Tag Archives: James Blake

Weekly Gems 116

XY&O – Left Alone

XY&O - Left Alone

What a way to kick off the gems this week! Welcome back XY&O.

Teasing a debut album (finally!) comes ‘Left Alone’ – another slice of hazy pop with simple and effective melodic structures, and of course, Skip Curtis’ luscious vocal mix.

Sounds like: Kid Astray, Sir Sly, Lost Boy Crow, Nonaphoenix

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Limón Limón – Barcelona

Limón Limón

Future indie duo Limón Limón is taking us back to sweeter times in ‘Barcelona’.

Conjuring up dreams of warm summer nights sitting on the beach drinking wine, as the salt air drifts over our warm bodies. Perfect!

Sounds like: Midnight Pool Party, La Felix, All The Rest, argonaut & wasp, Goldroom, Pastel, 90’s Kids, Empire of the Sun

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Jamws – Toronto

Jamws - Toronto

When you are in flow, you are completely engrossed in the task in hand. Hours can pass without even noticing. This appears to have happened to South London multi-instrumentalist, performer and bedroom producer Jamws whilst working on his debut EP ‘Toronto’.

The five heartfelt tracks describe various stages of heartbreak, starting with a separation, following his partner of ten years moving to Toronto.

Sounds like: Summer Heart, The 1975

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Max Alexander – Stay Where You Are

Max Alexander - Stay Where You Are

Max Alexander is a new alt-pop singer/songwriter from London.

Originally an acoustic artist by heart, he’s decided to go straight in with the electric guitar, to create an all together fist-to-chest sound in ‘Stay Where You Are’.

Sounds like: WEIRDO

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Victor Perry – What I Observe

Victor Perry

It’s always worthwhile to take a step back sometimes, and reflect.

NYC-based singer-songwriter/vocalist Victor Perry does exactly that in his lyrically mature new song ‘What I Observe’. As he croons in a poetic form of self-expression, we witness a subtle electro-pop space in which the track really starts to breathe.

Sounds like: Rhye, Rationale, Jacob Banks, James Blake, The Weeknd, Labrose

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dekleyn – Who We Are

dekleyn - Who We Are

Australian duo dekleyn fuses electro-pop with pop-leaning dance in the catchy single, ‘Who We Are’.

It touches on the topical subject of mental health and the sense of vulnerability that comes with almost every relationship.

Sounds like: LANY, joan, LAUV

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PELA – South Of

PELA

South London duo PELA share ‘South Of’, the first song they wrote together.

Amalgamating differing musical influences, it’s another stellar example of the duo’s sonic trajectory into a moody, melodic melodious song.

Sounds like: Kudu Blue, James Blake, KAYTRANADA

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Amy Milner – Wildside

Amy Milner

Singer/songwriter Amy Milner shares her new single, ‘Wildside’.

Written about catching yourself before you lose control, facing those demons and welcoming the dark side of your mind, it’s energetic commercial alt-pop at its finest.

Sounds like: Birdy, Emma McGrath, Florence + The Machine

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Jens – Nocturnal

Jens by Sigurd Fandango

Jens by Sigurd Fandango

Bergen-born Jens could be the next big Scandi-pop superstar.

His off-kilter single ‘Nocturnal’ has all the makings of a pop banger – upbeat, catchy vocal hooks with a carefree bass line.

Sounds like: Troye Sivan, Myylo, Charlie Puth

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Weekly Gems 114

Mathew V – Don’t Let Me Go

Mathew V

Canadian born popstar Mathew V releases his enigmatic single ‘Don’t Let Me Go’.

A bold, unabashed pop track, Mathew V is using his strong roots within the LGBTQ+ community to express himself and let the music do the talking. Listen below.

Sounds like: Shawn Mendes, Dagny

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MΛD FVN – Skeletons

MΛD FVN

Debut act MΛD FVN has a lot to say, about a lot of things, including the light hearted topic of life, which she so nearly lost in two separate accidents.

A call to arms, this is emotional, raw and powerful.

