There is far more that unites us than divides us, though sadly it seems there are plenty of people who would have you believe otherwise. People who get off on stoking division and inciting rampant ignorance. Politicians and tabloids demonising immigrants and the less fortunate, letting the foul plague of prejudice sweep society, either to serve their own agendas or simply as there’s a cold festering void where their heart should be. At times the hateful clamouring rings so loud that basic human empathy is made to seem completely alien, and you begin to wonder if there’s any compassion and understanding left in the world. Thankfully tracks like the indie folk splendour of ‘Fault Lines’ serve as a reminder that there are other frustrated people out there, with open hearts and open minds, who are more inclined to build bridges than throw up walls. With lines like “We rise and fall under the weight of words that fan the flames of hatred, When we demonise we form a mind that will not be persuaded”, Callum Pitt perfectly captures the uphill battle we face in order to erode years of discrimination and division through discourse and education. With Callum’s discerning lyricism delivered alongside infectious melodies, a driven rhythm section and fantastic guitar work reminiscent of The War On Drugs, it’s just the track to turn to when you need convincing that a better world is waiting just over the horizon.
Lianne La Havas – Lianne La Havas
Soul | R&B
If there’s one heartwarming upside to be drawn from this crazy year it’s been how connected we have remained despite being stuck at home and unable to meet in person. How friendships have thrived in spite of the distance, and how new ones have formed against all the odds. With this in mind ‘Last Bus in the A.M.’ very much captures the zeitgeist of 2020. Unconventional pop duo Bestfriend composed their latest stunning synthpop single from complete opposite ends of the country – with Stacy Kim on the West Coast, Kaelan Geoffrey on the East, and thousands of miles and several time zones in between. Not that you would know that by listening, as every exquisitely crafted element falls seamlessly into place. The nostalgic synths offering an intoxicating hit of familiarity, while the soft vocals and understated harmonies feed into the beautifully bittersweet and dreamy tone. The rich storytelling in the lyrics bringing every shambolic party you’ve ever been to right to the forefront of your mind, making even hectic nights full of angst, anxiety and awkwardness shimmer through rose tinted glasses. To hear two people so far apart sound so in sync is such a life-affirming experience. A welcome reminder of the power that music has to bring us together.
It’s songs like this that really make my job difficult. As someone who spends an inordinate amount of time weaving my thoughts about music into a verbose tapestry of flowery language, the rare gift of a song that leaves me lost for words is the most delightfully vexatious experience imaginable. Doctor by day and musical maestro by night, Fran O’Hanlon’s latest single under his moniker AJIMAL is an absolute must-hear track. To say that his soulful and tender vocals evoke Jeff Buckley, and that the opulent orchestration reminds me of the softer side of Talk Talk and Belwood favourites The Last Dinosaur, would only be scratching the surface. The loving intimacy and devotion of this track is so hard to describe, but it’s a feeling that anyone who has given their heart to someone completely will know all too well. Anyone who has known a love so absolute will be left breathless by the line “I’ve loved your heart as long as it’s been beating”. And I doubt even Wordsworth himself could compose a poem to describe the sensation which this gorgeous arrangement offers. How this blissful baroque pop ballad makes your spirit soar, how it lifts you up to pirouette upon a pillowy canopy of clouds. The only way to truly understand is to hear it for yourself.
There’s a whole lot of solace to be found in sad songs. When an artist pours their heart out and releases all their fear and sorrow into the world, odds are it will find its way to someone who sees their own struggles reflected in the music. Finding comfort and reassurance rarely means having all the answers, often just the act of knowing you’re not alone, that other people are dealing with the same thoughts and feelings, is enough to keep you going. With her debut EP Melancholic Antidote, London based singer/songwriter Francesca Louise not only provides the perfect term to describe the process of fighting sadness with sadness, but also offers a prime example of it in action. Francesca is the kind of artist who holds nothing back, brave enough to bare her soul and share her fears and doubts with the world. Earnest songwriting is like a smile; you can tell when a smile is forced and when there’s a genuine spark in their eye that lights up the room. That same spark is woven into the very fabric of this EP. Continue reading
Taylor Swift – folklore
Indie Folk | Pop | Baroque Pop
Margo Price – That’s How Rumors Get Started
It’s safe to say that 2020 doesn’t have a lot going for it. That does mean however that each little oasis of joy and beauty that we stumble upon in this monumental clusterfuck of a year feels all the sweeter. There’s plenty of great new music despite everything, and one of the finest escapes I’ve stumbled across in the past six months has been the brilliant debut EP from Australian indie quartet Tiny Castle. Blending post punk rhythms, retro synths and slick indie hooks, Perspectives is the kind of record that takes everything you know and love and serves it up on a silver platter. I fired a few quick questions over to Chris from Tiny Castle to find out how their stunning first EP came to life. Continue reading
We’re not born with hate in our hearts, it’s something that’s taught to us. When you’re young you don’t see creed, colour or class. Likewise we don’t become fixated on our own faults and perceived imperfections until later in life. We all start out with open hearts and open minds, full of love for ourselves and others, until the world tells us otherwise. But we don’t have to accept this culture of division and insecurity that is thrust upon us. As Canadian duo Family of Things so deftly tell us with the hook of their infectious new single: “you know better”. We can reject the drive to throw up walls and embrace the open and loving state of mind that we were born with. Full of vibrant carefree energy, ‘YKB’ is the perfect anthem for the better world that it preaches. With a hefty helping of Jungle, a kaleidoscopic dash of Tame Impala, and a striking video that wouldn’t look out of place projected on a skyscraper in Blade Runner, this fabulously funky slice of electropop is one of the most feel-good tracks I’ve heard this year. Packed with memorable hooks, slinky bass lines, shimmering synths and seductive splashes of sax, it’s the kind of song that makes you want to rush to the dancefloor and drag the nearest person along with you.
Phosphene – Lotus Eaters