Friday, 18 October 2019

new (and old) music friday #45: harry styles, LIZ, miley cyrus, mabel

this week i've experienced everything from almost getting a rescue dog to yet another frustrating almost-interview, in which i arrived only to be told the digital marketing position i'd applied for had been filled and my CV had somehow been mixed up with the people who were applying for another job that involved assisting the receptionists and answering phones, i.e. my worst nightmare. 

i also returned to the job centre, something that would have devastated me a few months ago, but with my new-found attitude of Not Having A Breakdown About Every Tiny Thing, i'm trying not to let it bother me. luckily i'm heading to malaga tomorrow until tuesday, and though i'm not someone who cares about going on holiday regularly, i think some time away is definitely needed. 

but before that i have a backlog of bangers that need to be discussed.

1. harry styles 

it's hard to believe that two years have gone by since harry styles released his incredible self-titled debut album, but new single lights up picks up where he left off, albeit slightly more mellow.  
his "step into the light" could have many meanings. first, the literal feeling of stepping into the morning light when a party ends, still slightly drunk. secondly, it could be seen as an opportunity to tell the world who he really is after years of speculation about his sexuality.

fans took this idea and ran with it after the song and its (excellent) video were released on national coming out day, but by this point we really should know better than to expect a straightforward answer from him. either way, it's definitely helped me to be more comfortable with my own sexuality, and when he asks "do you know who you are?" i feel like i'm edging ever closer to an answer*. 

(*this could also be thanks to tegan and sara's newly-released memoir high school, which i read cover to cover in just two days. it's easy to think of successful artists as just that, any struggles they've previously experienced erased once they sign their names on the dotted line of a recording contract, so reading about sara's ongoing struggles with her sexuality reassures me that Coming Out isn't a singular moment that solves all of one's problems but a lifelong process. it also lead to several revelations about my own high school experiences as i realise that i actually did have feelings for all the girls i simply "admired" and "wanted to be friends with".) 

2. miley cyrus

miley cyrus has been making headlines lately thanks to her divorce from liam hemsworth and rebound relationships with both kaitlynn carter and cody simpson, all of which coincided with the release of slide away. the song was largely unmemorable, but when i saw a youtube comment about how it was like the modern equivalent of her 2008 track bottom of the ocean, i immediately felt compelled to re-listen to the accompanying album, breakout.

my 13-year-old self played this on repeat, and i'll always be of the opinion that it's miley's best work to date. 

there's something for everyone, from karaoke-friendly bops such as her country take on girls just wanna have fun, title track breakout and of course the iconic 7 things. there's also a largely unchanged remix of see you again, which is undoubtedly the best song from the hannah montana 2/meet miley cyrus album, which i owned on CD (!).  

forget greta thunberg, as wake up america proves that miley was the true inventor of climate change protests. the inspiration for the song came from an episode of the miley and mandy show, a youtube series created by cyrus and her friend mandy jiroux, which i vividly remember watching as a teenager and being devastated about its ending. in this particular episode, the duo encourage everyone to recycle, save and reuse plastic bottles, and use organic products with no harsh chemicals. perhaps if more people had followed their advice back in 2008, we wouldn't be in such a predicament now. 

most millennials have become well acquainted with the idea of "burnout" thanks to an article by buzzfeed writer anne helen petersen, but miley was once again ahead of her time as this concept is explored on the track simple song. the constant pressure cyrus experienced during her hannah montana heyday forms the basis of this track, which also features a piano backing to rival elton john (yes, really).  

there are still plenty of classic break-up songs though; highlights include these four walls, goodbye and my personal favourites, the driveway - with its avril lavigne-inspired electric guitar and fantastically dramatic chorus - and full circle, which was written about her on again/off again relationship with nick jonas 

3. SOPHIE/starrah

by far my most played this week, lock it up is yet another unreleased SOPHIE bop from 2016 which resurfaced online after being played on BBC radio 1's TNGNT show last week. why she refuses to release such bangers is beyond me, and several youtube channels have been set up as a place to find all of her unreleased songs in one place. perhaps she wants to be seen as a more ~serious~ artist as her debut album oil of every pearl's un-insides had a far more experimental feel and was nominated for a grammy this year. 

it's a world away from the carefully crafted bubblegum pop that sends fans into meltdown every time she unveils a new track, and this is no exception. featuring charli xcx collaborator starrah on vocals, my favourite thing about lock it up is the fact she uses female pronouns to describe her ~love interest~, something still rarely heard in pop music despite all the progress being made. whether we'll ever be blessed with an official version of this track remains to be seen, but for now i'll be playing it on loop and keeping my fingers crossed. 

