When you’re a kid you get told constantly that “these are the best years of your life”, and not once do we ever believe it at the time. It’s only with hindsight that we appreciate those carefree days for what they were. From this, we often end up taking away the unhelpful conclusion that we should have done no end of things differently. We can’t change the past however, but what we can do is use those lessons to shape the now. You never know when the part of your life that you’re currently living will be something you look back on as “the good ol’ days”, so may as well live it to its fullest to ensure that your future self has no more regrets. With ‘Body’, Nashville’s Briston Maroney pledges not to take the small things for granted, to feel every emotion at its deepest, and seize the day at every opportunity. Taken from his forthcoming album Ultrapure, out 22nd September, this new single is an earnest exploration of how life’s fleeting nature can make every moment burn brighter if you let it. With a superb video, blending playful live action and imaginative animation, and home one of the most anthemic choruses of the year, ‘Body’ is ablaze with heartfelt ardour and joie de vivre.
Top Tracks: Bea Stewart – Ice Cream in the Rain
We all end up losing the people we love in the end. One day they’re by your side making the world a brighter place, and the next you’re left trying to navigate life without them. But as hard as sudden goodbyes are, there’s something especially harrowing about losing someone piece by piece. The new single from Northern Irish singer/songwriter Bea Stewart tells a story that will feel all too familiar to anyone that’s lost a loved one to dementia. The pain of seeing them slowly fade away, fearing the day when you may be forgotten completely. ‘Ice Cream in the Rain’ reflects on the good times together that disappear into haze as the memories fade. It finds solace in the fact you shared those moments in the first place, and offers a reminder that the person you knew still exists in those little vignettes exactly as you remember them. Between the beautifully bittersweet music video and Bea’s poignant retelling of her own personal story, it’s one of the most moving tracks you’re likely to come across in 2023.
Top Tracks: Jeremy Zucker – OK
The most common lie ever told is “I’m fine”. Barely a day goes by where we don’t say some words to that effect, but how often do we truly mean them. Sometimes it’s just easier to lie when someone asks how you’re doing than it is to burden them with all the stress or worry or pain that’s weighing you down. Sometimes it’s ourselves that we’re truly lying to – maybe if you just say you’re okay often enough, even when you’re not, it might be enough to make it so. When we’re at our lowest, most in need of help and yet most terrified to ask for it, somewhere deep down we long for someone to call our bluff. We long for someone to say “you’re not okay, not really, what’s wrong?”, but often everyone’s too busy keeping up their own façade to peer too closely at someone else’s. The new single from New Jersey born singer/songwriter Jeremy Zucker lovingly calls us on our bullshit, and offers the helping hand and comforting words that we’re too damn proud to ask for. Everyone’s struggling with something, and ‘OK’ as such strives to be a song for everyone. From its lush sun-drenched arrangement, to the solace that can be found in the empathetic and compassionate lyricism, here’s a radiant and heartfelt track I’d recommend to anyone going through a rough time to help keep the dark clouds at bay.
Top Tracks: Durry – Who’s Laughing Now
They say the only certain things in life are death and taxes, but I think our days are filled with much more certainty than that. Too much in fact. Waking up in the same suburb, driving the same route, to grind away at the same 9-5 job, and repeat ad infinitum. Adulthood is telling ourselves “just gotta make it through this week” every damn week until we’re old and grey. Surely any sane person would long for more? Surely it’s only natural to need some creative outlet to cling to as a means of escape, and to hope one day that passion will yield a way out of the stifling suburbs? According to some, apparently not; it’s not enough to push a rock uphill forever, you have to enjoy it. The new single from brother and sister duo Durry, taken from their forthcoming debut Suburban Legend out 8th September, looks at how hard it is to be a dreamer when any attempt to break the mould is met with derision. With its self-aware music video, earnest alt-rock and pop-punk sensibilities, and relatable lyricism, ‘Who’s Laughing Now’ began life as a cynical jab at the futility of it all, but took on new life as a hopeful battle cry against mundanity when the song’s demo went viral – living proof that persevering and following your passion can pay off.
Top Tracks: Martin Luke Brown – See You Later x
Hitting a major milestone in life often makes you reflect on the people who helped get you there. Being a long-time collaborator with numerous Belwood favourites, I’m sure the marvellous Martin Luke Brown has a veritable who’s-who on the thank you notes for his long awaited debut album Damn, Look At The View!, which sees him at long last take centre stage. Thing is, when running down the list of people who’ve made it down this road with you, it’s hard not to also think on all the people who you’ve parted ways with. We lose more people in our lives than the ones we keep by our side, but these partings rarely come with some big goodbye. Whether it’s loved ones who pass away, or friends we slowly lose touch with until we’re no longer in each other’s lives – whether burning out or fading away, there’s simply no way of knowing which goodbye will ultimately be the last. But every person we meet, no matter how long they’re with us, still leaves a mark on our lives all the same. The wistful nostalgia of ‘see you later x’ is a lament for all the unsaid goodbyes and partings left unmarked, but above all it’s a heartfelt thank you from Martin Luke Brown to everyone that’s played a part in his journey.
