Tracks of the Month – June

Hi everyone,

I’m a little late with posting June’s ‘Tracks of the Month’, and that is simply because I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to upload it. So, I thought I’d kick off this year’s ‘Jammin’ In July’ with a look back at the previous month and some of the songs that have (and still continue to) dominate my stereo.

 

Talia Mar – The Voices Are Me

Posted in honour of ‘Mental Health Awareness Month’ back in May, ‘The Voices Are Me’ is an extremely poignant piano-led track, born out of singer-songwriter Talia Mar’s desire to speak out about mental health through her YouTube channel. However, as she says in the video, she couldn’t find the right words to say so she wrote the song instead and, in my opinion, couldn’t have said it better. As someone who suffers/has suffered from anxiety, I can really relate to this track on a personal level; I feel as though some of the phrases were written straight out of my head, making it really moving to listen to. Personally, I feel that it perfectly describes how anxiety can make you feel, and I encourage everyone to really listen to the lyrics and take it in. Mar’s vocals are impeccable as always, and the contrasting quiet/loud dynamic of the verses and the chorus are a perfect fit for the vibe of the song. It also shows off her range brilliantly, the flawless quality of both the higher and lower notes creating an undeniably beautiful effect.

This song touches me so much that I can’t help but tear up (cry like a baby!) every time I hear it, and I can only commend and profusely thank Talia Mar for releasing this online. I hope that it helps people, whether that be finding comfort in dealing with your own issues or helping a friend or relative understand what someone else in their life is going through. It’s a beautiful song.

 

Tom Cochran – Life is a highway

You can thank The Summer Set’s Brian Dales for this one. If you follow him on Instagram you’ll know that he posts a daily Instagram story of himself miming along to the chorus line of this classic rock song in various settings. After a week or so of waking up and seeing said Instagram stories first thing in the morning, it’s really hard not to have it stuck in your head all day! But, with its upbeat, feel-good, summery vibe I’m not complaining.

 

Anne-Marie ft. Ed Sheeran – Ciao adios

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, is there anything that Ed Sheeran can’t make sound infinitely better? It appears not, as he comes together with R’n’B/Pop singer-songwriter Anne-Marie for this acoustic version of her song, ‘Ciao Adios’. Filmed on tour, in the dressing room before a show, the stripped-back vibe allows both the vocals and lyrics to shine even more; highlighting the pitch-perfect harmonies and Anne-Marie’s ability to switch between her lower and higher register with ease. The little looks and laughs between the pair throughout the video present an endearing quality and works to draw listeners in – and the addition of the tongue-in-cheek ‘you mug’, never fails to make me smile. 🙂

 

Charlie Puth – Attention

The lead single from Charlie Puth’s upcoming second album ‘Voice Notes’, ‘Attention’ is an addictive R’n’B/Pop song that, I imagine, a lot of people can relate to. The elements of funk in the arrangement work to create something that you can really groove to, and the lyrics are dripping with sassy vibes. Puth’s vocals are stellar as always; contrasting his main, deeper vocal line with a higher chorus and falsetto accents throughout, giving the track more depth. Full of charisma, it’s a song that you can’t help but be charmed by – and let’s face it, I’m sure everyone’s got at least one ex-whatever that they’d like to sing this to.

 

Bruno Mars – 24k Magic

I know I’m super late to the party with this one but…better late than never right? I mean come on who can’t sing-along to that chorus? The lead single from Mars’s album of the same name, 24K Magic is drenched in a funk/disco vibe set to Mars’s smooth R’n’B vocals. It’s a feel good track that doesn’t take its self too seriously, and the infectious beat also makes it impossible to sit still while listening to it – I dare you to try. C’mon everyone…put your pinky rings up the moon! 🙂

 

As always, thank you for reading! I hope I inspired you to give these songs a listen. In case you didn’t know, I’ll be posting twice a week this month as part of my ‘Jammin’ In July’ series, so if you like what I do here and want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, feel free to come and join me on:

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Nikita KC – Enthusiastic (Single Review)

Emerging singer-songwriter unveils dreamy new single ‘Enthusiastic’ online.

nkc-crop-black-and-white

We all know that I like to keep my finger on the pulse when it comes to upcoming talent, and today I’d like to introduce you to Nikita KC. The singer-songwriter, hailing from North London, unveiled her brand new single ‘Enthusiastic’ online in November last year. The follow-up to previous offering ‘About A Boy’ – a track from “years ago” – Nikita has said that this new release better represents her current style of artistry.

‘Enthusiastic’ is a song about the realisation that a partner has become disengaged with the relationship, and the longing to get things back to the way they were before “time and tribulations” took their toll. Nikita having written it as she was reminiscing over “precious” memories of a relationship that, she describes, were “perfect” and that “created the happiest of times.”

 

 

From very early on it’s clear that the track has an overarching r’n’b/pop sound, which, combined with Nikita’s smooth and, almost, silky vocals lends to a very dreamy feel. The chorus then drops in with a bolder vibe, heightening the drama of the song, as she asserts that the person in question is not enthusiastic about the relationship anymore, her higher register gliding over the lyrics. Even though there is a slightly sombre feel running through it, ‘Enthusiastic’ is striking and dynamic, with a catchy chorus that will no doubt get stuck in your head after a few listens.

Currently, Nikita is hard at work on recording and producing her next single, a ballad which she says will have a different feel to ‘Enthusiastic’. No release date has been set as of yet but, she has also said the production “needs some care”, and that it has to be “right” before she unveils it. Nikita is also keen to collaborate with some other producers and writers in the coming months, after teaming up with Eman Antwi & Jai Amore AKA ‘The Tribe’, for ‘Enthusiastic’. Some live performances may be on the cards too, with the aspiring talent saying that she is “dying to get on stage and perform” – whatever’s coming next, we’ll be sure to keep you posted.

 

Favourite lyrics:

‘When I thought I couldn’t see you, my heart ached / now, if we couldn’t be together would your heart break?’

 

‘Enthusiastic’ is available to stream now on Soundcloud, as is previous track ‘About A Boy’. Also, if like to keep up to date with everything Nikita KC is up to, including new releases and upcoming events, you can do so on:

Twitter   /   Facebook

 

 

As always, thank you for reading! If you like what I do here and you want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, be sure to come and join me on:

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My Top 7 Songs of 2016

I’m baaaa-aaaack!

Hi everyone, if you saw my previous post (‘My Top Albums of 2016’) then you’ll have already got the gist of what this post is going to be. However, if you haven’t seen it, basically as it’s the start of a New Year I’m picking out my ‘best bits’ from the year before and sharing them with you. I’ve done a ‘Top Albums’ list in some form for the last few years, but I thought it’d be interesting to introduce a ‘Top Songs’ compilation also, almost as a follow up to my regular ‘Tracks of the Month’ segment – a ‘Tracks of the Year’ if you will.

I’ve gone through my previous posts and picked out my favourite of favourites for this, including singles from the beginning of 2016 right up until the end. As such, I have reviewed all but two of these tracks previously so these won’t be traditional reviews of the music its self but rather, me explaining why I like them – of course with a link to the previous articles.

*In order of release date, from earliest to latest in the year.

 

The Summer Set – Figure Me Out

Released in January 2016, ‘Figure Me Out’ is an elegantly explosive anthem perfect to start the New Year with. A song about losing your way and striving to find it again, it’s full of inspiring, uplifting vibes and shows that everybody has ups and downs no matter who you are. But, don’t let it get you down because you will eventually figure it out. The band certainly did, after initially breaking up in 2015, but luckily they rose from the ashes of what was, coming back stronger and better than ever before – and so can you. ‘Figure Me Out’ is a song that just makes you sit up straight, hold your head high and think ‘yeah I can do this’. 2017…bring it on.


To see my previous full review of the lead single from the band’s newest full-length release ‘Stories For Monday’, click here.

 

Against The Current – Forget me now

Now, I just want you to appreciate how hard it was for me to pick between the band’s singles ‘Forget Me Now’ and ‘Wasteland.’ I honestly almost couldn’t choose between these two, so much so that I nearly didn’t include either of them! ‘Wasteland’ has more of an eerie, haunting vibe, while ‘Forget Me Now’ is more upbeat and pop-rock based. But, I settled on ‘Forget Me Now’ simply because I can personally identify with more of the lyrics and every time I hear it, it makes me want to dance around my bedroom – I reckon it’d be great to see live.


To see my previous review of the ATC’s addictive debut album ‘In Our Bones’, click here.

 

Stevie P & Sketch – Street Lights

This song may just be my favourite of favourites. Released mid-way through the year, ‘Street Lights’ is a poignant rap ballad with a beautifully sombre melody and an absolutely stunning chorus. As well as this, the candid lyrics are poignant and powerful, and the passionate delivery undoubtedly packs a punch. Stevie P & Sketch’s vocals are on-point throughout and complement each other brilliantly. Personally, I think switching up the vocals from rapping to singing during the chorus is a surprise of the best kind, the harmonies interspersed throughout creating a somewhat haunting effect. If you’ve been following my blog a while then you’ll know that I absolutely love these guys; I’ve done reviews of all their tracks to date. However, this one made it into the list as, as a whole it is undeniably captivating; I fall in love all over again every time I hear it.

To see my previous full review of stunning track ‘Streetlights’, click here.

 

The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey – Closer

The song that earned The Chainsmokers their first number one single, ‘Closer’ is a great summer anthem. The EDM track comprises of a very synth-led chorus – lending to a very dreamy, summery feel. Taggart and Halsey’s vocals work really well together, adding dimension and creating a beautifully powerful effect. I love the instrumental rise and falls in this song and I just think it’s perfect to blast in the car with the windows down.

To see my previous full review of summer anthem ‘Closer’, click here.

 

James Arthur – Say You Won’t Let Go

One of the biggest, and best comebacks of 2016 was that of 2012 X Factor winner, James Arthur. After taking a break from the scene after a string of controversies, and a battle with his mental health, Arthur made a return to music at the tail end of last year with emotional love-song ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’. I absolutely love this song, and I’m not the only one, as the guitar-led ballad held the #1 spot for four consecutive weeks. His newest album ‘Back From The Edge’ then also went on to earn Arthur his first #1 album, showing that he has firmly won his way back into the hearts of millions – including mine.

To see my previous full review of Arthur’s #1 single ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’, click here.

 

Little Mix – Shout Out to my Ex

Little Mix have turned up the heat with their newest album, and they certainly aren’t pulling any punches with this empowering break-up anthem. It’s fun, sassy, sexy and full of attitude. It’s also ridiculously catchy and, not to mention, a massive middle-finger to that ex – I’m sure we’ve all got someone we’d like to sing this to! Who needs a man? (or woman!)

To see my previous full review of sassy break-up anthem ‘Shout Out to My Ex’, click here.

 

Give –  You Me At Six

Seeing 2016 out in style is a band that have been one of my favourites for the last eight years. Brit rockers You Me At Six recently released their hotly anticipated fifth album ‘Night People’, but premiered this track – along with a host of others – back in November last year. The song has a beautiful melody, an explosive chorus and hugely relatable lyrics, set to Josh Francheschi’s unique tone; delicate throughout the verses, turning husky and powerful during the chorus. ‘Give’ is definitely one of my favourites from the new album.

Watch this space for a full album review of You Me At Six’s fifth studio album ‘Night People’ – released on Jan 6th 2017.

 

What were your top songs of last year? Are there any that you think I definitely should’ve included, or any that I shouldn’t have? I’m always on the look-out for new music, so feel free to let me know in a comment 🙂 .

As always, thank you for reading! If you like what I do here and you want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, be sure to come and join me on:

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Ed Sheeran – Shape Of You and Castle On The Hill (Dual Single Review)

Ed Sheeran makes his long awaited return to the music industry, releasing not one but two new songs.

ed-sheeran-castle-on-the-hill-shape-of-you-promo-art

You heard it right folks, Ed Sheeran is back. After previously announcing that he would be taking a break from the limelight in December 2016, using social media to say that he was “buggering off for a bit”, we’ve heard hide nor hair of our favourite red-head ever since. However, it seems to all be for good reason, as he made a sensational return to music this month with a double single release.

The promise of imminent new material has slowly been drip-fed to us – again through social media – in the first instance with Sheeran changing his public display picture to nothing more than a plain blue square, leaving fans asking ‘but what does it mean?.’ Since then, Sheeran has dropped a host of teasers online, the first of which being on New Year’s Day; a short video of him waving to the camera and holding up a sign saying ‘new music coming Friday!!.’ Following that, Sheeran has unveiled a series of promotional video clips and images in the week leading up to the release.

Taken from his upcoming studio album ‘÷’ – carrying on the numerical theme of his previous full-lengths – Sheeran surprised everyone with the double release including tracks, ‘Shape Of You’ and ‘Castle On The Hill’. It’s fair to say that while the two are very different, both undoubtedly share that distinctive je ne sais quoi that belongs only to Ed Sheeran.

‘Shape Of You’ is an upbeat track with a breezy, Jamaican, dance-hall vibe. It’s sexy, with lyrics like ‘Boy, let’s not talk too much, grab on my waist and put that body on me, and an overall sound that you can really groove to. The harmonies throughout the chorus show Sheeran’s range beautifully, while also adding texture. This definitely wouldn’t be out of place blaring full-blast in a club – despite the song’s opening line.

In contrast, ‘Castle On The Hill’ has more of a straight-up rock feel. Opening with an electric guitar riff, the song is a nostalgic account of childhood, innocence and fond memories. This is demonstrated through, both the romantic feel of the lyrics (I know I’ve grown, but I can’t wait to go home/ I’m on my way, driving at 90 down these country lanes) and the ebb and flow of the instrumental. The swelling, epic-sounding chorus was made to fill every corner of an arena and also has major inspirational vibes. It’s testament to the fact that no matter who you are, what your job is, or how old you get, there really is no place like home.

Personally, I love both of these songs. I can’t stop listening to either of them and my favourite is constantly changing; I don’t think it’s actually possible to pick one. I for one, am glad Ed Sheeran is finally out of musical hibernation – please don’t leave us for so long next time.

 

What do you think of the new tracks ‘Shape Of You’ and ‘Castle On The Hill’? Do you have a favourite? Feel free to let me know in a comment :).

 

 

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Stevie P & Sketch – Nightmares (Single Review)

Our favourite ink-stained bad boys are back with an early Christmas present of sorts.

Photo by Gi Lewis at iNdepthphoto

Photo by Gi Lewis at iNdepthphoto

Having released a few singles online previously, rap/rock duo Stevie P and Sketch (the latter of whom you may recognise from E4’s Tattoo Fixers) dropped the video for their brand-new track ‘Nightmares’ earlier this week. There has definitely been some buzz created around their newest offering, with both the lads and videographer Gi Lewis of ‘iNdepthphoto’, releasing a series of gritty images and video snippets online in the run-up to the full release.

‘Nightmares’ is a menacingly dark and powerful track about freedom of speech and the right to self-expression, as well as the stifling of honest voices in the mainstream media – in particular, the world of ‘show business’. However, as this song proves, these boys aren’t ones to be silenced. Abrupt and raw with emotion, it grabs you by the throat and demands your full attention as the guys illustrate their frustrations.

Opening with the distant wail of a police siren, followed shortly after by an eerie piano-led melody and a steady beat, the instrumental undeniably has a foreboding quality to it – like a storm is about to hit. Sketch’s vocals quickly drop into the mix; a ferocious torrent of words describing the struggle of celebrity status, constantly being under the microscope, and the restrictions that come with it.

The chorus retains that – almost creepy – haunting vibe with Stevie P’s rock-solid tone and bold delivery, and Sketch injecting some raw scream vocals throughout. This adds texture as well as giving the track a rock edge. Stevie P then takes to the mic to elaborate on retaining creative freedom, resolving to fight back.

The closing chorus also sees the guys add some beautiful harmonies, with Sketch throwing in some higher notes among the rapping and screams, and Stevie P harmonising with his own main vocal line. His tone acts as a great contrast to Sketch’s and, as we’ve seen previously, their voices complement each other brilliantly – ‘Nightmares’ is no exception.

The video, shot and directed by Gi Lewis of ‘iNdepthphoto’ in his debut effort, captures everything the song stands for. It’s not dressed up in narrative concepts or effect-heavy cinematography, instead staying true to the root of the track. There’s a real authenticity to it, using appropriate locations to create an atmosphere and drive that “dirty south” feel home.

Overall, ‘Nightmares’ has more of an aggressive vibe than anything we’ve heard from Stevie P and Sketch so far, their previous releases having been fairly mellower. However, it’s clear that this is all them; they’re not pretending to be anything and, as is their style, the song undeniably leaves a lasting impression that makes you want to hear it again.

 

Favourite lyrics:

That chorus though… you can’t help but sing along 🙂 ❤

“They’ve been holding us down, holding us back from making a sound / it’s time to fucking scream until they hear us loud.”

“Ain’t your puppet on a string and I won’t cover up a thing / so if you’re thinking that you own me you’ve clearly never known me.”

“I ain’t stupid manipulation is putrid / do you really think I’d lose my sound just ‘coz for you it suited?”

“Do you think this music produced should be disputed? / controlling pricks trying’a push my buttons, I will not be muted.”

“We’ve only got one life, well I think it’s time that we defend it.”

“Fuck the media and their backlash / we’re working here in squalor while they sit there with their stacked cash.”

“Trying to express the truth ‘coz believe me when I tell you they ain’t.”

“These last words from me is I will never accept defeat.”

 

To keep up to date with everything Stevie P and Sketch are up to go and show the guys some love on Twitter, and for new videos, be sure to subscribe to Sketch’s YouTube channel: Sketch TV

Stevie P Sketch.

 

As you may – or in some cases may not – know, I have featured the guys in a few other blog posts so, if you’re interested in those, please see the list below and check them out if you’d like to.

Click here for my review of Sketch and Stevie P’s debut track ‘Everything Part 2’,
click here to see my review of their follow-up single ‘Street Lights’,
click here to find out why the duo are #3 on my ‘Top 10 Interviews Wish List’,
click here to read my original article on ‘Tattoo Fixers’,
click here for my follow-up article on spin-off show, ‘Tattoo Fixers On Holiday’,
And, if you’re interested, click here to check out my blog about getting tattooed by Sketch at his studio last month.

Big thank you to Gi Lewis of iNdepthphoto for sending me the image. He shot a whole host of promo pictures for this project, so if you fancy checking out any more of his work, head on over to www.indepthphoto.com.

 

As always, thank you for reading! If you like what I do here and you want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, through the New Year and beyond, be sure to come and join me on:

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Tracks of the Month: December

Hello everyone,

Now, as a rule I don’t usually upload these posts until later on in the month, nor do I generally do a Tracks of the Month in December as the airwaves are usually overtaken by Christmas songs. However, today I decided to squeeze it into my blogging schedule because I’ve been listening to these tracks non-stop recently.

One is edgy and aggressive, and the other is a delicate ballad, so they’re complete polar opposites – and undeniably a far cry from the seasonal ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas.’ 🙂

 

Bohnes – Middle Finger

After unveiling his solo project ‘Bohnes’ in 2015, ex-The Cab frontman Alex DeLeon has since dropped a couple of singles online to give audiences a glimpse of his newest venture. Premiered on YouTube almost a year ago, ‘Middle Finger’ is his second offering – and it’s a lot more ballsy than anything we’ve ever heard from him before.

Opening with an eerie two-note rhythm, the track has quite a dark, brooding theme running through it – as expected from its title. The verses carry on this simplistic accompaniment, which then allows the explosive chorus to take centre stage for maximum impact; with its swelling electro/hip-hop vibes and powerfully assertive lyrics, it hits you like a punch in the gut. DeLeon’s smooth and soulful vocals are stellar as always, further proving that he’s not one to be pigeon-holed into any genre.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t initially too keen on this song but, from time to time, the chorus would just pop into my head, so I decided to listen to it again and it’s grown on me in a big way. If there’s one thing that I’m still not the biggest fan of, it’s the recurring ‘la la la la’ refrain that crops up throughout but, with that being said, it’s not enough to put me off the song as a whole.

It’s intense, it’s aggressive and it’s totally badass. I love it and I’m intrigued to see/hear wear Bohnes is going to take this project in the future.

 

Favourite lyrics:

“I refuse to let you make me feel like I can’t fly / not only will I soar again, I’ll own the fuckin’ sky.”

“I’m done being your slave / my generation’s had enough / and you should be afraid”

“Ain’t got time for dying, I’m too busy diving / more than just surviving, heart is beating violent.”

 

I also did a, more in-depth, review of Bohnes’ debut single ‘Guns and Roses’, back when it released in November last year. If you want to check that one out too, click here.

 

 

Lianne Kaye – You

Following the release of her single ‘Clear’ this past July, singer-songwriter – and YouTuber – Lianne Kaye recently treated her vast online following to another original song. Unlike the electronic/pop-rock vibe of her previous offering, ‘You’ brings back the acoustic ballad sound that audiences are used to hearing from the 21 year old – albeit somewhat more refined.

The stripped back accompaniment really suits the romantic nature of the song and works to create something delicate and heartfelt. It also proves that there is beauty in simplicity; it doesn’t need gimmicks, it makes an impact as is. The love-song also showcases Kaye’s distinctively bold vocals brilliantly, with a sprinkling of higher notes throughout, adding dimension to the track.

Personally, I absolutely adore Kaye’s voice and I think that this song really captures her as an artist; I can’t wait to hear more originals from her. Listen to it once and you’ll find yourself wanting to hear it to again and again (and again, and again) trust me.


Favourite lyrics:

“Standing here without a guard / ‘coz you’re a light in the dark.”

“Nowhere left to run, ‘coz I’ll be here when all is done / if you ever need to hear something true, well all the cracks in the earth lead to you.”

If you’d also like to see my, more in-depth, review of Kaye’s previous single ‘Clear’, click here.

 

Another track that I’ve been listening to a lot over the last few weeks is, singer-songwriter – and beauty/lifestyle YouTuber – Talia Mar’s debut single ‘Stolen’. I haven’t included it in this post as I uploaded a review of it earlier in the month and didn’t want to repeat myself so, if you fancy having a read of that too, click here.

 

 

As always, thank you for reading! If you like what I do here and you want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, through the New Year and beyond, be sure to come and join me on:

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Calum Scott – Dancing On My Own (Single Review)

Singer-songwriter Calum Scott has been getting a fair amount of radio-play recently, thanks to his debut release ‘Dancing On My Own’.

The former ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ contestant – hailing from the UK town of Hull – impressed the show’s judges with his rendition of electro-pop artist Robyn’s track during the audition stage. His performance also earned him an automatic place in the live semi-final, after head honcho Simon Cowell chose to make the aspiring talent his golden buzzer act.

Having since signed a deal with Capitol Records, Scott has officially released his version of the track that made him a household name. ‘Dancing On My Own’ is a passionate, piano-led ballad that describes the pain of watching the person you love be with someone else. The minimal arrangement really showcases Scott’s soulful vocals and allows them, and the poignancy of the lyrics, to be the focal point of the song. The piece also incorporates an effective use of dynamics – with softer vocals throughout the verses which slowly build to an effortlessly powerful chorus – giving a beautifully melancholic feel to the whole thing. It’s full of heart and the simplicity is undeniably effective; it doesn’t need anything else.

It’s easy to see (or hear) why then, that Scott’s rendition reached #2 on the UK singles chart. Unlike the upbeat, dance-pop vibe of the original, this cover really brings out the emotionality of the song and uses it to its full extent, arguably, enabling it to have more of an impact.

 

Scott’s version of ‘Dancing on My Own’ is now available to download through ITunes, as well as to stream through Spotify. Keep up to date with everything Callum Scott over on:

Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Instagram

 

 

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