Musical Discovery: ‘Radar’ by Whethan (feat. HONNE)

Not long after the release of their second album Love Me / Love Me Not, HONNE return on Radar – a funky, robotic collaboration with up-and-coming DJ Whethan (Ethan Snoreck).

Fans of Sub Focus and Madeon may want to give the latest track from the Chicago producer a listen. Thudding synths at the start are reminiscent of the intro to the former’s track Tidal Wave, while the wacky vocal distortion sound like the chopped vocals of the latter’s song OK. There are some comparisons to be made on this latest release, but Whethan’s new single is far from unoriginal.

Settling into a unique sound whilst also remaining experimental with his releases, Snoreck continues to explore new electronic effects and staggering melodies on Radar. Andy Clutterbuck of HONNE’s smooth, raspy vocals explore new ground with the help of Whethan’s production.

A bubbly, poppy cluster of instrumentals, the chorus still has a sense of a tight tempo at its core underneath the catchy lyrics. Following on from collaborations with the likes of Dua Lipa, Oh Wonder and Broods, Radar demonstrates that Whethan has found the perfect balance between unrestrained creativity and a rigid, driving rhythm.

Radar is available now on Apple Music and Spotify.

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#NewMusicFriday: ‘Brighter Days’ by Sigala feat. Paul Janeway

The title track from British DJ Sigala’s long-awaited debut album Brighter Days, featuring Paul Janeway from St. Paul and the Broken Bones, is a strong deep house opener packed with euphoric, feel-good vibes.

With it being just over three years since Norfolk-born Bruce Fielder released his smash debut hit Easy Love, dance fans have become quite accustomed to the producer’s particular style across the many singles the 25-year-old has released to-date. Take vibrant tropical house with the occasional funk and deep house influences and you have Fielder’s traditional sound which has seen him achieve seven Top 40 hits.

These seven chart successes all appear on the album, with 10 of the 16 tracks already being released as singles. While the popularity of these songs has already been proven, it’s the new collaborations with big names such as Kylie Minogue and Kodaline that have fans interested. Yet, while they show the range of Sigala’s tropical house sound, they fall short of conjuring up the last drop of summer – something which is probably not helped by the record’s autumnal release.

Of the few tracks which we haven’t heard before, it’s opener Brighter Days which is particularly distinctive. Janeway’s vocals have a noticeable Sam Smith/John Newman twang which is far from unfamiliar to Fielder and his listeners. What’s new and different is the deep house hook which is something fans have heard more of in live performances than in the studio (with the exception of his track with Blonde and Imani Williams, I Don’t Need No Money). Lyrics like “the sun breaking through those clouds” and “holding on for the brighter days” are typical Sigala – summery, vibrant and optimistic.

It’s a strong introduction to the record, with the underlying bass and heavy, hazy synth foreshadowing tracks such as Just Got Paid (feat. Ella Eyre, Meghan Trainor and French Montana) and You Don’t Know Me (feat. Shaun Frank, Flo Rida and Delaney Jane). However, Brighter Days and Sigala’s track with Nina Nesbitt and HRVY – Somebody – are the only two new, stand-out songs from the album. Yet, with so many featured artists and tracks we’ve heard before, there’s likely to be something for everyone on Sigala’s eagerly anticipated debut.

Brighter Days is the title track from Sigala’s album of the same name, available now on Apple Music and Spotify.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Broken Sleep’ by Fickle Friends

Hot off the heels of their debut album release and a string of summer festival performances, Fickle Friends explore new ground on the driving pop track, Broken Sleep.

It’s time for some new directions for the Brighton band. Leaving Polydor Records to start up their own record company, the five-piece are back with an evolved pop sound ahead of their new EP out later this year.

Their first album, You Are Someone Else, was a strong introduction from Natti Shiner and co. Colourful instrumentals and soft vocals on a slow beat cemented the group as a band with a clear, distinctive sound, and room to experiment.

Listening to the lead single of their new EP, this traditional sound remains, but it feels different. While hits from You Are Someone Else packed a punch with a slower tempo, Broken Sleep has a driving rhythm which is much more urgent and excitable. If we’re seeing Fickle Friends move towards faster, poppier hits, then the band is heading in a very exciting direction indeed.

Broken Sleep is available now on Apple Music and Spotify.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Villains’ by Emma Blackery

Bold, impactful but also incredibly personal, Emma Blackery’s Villains is a confident debut from the Essex-born singer-songwriter.