4. kim petras 

miss petras came THROUGH with some more spooky bops with the release of turn off the light. rather than release it as volume 2, she decided to combine the songs from volume 1 to create a full length album, and i'm living for it. it's about as much enjoyment as i'll ever get from halloween, which is also my birthday, but to most people's amazement i despise dressing up and any kind of themed party. luckily death by sex, wrong turn and my favourite track there will be blood will make the occasion slightly more bearable this year, and i'm praying they'll be played at girls night out, the unofficial after party of charli xcx's manchester gig the night before halloween.  

i must also give an honourable mention to the impeccable video for icy, which is quite possibly my favourite song of the year so far, and after getting a ticket to see kim live next year i have a feeling this track will be the highlight of her set. 

5. mabel

i've never paid much attention to mabel as she's been releasing incredibly mediocre songs since 2015, and am still baffled as to why she supported harry styles on tour in 2017. her rather dull mix of pop and R&B felt totally at odds with the glam rock sound of david bowie and marc bolan which he channelled on his album. 

but everything changed with god is a dancer, a recent collaboration with tiesto. as soon as i heard this i knew it had potential to be a Huge Banger, and i can confirm that it Fucking Slaps, though that could have been thanks to the three (3) drinks i'd consumed before it was played in Tha Club. 

it's also an excellent walking-around-town song, guaranteed to make you feel like That Bitch, so i'm praying her next album will contain more of the same.

6. LIZ

last but not least it's LIZ, who i never fully got into her until i heard sunscreen a few weeks ago. it's yet another unreleased bop with SOPHIE on production, but that could be set to change as LIZ replied to charli xcx's already infamous tweet asking if anyone had a link to taxi (part of me wants to believe she could be gearing up to release it but i'm trying not to get my hopes up) saying "it’s with sunscreen in PC purgatory". she later tweeted herself that she was "just kidding" as the song is "thriving" and "getting ready for its debut". this seems like a far more sincere statement than that of miss XCX, who has always enjoyed trolling her fans, so hopefully sunscreen will actually be released soon.

in the meantime i've been loving a)lottery - which is inspired by slayyyter and blackout-era britney spears in equal measure and features a flawless cameo from drag race alumni aja - and b) her latest release laguna nights which she described as "teenage dream and the one that got away mashed up together" (anyone with taste knows teenage dream is one of the best songs from the last decade) and was inspired by "the idea of lost and rekindled love, on the beach, and for one night only", while sonically it reminds me of fame-era lady gaga

Friday, 27 September 2019

new (and old) music friday #44: slayyyter, hannah diamond, VINCINT, charli xcx

why i decided to make another anchor "podcast" when my throat feels like it's closing up is beyond me, but nevertheless, i'm (sort of) pleased to present 38 minutes of me rambling on about the new albums from charli xcx*, slayyyter and MUNA, as well as two (2) tangents about ticket prices and why bridesmaids is still one of the best films ever made.

listen to it here, but maybe read my last post first for some ~context~ about why these songs have been important to me.

(*i'm horrified that in the podcast i neglected to mention next level charli, the impeccable opener of charli xcx's third album that could easily be considered one of her best songs. think of it as Classic Charli: plenty of references to partying and fast cars over a beat that absolutely BANGS.)

Monday, 23 September 2019

rollercoaster ride, in the fast lane: rejections, reflections and the healing power of pop

disclaimer: this post contains very little in the way of music and is instead an accumulation of my thoughts and feelings over the past two weeks that i needed to get out of my system in the only way i know how; an unnecessarily long blog post. usual service will resume next time as i talk about the mix of Bops and Bangers i had on repeat while all this was taking place.

i’ve been obsessive for as long as i can remember: perhaps it’s the taurus in me.

famous for being “creatures of habit”, once we like something, we tend to stick with it.

obsession has taken on various guises throughout my almost 24 (!) years on earth, be it music, fashion, unrequited crushes, and of course My Career.

in my birth chart, the earth sign taurus represents my midheaven sign, which according to wikipedia represents “career, status, aim in life, aspirations and public reputation” and could explain why it’s a topic i’ve covered at length on this blog.

