It’s hard to say goodbye, and it’s even harder to admit to yourself that it’s for the best. They say when you truly love someone you put their happiness before your own, even if it means that they’re better off with someone else. A truly noble gesture on paper, but in practice how many of us are really strong enough to be so selfless. ‘Glad It’s You’ plays as a letter to an ex’s new partner, acknowledging all the things they give them that you never could, and wishing them both the best for the future as everyone deserves to know love and happiness. I’m not sure I know many people that have the strength and maturity to even admit such a thing to themselves, let alone articulate those thoughts into a gorgeous folk ballad and share it with the world. The candor, sincerity and tenderness shown in this track stands as a real testament to Kate Vogel’s strength of character and her remarkable ability as a songwriter. In both its music and its sentiment, ‘Glad It’s You’ is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in a good while.
It’s been well documented that we’re all our own harshest critics, but something you rarely see mentioned is that we’re also our own best friends. When we are at our lowest, more often than not it falls on us to pull ourselves up out of the darkness. In essence ‘Blue’ is all about self love, about being so exhausted and exasperated with feeling down that you channel every last bit of energy you possess into feeling positive. That positivity simply radiates from this track, from its earworm melodies, from its stunning soulful vocals, and from the golden glow of its gorgeous retro video. It is the kind of song that just lights up the room. After a string of stripped back piano ballads it’s wonderful to hear Belwood favourite Hannah Grace releasing music to make you want to get up and dance and cast all your doubts and worries aside. While we may often have to pull ourselves up out of the darkness, often I find it is joyful songs like this that help light the way forward.
Making an important statement about society and the world around us through music is often associated these days with music that is fiery and energetic, with the likes of punk and rap etc. Meaningful messages in music can trace their ancestry back to very different styles however; in simple folk songs carrying messages of peace and in the voices coming together to sing of equality in traditional gospel. These songs didn’t unite people by fanning their anger, instead they appealed to something deeper inside all of us, something far more spiritual and indescribable. ‘Sinner in Rapture’ does much the same thing as it shares a frustration at how society sets up all young people to fail, to strive and struggle just to survive without truly living. This latest track from Scandinavian artist A Choir of Ghosts, taken from his forthcoming debut album An Ounce Of Gold, shares his longing to break free, for the broken system to crumble to ruin, through his dark and earnest vocals, soaring string arrangements and uplifting choral segments. It’s a song that ignites a very different kind of fire, not some bright flash but one that burns long and brings people together out of the darkness.
When it comes to love, finding “The One” is like finding a needle in a haystack. In fact that would be a massive understatement. In reality it’s more like trying to find a needle in a haystack without knowing what a needle even is. We like to think we have a “type” and it’s just a case of ticking off the right boxes, but love doesn’t follow logic. Sometimes opposites attract and you fall for someone you never thought you would. Over time your priorities may change and you may find yourself looking for different things. And sometimes we can get hung up on the wrong person or meet the right person at the wrong time. All this means that we don’t know what we’re looking for until we find it, and there are no shortcuts on that journey, the only way forward is to keep looking. That search is the basis for the brilliant new single from John Adams. Following on from last year’s stunning EP No White Lies, ‘Kiss Every Stranger’ reflects on the struggle of searching the one and the demoralising feeling it can bring, but it also carries an undercurrent of hope that they’re out there somewhere and keeps faith in the fact that true love will win out in the end.
They say that sometimes less is more, but that’s usually the exception to the rule. In most cases, more is more. I often hear songs with simple, stripped back arrangements that just feel like there’s something missing. Sparse acoustic tracks that seem like they had a fuller sound at one point and have been stripped down to the bare essentials. ‘Retrograde’ doesn’t feel that way; there’s nothing missing here, no working backwards to make it more empty and quiet, instead it seems to have emerged fully formed and ready to win your heart. Scarcely more than soft acoustic guitar, some understated electronics and some wonderfully soulful and radio-friendly vocals, this new track from London based singer/songwriter Zac Pajak is greater than the sum of its parts. All about letting go and trusting that things will work out in the end, it makes sense that ‘Retrograde’ does such a great job of basking in the calm and the quiet. It is simple but surprisingly satisfying, the exception that proves the rule. It’s like a single candle that’s somehow able to keep the whole room bright and aglow.
