FEATURE: The Five Best Tracks of 2016: Jamie T – Tinfoil Boy



The Five Best Tracks of 2016:


Image result for jamie t 2016


Jamie T – Tinfoil Boy


ONE of the biggest surprises from this year…

was hearing Tinfoil Boy drop. I use the word ‘drop’ as that was the effect it had: like a comet falling out of the sky. Jamie T has always had a reputation for being one of our finest and most consistent songwriters. 2014’s Carry on the Grudge resounded in the critical mindset and was heralded as one of his (if not the) finest album of the Londoner’s career. Tracks such as Zombie and Rabbit Hole are instant and highly memorable; the twelve-track album bristles with energy and innovation; Jamie T’s personality and expertise shining through. Fast-forward to this year and Trick arrived with a lot of expectation and hype. Whilst it did not gain the universal acclaim as its predecessor: Trick still packed a meaty punch and kept the ball very much rolling. A lot of critics noted obvious influences – Arctic Monkeys on Power Over Men and other moments; The Clash coming through in Tescoland and Police Tapes – the Combat Rock-era ‘Clash. It is the album’s opening tracks that resonate hardest. Drone Strike has a bit of Dizzee Rascal (strangely) but ignites and explodes in the chorus. If, at times, the Wimbledon lad has adopted a Sheffield accent – baffled by how many people want to copycat Alex Turner – then Tinfoil Boy (with a little Yorkshire fleck in it) differed from anything Arctic Monkeys have created. The creepy and unsettled video stole focus for a bit but nobody can deny the potency and power of the song. The hero is “tricked into waking up” and there seems to be an air of fear and depression in the song. That fatigue and uncertainty are destroyed by the swaggering, bangin’ chorus that, when I first reviewed Trick, reminded me of Underworld. It has that clubland vibe and Trance/House vibe. Whilst the verses sees Jamie feeling like a child and under foot – it is that indelible chorus that rattles around the brain. When the single came out June, I feared the chorus would never get out of the brain – it wasn’t until November it started to fade out. An immaculate and memorable song that stands as Trick’s highlight – Drone Strike, Tescoland and Sign of the Times completing the best of the rest. If critics were not hot to the entire album: there was more consistency and love aimed towards Tinfoil Boy. Radio stations could not get enough and it was a clear sign Jamie T had lost none of his surprise and talent. In the cold and wintery days, we need songs like Tinfoil Boy to get us jumping and uplifted. Let’s hope there is another Jamie T album down the line. If he can dispense with his Arctic Monkeys tributes – no qualms about The Clash’s inclusion – and claw back some of that Carry on the Grudge magic – he will gain a foothold atop the mountain. Still a geezer king and mouthpiece of this generation: a successful and busy year for the thirty-year-old. Having revisited Tinfoil Boy, there is a stark danger it will be in my head for the rest of this year – perhaps it can silence the sickly-sweet cloy of Christmas songs. Tinfoil Boy may be my fourth-favourite song of 2016 but it is by far the catchiest.


Follow Jamie T:


 Image result for jamie t trick

The album, Trick, is available at:




TRACK REVIEW: Helene Greenwood – Flat Roof House



Helene Greenwood



Flat Roof House






Flat Roof House is available at:


5th June, 2016

Ambient; Alternative


London, U.K.

Image result for helene greenwood exquisitely hopeless

The album, Exquisitely Hopeless, is available via:



This Is the News Today

Flat Roof House

Dream Horses

Crystal Vase

Exquisitely Hopeless

Madame Marina

I Say a Little Prayer


…Travelling Inside and Travelling Out

To Live In the Moon



28th October, 2016


ONE of the things that linger in my mind as we approach…

the coming year is how many great solo artists have emerged. I will come to looking at my featured artist soon, but before I do, I wanted to look at the female solo sector – and why they are outranking their male counterparts – a little about ‘unique’, expected sounds and the emotions music provoke. It is worth (first) addressing the sort of artists that have defined this year. I have mentioned, with repeated fervency, just how much tragedy and loss we have encountered in 2016. Titans like David Bowie and Leonard Cohen have left us in addition to some other musical stalwarts. That is not to say 2016 has been a cursed year – it was always probable we’d lose a few great musicians given age and prolificacy of illnesses like cancer – but it seems rather unfair. What has been born out of this black velvet movement is a need for celebration and reflectiveness. I hear many already looking ahead to next year and the sort of artist they will be investigating. Over the past few days, I have completed my compendium of musicians I feel will be prominently shining in 2017. Whether you call is ‘Ones to Watch’ or something else: it has been interesting collating the names and putting everyone together. What I found, and as I did last year, the majority of my tips are female. This is not a reaction to imbalances in the industry – men getting more money and focus – or reverse-sexism: this is a truthful outlay of the strongest artists we have in the world right now. The fact the majority of them are women is actually a positive thing. Too long, and not long ago, male-only bands were the toast of the media world.

You’d often see these end-of-year lists and read nothing but male bands being lauded and elevated to the status of kings. I suppose the proliferation of bands at the time – Artic Monkeys, Foo Fighters etc. – first of all started the rush of male band but also directed critical minds. Over the past couple of years, there has been a change in the wind. I am seeing more female artist come into focus and being proffered by the mainstream media. Given the shift of tastes and sounds – the band market taking a bit of a dip – seeing female artists being given their due is encouraging and heartening. There is, as I’m sure they’d agree, a long way to go to redressing the imbalance and a gender-blind scene being created. Years ago, around the time male bands were ruling, I was seeing a lot of sexism and injustice towards female artists. I am not suggesting that has been eradicated but things are changing. Maybe there is that determination and resolve to be noticed: the women of music are making big indents than the boys. A lot of this comes down to the solo market – there are far fewer female bands than male; there are more mixed-gender bands – and the sort of sounds being proffered. It is hardly a surprise artists like Billie Marten – the final time I shall mention her this year – and Laura Marling feature on my end-of-year lists. It is also not a shock to find so many other female artists feature highly – innovation, passion and talent reigning proud and strong. Helene Greenwood fits into my argument superbly and prompts other topics too. She is one of those musicians that has a Marling-esque quality: the consistency and innovation; the stunning delivery and exceptional lyrics. It is not going to be long until Greenwood transcends into the mainstream and starts getting big recognition. As she says herself (on the Facebook biography) she writes everything from Lynchian-Utopian contradiction to ‘60s-influenced gangster scores; Japanese soundscapes and odd, incongruous meshing of genres. Having been recording music since studying at Stanford University – and before that one imagines – I have seen her grow and blossom into one of the most individual, strong songwriters in our midst. I have explained how female songwriters are taking charge and I have a couple of theories.