after an incredibly stressful two weeks, one of my refinery29 horoscopes for this week asked me to “write your career goals and accomplishments down to get perspective on what you’ve accomplished this year”, so here i am attempting to do just that.

i started out the year struggling to complete my news associates course and writing for about manchester, before being offered the job at VIBBIDI in april and later writing for conversations about her.

in the meantime, i’ve also been attempting to find a Proper (i.e. paid) Job, and it dawned on me that in the last two months i’ve had six (!) interviews, none of which have led to said job.

two weeks ago, one of these interviews saw me travelling to london for the first time in two years (!!) after applying for a copywriting job at a fashion brand and completing a written test which they seemed to like the look of. in the words of lizzie mcguire, this is what dreams – specifically those of my 15-year-old self – are made of… or so i thought.

i boarded the train to euston filled with a mixture of dread and excitement, which upon arrival at brick lane - an area that has remained largely unchanged since i first set foot in this slightly pretentious section of east london aged 16 - descended into full on disassociation as i browsed the excellent vintage market, sat in the window of a pret a manger pretending to enjoy an overpriced salad and tried not to die from the 26 degree heat. 

after so many rejections, i couldn’t quite process the idea that the Dream Job my teenage self once envisioned could be in my grasp if i didn’t fuck up the interview; no pressure then.

overall i think it went okay, but i couldn’t help feel intimidated by the CEO of the company - who also happened to be interviewing me - and found her incredibly hard to read. despite reassuring myself that there was nothing more i could have done, it was impossible to shake the nauseous feeling that descended on me once i left the building and it followed me around for the rest of the day.

sadly, i never heard back from them, and if it had been any other job, i would have brushed it off and continued to scour indeed for more positions, but this was the one job i could seriously imagine myself doing, despite the slightly frosty reaction i received.

over the last year, i’ve been following a self-prescribed course of binge-reading ask polly letters and absorbing every word of jessica dore’s daily tarot card readings to try and force myself to become more ~positive~ and see the good in all of these rejections, but though i now accept that failure, embarrassment and rejection are normal parts of life, i still find it incredibly hard to apply these pearls of wisdom to my own predicaments and continue to assume the worst in 99.9% of situations.

in fact, it was a recent ask polly letter that truly had me In My Feelings. despite describing herself as “successful in my creative career” and “social and hardworking”, the letter writer was obsessed with the idea that her boyfriend would eventually leave her, despite there being no obvious problems in their relationship. while i’m none of the things described above and have been single for approximately 350 years, her fears instantly resonated with me, and when i read polly’s response, i felt both attacked and validated.

there were a few paragraphs that really resonated with me but particularly this one:

“working very hard and being focused on your career can be a way of trying to feel whole. people who are successful at creative careers often have a long history of funnelling their obsessive energy toward some goal: they socialise with a vengeance, they work hard, and they channel their insecurities and longings into figuring out how to be persuasive and entertaining. their intense emotional insecurity drives them to crack the code: this is how you entertain people and win their love. this is how you charm people and convince them to put their confidence in you. this is how you seduce new friends and new lovers. this is how you squeeze every last ounce of love out of this broken world.

it pretty much sums up how i’ve lived my life for the last eight years; trying desperately to achieve my dream of working in fashion and moving to london as i was convinced that it would fix all my problems. however, reading letters such as this one has made it clear that achieving these particular goals doesn’t stop you from being anxious and obsessing over things out of your control, and the interview made me realise that perhaps the ultra-competitive world of fashion isn't something i truly want. nevertheless, the day after the interview, i felt like i was on a comedown of sorts. having seen what’s possible made it even harder to return to my small bedroom in a small suburban town and i found myself in the midst of yet another existential crisis.

it was then that i stumbled across an article from the cut, titled “what makes ambition come and go?” where the author reflected on how her ambitions have changed since her early 20s. 

this paragraph about her “job ambitions” felt particularly significant:

“i wanted recognition, to earn a spot at a particular table, to impress a certain segment of people. at one point when i was 27, i had a blog post go viral, and watching its traffic numbers rise on chartbeat, i felt like i was high. i remember thinking that everything in the world could go wrong from then on out, but no one could take this one thing away from me. it seemed like the beginning of something, but also felt like an ending — an item i was subconsciously crossing off my list.

i had an extremely similar feeling last year when one of my posts was retweeted by lily allen. seeing the endless stream of likes, retweets and messages from people telling me how much they liked my writing was a feeling unlike any other, but i also knew it wouldn’t last forever. a few days later, my moment of ~viral fame~ came skidding to a halt and i was left thinking “what now?”

