Top Tracks: Jordan Mackampa – Parachutes

With ‘Parachutes’ soulful singer/songwriter Jordan Mackampa further proves himself to be one of the most compassionate and empathetic songwriters to emerge in recent years. His revelatory lyricism shows such a keen understanding for people’s emotions and struggles; his words cutting right to the heart of the issue and opening up your eyes, his reassuring vocals easing you in to self reflection. He’s an artist as attuned to thinking as he is to feeling. That really comes to the fore with his new single, which deals with people who aren’t who they pretend to be, and its video which takes an unflinching look at domestic abuse. Some people mistake love, kindness and patience for weakness and are all too keen to take advantage, but everyone has a breaking point at which they don’t want to be hurt anymore. It takes real courage to stand up and say you no longer want to be stuck giving more love than you receive in return. Jordan’s considerate and understanding approach to songwriting is a real breath of fresh air. He’s the kind of artist that the world needs more of, and I look forward to seeing him continue to go from strength to strength.

Top Tracks: Richard Walters – This Is Where It Ends

Endings needn’t be something to run from. They’re not some bottomless chasm waiting further down the path, they don’t have to mean that all that came before will crumble into dust and mean nothing. Sometimes we have to face up to the fact that one chapter needs to close before another one can begin, and that change can sometimes be for the best. ‘This Is Where It Ends’ is an ode to letting go. The resplendent new single from Richard Walters finds the bittersweet balance between accepting the end and mourning all that comes with it, but finding solace in closure, in the thought of new opportunity, in saying goodbye with grace and goodwill. The skittering beat dancing like butterflies in your stomach, its quirky video’s take on classic horror like a friendly quip to lighten the mood at a final meeting, his heavenly vocals like a solitary light clinging on as night falls. Ironically enough this is the kind of song you wish would never end…

Top Tracks: Lanterns On The Lake – Every Atom

As 2019 begins winding down, and a new year lies just around the corner, my thoughts are already turning to what new albums I have to look forward to in 2020. After finding myself bewitched by their last record Beings way back in 2015, the news that Lanterns On The Lake have a new record on the way puts them right at the top of my list. If lead single ‘Every Atom’ is anything to go by, the new album will be every bit as stunning as the last. The first cut from Spook The Herd, out 21st February, ‘Every Atom’ is a beautifully bittersweet ode to love and loss. Written about the death of a loved one and the struggle to accept that they are gone forever, it sees the band at their lyrical peak. Its chorus of “If I have to split every atom just to find a trace of you, That’s what I’ll do” is as poignant and hard-hitting as any I’ve heard since starting the blog. To hear such rich and inventive lyricism delivered in Hazel Wilde’s dreamy vocals is just the icing on the cake.

Top Tracks: Megan Dixon Hood – The Wishing Tree

When you think about it music has a narrow scope when compared to other media. In books, films, TV etc it’s the norm to delve into complex questions, create compelling stories and dream up imaginative settings, while in music we often dwell on the same inward looking topics like love and heartbreak. While this can be frustrating at times, it makes the inventive and ambitious tracks that break the mould all the more special. ‘The Wishing Tree’ is just such a song. Written from the perspective of a tree venting its ire at the insatiable greed of mankind, it makes for a unique and creative set up for a song, and one that feels all the more meaningful given the recent discourse surrounding climate change. There’s so much depth to this song that can be explored. The fairytale style premise adds a timeless mystical air, while the nuanced electronic flourishes offer something fresh and contemporary. It has all the loss and confusion of a break-up ballad, the indignant defiance of a protest anthem, the cinematic scope of some epic tale, all woven into Megan’s mesmerising powerhouse vocals.

Top Tracks: Ollie Trevers – Stage Of Fools

It’s always a great feeling when you stumble across a song that reminds you of the power that music can have. No matter how you feel, there is a song for it. Someone somewhere has had much the same thoughts running through their head as you, and they managed to find the right words to capture some abstract, indescribable feeling and shared them with the world so that people can find solace in the fact that someone out there understands. London based singer/songwriter is a fine example of this as he channels Jeff Buckley for his latest single ‘Stage Of Fools’. Taken from his new EP Cordelia out 15th November, the track superbly captures the sensation of drifting from one day to the next without purpose, the struggle of finding meaning in life. Ollie’s words acutely convey the languid and hollow sensation of it all, but the music is conversely bright and engaging. His soft soaring vocals spark life where there was none before and seeks to fill the void. Never has a song about emptiness been so fulfilling.