For a start, there is – among them – an innate sense of ambition and experimentation. I am not saying male artists lack that sense of chemistry – James Blake is someone who does it in spades – but the female artists seem more daring and skilful when it comes to subverting expectations and pushing through boundaries. Also, one gets something more captivating and beautiful – again, the boys can bring this to the party when they feel like it. This is all distilled marvellously inside Greenwood’s music. She is someone who creates her own mini-universes and takes the listener into strange and magical realms. At every step, there is a realism and sense of tangibility to the music. It is never as out-there and strange as that but is never completely grounded and conventional. In a sense, Greenwood reminds me of American singer-songwriter Joanna Newsom. Here is someone whose writing blends quirky and honest: a talent who can bare her soul savagely but elevate the consciousness into a far-off, safe world filled with all manner of characters and situations. Greenwood has that flair and sense of endeavour; her compositions mic Folk, Classical; Pop and so many different strands. At no point do you get a sense of an artist following the pack of replicating anyone else. Helene Greenwood is her own woman and a songwriter who is impossible to classify. I feel one of the things lacking from this year’s best is that sense of magic and strange. You do not find many artists that blend genres and push the envelope readily. The more traditional musicians have created sensational work and are rightly being celebrated. I briefly mentioned Laura Marling – who we will hear more of when her new album is released in March – but someone who touches the surface of what I am saying. She can create some truly sensational music that is hard to define and has a dizzying, life-affirming quality.

That is something we do not often find in music: sounds that create escapism and enrich the senses; provoke serious reaction and take the imagination somewhere special. Too many musicians are so direct and unnuanced it is hard to rev the senses through the gears and get any sort of speed going. Talking about relationships and sex – often rather animal-like and carnally – is not something that mandates repeated listens and any thorough investigation. There is still that prolificacy of relationship-mentioning songs and issues of sex. Few songwriters cast away from those shores and explore something more original, nourishing and enriching. That is a shame because music, some sectors of it anyway, are in danger of stagnation and extinction. Helene Greenwood is someone who is doing things her own way, and in the process, inspiring others. Her music digs deep and gets the listener thinking and imagining. There are songs that look at love but never in a crude and simplistic way. An imaginative and intelligent songwriter inspired by more honest, charming themes: all this is funnelled into her beautiful and immersing work. I am sure we will be hearing more from Greenwood into next year and more tour dates for sure. Her current album, Exquisitely Hopeless, has been picking up positive reviews and amazing critics. It is that hard-to-define sound and colourful songwriting that has compelled so many people. Across the album, you get the sense of a woman not only discovering herself but urging the listener to search themselves and think more deeply about the world around them. Perhaps that is me over-interpreting but that’s the feeling I got. I wanted to focus on Flat Roof House – a song that she recorded a little while ago – as I feel it best represents the album and leaves the biggest impression in the mind. I am sure Greenwood will be making strides in 2017 and building on the success she has accrued. That will be exciting to see and discovering just how far she can go.

In terms of assessing how far Greenwood has come as a musician, one must look to the past. The fact Exquisitely Hopeless is her first, full work is not to say she has been idle for the last few years. Greenwood has been busy since studying in California and recording music for a long time. Songs that feature on her album have been in gestation for a while. I have known about her for a long time and know she is a prolific musician that should not be overlooked. Exquisitely Hopeless is the best way to judge and assess Greenwood as an artist and what she is about. Throughout the eleven tracks, you get a real sense of a young woman who likes to watch the world go by and documents that like no other. One imagines her people-watching in cafés and parks; casting her mind to new worlds and transposing the people in it. It is clear Greenwood has a rich imagination but she is never too flighty or surreal. With every song, you get that heartbeat of realism and relatability: a woman who has real emotions and concerns but does not portray them in any obvious and predictable way. That is what separates her from her peers: that ability to transcend expectations and blend the extraordinary with the ordinary. I feel we will hear a lot more from her in the coming years and some terrific albums. I have never seen her perform live but can imagine it is quite an unforgettable experience. More of next year will see me interview musicians and really getting into their mind – seeing what makes them tick and learning more about them. Helene Greenwood’s world is one I want to become accustomed to and learn more about. She is an enigmatic and intriguing human whose music is among the most arresting and memorable I have heard in a long while. Anyone new to Helene Greenwood should immerse themselves in Exquisitely Hopeless and its myriad themes. It is dreamy and floating; raw and open and times but never too wide-reaching and unfocused. Everything is anchored by an incredible vocal and authoritative command; the compositions always layered and gorgeous – a musician who you are loathed to compare with anyone else. I have mentioned artists like Joanna Newsom and Laura Marling: perhaps there is a smidge of both within Greenwood. That said, she is someone whose lyrics and stories are inherently her own and immune from easy categorisation and assessment.

Initial seconds of Flat Roof House put the vocal at the centre. There is little waltz of seduction: the song gets underway and the heroine is in view. Almost child-like in its purity and sound, the vocal has a sweetness and sincerity that is filled with innocence and hope. You are imagining the scenes unfold and following what Greenwood is singing about. There are highways “zooming past” – something the heroine can hear at night – and you imagine a rather busy, built-up scene of traffic and sound. In a way, there is a romance to the words. Not necessarily documenting pollution and stress: there is a feeling of life happening around her and a simple, honest life. One imagines, when hearing about the flat roof house, it is about someone else rather than the heroine. Perhaps a friend or character of the imagination; one envisions a simple girl lying by white kitchen goods – as Greenwood sings – and wondering whether it is a dream from yesterday. There is an oblique, dream-like quality to the lyrics that make you wonder what is being talked about. You see the girl in the house – rather honest and traditional – hearing the traffic race by and trying to find solace. The detail and mention of kitchenware could make it, in lesser hands, perfunctory and run-of-the-mill. Greenwood laces her words with something quite extraordinary. It is hard to put it into words but that voice is compelling and sensational. The compositional ‘interlude’ matches zooming, spacey electronics with more composed, balletic piano. There is that mix of gravity-defying and level-headed: blending supremely and creating a rhapsody of beauty and possibility. In a way, the composition best represents the contradictions and complexities of the lyrics. On the one hand, you get traffic noises and nods but there is an oddity and far-off quality that could represent dreaming and the imagination taking flight.

The “Milky white skin” and “Thousand possibilities” that arrive in the next verse bring about new interpretations and thoughts. Greenwood’s vocals – and composition in fact – are inspired by Japan and Japanese music. Her delivery has that calm and unique delivery one would hear from a Japanese artist. You get sounds of the Far East in the composition and vocal – quite still and slow but graced with tenderness and eccentricity. Greenwood’s voice is pure and precise; her words are pronounced with the utmost care in order to ensure they hit the mark. It is unusual hearing an artist with such an expressive and pin-sharp voice. In terms of the lyrics, you wonder what is happening in this segment. We have stepped fully away from domesticity and the ordinariness of life and have transcended somewhere more scintillating, unexpected and magical. The song’s heroine is lying on the floor – or floating in the atmosphere – and letting her mind conspire. I have been loathed to look at any interpretations about the song (Greenwood explaining its origins) as the words provoke different reactions and explanations. These possibilities have “Captured my breath” – the narrative seems to shift to first-person and be about the heroine. Flat Roof House keeps you compelled and guessing; the music and vocals so singular and enticing. At times, one gets glimmers of Icelandic queen Björk and her music. That same sort of delivery and intense (but safe) world where nothing is normal and anything is possible. It would be remiss of me not to mention that legend but incongruous to compare the two directly. Greenwood is her own musician and employs little touches of other artists. In fact, it is that cuisine fusion of Japanese and Icelandic (Súrir hrútspungar sushi, perhaps?!) that makes the song so hard to nail. At every stage, you are captivated by the beauty and softness – Greenwood the narrator and guide who takes somewhere safe and secure.