Sounds like: Gia Woods, Broods

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kauf – Am I Crazy Feat. Overjoy (Kauf Rework)

Rising Los Angeles vocalist kauf is offering a rework of his first original track featuring another vocalist Overjoy – one of three artists on his burgeoning label ONE / HALF.

Taking a more “pop” approach to his music, he has added a UK garage style beat and some looped vocal samples, giving it more energy and bringing it into the dance world.

Sounds like: Kllo, James Blake, Nordic Giants, Bicep, Jon Hopkins, Caribou, Talos, Bonobo

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Francis On My Mind – Never Be The Same

Francis On My Mind - Never Be The Same

Only on her second release, 16 year old Romanian electro-pop act Francis On My Mind is proving that “Euro pop” is very much a thing of the past.

Sparing synth, melodic drums and fragile but still powerful vocals, this new song comes as a breath of fresh air in a saturated industry of overproduced singles.

Sounds like: Niki & The Dove, Jessie Ware, Monogem, Goldroom, Melis

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ELBA – 700 Angels

ELBA - 700 Angels

Danish pop newcomer ELBA is 25-year-old singer and songwriter Ellen Bathum. She tells stories about the loss of control and the many nuances of love.

Her new single ‘700 Angels’ has a catchy pop hook, but it almost feels like it splits in two directions – experimental electronic music and indie that ultimately culminates into a fiery explosion.

Sounds like: Lady Gaga, Blondage, Jinka

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Cloudy June – Psycho

Cloudy June

Former death metal singer, Cloudy June, takes a proud new step into the world of pop.

Expect her new ‘Psycho’ to be an exhilarating ride of rock and pop. It proves once again how young self-made independent talent can make a real impact.

Sounds like: Ava Max, Halsey, Girl Wilde

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Lex Low – Feel More

Lex Low

London-based Lex Low shares new single ‘Feel More. Ultimately questioning moments in his early life, should he be feeling less or more?

After seeking therapy this year, Lex has used this as a catalyst to tap into emotions from the past and create music. Listen below.

Sounds like: Easy Life, The Night Café

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Mokita – Over You

Mokita

Mokita shares the stripped back ‘Over You’.

With a modern twist on an emo/pop-punk ballad, the song was initially written in the format of a love letter to an ex, and shows a more sentimental perspective to Mokita’s music.

Sounds like: EXES, Handsome Ghost, joan, FRND

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Creature Comfort – Arcade Fire

Creature Comfort

Nashville bootgaze/indie-rock outfit Creature Comfort share the fuzzy ‘Arcade Fire’.

Not to be confused with the track ‘Creature’ Comfort’ by the band Arcade Fire (a cheeky nod to Arcade Fire unexpectedly releasing ‘Creature Comfort on the same day Clark and his bandmates performed at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in 2017), this is a psychedelic explosion with wavy electric guitar and unrelenting percussion.

Sounds like: Jagwar Ma, Pond, Liily, Future Thieves, The Weeks, Kurt Vile, Fleet Foxes

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Cal Maro – Juliet

Cal Maro

Brooklyn-bred creator Cal Maro takes inspiration from Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet in new single.

A self-taught guitarist from a young age, Cal grew up experimenting with his sound whilst playing in many bands, dabbling in hardcore, rock, folk and indie before finally stepping into his true love for groove and melody, namely soul and R&B. In 2015, he began developing his Cal Maro project.

‘Juliet’ has plenty of sliced up electronic vocal effects as it weaves between genres, whilst beating percussion and pulsating synths bring darkness to the moody track.

Sounds like: D’Angelo, Frank Ocean, James Blake

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Augustine – Coast [Spotify Studios Recording]

Augustine - Coast [Spotify Studios Recording]

Swedish indie-wonder Augustine shares his pulsating new single ‘Coast’, released exclusively as part of Spotify’s Studio Oyster program.

Another wonderful story told to capture the idea of how seeing a happy loving couple together stirs up painful emotions in a delicate and groovy manner.

