#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.

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#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: ‘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.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Drink About’ by Seeb feat. Dagny

It’s been nearly three years since the Norwegian DJ trio Seeb shot into the spotlight with their hit remix of I Took A Pill in Ibiza. What followed was a string of collaborations on remixes and original tracks – the group working with the likes of One Republic and Ocean Park Standoff – before last month, the hitmakers finally announced the launch of their debut EP.

Nice to Meet You is out on 20 April, but today saw the release of the first single from the record – Drink About, featuring fellow Norwegian, Dagny.

Once again, Seeb’s traditional, bouncy synths shine through underneath a steady rhythm – a style which has sadly become a bit too repetitive after a lengthy back catalogue from the group, yet still strikes a unique tone with calming piano chords in the verses which make Drink About a more laid-back release.

Although the instrumental backdrop to the track may appear all too familiar, it’s usually the vocal structure of the song which tends to deliver the fresh sound. In this case, Dagny – another artist close to their big music breakthrough.

Like Paloma Faith but without the slight raspiness, the 27-year-old experiments with the flow of lyrics in a playful manner, moving seamlessly between controlled, soft vocals and smooth high notes on this anti-love song.

Packed full of the typical characteristics of a Seeb hit, Drink About easily falls into the uniform structure of the Norwegian group’s previous works, yet somehow also generates a calmer pace unlike remixes such as Lost Boys and Rich Love.

If the lead single is ever demonstrative of the full picture of an EP, then there’s a chance we could see more relaxed tones in addition to club hits when Nice To Meet You is out in two weeks’ time.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Dirt’ by Emma Blackery

It was no surprise that Emma Blackery’s latest single Dirt was going to be firing some shots at a certain someone. With promotional images seeing her posing with bitter labels, sipping tea and bathing in receipts, the singer-songwriter’s track is packed with sass as radiant as the synths at its heart.

While the music video has the vibrant art style of a Chloe Höwl video, the song itself has clear Taylor Swift vibes with blunt, sly muttering in amongst the vocals. Add this to the nursery rhyme of the key line I’ve got dirt on you and you have a song packed with soft, bubbly instrumentals with sharp, flowing and edgy lyrics.

Sure, Dirt is a clear and stark contrast to the calmer tones of the Magnetised EP (which Blackery described as being about ‘mending’), but with cup and saucer in hand, Emma Blackery is stronger than ever.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Lullaby’ by Sigala feat. Paloma Faith

Paloma Faith is no stranger to the dance music genres. Having put her toes in the water on Sigma’s smash hit, Changing, her latest collaboration with Sigala on the track Lullaby sees her venture into the tropical house scene.

Whilst Changing – to be overly critical – could be described as just a faster Paloma single, Sigala (real name Bruce Fielder) is able to bring out the best of the Crybaby singer on this track. With a steady tempo of 120bpm, Lullaby progresses at a pace which isn’t unfamiliar to Faith.

What is different, however, is the more anthemic sound from Paloma – reminiscent of Galantis’ Runaway (U & I) – which we hear in the chorus in the catchy line: Won’t you sing me a sweet lullaby. Although the artist doesn’t shy away from powerful vocals, this collaboration sees a louder, shouty side of Paloma we’ve rarely heard before – wonderfully ironic for a track named Lullaby.

There’s no doubt that Fielder has scored another hit collaboration with this track, but whilst Faith’s vocals are to be commended, Sigala’s instrumental contributions should also be applauded as well.

Unlike previous singles, we hear a unique style of tropical synth on this track. Hit singles like Easy Love, Give Me Your Love or Ain’t Giving Up all have punchy piano stabs at its core, yet Lullaby ditches that entirely for a bubblier, fluttering electronic melody.

Yet, that’s not to say that such a sound hasn’t been hinted at before. The poppy intro to Came Here for Love is perhaps the closest to the feel of this track, which seems to suggest that Sigala is perhaps designing a more uniform style in preparation for his upcoming album (something which has once again been teased by Fielder fairly recently).

Despite what the song’s title may suggest, Sigala and Paloma Faith’s collaboration is a euphoric, feel-good track, kickstarting Fielder’s 2018 and building upon Faith’s recent success with The Architect.