In a way, the song is like a recollection of past times and childhood memories, perhaps. Having a flat roof house where everyone has a room; there was simplicity to life and a purer time. Against the patterning, tribe beats and shivering, opulent string you ensconce yourself in the scene and spectate. It is hard to refute the majesty and divinity of the voice – something that continues to amaze and impress at every stage. There is a sparsity to Flat Roof House that makes the song more powerful. You are left to paint your own pictures and come to your own conclusions. Songs that provoke that are rare but rarer still are tracks that float into the imagination and calm the senses. In the final minute, you get the conclusion and wrap up. The voice takes a step back and you are left to swim in the electronics and strands; the whispers and echoes. At no point are you anything less than hooked and spellbound. Despite there being few words, Flat Roof House keeps you coming back with its unexpectedness and strange beauty. At the heart of the song is a reality: one that is special to the heroine and one we can all relate to. Even if you do not fully immerse yourself in the song and relate to the sentiments; there is enough beauty and refined grace – plenty of emotion and passion to get you involved. It is that sense of involvement and activity that makes the song so special. Unable to idly sit back, you spend the closing moments assessing what has come before and continuing to follow the story through. First thoughts looked at a fictional heroine who was in her simple house listening to traffic. That changed to ideals of our heroine casting her mind back to times at the house – where there were possibilities in life and everything was ahead of her. Upon further study, I got the feeling of a woman looking back to when she was young and the simple innocence of the time. Perhaps that view will change again but Flat Roof House never stops with its intrigue and fascination. A stunning song from Helene Greenwood that is a pretty good starting point when listening to Exquisitely Hopeless. That album is rich with bounty and marvelousness. One marvels at every song and casts themselves in Helene Greenwood’s world. Flat Roof House is that seraphic gem that keeps on shining and demonstrates what a talent Greenwood is.

I started by looking at Greenwood in the context of the modern scene. There has been a real surge of female artists doing some extraordinary things. This year has seen a lot of tragedy and stress and we are starting to rebuild and evaluate at the moment. Given the unusualness and extremism of 2016, it is understandable many people are willing to put it to bed and forget about it. It is true we can do without the tragedy and death that has been stalking the landscape – and the political insanity – but we cannot overlook just how many great musicians have laid down markers this year. In addition to the mainstream artists and their work: a whole host of new artists are doing great work and showing they can rub shoulders with the best of them. I have been hearing a lot of quality but finding the female artists are making the biggest impact. I am not sure what the reason and rationale is but I suspect there is a general move against the samey, predictable music that has been stalking the landscape for a few years. You still have those female acts – who shall remain anonymous – who are producing sexualised, relationship-heavy songs that are more boring than titillating. Even if they were the latter, you do not want to hear that for too long – the brain starts to rot and the imagination is almost forced into hibernation. Against this rather ill and primaeval movement is a counter-culture of sophisticated, intelligent music.

I have mentioned examples like Laura Marling but Helene Greenwood represents what I am talking about. I feel, is she were male, she would not have been able to create music quite like this It sounds rather odd but there is something innately beautiful, sensual and, almost maternal, unfolds. Among the men of music, I have been impressed by everyone from Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool is my album of the year and James Blake; Michael Kiwanuka and Jamie T – but have the most affection and time for female musicians. The girls have been leading the way: this is especially true when you listen to the new/underground musicians of the moment. Greenwood is an individual and special talent who is not following the herd and producing the same old music about the same old things. You get familiarity and relatability but there is that magical quality and entrance. That is in no small part down to the vocal-and-composition coupling that runs riot throughout Exquisitely Hopeless. Ripples and Dream Horses have been available for a short time and invested with something quite transcendent and mind-altering. It is that voice that elevates the songs and puts the words (at times relatable at others mystical) right into the brain. Flat Roof House is the standout and a song, I feel, best represents the album. Of course, the entire work is brimming with quality and beauty – many critics have noted that – but you get the biggest hit on Flat Roof House. I am not sure how Greenwood will capitalise on Exquisitely Hopeless into next year but feel there will be more work and perhaps another album. I have been thoroughly impressed by her album and it is one of the most interesting and detailed I have heard all year.

A stunning and busy work that introduces us to a range of characters and situations – just what we need in music right now. At times, one or two of the songs sound alike, but the abiding impression is of an album perfectly balanced and immensely impressive. The production is rich and polished – without being too so – but it is Greenwood’s assured and intelligent songwriting that stands proudest. Throw in a special and captivating voice and you have one of the best artists (and albums) currently operating in music. We need music that provokes hidden emotions and takes us somewhere special. A lot of the time, when hearing the mainstream’s best, you get some of those emotions uncovered. Whether relief, release or joy: musicians that can enrich and lift a listener is to be congratulated and encouraged. Too often musicians go for the gut and are incapable of producing anything with depth and nuance. Those that go the extra mile and really do something amazing are those we should be concentrating on. I urge you to get involved with Helene Greenwood and a musician with a definite future. I am not sure what her touring schedule looks like next year but she is likely to be performing around London and further afield. She has international quality and that demand should follow: an artist that could hold court around Europe and make a name for herself there. Exquisitely Hopeless is certainly exquisite but its author is far from hopeless. In fact, it that contradiction (in the title) that is reflected in the music. You get a sense of someone discovering themselves and pouring her heart out – a sense of realism and honesty – but that otherworldly effectiveness and stun. Make sure you get the album and investigate it thoroughly. If you are feeling like many out there – exhausted and confused by this year – Helene Greenwood is the person who can banish those bad memories and replace them with something purer and more positive. I have been listening to her album for a few days now and finding new insight and nuance every time I do. It is Flat Roof House that reverberates loudest and creates the biggest reaction in me. After a rather fraught and tempestuous year, it is such a relief…

HELENE Greenwood is among us.


Follow Helene Greenwood












FEATURE: The December Playlist: Vol. 1



the december playlist: vol. 1. musicmusingsandsuch


The December Playlist: Vol. 1


ARE we in December already?!

