#NewMusicFriday: ‘Serious’ by Midnight Kids feat. Matthew Koma

Creative, fluttering and unrestrained, Midnight Kids’ follow-up single Serious continues the electronic euphoria despite a few rhythmic hiccups.

Kyle Girard and Dylan Lee have had quite the busy couple of months since Find Our Way dropped in June. Their debut single after a string of hit remixes, the track (featuring newcomer klei) propelled the mysterious EDM duo into the spotlight. It soon gained over a million streams on Spotify and landed them their first few live performances – including as a support act for Alesso.

Now the pair keep the momentum going with their sophomore release Serious, featuring dance music titan Matthew Koma. Although revealed to have been “a year in the making”, the track’s tempo is slightly disorganised at points – Koma’s versatile vocals struggling to weave their way around fluttering synths in the pre-chorus. Instead, it’s the chorus which grounds the track, with punchy snare making the hook impactful and euphoric. It’s enough to make the single a worthy listen and solid addition to Midnight Kids’ catalogue.

Serious sees the Californian producers pushing themselves in a new direction – a different lyrical pacing compared to the relaxed, late-night listen that is Find Our Way. Aside from the occasional issue with timing, their latest single does well to build up the hype around Midnight Kids, showing them as experimental and imaginative musicians – and one to keep an eye on in the future.

Serious (feat. Matthew Koma) is out now.

Update: This article was updated on 13 November, when tempo issues described in my previous released were no longer apparent on the track.

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#NewMusicFriday: ‘Remember’ by Gryffin (with ZOHARA)

After a string of hit singles, American DJ and producer Gryffin starts building up the hype for his debut album with fluttering synth and deep, hard-hitting bass on the track Remember.

“Couldn’t be more stoked to announce I’ve got an album coming,” Dan Griffith revealed earlier today. Continuing the atmospheric album artwork of his previous track, Tie Me DownRemember appears to be the promising second single from the upcoming record.

While Tie Me Down was a slower, chilled release, Remember is more intense and expressive. ZOHARA’s soulful vocals take the song to new euphoric heights with an impressive range, while Griffith’s producing work includes hard-hitting bass, bubbly synths and a driving beat. With Remember, Gryffin not only ramps up the tempo, but successfully builds up anticipation for his debut album – and already, it’s sounding very good indeed.

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.

#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: ‘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