#NewMusicFriday: ‘First Aid’ by Eliza and the Bear

As Eliza and the Bear explore new sounds on their upcoming album, Group Therapy, their latest single First Aid is a little look back at the band’s beginnings – with lead singer James Kellegher taking centre-stage on this raw and impactful track.

After having revealed some of their personal struggles and their difficult journey to get to a second album, Eliza and the Bear think it “felt so right” that First Aid was released to fans this week – and they’re not wrong.

For one thing, it’s a break from the funk pop style we’ve seen on previous releases such as Higher, Hell and Real Friends. Instead, it feels like an emboldened version of what we already know from their debut. Out goes the loud drums and chanting vocals, replaced by a steady, controlled beat and soul from James. If Eliza and the Bear wanted to gently introduce their new sound, as opposed to a more daring and surprising approach, then this could very well have been a solid first single.

With the band already hinting that Group Therapy will be more funky release than their debut, First Aid moves away from that idea to deliver a passionate and raw track. Such a detour suggests that a bit of experimentation can be expected on their sophomore album, and for a band which has gone through some difficult times, they’re back, and the creativity is flowing.

First Aid is out now on Apple Music and Spotify. Eliza and the Bear’s second album, Group Therapy, is released on 5 October.

Advertisements

#NewMusicFriday: ‘I See Love’ by Jonas Blue feat. Joe Jonas

It’s Jonas-meet-Jonas as DNCE frontman Joe Jonas joins forces with tropical house hitmaker Jonas Blue on I See Love, taken from the Hotel Transylvania 3 soundtrack.

With the animated sequel being called Summer Vacation, it’s fitting that the team at Sony called on Blue to produce a summer single to accompany the movie. Mix this in with the funk typical of Joe Jonas and you move into your usual, commercial pop track. However, that is not to say that this latest collaboration isn’t at all enjoyable.

While previous singles such as Alien and Rise have seen the Essex DJ and producer flex his tropical house music muscles, I See Love sees him explore a new genre entirely. If you’re a Joe Jonas fan, then you’ll definitely enjoy this song, as it sounds more like a DNCE single than a Jonas Blue one. It’s alright for those like myself who will happily settle for typical funk pop, but for those who expected another single with tropical house at the forefront, then they may be disappointed.

In terms of the main hook, it’s the mixture of Joe’s chanting vocals and the underlying, refined bass notes which give the song its catchiness. Outside the realms of the chorus, the rhythm of the lyrics in verses follows the same off-beat pace throughout. Although this is both ideal and typical of this genre of music, if there’s the opportunity for experimentation with the speed of the vocals, then it feels somewhat lazy to have the same sound running all the way through. Sure, it may help with the song’s memorability, but it’s not the most creative.

Despite the criticisms, I See Love sits comfortably within this week’s new music playlists, but as your traditional pop track. If you’re looking for a casual, commercial sound and an easy dance track, then this is it.

Musical Discovery: ‘Find Our Way’ by Midnight Kids feat. klei

Slowly but surely, a more relaxed form of dance music with a euphoric feel is making a resurgence, and Midnight Kids are certainly helping to bring it back with their atmospheric hit Find Our Way.

Having made a name for themselves already with huge remixes of tracks from the likes of The Chainsmokers and The Temper Trap, the DJing duo are now switching over to production with the release of their debut single.

In keeping with the pair’s remixing style, Find Our Way is quickly establishes a chilled tone in the verses, sticking to soft piano chords and a controlled beat in order to allow the vocalist (in this case, up-and-coming singer klei) to shine through and guide the listener to a loud and ecstatic chorus.

After some trap in the build-up, the track descends into galactic electronica full of intriguing synth sound effects, yet it’s the pulsing chords and bass lingering underneath the vocals and melody which deliver the subtle kick to this single.

Capturing a sense of mystery and intrigue with lingering instrumentals, Midnight Kids certainly live up to their name with this chilled dance debut.

Find Our Way is available now on Spotify and Apple Music.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Icarus’ by Emma Blackery

There’s something different about Emma Blackery’s latest single Icarus. Moving away from the buzzing pop of Dirt and Agenda, the release takes a more delicate, personal approach – using a tale from Greek mythology as an unusual source of inspiration.

While there’s no doubt that some of Emma’s fans will have to take to Google to find out more about Icarus (a man who flew too close to the Sun, causing his wings to melt and him to fall into the ocean and drown), the story serves as a wider metaphor for online drama – of which Emma has had her fair share.

Working as a YouTuber as well as a musician, the 26-year-old has had a few heated arguments with fellow creators in the past, and Icarus serves as a reflection on that period in her life. “A song I wrote as a letter to myself,” Emma writes on Twitter, before explaining later that it’s “about retaliating to the people who want to see you fall, and looking like a fool.” Even Icarus flying to the Sun could well be symbolic of rising to the ‘heat’ or bait in an online argument. Either way, this creative take on the Greek legend is incredibly imaginative, and is a promising demonstration of the singer’s songwriting talent.

