Friday, August 12, 2016

The best of #NewMusicFriday and other songs you may have missed

I'm increasingly of the opinion that New Music Friday has made music blogs redundant. The big releases all appear in one giant avalanche, leaving you nothing to write about for the rest of the week - save the odd radio premiere or unsigned band.

Still, I've listened to the latest New Music playlists on Spotify and Apple Music, so that you don't have to. Here are my highlights:

1) Florence + The Machine - Songs From Final Fantasy XV
I can't imagine Florence Welch sitting down with a gamepad to play an 80-hour roleplaying game, but she's certainly come up trumps with her Final Fantasy soundtrack EP. The lead single, Too Much Is Never Enough is a sweeping epic; while her slow-building Stand By Me will cause jaws to drop.

2) OneRepublic - Kids
Ryan Tedder comes up trumps again; mixing an acoustic strum and a "Summer of 69" lyric with that chirruping vocal effect everyone's been using since Where Are U Now. Radio playlist programmers will wet themselves over this one.

3) Jason Derulo - Kiss The Sky
Jason's "tribute" to Uptown Funk now comes with an Hawaiian Shirt-assisted music video, and it's got more fizz than a swimming pool of sherbet.

4) Zuzu - Get Off
Liverpool's Zuzu (real name unknown) has recently toured the UK supporting Courtney Barnett - and you can see why. This shoulder-shrugging, slacker rock is a perfect match for Barnett's own brand of literate rock. Fans of 90s bands like Belly and the Juliana Hatfield Trio will find plenty to love here.

5) Danny L Harle - Super Natural (feat Carly Rae Jepsen)
British producer Danny L Harle is part of the PC Music family - but this track, featuring underappreciated superstar Carly Rae Jepsen, is a more straightforward techno-pop track than you might imagine.

"Carly was always at the top of my list of people who could sing it, but I never envisaged it actually happening!" says Danny in a press release. "Ever since I heard Call Me Maybe she has been one of my dream collaborators. I love her take on the track; her voice has an amazingly positive energy which was essential in giving Super Natural a necessary sense of euphoria."

6) Folly Rae - U
British singer Folly Rae has come up through the BBC Introducing scheme but, I have to confess, her brittle R&B had me convinced she was a fully-groomed US major label signing.

U, which is trending on Spotify's Viral Chart, is a dark and sultry tale of broken hearts - with a cunning twist in the coda.

7) Caitlyn Scarlett - Rust
A testament to the power of algorithms, this popped up on Soundcloud immediately after Folly Rae's song and immediately made me sit up and listen.

Caitlyn Scarlett (what a name!) is a self taught guitarist and pianist, who left the small town of Bray for London, aged 17. She cites everyone from MIA to Kate Bush and Christine & The Queens as influences, and her music is as beguiling and goosebumpy as that playlist would suggest.

8) MIA - Bird Song
"I'm a parrot," intones MIA at the start of this song, a pun-tastic, kazoo-powered oddity in which the singer compares herself to various inhabitants of the avian universe.

"Stayin' rich like an Ostrich," she repeats in the chorus, apparently having forgotten to take her medication.

9) Slaves - Spit It Out
About as far away from my normal tastes as it's possible to get but there's something thrilling about the Slaves' take-no-prisoners punk onslaught.

10) Regina Spektor - While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Taken from a new animated film, Kubo and the Two Strings, this Beatles cover is delicate and beautiful. Bonus points for failing to feature a single guitar.

11) Frances - Say It Again
Written with Greg Kurstin, this is a little more polished - but a little less heartfelt - than Frances' previous singles. The melody is gorgeous, in a coldly efficient sort of way, but if it introduces more people to her music, I don't mind one little bit.

12) Britney Spears - Make Me
Step aside, Taylor Swift. New Romantics is no longer the worst video released by a major label pop star this year. (And don't get me started on the other teaser tracks Britney released this week. Clumsy doesn't begin to describe it).

And that's your lot. Sorry to end on a downer. But what an unholy mess this Britney album is shaping up to be. Astonishing scenes.

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