New Music Friday #38

Huh. After last week’s new release bonanza, pickings are slim this morning. Not only are there no headline drops, none of the tracks I’ve picked out for a once over are filling me with excited anticipation. Literally, not a one. It’s been a very long, exhausting week though and I’m just about a breaking point so maybe it’s fatigue that has me so subdued. I have finally moved house though! I’m writing this morning from my lush new bedroom, surrounded by boxes because I haven’t unpacked a thing, and feeling tired but more relaxed than I have in a long while. Anyways, my good friend Daniel suggested the other day that at the end of the year I might want to do a retrospective on the New Music Friday songs and talk about which ones I changed my mind on, for better or for worse. In addition to that, I’d like to also go through a whole bunch of songs that have passed me by completely, so please @ me your suggestions on twitter (@oneofthosefaces) and I’ll start collating them into a playlist. As for this week, you can listen along HERE and the best bits will be added to the main 2017 playlist at the bottom of the page. Be blessed!

ALMA’s career is ticking along quite nicely as far as I can tell from a casual bystander perspective. I hear ‘Chasing Highs’ all the time, and though it isn’t really my bag, I can see why it’s popped off. ‘Phases’ is much more my vibe – it sounds like something I’d have liked to hear on the Zara Larsson album – and though French Montana’s feature is utterly fucking superfluous to proceedings it doesn’t ruin the flow too much. Not to be patronising at all, but I do enjoy the idea of the next breakout pop girl to be one that completely bucks glossy trends – if you don’t know ALMA, she’s a fat girl with neon green hair – so I’m getting behind this.

Everyone is inexplicably enamored with Dua Lipa’s charmless everything right now, to the point that everyone completely disrespected Anne-Marie when ‘New Rules’ went to #1. Honestly, you’d think Dua was the first woman to have success on the UK charts since Vera fucking Lynn the way everyone was carrying on. It’s been an extremely healthy year for Anne-Marie though – #1 with ‘Rockabye’, a top 10 with ‘Ciao Adios’ and a support slot with Ed Sheeran (regrettably the UK’s biggest star right now) – and since she has both plentiful bops and a personality, I’m sad that she’s so under rated. ‘Heavy’ is a more mellow affair than we’ve heard from Anne-Marie before, a sweet, summery mid-tempo about relationship struggles, which probably would have moved if it had dropped maybe 3 months ago, but it’s cold now and the mood isn’t quite right. I still like it a lot, however. I’m looking forward to the album.

Tegan and Sara have loads of different artists and bands covering songs from one of their old albums to celebrate an anniversary and raise money for LGBTQ causes. I’m not sure it’s the kind of project where there’s singles, but this showed up in my “Release Radar” and since I know at least one of the 36-or-so people who read this every week is a big Tegan and Sara fan (hi, Jules!) I thought I’d give it a whirl. My personal enjoyment of Tegan and Sara doesn’t extend past synth-era Tegan and Sara so I have no idea how this Chvrches cover matches up to the original, but this version is an echo-ing swirl of something fairly pleasant but nothing I’m itching to play again. The rest of the album contains covers by some of my faves though, so I will definitely be giving it a spin.

I’m not sure how exactly I ended up getting in to IAMX – aka Chris Corner, formerly of Sneaker Pimps – but his The Alternative album was a staple for me in those first few months after my mum died so I have loyalty even as he gets more experimental as the years go by. ‘Hysteria’ sounds like an interlude, and a quick peruse of the rest of Unfall – the album its taken from – suggests that the whole project is an instrumental one. Not for everyone, but if you fancy trying something new, please remember IAMX’s music gets featured a lot on How To Get Away With Murder, so you know you’re in good hands.

Again, I’m not sure whether it’s because the weather has taken and unpleasantly cold turn of late, but something about this track just doesn’t scan well with me. There’s an undeniably infectious drum beat, trumpets and a little Latin flavour courtesy of Becky G, but I just don’t want or need samba right now? I’m generously going to playlist this because I can’t quite articulate why I don’t like it, which indicates it might be a grower, but don’t be surprised if I suddenly declare it trash in the next few weeks.

