Top Tracks: The Hemingways – More Than This

Don’t let their youth fool you, The Hemingways are a bunch of wonderfully skilled musicians that show great chemistry and even greater promise. This London based five piece offer a fresh and modern twist on a classic rock sound with their new single ‘More Than This’. With keyboards reminiscent in places of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Misty Mountain Hop’, and with James Burrage’s gruff vocals perfect for fans of the late great Chris Cornell, they draw influences from all the right places but still manage to put their own unique stamp on it. Striking a fine balance between raw and refined, between vintage and contemporary, I know of bands with many more years of experience under their belt that would give their right arm to sound this good.

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Top Tracks: Tom Lumley – Just Like The Light

Our Spotlight star Tom Lumley is back and better than ever. Following on from his debut EP Dream City earlier in the year, he’s already at it again with his latest single. ‘Just Like The Light’ shows a whole new side to Tom, mixing in some classic blues rock elements to give his own brand of indie a more natural feel. Tom has really come into his own with this track, rocking harder and showcasing the kind of massive hooks that put even a great release like Dream City to shame. Having supported the likes of The Hunna, Coasts and The Sherlocks, and now with fresh and addictive tracks like this to his name, the next chapter in Tom’s career looks set to take him a step closer to the big leagues.

Top Tracks: WALLA – Into The Gray

Songs that carry a deep and honest message to them always tug at my heartstrings, and ‘Into The Gray’ which was written for “the ones we love, the ones we’ve lost and those who feel like no one is listening” just makes time stand still. Taken from their upcoming EP Body Language, this is a song that speaks to you, offering comfort and reassurance moreso than any other song that springs to mind from 2017. The rich and refined arrangement on this acoustic version in particular really lets Jean Marc Tardieu’s raspy soulful vocals shine. This warm and moving track is the only pick-me-up you need when the world is getting you down, and it simply becomes a little more charming with each listen.

Top Tracks: Titus Makin – Ropes

It’s very easy to look down on pop, but even the most hard-hearted among us can find ourselves giving in to temptation when the right song comes along. ‘Ropes’ is firmly rooted in pop, but with its soulful undertones and Titus’ effervescent energy, it’s a track that is hard to resist. Better known for his work as an actor on such hit US shows as Pretty Little Liars, Glee and Star-Crossed, this latest song from his upcoming second EP Lean shows him to be a man of many talents. With ‘Ropes’ Titus is unreservedly lovable and undeniably cool. When pop music is this good, able to make a room full of people anywhere in the world crack a smile, you realise there is a kind of magic at work. It’s a dose of wholesome feel-good fun that is sure to brighten your day.

Top Tracks: The Luck – Rise and Shine

Brother and sister duo Max and Esmay Luck have struck gold with their latest single. ‘Rise and Shine’ carries an epic, cinematic feel. Listening to it you feel as though you should be strolling through the desert, wearing shades and a leather jacket, leaving the world behind you and not once turning back. Their voices blend brilliantly, the soaring instrumentals imbue an uplifting energy, and the whole song simply makes you feel like you can overcome any obstacle that dares block your path. With their debut album on the way soon, ‘Rise and Shine’ is surely a sign of great things to come. Luck by name, luck by nature, as I truly feel fortune is in my favour after discovering this powerful track.

Top Tracks: Ailbhe Reddy – The Tube

Belwood favourite Ailbhe Reddy is back with another stellar single. ‘The Tube’ is her best work yet, making her all the more deserving of her spot as one of the frontrunners for this year’s Spotlight Award. This latest offering shows her at her most expansive and cinematic, as she captures the feeling of a goodbye at the collapse of a relationship, when there are no words sufficient to give closure and the best you can manage is to walk them to the tube station. Touching and relatable, Ailbhe’s expressive vocals and wistful soundscapes offer a kind of catharsis that is so desperately missing from the story it tells. This incredible singer/songwriter is just getting better and better with each new release, and is just a stone’s throw from greatness.

Top Tracks: Two Islands – Still Life

Maintaining an air of anonymity is a challenging and risky move in this image focussed modern lifestyle, but when someone offers up a deliriously addictive hit like ‘Still Life’ it doesn’t matter where it came from, you’re just thankful it’s there. Enigmatic Liverpudlian band Two Islands have delivered a dose of indie pop perfection with their latest single. With its shimmering synths, groovy bass lines and gorgeous retro melodies, ‘Still Life’ injects some pure, undiluted joy into your day. A late addition to my list of top songs of 2017, this irresistible indie anthem brings together the best of modern pop with classic 80s vibes, and is sure to get you up and moving. I defy you not to be drawn in and eager for more from the terrific Two Islands.

Top Tracks: Glen Hansard – Time Will Be The Healer

Few people live and breathe music the way that Glen Hansard does. He pours every last ounce of his heart and soul into his music, and the reassuring rise and fall of ‘Time Will Be The Healer’ is no exception. This lead single from his third solo album Between Two Shores, out 19th January, is some of his most arresting and heartwarming work yet, and also marks the first time Glen has produced an album himself. Glen is one of those artists that will always win your heart; it’s inevitable. Whether you’re a fan eagerly awaiting more wondrous music from the man himself, or you’re looking for a starting point to delve into one of the most underrated singer/songwriters going, Between Two Shores looks to be one of the early highlights of next year. Till then, this track will be in heavy rotation!

Top Tracks: Maggie Szabo – Don’t Give Up

Canadian singer/songwriter Maggie Szabo is back with perhaps her most soulful and moving effort yet. ‘Don’t Give Up’, the first single from her upcoming EP Worthy, shares a  heartfelt message of understanding and compassion. Penned as an anthem for the LGBT community and those struggling to understand their place in the world, its video shares a poignant story of a transgender student attending prom. It’s the kind of track that offers a voice to those unable to raise their own, acceptance to those feeling lost and alone, and an empowering spark to those battling conformity. Maggie has outdone herself here; finding exactly the right words to say and wrapping them up in such a sweeping soulful package, to provide an uplifting opus for the forgotten and downtrodden who just want to be themselves.

Top Tracks: The Sulks – Days Are Gone

Upcoming and newly formed Swindon based indie band ‘The Sulks’ have released a toe tapping tune of a song ‘Days Are Gone’. The track starts off with the endearing vocals of Rhys Burys and James Cumner before taking it up a notch by releasing a prominently upbeat and exhilarating drum and bass line, that’s sure to entice you and make you want to put on those dancing shoes. The song lets off similar vibes of Catfish whilst still managing to sound different enough to entice a new audience. When trying to think of the perfect words to describe this song, one word in particular comes to mind instantly… it’s exciting! The track feels exciting, different, free. We can only hope the alternative, indie band carry on releasing tunes like this!