Top Tracks: Janet Devlin – I Lied To You

It feels like such a long time since we last heard new music from Janet Devlin, but this new single is worth the wait. With its breathy vocals, elegant strings and confessional lyrics, ‘I Lied To You’ is perhaps her most intimate and heartfelt work to date. In this image centred world we find ourselves in, where we constantly try to maintain the illusion that our lives are perfect, it’s hard to admit when things are wrong or when you’ve made a mistake. Doubly so when you find yourself in the spotlight. It’s an admirably open and honest track, though it’s the kind of song that people can attach their own meaning and importance to. With this taste of her upcoming album, I’m excited to see what else Janet has in store for 2019.

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Top Tracks: Michael Jablonka – Papier-mâché

It’s not often that we get to gush about guitar solos anymore. Whether they’ve fallen out of favour, or it’s just harder to play a solo that really stands out as exceptional, whatever the reason it’s become an increasingly overlooked art form. Artists need look no further than the latest single from London’s Michael Jablonka for an example of how to truly shine. Equal parts Michael Kiwanuka and The Black Keys, ‘Papier-mâché’ features one of the best solos I’ve heard since starting Belwood. It caterwauls through the centre of the track, whirling at an unrelenting pace towards its eventual crash into the calm interlude that follows. It’s the musical equivalent of being strapped to fireworks and sent spiralling into the stratosphere at breakneck speed. Then, just as you feel like you can’t take the g-forces tearing at you any longer, you emerge above the clouds and become transfixed by the empyrean scene before you.

Spotlight!: Cocoa Futures

cocoa futuresIn trying to be cool you just succeed in getting further away from it. Some of the coolest people I’ve met probably have no idea that they’re cool. It’s not about copying someone else’s example, it’s about soaking up their influence and doing it your way. It’s not about trying to tick boxes, you just need to be confident about doing your own thing. London’s Cocoa Futures do just that with their latest EP Recovery. There are plenty of elements within that capture the zeitgeist of the indie and pop scenes in recent years, but at no point does it feel forced or insincere in doing so. The effervescent bass line and punchy percussion of ‘Sink In The Water’ cuts through the otherwise downcast feel of the synth and vocals, like the one person content to stroll along and admire the city lights on a rainy night when everyone else is rushing around with their head down. The demented funk of the title track is reminiscent of St Vincent at her best and feels like a glimpse into an alternate reality where disco still rules supreme. Closing track Big Time starts with a stripped back indie pop feel before a slick solo cuts through the calm to end the record on a high.

Fans of James Vincent McMorrow, Rationale and St Vincent should check out Cocoa Futures’ new EP Recovery.

Top Tracks: Finn Andrews – A Shot Through The Heart (Then Down In Flames)

When you think of The Veils your mind probably goes to the bewitchingly dark and gritty sound that they’re best known for. The kind of songs that feel like they should be the soundtrack to all the devil’s future deals at the crossroads. It’s odd then that this live offering from frontman Finn Andrews draws you in for being just the opposite. ‘A Shot Through The Heart’, taken from his forthcoming debut solo album One Piece At A Time out 22nd March, is wonderfully refined and  elegant with its lush piano and heartwarming swell of strings. Despite its less than cheerful lyrics, the simply sublime score that accompanies them, along with Finn’s smooth and soothing vocals, feels supremely uplifting. All it takes is one listen and you’ll be humming the tune as you waltz about your day.

In Defence of One Hit Wonders

black smartphone and headphones on a desk

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There are few things in music that are looked down on as much as One Hit Wonders. This idea that people can suddenly be thrust into the spotlight with an otherwise unassuming song, revel in their fifteen minutes of fame, and then descend back into obscurity never to be heard from again. It’s a perennial industry punchline. A scary story that artists tell each other: “work hard or else you might end up like them!”. When most people think of One Hit Wonders their mind goes to silly guilty pleasure tracks, but they have so much more to offer. Continue reading

Top Tracks: Dylan Aiello – Better Life With Me

Starting with a stripped back 70s singer/songwriter style deeply reminiscent of James Taylor, before lush American instrumentation sweeps in to offer a more contemporary spin, ‘Better Life With You’ simply radiates charm in everything it does. This latest track from songwriter and artist Dylan Aiello is a timeless break-up ballad, that is kept from being bogged down by the dejected nostalgia that comes with the collapse of a relationship, thanks to its heartwarming melodies. The accompanying video really adds to the storytelling and is so beautifully shot, albeit in an understated way. The way each section is lit and framed is impeccable and the gorgeous stop-motion animation interwoven into the middle is a great touch. ‘Better Life With Me’ displays a dash of that slick pop sheen while still showing plenty of heart and authenticity, getting that ever elusive balance just right.

Top Tracks: Ritzy Park – Spinning Head of Mine

The opening to this track from Berlin based outfit Ritzy Park has got to be one of my favourite musical moments of 2018. ‘Spinning Head of Mine (The Stress Song)’, taken from their debut EP What We Know, begins with a quiet and refined piano intro that shifts into maximum overdrive at the drop of a hat with a mighty roar of 70s guitar. I can’t remember the last time I heard a song go from 0 to 60 so fast. With a driving bassline and vocals reminiscent of Debbie Harry, this pressure cooker of a song details the struggles and stresses of modern life, whirling closer and closer to chaos until the dam breaks and a tempestuous torrent of pent-up frustrations break loose. If you’re having the kind of day where you feel like tearing the room apart like a human tornado, this is the song to tip you over the edge.

Top Tracks: HARMS – Aquarium

I do love a bit of rich imagery in a song, and Brooklyn based artist Jake Harms offers just that in his latest track ‘Aquarium’. Comparing life in New York to a life behind glass, the pressure weighing down on you as you stare out into another world so cut off from your own, ‘Aquarium’ offers a unique and interesting point of view. It’s such a great metaphor, not only for the city as a whole, but for all the people trapped in their own little bubble as they go about their daily life. Musically it blends the serene haze of dream pop with bouts of dark and gothic post punk. With an enveloping feel, like the underwater life it depicts, it’s perfectly suited for those days when you’re lost in a fog of thoughts, trying to make sense of it all.

Time is of the Essence

analogue classic clock clock face

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The music world is always abuzz with talk surrounding one topic or another. The latest talking point just recently revolves around bands and venues sharing set times for gigs. It seems such an innocuous thing to end up becoming a divisive topic and prompting arguments, but even so that seems to have become the case. While I can understand the reasoning from both sides, I’m of the mind that sharing set times does far more help than it does harm. Continue reading