thanks to my positivity crusade, i now have the emotional intelligence to realise that a moment is just that; it happens and life goes on. however, it feels like my life has been an endless roller coaster of dizzying highs (see: the work-related achievements i’ve had this year) and devastating lows (see: the various rejections and jobs that felt like they were in touching distance, only to escape my grasp).

this brings me to my final article, which i read last week.

man repeller’s nora taylor wrote about drastically overhauling her life in her late 20s by leaving a job she wasn’t happy in and the joy of feeling “regular” once she'd found it, her life no longer dictated by the extreme highs and lows of trying to Follow Your Dreams.

once again i found myself relating to her story of running from one job to the next, making and breaking friendships and leaving one big city for another, all in the hopes that it would fix everything. like me, she spent several years pressing the self-destruct button before realising that the only person who can change things is you, and the answers can’t be found at the bottom of a shot glass or on the lips of strangers.

picking a favourite paragraph is hard, but i went with this:

“growing up the second time, where my desires and my life are layered on top of each other and not on parallel tracks, has been a thrilling type of puberty. i am finally free to live my life instead of observe it. how nice it is to revel in the mundane. to sit with a friend over coffee and pause to be thankful for where we are, for the life we live.

it gives me something to aspire to, but something about this particular dream feels different.

for so long i believed those highs and lows were completely normal and almost enjoyable; who wants to live a boring life? but as i find myself on the cusp of 25 (help me), all i really want is a sense of stability. this desire has always been there, and it’s probably what prompted me to take various antidepressants during my time at uni, only to be horrified by their ability to completely dull any and every emotion i attempted to experience.

so i stopped taking them, choosing the sambuca-soaked nights and questionable decisions that everyone in their late teens chooses to make while away from home for the first time over that sense of stability.

while i can no longer deal with the hangovers and that delightful cocktail of shame and anxiety i often feel the day after a big night out, ironically last saturday turned out to be the best night out i’ve ever had.

following my second time seeing hannah diamond at soup kitchen, i experienced an exhilarating high that can only be achieved with the music of charli xcx, kim petras, slayyyter and SOPHIE, courtesy of girls night out.

the club night first started in london and made its way up north for the unofficial hannah diamond after party, and it was there in the company of some very kind strangers who danced with me all night that i felt a semblance of peace.

when used in the right way, alcohol can enhance my experiences and give me that slight boost of confidence i lack in my everyday life, and that night was a perfect example. 

yelling the words to unlock it at the top of my lungs, it was a world away from how i used alcohol at university to take the edge off my emotions and deal with various traumatic experiences which occurred around that time. 

i’m not sure if time does heal all wounds; while some of them have started to form a scar, an ever-present reminder of a particular pain i’ve experienced, others very much still feel like a gaping hole. these are the ones i’m trying to repair, while acknowledging that it’s not something that can happen overnight.

in summary: the last two weeks have been a wild ride and though everything feels uncertain right now, i now know that i can use all the knowledge i’ve acquired this year and the series of rejections i’ve endured to Keep Going and create the life i truly want, without compromising my own boundaries and integrity. 

Thursday, 29 August 2019

throwback thursday #1: sky ferreria - night time, my time

nobody asked for it but here it is: a brand new series called throwback thursday, in which i discuss some of my favourite albums from years gone by. 

as time is hurtling by at a disturbingly rapid pace, i find myself reminiscing about the albums my teenage self loved between 2007 (!) and 2014, and after re-discovering some of them on my old ipod (!!) i felt compelled to take a break from my usual new music focused posts and write about them. 

*peter dickson voice* in no particular order, the first album i've chosen to write about is sky ferreria's iconic 2013 debut, night time, my time. 

this was inspired partly by her recent collaboration with charli xcx and an ongoing sense of frustration that her follow-up album has yet to materialise. 

but first, some background: ferreira first came to public attention as a model sometime around 2010, and her single one was released in august of that year with a fresh-faced, brunette sky on the cover. a fan of all things electronic - bearing in mind this is when lady gaga was revolutionising pop as we know it - i instantly downloaded it to my ipod. 

obsession followed in september, accompanied by an incredibly homemade looking video; this one also made it onto my ipod and i remember playing it endlessly. 

