FEATURE: The July Playlist: Vol. 3: Last Kiss at the Summer Bummer

FEATURE:

 

The July Playlist

  

Vol. 3: Last Kiss at the Summer Bummer

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IF the title of this feature sounds a little suspect

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IN THIS PHOTO: Nina Nesbitt

then it is not intended to be. I am excited bringing together new tracks by Lana Del Rey (joined by A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti) and Arcade Fire. AlunaGeorge are on fire; ALVVAYS and Nine Inch Nails are not exactly sitting on their hands.

In addition to all the big-name releases; there are some great albums out this week. I have been looking at all the mainstream and underground releases from music…

It is an assuredly confident and prosperous week for music. Make sure you ingratiate yourself with the full spread of awesome sounds, incredible singles and hot-off-the-press videos…

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Lana Del Rey (ft. A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti) – Summer Bummer                         

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Arcade Fire – Electric Blue

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AlunaGeorgeLast Kiss

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ALVVAYSIn Undertow

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Nine Inch NailsLESS THAN

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Dillon Francis (ft. G-Eazy)Say Less

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HonneJust Dance

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DaphniHey Drum

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PHOTO CREDITShervin Lainez

Speedy OrtizScreen Gem

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Tom WilliamsGet High

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Little CubBreathing Space

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Algiers Cleveland

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Rhye Please

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MNEK Paradise

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PHOTO CREDITRachel Lipsitz Photography

Dutch Uncles Streetlight

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Nadine Shah – Holiday Destination

Dizzee Rascal

PHOTO CREDIT: Steve Neaves

Dizzee RascalWot U Gonna Do?

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PHOTO CREDIT: Amber Pollock

BLOXX Curtains

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Tyler, The Creator – Boredom

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Billie EilishCOPYCAT

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Empress Of – Go to Hell

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alt-j – Deadcrush

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Swimming Girls – 2 Kids

Bonzai – I Feel Alright

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Callum Beattie – Man Behind the Sun

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Coldplay – All I Can Think About Is You

Dave – Tequila

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Demi Lovato – Sorry Not Sorry

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Friction (ft. Doctor) – Mad in the Jungle

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PHOTO CREDIT: Katharina Næss

Galantis – True Feeling

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Jack Johnson – My Mind Is for Sale

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George GlewBury Me

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Kesha (ft. The Dap-Kings Horns) – Woman

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The Dears – 1998

 

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The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Anymore

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Boris – Kagero

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Nina Nesbitt (ft. Goody Grace) – The Moments I’m Missing

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One Republic (ft. Seeb) – Rich Love

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PHOTO CREDIT: @mellowedhigh

The Sam Willows – Save Myself

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Luke RathborneDon’t Call Me Baby

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Manchester OrchestraThe Moth

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The Sherlocks – Live for the Moment

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PHOTO CREDIT: Collin Pietz

Twinsmith – Every Step

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Ruel – Don’t Tell Me

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The Script – Rain

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Selena Gomez (ft. Gucci Mane) – Fetish

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French Montana (ft. The Weeknd and Max B) – A Lie

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The Sound of Arrows (ft. Niki and the Dove) – In the Shade of Your Love

Suzi Wu

Suzi Wu – Teenage Witch

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ODESZA (ft. Naomi Wild)Higher Ground

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Lo Tom Covered Wagon

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INTEGRITY – I Am the Spell

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PHOTO CREDITDan Kendall Photography

Drones Club International

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Vance Joy – Lay It on Me

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PHOTO CREDIT: Neil Favila

Daley – Temple

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PHOTO CREDITCraig Scheihing

Japanese Breakfast – 12 Steps

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Jonas Blue (ft. William Singe) – Mama

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Shabazz Palaces – Welcome to Quazarz

 

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Mr. Jukes (ft. Lianne La Havas) – When Your Light Goes Out

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PHOTO CREDITClaire Marie Vogel

RAC (ft. Joywave) – No One Has to Know

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Mura Masa (ft. Jamie Lidell) – NOTHING ELSE!

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Nick Lowe – Burning

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Sheer Mag – Just Can’t Get Enough

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PHOTO CREDIT: Joe Connor

FrancobolloFuture Lover

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Offa Rex – Sheepcrook and Black Dog

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Oh Wonder – Heavy

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Waxahatchee – Brass Beam

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KinobeThought It Was You

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Ravitez – Aliens

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The Vamps – Paper Hearts

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HRVY and RedfooHoliday

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KAMBO (ft. Ayla)Stand Up in the Light

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Silverstein – Wake Up

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Bugzy Malone – Aggy Wid It

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67 – Saucy

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Alice Cooper – Paranoiac Personality

Kllo Virtue

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Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott – I Gotta Praise

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Avenged Sevenfold – God Damn

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Aloe BlaccKing Is Back

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Wilkinson (ft. Boy Matthews) – Wash Away

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PHOTO CREDIT: Joyce NG

ChildhoodNothing Ever Seems Right

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The Kooks – Broken Vow

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Marian Hill – Down

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Amber Mark – Way Back

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GordiOn My Side

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The XcertsFeels Like Falling in Love

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Deap Vally Julian

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red kite – take care of your own

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FeistCentury

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Trinidad JamesDi$respectful

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Sage the GeminiPilot

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IN THIS PHOTO: Lana Del Rey

I guess Arcade Fire’s new single is the most exciting release of the week. There are some other great songs but it seems the Canadian band is in the form of their life. I am excited to hear more from them but have been impressed by the sheer volume and quality of new music this week. As we head into summer, the standard is really starting to shoot up.

I shall keep my ears open and see what the next week provides. If this week’s instalment is anything to go by; it will be a huge and memorable collection of new music.

FEATURE: The July Playlist: Vol. 2: Deleted Kisses and the Freakshow

FEATURE:

 

The July Playlist

 

  

Vol. 2: Deleted Kisses and the Freakshow

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PERHAPS not as crammed with big artists…

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IN THIS PHOTO: Ghostpoet

as previous Playlists: this edition does, at least, feature two remarkable songs. Wolf Alice show their new direction with Don’t Delete the Kisses. It shows a more melodic side to the London band – not quite as intense and raw as their 2015 album, My Love Is Cool. A new album is approaching and the band get mouths salivating with a stunning track.

Similarly, Ghostpoet provides us with Freakshow: perhaps, his finest song to date. It follows Immigrant Boogie and is the latest track from his forthcoming album – which is, as-yet, untitled.

Kesha and AlunaGeorge have been busy and rustled pretty incredible songs. If that were not enough; the fabulous Dizzee Rascal unveils Wot U Gonna Do? Let’s hope he is bringing out a new album soon as the music world needs his observational and extraordinary lyrics.

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Dua Lipa  New Rules

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Four Tet – Two Thousand and Seventeen

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Jimmy Eat World – Get Right

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Macklemore (ft. Skylar Grey) Glorious

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Wolf Alice – Don’t Delete the Kisses

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Ghostpoet – Freakshow

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French Montana (ft. Pharrell Williams) – Bring Dem Things

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AlunaGeorge – Turn Up the Love

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HONNE – Just Dance

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Mura Masa (ft. Tom Tripp) – helpline

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Rhye – Please

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Run the Jewels – Don’t Get Captured

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JAY-ZThe Story of O.J.

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Dizzee Rascal – Wot U Gonna Do?