A vlogger on the video-sharing site YouTube, the musician has been involved in a fair bit of online drama over the years. Much like her previous EP, Emma’s album Villains chronicles another period of reflection for the singer, as she went through what she describes as “personal relationship issues”.  Her 11-track debut is just as honest as Magnetised – except this time, with a side order of sass and one heck of a punch.

In a tweet ahead of the launch, Emma described the record as a “concept album” – the linear narrative clear from the start, with Villains Pt. 1 and Villains Pt. 2 discussing Blackery’s list of “good and bad” and serving as two very different bookends to the artist’s many emotions across the tracks – moving from the colourful, confident hits DirtAgenda and Fake Friends into the more stripped back sounds of Icarus, Petty and What I Felt With You.

The bold tone of the album has already attracted comparisons to Taylor Swift’s reputation era (which Emma shorty responded to on Twitter after the lead single Dirt was released), but there’s also some slight Madonna and Charlie XCX vibes – on Fake Friends and Take Me Out respectively. The latter in particular warranted a few more listens before becoming a catchy hit.

Alongside Fake Friends and What I Felt With You, Blackery comes into their own on the track Third Eye. Her interest in electronic music on full show, the track offers up pulsing synth and sharp vocals. As the artist prepares to go on tour in October, this is one which is likely to get the crowd going in a concert environment.

As a whole, Villains breathes confidence. Even on the chilled electronic track What I Felt With You – arguably one of the stand-out songs on the album – Emma is in her element as she takes a more delicate approach to the song, something we’ve already seen her accomplish on the hit Magnetised. There’s also the small matter of the high notes at the end of Villains Pt. 2, a final demonstration of her vocal talents and an indication to fans and to anyone else listening that she’s here and ready to rock.

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.

Musical Discovery: ‘Message’ by Audien

As the name suggests, Some Ideas – the latest EP from the American DJ Audien – contains three songs all completely different from each other. From chill house to hazy synths, it’s a release which sees the musician flex his producing muscles. Yet, by far the most traditional-sounding song of the lot is the EP’s opener, Message.

After all, there’s the repeated lyrics – message from my heart/too loud to stay apart – alongside Audien’s signature beat drops (be it a bass drum or sudden pause in the song) and delicate piano. It follows the usual structure, too: minimalistic piano chords guide the track all the way up to the main lead, which is complete with the occasional off-beat note and a satisfying rising and falling melody. Yet again, US artist sure knows how to create a euphoric dance hit.

Whilst part of this song is down to sampling and the repeated lyrics may come across as simplistic, it must be remembered that this is quite an experimental assortment of songs. Message, Resolve and Rampart see Audien try out new sounds, with each track different from the other. Simply put, it’s a pick-and-mix EP, and there’s a high chance you’ll like at least one of the three.

Musical Discovery: ‘Night Bus’ by Gabrielle Aplin

We’ve all been there: a rainy car journey or an early train ride and we picture ourselves in a music video or black-and-white movie with sad, upsetting undertones. For Gabrielle Aplin, however – known for her 2012 cover of The Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood – a bus ride home is the focal point for a track from her EP, Miss You.

A bouncy 6/8 beat is at the heart of Night Bus, which, when combined with a triplet synth melody, only adds to the reflective and heavenly vibe Aplin always manages to create with her soft vocals. When analysed alongside Miss You, both use electronica to heighten their tone. There’s no doubt that this injects some positivity into this particular song, but not enough to detract from the bittersweet meaning of the track itself – that on the way home, the singer is considering ending a relationship.

To throw Night Bus into the ‘generic breakup song’ category would be a terrible mistake. Throughout, the lyrics are wonderfully imaginative and take the us back to a reflective journey on public transport which we have all experienced. The second verse, complete with descriptions of dazed and complacent reflections and lovers that hide from the cold white light, paints the perfect picture of the bus ride. Whilst the setting may be simplistic, the adjectives and the individual’s thought process makes this an honest and open track from Aplin.

As the lyrics float around the fluttering rhythm perfectly, it’s likely that the beat is the more distinctive part of the track, emboldening and placing emphasis upon Gabrielle’s reflective vocals. From her electro-heavy EP Miss YouNight Bus is a blissfully relatable and heartfelt song from the 24-year-old artist.