#NewMusicFriday: ‘23’ by Chlöe Howl

If Taylor Swift has the jubilant party hit for 22-year-olds, then Chlöe Howl has the confident, reflective follow-up with 23.

Maidenhead singer-songwriter Howl has never shied away from being honest. Now, in her usual candid and soulful style, the artist explores adulthood and the realisations that come with growing up.

Opening with the fuzzy piano chords seen on previous singles Do It Alone and Magnetic, it’s easy to assume that 23 might be the delicate, personal track on the upcoming EP, Work. Yet with a steady beat, the release is in fact a chilled song perfect for slow dancing at parties.

Though the tempo is standard, there’s still a strong pace to the track as Howl’s words float and experiment with the rhythm of the track. Refusing to descend into the structural and lyrical clichés that come with nostalgic looks back at years gone by, 23 is both a confident and delicate story of young adult life.

23 by Chlöe Howl is available to buy and stream now.

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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

New Music Review: ‘High Enough’ by Justin Caruso feat. Rosie Darling

Just three notes are at the heart of the melody in DJ Justin Caruso’s latest track, High Enough, but when mixed with singer Rosie Darling’s vocals and impressive production skills, the single makes for a vibrant dance hit.

From the outset, instrumentals in the verses let Darling take centre stage with the traditional soft sound expected on a dance track like this, but it’s enough to keep the track moving.

It’s a seamless process which extends to the track’s build-up, flowing effortlessly into the basic melody at the heart of the single.

The only disappointment comes with the final chorus, where one expects the lyrics in the build-up are now placed over the main melody. In some songs, this happens whilst the main lyrics are played at the same time, but on this occasion, it could have made for a less abrupt ending than the one Caruso adopts.

With creative pacing in the lyrics and a simplistic but effective melody, Caruso and Darling deliver a chilled hit with High Enough.

The single is available now on Apple Music and Spotify.

#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.

#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