‘Coast” is a song about loneliness, and a longing to understand this world a little better. I was confused and jealous of everything I laid my eyes on when I wrote it. And I often get struck by this feeling about wanting to escape from myself and from my body when I’m feeling down. I guess it comes down to the desire to have someone by your side who understands you and all your weird thoughts.” Augustine says.

Sounds like: PNAU, Foster the People, James Blake, Maggie Rogers, Phoebe Bridgers, Tame Impala, Phoenix

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PELA – You Got Me

PELA

Introducing South London-based duo PELA and their stripped-back take on lo-fi soul and electronica.

Their new single ‘You Got Me’, with its melodious keys and tender instrumental and vocal touches, cherishes the smaller moments in life that create a sense of overwhelming bliss.

Telling us more about their debut, PELA explains,

“You Got Me is about accepting how you can never truly understand those rare senses of euphoria. It’s about finding peace, even pleasure, from just going with that. It represents that spring into summer feeling – of newness, of blooming and of freedom. Overall the song is about getting lost in a good time with people, a person or just yourself.”

Sounds like: Kudu Blue, James Blake

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Weekly Gems 111

Henry Green – Tide Feat. Andreya Triana

Henry Green

Henry Green shares the delicate new single ‘Tide’, featuring London-based vocalist Andreya Triana.

Another slice of ear candy from the Bristol-based producer, the instrumentally focused track is taken from his upcoming new album, ‘Half Light’, which is now due 3 July via Akira Records.

Sounds like: Kudu Blue, Jadu Heart, Jon Hopkins, Erased Tapes, Olafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm, Flying Lotus, Bonobo, Maribou State

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BODÉ – Wiz Feat. Billy Vena

BODÉ Feat. Billy Vena - WIZ

What happens when some talented artists team up? A song destined for success, that’s what!

Dutch producer Boris Deckers de Breda aka BODÉ release ‘Wiz’ with San Antonio, Texas singer/songwriter Billy Vena – an honest record about being destined for music success, but with the price that comes with it, aka empty pockets.

Sounds like: Gorgon City

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Hoofa – Alone

Hoofa - Alone

Hard working London lads, Hoofa, share their anthemic new single, ‘Alone’.

With comparisons to indie band contemporaries such as Larkins and Sea Girls, as well and lyrical influences from more nostalgic acts such as The Beautiful South and PEACE, this is a perfect slice of jangly pop.

Sounds like: Kodaline, Larkins, Sea Girls, PEACE, The Beautiful South, Little Comets

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Zanski – Consequence

Zanski - Consequence

Toronto vocalist/producer Tom Probizanski – aka Zanski – has an almost emo twist to his electronic take on R&B and alt-pop.

His new single ‘Consequence’ explores the theme of self-acceptance in the face of overwhelming internal struggle, a continual theme throughout his music, which varies in sound from gritty lo-fi electronica to vocal-rich, synth-heavy production, tailored with emotional lyrics and heavy themes.

Sounds like: Ben Khan, James Blake, Bearcubs, Jadu Heart, The 1975

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Chaz Cardigan – S.O.S

Chaz Cardigan

Classically trained pianist Chaz Cardigan continues to pair searing self-examination with supremely catchy refrains.

His new single ‘S.O.S’ shows some serious self-awareness, as he acknowledges a tendency to self-sabotage and admits, “I’ve got a way of getting in my way“. Don’t we all!

Sounds like: Harry Styles, Declan McKenna

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Flight to Moonlight – Midnight Feat. Priz

Flight to Moonlight

The moniker of songwriter, singer and producer Adam Baring – Flight To Moonlight returns after a hiatus with a potent blend of genres in the form of his new single ‘Midnight’.

The fearlessly nostalgic track combines genres of disco, pop and electronica.

Sounds like: Du Tonc, Chromeo

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CAPPA – There With You Baby

CAPPA

It’s been a minute since sweet talking CAPPA released some new music.

In keeping with CAPPA’s signature feel-good, carefree pop sound, the song chronicles the honeymoon stages of a new relationship where anything could happen and, maybe, love isn’t all that scary.

