Pick Up Your Feelings
Jazmine Sullivan

You might well know the name from the megahit Bust Your Windows (though you should know that beyond that she has three flawless and varied records to her name) but you have to hear Jazmine Sullivan at her soul roots best with this offering from new EP Heaux Tales

One of the least risqué tracks on an EP that is largely about securing the bag and securing the D, this song is a big middle finger to a man who has wronged her one too many times and is fresh out of chances. Set to a sultry slow jam which is in no rush and has absolutely nowhere to be, Jazmine’s rich, deep tones have room to play and space to breathe.

The runs are remarkable, the riffs insane (though these are no new feature in Sullivan’s work) and the build from the deep part of her range to the absolutely letting rip in the latter choruses is a joy to watch, even if she is telling you to pack up and get the fu*k out.

There are few people smoother or more soulful in the game and on this release she dedicates time to proving that, her live acoustic recording of it being honestly.. an even better and more powerful vocal. Top of the game stuff.

For fans of: H.E.R, JoJo in her latest sexed up iteration, riffs and runs longer than the M6

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Commando
Julie Bergan

We don’t know where Julie Bergan came from (well we do, Norway, but you know what we mean) but we do know one thing… we are super glad that she has arrived! And you have to hear her banging ode to taking charge (no, it’s not about popping to Aldi with no knickers on)

Production and delivery sounding both like she’s been doing it decades and simultaneously fresh as hell, the pop banger uses a distorted ‘eh eh’ vocal to act as the basis for the track (even in the chorus sounding like it’s part of a call and reply with Julie herself) which recalls dance bangers from the likes of MEDUZA but keeps an unashamed pop twist throughout.

Our favourite part is the acoustic guitar fake out before the second chorus, when you might be led to think there’s about to be a calmer moment, only to be smacked over the head with the full effects of the monster chorus seconds later.

It’s sexy, it’s slinky, it’s sultry and it’s ‘won’t waste no tears on old mistakes’ mantra carries a warning for anybody who doesn’t make the time for her that she deserves, a lead we could all follow. A lot to pack in for a track that clocks in at 2 minutes 20!

And at just 29 minutes we recommend you listen to the full HARD FEELINGS album because it all absolutely slaps!

For fans of: Scandipop, not being messed around by some little man, amazing things in little packages

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Wild Youth
Champagne Butterflies

It’s the weekend, we all just want to chill out, so let us present to you the perfect pairing for your ears, an easy breezy funk-lite offering from Irish four piece Wild Youth that you have to hear.

Starting off as a fairly straightforward song - a declaration of love set to a restrained pop track (drums almost pulsing beneath the top line in the same way as if you were having a boogie in the alley outside the club), it hits a peak as early as the first chorus when the production hits its most sparse moment and the track is sustained by the most glorious multi-layered harmony vocal over a lone funky bass line.

Oh, the harmonies! This is really where the strength lies and what makes this group stand out, but the euphoric post-chorus explosion (that pretty much extends the finish line) sprinkled with liberal falsetto doesn’t harm either. We aren’t talking full Pentatonix here, if the phrase ‘acapella album’ makes you wish for mandatory self-isolation then you have no need to fear, but the vocals are strong and distinct enough to sound really solid in harmony and are paired intelligently with the music to allow them to really shine and be heard.

Bold, colourful, bright, unashamed pop music that doesn’t ever venture into fromage territory.

For fans of: Nick Jonas, playing that funky music white boys, popping a bottle for the flimsiest of reasons

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IRL
Fickle Friends

Do YOU like your guitar music led by a strong (but sweet) female vocal? Well do we have a treat for you! Today you have to hear an offering from the new Fickle Friends EP, Weird Years Season One - a five song set that covers various tempos, textures and tastes!

This is one of the most straightforward moments, an indie-pop anthem that questions the intentions and thought processes of a far-off penpal. What Fickle Friends do so well is the juxtaposition of musical style with their lyrics - quite often tales of sadness and depression are set to upbeat, shimmering, knob-twiddling production, and here we have a big pop guitar moment soundtracking a story of deep frustration.

It will be a sound familiar to those already fans of the band - the clear honey vocals of lead singer Natassja make the band instantly recognisable as it is - set to instrumentation that puts us in the realm of The 1975 and the like. For those who are less familiar, we can’t urge you any more to check out the groups debut LP You Are Someone Else which features bops such as this aplenty.

IRL could well be some kind of Covid anthem too, the lyrics (asking a potential partner if the process could be sped up and they could meet in real life) being rather relatable with regards the impatience of not just wanting to speak to somebody through a device (hey there, Zoom!). Something we have probably all been feeling over the last 12 months!

For fans of: Pale Waves, songs high on the Coronavirus relatability scale, guitar tinged music with a heavy female presence

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Sword from the Stone
Passenger

A change of pace today, and on the eve of achieving his fifth UK top 5 album, you have to hear this gorgeous new ditty courtesy of Passenger.

We’ve been fans of Passenger since the name represented a jaunty five piece with the release of 2007’s ‘Wicked Mans Rest’ - but one thing that’s always been a strong feature whether as band or solo artist is Mike’s inimitable vocal and the ability to tell a story with just guitar and voice.

This story is a classic, checking in with an ex, and seeing how they are getting by (‘both the cats say hi, I know they miss you too’). It’s relatable territory and all painted by the brushes of a beautiful, fragile falsetto vocal.

It’s hard to offer much comment other than to commend it’s simplistic beauty, there are no bells and whistles here, no crazy production techniques, just a man and his guitar with the occasional drum. But what does break through is honesty, heartbreak and resilience. And we’ve all had to be there.

For fans of: early days Ed Sheeran, songs telling the tale of the everyday, the man who grabs the guitar out around the campfire

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