Some songs are intrinsically linked to a place or time. They capture the spirit of a particular scene or movement, or reflect the culture surrounding where they first came to life. Some songs however are a lot harder to place, they shift and evolve to become whatever the artist wants it to be. Take ‘I Don’t Wanna Wait’ for instance, what setting does it conjure up in your mind? There’s a dreamy warmth to it that evokes images of a Californian summer, yet there’s also a suave and sophisticated aura around it which you can picture drifting out from some Parisian cafe. There’s a subtle psychedelic shimmer to the track that simply screams 60s, but the groove feels so fresh and contemporary. It’s whatever the band wants it to be, and they revel in whisking you away to wherever they please. And so, from their cold and quiet Norwegian homeland, Remington Super 60 take you on a grand summer voyage to golden beaches and bohemian bistros. In the end the destination doesn’t matter however, not when the journey itself feels like drifting across the clouds without a care in the world.
We all have a longing to forge our own path ingrained within us, one that bubbles its way to the surface as we get older. We want to see all that the world has to offer, we want the freedom to find ourselves and make our own mistakes. This is the case even when you’ve had a happy and healthy upbringing, you still can’t help but wonder what else is out there, but when you come from a broken home that feeling grows tenfold until the dam is fit to break. It’s that latter scenario that ‘Wild Horses’ reflects upon as it tells the tale of a girl yearning to break free. When your house doesn’t feel like home then it’s not just a case of the grass being greener, it’s more like living life in monochrome and wanting to finally see colour on some new horizon. It’s imagining bars on every window as you find yourself caught in the crossfire of every spiteful family squabble. It’s not simply wondering if there’s a better life out there, rather longing to truly live for the first time, a longing that won’t be denied no matter how long it takes.
New York based singer/songwriter Jenny Kern manages to up her game with each new release. In many ways her latest single ‘Now We Now’ pulls together all the finest parts of her prior releases. Musically it is the perfect blend of the warm and fragile folk of her debut EP and the indie pop synths explored in ‘Satellite’. It’s her most assured vocal performance to date, and the lush arrangement and beautifully bittersweet tone make this the kind of song that you end up listening to on repeat and losing all sense of time. Most of all however it showcases her songwriting at its most open and vulnerable. ‘Now We Know’ is a track all about facing the end of a relationship; the pain of parting, the struggle that comes with facing up to your mistakes, and ultimately a sense of understanding and acceptance. By opening her heart and being honest with both herself and the listener, you feel a keen sense of the hurt and emptiness, but with a feeling of peace and closure shining through, on this entrancingly introspective track.
It’s time to live in the past for just one brief moment longer before we fully embrace the future. Time for one last shot of nostalgia as we look at the very best songs of the past ten years. Songs that dominated the airwaves and became anthems for millions, and the ones that formed the backbone of our playlists and became the musical lifeblood of a more personal journey. Songs that have hyped us up ready to take on the world and ones that helped us escape into daydreams, ones that have given us goosebumps and some that have even brought us close to tears. So, assuming you’ve caught up with part one, let’s get to it! Continue reading
There’s nothing quite like a truly great song. Just a few short minutes of musical brilliance can change your life. It can be the backdrop to falling in love and be the soundtrack to the first dance at your wedding, or it can be the voice you rely upon to talk you down from the edge when your world feels like it’s falling apart. Great songs can stay with you for a lifetime, and there was no shortage of songs like that over the course of the past ten years. We did our best to narrow it down to our top 50, and as with our albums list we limited it to one song per act. Let’s get to it! Continue reading