Sounds like: Lorde, Lana Del Rey, HOLYCHILD, Purity Ring, Washed Out, Say Lou Lou, The Knife, M83, KLOE, Druzy, Taylor Swift, The Knife

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Maida Vorn – Automatic

Maida Vorn

Brighton is an immensly creative place, and the Maida Vorn alter-ego of Mollie Clack is no exception.

Dark electronic at its core, her music is quirky space pop with magical tendencies. Her EP is out now and you can listen to ‘Automatic’ below.

Sounds like: Yonaka, Marina & The Diamonds, Kate Bush, Lady Gaga

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Playlist: Jens Kuross

Jens Kuross

Los Angeles-based vocalist, songwriter and alternative producer Jens Kuross has just released the shadowy single, ‘Done With Dancing’, a new stripped-down take of the track ‘Yard Two Stone’ that he collaborated on with Lane 8 last December.

Having toured the world as the drummer for RY X, Howling, and The Acid (a supergroup comprised of DJ/Producer Adam Freeland, Californian polymath Steve Nalepa, and RY X – who Jens also performs with as an active member of), as well as supported Bonobo, Rhye, GoGo Penguin and RY X, it’s time for Jens to step forward.

First on the list is his playlist called “Jens Friends”. You can check it out below.

Fred and Luna – Mini Song
This was the first song on the first release from a label my good friend Frank Wiedemann started a couple of years ago. It’s very minimal but it really makes the most out of all of its elements. There are no wasted sounds. It sounds like it could simultaneously be a Kraftwerk b-side from 1980 and also a hip new track on some indie-electronic playlist on Spotify…wait…

Point Lobo – Platform
Producer, Engineer, Drummer Miles Senzaki is great at everything he does. And I should know as he’s engineered almost all of my own recordings. His solo project “Point Lobo” is a perfect distillation of his love of Prince, Talking Heads and I don’t know what else really. It’s beautifully done and impeccably crafted.

Human Barbie – Don’t Run Away
Human Barbie is the brainchild of Bassist, songwriter, producer Chris Hackman. Chris and I met when we were fresh out of school and still playing jazz gigs to make a living, then somehow migrated into the indie-electronic scene together. This project has its fingers in some 60’s psych-rock but Chris also tastily brings some of his jazz sensibilities to bear here.

Tyler Chester – Setting
I knew of Tyler for a while before he and I met, primarily from his work with Blake Mills but he and I eventually ended up collaborating on a track that’s on his most recent record. This track, “Setting”, is from that same record. It has some really beautiful but dirty synth tones that make you feel like you’re listening to Vangelis if he was doing all his composing in a dusty basement with a bunch of broken gear that’s just barely clinging to life.

Howling – Lullaby
This is my favorite track off the Howling album “Sacred Ground”. Probably because I helped write it and I’m feeling a little shameless. “Write” might actually be a generous term here as it was almost entirely improvised. We were all just in a room jamming and Frank (Wiedemann) hit record in the middle of it. Then I came back around later and layered some synth pads. It’s probably the only song you’ll ever hear on an electronic dance record that wasn’t tracked to click.

The Acid – Onyx
This is another song I helped write. I’m super proud of the piano part I played. It’s an odd phrase length but it feels entirely natural and it ended up being the germ that inspired the whole song. The Acid boys ended up going for the jugular in the build and outro which wouldn’t have been my first choice but it definitely works and you can’t argue with the results.

GF3 – Prelude 5
I produced a couple of EP’s for some friends of mine in a jazz trio who wanted their jazz record to sound nothing like a jazz record. I’m super proud of how it all turned out but this might be my favorite offering from that little experiment. It’s the most stripped back of all the recordings but I think the subtle, understated effects on very delicately performed acoustic instruments yielded some really beautiful results.

Nalepa – A Study of Dreams
Steve Nalepa is the secret weapon behind so many amazing electronic tracks that you’ve probably heard. Working with him has really taught me a lot about the beauty and potential of raw sound. My tendency is to get a little lost in the weeds of music theory land and Steve can bring me back to earth by just producing some amazing sound that, once heard, inspires you to write a whole song if not a whole record.