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Kesha  Praying

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Ben Haenow – Alive

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Brooke Candy – Volcanoes

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Wiktoria – I Won’t Stand in Your Way

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Yombe – Tonight

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Zedd and Liam Payne – Get Low

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Tom Speight – Old Flame

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Lorde – Perfect Places

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Olly Murs & Louisa Johnson – Unpredictable

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Chase & Status and Blossoms – This Moment

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The Preatures – Girlhood

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SZA (ft. Travis Scott) – Love Galore

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Carolynne – Real Man

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Kali Uchis (ft. Jorja Smith) – Tyrant

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LeAnn Rimes – LovE Is LovE Is LovE

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Tove Styrke – Say My Name

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Skepta – Hypocrisy

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PHOTO CREDIT: Jack Margerison Photography

TenderNadir

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Jennifer Lopez (ft. Gente de Zona) – Ni Tú Ni Yo

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Lewis Capaldi – Lost on You

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Icona Pop – Girls Girls

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Charlie Sloth (ft. Donae’o and Konshens) – Walk Away

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Coldplay  ALIENS

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Maliibu Miitch – 4 A.M.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Kirsten Squibb

Arcade Hearts – Honey

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Sivu Flies

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Lost Horizons The Places We’ve Been

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Smerz Oh my my

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Alex CameronCandy Man

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TEN – The Wild King of Winter

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MY BODYMood

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Henry JamisonThe Wilds

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This is the Kit – Bullet Proof

 

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James Hype (ft. Kelli-Leigh) More than Friends

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Jade BirdSomething American

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Riverdogs  American Dream

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Powerflo – Resistance

Offa Rex The Queen of Hearts

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Lucy Rose – No Good at All

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Chronixx I Can

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FlyteCathy Come Home

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Kojo Funds (ft. Kranium) My Wish

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Toro Y Moi – Girl Like You

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PHOTO CREDIT: Norman Wong

Broken Social Scene – Hug of Thunder

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PHOTO CREDIT: Isaac Eastgate

Tourist (ft. Ardyn)We Stayed Up All Night

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PHOTO CREDIT: Vicky Grout

Toddla T and Andrea MartenMagnet

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Liam Gallagher Chinatown

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PHOTO CREDIT: Anna Maria Lopez

Sundara KarmaLakhey

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Willey J. HealeyPeople and Their Dogs

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PHOTO CREDIT: Alexandra Cameron Photography

The Last DinosaurI Couldn’t Wait

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Moksi, Chase and Rose QuayDream

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CAZZETTE (ft. Karen Harding) Just People

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Tyler the Creator and Frank Ocean 911/Mr. Lonely

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Mahalia Sober

 

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Oh WonderHigh on Humans

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Tom Misch South of the River

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THE XCERTS Feels Like Falling in Love

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Yonaka Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya

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L. DevineSchool Girls

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Marc E. Bassy and KylePlot Twist

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BETSYLittle White Lies (Acoustic)

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5 Billion in DiamondsI’m Becoming You

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PHOTO CREDIT: Marco Hernandez

L.A. WITCHKill My Baby Tonight

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PHOTO CREDIT: Jimmy Fontaine

Cut Copy – Airborne

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INHEAVEN World on Fire

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Baby in VainTo Heaven and Back

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PHOTO CREDIT: Daniil Lavrovski

Felix Pallas Similarities

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A really great selection of songs this week – good to see Dizzee Rascal progress and promise future-gold! Wolf Alice have got tongues wagging and it seems like things are looking good for Ghostpoet. The rest of music has not been idle. There are plenty of stunning songs about and a whole variety of sounds and genres.

I am excited about the coming weeks and what is approaching. New albums from Lucy Rose and This Is the Kit is out; HAIM’s Something to Tell You is out and gathering rave reviews.

A brilliant week for music: one that suggests July will be a pretty hot one.

FEATURE: Music Musings and Such: Going Forward…

FEATURE:

 

Music Musings and Such:

 

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Going Forward…

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OVER the past few weeks…

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my blog has been going through a bit of a change. I am still on WordPress but, and the reason for writing this, was to explain any gaps on that site – I have an official site where I am producing the majority of my new pieces. All the interviews, reviews and features will be on https://www.musicmusingsandsuch.com/ – the doors at WordPress are not going to be closing. I will be publishing my weekly Playlist on WordPress: where I collect all the singles/album tracks released that week. In addition to all the fresh goings on and transitioning; I am planning some cool things and diversifying my blog. I am working on my Jeff Buckley documentary – pitching it and getting it moving – whilst planning other features: setting up a YouTube channel and doing various videos and concepts. They would include a look at classic albums; interviews with those most influential in music; new artists and things I want to talk about. I have a great ambition to work for a wonderful radio station like BBC Radio 6 Music so am going to learn more about radio production and that side of things. I have my music website in the mind – Psychoacoustics is a one-stop-shop for every music lover and those passionate about its possibilities and history – and more besides. On https://www.musicmusingsandsuch.com/, there will be a lot of cool interviews with artists around the world. I’ll be posting a couple of reviews each weekend and have some great feature ideas brewing – so many different topics and aspects I was to discuss. On WordPress, I’ll keep the weekly Playlist impressive and full – there may be other pieces going up there. Lots going on but, if you are a subscriber/follower of my WordPress site; remember to keep a check on the new site, too. That’s about it but thanks for all the support and here’s…

Music Musings & Such

LOOKING ahead to a busy future!

INTERVIEW: JOHN

INTERVIEW:

 

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JOHN

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THE Crystal Palace-based duo JOHN are excited to announce…

their upcoming album, God Speed in the National Limit. With such an intriguing title; I had to ask about its origins and inspirations. The boys reveal details behind the video for Ghost Printer – the incredible new track. I ask how the Johns got together and whether either had a secret about the other. They reveal future plans and a few artists well worth checking out. I quiz them about humour in their music and why write about improvement and self-improvement – which one discovers throughout Ghost Printer.

I get a glimpse into a wonderful act who has gained support from, above all, Simon Pegg. They are a much-admired live act so I ask whether we can see them tour; some of the artists they look up to and whether they managed to catch any of this year’s Glastonbury.

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Hi, JOHN. How are you? How has your week been?

Hi, there. Not bad thanks.

It’s now the weekend so I’m just at home watering the ferns and writing this – as ‘Rock and Roll’ as you could ever want to imagine.

For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?

We’re a Rock band based in Crystal Palace, London – consisting of two members; both called John.

We’ve been playing together for around three/four years, I believe.

Did you catch Glastonbury? What was your opinion? Will you be heading to any festivals this summer?

We both caught some on the T.V. but didn’t go in person.

Obviously, it’s a completely mixed bag of a line-up (lots of glossy Pop in there); but I think the diversity is a real strong-point. I sat down in the front room with my dad (who was visiting) and enjoyed watching and discussing Kano’s set. I suppose that scenario was a highlight for me.

We’re actually lined up to play three all-day festivals in Bristol, London and Birmingham over the summer – so I’m looking forward to meeting both new and old friends. I think my younger-self would be a happy person knowing that I would come to do this.

It’s a very satisfying to have created this vehicle where can show up in another city and bring people together. That probably sounds overly-romantic but to hell with it.

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Forgive me for the stupid questions – getting it done near the top – but is there some mystical and profound background to the band name – or just the fact you are both called John?!

We are genuinely both called John- and the decision served as a way of remembering that this was just about us to getting together and making the sounds that we’re interested in.