from there, sky's career trajectory was anything but smooth. a series of disputes with her record label and frustration over her creative direction meant her debut album wasn't released in january 2011 as planned and an EP called as if! was released in march that year instead. 

i was totally unfamiliar with it before i started writing this post, but listening back to the tracks, it's clear why sky hated her early work, something she talks about in one of her early interviews for notion 

though it retains the electro-pop sound favoured by gaga, robyn and marina around that time, the lyrics feel like they were written by a 45-year-old man trying and miserably failing to conjure up that same magic. 

according to wikipedia, ferreria's label EMI retained complete creative control over her, but it seems their efforts to mould her into a "perfect little pop robot" were unsuccessful and after they lost money trying to promote obsession, the budget for her debut album was cut. on reflection, that seems like the best possible outcome for sky, who clearly wanted to cultivate a more alternative sound. 

after a few more stops and starts, she released a second EP in 2012, titled ghost. immediately i gravitated towards sad dream, a stripped back acoustic track that sees sky reminisce about the strained relationship with her father. i remember playing it on repeat in the middle of the night, dreaming about crushes who didn't even know i existed. 

another highlight was everything is embarrassing, a sentiment that definitely resonated with my teenage self in my clumsy interactions with said crushes. though still very much in the realm of electro-pop, there's something much cooler about the dev hynes-produced track

lost in my bedroom is also backed by a heavier electronic beat that wouldn't look out of place on robyn's album body talk, while ghost sees sky at her most melancholic, channelling born to die-era lana del rey

not keen to stop experimenting there, red lips embraces the grunge sound of garbage frontwoman shirley manson, who was a songwriter for the track. 

while the overall direction of the EP was unclear, there was definitely something for everyone and it was a much-needed departure from the sickly sweet pop being pushed onto sky by her label. 

it would be another year before her debut album finally made its way into the world, but it was well worth the wait. 

lead single you're not the one remains one of my all-time favourite songs, yet another one which soundtracked the endless hours i spent dreaming about unrequited crushes. production-wise, things had definitely evolved from her early releases, featuring the cure-esque guitar riffs and a thumping bassline. 

sky described you're not the one as a "super-poppy version" of david bowie's excellent 1977 album low and upon reflection i can certainly hear traces of his work in the song; anyone who references bowie - especially his early albums - is instantly in my good books. 

elsewhere, the album sees sky processing the public's perception of her, particularly on the track i blame myself. as someone who's had anxiety pretty much my whole life, this track hit a bit too close to home, especially the line "how could you know what it feels like to be outside yourself?" because when i'm in an incredibly anxiety-inducing situation, i tend to disassociate, my thoughts in another place entirely. 

nobody asked me (if i was okay) also resonated with me for similar reasons as i've always struggled to ask for help and on the rare occasions when i did it felt like nobody was really listening, quick to dismiss my worries and tell me to "get over it". the third verse feels especially poignant as sky complains that "you don't seem to care if i'm feeling lost"

in times of uncertainty - of which there were many - this album felt like one of the only constants in my life, and the title couldn't be more spot on, as it's one that just begs to be played through headphones in the dark of night while everyone around you sleeps. 

while there are some lighter moments on the album - see: boys, 24 hours and love in stereo - my favourite track has always been heavy metal heart, arguably one of its most dramatic moments. 

flawless from start to finish, it's actually a fairly heartfelt song underneath the heavy production, as sky tells her lover how much they "make me feel the pulse of my heavy metal heart". she also speaks of how she loves "losing myself in the dark"; exactly what this album was designed for. 

in the impeccable bridge, sky declares that "the way i was before, i'm not her anymore", which could be a reference to how much her image had evolved from her very first release, both musically and aesthetically. 

the cover of night time, my time featured an image of sky in the shower, and while her decision to appear topless was a defiant one that demonstrated her lack of innocence, there's still a sense of fear in her eyes, perhaps about how this radical new look and sound would be received by fans and critics alike. having been shelved by her label numerous times, the youthful naivety was all but gone, her long wavy hair replaced with a short peroxide cut. 

while ferreria isn't the only artist who's faced difficulty conveying her creative vision, her unwillingness to conform to what was expected of her - both as a young woman and a pop star - at a time when super-polished stars like katy perry and beyoncĂ© dominated the charts certainly reflects the way independent artists were treated in the mid-2000s. 

with social media still in its infancy and years before having a "personal brand" was considered important, sky's struggles with her label seem a world away from the hordes of artists who now have the freedom to release music independently, such as dorian electra and kim petras, who have amassed huge fan bases through social media and without relying on a major label. 