Image result for stone roses
The year is certainly flying along and is almost at the end. Before it is, and the inevitable nausea of Christmas songs are cascading through every shop you visit – let’s give ourselves the chance to hear some real, decent music. In honour of BBC’s ‘Sounds of 2017’ longlist; I have included a song from each nominated artist. Also, due to ‘6 Music’s celebration of 1989 yesterday, a list of some terrific songs from a remarkable year. In addition, I have collected the best of the rest: the new tracks coming out and showing just what 2017 holds in store. Enjoy the spoils and relish the last few days before we are witness to the onslaught of Christmas ‘favourites’ – the mind does boggle so!






Anderson PaakCelebrate


Dave Six Paths

Declan McKennaBrazil

Jorja SmithWhere Did I Go?

PHOTO CREDIT: Katia Temkin

Maggie RogersDog Years

Nadia RoseSkwod






Rag ‘n’ Bone ManHuman

Ray BLKMy Hood (ft. Stormzy)

PHOTO CREDIT: Hanna Hillier Photography

RayeBet U Wish

Image result for stefflon-don

Stefflon-DonHot Prop


The AmazonsIn My Mind

The Japanese HouseStill

Tom GrennanSomething in the Water (Live)


Beans on Toast 2016


1989 the december plaYLIST




Image result for beastie boys 1989

Beastie BoysHey Ladies

Image result for pixies 1989

Pixies Gauge Away


Image result for nine inch nails 1989

Nine Inch NailsSomething I Can Never Have

Image result for de la soul 1989

De La SoulThe Magic Number

Image result for the cure 1989

The CurePictures of You

Image result for tom petty 1989

Tom PettyRunnin’ Down a Dream

Image result for the replacements band

The ReplacementsI’ll Be You

Image result for the rolling stones - mixed emotions

The Rolling StonesMixed Emotions

Image result for new order technique

New OrderFine Time

Image result for faith no more the real thing album cover

Faith No MoreEpic

Image result for neneh cherry 1989

Neneh CherryBuffalo Stance





Image result for janet jackson rhythm nation 1814

Janet JacksonRhythm Nation

Image result for soundgarden 1989

SoundgardenLoud Love

Image result for nirvana 1989

NirvanaAbout a Girl

Image result for soul ii soul back to life

Soul II SoulBack to Life

Image result for midnight oil diesel and dust

Midnight OilBeds are Burning

Image result for the bangles 1989

The BanglesEternal Flame

Image result for the beautiful south welcome to the beautiful south

The Beautiful SouthSong for Whoever

Image result for queen 1989

QueenI Want It All

Image result for the stone roses 1989

The Stone Roses I Wanna Be Adored

Image result for 10 000 maniacs blind man's zoo

10,000 ManiacsEat for Two

Image result for madonna 1989

MadonnaLike a Prayer

Image result for black box ride on time

Black BoxRide On Time






Image result for izzy bizu

Izzy BizuMad Behaviour

Image result for jean watts

Jean Watts Spirit Animal

Image result for pete doherty hamburg demonstrations

Peter DohertyKolly Kibber

Image result for laura marling

Laura MarlingSoothing

Image result for anohni

Anohni Marrow

Image result for fractures band

FracturesFall Harder

Image result for sia

Sia Angel by the Wings




the best of the rest musicmusingsandsuch


Image result for beyonce

BeyoncéAll Night

Image result for emily smith singer

Emily SmithFind Hope

Image result for the xx

The xxOn Hold

Image result for frank carter and the rattlesnakes

Frank Carter and the RattlesnakesWild Flowers

Image result for the big moon

The Big MoonFormidable

Image result for jessie j 2016

Jessie J (x Make Up Forever)Can’t Take My Eyes Off You

Image result for joe goddard

Joe  GoddardLose Your Love

Image result for tall ships band

Tall ShipsDay by Day



Mary SpenderShe


Rosie CrowCharlotte’s Song


Wayne WoodwardNumb


EmmiCouldn’t Care Less






PHOTO CREDIT: Ugo Petronin Photography

Stephanie OLove’s Made a Fool of Me


Kat Kenna – We’re the Same


Lady Leshurr (ft. Wiley)Where Are You Now? 


GIRLIGirl I Met on the Internet


XY&OEvery Single Second


Jasmine BrancaLilly


I am not sure how many more December Playlist entries there will be – there are fewer new releases as the year cools off – but I am sure the next edition will feature the odd Christmas number (be forewarned). It is amazing seeing so many great tracks still arriving: new artists hoping to be prominent and active in 2017; making bids for attention and focus. It is with that I bid another festive-nearing edition of my Playlist series down and look ahead to the new week – just what songs might be dropping and what surprises lay ahead.

TRACK REVIEW: Loud Mouth Machine – Honeycomb



Loud Mouth Machine 








Honeycomb is available at:


November 2016

Indie-Rock; Jazz


London, U.K.

The E.P., Shades of Blue, is available via:



WE have arrived at the time of year when most of us start to reflect…

on what has come before. If one tries to distill and define this year, in music terms at least, it is a year of two halves. On the one side, we have had a lot of fantastic music come through – both new musicians and established acts producing incredible sounds. On the other side, there has been a lot of tragedy and loss – some of music’s legends have departed us. In essence, 2016 has been one of the most eventful and turbulent in living memory. In that respect, many are looking ahead to 2017 with higher hopes – let’s keep our fingers crossed there will be less tragedy and even more fantastic music. Before I come to my featured act, I want to look at the sounds of 2017 and the artists that deserve bigger respect; a bit about unsigned acts that are on the verge of getting acclaim. Looking at the boys of Loud Mouth Machine and you feel they should be starring in these end-of-year polls that are starting to emerge. I, like many music lovers, waited with baited breath for BBC’s ‘Sounds of 2017’ poll: their assessment of the artists that will be defining next year’s music. Out of the list, you have Grime/Rap and Urban acts – they make up a large proportion of the list. I will not name/dissect every artist on the long-list but there is plenty of foreign talent; a great mixture of male and female – that leaning towards street-wise, hard-hitting solo artists. Last year, winner Jack Garratt was BBC’s choice and someone (they deemed) would make big steps in 2017. Whilst he has released material and produced some incredible live sets – he has just to fruition into the star we thought; it might take a few years to materlaise. Other artists (on that list) including Izzy Bizu were hotly tipped, and whilst her debut album showed glimmers of promise, it was not quite as heady as expected. This year, there is a straying away from chart-ready, radio-friendly acts and emphasis on something more daring, exciting and ‘relevant’.

