The Songs that Should be Sound-Tracking Your Spring, Whatever the Weather
It’s Trinity Term. Some of us have exams to look forward to, some of us have coursework to smash through, and some of us have all the sports and extracurriculars we promised we would do in TT to finally commit to. Regardless of what may be making you Stressed™ this term, we should all have the glorious British spring weather to help us along, right? Not necessarily, it seems. With that in mind, here’s a list of nailed on tunes to soundtrack your spring through the meteorological twists and turns – from a tops-off-in-south-parks 22 degree scorcher, to a body-soaking drizzle on the way home from the Bod.
For when it’s drizzling, but you're still hoping for the sun to break through
I know they say never to go in too strong, but I couldn’t help beginning with what is admittedly my favourite track of the bunch. Having gone through a ‘soul-searching’ hiatus in 2014 only to release a relatively run-of-the-mill, if at points thought provoking hip-hop album the next year, Johnny Rain has returned with an absolute stormer of a track. Cutting a Childish Gambino-esque pre-chorus with a grungy and addictive guitar riff throughout the song, Rain gives us an understated and melodic RnB cracker that is everything the Weeknd wants to be and more. Give this a listen in that ambiguous ‘is it drizzling or is the sun coming out’ period that always seems to hit during the middle of the afternoon. What could be more appropriate to a British springtime than an artist with Rain in his name?
For when the sun comes out just after you’ve been absolutely drenched
“I’m a dinosaur. Don’t give a fuck.” What a sentiment to go into your second proper single with. And to be honest, with a track this addictive, More Giraffes can afford not to give two single shits. Exhibiting jangly pop melodies with the baseline and a chorus to actually back it up, this sparkling little number hits pretty much every pop-y pressure point on the human body and leaves you feeling all tingly and spacey. Next time you’ve been soaked to the skin only for the sun to come out moments later, put this track on and stomp around not giving a fuck.
For when the sun finally starts cooling off on an absolute scorcher
If you consider yourself something of a child prodigy (and you made it all the way to Oxford, well done you!), get yourself on this kid’s level. Having graduated French high school (!) in 2017, Mehdi Benjelloun has already got a class tune under his belt. Tres Bon indeed. Enlisting the help of his slightly older Norwegian mate Lido to bring vocals to a perfectly summery beat, all this needed was the blatantly LA twist of Shallou’s remix to turn it into the ideal boozing in the sun, low key festival-style anthem. Well done to you, Monsieur Biscuit.
For when it’s dark out but still warm enough for a T-shirt
Peggy Gou has been all but confirmed as the next big thing in electronic/dance music and has slowly but surely been turning heads with her high quality, kinetic mixes. Anyone who may have seen her boiler room set knows she is a force to be reckoned with, and Itgehane, released earlier this year, is most certainly no exception. It’s a smooth, melodic mix featuring a *very* sexy Korean vocal layered over a funky base and shoulder-wiggle inducing hi-hats. There’s certainly no surprise at all in finding out this kind of track came from the mind of a Korean-American living in Berlin. This is definitely one to jump on this spring, especially if you, like me, were VERY upset to miss her gracing our very own O2 academy this May Day. Best enjoyed in the evening with a fresh sunburn and a pair of patterned shorts.
For when you’ve made it to a club and don’t give a single shit about the weather outside
Is it nuanced? Nope. Is it sophisticated? Absolutely not. Is it enjoyable as hell? 100%. I’m in no way here to advocate for Lethal Bizzle as the next great musical genius of our times, but I do think of it as part of my job to include some tracks that are just pure fun. This track secures the addictive, upbeat style that’s come to define Bizzle’s sound - one which has been so instrumental in bringing grime as a genre to the forefront of British music over the course of the past 15 years. No wonder then that by this stage Bizzle can afford to tell rude boys to “mind out the creps”. Anyone who has Fester Skanked in a club in their life will know exactly how to treat this one – enjoy the hell out of flexing with the bass.
For the mid-mornings that are gloriously sunny, but still pretty fresh
Don’t we all need to take a second out of our morning to “throw some sub in that bitch”? Compton artist Channel Tres certainly thinks so. This number is all kinds of brilliant, lacing simple syncopated vocals over an unashamedly jazzy bassline that cannot fail to get you up and moving. Bringing a West Coast flavour to a classic Detroit style techno track, Channel Tres makes a strong first impression; luring you onto the dancefloor with unabashedly sexy vocals and accompanying sax, it’s hard to deny that he certainly is claiming the role of Controller with confidence. I find this track best paired with a cup of tea or, ideally, the sun coming through the window in a post-brunch haze.
For a sunny afternoon anywhere, provided there are drinks and enough room to dance
Since his first release in 2015, Yxng Bane has steadily but surely been climbing up the ranks of those to watch in the British urban scene. Claiming himself not to belong to any one genre, Yxng Bane works with pieces of grime, afro-swing, bashment, dancehall, and UK drill to really encapsulate all that’s great about evolving British music at the moment. On Vroom, the rapper from Canning Town brings a dancehall-infused RnB banger with a ludicrously catchy chorus AND a cheeky reference to Sean Paul’s Gimme The Light. What more could you need with the sun and some tinnies?
For drunken pissing about with mates on a sun-dried patch of park in the middle of the day
As an artist who claims to never have a conversation for conversation’s sake, Novelist certainly tries to get as much as possible into Man Better Jump’s three minutes. The urgency of Nov’s lyrics (see “Timewasting is a wastemans flex / Jump up if you wanna know whats next / I need to breath I need to think less”) is very much replicated in the urgency of the drum and base-laced grimy synths that has come to characterise Novelist’s sound. Not here for a chat, Novelist’s Man Better Jump is every bit a command, not a request. The old-school, relentless rhythms are impeccable, and allows Nov to show off his aggressive flow at its very best.
For a chill afternoon basking in the sun
The recent release of Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer will almost certainly be of no news to you at this point, and PYNK is just one of the belters that makes it the stand out album of the year so far. The glittering pop synths, understated clicks, and gentle bleeps provided by Grimes combines with funky vocals redolent of Monae’s past hits to create the perfect track for a hazy afternoon. Identifying the experience of being a queer, black woman as one of the key themes of Dirty Computer, the allusions to female sexuality are pretty much impossible to miss in PYNK. Indeed, the frankly beautiful visuals of tongues touching, close ups of spit, and even the pink vagina-shaped trousers donned by Monae and her dancers in the track’s video only serve to cement PYNK’s confident and unashamed exploration of queer sexuality. Monae is serving us up a visually exciting, thought-inducing, and (most importantly) sonically gorgeous number with this one.
For if you ever get the chance to do an open-top road trip through the radiant sun just like in the movies
Josh Smith, otherwise known as Yoshi Flower, released his first track, Movies, earlier this year and is already back for more with this easy pop tune. Just On Drugs combines laid-back acoustic guitar riffs and classic singer-songwriter style verses with an almost ethereal EDM hook and a West-Coast hip hop style vocal over the choruses. With the relentless refrain of “we’re just on drugs, it’s not love”, the track perfectly evoked the feeling losing yourself entirely over a long and aimless summer (10th week here we come, amirite).
For sitting at the end of a long day in the sun
I’m afraid I must admit I can’t give much of a bio on Michl as I know next to nothing about the artist – but then again, neither does anyone else. Apart from his mum, presumably. Since 2016 Michl has remained unnamed and largely anonymous, and having released only a 6 track album and a handful of singles in the past few years, it seems he does sure like to keep us guessing. One in the latest bunch of singles he’s released so far this year, Better With You is a real heart-string tugger if you’ve ever heard one. Featuring verses of a sparse guitar riff juxtaposed with a deep, bass-y electro chorus, the entire track retains a cohesive, light, and emotional touch thanks to the elegant vocals running throughout. I defy anyone to listen to “this hell is better with you” in Michl’s understated, upper register vocals without taking a quiet minute of reflection. Let this be the aloe to your springtime sun burn.