Top Tracks: Flo – Velvet

As blissfully smooth as its name suggests, this new song from London based artist Flo is an elegant and engaging work of beauty. With gentle piano and brushed drum beats that fall like raindrops, strings that soar like a songbird over verdant fields, and vocals as soothing as the sweetest lullaby, this track carries a truly timeless feel. Written from the perspective of her parents, and even featuring them on violin, ‘Velvet’ offers a cinematic atmosphere that leaves you feeling as immersed in your own story as the one that the song itself weaves. It’s a song made for those “staring out of the window and contemplating life” moments, and as it draws you in you begin to forget that a world outside ‘Velvet’ exists. This sweet and sophisticated track is almost too good at what it does, offering the most entrancing and exquisite atmosphere of the year.

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Top Tracks: Echo Nebraska – Follow Me

“I won’t let tragedy hang over me” – a laudable decision, but by no means an easy one. After losing their bassist Gunn Park to cancer, it’s understandable that the loss would have a big impact on the creation of Echo Nebraska’s new album. But rather than dwell on what can’t be changed, these Vancouver folk rockers have made sure that their new record Hold Up to the Fire celebrates all the joy and love in life that’s still there to be cherished. Lead single ‘Follow Me’ is a prime example. Boasting big hooks and some fantastic violin, the track reminds us of the people who are always there for us when we need them, and that with our loved one’s by our side we can overcome any adversity. Perfect for fans of Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers, this wonderfully uplifting track is a welcome reminder not to take what we have for granted, and be thankful for the people that bring us joy and comfort.

Top Tracks: Welfare – What I Know, I Know With You

If you’re looking for a song more tranquil and soothing than even your sweetest dreams then I have found the perfect track for you. This sun-drenched new song from Pat Whelan, aka Welfare, is all that and more. ‘What I Know, I Know With You’, taken from his new EP Useful Toil, is a shot of pure serenity to help sooth you on even the most troubled of days. Though it may have been written off the grid in the Welsh Marches, this track is far more reminiscent of a carefree stint in the south of France. You can just imagine this track as the perfect soundtrack for a montage of cruising through the Riviera or down a winding road alongside idyllic vineyards. The lush and dreamy soundscape at work here lends itself to creating one of the most blissful pieces of music that I’ve heard in a long time.

Top Tracks: The Snuts – Seasons

It’s not often you see a band undertake a meteoric rise anymore, so when a band like that comes around you feel the need to sit up and pay attention. Having amassed over a million streams just of their early demos, without any proper promotion, the buzz around this Scottish band is almost palpable. And having just performed at TRNSMT is sure to further fan the flames of this word of mouth phenomenon. Their first proper single ‘Seasons’ comes out all guns blazing, showing a determination to live up to the high standard they’re already set themselves. Big memorable riffs, a driving bass line, wonderfully expressive drums and hooks reminiscent of Catfish and the Bottlemen’s early work… what can I say besides that it’s one of the most accomplished indie tracks of 2018?  It seems a forgone conclusion that The Snuts are Scotland’s next big band, the only question that remains is how big?

Top Tracks: Passenger – Hell Or High Water

If the video of singer/songwriter extraordinaire Mike Rosenberg walking a lonely desert road wasn’t already a dead giveaway, this new track from Passenger breathes new life into his signature folk sound with a hearty dose of Americana. While the backdrop may be barren, ‘Hell Or High Water’ is undoubtedly full of life. Taken from his upcoming album Runaway, out 31st August, the song draws inspiration from the likes of Ryan Adams to craft a hook-heavy break-up ballad with a rich and fleshed out heartland feel. Recalling the inevitable overthinking that follows the end of a relationship, wondering where things went wrong and whether it was avoidable or simply meant to be, this track is up there with Passenger’s best. Offering airy Americana, a soft country twang and a sublime swell of strings, not to mention Mike’s unique vocals and relatable lyricism, ‘Hell Or High Water’ carries a universal appeal and is a welcome companion for one’s own search for answers.