Turning away from artists who talk of love and personal demons – towards those who address societal issues and what is happening in the modern world. Perhaps that is indicative of the necessities and demands of the modern consumer: they want music that documents what is unfolding and provides guidance; less heavy on personal revelations and more towards politics and street reality. Of course, the 2016 BBC longlist has a few Pop/radio acts that we could be hearing more of – it is hard to say just who will rise and whether any of the acts will make big statements. Last year, long-list includes like Billie Marten impressed me a lot more. She is someone who not only deserved to be shortlisted but, out of the entire longlist, has made the biggest impact this year. That is the way things can go: artists that are not in the ‘top five/ten’ often fare a lot better. My point is it is great seeing these lists – I am in the process of completing a trilogy of feature pieces; the third will feature Loud Mouth Machine – but they should be taken at face value. Even though BBC’s was conducted and compiled by a host of industry experts and musicians – there is a degree of subjectiveness and limitation to the poll. I feel artists like Loud Mouth Machine are worthy of inclusion. Not just because they have been featured on BBC radio – more on that later – but because the band market has taken a critical backseat the last couple of years. It has been a while since BBC-like polls have featured bands – the prominent trait is spotlighting solo talent and duos. Given the talent and originality of some solo artists coming through right now, it seems like kismet tastemakers are featuring them. The public clearly has a taste and affection for these artists so it is only right this demand is reflected appropriately. One should not de-prioritise bands and assume they are less deserving of focus. I have seen few mainstream polls and end-of-year lists that are tipping bands. You get the odd one but it is still solo artist-heavy. Such is the swell and proliferation of musicians emerging it is challenging capturing the best and limiting such polls – which is why I do expansive multi-part ones. The Loud Mouth Machine boys are technically a duo – whether you class that as a band or not – and are one of the sharpest and most determined London acts around. One of the reasons I am featuring them, in addition to promoting their latest material, is to draw attention to a group/duo that WILL be making marks next year. It is not a case of hit-and-miss and trial-and-error: these boys have already been lauded by influential D.J.s and are on a golden course.

I feel, with a pinch of chagrin, musicians like Loud Mouth Machine are not being included in ‘ones to watch’ lists – they are deserving of inclusion for sure. The Camden-based boys have all the ingredients and fabric needed to build a fascinating and sustainable career. Their music has already caught the ears of prominent D.J.s – including Radio 2’s Dermot O’Leary – and gained a lot of praise. It cannot be long until the two-piece is being mentioned in the same breath as the new crop of BBC recommendations. Before getting on to their music, I wanted to look at unsigned acts and how they might fare in the coming year. Over the course of my reviews, I get to look at a lot of unsigned artists. It is hard getting noticed in modern music with the sheer weight and volume of competition. Those that keep resolute should be commended for their tenacity and spirit. Such is the temptation to denounce intentions and retreat from the hot glare of music – the demands and realistic rigours placed on the shoulders of the young and hopeful. Whilst getting a record deal is not the be-all-and-end-all: in order to progress and develop a career, the backing of a record label is needed. In conjunction with my reticence regarding end-of-year polls – how detrimental is non-inclusion to artists looking for a record deal? When it comes to the boys of Loud Mouth Machine, one feels there is a bright and prosperous future awaiting them. Whilst there is scant biography and music online – their current E.P. is their fullest and debut work – the lads have been self-promoting and doing their hardest to get their music heard. In reality, how crucial is securing a record deal? Is an act less likely to get gigs and success were they to charter their own careers? There is a valid argument to suggest those who fly solo are just as likely to realise their full potential. The reason I mention it is because it seems galling Loud Mouth Machine have not been snapped up by a local label. Maybe there are fewer labels or less space available in their ranks – unable to adopt quite as many artists as they’d like. One feels, given a little more time and room, the London act will come to the attention of a label. Their music is as direct and instant as any you care to mention. When dissecting Honeycomb – noted as an E.P. highlight be many reviewers – you get where they are coming from and what they are about. It is a song not just reserved for lovers of Alternative/Indie stylings: a universal revelation that ably seduces every listener. The guys are not making music for the charts and trying to fit into holes – as unique and individual as any. Perhaps I am being a little bias – in a position where I am reviewing them positively – but you feel the guys deserve a record label deal. They will survive and grow with our without it but, and for any P.R. companies reading, shoulder a lot of the promotional duties would free them up to focus on recording and performing. The two-boy, one-man band approach to P.R. is impressive to see – let’s hope they have the energy to keep the momentum going next year. I am thoroughly impressed by the boys’ attitude and faith; the way they put themselves out there and, most importantly, the quality of their music.

Shades of Blue is the best (and only real) record one can assess from Loud Mouth Machine. They have been performing together for a while but their current E.P. is their first, full exploration – and one that has been capturing ears and impressing critics. I will be focusing on Honeycomb but the remaining three tracks are exceptional too. The title track reminds me, like a lot of the E.P., of Steely Dan. It is not a comparison you hear made in modern music and that is a shame. Steely Dan are one of my favourite acts – and authours of my all-time favourite song – but you hear elements of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen throughout. The lead vocal has the same blend of cynical cut and lusciousness Fagen was famed for – that stern and, at times, sarcastic edge; underpinned by a warmth and gracefulness. When you get to the chorus – and the vocals layer into a cascading river – there are hints of Steely Dan’s AjaGaucho-era work. Whilst the composition has a comparable Jazz-Rock sound to it, the London boys are very much their own artist. If you dig hard you can hear the odd fleck of other artists but the overall impression of a duo who owe a debt to nobody. The title cut sees a hero (and heroine) bathed in sunshine and woken by the dawn light – almost a rhapsody to the sunlight and crisp morning. Perhaps the boys have another interpretation but the song has that uplifting and magical tone. There are not many original lyrics – the emphasis is on composition – which gives the music a chance to grow and shine. Funky bass and spacey synths.; tight beats and all manner of contrast go into a song that requires multiple investigations to fully click. It is a such an atmospheric and beautiful song – one that few other acts are capable of. Similarly, History in the Making has that same effectiveness and grandeur. Opening with a tenderness and subtlety; the song documents a relationship with a peculiar dynamic. It seems like a certain lack of discipline and messiness are appealing to the heroine.

Maybe the two have been together a while and used to umbrage, eventfulness and a certain oddity in this relationship – you get a unique insight into a modern, if different, love. There is a need to relax and take things slowly: perhaps the two are rushing and there is miscommunication; a lot of baggage to work through and a lack of understanding. Again, it is a song that begs for an individual interpretation but puts fresh spin on avenues of love and relations. The chorus, like the title track’s, is luminous, gleaming and rousing. Female vocals add a sense of beauty and etherealness – once more, I hear a little bit of Steely Dan but less pronounced than before. History in the Making is a more relaxed and considered track than Shades of Blue – that reconciliation-cum-mediator tone, and as such, the vocal and composition have a cool edge and a genuine calm. Always hooked by the imbalance – heroine liking a mess and forcefulness; the hero more debonair and restrained – it gives charm and character to the song.