It trimmed the fat away from a more tiring attempt to look or sound a certain way. Having both experienced this when we were younger; we were both very aware that ‘JOHN’ needed to be for us, and hopefully, some other people would enjoy it off the back of that.

How did the duo get together? Have you been friends from way back?

We both met in the halls of residence of our university in East London about ten years ago (I just about remember a beach-themed party where Johnny ‘dropped-in’ from a toilet – into a small paddling pool on a polystyrene surfboard).

But, to be honest, it took us the whole of the three university years to realise that we actually had a lot in common and should probably make more effort to hang out.

Since then, it’s been a bit of a blur. I don’t think any of this would have been possible if we weren’t best mates.

God Speed in the National Limit is a pretty clever album title. Again, where does that title spring from and what kind of themes are addressed on the album?

I remember (just) saying the phrase aloud on the drive back from playing a very satisfying set at A Carefully Planned Festival in Manchester – and it was like a little lightbulb going on. I just thought that it could accurately describe everyone’s quest for self-improvement – but within the confines of the systems/classes we’re born into.

I think this translates well across the whole of the album, whereby each song is a small fiction taken from our lives and moulded into a song. Like with any literature, it wanders further away from the truth when you commit it to language – but all the songs do come from tangible moments.

For example, the opening track – called Balfron – is based upon the Brutalist tower block that I used to pass on the back from practice – although sung from the building’s perspective.

The video for Ghost Printer was released recently. Was it quite cool being involved with the video?

We’ve always taken good care of our videos as it can often feel like these accompanying videos are last-minute add-on marketing tools – that people feel they have to do in order to get the song to the maximum amount of ears.

I’ve worked as an artist for a long time and Johnny as a furniture restorer – so we both enjoy the opportunity to work on something visual to coincide with the song.

That song looks at the pressures of self-improvement and betterment. Is that something you are vulnerable to and see a lot of?

I think the process of music and art is so reflective in general.

It is hard not to fold these experiences in the writing of the songs – hence why Ghost Printer makes a somewhat darkly-comic fiction about the problems of self-belief.

As with many creative people, I have found ways to deal with internal-criticism and often try to push these ideas into the writing – if I think they are relevant to discuss.

It seems humour is pivotal to your music and personalities. Do you think too many artists are po-faced and imperious?

I think humour is definitely a part of our outlook as a partnership – and we hold many comedians/writers in high regard. It certainly doesn’t surprise me that some of these techniques and references have seeped into the writing of songs.

But, similarly, it’s not like we intended to write one-liners. Perhaps humour is only the dangling carrot that can help pull people deeper into songs.

I think people can usually smell you a mile off if you’re playing some kind of act – unless you’re bloody good at it; I’m not sure we are!

Who are the artists you both grew up on and inspired your music route?

Johnny’s dad played on cruise ships around South Africa when he was a kid. I don’t think he would mind me saying that he grew up on absolutely all sorts of music – Rock included. Music was obviously very accessible to him as a kid so I’m not surprised he got the bug early.

I used to record a lot of late-night radio shows on a tape deck so I could listen to them in the morning. This is how I came aware of Punk/Rock music in particular (Steve Lamacq/John Peel/Mike Davies). My local newsagent, then, began selling music magazines and I started building an interest from there.

What does the summer hold? You lads on the road quite a bit?

We’re playing a healthy number of shows around the country in order to get ready for the album launch at The Old Blue Last (on the 18th October).

We’re also already scheduled to get back in the recording studio in August – for something that we will be announced shortly. So, we’re currently putting together tracks to road test them ready for that.

Can each John tell a secret about themselves that we, and the other John, perhaps, does not know about them?

JOHN 1: I had trials to play football for Oxford United’s youth team – although he might know that to be fair.

JOHN 2: He knows too much… I can’t think of one – which means I’ll have to kill him.

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Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

There are so many exciting bands that we’ve met over the last year…

They’re not necessarily new but they’re well worth the ear-time:

LICE / Unqualified Nurse Band / We Wild Blood / Milo’s Planes / Frauds / Ghosts of Dead Airplanes / Ghost Kings of The Five Regions / SLONK / False Advertising / Rat the Magnificent / USA Nails / Dead Arms / It It Anita… amongst others!

If you each had to select the album that means the most to you; which would they be and why?

JOHN 1: I have a massive regret for not being able to see the Danish band LACK (live) before the split up.

I contacted their guitarist when we played in Copenhagen. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the email until we flew back.

This album jumped ship from numerous failing devices and I still love it: LACK – Saturate Every Atom.

JOHN 2: Hot Snakes Automatic Midnight 

It has been a constant influence for years – especially Swami John Reis and pretty much everything else he has worked on.

What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?

Have fun and work hard.

Finally, and for being good sports, you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

JOHN 1: It It Anita 25 (From Floor to Ceiling)

JOHN 2: Papa M – Krusty

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Follow JOHN

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Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/JOHNTIMESTWO/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/Johntimesbytwo

BandCamp:

https://johntimestwo.bandcamp.com/

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/johntimestwo

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpyZJa2wf0WH-cc5fQR6Hsw

FEATURE: Behind the Microphone: Part One: Matt Everitt

FEATURE:

 

Behind the Microphone:

 

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Part One: Matt Everitt

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HAVING dusted off my pieces about Steely Dan and the best…

PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Everitt

new female artists in music – with a little review snuck in- I am readying myself for a retrospective/celebration of Björk (this year is the twenty-fourth anniversary of her debut album – coming up this November) and finding time to live and breathe – the endless, passionate pursuit of the music journalist. In a new series, I am looking at those who sit behind the microphone. I want to feature/interview the best producers, D.J.s; label bosses and influential peeps in music – those who, perhaps, do not get the same exposure and acclaim as musicians. Before anyone, niggling pedantic, points out a D.J. can be in front of the microphone – I am well aware but couldn’t think of anything more intelligent to call this piece. The first instalment of my feature looks at BBC Radio 6 Music’s Matt Everitt. I was going to approach him for an interview but the idea of a journalist/wannabe-interviewer quizzing a world-class interviewer – and, perhaps, learning from the master whilst trying to retain some semblance of professionalism – is a head-twisting proposition. Whether you see Everitt as Shaun Keaveny’s morning stooge – in fact, he often defeats Keaveny in their morning tête-à-tête – or not; there is no denying his expertise and passion.

Not only did I want to highlight Everitt’s great work but emphasise how inspiring and compelling those people away from music can be.

There is, like acting, I guess, a perceived glamour and fake romance associated with music. One assumes it is all going to be tour buses, excessive riders and admiring crowds throwing themselves at your feet – not to mention the endless groupies and screaming fans. That might be the case with the likes of Engelbert Humperdinck or Nickelback – but it is only reserved for a certain few. Music, in actuality, is a brutal and hard industry that is more likely to chew you up and spit you out then, well, the same thing – only with a far less tender and sexual ambition. Don’t get me wrong at all: I adore music and, as a journalist, spend my life promoting new musicians. My future desires do not revolve around recording music myself. I have discovered my singing voice is akin to a Harbor Seal having his tongue sucked out his head by a Dyson – so would not blight the world with my caterwauling. I find – no sour grapes at all – journalism and reporting is a much more rewarding career. You might say those who write about music are failed musicians – in my case, you’re damned right, mate (and proud of it).

