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. 

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