For the past few years I always await eagerly the month of February which for me always heralds the first real month of exciting new music. This spawned from my internship at the wonderful AmazingRadio back in 2014 where I spent a whole month finding new gems to sink my teeth and ears into. February 2016 has been a tremendous month both for singles and albums.
What will no doubt be memorable will be the release of Kanye West’s 7th Studio Album, finally entitled, The Life Of Pablo. As an extremely huge Yeezy fan the album is of course the record I’ve been playing most but I don’t want to pick any tunes off of it to place into the best singles of the month. Instead here is a link to the album on Tidal which you should definitely go and purchase.
With that out of the way it’s time to begin to speak about the month in music. What I’ve done is logged down every time I’ve heard a song that I’ve enjoyed but also graded it on how much I liked it, in order to review only the best at the end of the month. I’m happy to say that this month was very productive and:
Tracks Logged: 161
From those logged tracks, I’ve picked the best of the best to talk about and showcase below. I hope you enjoy and find something new that you like.
This month in the pop world started off magically with Gwen Stefani releasing her newest single Make Me Like You which had echoes of What You Waiting For and Cool which for me was her best work. The tune is delightfully upbeat with Gwen’s playful synth driven hooks on play. Towards the end of the month Fifth Harmony gifted us Work From Home, the follow up to last year’s huge hit Worth It and news that their debut album will be out in Summertime. The track is a huge trap tinted ode to innuendos about putting in work in the bedroom and at the work place. It was newer pop which shone through in February most though. Karo is a sweet sounding singer from Dundee who was actually born in Iceland. Her track Wolfbaby is a smooth soul search about the realization of an ex’s grip on your life. It’s heavy stuff but Karo delivers it in such a pleasant way.
One return which has been exciting has been the marvelously creative Santigold, whose new single Banshee doing exactly what it says on the tin, screaming around with schizophrenic production to great effect. BBC Sound of 2016 nominee Dua Lipa was a bit of a surprise for me when she was announced for the longlist but she’s proving the tippers correct with yet another delicious slice of pop with Last Dance, proving she’s heading only upwards. Outside of the UK, Swedish pop duo Icona Pop have finally brought us a worthy follow-up to I Love It with the infectious and slightly disco Someone Who Can Dance. And for the freshest Swedish pop music aside from Icona Pop, look no further than Bishat, whose second single Sober is a mature piece of synth pop with a chorus hook which grabs the ball and runs for the hills.
It’s not just European pop which has given us spectacular earworms though with the always enjoyable Kero Kero Bonito returning with the wacky Lipslap. I also really enjoyed another K-pop banger courtesy this time of Taemin. The track, Press My Number, is produced by Bruno Mars and certainly has all the right components to be a hit in any country. To round off this month’s best of pop are the veterans of the genre, Pet Shop Boys whose track The Pop Kids is a marvelous modern day synthpop treasure.
A few years back I caught wind of the band Twenty One Pilots. Whilst I couldn’t find enough for me to love them at that point I have kept a close eye on them and have been amazed at the traction their sophomore record has picked up, especially the lead single Stressed Out which is currently the biggest track around in the states. I can only predict the same will happen here in the UK with the song. It was a great month for the heavier rock aside from Twenty One Pilots, with Kaleo and Big Ups bringing me tunes I kept on returning to. HBO’s new supershow Vinyl which focuses on rock n roll in the 1970s is a great way for me to tap into how much I love a grungy six string sound and Kaleo’s No Good which is part of the show’s soundtrack is just that. The Scandinavian rockers really seem set for big things and if you’re a fan of the likes of Alabama Shakes and The Black Keys then look their way. Big Ups are a bit brasher and give us the first song from their upcoming sophomore record. The tune National Parks is an immediate return to form for one of my favourite punk bands around.
I’m also a fan of Tonight Alive’s new single How Does It Feel? which really feels like a success for the band and could well prove to be an ace radio song. Lastly one of my favourite duos DZ Deathrays have returned with their new scuzzy single Blood On My Leather which carries itself with a phenomenal riff like all good DZ tunes.
Guitar music in general actually had quite a cool month with there being several songs from mostly unknown bands that I found really enjoyable. Bent Shapes tune above instantly put a smile on my face reminding me of Belle & Sebastian which a hint of Pixies spun in for good measure. Fans of proper indie rock looking for the next big thing should look no further than Fronteers. The group who are from Kingston Upon Hull seriously deliver the most exciting indie riff I’ve heard in many months with their new single Idol. The band Cortes are also worth having a listen to as their edgy single Close To Nowhere reminded me of the first time I listened to Royal Blood. You can do a lot worse too than checking out YAST and their single I Don’t Think She Knows which has great hazy guitar and some excellent shredding which reminded me of some of the soundscapes The War On Drugs created. Cloudy indie is also something I do love to find and The Japanese Breakfast are kind of on top of the world at the moment with their new single Everybody Wants To Love You.