That is not the case with Matt Everitt, who forged a successful career (as a drummer) with, among others, Menswear. That is, with brotherly affection, the source of teasing from Shaun Keaveny practically every morning – his career fronting the epic supergroup Bince Meef is hardly the stuff for Heat magazine (maybe he is waiting for Paul McCartney to confirm a support slot!). As I type this – big headphones on and a suitably concentrated face at the ready – I am listening to Everitt’s interview (as part of his The First Time With… series) Radiohead sticks-God, Philip Selway. You can listen here – and, to be honest, it is bloody ace. One reason I wanted to focus on Matt Everitt (I have given Keaveny some love a few months back) is because he, like several of his behind-the-scenes BBC Radio 6 Music cohorts, does sterling work. I recommend you investigate his interviews in full but, every weekday from 7 A.M. you can hear him on Keaveny’s morning show – where he is subjected to endless horse-related jokes (on account of his slightly-longer-than-regulation face) and Menswear gags. I tune in to hear his music news and great interviews.

What he does is, in essence, what I strive to do years from now.

Not that there will be any Hitchcock-esque subterfuge – me dressing as Everitt and infiltrating the studios with my own equivalent of his music news – I shall do things the honest way. I love his style and the way he bonds with the interviewees. He has, as stated, just completed a set of interviews with each member of Radiohead – his chat with Thom Yoke made me giggle and came across very affectionate, warm and respectful. Those kinds of reviewing chops take years to hone but you get some terrific radio. Next year marks the, if you can believe it, fortieth anniversary of Kate Bush’s debut album, The Kick Inside (my favourite album ever). I was not even a glint in the milkman’s dad’s eye when that record came out – born in 1983; I was hearing it a few years after its creation.

None-the-less; it is a record that has influenced my journalistic career and remains in my heart. Everitt interviewed Bush to promote her concert/album release, Before the Dawn. If I could reverse time, and be at any three gigs from all time, it would be: Jeff Buckley playing at Sin-é café (in New York) in 1993 – to be one of the few patrons who got to witness that spectacular voice, backed by a solitary Telecaster – Radiohead at Glastonbury, 1997 and Kate Bush at Hammersmith Apollo (2014). I have Before the Dawn on vinyl and it is a treasured objet d’art. To be in that audience, and witness songs like Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) being performed as a theatrical piece – some thirty-nine years after it appeared on Hounds of Love – must have been life-changing. My passion for Kate Bush is endless and unquestionable; so it was wonderful hearing Everitt interview her. The bond between them was instant and he managed to extract some wonderful titbits and warm laughter – Bush always seems a playful and revealing subject. It is THOSE kinds of interviews that make me feel like, you know what, being a musician is not such a regretful ‘failure’. It seems like a pretty great life being a journalist and interviewer.

People like Matt Everitt, not only validate my route through music, but drive me to become more ambitious and better.

My only two occasions on radio are, a couple of months back, appearing on BBC Radio 5 to discuss – with Howard Goodall and Steve Lillywhite – the fiftieth anniversary of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (I am still not sure if they booked the right person or if I had a right being on Will Gompertz’s show that Sunday) and, on Tuesday, in fact, a ‘guest’ on Lauren Laverne’s Biorhythms – where a Kate Bush track will be selected.

PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Everitt

I can list all the great interviews Matt Everitt has conducted but it is some recent ones – including his coverage at this year’s Glastonbury – that have really motivated me. I would like nothing better than to walk in his shoes and emulate his trajectory. I know there is hard work and a lot of off-radio research/work involved but some great rewards.

The fact the bastard/very charming man has interviewed Paul McCartney – he and Kate Bush are the only two musicians I REALLY want to interview – makes me green with envy!

Alas, I cannot realistically aim that high but that does not matter. There are so many great musicians coming through the ranks right now. I have a mini-list of acts to interview so that is something to reach for. BBC Radio 6 Music is, in my view, the finest radio station in the world and one that I would love to work for. Their ethos and blend of music is perfect: the presenters are all passionate, loveable (except Keaveny, obviously – jokes: love the guy) and knowledgeable. They do not yell in your face – some occasions, listening to BBC Radio 1, and I feel like I have wandered into a primal scream therapy session – nor try to sedate you with lugubrious tones. They have the balance perfectly worked and, no surprise, the listening figures are rising. I feel Matt Everitt is one of the staples and must-hear fixtures. Not only is it pleasing to hear the badinage between him and Keaveny – it descends into playful sadism at times – but the sheer dedication and curiosity he has for the jobs. If this sounds like a fawning piece, it is not intended to be. This is not an addendum to a C.V. or a supplication for employment – merely, recognition of the pivotal humans who work in radio; as integral and indispensable as the on-air talent.

PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Everitt

I will end this piece by reverting to my main thesis: how one should be less preoccupied with the (wrongfully over-romanticised) notions of a music career and those areas of the industry that are less fraught and more rewarding. It sounds like I am a career counsellor for the music industry but there is substance, ecstatic highs and unexpected delights one can inherit from journalism and reporting. As I say; I’ll be looking at D.J.s and producers who do tremendous work but – like fellow BBC Radio 6 Music roving reporters Elizabeth Alker, Clare Crane and Georgie Rogers – Matt Everitt is someone I look up to without irony and jealousy (okay, a BIT of jealousy!). As I type this – distracted by the body-moving, arm-swaying seduction of Steely Dan’s My Old School – I am listening to some archived Everitt interviews and seeing how he has ‘progressed’ as a reporter. Certainly, he has got better as deflecting Keaveny’s shots – and giving him the odd gut-punch when needed – but seems at his most contented and settled. That is encouraging hearing and one reason (among many) I tune into BBC Radio 6 Music. Lesser/a lot of reporters obfuscate and ramble; many are quite haphazard and unengaging.

With Everitt, one gets a delightful blend of caramel-toned questions and natural rapport.

From percussion shifts with 1990s bands to the golden halls of Wogan House – where the music is fine and the kettle barely fuck*ing works! – Mr. Everitt has crafted a pretty impressive career. I hope it continues for many more years to come – unless Shaun Keaveny has a complete breakdown and takes the station off air one day – but you’d hope he will be at BBC Radio 6 Music indefinitely. The station continues to thrive and survive (inconceivable to think imbecilic decision-makers almost cut the station as part of austerity plans!) and, one of the reasons, is those who work behind the microphone. Everitt is one of the station’s most impressive talents and someone who has, quite literally, kept me on the music journalism course. I am seeing so many musicians burn-out and quit (which breaks my heart) but my role, for the most part, seems relatively stress-free and secure – not getting paid for it is a kick in the testicular, mind. That is no worry because, as Matt Everitt has shown, he is inspiring many like me…

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TO dream big.

FEATURE: All I Want: Female Icons and the New Breed

FEATURE:

 

All I Want:

 

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Female Icons and the New Breed

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BEFORE writing this, I promised myself two things…

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IN THIS PHOTO: Warpaint

The first was to relax my near-obsession/crusade with/against gender inequality; the second was to stop using song-based puns for my features. To be fair, on that point, the title, ‘All I Want’ refers to Joni Mitchell – it is the first track from the album, Blue. The sentiment applies to my desire: finding festivals with fewer men and giving headline slots to women.

The first point, irrevocably, was never going to be realistic. Over the past few weeks, especially, I am seeing anger and annoyance from all factions of the social media landscape. I saw an article that related to women being paid less than their male peers. Another reflected on how female performers are often kept waiting outside venues – before they go to play – and made to feel like second-class citizens.

