// by Ollie Webb //
When big stars such as Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Camila Cabello release chart-topping hits all within the same window of time, it can be easy for smaller, up-and-coming artists’ new tracks to overshadowed.
January was fruitful in this respect, with a wide array of red-hot tunes released by rising stars of the music world. Here are some of my personal favourites that last month had to offer.
God Save Our Young Blood – BORNS and Lana Del Rey
You may have previously heard of BORNS since the infectious, electropop melodies featured on his first album like ‘American Money’ frequently pop up on Spotify as suggested tracks, and the artist himself has supported the likes of Charli XCX and Halsey on tour. The artist teams up with dream pop goddess Lana Del Rey on this hazy, euphoric single, however her contribution is certainly not at the forefront of the song. The usual formula of a featured artist offering a supplementary verse halfway through the song is relinquished, as Del Rey’s vocals are understated, and simply add an extra layer to the melody. The artists croon about young love and the ecstasy climaxes in the choruses as the key changes and synth intensifies. While most fans would agree that a collaboration from BORNS and Lana Del Rey is a match made in heaven, ‘God Save Our Young Blood’ doesn’t quite have the intrinsic magic that Del Rey’s work with The Weeknd possesses. Here’s hoping that a more spectacular follow up BORNS/Lana Del Rey collaboration is on the cards for the future.
Lower the Tone – Rae Morris
Rae Morris rose to fame with ‘Love Again’ in 2015 when the epic single was used in a TV advert… and thank god it was. From that point onwards, the British singer-songwriter has gone from strength to strength. ‘Lower the Tone’ perfectly exemplifies the progression that the artist has gone through in the past three years. The track takes risks; it constantly chops and changes, with the beginning’s lustful, stripped back vocals suddenly turning into a ghostly, electronic riff. It’s as if this track is a product of two very different songs fused into one. The song also showcases a deviation from the standard pop song structure (intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus), as a clear-cut chorus is difficult to identify. The extent of the song’s layering crescendos as the song culminates to a frenzy. For all of these reasons, the track is memorable, and I am excited to see how Morris further defines the contemporary pop music scene.
Bringing the House Down – CLOVES
There is a certain timelessness which dominates this Australian singer-songwriter’s voice and this new release is perfectly suited to complement this. ‘Bringing the House Down’ is a pensive track which explores a relationship that is no longer exciting; it offers no real emotion, everything is painfully placid and there is no fire that triggers anything particularly significant to happen. This song is somewhat antithetical to the previously mentioned experimental ‘Lower the Tone’ by Rae Morris as it follows the age-old book of classical song writing rules. Although, if the smoky, soulful vocals paired with the sympathetic sentiment of the song is indicative of what her forthcoming debut album will be like, CLOVES is one to watch in 2018.
Hand it Over – MGMT
MGMT are back and actually produced songs other than ‘Electric Feel’, ‘Kids’ and ‘Time to Pretend’? Who knew?! ‘Hand it Over’ is actually a component of their new album, ‘Little Dark Age’ which was released very recently. This dreamy, swaying track serves as the perfect conclusion to the album as its breezy, 60’s psych rock feel goes against expectations of the duo. Tame Impala’s Dave Fridmann lends a hand with the production of the whole album, but his contribution shines through this track more than any of the rest on the album. Until the last minute, the song merely features a sequence of verses with the harmonious echo of “hand it over” in backing vocals repeated which aid in lifting its overall mood. The final section of the track, the only part that exhibits any variation, is not a discrete chorus, but a blurry, melancholic fade-out to both the song and the album.
Water Baby – Tom Misch and Loyle Carner
Tom Misch’s upcoming album is entitled ‘Geography’ which seems apt since ‘Water Baby’ epitomises the artist’s journey to discover a world lodged somewhere between jazz, hip-hop and soul. It’s not surprising that the Misch and Carner have worked together previously, as it seems that they have come together and perfected a sound that brings out the best in both of them. The funky, delectable track features flashy brass, background piano melodies and hip-hop inspired beats. Misch’s butter-like, effortlessly cool vocals take centre stage on this chilled-out number. The track was released at the optimum time to cure your January blues and takes you far away from your essay or problem sheet to somewhere equally chilled-out.