Top Tracks: Martha Bean – Along The Lonely

There are two kinds of loneliness. The first is a deep-rooted need for companionship. Like many animals we are social creatures, we aren’t meant to be alone. We all need someone to talk to, we need to break out of our little bubble and feel someone else’s skin against our own. The first loneliness is a simple need for human contact, the second is something far more profound and spiritual. The second is a longing for a meaningful connection. True love, a soulmate, call it what you will, it’s the person that you feel in perfect harmony with. On her elegant new single ‘Along The Lonely’, taken from her new EP Here Comes The Snowstorm, Martha Bean shares how the two can work against each other. How in our eagerness to fulfil the first, we neglect the second. How our need to have someone to hold close can come before asking if they are the right person.

Top Tracks: Alex Michael – Hear Me

They say you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep. It goes much deeper than that however. The connections we make don’t just inform who we are, in many ways they define who we are. We are social creatures, we’re made to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. In the bonds of family, the friendships we forge, and in each new love that blooms, we give a little of ourselves and receive part of someone else in return. We give each other meaning, a reason to keep moving forward. ‘Hear Me’, from up and coming singer/songwriter Alex Michael, revels in the power of these threads that unite us – for better or worse. Spending time with those closest to us is the source of the greatest joy in life, while losing them or drifting apart is the source of the greatest sorrow. We spend each day caught up in our own bubbles when in reality so much depends on others. Our happiness, our purpose, our very identity. It’s both a blessing and a burden that those closest to us hold so much sway over our lives.

Top Tracks: Noah Derksen – Lonely in America

I’ve never been able to grasp the fascination with New York. I’ve always seen it as somewhere hostile and unwelcoming, yet it rivals Paris as the most romanticised city in the world. Usually songs about the Big Apple are nothing more than a game of New York cliche bingo, so it’s refreshing to hear a song tackle the darker side of the big city. Canadian born singer/songwriter wonderfully contrasts the coldness of the city with the warm Americana glow of his new track ‘Lonely in America’. The age old adage of “if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere” neglects to mention how isolating and demoralising it can be for the vast swathes of people who risk everything for the city’s promises only to come up short. Noah’s latest golden track from his new album America, Dreaming stands in solidarity with anyone who’s ever felt like a spare part rattling around some vast and unforgiving machine.

Top Tracks: Black Calavera – Cigarettes

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of bright and breezy indie rock. But when it lurks around every corner sometimes it leaves you longing for something with a bit more bite. You yearn for the sort of song you that makes you feel like a total badass whilst walking down the street. The kind of track where merely pressing play feels like it could conjure a leather jacket and a pair of shades into existence on your person. ‘Cigarettes’ is just such a track. Positively swimming in attitude, this gritty garage rocker from London quintet Black Calavera feels effortlessly cool, walking that indescribable fine line between fierce and nonchalant. There’s plenty of substance to go along with all that style however, with robust bass tones, a blistering guitar solo and vivacious vocals ensuring the band have you right where they want you; squarely in the palm of their hand.

Top Tracks: Columbia Mills – Strange Game

We humans are creatures of habit. We dislike change. Sometimes even when it is change for the better. ‘Strange Game’, the new single from Irish indie outfit Columbia Mills, knows this all too well. The track explores how addiction can define us and the relationships we form. In choosing to get clean and be a better person you can end up alienating those that loved you for your faults. What follows is a struggle between self-improvement and trying to maintain those bonds forged upon shaky foundations. The music itself also plays into this dichotomy, dealing in the same kind of bittersweet embrace as The National. The bright melodies with a dark undercurrent swirling beneath, and the peculiar balance that leaves you feeling both empty and energized all at once, reminded me particularly of ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’. This first single from their forthcoming album CCTV, due next year, certainly feels like a sign for great things on the horizon.