I shall not ramble too much – I have done that sufficiently before – but will, in a piece free from zeitgeist-reflecting and cynicism; collate a list of the legendary female artists who have helped shape music – and the new generation who are worthy of huge affection.

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Kate Bush

PHOTO CREDIT: Fish People

Standout Album: Hounds of Love

Essential Cut: Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) (Hounds of Love)

PJ Harvey

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Standout Album: Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea

Essential Cut: Rid of Me (Rid of Me)

Björk

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Standout Album: Post

Essential Cut: Human Behaviour (Debut)

Amy Winehouse

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Standout Album: Back to Black

Essential Cut: Back to Black (Back to Black)

Joni Mitchell

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Standout Album: Blue

Essential Cut: Woodstock (Ladies of the Canyon)

Aretha Franklin

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Standout Album: I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)

Essential Cut: Respect (I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)

Debbie Harry

Parallel lines

IMAGE CREDIT: Chrysalis Records

Standout Album: Parallel Lines (Blondie)

Essential Cut: Heart of Glass (Parallel Lines)

Madonna

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Standout Album: Ray of Light

Essential Cut: Express Yourself (Like a Prayer)

Stevie Nicks

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Standout Album: Rumours (Fleetwood Mac)

Essential Cut: Edge of Seventeen (Bella Donna)

Patti Smith

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PHOTO CREDIT: Judy Linn

Standout Album: Horses

Essential Cut: Gloria (Horses)

Lauryn Hill

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Standout Album: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Essential Cut: Doo Wop (That Thing) (The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill)

Kylie Minogue

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Standout Album: Light Years

Essential Cut: Spinning Around (Light Years)

Billie Holiday

PHOTO CREDIT: Columbia Records/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection

Standout Album: Lady Sings the Blues

Essential Cut: Strange Fruit (Lady Sings the Blues)

Janis Joplin

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IMAGE CREDIT: Pinterest

Standout Album: Pearl

Essential Cut: Summertime (Janis Joplin and the Holding Company) (Cheap Thrills)

Whitney Houston

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Standout Album: Whitney Houston

Essential Cut: It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay (My Love Is Your Love)

Alicia Keys

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Standout Album: Songs in A Minor

Essential Cut: Fallin’ (Songs in A Minor)

Laura Marling

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PHOTO CREDIT: Lauren Connelly

Standout Album: Once I Was an Eagle

Essential Cut: The Beast (A Creature I Don’t Know)

Taylor Swift

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Standout Album: 1989

Essential Cut: Bad Blood (ft. Kendrick Lamar) (1989)

Billie Marten

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PHOTO CREDIT: Liz Seabrook

Standout Album: Writing of Blues and Yellows

Essential Cut: Emily (Writing of Blues and Yellows)

Beyoncé

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Standout Album: Beyoncé

Essential Cut: Crazy in Love (ft. JAY Z) (Dangerously in Love)

Lorde

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Standout Album: Melodrama

Essential Cut: Green Light (Melodrama)

Julia Jacklin

Aussie songwriter Julia Jacklin announces debut album

Standout Album: Don’t Let the Kids Win

Essential Cut: Coming of Age (Don’t Let the Kids Win)

St. Vincent

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Standout Album: St. Vincent

Essential Cut: Digital Witness (St. Vincent)

Savages

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PHOTO CREDIT: Colin Lane

Standout Album: Adore Life

Essential Cut: Shut Up (Silence Yourself)

Jorja Smith

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Standout Album: Project 11 (E.P.)

Essential Cut: Teenage Fantasy (single)

HAIM

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PHOTO CREDIT: Levis

Standout Album: Days Are Gone

Essential Cut: The Wire (Days Are Gone)

Warpaint

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PHOTO CREDIT: Mia Kirby

Standout Album: Warpaint

Essential Cut: New Song (Heads Up)

Kate Tempest

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Standout Album: Let Them Eat Chaos

Essential Cut: The Beigeness (Everybody Down)

Marika Hackman

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Standout Album: I’m Not Your Man

Essential Cut: Boyfriend (I’m Not Your Man)

Nadia Rose

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Standout Album: Highly Flammable (E.P.)

Essential Cut: Skowd

Lucy Rose

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Standout Album: Work It Out

Essential Cut: My Life (Work It Out)

RAY BLK

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Standout Album: Durt (E.P.)

Essential Cut: My Hood (ft. Stormzy) (Durt)

Lola Coca

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Standout Album: The Only Child

Essential Cut: Bad Girlfriend

Rews

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PHOTO CREDIT: Jonny Finnis

Essential Cut: Shake Shake

Dua Lipa

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Standout Album: Dua Lipa

Essential Cut: Be the One

The Japanese House

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Standout Album: Swim Against the Tide (E.P.)

Essential Cut: Cool Blue (Clean)

TRACK REVIEW: Zernell Fontaine – Tropicana  

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Zernell Fontaine

 

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Tropicana

 

 

9.3/10

 

 

Tropicana is available soon

GENRES:

Afrobeat; Hip-Hop

ORIGIN:

Luton, U.K.

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I have rejigged a couple of my reviews to accommodate…

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a new artist turning some heads. I shall talk more about Zernell Fontaine shortly but, before then, wanted to talk about a few subjects. The first relates to consistency and artists who have an impressive creative pace; Urban/Hip-Hop artists and their importance; Afrobeat sounds and their increasing popularity; Luton and music emanating from outside of London; the importance of young black artists in Britain and, strangely, sites like YouTube and the usefulness of feedback – a bit about self-promotion and the need to diversify. I was going to review The Wave: one of the biggest tracks from Fontaine; one that has been generating buzz and getting some great feedback. The video for that is available online and it is something that differs, sonically, to his current material. It is a bustling and ever-changing musical landscape. Artists who want to remain relevant and popular are always at the mercy of the fast-flowing waters. I have seen a few who cannot acclimatise to the pace and ferocity of trends, market needs and competition. The modern artist needs to be aware of the market and ensure they do not fall behind. I am not saying everyone has to release a song every week and constantly change who they are. Too many are releasing songs every few months/longer and unable to capitalise on their initial success. When an artist unveils a track, there is a lot of promotion needed: a constant need to get the sounds out there and ensure they are spread far and wide. Many are reluctant to record new material until their songs/E.P. have had a long time to settle – often touring follows and a bit of a rest. That is fine – and something a lot of artists do – but I am becoming more aware of certain acts and the dangers of leaving too big a gap. I refer to a couple of mainstream acts (naming no names) who, I noticed, left a space of several years between releases. For new artists, there is a lot more competition and it is that much harder getting your music recognised. Technology and music-sharing sites make it easier to create and disseminate music these days.

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Applying this to Zernell Fontaine and he is someone who is ripe, receptive and responsive. As I say; I was going to review one of his tracks but, being pretty fertile, the young artists is releasing new material. Tropicana is not available yet – getting it whilst it is hot in the oven – but that will all change very soon – another song is going to follow in its wake. I am impressed when a young artist has that motivation and is eager to get music out there. Maybe is an issue with solo artists – bands tend to be more productive – but there is a real danger taking time between songs and assuming the fanbase will be there. It might be configuration/planning but, if you have management/a label, it is a lot easier. Fontaine has signed to Radar Music (via Sony/Red) and has backing. It will be easier, therefore, getting his songs made, released and promoted. I fear a lot of our best new artists have to spend so much time on a single song; it means other artists come along and attention wanes. It might seem irrelevant but, in regards Fontaine, he knows the dangers and pitfalls of music and ensuring he is as active and hard-working as they come. I feel; were he to spend a lot of time pushing one of his tunes, he would leave himself open to short-attention-spanned fans who might seek a similar artist. That is not to say Fontaine lacks quality and consistency. He releases new material quite regularly – or at least in the past few months – and is determined to get his name out there. Before I come on to my next point – and something I will elucidate on more, later – a bit about social media coverage. Fontaine has a strong fanbase and some of the freshest and hottest music on the block. His official website it great but, in my view, there is little information available regarding Fontaine. It is important ensuring the music is out there but people want to know more about the artist and what drives them – where they come from and what makes them tick.

