New Music Friday #19

Friends, I don’t mind telling you this week has been a mess. Stockholm was cold and expensive, but great music, great company, great fun. The Ariana Grande show on Monday night was an amazing showcase of a truly excellent popstar-that-will-be (she’s not quite there yet), I rolled back into London on Tuesday and went straight from the airport to see TLC who were embarrassingly good when you compare them to acts with 20 years of youth on them, and I finished up at Natalie Imbruglia’s acoustic tour last night (face and voice like you wouldn’t believe). Anyway, despite all the excitement I’ve had I’m physically exhausted and been sitting in my feelings since Wednesday morning. The irritating thing is I know exactly what’s triggered it, which makes me even more bothered because I shouldn’t let it get to me, but it has and here I am: mopey. And tired. And getting a cold. Hopefully this week’s New Music Friday provides me with enough spirit cheering tunes to replace my funk with some funk. At the very least, the new Paramore album should lift me a little. Anyway, as always I’m staying clear of instant grats – apart from Calvin Harris since I figure he’s a compilations artist anyway – so listen along HERE and away… we… go…

I’m really struggling to figure out what it is about the new Calvin Harris material that isn’t popping off with everyone, since as far as I’m concerned this is the most interesting and listenable music he’s ever created. It’s a very abrupt change in direction, so perhaps it’s gonna take some time to build up a new solid base of fans outside people who ejaculate at every generic drop. The latest from his star stuffed new record Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 is a spacious, shoulder-shuffling R&B jam with verses and chorus provided by Future and Khalid respectively. (Sidenote: Khalid released one of my fave albums of this year so far, check out ‘8TEEN’ and go from there). I can’t stress enough how much the musicality on all of Calvin’s latest releases is exemplary. Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 is gonna be my essential summer album of 2017, I can feel it.

A deeply soulful cover of Fleetwood Mac by new artist Cosima. There’s not much to say about this; ‘Dreams’ is such an ironclad, faultless melody and Cosima stays absolutely loyal to it throughout the song, backed only by extremely sparing instrumentation, eliminating the bittersweetness of the original and replacing it with a more haunted vibe. It’s Cosima’s vocal that’s really of note here. One to watch, definitely worth a listen.

What to do about Austin Mahone? He’s aggressively not happening and has been aggressively not happening for five years now. As far as I can tell he’s self-releasing through BMG and Pitbull is involved somehow, but I’m struggling to work out who thinks his career – such as it is now – is a viable use of money? Personally, I thought his 2014 mini album The Secret was a fantastic collection of TRL pop, and have always rooted for him to get a proper foothold, but listening to this dated, forgettable EDM mess I’m forced to withdraw my goodwill. Not even remotely worthwhile.

Lupe used to be a fave of mine but I dropped off after 2011’s Lasers was an absolute shitshow from start to finish. Embroiled in a feud with Atlantic Records, Lupe has openly confessed to releasing half-arsed work to burn through his contractual obligations, so from here on out we should hope to see a return to form. And what better way to wipe the slate clean than to go back to the start? ‘Coulda Been’ is an old cut that was kicking around at the beginning of Lupe’s career but it has been completely reworked and remastered into what is undeniably a great hip hop track. The beat is nostalgic up to the eyeballs but still sounds brand new and Lupe’s confident flow reminds me why I always liked him so much in the first place.

I’ll admit that I have long harboured a suspicion that we wouldn’t be hearing hide nor hair from this girl were it not for her musical pedigree (if you don’t know, her parents are Neneh Cherry and Cameron McVey) but I’m pleased to report that ‘Bedroom’ has me won over. Slightly more upbeat than what she’s had to offer so far, it’s all synth and hook and has me actively wanting to replay it. I’m still not really sure who Mabel is “for” – what kind of person is a Mabel fan? and will there be enough of them to propel her to an album? – but if the quality of the music continues at this standard, at least there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

Miley Cyrus wants you to know that she is in a stable relationship with a man and she doesn’t roll with black and queer people anymore. Fingering models in full view of the paparazzi? Wearing a strap on as part of her stage costumes? Rapping? Twerking? Smoking marry-jew-wah-nah? That was the Miley of a pre-Trump time, thank you very much. But I’m not here to drag. Let’s talk about the song. Soft, take home to mother Miley is actually the worst part about it – her vocal is sitting on top of the mix instead of inside it, exposing how nasally she can be (and what’s with the way she’s pronouncing “Malibu”?) but this is actually a really lovely track – very tiny waves kissing a warm beach vibes. It’s an incongruous sound compared to everything else at radio so whether or not it will be a full formed hit remains to be seen. For all her appropriation, Bangerz was a huge era for Miley… hope this is worth throwing it under the bus for.

I’ve mentioned before that ALMA has been highly recommended to me by people I respect and trust, but I’m still searching for that song that makes me sit up and understand. This Sub Focus feature is not it. Still, the good people of Spotify seem to think differently, placing this behind only the heaviest of weights on the New Music Friday playlist this week – Miley, Calvin, Harry Styles – so maybe I’m wrong. (I’m not, lol)

Follow my 2017 playlist here…


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