sky's defiant streak shone though on i will, as she warns anyone who ever doubted her that "i'm gonna teach you a lesson", a sentiment i also tried to embody as i left school and attempted to embark on my own career away from everyone who asked me why i "didn't talk". 

this track really is the best of both worlds; the electro-pop from her early songs merges perfectly with the scuzzy guitar riffs that came to define night time, my time, resulting in yet another exquisite bridge. 

sadly it wasn't all plain sailing for sky after the album's release. while she received critical acclaim for her efforts and supported miley cyrus on her 2014 bangerz tour, she was also arrested alongside her now ex-boyfriend - DIIV frontman zachary cole smith - for drug possession. 

the following years saw her star in a couple of films and become the face of jimmy choo's illicit fragrance, but she continued to reassure fans that her second, "more aggressive" album masochism was on its way in this billboard interview. 

fast forward to 2019 and it's yet to materialise, leaving hordes of twitter stans in a perpetual state of disappointment and anticipation. the blow was softened slightly with the release of downhill lullaby back in march, a super dark string-led track that, according to ferreria, aimed to capture the sound of "the birds in snow white, singing underwater, while slowly being suffocated by plastic"

bubblegum pop it is not, but sky's unwillingness to stick to one genre and compromise her creative vision has always been incredibly inspiring to me. 

the climate of pop music has changed so dramatically that when it eventually arrives, masochism will be received a thousand times more positively in an era where soundcloud and streaming has allowed both artists and listeners the freedom to create and consume in whatever way they want. 

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

i let the seasons change my mind: musing + lyrics turns four

today marks four years since my first post on this blog and with every year that passes, part of me is i'm amazed that i've managed to keep it up for so long. 

my ambitions and future aims have waxed and waned in the two years since i graduated and moved back to manchester, but one thing remains the same, and it's best summed up by this quote from my review of lorde's gig in 2017 that i stumbled across while trying to find some ~inspiration~ for this post (yes i re-read my old blog posts, the truest sign that i really need to Get A Life):

"i wouldn't wish it on anyone, but i think to truly understand music in the way i do, to love it with your whole entire being, to have nothing else to live for, tying your sense of identity to a particular band or artist, you have to reach the point of no return. when i feel like i won't make it through the night, music is my only escape."

to say the last two years have been testing is an understatement. in no particular order, i lost my best friend, my nana - who always encouraged me to follow my dream of becoming a writer - and have endured more job rejections than i can count, which is why that quote continues to resonate with me while i'm Going Thru It. 

while it's true that in the last few months, something shifted - perhaps due to my work with vibbidi, which was essentially my Dream Job - and i found myself imbued with a sense of self belief i've never had before, i'm back in that dark place where i start doubting my own abilities and wondering if writing is really what i'm Meant To Do. 

however, after a string of dreadful interviews for digital marketing apprenticeships that my heart truly wasn't in, i've found myself with a renewed sense of purpose and will continue to pursue as many writing jobs as possible. 

i also made the somewhat drastic decision to move back to london at the start of next year, assuming i don't find a Proper Job in the next four months. it wasn't an easy decision to make, but it's no longer about choice; if i'm serious about making this happen, i have to go where the jobs are. 

i first pitched the idea to my parents back in june and though they initially seemed reluctant, once i explained that i'd have more chance of finding an internship or freelance work in the capital, they seemed to understand why i wanted to make such a big move for the second time. 

i'm looking at it as the absolute last resort, but providing they're still on board with the idea, i really think the prospect of a ~new beginning~ and having to fend for myself again will motivate me to find whatever work i can to make my dream of a full-time, paid writing job a reality. 

in the meantime though, i've been taking a moment to reflect on all the success this blog has brought me, from all the positive responses to my writing from rising artists like paige cavell and cxloe to actual lily allen re-tweeting me, and of course vibbidi

as i said earlier, the night i skyped with them and got offered the job might just be the happiest moment of my ~professional~ life and something i'll never forget, so losing that was a devastating blow. however, it cemented that writing about music is the only thing i'm truly passionate about, though i realise now that doing it in my own way is crucial for me to enjoy it.

of course every online publication has a certain tone of voice that writers are expected to stick to but i'm determined to make whatever i write sound more like me from now on. i spent too long worrying about what prospective employers and editors would think of me, whether i was too intense and passionate or not enthusiastic enough, but the reality is that if they don't like how i write, there will be others out there who do. 

