#NewMusicFriday: ‘Grip’ by Seeb x Bastille

Calming and immersive, this Seeb and Bastille collab is the latest dance hit to add to the band’s impressive catalogue of high-profile collaborations.

It’s not often that Dan Smith and the rest of Bastille take it down a notch. Known both on-stage and in the recording booth for their loud, boisterous anthems, the group have very rarely strayed from that specific sound.

With Grip, it’s clear that Smith and co. wanted someone wanted to listen to the previously live-only track with fresh eyes – or rather, ears. On this occasion, they turned to hit Swedish remixers Seeb, who, as Smith says himself, transformed the song into “something new and completely different” which still has the “euphoric highs and crashing lows of night-chasing” of the original.

Striking that balance is what makes the electronic duo such masterful producers, fluttering effortlessly between catchy minimalism and elaborate creativity. Here, Smith takes the former with his usual soft vocals, whilst Seeb pursue the latter with a stripped-back main melody. It’s your usual Bastille bravado, but not in the way that you expect – and that’s what makes Grip so… well, gripping.

Grip is taken from Other People’s Heartache (Pt. 4), available to stream and download now.

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#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.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Access’ by Martin Garrix

It’s Avicii’s X You meets Lucas and Steve’s Anywhere on Martin Garrix’s latest release Access – taken from his new EP, BYLAW.

Chinatown sounds a lot different now than it did back in 2017. Since premiering at Ultra Miami last year, Garrix’s instrumental hit has undergone a bit of a harsher makeover. Where the main synth melody initially felt soft and light, the Dutch producer has added a heavy edge. The bass feels grittier and hard-hitting, and the drums feel a lot more pronounced. What was initially a comfortable EDM track is now a bold electronic dance hit.

Multi-layered with synth, bass and snares, Access is true creative and nostalgic electronica. It’s certainly familiar (both for it being a new version of an old track and for it having similar technicalities as other EDM hits), but Martin’s gift for a catchy melody shines through here. In turn, it delivers an imaginative, uplifting and standout track from his BYLAW EP, and returns us to the dance styles we don’t hear enough of in this genre.

Access is taken from Martin Garrix’s latest EP, BYLAW, which is available now.

‘King Lear’ review – Ian McKellen plays the tragic role with blistering emotion and bravado

McKellen delivers a bold and striking performance as the ill-fated king in this epic Shakespearean tragedy – ★★★★☆

McKellen gazes out into the audience after an incredible three-hour performance at the theatre where he made his debut 54 years ago. There’s a feeling that this is a standout role in the actor’s incredible career – a bittersweet, personal reflection on a phenomenal acting history.

Ian McKellen (left) and Danny Webb (right) deliver bold performances as Lear and Gloucester respectively. Photo: Johan Persson.

“I’m not the first actor who has wanted to return to this play, as if unfinished business,” he writes in the official programme. “Perhaps it’s just that the closer you get to the King’s age, the more telling it becomes – for some, more a therapy than a job.” It’s a sentiment present on the stage – a portrayal which feels incredibly personal and reminiscent.

The production, a West End transfer from Chichester Festival Theatre, is one bravely directed by Jonathan Munby. While the first half of the production is a slow establishment of the main characters, the mid-show cliffhanger and second half is where this modernised retelling really comes to life. Ben and Max Ringham’s harsh, drum-heavy score brings a sense of urgency to the story, and Lucy Cullingford and Kate Waters choreography work – as movement director and fight director respectively – maintain the tense and eccentric tones of Shakespeare’s work.

It’s a sense of elegance that also comes with the performances, too. James Corrigan’s Edmund is one of cunning villainy, brilliantly expressive to the extent that his lines are completely accessible to a modern audience. Luke Thompson (Edgar) and Danny Webb (Gloucester) work perfectly as individuals, but also as a duo, effortlessly bouncing off each other’s lines to create two broken characters worthy of the audience’s empathy.

With immersive set designs from Paul Wills – to the extent that even the fake rain smells of petrichor – King Lear feels more like a cinematic film than a stage production (one images those who saw the recent NT Live showing of the play will agree). Yet, of course, theatregoers would expect nothing less for such a legendary star of both stage and film.

King Lear is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre until 3 November. 16 to 25 year olds can purchase £5 tickets on the day through the Chichester Theatre’s Prologue scheme.

#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: ‘White Star Liner’ by Public Service Broadcasting

After exploring the Welsh coal mining industry in their third album Every Valley last year, retro-alternative trio Public Service Broadcasting turn their attention to the sinking of the Titanic with their latest track, White Star Liner – the lead track taken from their upcoming EP of the same name.

With an almost Kings of Leon-style sound, the single has a driving drums and tight guitar melodies guiding along the speaker’s description of the ill-fated ship. Chronicling the launch of the vessel, the London group once again capture all the expected emotions that were felt at the time.

Fast-paced and loud like Go! but also tight and restrained at times, White Star Liner encapsulates the excitement of the Titanic setting sail, as well as what was likely to be some concern about how successful its first voyage would be.

Public Service Broadcasting’s new EP, White Star Liner, is set to be released on digital and CD on 26 October, and on vinyl on 7 December.

Why ‘Kiss’ is the stand-out track on Pale Waves’ monotonous debut

Hard-hitting drums and buzzing guitar melodies makes Kiss the punchiest track on Pale Waves’ repetitive debut album. Here’s why…

When it comes to breakthrough releases, the best show off the range of the artist or band, flirting with the fringes of their talent, whilst also strengthening their familiar, traditional sound. For this Manchester goth-pop group, My Mind Makes Noises is just more of the same.

Save for a few stripped-back songs such as SheWhen Did I Lose It All? and the emotional Karl (I Wonder What It’s Like To Die), most tracks follow particular structural motifs. If it’s not tight bass notes introducing a track, then it’s sharp snares. Heather Braon-Gracie’s howling vocals are more monotonous than explorative, and there’s always a brief pause before the chorus in a bit to make it more impactful than it actually is. It’s a sense of rigidity and structure which strips each track of its creativity and much-needed ‘oomph’.

Then, when you consider the fact that single Kiss is one of Pale Waves’ older songs, written when Baron-Gracie was in her late teens, one can see why this packs a punch many of their newer songs lack. If one was to adopt a popular criticism of most bands, then Kiss is the band’s vibe before they were associated with The 1975 and launched into the musical mainstream and its focus on having one specific “sound”.

Here, we see instrumentals which are much more wedded to each other than their own individual part of a song. In the verses, drum and bass work together, along with Heather’s unconventional lyrical structure to give the song a slight driving rhythm on what is a rather steady tempo. Guitar solos feel so much more creative and expressive than just a simple filler, and as such, the drums feel so much more present.

A sophomore album isn’t easy for any musician or group, as it offers a choice of similarity or a whole new direction. Yet, when it comes to Pale Waves and their debut, a return to where it all started may be the answer to creating fresh, catchy and exciting music.

My Mind Makes Noises is available now on Apple Music and Spotify.