Thank god it’s Friday! Another, if you are in London, beautiful sunny day which is fully dedicated to all the new music that has come out this week. We hope you are as excited as us, with artists such as Black Honey, Lana del Rey, Squid and more!
Editor: Megan Hofman
Black Honey – Written & Directed (FoxFive Records)
It’s a very exciting day for Brighton indie-rock fourpiece Black Honey as they released their second album ‘Written & Directed’ today. The ten track album is an obvious homage to Quentin Tarantino from references to Django Unchained on ‘I Like The Way You Die’ to the cinematic music videos. I mean who doesn’t love a little Tarantino?
The band defined their own sound as ‘on steroids’ which is the exact description I would give to ‘disinfect’, a song that’s starts off quite simple and soft with a strong bassline but soon turns into a mosh pit anthem with its heavy rocky guitar chorus, perfect for the first post-COVID mosh pit, coming festival season. Whereas ‘disinfect’ makes you feel absolutely bad-ass, songs like ‘Beaches’ and ‘Summer ‘92’ are all about the good vibes. With the melancholic americana clapping sounds on ‘Beaches’ and hazy guitar riffs on ‘Summer 92’ both songs are ideally to be played loudly on a summer road trip with your best mates.
A song that certainly grabbed my attention was ‘Fire’, most likely because of its poignant topic, that has recently been tragically highlighted once again. “it’s my body, I make the rules” Izzy sings on the first verse, this song is an example of empowerment, musical empowerment. “We are Fire, Fire, Fire” a mantra we should keep in mind.
With ‘Written & Directed’ they dive into the history of pop culture and their rock and roll heroes in true Black Honey style. The band shows us once again they are absolutely bad-ass and here to stay.
Words: Megan Hofman
Lana del Rey – Chemtrails Over The Country Club (Polydor)
In her newest full-length album, Lana Del Rey continues to reflect on emotion and love with vulnerability and poeticism as her primary devices. The delicacy of her lyrics is matched by the soft, wispy timbre of her voice as she recounts prevalent and emotionally provocative memories. In ‘Yosemite’, Lana recounts how strong relationships stand the test of time, “Seasons may change, But we won’t change, Isn’t it sweet how we know that already? Winter to spring, spring back to fall, Isn’t it cool how nothing here changes at all?”. The generous amount of reverb on the vocals for ‘Yosemite’ compliments the warmth of the plucked acoustic guitar which is just one example of the thoughtfulness taken to link the lyrics, vocals and accompaniment in ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’.
Throughout this elegant and amorous project, the unconventional rhythms and phrasing of her melodies always keep you guessing, which in itself sets her apart from her peers, as melodies in popular music are often crafted to be automatically familiar with our brains even on the first listen, often making forgettable and unremarkable experiences.
It’s likely that more strings could tie the parts together in a warm acoustic parcel, for example, a sole cello could carry the bass parts while Lana’s falsetto, whispering vocals take care of the high frequencies and the guitars and piano manages the midrange. That being said, the arrangements rarely feel as though anything is missing, it would be interesting however to see how a more prevalent use of strings could impact this album. She does eventually begin to incorporate subtle woodwind, horn and string instruments for the penultimate song, ‘Dance Till We Die’ which pours in a glowing tease of jazz that is fully realised towards the end of the track as a bluesy passage ornaments the second half of the track.
Despite not breaking the mold, ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’ is a comforting and stunning exhibition of Lana Del Rey’s song writing and artistic vision.
Words: Doug Phillips
Jon Batiste – WE ARE (Verve Records)
After starting the week with an Oscar nomination for his work on Pixar’s ‘Soul’, Jon Batiste has released his album ‘WE ARE’ and it is inspiring to say the least. Having grown up in New Orleans and lived in New York there are an abundance of influences that can be found on this record from Jazz, Hip-Hop, R’n’B, Soul, Pop, and even elements of electronic music but Jon himself has said he is proud to represent “genre less music”. The lack of a confined genre throughout this album makes it exciting, uplifting, and hopeful as Jon reflects on his upbringing and journey and celebrates black American culture and challenges racial injustice, furthermore, the transcendent sense of musicality throughout this record makes it easy to get lost in and gives it a real sense of timelessness and authenticity.
The timeless element to this album makes it incredibly special with songs like ‘TELL THE TRUTH’ which gives off strong Otis Redding and Curtis Mayfield vibes to “BOYHOOD” that is reminiscent of a modern mellow Hip Hop record. Despite being ‘genre less’ you can really hear the musical influences throughout, and songs like ‘SHOW ME THE WAY’ Jon lists different musicians that perhaps have shown him the way to create the music that he does. Then there’s ‘SING’ which comes towards the end of the album which acts as a bridge for this album and this one, in particular, is a song about finding your passion and using it to bring you out of a dark place. Overall, I feel as though this is one of the most exciting albums of 2021 and would strongly recommend you listen to it – this is a record that feels like a cohesive scrapbook of little pieces of life that Jon has picked up over time to create a beautiful story that he uses to challenge, inspire and bring joy.
Words: Hollie Sackett
Squid- Paddling (Warp Records)
Although the Brighton-formed post-punks are yet to release their debut LP, Squid have managed to keep their patient fans satisfied with winding, unbound, yet easy-to-digest singles and EPs.
Squid pick their thrashy moments so well in their restless, hyperactive tracks to make you wait and wait for their compositions to pop and boil over (much like how many have been waiting for their album). Their newest tease, ‘Paddling’ is no exception as the band take a leisurely 6 minutes to tell an atmospheric and danceable story. The anticipation they build up with thoughtful structuring and song writing is exhilarating and progresses organically.
Ollie Judge’s feral, twitchy vocals provides Squid’s most vivid calling card. Flickering up and down registers in pitch within single words, the vocal performances contribute a manic personality, like a decent but down-trodden protagonist that has just finally snapped.
‘Paddling’ takes after its name as it swirls and sweeps along a variety of different terrains and environments. Beginning in a gentle, levelled situation, the song opens with the lyrics, “Patient, in control”, yet panic sets in as the song grows more and more out of control, “Thrash around, make it worse”.
With singles as thought-out and exciting as this, Squid’s debut, ‘Bright Green Field’, set to be released on the 7th of May can’t come soon enough.
Words: Doug Phillips
Bugzy Malone – Welcome To The Hood ft. Emeli Sandé (B-Somebody)
When reading the title for Bugzy Malone’s newest single for the first time, it’s very easy to make a quick assumption on what to expect. The glorification and glamorisation of crime on the streets is rife in rap and hiphop. In one breath, your favourite rapper could pay his respects to a murdered friend and then boast of their own acts of violence without seeing the irony or the impact.
However, the Mancunian rapper, Bugzy Malone teams up with Emeli Sandé for a brave, uncensored exposé on the truth behind life on the streets. The ex-gang member shines a light on a plethora of sociopolitical issues that riddle lower-class communities in the UK and how they aren’t taken seriously by those on the inside or out. Bugzy addresses mental health being at the root of struggle, education not being seen as important as street smarts and a lack of father figures in these communities.
The dramatic and dark instrumental is so powerful and plays its own part in carrying Bugzy’s message. Huge cinematic percussion replaces the 808s and programmed hi-hats. Recorded, live piano performances from Emeli Sandé replaces the fake, midi instruments, all combing to create a serious and mournful tone.
Heartfelt and meaningful, I hope that this vulnerable cry for help will pave a path for other rappers to follow suit and confront the realism behind their upbringing and communities.
Words: Doug Phillips