it's not all bad though; seeing one of my favourite youtube people lucy wood go from losing her job at the iconic teen magazine sugarscape - their one direction coverage is always in my heart - to making a living from creating videos online shows that redundancy isn't the end of the world. 

though i'm still terrified about not just my own future but that of the planet as a whole, this blog has remained one of the only consistent features in my life. it shouldn't really come as a surprise that i've kept it up for so long because it's the one thing that's kept me alive, and that has to count for something, right? 

so while my peers are buying houses and popping out babies like there's no tomorrow, i'm finally at peace with the fact that i've never wanted these things and don't feel the need to compare myself just because i haven't achieved any of the traditional markers of Adulthood. 

my goals and ambitions are just as valid as a someone who dreams of owning a four-bed new build and putting a pavĂ© diamond on their ring finger, and i won't stop until i achieve them, even if it takes me another five, ten or fifteen years. 

one thing is for certain though: this blog will always be important to me as it serves as a reminder of how far i've come and where i'm going next. 

Friday, 23 August 2019

new (and old) music friday #43: ava max, SOPHIE, lina hedlund, swim deep

today marks the start of the august bank holiday, which means two things are underway: 

1) manchester pride: a celebration which has always had a slightly cursed energy both times i've attended. last year i took a gamble and bought a ticket for the first time in five years, only to end up spending most of the weekend with people i hardly knew as my new meetup friend was horrendously flaky and failed to let me know exactly what our plans were for each day. by sunday i decided to skip the festivities altogether and bad weather meant i missed out on seeing rita ora, something i'm still low-key mad about. this year i'll be watching the celebrations unfold via social media and i couldn't be happier, even though i'll be missing out on performances from kim petras and actual ariana grande.  

2) reading and leeds festival, which i also had the misfortune of attending in 2016. the onslaught of rain which didn't let up until the final day quite literally put a dampener on things, and as someone who already hated spending more than 5 seconds outside at a time, it put me off camping for life, and the smell of the toilets - which got gradually worse as the weekend unfolded - still haunts me to this day. so for the last three years i've watched highlights of the festival from the comfort of my own living room, and this year will be no exception. 

this brings us nicely to this week's selection of new music, which includes two artists on the bill for reading and leeds this year. 

1. the 1975 

of course i had to start with people, the long awaited new single from my all-time favourite band. the manchester four piece took to radio 1 last night to get fans excited before the premiere of the song, and i thoroughly enjoyed their chat with annie mac, which saw them reminiscing about their own experiences at leeds festival as teenagers, and now headliners (!). as always, i had no idea what to expect, but it seems like the inevitable Emo Revival has officially begun. with a screamo vocal to rival oli sykes and guitar riffs straight out of danger days, it sounds like something my 14-year-old self would have devoured, and though i'm an out and proud pop lover these days, people still speaks to that part of me which always felt slightly ~misunderstood~. 

in keeping with title track the 1975, it's another call to arms which urges the powers that be to "stop fucking with the kids" and do something about the already devastating effects of climate change. i also particularly enjoy the pre-chorus, with its demands to "bring me everything here". as i mentioned earlier, i'm someone who definitely doesn't like going outside, so i feel both attacked and vindicated. i'm fairly certain the song will cause one of the biggest mosh pits reading and leeds have ever seen, and a few broken bones too, making me even more relieved that i can watch it all at home. 

2. charli xcx/sky ferreira 

another artist appearing at reading and leeds this weekend, charli xcx has continued her impeccable run of singles in the lead up to her third album with cross you out, which features the iconic sky ferreira. i have a lot of feelings about her debut album night time, my time that i'm going to be putting into words in a post next week, so when i heard she was collaborating with charli i was ecstatic. the track certainly doesn't disappoint; as always it's super synth-heavy and provides a cathartic release for charli as it's about "leaving someone toxic behind and finally feeling free", something i can definitely ~relate~ to. i've already spent the last few days blasting it at full volume and would highly recommend you do the same. 