As I said, this month really has been spectacular for indie rock tunes and these final two are for me at the top of that list. London four piece The Hunna are already picking up a good following and angsty new single We Could Be is a proper driven song with a very full sound. A band who’ve mastered that already into their young career are Sundara Karma and the band’s new single A Young Understanding is exciting through showing consistency. This is a band that have now had four or five back to back brilliant tunes which makes them one of the best indie bands in the UK in my books.
One colossal thing that happened this month was the trickling and then full release of new music from The 1975 that in my opinion have, with their new album, which I’m not going to type the title of because it takes too long, become the biggest band in the UK. My highlight from it is Somebody Else which is a rare personal song about still being attached to somebody and being honest about the bad feelings you have with that. The Lumineers also made a return this month with the gorgeously timid but gutsy Ophelia being another big hit for the group.
In the Urban world we caught glimpses of two future superstars. Kavale arrived in the world with Hold On which certainly fills part of the gap that Frank Ocean and other silky smooth R&B vocalists have left recently. A star in the making for certain is Bibi Bourelly who has penned hits for the likes of Rihanna. Her new single released this month, Sally, is a triumph which combines 1950’s Motown inspired lyrics with music which reeks of the future. Speaking of classic music, one of my favourite musicians and voices of recent times channels the soulfulness of the likes of Sam Cooke and that is Leon Bridges. This month he released his song River as a proper single and the video alone made me realize just how powerful it is a song, and just how powerful Leon is as a musician.
I’m not going to say anything to cover just how good Kojey Radical is and how good his track Kwame Nkrumah is. The tracks is from his upcoming EP 23 Winters which you need in your life but to say that it reminded me of Kendrick when he brought us King Kunta hopefully that sets some kind of idea in your mind of what we have with this song. Kojey as an artist is far from Kendrick, his poetry unlike any other artist I’ve ever heard.
In the trap world, the song of the month is easily Desiigner’s Panda. The dude came out of nowhere to have the song covered on Yeezy’s new album and be signed to Yeezy’s label G.O.O.D Music the following day. Pretty big month for him. Puff Daddy also returned with a new moniker adding “…& The Family” to his name. The result’s best is Auction which has the brassy production you’d want on any classy sounding hip hop song.
Toning things down a bit are some gorgeous chilled house numbers. Gemini’s pop house tune Time To Share is one of the month’s best adding in Mandarin to a slow moving neon number which shares DNA with Kavinsky, but with a vocal like Years & Years. Another serious highlight is Michl who’s deadly sounding slow burner Kill Our Way To Heaven has sounds of Clarence Clarity’s glitch about it. When you get a record on the Cascine label it’s normally a winner and that’s no different for et aliae whose tune Sober flirts with the spectacular before erupting into one of the biggest choruses of the month.
There’s also some nice funky low tempo tunes around this month leading with Mayer Hawthorne’s Cosmic Love which paints what a sunset would sound like so well. As well as this Moi Je’s Profite needs to be checked out but make sure it’s the Kazy Lambist remix which really does the song the most justice. There’s also some love to be found in Wing Tip’s glitch funk of With Me which has a great vocal sample and house piano.
And finally, let’s end this month with something loud. Two songs in fact starting with Leeds’ Krrum who brings brass to play along in what sounds like a Bon Iver number at first before scrapping that for some seriously devilishly dirty RL Grime bass. Fans of TNGHT are going to love this banger which is called Evil Twin. And to conclude this month’s highlights is the return of Chase & Status who have partnered with 2015’s liveliest new band Slaves to bring us Control which sounds like peak Prodigy at play. It seems for sure that this might be Chase & Status’ year.
February’s Top 10 Singles Are:
1. Kojey Radical – Kwame Nkrumah
2. Michl – Kill Our Way To Heaven
3. Twenty One Pilots – Stressed Out
4. Krrum – Evil Twin
5. Japanese Breakfast – Everybody Wants To Love You
6. Sundara Karma – A Young Understanding
7. The Lumineers – Ophelia
8. Chase & Status ft Slaves – Control
9. Pet Shop Boys – The Pop Kids
10. Fronteers – Idol
Why not check out all of my tipped songs in this super handy YouTube playlist! Thanks for reading.