Yet it is not just the lyrical aspect of Icarus which helps it strike a more anecdotal tone. Opening up with a fragile harp melody (almost like one out of a music box), we not only see a nod to the song’s Greek inspiration, but it lays down the foundation for an emotional outpour. This is slightly different from the short, sudden burst of cymbals we hear during the chorus, which almost symbolises the lashing out online in retaliation to a public dispute. This is all down to interpretation, of course, but the large amount of symbolism in this song is incredibly impressive.

Almost like the Magnetised of the Villains era, Icarus is a hit packed full of creative imagery, emotional vocals and fluttering instrumentals.

It is available now on Apple Music and Spotify.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Glass Mansion’ by Elephante

The second EP from American DJ and producer Elephante (real name Tim Wu) contains songs as delicate as the record title itself. Glass Mansion, following on from the artist’s 2016 debut I Am the Elephante, seems to adopt a more stripped-back sound whilst still preserving the electric grit and punch of the previous release.

It’s a sound which was hinted by singles such as Troubled and Come Back for You, switching pulsating  synths for smooth guitar melodies. With that being said, the chill vibes of Plans appear throughout the EP, and the grungy Black Ivory instrumental gets a follow-up in the form of Red Smoke.

Come Back for You opens up the EP with smooth guitar, dramatic fanfare and marimba alongside soulful vocals courtesy of Matluck. It’s a song which feels somewhat selfish lyric-wise, working with the instrumentals to give off a sense of loud, bold bravado. It’s certainly a strong introduction to the nine-track release.

Contrast this with the following three songs, and the record becomes more reflective. Have It All featuring Elephante regular Nevve (from Catching On and Sirens on the previous record) comes with a slightly harsher feel no doubt compounded by deep, hazy synths. It’s a return to true Phante grit, but unlike previous tracks, the instrumentals are saved for the hook. Soft verses pour out emotional messages before being bolstered by expressive choruses which, although not your traditional party sound, bring with them a feeling of calm euphoria.

Off the back of perfect seaside track The In Between, Wu returns to the mic to sing alongside singer Knightly on the bouncy All Over Again – the layered vocals seeming to cleverly represent the frustrations of two individuals stuck in a complicated relationship.

Yet, it’s the fifth track of the EP, No Room for Lovers, which is perhaps the most significant. Not only does it serve as the beginning of a new emotional mindset across the remainder of the record, but it also strikes listeners as being the most ‘out there’ in terms of Elephante’s typical sound.

Completely devoid of any electronica, this track – featuring female vocalist Crystal – instead adopts plucky guitar and a fluid drum beat to give it a boisterous, confident groove. It’s your traditional sassy funk hit, and it sure as hell embraces that.

After Red Smoke serves up an expressive instrumental break, the final three songs of the EP become increasingly reflective, uploading and upbeat in nature, concluding an emotional arc present across the nine tracks.

In a series of tweets on Twitter, Wu said the EP is about “the journey of finding grace and happiness in a half-built home” and over the course of the record, the producer takes a creative and imaginative approach to this concept whilst also fleshing out a new stripped back style.

If his debut I Am the Elephante was the weekend party record, then Elephante’s Glass Mansion is the EP for chilled evenings.

Rating: 4/5

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Just Got Something’ by Codeko feat. Alex Winston

Lyrically speaking, it has the traditional make-up of a summer dance song. Cue vague and confusing lyrics about something romantic or some unorthodox relationship. Yet, it’s the instrumental elements of Codeko and Alex Winston’s Just Got Something which gives this track an edge.

A fluid, off-beat drum beat allows for some interesting experimentation with pace and tempo throughout the song, Winston’s soft vocals often overlapping with the snappy snare drum. It’s this bouncy rhythm already established at the start of the song which lends itself to the track’s build-up, working alongside pulsing, hazy synth to create suspense before the main hook.

The melody itself clearly establishes what sort of vibe the song wanted to go for. Pronounced synth notes which sound somewhat like trumpets allude to a carnival tone, complete with an electronic fanfare. Mix that with a punchy drum beat and you have something a lot more interesting…

Just Got Something is available now, both on Spotify and Apple Music.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Don’t Tell Me You Love Me’ by Sam Calver (Jack Wins Remix)

As much as a remix can breathe life into a piece of music, it can also cut free the structural restraints of the original. With his take on up-and-coming artist Sam Calver’s Don’t Tell Me You Love Me, Jack Wins creates new ground for a summery hit.

On the original, Calver experiments with the flow of his vocals underneath a slight trap beat. While at times the weaving of lyrics around the relaxed tempo brings with it a creative flair, it does sound rather disjointed and has this rather ‘tight’ sound to it. There’s a sense of the vocals wanting to explore a new rhythm, but the track’s instrumentals are holding Calver back. Cue Dutch DJ Jack Wins spicing things up a bit.

With new backing piano chords moulding around the vocals, there’s much more room for Calver’s voice to take centre stage with a more anthemic edge. From stabs supporting the higher ends of his vocal range, Wins’ traditional club sound in the second verse works well with the lyrics, giving a much grittier feel to Sam’s sound. Through Jack’s creativity, we finally get a track which feels unrestrained and liberated – a feeling which translates well into the minds of listeners when giving this club track a spin.

Jack Wins’ remix of Don’t Tell Me You Love Me is available to listen to now on Spotify and Apple Music.