3. swim deep

though i find myself feeling frustrated with my current "work" situation (for reasons i obviously won't elaborate on here), i'm eternally grateful that i'm able to listen to albums that won't be released for a few months, and one of them is emerald classics by birmingham indie rock/pop/psychedelic band swim deep. i first became aware of them in my teens and played tracks like king city, honey and orange county endlessly. 

very few ~indie~ bands have survived the initial mid-2000s boom and continue to make excellent music, but along with peace and the wombats, swim deep can definitely be added to the list. when i saw the link to listen to emerald classics i had mixed feelings, wondering if it was purely nostalgia that has kept me interested in the band, but all my doubts fell away once i pressed play. 

the album won't be released until october 4th so i don't want to risk sharing anything i probably shouldn't, but i was pleased to see one of my favourite songs sail away, wave goodbye is on spotify, along with the anthemic lead single to feel good, which has received a seal of approval from matty healy himself. 


everyone's favourite sad-pop pioneers came through with a self-described "trauma banger" that had me in tears just a few seconds in. stayaway follows a similar train of thought as charli's cross you out as it encompasses that feeling of not only trying to distance yourself from a toxic person or situation, but actually staying away for good. of course, it wouldn't be a MUNA track without their 80s-leaning production which is what i like to think wilson phillips would have embraced if they were part of the millennial generation, and i'm hoping their upcoming album saves the world will contain more depression-curing bangers.


i became aware of reason why via twitter and as soon as i saw the track included vocals from kim petras i knew it would be a banger to rival her best track 1, 2, 3 dayz up, also featuring SOPHIE. i've no idea if this song will ever see the light of day via an official release or whether it will suffer the same fate as taxi, but i'm praying SOPHIE will bless us with a studio version. seeing as it's a leak, i fear this song could be deleted from soundcloud at any minute so i want to get in as many listens as i can just in case that happens and would highly recommend everyone else do the same.

6. cxloe 

it's incredibly rare for an artist to release an impeccable string of songs, but australian pop sensation cxloe has managed to achieve this since she began releasing music last year. i've had tracks such as show you, low blow, tough love and i can't have nice things on repeat over the last few months and her latest single SICK might just be her best yet. the stupidly catchy track has cemented her admittance into "the gold zone", a term coined by popjustice editor peter robinson, in which an artist releases three excellent singles in a row. other major pop stars should absolutely take note, as cxloe's unsigned status proves that an artist doesn't need a huge team behind them to propel them into the open arms of stan twitter. 

7. ava max

speaking of major pop stars, i'm absolutely bemused at the rapid ascension of ava max. it seems like out of nowhere her single sweet but psycho was all over the radio and blaring out of the speakers every time i went out, and i quickly tired of hearing the sub-par song. she then followed it up with so am i, which i'm fairly sure uses the exact same structure and melody, just with different lyrics. her latest offering torn didn't excite me either, but after perusing her spotify page i came across freaking me out. this song seems to have slipped through the cracks somewhat as i'd never heard it before, but the largely acoustic track features an incredibly pleasing synth-tinged chorus that for some reason left me with goosebumps. it doesn't really morph into anything huge, but i can't stop playing it and feeling that it hasn't had the promotion it deserves. 

8. client liason

i suspect popjustice were also responsible for my introduction to this track by another australian artist called client liaison. though i was unfamiliar with them, they're clearly famous enough to have a wikipedia page, which describes them as an "indie pop" duo signed to parlophone. the song in question is the real thing, which is exactly what the sound by the 1975 would have sounded (ha) like if it had been released in 1987. i can also imagine rick astley adding his silky smooth vocals to the track and it would fit right in with anything stock aitken waterman produced at the time. 

put simply, it's an Absolute Tune that makes me ridiculously happy every time i hear it. australia has a reputation for being somewhat behind the rest of the world in terms of fashion and music, but in this case i'm totally not mad about it; their debut album diplomatic immunity is the best of wham!, duran duran, depeche mode and abc repackaged for a younger set of music lovers and i just can't get enough

9. lina hedlund 

deeper love is another popjustice find that i'm obsessed with. 
a quick google search of lina hedlund reveals she was a member of alcazar, one of sweden's biggest disco groups; their 1999 song crying at the discotheque apparently charted in the US, japan and brazil. 

she made her solo debut with the song victorious (also a bit of a banger), which she performed at "melodifestivalen" earlier this year, which appears to be the swedish equivalent of x factor. she reached the final with the song but was beaten by john lundvik, whose phenomenal track too late for love ended up representing sweden at this year's eurovision; i knew there had to be a connection somehow. 

if they have any sense, she should be representing the country at next year's competition as i can imagine deeper love being a crowd favourite. but whether she makes it to the netherlands or not, i'll still be playing this track every time i get ready to go out.