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: ‘Love Me / Love Me Not’ by HONNE

With a mixed bag of punchy grooves and chilled, hazy electronica, HONNE’s sophomore album Love Me / Love Me Not is as bilateral as the name suggests.

The London electronic duo HONNE (consisting of friends James Hatcher and Andy Clutterbuck) have clearly taken their creativity to another level with their latest release, deciding to release 10 out of the 12 tracks on five double single releases. It’s a stylistic decision almost reflecting the two sides of a vinyl, and Love Me / Love Me Not is certainly an album for the turntable.

Photo: HONNE.

A year and a half since their debut album, Clutterbuck has truly refined his vocals – still offering the unique, raspy soul of before, but with more flair and variety across the tracklist. His voice also works perfectly with the record’s featured artists, with newcomer Rebeka Prance (known simply as BEKA) and hit jazz musician Tom Misch both fitting in nicely with HONNE’s established, stripped back vibe.

It’s here where the pair really shine through, their song with Misch – Me & You – being the stand-out track of the album with the artist’s traditional guitar melodies working beautifully alongside HONNE’s normal soul sound. Other notable collaborations include I Got You (feat. Nana Rogues) and Location Unknown (feat. Georgia) – the weakest being the slightly dragging track Feels So Good (feat. Anna of the North).

Outside of these five tracks, HONNE slip back into their normal tone, with only a few tracks packing a punch worthy of your full attention. Sure, this album is mostly one for casual listeners, but for those hoping that there would be more tracks like Someone That Loves You and Coastal Love from the duo themselves, they may be disappointed.

With that being said, Day 1 offers a bouncy dance hit, Shrink shows off the pairs vocal and instrumental talents and Sometimes will be enjoyable for fans who like Mako’s style of electronica. Tracks to miss include 306, which despite the sentimental meaning of the track itself, falls flat with its unusual vocal distortion in the chorus.

For those looking for a break from the loud and heavy mainstream electronic sound, HONNE offer up a chilled record for lazy evenings in the form of Love Me / Love Me Not, a creative second album with something for everyone.

Rating: 4/5

#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.

Musical Discovery: ‘Higher’ by Eliza and the Bear

Follow-up singles after a band’s first album offer a lot of opportunity and risk for those still riding the waves of a successful debut. It’s a chance to pursue new directions, but artists can only experiment so much before the original style starts to disappear, and long-time fans despair at the absence of the traditional vibe. It’s a tough balance between old and new, but most artists pull it off. However, when the indie folk Eliza and the Bear start to pursue a funkier sound with their latest track, Higher, one wouldn’t be surprised if some fans were taken aback by such a big change.

But does it work? Well, with an introductory verse that sounds like a cringeworthy American boy band, it’s clear from the outset that this isn’t your usual Eliza and the Bear track. Pounding drums or atmospheric guitar riffs are pretty much non-existent in this single, instead replaced with smooth bass, falsetto vocals and the occasional brass melody (the latter being one of the few intriguing aspects of the release). Sure, there are certain strengths to the track such as this, but they do little to shake off the feeling that this single is a little bit ‘meh’, and that it was the band’s attempt to slide in to the already over-populated funk trend taking over the pop scene at the moment.

Granted, respect must be given to Eliza and the Bear for exploring new ground, but the big leap is somewhat surprising and seems to disregard the indie folk which made their debut album such a success. Higher is a decent attempt at funk by the four-piece, but sadly, save for the change in genre, there is little to make this track special.

With a change of logo too, the question of whether this is the first of many funk tracks from a second album is an interesting question indeed…

Musical Discovery: ‘Body Moves’ by DNCE

I am in a weird position when it comes to DNCE. Their upbeat, vibrant funk style is refreshing and something the music industry really needed. Yet, whilst Cake by the Ocean was a great summer anthem and defined the band’s tone, every release since then has felt rather ‘samey’. Each track is wonderfully catchy, yet I’m also becoming bored with the similarities. So, when Joe Jonas and the rest of DNCE released Body Moves, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.