You can picture yourself in the scene; trying to referee the situation or standing back and watching it all unfold. The final moments of the song put the composition into the spotlight and conclude things with a Jazz-like, odyssey of cosmic synths. and a weightlessness – perhaps the most appropriate conclusion to a song that deals with fraught emotions and a certain friction. Addictive is the closing track and one of the most instant and unsettled. The song is, in essence, a dialogue – or monologue to be more accurate – from the song’s heroine. It is the only track where the duo steps away from the vocals and allow another person to tell the story. The narrator – whose name I shall have to obtain – recounts a conversation/moment when things turned from pure to sour. The two – heroine and hero – were fine and enjoying each other’s company. Then, and with little provocation, things started to unravel and it all hit the rocks. There is jealousy afoot and it seems as though that green-tinged emotion has created a split in the relationship. It is not said whether another man or woman is to blame but the hero has heard chat – recalling a conversation or hearsay – and is taken it as gospel. The confusion and urgency in the narrative show what emotion and tension there is.

The duo, whether the heroine and one of the Loud Mouth Machine clan, were screaming all night and arguing. Before long, there is a hug and sense of resolution. The heroine’s voice cracks and strains at some moments but that hug was welcomed and needed. The ‘addictive’ part of the song is that mix of explosion and hug – going from near-break-up to being alright. Whether the actual process of arguing is addictive or that comforting feeling of reconciliation, I am not too sure. It is one of the most affecting songs on the E.P. despite it being the shortest and sparsest. The delivery is perfect and it is a track that drips with emotions, drama and evocativeness. A perfect way to end an E.P. that shows what a unique force Loud Mouth Machine is. I have mentioned influences like Steely Dan – Pink Floyd too – but the boys are not to be compared with anyone. Such is their skill and talent you immerse yourself in the music and are stunned by what unfolds. Few other acts/duos are providing that mix of everyday romance and Space Age composition. Each track tells a story but the compositions are so atmospheric and fascinating, you find yourself listening to (the E.P.) time again.

Honeycomb is the track I wanted to focus on as I feel it is the highlight – and best representative of the E.P.’s sounds and themes. The opening seconds of the song have a calm, tropical sentiment to them. Island-themed strings beckon you to a sunshine island and an alluring Paradise. Not only is a contrast to the more weighted and serious tones of accompanying tracks; it is a welcome contrast and a song you instantly bond with. Honeycomb looks at a relationship and is the song where you get a real sense of the E.P.’s title. Of course, shades of blue attests and documents sadness and upheaval – there is quite a bit of that running through Honeycomb. The hero admits he was wrong and is seduced by her “escalator eyes” and allure. There has been a fall-out and misjudgement but our lead confesses his indiscretions and wants her back. Beckoning back to his place, loneliness is not a desirable option. You feel like there was a solid relationship but an event has caused a brief fracture. Maybe the E.P. acts like a suite or concept: you track to the previous tracks and follow the story to this point. Whatever has happened you get the sense there is an imminent repair. Such is the heartfelt and gentle delivery it is easy to get lost in the song and hooked in the breeziness. In terms of the vocals, there is a lot more (London) access than before which gives it a cheeky-chappy appeal and, rather oddly, gives the words more gravitas. You always believe the hero and what he is saying. Never fully revealing the circumstances behind his apologies: the listener is free to examine the story from their side and one to their own conclusions.

There is a mix of oblique and literal in the words which means some of the sentiments are clear whilst others are not so obvious. The lead does not want to be alone and seems to be seduced to by the heroine but there is certain wariness. You get caught and addicted by the earnest vocal and the occasional rush of beauty and unexpected composition. At its heart, Honeycomb relies on those simple, energised strings but throws in some lush rushes and sweeping touches. “Can’t keep fighting the kindness in your lies” may be a line I have semi-misheard but grabs me with its contradictions and individuality. Throughout the E.P., you hear the story of two lovers who are going through some storms and turbulence. The final track is a stark and honest story of argument and comfort: that destructive moment followed by the calm (after the storm). For that reason, I see Honeycomb as a precursor to that night – the lovers, perhaps, at their most tense, whether sexually or personally. The hero does not want his honeycomb stolen: whether that is a euphemism or representation of his purity and honesty. Maybe he wants the girl but on his own terms; does not favour the stress and unpredictability and wants a simpler, straightforward relationship. There has been deceit and lies and the hero seems willing to fall into that trap. Such is the power and allure of the bond – like a bee summoned to nectar; a spider weaving its web – there is no way to avoid it. Our man has been experiencing loneliness and solitude and is looking for human touch and comfort. The girl, whether a long-term love or new attraction, is providing a beauty and allure that is hard to resist. Like I said before: the composition and vocal interjections provide rush and mislead; catching you off guard and getting into the heart. What Honeycomb provides is an earthy and pure testament of a relationship but has some many beautiful and divine edges. From lush and rousing vocals to compositional rushes – you are always invested and stunned.

That is highlighted by the brass parable that acts like a relief and further chapter of the story. At once yearning and tremulous; the next stately and dignified – a swaying and touching sound that infuses the senses and elicits smiles and comfort. When listening to the composition (at this point) you hear influences of Miles Davis. There is a mix of Kind of Blue’s reflectiveness and mood and spritz of Birth of the Cool’s suaveness and shade-wearing strut. That together with the rum-flavoured sound of the acoustic strings and you have a new cocktail: The Honeycomb. It is the invention of Loud Mouth Machine and, once sampled, provokes images and flashbacks of love in all its dichotomous balance – the heart-racing heat juxtaposes against the spicy and edgy downs. The closing seconds take the composition down and replace the near-jubilant skip of the trumpets with echoed sounds – almost like floating in space or succumbing to the night. It is a fantastic end to a song that stands out proud. Shades of Blue is a fantastic and unique E.P. that could not have come from any other act. Honeycomb is its sweet and sticky highlight that proves what an appealing, alluring and sensational proposition the London duo is.

It will be interesting watching Loud Mouth Machine blossom and strike throughout 2017. I say this about a lot of bands but it is true of the guys. Before I properly conclude with a bit about Loud Mouth Machine’s likely success; it is worth coming back to important points given what we’ve heard from the boys. Cabbage are a rare exception in a BBC long-list for 2017 that promulgates and emphasises the solo artists coming through. Not just confined to British acts: there are American artists included in the pack. I am not sure why there is a proliferation of Urban acts on that list – and many other polls will mirror this – but perhaps it is a reaction to the world around us. Whereas most bands and ‘traditional’ solo artists address other themes – relationships and personal concerns – Urban acts look at the world more carefully and detail the struggles and realities occurring. Perhaps there has been, in previous years, a leaning towards certain artists and safer acts – you can hardly accuse Adele and Sam Smith of being edgy and cool. Polls like BBC’s are reacting to a contemporary desire for artists more savvy, authoritative and interesting – not your run-of-the-mill Pop stars and samey acts. For this reason, there is a lot of attention being taken away from bands. In the coming weeks, we will see more polls come forth. From magazines and musical websites: each site will be publishing who they feel will be making strides in 2017. I have done it myself and, aside from the Loud Machine Boys and a few others, it is predominantly solo artists included. I am not sure why there is a trend towards sole artists but bands deserve their acclaim and proffering. I opened by mooting (the fact) Loud Mouth Machine should be on end-of-year lists. There will be band-heavy polls conducted and it is only right the London duo are included. They have worked hard and have a sound that is very much theirs. I witness many bands who still stick too closely to others and are unwilling to try something new. It is disheartening hearing bands that go through the motions and seem indistinguishable from every other one out there. Loud Mouth Machine have already captured the hearts of many critics are look set to build on that acclaim next year.