Top Tracks: Alex Francis – Free

After being blown away by his track ‘All I’ve Got‘ last year, the incredible Alex Francis is back. His new single ‘Free’ shows a different, more soulful side to him, as it shares its message about not letting doubts hold you back from living the life you want. The lush instrumentation and flawless production brings this song to a whole other level. The superb bass tone really drives the song forward and the little tripped out R&B flourishes make the track shimmer like heat haze on the horizon on some golden summer’s day. There’s a lot of new elements to be found here, but it stays the same where it really counts. ‘Free’ still boasts Alex’s wonderfully powerful and versatile voice. and the same masterful hooks that you could just sit and listen to for hours. Slick, infectious and effortlessly cool, after this track I almost get the impression that Alex Francis can do no wrong.

Top Tracks: Deep.Sleep – Orange English Sun

We hear a lot about musical trends, but not so much about lyrical trends. I certainly feel however that there’s been a rise in nostalgia driven songs that recall the adventures, and misadventures, of youth. Most of these however deal with a longing for those days gone by, and lament at how soon things seem to change around us. The new single from Newcastle based indie pop quartet Deep.Sleep bucks the curve by simply revelling in the good times. Instead of bemoaning the fact that these happy memories are stuck in the past, ‘Orange English Sun’ carries the simple yet potent message that we should take heart in having been fortunate enough to have those experiences in the first place. The endearing and innocent lyricism, paired with the effervescent riffs and skittering drums, makes this love letter to youth the perfect summer anthem for anyone still young at heart.

Top Tracks: Scott Lloyd – Looking Out To Sea

Manchester based singer/songwriter Scott Lloyd is back, this time with his first release as a signed artist. His first new song since last year’s self-released EP In The Garden, ‘Looking Out To See’ feels like it distils much of what made his previous release great into just this one song.  Steeped in nostalgia, the rich imagery at work here details Scott’s cherished memories of youth and the part they played in the long road that leads to the here and now, as well as to those memories that are still yet to be made. Scott’s vocals are at their most mature and assured yet, and the gorgeous rise and fall of the track carries with it an air of carefree romanticism. The euphoric brass of the track’s climax is a welcome surprise, and I look forward to hearing more of this elegant expanded sound. This promising artist has taken a big step forward and I’m interested to see where this road will lead next.

Top Tracks: Harrison Rimmer – Berlin

There’s a definite sense of the familiar within this latest single from Harrison Rimmer. Written thanks to a chance encounter while on tour in Germany and the ensuing sparks of attraction that followed, ‘Berlin’ is overflowing with radio-friendly pop melodies and skittering electronic beats. Marking a shift in style for this singer/songwriter, ‘Berlin’ has plenty in common with the kind of upbeat and immaculate earworms that populate any pop playlist worth its salt. Make no mistake though, there’s plenty here to make ‘Berlin’ stand out from the crowd. The most obvious of which is the simply astounding bass tone, as good as any you’re ever likely to hear, offering the track an accessible and irresistible groove. Looking beyond the rhythm, Harrison’s distinctive vocals have such a curious and indescribable quality to them here, which will leave you listening on repeat to try to unravel what makes his voice so unique. All considered, Harrison’s latest single offers his own intriguing personal twist on an infectious electropop sound.

Top Tracks: Pastis – On The Run

While we mostly focus on looking forwards and celebrating what’s new, we are still susceptible to moments where we long for the “good old days”. I for one miss the days of B sides, the days when bands would hide away some of their best tracks for only the most ardent of fans to find and make them into the music equivalent of cult classics. That spirit is alive and well with this brilliant new track from Helsinki based band Pastis. This particular B side is real A+ material. With ‘On The Run’ the band have channelled all their talents into a song that shows them at their very best. Combining the bright, bubbly melodies of mid-2000s indie with the scrappy, relentless energy and lo-fi philosophy of 70s punk, ‘On The Run’ manages to pack a wealth of great music into just a brief couple of minutes. This spirited little number is more than deserving of some time in the spotlight, as indeed are Pastis themselves.