101 songs that prove 2017 wasn’t entirely awful after all

Don’t worry, there’s no Lil Pump/Big Shaq/Katy Perry/Chris & Kem/Ed Sheeran here.

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2017 has been quite a year. To celebrate three things – its musical goodness, me finally getting things in order on these pages, and a year of better playlisting that’s allowed me to bring all the best bits together without it taking approximately a million years – here’s a collection of 101 of the best songs it’s spawned. There’ll be many more words, playlists, and things appearing here over the coming months, especially if I can figure out how to make Spotify embeds look as nice on WordPress as they can elsewhere, so do say hello if there’s anything you think I’ve missed.

Continue reading “101 songs that prove 2017 wasn’t entirely awful after all”

Single review: Charli XCX – ‘Boys’

“I’m sorry that I missed the extract / I wish I had a better excuse like I was being properly creative / But I was busy thinking ’bout this song”

Originally published in The Edge

Since Charli XCX last put out a proper single – October’s frankly tedious ‘After The Afterparty,’ which somewhat legitimised luminous teen king Lil Yachty as a mainstream “thing” with its light, puerile production and lyrical hedonism somehow making its way into the top 40 for five weeks – she’s had a rather stunning little run of appearances. Alongside Japanese pair Yasutaka Nakata and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, ‘Crazy Crazy’ set a high bar for pop choruses just two weeks into 2017. After complaining of the arduous nature of releasing a free mixtape as a major label popstar in this modern age, the £4.99 Number 1 Angel more thoroughly realised the jagged vision of 2016’s Vroom Vroom EP with guest turns from Raye and atop half a dozen A. G. Cook-helmed gems. Within a week of that came her role on Mura Masa‘s ‘1 Night,’ which has thus far proved to be one of the tracks from one of the albums of the year. Most recently, teaming up with a then-17-year-old Chicago producer named Whethan on ‘Love Gang’ paired a slick blob of guitar with unashamedly soppy lyrics which delivered accordingly. Continue reading “Single review: Charli XCX – ‘Boys’”

Album review: Mura Masa – Mura Masa

Uniting the sides with an electronic sheen, the Guernsey-born producer strikes an improbable balance between high-octane party nous and heartwrenching displays of soul.

Originally published in The Edge

Two years on from his impeccable breakout Someday Somewhere EP, much has changed for young Alex Crossan. Although his studio is still a speakerless laptop in his bedroom, his CV boasts a reputation as one of the most versatile electronic artists around, a healthy festival pedigree that’s seen him quietly shimmer through performances at Coachella and Glastonbury (and even his local Wild Life), a pair of self-hosted shows on Beats 1 that have acted as a showcase for his Anchor Point imprint, and an enviable phonebook that reaches from A$AP Rocky to Damon Albarn.

On Mura Masa, his first major label full-length, so prominent are these pals that the names of the 10 who feature adorn its cover alongside an image of Crossan at a 30° tilt whilst looking rather glum. Such an image isn’t necessarily most illustrative of what’s inside: 45 minutes of gleeful hedonism on the theme of love brought to life with his crisp, harp-soaked glue. Its production is dense and effervescent right from opener ‘Messy Love’ – one of only two truly solo ventures alongside the minute-long acoustic prairie interlude ‘give me The ground’ – which establishes the impulsive and passionate tone lyrically (“Take me, break me / Use me for your messy love,” he yearns through a liberal slathering of Auto-Tune) and atmospherically. Continue reading “Album review: Mura Masa – Mura Masa”

“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”

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”

EP review: Charli XCX – Vroom Vroom

The new label and its eponymous EP send mainstream pop underground to an alarmingly enjoyable effect.

Originally published in The Edge

The ascension of Charli XCX from Bishop’s Stortford to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 is peculiar to fathom. One moment, you’re uploading tracks to MySpace with titles like ‘!Franchesckaar!,’ attending raves to perform with your parents, and signed to Orgy Music (which is apparently a genuine record label); the next you’re pop’s resident punk edge, trashing hotels and raucously bitching from Los Angeles to Tokyo, yet still having the approachable youth appeal to pull off a theme song for tearjerking young adult tale The Fault In Our Stars.

This apparent lack of intermediacy makes her, seemingly, the perfect fit to mesh with the incredibly bizarre and similarly bombastic PC Music label/genre/subculture/social study/pyramid scheme. On this bridge to the surely inevitable third album later this year, she launches Vroom Vroom, her own experimental pop vanity collective, and Vroom Vroom, a concise and intense four track EP to go with it produced by aural oddball SOPHIE. Continue reading “EP review: Charli XCX – Vroom Vroom”