The guys are unsigned and it gets me thinking how long before they secure a deal. Again, this is something I debated near the top and it is interesting whether it is a vital thing. Sure, artists can see their careers grow and develop without a record label but (that deal) takes some of the stress and anxiety away. It is not only a thumbs-up and backing but another pair of hands. With a label in your corner, there are greater possibilities and avenues opened up. So far, the Loud Mouth Machine has been generating plenty of attention, hype and focus. They conduct their own P.R. and expending a lot of time and effort getting their music in the hands of the media and radio. Shades of Blue is a tight and focused E.P. that is complete killer and suffers no fatigue or modesty. Every tune stands out and has its own character; there is a lot of life, energy and candour among reflectiveness and emotion. I have called Loud Mouth Machine a ‘band’ but are technically a ‘duo’. In that market, they have plenty of support but will still have to fight for attention. I have long-held the belief duos are among the finest and most interesting musicians on the planet. However you classify and configure the London act; there is no denying how ready and spirited they are. Having been played by Dermot O’Leary and getting their names known across (some of the) most influential stations in the U.K. it is all going well. Regardless of whether a record deal comes next year, they will carry on and continue to battle hard. Their work ethic and determination is to be commended, but in reality, the boys needn’t sweat too hard. They will be enjoying success and continue to see their music exposed and played. Honeycomb is a song tipped by many reviewers and one I feel best represented the E.P. Rather than give an in-depth review of each track – and expend thousands more words – it was prudent focusing on the one and giving an overview of the rest. I would urge everyone to hear the E.P. and let its magic work; stick it on and evaporate the winter freeze.

Let’s hope the boys remain resolute and steely in 2017 as they are making terrific progress. Shades of Blue has heart and emotion but enough defiance and conviction to unify many. There is nothing to suggest the guys will not be included on ‘best of’ lists this time next year. I can see them unveiling a new E.P./album and performing right across the capital. London is starting to resurge and breathe following Fabric’s survival – not just great for the venue but a faithful gesture that suggests London’s music scene is not as endangered as first feared. There are still steps to be taken – to ensure there are not closures next year – and a lot of work ahead. Loud Mouth Machine are among a swell of musicians calling London home and centering themselves in the city. I am sure they will be getting more gigs throughout the U.K. and international demands; airplay across more BBC stations (including ‘6 Music, perhaps) and a lot more fans. Their social media numbers are impressive and continuing to climb by the day. It is a sign of a terrific duo/band that want to remain in music for years to come. Given the reaction to Shades of Blue – that might not be such a far-fetched ambition. A record deal will come and due diligence paid to two guys who have a tenacity and talent few others possess. In addition to being one of the acts I am tipping for 2017 success: they will inspire others and get like-minded musicians engaged and involved in music. They are relatable and everyday chaps that bring personality, soul and charm to their music. Honeycomb is a song that gets inside you and reverberated around the mind – the hallmark of a truly great song. The days are getting colder and the year is starting to wrap itself up. Against the constant wave of new acts and tipped artists, it can be hard deciphering which acts will genuinely remain in music past next year. A lot of polls (including BBC) have heralded artists either unworthy or such acclaim or lacking necessary longevity and originality. This year might be different – depending on who wins – but we must not forget the honest, hard-working acts that fly under their radars. Loud Mouth Machine will remain semi-anonymous for a very short time before they are festival headliners. Get your ears around Shades of Blue and…

HEAR what all the fuss is about.


Follow Loud Mouth Machine












FEATURE: The Five Best Tracks of 2016: Laura Marling – Soothing



The Five Best Tracks of 2016:



Laura Marling – Soothing


THE remainder of this feature will showcase 2016 tracks by…

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the boys of music. I mention gender because a lot of the best and memorable music of this year has been made by female artists – in fact, the vast majority. There are few out there are as consistent, skilled and astonishing as our very own Laura Marling. Not to say Laura Marling’s inclusion is an unexpected thing: any year she releases music and she’s going to be on a ‘Best of’ list. Short Movie was her last, extraordinary, album released last year. Ever since her debut – Alas, I Cannot Swim in 2008 – she has been overwhelming critics and producing genius work. In fact, her five albums to date are all immaculate: the work of a mature and intelligent songwriter who has few peers; never stands still and is one of the, if not the very best, finest songwriters of this generation. I was unsure whether we’d hear anything from Marling in 2016: the fact the lead-off single from Semper Femina – her next album scheduled for release in March – is among us is an early Christmas treat. The reason it makes my list of favourite tracks of this year – my fifth-favourite, in fact – is because it is both ultra-Marling-esque and somehow not. Anyone expecting a re-derivation of Short Movie’s sound will be a little disappointed. Soothing is all manner of twanging bass and edginess; an underlying mood of sensuality – if that is the right word?! Before assessing the new track – and why it makes my elite list – Marling said, in a press release: “I started out writing Semper Femina as if a man was writing about a woman,” going on to say: “And then I thought it’s not a man, it’s me — I don’t need to pretend it’s a man to justify the intimacy of the way I’m looking and feeling about women. It’s me looking specifically at women and feeling great empathy towards them and by proxy towards myself.” The latex-clad, self-directed video is almost as intriguing as the Jazz-like twangs that beckon a sweet and beckoning vocal. Marling castigates a man who doesn’t live “here anymore”. One of her most beautiful and tender performances yet: the heroine’s lips “aren’t moving” – someone who needs soothing against the fractious vicissitudes of the world. Maybe an open-hearted confession of lost love or loneliness – you are entranced by the voice-and-string combination. Enigmatic, vivid and dramatic: another instant and memorable Laura Marling song. Compacted notes and taut strings seem at odds against a calm and floating vocal: the combination not only works wonderfully but elevates the song and makes it completely inescapable. By the end, you want to play it again and witness that vocal one more time; another chance to hear that alluring composition; another chance to picture what the song is describing. It is a song that not only proves Marling is one of the most productive and staggering songwriters around – still in her 20s – to all you upcoming songwriters – but how versatile she is. Whether Semper Femina’s remaining tracks have a similar feel and sound is yet to be revealed. Its lead-off single shows Marling has not lost a step and will produce yet another world-class, beat-her-if-you-dare album.