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We do not need a great, long story but there needs to be a certain detail. For me, I wanted to know about Fontaine’s influences and what brought him to music; make it easier for me to write something deep and relevant. I hope these changes occur and the young maestro puts more detail on his website. He is a photogenic chap and has some great photos on there. Some accompanying biography would be good so I can get to know the human behind the music. The same goes when we look at YouTube. I know there are videos out there (of Fontaine) but it would be nice if he had a fully-fledged page and provided regular videos. It does not need to be over-the-top but all his music videos; a few diary entries and another view into Fontaine’s life. He is a fascinating young man and I, for one, would like to hear him provide thoughts on the market and his peers; the kind of sounds he is putting down and some personal stories. Zernell Fontaine could be called ‘Urban’; songs like The Wave have sick flows and tense narration; some slick flows and swaggering confidence. No matter how you compartmentalise and define his music, it emanates from the streets. Latest/upcoming single, Tropicana, deals with Afrobeat but previous cuts have taken their cue from Urban corners. I feel, even in 2017, Urban music is pushed into holes and away from the mainstream. Maybe there is a conflict with the commercial nature of the genre: artists from Urban/Hip-Hop unable to assimilate and compromise enough to feed into the mainstream. I feel there is a sense of judgement and stereotyping associated. Many are put off by genres like Hip-Hop and Rap because they feel it is too aggressive, offensive and jagged. Some artists (in this genre) lack the sophistication and depth to do justice to Urban music but, when one looks at people like Zernell Fontaine; he has the magnetism and talent to change opinions.

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It seems strange having to defend a style of music but I feel Urban artists have a vital role to play in 2017. There is so much dissent and anger circling the nation. Given the horrors ay Grenfell and the dislocation in London – many are getting tired of the government and the unending incompetence that is costing lives. I have a lot of time for Pop, Indie and Rock but there is a mass dissatisfaction that needs musical articulation. I am keeping my eyes peeled for what is happening in R&B, Rap and Hip-Hop; seeing what sounds are brewing right now. Zernell Fontaine, in the past, has addressed deeper social issues but varies his lyrics. He concentrates on his life and rise; love and the tribulations in his life; what is happening around him. He is a popular and talented artist who has the potential to galvanise Hip-Hop and speak out. I am not saying that will not happen (forgive the double-negatives) but it appears Fontaine has the opportunity to represent the youth of Britain and the kind of disgust they are feeling. One of my greatest wishes is a great Urban artist brings out a song/album that tackles the new government and the way they handle problems like Grenfell. Not only that but the terrorism, social divisions and political splits that is running right down the back of Britain. That might come but, for now, Fontaine is producing stunning music that marks him as a star of the future. Alongside fellow newcomers like Ocean China – a hungry and impressive female artist making her way at the moment – there is a real chance for Zernell Fontaine to make a real change in music. He has the passion and power to get his messages to the masses; an ability and flair to recruit hesitant listeners. I feel, as he looks ahead, there is the chance for Fontaine to strike and grab the headlines. There is, as I said, a great deal of anger among the people of Britain right now. That extends to the U.S. – as President Trump gets more villainous and ridiculous – so our best new artists need to react to this. Fontaine is an incredible talent so I would urge him to look in this direction.

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Living just outside London; he must be aware of the smoke of dissemination that is fetid in the air. With past masters like Wiley and Dizzee Rascal past their best days; the responsibility falls with the next generation. Perhaps I am putting too much pressure on the young man but I see a lot of potential in his music. I shall move on from this subject but I, as do many, feel this country is venturing into very dangerous waters. Whilst politicians and the elected leaders are struggling to control the problems they have created; I am looking to music and how artists will react. We are seeing some slithers of explosion but there is a lot more to be done. I hope the finest of the underground mobilise and produce music that sufficiently takes politicians to task. I know Zernell Fontaine has his own sounds and ideas but one feels he has the ability to channel the various annoyances swirling about and funnel that into extraordinary music. Right now, a quick look at Afrobeat music and how it is coming into British music at the moment. Up-and-coming artists like Lola Rae and Wizkid are employing the genre/sound to great effect. If one thinks of the legends – Fela Kuti and Tony Allen – one would imagine more young artists following in their footsteps. It seems a lot of Afrobeat music is being made by artists of African descent. This is true of Zernell Fontaine who, in Tropicana, has employed new sounds and brings some Afrobeat shades into the song. Tiwa Savage, Mister Silva and Efya are hot Afrobeat artists to watch; E.L and M.I are worth watching – Davido and Timaya are making their way and showing real promise. I am excited by the rise of Afrobeat and how it will grow. I hope Fontaine experiments more with the genre because, as you’ll hear in Tropicana, he seems to have a real affiliation and affection for it. Although a lot of Afrobreat music is being made by Nigerian artists; there are some existing/past bands, like Vampire Weekend, that use the genre in their work. Whereas Urban/Hip-Hop music is perfect when it comes to representing the anger many are feeling: Afrobeat has a community and peacefulness that can bring people together.

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There is a distinct need for people to come together and embrace. Few want to experience the sort of fear and unpredictability that plagues the country at the moment. Whilst music is not powerful enough to make real-world changes – not that quickly, anyway – I feel it has a lot of potential. I have stated how Urban/Hip-Hop music is motivating musicians to speak out. In the same manner, Afrobeat has the chance to take on new purpose and synthesise a crest of passion and humanity. At the moment, we hear bits of Afrobeat in various artists and it appears now and again. It should not just be down to Nigerian/black artists to keep the genre alive and kicking. No genre should be reserved to nations/races; I would love to see more mainstream artists use Afrobeat sounds in their music. Whilst there is a proud traditional and heritage to Afrobeat music; it has a universality and openness that should attract many others. Many are feeling quite scared and unsure this year. Afrobeat music has that potency and ability to bring the people together and create something extraordinary. Zernell Fontaine has created something blissful and fascinating in Tropicana. I would like to see him blend his fiery and confident Hip-Hop side with the more relaxed and colourful Afrobeat dynamic. THAT would be really great to hear! For now, he is showing why he’s one of the most impressive, nimble and promising artists emerging in the U.K. I look at a lot of artists inside London but rarely get the chance to check out those hailing outside the capital. Fontaine is based in Luton which, for the first time, puts my mind there. Not that I am belittling Luton but one does not associate it with great music and a huge scene. I know there are bands and artists from Luton who have the potential to do great things in the future. One of the reasons it is attractive – to an extend – is its proximity to London. It is outside the city but close enough so artists can commute into London.