Opening with Kesha and a piano, before rolling into a sentimentally nostalgic Macklemore verse, ‘Good Old Days’ is a sweet-toned ballad about reminiscing and… I mean, I only like this because Kesha is providing the vocals if I’m completely honest, but Kesha deserves the world and I have no regrets.

This is the most enjoyable Maggie Rogers track I’ve heard so far, (though the twitter hype had me expecting much more), I won’t lie. It’s got all the things I ask for of a song in 2017, which is really not that much – a chorus with words and the beat or melody to switch up bare minimum one time – and it sounds like an actual pop song rather than a folk song reworked, which I’m here for. I can’t see this being a smash hit, but it’s footsteps down the right path and has succeeded in converting me from indifference to getting me perched for more.

I’d written MiC LOWRY off completely after the last track they put out, but ‘Don’t Tempt Me’ was a) high up the playlist and b) had an “explicit” label and it got me wondering what the hell has changed so much in the past few months. ‘Don’t Tempt Me’ starts off in that ‘Love Yourself’ by Justin Bieber space – a little acoustic, a little tropical – which already sounds a little dated, but it soon morphs into a more straight-forward R&B boyband ballad in the key of Blue. These boys have incredible vocals and if they could just get the material right, some magic could truly spark. ‘Don’t Tempt Me’ isn’t the one, but it is a vast improvement.

Firstly, I’m infuriated that I can’t figure out the keyboard shortcut to put the accent over the Y in Mya’s name. Secondly, who knew Mya had been such a busy bee over the years? Ya girl got an R&B Grammy nomination last year, I didn’t even know she had a record out! New single ‘Ready For Whatever’ is a sexy slow jam that you will rate if you’re into mixtape-Tinashe. I’m kinda burned out on these songs – they are to R&B what quirky indie-girls are to electropop – but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this track if you can’t get enough of this sound.

Guys, I love The Neighbourhood and I don’t care who knows it. ‘Sadderdaze’ is a pull from their new EP – I didn’t pick it, the Release Radar team did – and it’s a melancholy, black & white lament I am going to absolutely eat up when I’m on a train in drizzly grey weather. I immediately like this more than anything on last album WIPED OUT! (bar lead single ‘RIP To My Youth’) thanks to the sad 70s soap opera theme tune feeling I’m getting from it and I can’t wait to play it again and feel sorry for myself.

Should we cancel Noah Cyrus for this? It’s difficult to determine how much agency the younger Cyrus sister has, and one would hope that inviting a man who abused his pregnant girlfriend to feature on a single wasn’t her idea, but you just never know with the Cyruses do you? Obviously I’m not going to review the song, but instead I’m going to drop this here so you can decide for yourself whether this is something you want to fuck with. I read something great earlier in the week about holding labels accountable in the same way we do artists (it’s here if you’re interested). That was written with a Trump slant, but it’s time to look at the bigger picture full stop. From the A&R who arranged this collaboration to the plugging team who worked hard to push it into the upper echelons of the New Music Friday playlist through to Spotify, who continue to playlist XXXTENTACION and perpetuate success for him… Not to “moralize” but it’s been 8 years since Chris Brown battered Rihanna and still the music industry shifts and contorts and looks the other way to support alleged “talent” that makes them money, against the best interests of vulnerable women. Suffocate the money.

Walk The Moon had a big ol’ smash a few years ago with ‘Shut Up And Dance’, a quirky bounce of an indie-pop tune that absolutely made sense as a crowd-capturing, TV sync #1. ‘One Foot’ doesn’t have any of the same appeal, falling into that trap of swapping a chorus for a pitched up synth-line – the same fucking synth-line I’ve heard on maybe every single song released in the last 3 years? There’s a ghost of a good song here, but it’s not quite hitting the marks.

Does this song sample Whitney Houston!?! I mean, tell me you can’t hear ‘It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay’ in the beat. Whether it’s an official sample or coincidental similarity, it matters not – ‘Tell Me’ goes, like I’m hip-shuffling while I’m sat in bed goes. Again, I think the timing is a little off – where the hell was this in May/June?? – but it’s got just enough R&B in to carry through and not anchor it to summer. I’ve never been one to care too strongly about what Wretch is up to, I haven’t really given any of his albums that much of my time, but I’m excited for this one since he’s two for two on absolute jams this year.

Follow my 2017 playlist here…


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