After what feels like a year, January is finally over, which means the dark days are coming to an end and light is on the horizon. The vaccine roll-out seems to be working and, fingers crossed, next month we might be able to actually see other people again. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we’re not there yet. In the meantime, we can enjoy these gorgeous new releases in the comfort of our own home or while going for another daily walk, it’s up to you.
Editor: Megan Hofman
FINNEAS- American Cliché (AWAL)
The six-time Grammy winner FINNEAS often gets his recognition for his contribution on his sister’s career, especially when co-writing and producing Billie Eilish album ‘When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go’, however people sometimes forget that FINNEAS himself releases good music. This week he is back with another single ‘American Cliché’, a fan favourite. This song was part of his live set, but the fans never got a studio version, until now. In a tweet FINNEAS shared: “I just wanted you to know, your cyber bullying absolutely worked and is absolutely the only reason I went back to it and produced it”. Showing the power of the fans when it comes to artist releasing a certain track.
‘American Cliché’ is a playful love song, that shows of his incredible vocal range. It is more uplifting than his previous releases and consists of big-band brass instruments that feel joyous and a little cheeky, which also relates to the lyrics “Missed my flight, makin’ love in the morning While everybody else was boarding” cheeky FINNEAS, very cheeky. One thing is clear, he made his fans very happy finally releasing this single. Power to the fans!
Words: Megan Hofman
Medicine At Midnight – Foo Fighters (RCA Records)
Modern rock legends, Foo Fighters maintain a 25-year-long momentum of consistent and true-to-form album releases with their newest effort, ‘Medicine At Midnight’. Over the years, Dave’s voice has seemingly not aged a day, yet the band’s song writing, and production approach is fresh, adaptive and regularly flourishes on this record in ways, previously unprecedented from Foo Fighter’s discography.
This is producer Greg Kurstin’s second venture with Foo Fighters after 2017’s Concrete and Gold. Kurstin’s production approach is snappy, punchy and excited, yet this record, much like many modern rock albums, have a frustratingly short leash when it comes to expressing the messiness and dynamics that the band members intended to be portrayed with their performances.
‘Holding Poison’ is certainly a highlight on this record. The attitude and interrupting guitar stabs in the verses are reminiscent of Grohl and Josh Homme’s one-time project, Them Crooked Vultures from 2009. The rhythms and general angle of song writing in ‘Shame Shame’ made for a refreshing and stimulating single and was something I never expected to hear in this record. The recording of the drum part in this track is rustic, distant and so contradictory to such a massive production, making it a fantastic, albeit leftfield device for this record.
Despite the occasional polite nature from the mastering on this record, the performances are impassioned, energetic and shows no signs of the Foo Fighters fizzling out this side of the decade.
Words: Doug Phillips
Puma Blue – In Praise of Shadows (Blue Flowers)
Puma Blue’s debut album, ‘In Praise of Shadows’, is delicate, hazy and gorgeous throughout. With hints of Jazz and R&B, this record is uncomplicated and soothing and slows the world down for a bit – it’s the kind of lo-fi record you’d want to hear playing on a record player, crackling away on a rainy night.
If you’re a fan of James Blake or Sampha this is definitely a record you should check out, a particular stand out song is ‘Velvet Leaves’, a song about his sister who he was witnessing falling and almost losing her to depression. The track has a smooth hip-hop beat with a lightly strummed, melodic electric guitar along with a harmony that remains the same throughout the song. With vulnerable lyrics, the song builds with more and more, layers come in that are filled with emotion. Since releasing his first EP in 2017, Puma Blue has definitely lost the authenticity of the bedroom musician that he started as, but the album definitely stepped up a level of instrumentation with songs such sheets that brings an orchestral sound.
If you’re looking for something a bit more up-tempo on this record, ‘Oil Slick’ definitely has it – a woozy but jazzy feel that is carried by an upbeat drumbeat that begins to grow into a grand b section that introduces saxophone solo which adds to the intensity and emotion. From being inspired by his insomnia and 3 am thoughts, this record is an incredibly personal and vulnerable one which really gives a feeling of comfort in a time we all so desperately need it.
Words: Hollie Sackett
PRETTYMUCH – Parking Spot (Sire Records)
‘Parking Spot’ is the second single of PRETTYMUCH’s comeback EP ‘Smackables’ – their first release after their two-year hiatus. The American boyband stayed true to their significant R&B mixed with Pop style, yet parted ways with their “creator” Simon Cowell, following his Label’s Closure, and are now signed with Sire Records, owned by Warner Music Group. The fivesome explains to have more creative freedom than ever before, writing and producing all their new releases themselves. Lyrically, Parking Spot is about a significant other abruptly ending a relationship, leaving the other one behind without closure, guessing what could’ve gone wrong and if it would be worth to chase them and fight for their love. Even though it’s a slow song, it includes a prominent bass and a few rap-lines – reminding of ‘Phases’, their last single release before their hiatus. Their strong comeback and future releases hopefully proof to everyone that they are more than your average boyband and definitely underrated in the industry.
Words: Victoria Madzak