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For Fontaine; he has access to local venues like The Bear Club and the great pubs around town. Luton is less than twenty-eight miles from London and an ideal location for Fontaine. In fact, I am not sure whether he has (since) moved to London but Luton provides some of Bedfordshire’s best spaces for music but has that convenience and easy access to London. There is a lot of pressure for artists to come to the city in order to make things work. There is a lot of competition and bodies in London so it does put people off to an extent. Many are moving away from London because it is becoming compacted and compressed. Lots of artists are struggling to make their voices heard – because there is so much competition – and rent prices/living costs means they are finding juggling performing and living quite hard-going. Perhaps that is why areas like Luton are more attractive. The rent prices and living costs are more affordable and it does not cost a lot to commute into the city. For Fontaine, he has the benefit of all worlds but, as he has signed a record deal and has great management behind him, it cannot be long until he permanently resides in London. He seems suited to North London and an area like Camden. Maybe he has his own ideas but, given the way his music is taking off, a lot of demand will come from London. In terms of performances and promotion; the capital is where it is all happening. There are terrific venues and spaces he could campaign and succeed. Right now, there is a building momentum so it is important to capitalise on it. If he can get his official website fuller; remain as productive and hard-working as he – I foresee Fontaine making real strides and carving out a large chunk of London. I feel a definite need for great Urban artists who have mobility and flexibility. Fontaine proves he is capable of crafting edgy and direct anthems; talented when employing Afrobeat ideas into his music – able to do anything he wants, really.

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There is still a racial imbalance in music that is not going to abate any time soon. The same is true of gender but, in terms of black artists getting fair representation; we still have a lot of work to do. I am not sure why music is still rigid and culpable. One would think, as opposed to society in general, there would be less discrimination and better rights. If you look at the mainstream, we are still seeing a largely white population making its way to our ears. There are genres, like Hip-Hop and Rap, that have a black majority but those mainstream/heavily promoted artists – they tend to white, for the most part. Maybe I am over-simplifying but I feel there is a racial component at work. There are a lot of great black artists working across all genres. One wonders whether they are being denied proper exposure because of the colour of their skin. In my mind, the best young black artists in music have greater influence and potential than anyone else. I have mentioned Urban genres and Afrobeat. In terms of sheer power and ability: these styles of music are more affecting and powerful than Rock and Alternative. Those genres, Rock especially, seem to be dominated by white males. Maybe Zernell Fontaine does not face racism on a daily basis but one imagines he has felt prejudice and oppression during his career. I do wonder whether a white artist, with less talent and ability than him, would be afforded a faster track to the mainstream. Again, I might be jumping to conclusions but am seeing racial divisions and ill practices that need overriding. Given the way the country is changing and dividing; there is a definite need for artists like Fontaine to get their voices heard and music promulgated.

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I am going to shift this forward now but, when looking at the comments section for Fontaine’s video (for The Wave), I was annoyed at the feedback some users provided. Maybe I should stop being naïve but I question the validity and point of YouTube comments. For many artists, these comments and views can be crucial. There is, sometimes, constructive feedback and thoughts that can lead to musical improvement. Praise and kind words give artists encouragement and the desire to keep creating music. There is, unfortunately, a seedy side to YouTube that needs to be reviewed. In terms of sheer callousness and vitriol; I am disturbed by a lot of things that make their way onto YouTube. I mention this point because, in relation to The Wave, some commentators started their feedback with: “I was going to diss/slag off this artist, but…” or something to that effect. It seems rather judgmental and bigoted to create negativity before you have heard a single note registered. Maybe they were reacting to previous songs – not a great fan of Fontaine – but one suspects there is that ingrained judgment that is causing a stench. Why would one leave a comment like that on YouTube? I have commented a few times – on various videos and things – but it is always positive and encouraging. I would never watch a music video and post something negative. If you don’t like something, then do not watch/listen to it. For artists like Zernell Fontaine, he is going to read feedback and take it to heart. I know he is resilient, and most of his feedback is positive, but there are those odd comments that are going to stick with him. The Wave, in this case, is a brilliant song and should be judged on its own merits. One feels, in regards the odd YouTube commentator, they are pre-judging a genre or assuming the music would be inferior. I do worry how stuff like this will dent an artist’s confidence. I feel Fontaine should be getting nothing but positivity so should there be greater restrictions and moderation on sites like YouTube?

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Perhaps I am being too sensitive but it is a shame seeing offensive or judgemental comments accompanying great music videos. When Tropicana is released on YouTube, there will be a lot of praise – one hopes there is less negativity. Maybe reviews like this are more productive and helpful but all artists put a certain stock as to the feedback of the general public. Against the odd off-putting YouTube comment, I notice Fontaine is getting some great reception on social media. The Internet is a bittersweet experience that, one second, sees waves of love come your way – it only takes the odd negative remark elsewhere to put someone off. Now Fontaine has a record deal and producing more music; there is going to be a lot of feedback coming his way. He has a strong skin and does not let things like that get to him. I am concerned there is too much needless negativity and this unconstructive approach to music ‘reviewing’ is quite harmful. Looking at Fontaine’s social media and there is, I am glad to say, overriding love and support for the young artist. He has a healthy fan population and is catching the ear of radio stations and media outlets. I wonder, when Tropicana is out, it will get some mainstream radio play. I know he has had his music played on radio but it deserves greater exposure and more affection. There is a real chance for Zernell Fontaine to get his name into the media and affect some positive change. He has a wonderful musical talent but, I sense, a passion for people around him. He is aware of his community and place in the world; there is a multi-dimensional aspect to his music that emanates from a curious and imaginative mind. Listening to Tropicana and I get the impression this is merely the start of things. Fontaine has a restlessness that will see him succeed and grow; music that is among the most original around; a passion for his craft that is infectious.

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Island percussion and timpani bliss shoots a Reggae-cum-Afrobeat concoction that is like a Malibu-heavy cocktail that takes the senses to the beach vistas and inviting waters of the Caribbean. Not one to run through clichés but one gets a direct blast of romantic sunshine and the sights and sounds of the beach. From the first notes, as a curious tourist, I am lounging on a seat watching the bronzed bodies go by. The taut, sensual and sweat-dripped black physiques – the bounteous and eye-catching bodies that turn male heads and are met with cheeky (if, in-your-dreams-mates) smiles from the girls. The gorgeous girls and carnival atmosphere of the sands might be a million-miles from where you are – Tropicana is a song that transports you there and encourages you to watch the action unfold. Our hero is winding and grinding – maybe a beach-side club or paradise bar – and he sees a girl making the moves. Evidentially, the girl has a beau but her eyes are not reserved for him. She is sending signals and our hero has to retreat to the bar. Planning his strategy, and getting his head together, there is that sense of frustration and lust. This word, ‘Tropicana’, seems to represent a certain sensational and elixir. It is a verb (or adjective) that distils itself into a powerful sexual allure. The girl, one imagines someone who has a blend of Beyoncé and Rihanna, is intoxicating and turning quite a few heads. It seems strange, or perhaps not, she is not completely into her fella but that only exacerbates the animal instincts inside the hero. The beats are pulsating and the hips are shaking. I stated how the song seems to be set in the sights of the Caribbean but perhaps there is something closer to home – a mix of London and Trinidad. There is a bit of Jamaica and, a sip of its heady brew, gets me looking at the girls, dance and splendour of the island. The heroine, in all her allure and finery, is teasing our man and causing him some stress.