Jeff Parker – Executive Life
I don’t know Jeff, but I do know some of the guys that played on this record. I think this is just a really creative example of incorporating sampling and electronic musical techniques into a jazz/improvisatory context. Usually, attempts at jazz-electronic synthesis go horribly wrong, ending up in the nauseatingly bland category of “smooth”, but the results here are phenomenal.

Louis Cole – Big Green Suitcase
Louis and I both got our start playing drums in the LA jazz scene but he had a bead on his artistic persona long before I could really figure mine out. This might be my favorite track from his eponymous first album. It really captures all of his quirky, beautiful, sincerity and adds a tinge of nostalgia with that pseudo-Bossa Nova drum machine pattern and the line-cliché in the piano.

Sounds like: Ry X, Sacred Animals, Solomon Grey, Bonobo, Rhye, James Blake, Howling, The Acid

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Archil & Leon – Faith

Archil & Leon

Self-described composers/sound artists/instrument inventors, Archil & Leon collaborate on brave new single, ‘Faith’.

The visuals for the innovative pop number depict the quest for faith; the meaning of life. Shot in a breathtaking hidden avant-garde church, it is their first release as a duo, and the choreography is stunning.

Sounds like: James Blake, Weval, Bonobo, Floating Points, Four Tet, Apparat

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Weekly Gems 109

Joshua Worden – Easy to Say Feat. Casey Harper

Joshua Worden

Joshua Worden recently hit a deeply introspective period and his new selection of releases shows this.

With an educational background in Jazz Guitar and English Literature, his music is stripped back and takes a slower pace these days, dabbling in R&B, pop, trip-hop, and chillwave. Listen to ‘Easy To Say’ featuring Casey Harper.

Sounds like: Kllo, Kudu Blue, Rhye, Blood Orange, Moses Sumney, The Internet

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Logan Prescott – How We Wanted

Logan Prescott

Dallas-based Indie Pop artist Logan Prescott shares the uber dreamy pop single ‘How We Wanted’.

Tender guitars, dreamy synths and an all encompassing 80’s boyband vibe. Perfect for fans of LANY and joan.

Sounds lik: LANY, The 1975, COIN, joan

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Junípero – New Beginnings

Junípero

The Mexican dream-pop scene is bubbling away like a reactive volcano.

Junípero is the project of Joán Melendrez and Janelle Saucedo, who enjoy experimenting with transcendent thunderous and melodic sounds. Listen to their debut single ‘New Beginnings’ below.

Sounds like: Beach House, Explosions In the Sky, Mogwai

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DiRTY RADiO x Jafunk – The Baddest

DiRTY RADiO x Jafunk

From dreampop to nu-disco tinged funk, DiRTY RADiO team up with Jafunk on ultra smooth new track, ‘The Baddest’.

Despite never meeting, the two worlds have somehow collided into a kaleidoscope of sounds. With summer written all over it, click play right now.

Sounds like: Pat Lok, Jean Tonique, Keljet, Gigamesh, Moon Boots, Tobtok, Moullinex, Pomo, Anderson Paak, Mac Miller

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Blu DeTiger – Figure It Out

Blu DeTiger

Meet Blu DeTiger, touring bassist for Caroline Polachek, The Knocks, and Fletcher, and a credible artist in her own right.

Her art-pop single ‘Figure It Out’ is so bright and colourful that you need to put on those sunnies sharpsih.

Sounds like: Kitten, Sofi Tukker, The Knocks

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Far West – Can’t Let Go

Far West - Can't Let Go

Far West is, as you’ve guessed it, from the West Coast of the US, in California.

They have a unique take on bellowing indie/synthpop, reminiscent of the early ’00s. The new single ‘Can’t Let Go’ has big synth leads with a poppy vibe, and is written about trying to let go of something that isn’t good for you.

Sounds like: Passion Pit, Bombay Bicycle Club

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Night Tales – Feel Nothing

Night Tales

Australian electronic duo Night Tales – aka amaliza (Australian-born Kamaliza Salamba, formerly of Olympic Ayres) and Third Floor (UK-born/Aussie-based Aaron Bannie) drop their 3rd single of 2020 titled ‘Feel Nothing.’

It’s a positively-led dance number with a tender touch, written about a relationship that is emotionally spent.

Sounds like: Duke Dumont, Just Kiddin, The Magician, The Aston Shuffle, Hayden James

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Makk Mikkael – fear

Makk Mikkael

Montreal based artist Makk Mikkael (MacKenzie Michael) has been writing music from a young age. Since then, she has explored different cities in her home country of Canada, to finally settle in Montréal.

The heartbeat of her new single is a minimalistic down-tempo electro track with ethereal vocals and driving rhythm, which soon goes off-kilter as the ‘fear’ takes over.

Sounds like: BABii, Men I Trust

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Bronze Whale – Hold. Wait. Fall. Feat Poles

Bronze Whale - Hold. Wait. Fall. Feat Poles

First Bronze Whale are walking, next they are stopping.

Stripped right back, the minimal electronic track features fellow label mate and longtime friend, Poles. It’s about being dragged back into a relationship even when you know it’s toxic. Needing to see it through regardless of what it takes from you.

Sounds like: James Blake, Chet Faker, Flume, Droeloe, Weeknd, OTR, CLN

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Nao Yoshioka – Up and Away feat. PHER

Nao Yoshioka

Rising Japanese star Nao Yoshioka is showcasing her modern R&B and soul.

Born in Japan, now living in the US, Nao has been perfecting her craft and working alongside legendary musicians in the scene to create an authentic & powerful new album ‘Undeniable’, out now. Listen to her slow and sensual single, ‘Up And Away’ featuring PHER.

Sounds like: Aaliyah, Solange, H.E.R, Marie Dahlstrom, Oscar Jerome, Ella Mai, Alicia Keys

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Madnap – Silhouettes Feat. Little Shadows

Madnap

After relocating to Los Angeles in 2017, producer/songwriter/remixer Madnap – aka Kyle Fitzgibbons – shares ‘Silhouettes’ featuring Little Shadows.

The emo-tinged, trap-pop track is his favourite to date, and perfectly captures the Madnap sound in 2020.

Sounds like: yetep, Rome In Silver, Manila Killa, LIONE, juuku

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SamYell – Lose Yourself

SAMYELL

California native Samyell has a creative superpower that he is meant to share with the world.

Produced by Osinachi Nwaneri (T.I., Ciara, Black Eyed Peas), ‘Lose Yourself’ will make you do just that.

An infectious nighttime, jazz infused R&B anthem, it urges you to “get lost through temptations of money drugs and false promises.”

Sounds like: The Weeknd, Babyface, Timbaland, Ginuwine, Pharrell

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Mona Vale – All This Time

Mona Vale

Songwriter/producer and multi-instrumentalist Jamie Hoddle – aka Mona Vale – has created an altogether chilled track called ‘All This Time’.

Starting in the pop realms and soon developing into an indie form of ambient electronica, the song is about the early stages of a relationship, setting nostalgic emotions on fire.

Sounds like: XY&O, Nightly, Great Good Fine Ok, Maribou State

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Melyz – Bad Together

Melyz

Swiss artist Melyz shares her provactive new single ‘Bad Together’.

with a hint of R&B club vibes, the song takes a darker approach than previous releases, as it considers how toxic and destructive a relationship can become when it gets too passionate.

Sounds like: Banks

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Drinker – Even If I Know

Drinker

Drinker is exploring existential themes like self-acknowledgement and emotional detachment in the new dark dance track, ‘Even If I Know’.

After a week-long writing trip and a subsequent change in direction, the duo has brought in their own individuality into the project.

With almost 6 minutes under its belt, ‘Even If I Know’ has the most beautiful build-up, born from the duo’s separate journies. Listen below.

Sounds like: Thom Yorke, James Blake, Anaphase, Ry X, Zola Blood, Elderbrook, Rival Consoles, Paul Simon

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