For example, Toothbrush and Body Moves both feature a plucky, underlying bass rhythm, as well as a bouncy drum beat. It’s also unsurprising that Joe Jonas’ falsetto vocals make an appearance in the chorus. If anything, the only slight difference across the three singles DNCE have released so far is the tone of the songs. Cake by the Ocean is the summer anthem, Toothbrush is a more mellow funk track and now, Body Moves is a weird mix between the two.

DNCE have done a great job of establishing their style across these three singles – Body Moves is a great song on the whole – but it’s time for them to change things up a bit. We know what a DNCE song sounds like now, so Joe Jonas and the rest of his team should have the confidence to push the boundaries just a little bit further.

What do you think of Body Moves? Do you agree with me when I say that DNCE’s releases are starting to sound a little similar? Are you looking forward to their upcoming debut album? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Vowels’ by Capital Cities

Most people know Capital Cities for their single, Safe and Sound. The fuzzy synth combined with groovy guitar riffs and trumpet melodies really helped the duo’s release climb up the charts. Now, the band return with their new single, Vowels.

The release comes at a time when a new brand of funk is on the rise. It won’t be long before the music scene changes, and Major Lazer, Kygo and other tropical house DJs may have to take a step back from the limelight.

Capital Cities made the right choice with choosing Vowels as their first single from their new album. If they wanted to return with new music which would be as successful as Safe and Sound, then they needed a track which mimics its memorable lyrics, soulful trumpet melodies. Thankfully, with its laid-back minimalism and simplicity, Vowels is a refreshing look back at the band’s debut, whilst building upon the style they have now formed.

First of all, the chorus only contains the lyrics: “A-A, Oh-Oh, E-E, Ooh“. Yes, it actually is a section of the song with nothing but vowels. It may be a little disappointing, but it’s catchy, which will work in their favour. Aside from that, we hear a plucky guitar intro alongside a fluttering backing synth. The bridge sees a build-up of the funk style with a buzzing trumpet tune. We even hear a more detailed solo towards the end of the track which really develops the song further.

It’s been three years since their debut album, In A Tidal Wave of Mystery, was released. Capital Cities really needed to jog people’s memories and release an impressive new single. With Vowels, they certainly haven’t failed.

What do you think of Capital Cities’ new single? Are you looking forward to new music from them? Is it the return you were waiting for? Comment below!
Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Bad Decisions’ by Two Door Cinema Club

One month after the fast-paced Are We Ready? (Wreck), Two Door Cinema Club have offered us another glimpse at their third debut album, Gameshow. Whilst their first single featured darker guitar riffs and thoughts on consumerism, Bad Decisions still addresses a similar message about today’s society, but this time masked under vibrant, funky bass melodies. It’s certainly something different, and proves that their upcoming album remains wonderfully unpredictable.

Whether you think Bad Decisions sounds like the Scissor Sisters, The BeeGees or The 1975, it’s certainly a nod to the disco funk which everyone loved in the 80s. When Tourist History was arguably their most defining and well-known album – setting in stone their unique bass and guitar riffs – understandably, this new release took some of their fanbase by surprise. However, with a plucky bass running through the whole of this track, Two Door Cinema Club’s traditional style is still apparent – it’s just in a funk track this time.

To be honest, this song took a while to grow on me, as did Are We Ready? (Wreck). But as every track challenges our expectations of a ‘typical’ track from the band, each new release from their third album Gameshow has shown us that the trio are exploring new ground and redefining their music. This is something for fans to welcome and look forward to, rather than criticise.

In fact, the only criticism I have is not about the new style, but the falsetto vocals of Alex Trimble. Of course, it is impressive to see Alex challenge himself when it comes to his singing, but the issue lies with it being hard to decipher the lyrics. Thankfully, sites such as Genius Lyrics are on hand to help. On the whole, as a big fan of both funk and Two Door Cinema Club, I rather like this track.

What do you think of Bad Decisions? It’s certainly a different style, but do you like the direction which Two Door Cinema Club are moving in? Comment below!

Liam