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Eventually, the two meet on the dancefloor and start to grind. He grabs her hips and the two are near the point of ‘satisfaction’. The drawn-out flirtation is reaching the next stage but I wonder whether the two actually get it together – or whether they said goodbye when the night was through. The girl, it seems, gets the juice juicy and is causing many guys to lose their heads. Our man is thinking about her and seems to be infected by that aura and mystical sexuality. In fact, at one point, Fontaine is barely able to articulate words and thoughts – reduced to wordlessness and vague sounds. That is understandable considering the images and impressions one is given. It appears the girl is one of those rare specimens one will not see staggering out of clubs on a Saturday night in Barking. Maybe it is – not to judge his choices – but she seems a lot classier and more dignified than that. I am imagining a black woman but that might be jumping to conclusions. For me, I have a predilection for black women for a number of reasons. Not only because of their fuller figures and facial beauty – thicker lips and finer skin – but a personality and confidence that is hard to refuse. Maybe that is an irrelevant aside but it is important to build up these ideas and get a sense of who is involved in the story. Whether we are on an island or outside a London club; there is that anticipation and excitement brewing. Tropicana is quite a short song and gets through in under three minutes. One gets a blast of summer-ready energy and that need for more – you yearn to hear another verse and more of the song. It is a great device that will have people desiring more music from Fontaine. It is a wonderful and powerful song from a young man who is embarking on the most exciting part of his career. Let’s hope he continues this hot-streak and make many more songs. Tropicana is a fantastic song that has Afrobeat undertones but some great Reggae sassiness and cool breezes that balance the more intense moments.

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In terms of social media updates; Zernell Fontaine has proudly announced his new record deal and the fact new things are brewing. That was met with a huge response so I would like to see this consistency continue. In the past, there have been gaps between posts. He is a busy boy but, one feels, there is more he can do online. Every week, he will be working on music have things to say. Seeing as new songs are on the horizon, some teaser campaigns would be good. I am one of those people who hates that in the mainstream – the need to drip-feed a record rather than release it straight away – but is more practical for newer artists. There needs to be a build-up and certain amount of anticipation before something arrives. It would be good if he recorded a few short YouTube videos letting one into his life and creative process. His information is quite bare; I would like to learn more about Fontaine and what makes him run. I am not suggesting a huge spiel and slog but more regular updates for the fans. It is great to see Fontaine get that record deal: keep that energy going and let people into the next stage. I, as a reviewer, would like to know how the new material is coming on and what we can expect next. Post a few candid/on-the-move shots and some videos; a few updates to keep people in-the-loop. Same goes with Twitter, too. I know he has management taking care of a lot of this but one would like to see more personal insight and exposure from Fontaine. That might come because there will be a demand to see him perform around the U.K. I am unsure what his diary looks like but one imagines London is going to be a perfect place for him to shine. The capital is receptive and inviting. It welcomes and beckons in those artists who have something important to say. Fontaine has releases some bangers in the past but, as I have heard Tropicana, he has a flexible approach to music. There are not many who can change course and retain their personality and voice.

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That is the sign of an artist who wants to remain on the scene and has a lot of energy in him. I am not sure whether this will translate into an album or E.P. The fact Fontaine has signed that deal means there will be a certain expectation and need. They might an E.P. before the end of the year: there is enough material in the archive that could go into a new work. I expect Fontaine wants to record new music and, if he does put out an E.P., ensure it is largely fresh and current. His older sounds, like The Wave, have their own life and have been taken to heart by the public. That said, it would make a great E.P. opener but Fontaine has his sights set on the future. I cannot wait to see whether he tours a lot and what sort of dates he has coming up. I shall end the review soon but, before then, return to a few things I discussed earlier: Urban music and the need to embrace various genres; creative consistency and keeping the work rate solid; London and being located within touching-distance of the city – a slight return to young black artists and their importance in 2017. There is segregation in music that extends to genres and races. Traditionally, genres like ‘Urban’ – encompassing Hip-Hop and Rap – have always been seen as niche and reserved to a certain set. Maybe it is not clean and riskless enough for mainstream tastes but that seems foolhardy. It is not as profane and intangible as many people assume. Listen to previous Fontaine tracks and you hear an engaged and determined young man who talks about his own life but wants to affect other people. You do not need to be a young black man to understand what Fontaine is laying down. There are a lot of female artists in the genre who are not getting as big a voice as their male counterparts.

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This imbalance extends to other genes but it seems a shame we are seeing this in 2017. Urban music, I feel, has a real vitality and ability to change things for the better. Considering the rough year we have had so far; music is bringing people together and helping balm wounds. I feel there is a real pulpit waiting for the best Urban artists to have their say. So many emotions and conflicts exist that need guidance and discipline. I am not proposing there is an angry and judgemental set of songs: something that tackles the feelings we all share and exposes the faults and flaws that exist in the country. I know an artist like Zernell Fontaine has the ability to do this – whether it is in his mind is another thing. He has shown, in previous numbers, he is a commanding and confident presence. He has showmanship and bravado but never comes across egotistic and crude. The young black artists of Britain have always had to work harder to get equality – this runs in-tandem with societal drawbacks – and this extends to music. It shouldn’t be there are many ingrained problems we need to tackle. People like Zernell Fontaine have a lot to say and, in a year like 2017, are more relevant and vital than ever before. It is not to do with race, as such, but a certain experience others cannot understand. I am not suggesting only black artists understand the struggle many feel – living in low-quality housing and discrimination – but they can vocalise the problems of the street and political malaise better than anyone else. That comes down to a certain passion, drive and lyrical talent most artists lack. Throwing sharp darts and concentrated truth-bombs; urban poetry and articulate dismay is something I associate with black artists. How involved Fontaine will be with this desire has yet to be seen – I have every hope he will drop a song that uncovers the state of modern Britain. Anyway, Fontaine is based in Luton and has that close comfort of London. He can travel to the capital and has the best city for music close by.

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Now he is a signed artist; that means he will have more freedom and chances as an artist. Maybe there will be some creative compromise – how frequently he releases music and what style it is – but I am sure he will remain as individual and original as always. I mooted the fact Fontaine might affect a permanent move to London. That might be unavoidable considering the way his career will grow and expand. I feel there is a lot to be said for London life – a lot of it gets lost amidst negativity and stereotyped arguments. The rent prices are steep but the same can be said of many towns/cities in the South – all of them pale into insignificance considering the value and beauty you get in London. The main assets of London are its social scene, musical vibe and chances. It is a vibrant city that welcomes people in and has a wonderful community spirit. This must be attractive for a young man making his first big steps in music. I know there will be a lot of songs coming forth and those gig demands. Luton, where he is based, has a few great venues but nothing on the same level as London. The future is bright for the skilled songwriter; all the ingredients are in the pot – he only needs that combustible flame to get things really cooking! By that, I mean the burst of demand and radio networking. He has some local-level support but those big national stations are the ticket. Once his music gets regular spins on BBC Radio 1 and ‘6 Music; that will open doors and see Fontaine ascend to the mainstream. Tropicana is a song, right now, reserved to journalists and its creators. I am not sure of its official release date but I am excited to see what reaction it gets. It goes into Afrobeat territory – something new to Fontaine – but retains a lot of his grit and authority. A compelling piece from one of the most engaging and impressive artists blossoming. Make sure you follow his work; add him to your social media networks and keep abreast of his happenings. The future is his for the taking and, one suspects, when Tropicana gets its club dues; it will see the Luton-based treasure…

MAKE a huge impact.

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Follow Zernell Fontaine

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