Top Tracks: Brooks Dixon – Not In This Alone

I have to admit I’ve been feeling a little apprehensive about the inevitable wave of songs written about the Coronavirus and the ensuing lockdown. While I’m sure there will be nothing but good intentions behind them, it is a delicate subject that requires a gentle touch and a certain degree of empathy and tact. If any of them broach the subject anywhere near as well as ‘Not In This Alone’ however then I’ll have nothing to worry about. Despite being written, recorded, and released in a very short time frame, this new track from singer/songwriter Brooks Dixon shows remarkable mindfulness for the current situation. Touching on the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty that comes with feeling trapped, as well as the small reassuring moments of humanity that see people looking out for one another and giving us all a spark of hope and joy, the song really captures the zeitgeist of the bizarre times we find ourselves in. At a time when we’re forced to keep our distance, the well spoken lyricism and warm vocals found here are just the comforting embrace we all need and long for.

Top Tracks: Secret Cameras – The Silence

Most songs are works of art that you take in all at once like gazing at a painting. Sometimes however there is great joy to be found in songs that bide their time, that don’t play their hand too soon and let you stand witness as they build up over time. What we have on offer with tracks like ‘The Silence’ is more akin to seeing a painting brought to life one brush stroke at a time or having the final few pieces of a collage fall into place to reveal the bigger picture. Songs like this latest release from London quartet Secret Cameras just get better and better with each listen as you delve deeper into the myriad of little details and nuances. Opening with swirling cyberpunk electronica reminiscent of latter day Muse, you already have an inkling that the band have something inventive and eclectic in store for you right from the very start. As the song develops we are also graced with rich vocals, propulsive drums, a glorious post punk bass line that you can feel rumbling deep in your gut, and guitars wailing like some feral creature straining against chains that can barely contain it.

Top Tracks: Drew Angus – Mr. Gemini

This track makes me want to believe in astrology… now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d begin a review with, but bear with me! To be more specific, as a Gemini child myself I wish I was half the man depicted in this rollicking rocker from slick singer-songwriter Drew Angus. ‘Mr. Gemini’ takes all the long held stereotypes about those born under the sign – namely being outgoing and impulsive, wild and unpredictable, as fickle and as forceful as the weather – and dials them up to 11. We’re left with a vivid picture of a freewheeling whirlwind of a man, barrelling down the highway in search of the next big adventure. That same zeal burns brightly in every aspect of this old school rock’n’roller. As well as name-dropping The Boss it has all the same heart as an uptempo E Street offering, the soaring guitar work reminds me a little of The Only Ones’ ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’, the superb vocals strike the perfect balance between polished and free-spirited, and its unrelenting upbeat energy is damn near irresistible. I’m no oracle, but all the horoscopes are telling me that this is an early contender for being one of the best songs of 2020.

Top Tracks: Megan Dixon Hood – Cloudwalker

The world would be a very different place without dreamers, yet they remain forever misunderstood. We all too often see daydreaming and having your head in the clouds depicted as some kind of character flaw rather than as a kind of inner strength and creativity to be admired. With ‘Cloudwalker’ Belwood favourite Megan Dixon Hood shines a light on the real power that dreamers possess. How they can break the Earthly bonds that hold them back and escape into a world of imagination. One where the expectations of others become meaningless and you can be whoever you want to be, a place with no rules or limits, and experience a sense of freedom unlike any other. In seeing the world through that lens people can weather the fiercest storms, see all the forgotten beauty and wonder in the everyday, and think outside the box and look at problems from a new angle. With Megan’s entrancing vocals, some melodic nods to Kate Bush, and an uplifting whirlwind of boundless electropop energy – this one goes out to the dreamers. Here’s a song to make you feel like cartwheeling over endless jungle canopies or dancing across oceans on the crest of a wave.

Top Tracks: Aidan Martin – Hurting You

Sometimes a song takes a while to really grow on you. Perhaps you need to be in the right mood to hear it for the lyrics to really connect with you, or maybe the melodies take time to worm their way into your heart. Sometimes I end up listening to a song on repeat for hours on end before writing about it until every rise and fall feels homely and familiar. Conversely some songs grab you right from the first listen, and even just the first few seconds can be enough to make you stop what you’re doing, sit up, and pay attention. ‘Hurting You’ falls into the latter category. With just a handful of sparse yet striking piano notes and a couple of lines of arresting vocals akin to a mix of Sam Smith and Rag’N’Bone Man, this latest track from Aidan Martin soon grabs ahold of you. Its grasp only gets tighter as the song builds and blooms, so that by the time you reach its grand choral climax it has already earned a place in your heart, as well as your playlist. It may not be a song that needs several listens, but you’ll find yourself hitting repeat all the same.

Our Definitive Ranking of Live Streaming Platforms

Untitled designIt’s probably going to be a long time before any of us get to go to a concert again. Thanks to this global Corona lockdown, us music fans will likely miss out on seeing our favourites bands and artists for the rest of 2020, and most importantly artists across the globe have been stripped of their main source of income. We’re a resourceful community however, and one of the ways artists and their fans have been filling the gap left by the absence of proper gigs over the last few weeks is through live streaming. While the world is at a standstill artists can still broadcast to fans all around the globe. It’s a brilliant idea, one that I hope will take root and become more prevalent in the future. We’ve been enjoying a fair few already, but we’ve certainly noticed that not all streaming platforms are created equal, and at times it can make or break the experience. Brace yourselves as we put our ranting hats on and look at the best and worst options on offer. Continue reading

Top Tracks: Jonny Carroll – Duffle Bag

What with many of us suddenly finding ourselves with a lot more free time on our hands, now seems like as good a time as ever for a bit of self reflection. A chance to slow down, look inward, and think on who we really are. What led us to this point, how our past has defined who we are now, and what we can do to change the path we find ourselves on. The first step to resolving a problem is to recognise that it is there, and ‘Duffle Bag’ is the story of Jonny Carroll taking that leap. It seems like an age has passed since we first featured Jonny’s music. A lot has changed since then, but his melodies remain every bit as sweet as birdsong and his sublime lyricism is still full of heart. In his most mature and thoughtful work yet, this atmospheric new single takes an objective look at his own destructive coping mechanisms. Breaking down all the bottled-up pain that formed them in the first place and acknowledging the hurt they’ve caused others in the years that followed. I don’t know many people who are mature enough to tackle such self-improvement, and even fewer who are brave enough to share that battle with the world, and talented enough to turn such a struggle into a song so beautiful.