “That was like… 100% OG. It sounds like mid-90s R&B… I guess it’s the same with Linkin Park but backwards – they’ve grown up but decided actually we just like our thing. It’s weird how something that sounds so old can be so fresh. When Snoop comes in it makes me think this would be good to listen to when I’m high. Like, in the sun, some weed, listening to this… perfect.”
WSTRN – ‘SOCIAL’ ft. MOSTACK
I can only imagine Wstrn don’t have a label anymore, because there’s just no info on this track – a rework of this from last year – anywhere – I don’t know whether it’s for an album, an EP, a loose release just because… Who knows what they’re working towards. It’s such a shame because I like Wstrn a lot, but this is absolute garbage. When you compare it to the charisma of ‘In2’, or even the island flavour of the original, this couldn’t be more derivative and faceless. Everything they’ve worked on recently sounds like a bad Rae Sremmurd rip off.
ANGUS SAYS: “Another meh for me. Nothing stood out. I will not seek them out in the future.”