“We’re the antithesis of Nashville” – An interview with LANY

The ‘ILYSB’ trio spills the beans about their debut album, building a fanbase, and what makes London feel like home.

In the space of just one year, American electropop trio LANY has gone from playing a loft above a Camden bar on a night off from support shows to filling venues ten times the size up and down the land and across the world. With fans already assembled outside and around KOKO in the middle of the afternoon, Surge joined Paul Klein, Jake Goss, and Les Priest up in the rafters to find out all about their plans to make 2017 (and 2018) ((and probably every subsequent year)) the year of LANY.

Continue reading ““We’re the antithesis of Nashville” – An interview with LANY”

Single review: Calvin Harris feat. Frank Ocean & Migos – ‘Slide’

Harris’ first step to making you feel fucking incredible? A pleasant bass-led loop and realisation of your financial inadequacy.

Originally published in The Edge

“All my songs in 2017 have been sonically designed to make you feel fucking incredible,” tweeted Calvin Harris shortly before dropping the least Calvin Harris thing since the transition from chicken-lobbing synth-parading goofball to Vegas-dwelling chiselled Adonis, now decorated in the facial hair department with a veritable forest, commenced after 2009’s Ready For The Weekend. As such, it is only fair that we disregard Harris’ decade of pop heritage when assessing ‘Slide,’ which invites elusive carpenter and emotional maven Frank Ocean to lead the crooning whilst Quavo and Offset of ‘Bad And Boujee’ ad-libbers Migos squeak through augmentation and their oh-so-evident riches for a verse each, and instead consider how fucking incredible it can make one feel. Continue reading “Single review: Calvin Harris feat. Frank Ocean & Migos – ‘Slide’”

Live review: Raye at XOYO, London

Still 19, the Londoner proves her star quality in a hometown sellout.

Originally published in The Edge

With piercing strobe panels and chorus of rousing sirens seeping through what little space a packed XOYO had to offer by 9pm on a Thursday, ‘Shhh’ provided a startling jolt to commence proceedings in Raye’s latest one-off sell-out. The ominous single from August’s SECOND EP is one she highlighted as “the most fun to make” from it, and the follow-on from its lyrical density, peppered with trembles of the vocal power within, gifted a welcome reality-beckoning breather not five minutes into the set. As queueing down Cowper Street had been so in vogue, she told of how she teared up at footage her manager had captured before beaming and bobbing her way through a collection of excursions into heartbreak, disenfranchisement, and outright pop gold. Continue reading “Live review: Raye at XOYO, London”

“I just want to be a massive artist” – An interview with Raye

Getting to know the ‘You Don’t Know Me’ singer ahead of her XOYO headline show.

After picking up a deal with Polydor in 2015 with the supportive clout of Years & Years and Ellie Goulding, Croydon teenager Raye has quickly begun carving out a name for herself both through prolific behind-the-scenes work and, following a grand splash with last summer’s sharp SECOND EP, breaking through to the charts as a vocalist with huge pop records alongside Jonas Blue and Jax Jones. Mid-preparation for her sold-out headline date at London’s XOYO, we met to find out all about the surprise success of ‘You Don’t Know Me,’ screaming in a driving lesson when first hearing herself on the radio, Stormzy’s songwriting ambitions, and ketchup. Continue reading ““I just want to be a massive artist” – An interview with Raye”

Live review: Porter Robinson & Madeon at O2 Forum, London

The electronic superduo brings the Shelter tour to the UK for one night only.

Originally published in The Edge

It’s often said that you should quit while you’re ahead, however for the two-man electronic supergroup of Porter Robinson and Madeon their farewell-cum-introductory tour feels more than a tad premature. Both twentysomething producers of vibrant electronic music that feels more significant and coherent than anything else you’d tend to find on a festival main stage, the Shelter era follows their respective debut album cycles – Robinson across Worlds, Madeon on an Adventure – and, when launched with the track of the same name last August, it became all the more baffling that they hadn’t consummated the partnership any earlier in the decade or so since meeting on production forums whilst most others their age were still in potty training. Continue reading “Live review: Porter Robinson & Madeon at O2 Forum, London”

It came from SoundCloud: PC Music’s internet pop invasion

Exploring the fizzy world bursting towards the charts.

Originally published in The Edge

Playing a track on SoundCloud is never as straightforward as it may seem. Once non-skippable audio promos subside to gift you 30 seconds and an abrupt ending that reminds you of the firm’s perpetually iffy situation with the industry as a whole, the real fun can begin as it catapults you down a mesmerising rabbit hole of what happens when you give seamless distribution and budget creation tools to the most idiosyncratic budding musicians. Entire self-sufficient niches have established themselves, attracting new prey in this very fashion, and singular hits, especially in the dance world, have flourished from silent launches on the platform, but few lasting trends have managed to escape through into more mainstream vistas. PC Music is ready to be the exception. Continue reading “It came from SoundCloud: PC Music’s internet pop invasion”

Reviewing the Eurovision: You Decide candidates so you don’t have to

Originally published in The Edge

The Eurovision Song Contest is a glorious celebration of everything endearingly (and horrifyingly) bizarre about our extended continent. (Here’s a 425-word love letter I composed around a year ago to that effect.) It’s just a shame that, at least in recent memory, the UK hasn’t quite got the memo.

