Top Ten EPs of 2022

Time now for what always proves to be our most hotly contested list each year. EPs are such an important creative tool for new artists especially, and there’s such a wealth of them out there that we barely scratch the surface of them with the few that fit in our Spotlight! series. In a way this feels like the most important list of the season as it gives us chance to shine a light on releases that we don’t otherwise get the opportunity to talk about. Great things often come in small packages, and here are our picks for the EPs that left the biggest impressions in 2022. Continue reading

Top Tracks: Natalie Shay – Heaven

I think most people, when asked what they’d wish for if they had one wish, would tend to fall back on the same few answers: wealth, love, fame etc. In close contention however, is the option of a second chance. Seemingly more so now than ever, we all find ourselves longing to be able to share with our younger selves all that we’ve come to know and learn. The answers to the questions we struggled with, the lessons that we learned through hardship, the mistakes we now look back on older and wiser. To be able to know those things you stress about won’t matter in the end, to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re in a dark place, to be able to see yourself reaching heights you thought you’d never reach or carrying a weight you thought you could never bear. That’s priceless. With ‘Heaven’ Belwood favourite Natalie Shay shares with her younger self all the growth and self-discovery that recent years have brought. Taken from her new EP MILK, her words share the personal journey of how she’s grown as a person, and in the exemplary pop songwriting all can hear plain as day just how much she’s grown as an artist these past few years.

Top Tracks: Natalie Shay – New Wave

I remember once reading a great quote that said that we fall in love the same way we fall asleep – slowly, and then all at once. Both offer a tantalising tingle of what’s to come as they gradually wear down your defences, but at some point, without you even realising it, the dam breaks and it all just washes over you and sweeps you away. Belwood favourite Natalie Shay returns to capture the feeling of the moment when butterflies become a tidal wave with her euphoric new single. ‘New Wave’ describes the sensation of those bubbling emotions that you’ve been questioning so long suddenly all making sense, and the excitement of starting a new chapter. When you put your doubts and fears aside and open your heart to someone new, and open you mind to imagine what this new love has in store. Fittingly this latest single is perhaps her most vibrant and effervescent offering yet, with Natalie having refined and perfected her uplifting 80s aesthetic. The synths shimmer brighter than ever, the captivating chorus is one of her most infectious yet, and its joyous groove will have you jumping up to dance in no time flat. This dazzling single skips the slow part of falling in love, and instead you’re caught in the rush right from the first listen.

Top Ten EPs of 2020

The medium of choice for rising stars, an invaluable tool for up and coming artists, EPs are the oft overlooked lifeblood of the music industry. It’s always been our most hotly contested list as the wealth of great EPs often represents the very best and brightest new acts on the scene. In a music industry decimated by Covid-19 however, these artists are amongst those hardest hit. So as we reel off our favourite EPs from our least favourite year, if you stumble across a release that resonates with you, we ask that you do your bit to support the artists in whatever way you can. Continue reading

Spotlight!: Natalie Shay

natalie shayIt seems odd to think that we’re only now writing about Natalie Shay’s debut EP. Ever since we covered her stunning single ‘This Feeling’ back in 2018 she’s been part of the furniture here on the blog, an unquestioned Belwood favourite right from the off. With just a handful of singles to her name she’s not only won us over, but has also become one of the UK’s most sensational rising stars. With each new release she has generated major buzz in the indie pop world, added to her ever growing legion of fans, and has also grown ever more assured as a songwriter and performer. Her previous releases have seen her sound grow and change, only to finally bloom on Naked as a glorious fusion of nostalgic day-glo 80s vibes and effervescent indie pop energy.

Shimmering synths, bright melodies and irresistibly danceable grooves are the order of the day here, and the infectious carefree spirit that pervades the record knows no bounds. ‘Not The Girl’ and ‘People Like Me’ boast manic wailing guitar solos, the title track ‘Naked’ has a delightful dash of retro sax, and the new stripped back version of ‘Yesterday’ adds so much depth to the track. Beneath the buoyant enthusiasm of the music however lies lyricism that details how messy and uncertain relationships can be; all the fear, temptation and conflict. The end result is a bittersweet record that feels, in more ways than one, like a John Hughes film – defiantly fun and uplifting in the face of unresolved struggles and emptiness. For most artists a debut EP is a shaky first step into the wider world, but for Natalie Shay it feels like a culmination of everything she’s worked hard to build, and a promise that this is still only the beginning.

Fans of Fickle Friends, Clean Cut Kid and 80s pop should check out Natalie’s Naked EP

Top Tracks: Natalie Shay – People Like Me

Eighties revivalism has seemingly skyrocketed in recent years. There’s just something about that style that keeps artists coming back for inspiration, and keeps audiences coming back to bask in its charm. Indie pop in particular seems to have a penchant for embracing all things retro, but I can think of few examples that do it quite so well as ‘People Like Me’. With its vibrant synths, energetic rhythm, infectious hooks, and one of the most quirky guitar solos I’ve heard in a while, it’s an endearing track that wins you over right from the first listen. The most uplifting and engaging single yet from Belwood favourite Natalie Shay, it feels like it has been plucked directly from the soundtrack of a John Hughes film. Dealing with the realities of life as an artist, rather than the rose-tinted view we see on social media, it’s easy to imagine it playing over a playful montage of someone trying to find their way in the world. Though it doesn’t shy away from the realities of life, the unrelentingly joyful tone of the song gives you all the positive energy you could ask for to persevere.

Interview: Natalie Shay

natalie shay

Photo by Max Giorgeschi

We don’t throw around the term Belwood favourite lightly, and rising star Natalie Shay more than deserves the title. This indie pop singer/songwriter released two brilliant singles last year, and her 2019 is already off to a flying start with her brand new single ‘Yesterday’. Proving a real on-to-watch, we though it was high time we have a chat with her for our first interview of the year. Continue reading

Top Tracks: Natalie Shay – Yesterday

Up and coming singer/songwriter Natalie Shay was one of the new acts that impressed us most last year, and she’s already making waves in 2019 with her new single ‘Yesterday’. The addictive indie pop offering shows another new facet to her talents and features her best vocals and most infectious hooks to date. All about moving on from a one-sided relationship, and falling for someone who was never as committed as you, the track does a great job of wrapping up its honest and meaningful lyricism in an impeccable pop sheen. It’s the kind of song where you can draw what you want from it. Whether you’re looking for a break-up anthem or a new bop to get you up and dancing, it just depends on what mood you’re in. It varies from listen to listen, but you’ll have plenty of chance to explore both sides as I guarantee you’ll have it on repeat.

Top Tracks: Natalie Shay – Perfume

One of the UK’s most promising new talents, the brilliant Natalie Shay is back with a brand new single. ‘Perfume’ sees the rising star embrace a bold new direction. Trading the bright indie riffs and bombastic drums of her debut single ‘This Feeling‘ for some dreamy synths and retro 80s vibes, this new track is an immaculate indie pop delight. With its flawless production and infectious melodies, it seems Natalie is on to a winner yet again. For all artists, new ones especially, it is a risky move to change-up your sound when you’ve already found a formula that works. The fact that Natalie has pulled it off so well with ‘Perfume’ just further shows why this exciting and eclectic artist will surely be a big name in the not too distant future. This stylish synthpop anthem is nothing like what I was expecting, which just makes me all the more eager to see what comes next.

Top Tracks: Natalie Shay – This Feeling

Do you ever hear a song that just sets you up in a good mood for the day? ‘This Feeling’ does that and so much more, leaving me with a sense of pride at the new talent emerging in this country and an eager excitement to see what else Natalie Shay has to offer. Natalie has gifted us with an indie pop gem that is as close to perfect as you’re likely to find, capturing the hectic bliss of falling in love and inspiring it within you at the same time as it works its magic on you. The bright riffs, expressive drums and relentless positive energy make this perfect for fans of James Bay, Clean Cut Kid and Sundara Karma… just so long as you don’t mind your favourites being thoroughly beaten at their own game. Even from just this single, I get the impression that Natalie will be the one to watch in 2018.