Top Tracks: Ålesund – Rode Off Into The Sun
Every ending has the chance to become a new beginning. Each mistake presents an opportunity to learn and grow and become a better you. Every void left behind by the things we lose in life can be filled with something new. They say the best revenge against the people who hurt us is a life well lived, and the same is true of every frustrating mishap, cruel twist of fate or inner demon intent on ruining your day. The only thing standing between you and a better tomorrow is finding the strength to let the past lie and keep pushing forward. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but with their latest single, Bristol band Ålesund show how one person’s resilience can be the inciting spark for those around them to find their own inner strength. Building from its humble opening toward a climax of emphatic drums and triumphant brass, ‘Rode Off Into The Sun’ reflects admiringly on a friend’s ability to leave their burdens behind in troubled times and resolve to start a new chapter full of better things. It’s a song takes that infectious and inspiring positivity and pays it forward, providing an uplifting spark to help overcome adversity and seek a brighter tomorrow.
Top Tracks: The Last Dinner Party – Nothing Matters
There is plenty of music out there that could be called “style over substance”, but ‘Nothing Matters’ defies this idea by being so stylish that it takes on substance. The Last Dinner Party’s debut single shows the band’s confidence overflowing yet fully earned and justified, their aesthetic so finely curated and yet worn with such casual and naturalistic charisma, a preposterous conflux of different stylistic elements whose perfect fusion still somehow comes across as effortless. Abigail Morris’ velveteen vocals lending an air of elegance worthy of a Jane Austen adaptation, a command of melody in the verses with the infectious theatricality of an Alan Menken soundtrack. The quirkiness of Kate Bush and the vulgar playfulness of Wet Leg dressed up in an aloof and beguiling gothic exterior, with a grand and soaring guitar solo acting as the perfect capstone for this debut single’s magnetic appeal. With ‘Nothing Matters’ The Last Dinner Party have crafted a track so charming that it collapses in on itself like a black hole to create a point of infinite stylishness whose pull is impossible to resist.
Top Tracks: Ålesund – Never Enough
Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. You’ll start dedicating so much of your time and energy to chasing some high, only to find that you end up losing yourself in the process. Whether a physical addiction to something tangible, or the pursuit of something more abstract, like the fame and attention of your peers or the love and affection of someone you’ve put on a pedestal – trying to replicate that rush can often blur the line between pleasure and pain. With ‘Never Enough’, Bristol’s Ålesund deliver this cautionary tale in an ironically addictive fashion. There’s a dazzling interplay of light and dark at work, juxtaposing dramatic brooding instrumentation with frontwoman Alba Torriset’s bright soaring vocals. Between the bold thunderous drum work, angelic layered vocals and the theatricality of the piano cutting through the expansive arrangement, there’s a sense of grandeur and etherealness here that will delight fans of Aurora and Florence + The Machine. Here’s a high that needs no chasing, it’s right there at the push of a button; and in this case. enough really is never enough.
Top Tracks: Simon Alexander – Freeloaders
As great as it is to hear more of what you love from an artist, it’s nothing compared to the thrill of hearing them try something new and absolutely nailing it. Just like that, a whole new world of possibilities has opened up, a fresh style or genre for an artist to explore and make their own. Regular Belwood readers may know Swedish singer/songwriter Simon Alexander for his fantastic folk balladry or bright and airy indie anthems, but with his latest single he dials the energy levels up a notch. This driving alt rocker maintains the same knack for crisp engaging melodies, but is propelled to new heights by its raw grunge arrangement. Taking inspiration from the 90s music of his youth, ‘Freeloaders’ wears its influences on its sleeve, while its lyrics ruminate on how those carefree days seem so far away and are only drifting further with each passing year. So full of fire and meaning, it’s such an enticing first taste of what’s to come from Simon Alexander and the wide new horizons ahead of him.
Top Tracks: Tyler Edwards – Between Your Arms
Much the same way that everything has a hint of magic when it’s hit by the golden glow of sunset, the right song can make any surrounding feel beautiful. No matter how broken and neglected the neighbourhood is, having the right music playing as you walk on by can make you see those streets in a new light. The soft hazy folk of ‘Between Your Arms’, and how it shimmers like dawn’s light through the morning mist, is a prime example. Even in the most bleak and grey concrete jungle, this song acts as your own secret garden. That one golden drop of goodness in your surroundings that shines all the brighter against the grim backdrop. Fitting in way, as it serves as a reminder that the right person can provide the same escape. No matter how loud the noise gets, how bitter and exhausting the people around you are, having just that one person that understands you and offers comfort without judgement can make a world of difference. You can sit back and survey the storm from your safe harbour.