Since 2003’s nul points courtesy of Jemini being so bad at performing music on a stage in front of a television audience of millions that it was actually mildly adorable, only Jade Ewen has experienced life in the top 10. Blue, the first act to be selected internally after the public chose Josh Dubovie in 2010 as the lamb for the slaughter last-place finish and the record low of 179 in the singles chart, reunited to be the only other act to follow and dwell in the all-important left-hand side of the table at the end of the evening.

You’d think that these moderately successful flirtations with genuine contemporary-ish pop talent would have given the powers that be at the BBC some kind of idea of what it takes to not embarrass the nation on the most important of political stages. So they then picked Engelbert Humperdinck, who hadn’t picked up a hit single since 1972, and Bonnie Tyler, who hadn’t picked up a hit single since 1984, in an effort to suggest that the only people who cared about Eurovision in any way were the same audience that found the musical selections on Ken Bruce’s Radio 2 show to be verging on shockingly cutting-edge.

The particular brand of abject failure displayed by Electro Velvet’s 2015 entry – a Gatsby-appropriating debacle of squelching sci-fi synths – beckoned a revitalisation of the TV selection process, but the 24th place finish was the same for Joe And Jake, former contestants on The Voice who covered Jason Mraz and Coldplay before finding fans in the BBC Four audience.

This year’s lineup of six contestants, announced earlier this week on Ken Bruce’s Radio 2 show, do at least get the chance to warble on BBC Two for your affections. Will any of them be demonstrating moments that could snap this slump? Can anybody Scooch it up and just be so ridiculous for three minutes that you can’t help but guiltily develop a massive soft spot that endures a decade later? Are we destined for a floundering scatter of X Factor rejects who will make the rest of the audience – including Australia – rush to change the channel before you can say “red, white, and blue Brexit”? Let’s embrace the inevitable pain together. Continue reading “Reviewing the Eurovision: You Decide candidates so you don’t have to”

This Year In Records 2016

What made 2016 tick, from ANOHNI to The xx.

Originally published in The Edge

Now we’ve finally reached the concluding moments of 2016, it’s time for This Week In Records to splash out a little bit. You may be familiar with our methods – trawling the web for every last morsel of new music worth your attention and delivering it promptly for breakfast every Friday, with an occasional side dish of irritability whenever someone dares to “spill” a piña colada over a marimba and ends up regurgitating a soulless rendition of a decent dance record from the last millennium. Today, to celebrate the end of all things, we’ve cast our glances right back to where it all began.

Elsewhere on this site, you will find serious collections and rankings of the year – albums, films, games, TV shows, etc. – but This Year In Records is for celebrating 2016’s music in all its delectable forms. Over the next twelve pages, we discuss one release from every single New Music Friday. Some are fantastic. Some are abominations. Some will be recalled as the releases that first caught attention from the music heroes of tomorrow. One is a miserable spawn from The X Factor.

If a rapid whiz through 366 days of music sounds appealing, allow me to be your guide. I promise I’ll only rap twice.

Continue reading “This Year In Records 2016”

Album review: Bon Iver – 22, A Million

In praise of Justin Vernon’s cryptically-coated latest.

Originally published for The Edge’s album of the year countdown

Justin Vernon‘s storied process behind 2007’s For Emma, Forever Ago – rambling from reality into a remote crevice of Wisconsin, setting up residence in a cabin in the woods, waving bears away from stew in nothing but his pants, spending three months putting together a gorgous debut album, etc. – is one that has at many points throughout 2016 looked rather appealing. Moreso in a year that has shown a relentless determination to quash all that is comforting and hopeful, his sincerely warm songwriting provides assurance, and 22, A Million strays from his frostbitten products of seclusion by venturing from normalcy towards experimention in every facet imaginable. Continue reading “Album review: Bon Iver – 22, A Million”

Live review: HONNE at The Haunt, Brighton

The intimate duo plays an emphatic sold out seafront set.

Originally published in The Edge

Speaking of musicians “blowing roofs” off venues is often so utterly vapid that it pains me to even acknowledge its prevalence, yet HONNE’s tour stop on the Brighton seafront came disconcertingly close to causing severe damage. The Haunt, decked appropriately for the pre-Hallowe’en set with mock cobwebs and a ghoulish icon on its façade, is a venue so well buried at the base of the famously cosmopolitan city that it shares its address with a coach station and remains invisible to Google’s Street View mapping, hidden behind a protruding hostel corner from the south and at the end of a pedestrian alleyway from the north – one in which a charming gent on a bench offered me cocaine from a bag-for-life as I ventured for a post-interview/pre-show sandwich. With every song came larger cheers and wider smiles; with every other beat of ‘Coastal Love’ that blended with the ambience of the pier across the road came a dip in the floor under the stress of the movement. Continue reading “Live review: HONNE at The Haunt, Brighton”