Follow Laura Marling:


30694 Laura Marling announces new album, Semper Femina, shares video for lead single Soothing    watch

The album, Semper Femina, will be available in March

FEATURE: The Ones to Watch 2017: Part Three



01/12/2016 THE ONES TO WATCH 2017: Part Three musicmusingsandsuch


The Ones to Watch 2017: Part Three


IT has been pretty interesting and emotional putting together…

the artists I feel will be finding success next year. Included in the final part are musicians from Belgium, South Africa and the U.S.; Norway and Australia – plenty of British representation. Across the list there is a multitude of genres and styles: it will be fascinating seeing which of the artists climb highest. In truth, they all have immense potential and the impetus to go as far as possible. I have had a great time binding together great musicians together and discovering some new artists – quite an eye-opening experience. Sit back and enjoy the remaining acts I feel will be contributing vastly to 2017’s musical landscape.



PHOTO CREDIT: Lauren Marsh

Nina Schofield – Pop/Alternative, London, U.K.



Cryptic Street – Alternative/Art-Rock, Malta



Blayre Mic – Rap/Soul/R&B, Oakland, U.S.A.



AYO – Alternative/Soul, Brooklyn, U.S.A.




Cabbage – Alternative, Mossley, U.K.



PHOTO CREDIT: R. Cleveland Aaron

Lisa Marini – Dark-Folk, London, U.K.



PHOTO CREDIT: Arnab Ghosal Street Photography

Albert Man – Alternative-Pop/Rock, London, U.K.



Alexandra Jayne – Folk/Alternative, Shropshire/London, U.K.



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Stefflon-Don – Rap, London, U.K.




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Nadia Rose – Rap/Hip-Hop/Grime, Croydon, U.K.



Skott – Indie/Pop, London, U.K.



Weak13 – Post-Grunge, Kidderminster, U.K.



Luk – Indie-Electronic/Experimental-Rap.-Wave, Merthyr Tydfil, U.K.



PHOTO CREDIT:  Irina Kolesnikova

ALA.NI– Soul/Alternative/Pop, London, U.K.



Braver than Fiction – Lounge/Rock, Sheffield, U.K.




Laura Roy – Pop/R&B, Toronto, Canada



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Savannah Dumetz – Soul/Singer-Songwriter, London, U.K.



PHOTO CREDIT: @ritchienevillephotography

Mi’das – Soul, London, U.K..



PHOTO CREDIT: Sara Amroussi-Gilissen

Cocoa Futures – Pop, London, U.K.



The fin. – Indie/Shoegaze/Cinematic-Pop, Kobe-shi, Japan



PHOTO CREDIT: @alex_cameron

Gypsyfingers – Cinematic-Folk, London, U.K.



Universal Thee – Alternative/Indie, Edinburgh, U.K.



PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Cope Seven Artist Management – 7AM

Silver Rose – Shoegaze, Dream-Pop, Los Angeles, U.S.A.



Ivy Mode – Pop/Indie, Belgium



Chaos Jigsaw – Rap/Hip-Hop, Stoke-on-Trent, U.K.



Michael Jablonka – Alternative-Rock, London, U.K.



Helene Greenwood – Alternative/Singer-Songwriter, London, U.K.



Liv Dawson – Pop, London, U.K.



Buzzard – Grunge/Punk/Rock, Stourbridge, U.K.




Alice Avery  – Pop, New York, U.S.A.



Ina Reni – Pop, London, U.K.




Natalie Bouloudis – Blues-Folk, London, U.K.



We Are the Catalyst – Alterative-Metal, Gothenburg, Sweden



Quiet Quiet Band – Country-Folk/Art-Rock, London, U.K.



PHOTO CREDIT: Carla Boecklin Photography

Robyn Cage – Pop, Utah, U.S.A.



Hunter & the Bear – Rock, London, U.K.



The Soap Girls – Rock/Punk/Grunge, Cape Town, South Africa



KMF – Indie-R&B, Bergen, Norway



PHOTO CREDIT: Hypatia Angelique Porter

Jude Perl – Comedy/Pop, Melbourne, Australia



RAY – Cinematic-Pop



PHOTO CREDIT: Melanie Tjoeng Photography

Eliza Shaddad – R&B/Soul/Alternative, London, U.K.



Sian Cross – Pop/Rock, London, U.K.




Deliah – Contemporary-R&B, Liverpool, U.K.



Joy Oladokun – Rock-Soul, Los Angeles, U.S.A.



HALEM – Eletronic/Dance, Liverpool, U.K.


PHOTO CREDIT: Adam Battaglia

The Federal Empire – Los Angeles, U.S.A.




Loud Mouth Machine – Alternative/Indie, London, U.K.




PHOTO CREDIT: Chloe Newman

Jorja Smith – R&B/Soul, Walsall, U.K.


FEATURE: The Five Best Tracks of 2016: Billie Marten – Emily



The Five Best Tracks of 2016:


Artist Playlist: Billie Marten selects Sharon Van Etten, Hannah Cohen and more



Billie Marten – Emily


AFTER an album that recently featured in my ten favourite from 2016…

(it is actually my standout) it is only natural a track from Writing of Blues and Yellows should appear. Now that Laura Marling has announced Semper Femina – her sixth studio album due in March – Billie Marten seems like her protégée-elect. Many critics, when reviewing Marten’s debut album, noted the comparisons to Marling – in terms of age, sound and stunning lyrics. Emily could easily have featured on Marling’s finest albums but is doggedly the work of the seventeen-year-old Ripon native. Its lyrics talk of burdensome stones (being tied around the heroine’s throat) and rivers “too wide” – the song’s heroine feeling the strain and battling against harsh forces (either physical obstacles or personal demons). Whilst the lyrics immerse the listener in; the mind wonders as to the origins. Marten has stated, in interviews promoting Writing of Blues and Yellows, Emily was inspired by the forename-sharing Brontë sister. There is that literary edge and sense of impending tragedy: one wonders whether the song’s heroine will be able to traverse all before her. What stuns me about the song – and has kept it in my brain for weeks – is the phenomenal composition. Unlike anything else on Writing’, there are wave-crashing, sensual electronic strings; piano flourishes and aching cello. If some has made comparisons with early-career Laura Marling: it is Nick Drake’s masterpiece, Five Leaves Left, that spring to mind. Similar to his peerless string-and-voice sermons River Man and Way to Blue – you get a little of both in Emily. Marten’s voice is pure and resolute but, in the background, transmogrifies into a metaphysical, spectral things: aching and yowling like an ill-fated figure standing atop a wind-strewn cliff-top. It is impossible to listen to the song uninvolved: it drags you in and cements its heart in the hippocampus. By the final tremolo-affect guitar you are stunned and awed by what has come before – all from an artist still making her first steps. Audacious, spellbinding dramaturgy, at times beautiful, at others devastating: a clear reason – if one were needed – to investigate Writing of Blues and Yellows. Let’s hope Marten considers the song for single release as, not only would it reach a wider audience, but is sound/composition provokes a truly staggering music video.




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The album, Writing of Blues and Yellows (Deluxe Version), can be purchased here: