HEAD FULL OF SOIL BY HOLLY HENDERSON
Recorded in a farmhouse in the English countryside, vocals, harpsichord, guitars, bass and percussion interknit like a garden that’s grown beautifully wild. Each element brings its own colour and scent, when combined they present a blanket of wonder.
SONGWRITER(S): HOLLY HENDERSON
PRODUCER(S): HOLLY HENDERSON, ROWAN (KNOWLE STEREO)
LABEL: IVY RECRODS
LYRIC: CAN I LEAVE YOUR WANDERING EYES?
BEAUTY HIDDEN IN PAIN BY YAZ
Inspired by London’s homeless crisis, this tale of perseverance in the face of hardship is brought to life by Yassine Belkhou’s heartfelt vocals. Feeling every word that is being sung, his bandmates provide a supportive blanket of sound.
SONGWRITER(S): ANTOINE LESAGE, KRISHNA KASIM, OSCAR JOE GROSS, YASSINE BELKHOU
PRODUCER(S): TONY SAGE
LYRIC: IT’S THE COMFORT IN KNOWING WHO I AM/KNOWING IT’S ALL PART OF THE PLAN
RIGHT KIND OF CRAZY BY DEVON GILFILLIAN
The rising Nashville soul artist continues to create a hazy groove here. With an unexpected percussive breakdown adding the melodrama, it’s a moment of contemplation before Gilfillian returns to bring the song home.
SONGWRITER(S): DEVON GILFILLIAN, HENRY BRILL, RAN JACKSON
PRODUCER(S): JEREMY LUTITO
LYRIC: BABY PLEASE COME BACK/DANCE AROUND MY MIND/WE CAN WORK IT OUT
SUNFLOWER BY NABIHAH IQBAL
With lyrics that repeat like the cycle of the seasons, Nabihah Iqbal’s poetically spoken deliver only adds to the meditative feeling created by the blissful synths and percussion. A performer and DJ, those twin talents merge in the glorious daylight.
SONGWRITER(S): NABIHAH IQBAL
PRODUCER(S): NABIHAH IQBAL
LABEL: NINJA TUNE
LYRIC: MEET ME UNDER THE SUNFLOWER/FIND ME THERE IN THE GOLDEN HOUR
EVERY DAY IS THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE BY THE LEMON TWIGS
As the title refrain is repeated and shared by Brian and Michael D’Addario, sung over a bewitching guitar arrangement, you switch from agreement to disapproval and back again. The repetition is both lulling and disconcerting and commands complete attention.
SONGWRITER(S): BRIAN D’ADDARIO, MICHAEL D’ADDARIO
PRODUCER(S): THE LEMON TWIGS
LABEL: CAPTURED TRACKS
LYRIC: EVERY DAY IS THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE/THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE
BANG BANG BY MOMMA
A purposefully crude song written about great sex, Bang Bang was created when songwriters Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten caught COVID at the same time. Drunk in isolation together they crafted this raunchy alt-rock fever dream.
SONGWRITER(S): ALLEGRA WEINGARTEN, ARON KOBAYASHI RITCH, ETTA FRIEDMAN
PRODUCER(S): ARON KOBAYASHI RITCH
LABEL: LUCKY NUMBER
LYRIC: I KNOW THAT YOU FANTASIZE/LIFE IS GOOD BETWEEN MY THIGHS
ALRIGHT BY RYAN HAHN AND THE BELIEVERS
The cheeky guitar licks, swinging rhythm, and sing-song harmonica all help Ryan Hahn with his mission to keep things positive. So golden is the glow here, it makes you want to drop what your doing and follow this Americana Pied Piper over the horizon.
SONGWRITER(S): RYAN HAHN
PRODUCER(S): RYAN HAHN, JUSTIN GARIANO
LYRIC: WITH YOU BY MY SIDE I CAN FINALLY BREATHE
INSIDE OUTSIDE BY THIS IS THE KIT
hProduced by Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals, the skittish drums and reoccurring horns bounce around Kate Stables as she contemplates nature, nurture and freewill. If that’s not enough, Simpsons fans will pick up on a favourite Ralph Wiggum quote.
SONGWRITER(S): JAMIE WHITBY-COLES, JESSE D VERNON, KATE STABLES, NEIL SMITH, ROZI LEYDEN
PRODUCER(S): GRUFF RHYS
LABEL: ROUGH TRADE
LYRIC: ALL THE MOLECULES/WERE FOCUSED ON YOUR NEXT MOVE
SOMETHING’S GONNA KILL ME BY COREY KENT
The Oklahoma native/Texas-based country star leaps on his motorcycle and takes to the road on this freewheelin’ homage to living life to the fullest. A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it romp of a song, Kent sure knows how to get it done.
SONGWRITER(S): AUSTIN GOODLOE, COREY KENT, JOYBETH TAYLOR, LYDIA VAUGHAN
PRODUCER(S): JAY JOYCE
LABEL: RCA RECORDS
LYRIC: IF SOMETHING’S GONNA KILL ME MIGHT AS WELL BE WHAT MAKES ME FEEL ALIVE
COOL WHIP BY BELOT
The bigger the present, the worse the misdemeanour – that’s the message undermining this squelchy and vibrant number. Cutting, ruthless, hilarious, instantly catchy… this is everything that pop music can be in the right hands.
SONGWRITER(S): ALICE IVY, BEN WYLEN, MAYA BELOT
PRODUCER(S): MAX MARGOLIS, MAYA BELOT
LABEL: SUBMARINE CAT RECORDS, CONCORD MUSIC PUBLISHING
LYRIC: BEGGING, PLEADING, OH, SO PATHETIC/GOT THE ICK LIKE IT’S ANAESTHETIC
SOLO BY THE ACES
Solo is synth-heavy electro-pop that cascades like rainbow drops around Cristal Ramirez lead vocals. Reflecting both the song’s vulnerability and liberation, the lyrics dip in and out of focus as her gaze turns inward.
SONGWRITER(S): ALISA RAMIREZ, CRISTAL RAMIREZ, KATIE HENDERSON, KEITH VARON, MCKENNA PETTY
PRODUCER(S): THE ACES, KEITH VARON
LABEL: RED BULL RECORDS
LYRIC: I KNOW THAT I’M VERGING ON A MASOCHIST/AND THIS FEELING’S GETTING KIND OF SCARY
With little more than a crisp acoustic guitar and crystalline vocals, this song has absolutely nowhere to hide. Gaining strength from such simplicity, the Icelandic singer delivers a soothing lullaby that feels as timeless as the glaciers of Vatnajökull.
SONGWRITER(S): HAFDÍS HULD
PRODUCER(S): ALISDAIR WRIGHT
LABEL: ALDA MUSIC
LYRIC: WE CAN GO AND WATCH THE SEA/THROW SOME PEBBLES YOU AND ME
LOVE HZ BY THOM SOUTHERN
With the end of a relationship we don’t just mourn the person that we’ve lost, but also the person we ourselves were when we were with them. It’s these dual sorrows that Southern artfully laments on this poignant alt-folk ballad.
SONGWRITER(S): STEVIE SCULLION, THOM SOUTHERN
PRODUCER(S): STEVIE SCULLION, THOM SOUTHERN
LYRIC: SO MUCH LONGING AND CONFUSION/PARALYTIC KNOWING
THERE’S A MOUSE IN MY HOUSE BY DOG RACE
Whether this unwanted visitor is the paranoid thoughts in your own mind, or indeed the titular rodent, what’s for certain is the Bedford-based indie band have created a quivering and delusional counterpoint to the song’s lyrical themes.
SONGWRITER(S): ALI CHANT, JAMES KELLY, JED FINKELSTEIN, KATHRYN HEALY
PRODUCER(S): ALI CHANT
LYRIC: I TALK TO THE SHRINK ABOUT HAVING ADHD/THEY SAY I JUST WANT TO AVOID TAKING RESPONSIBILITY
ALCO BY HALF MOON RUN
Aaron’s choice: “The Montreal trio have honed plaintive folk-rock to perfection, but Alco offers something gorgeous and euphoric. Their signature ukulele arpeggio builds to a widescreen, cinematic experience before a surge of strings in the middle eight sends chills down the spine.”
SONGWRITER(S): CONNER MOLANDER, DEVON PORTIELJE, DYLAN PHILLIPS
PRODUCER(S): CONNOR SEIDEL
LABEL: BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT
LYRIC: YOU JUST WANT ME TO JUMP BOTH FEET DOWN/INTO THE BOTTOM OF THE RIVER WITH YOU
SING IT WITH ME BY JEMMA JOHNSON
We’ll always have a soft spot for songs that swell and intensify with each passing bar. Here, a piano ballad starts gently before gaining momentum. Then, like the devastation of a broken heart, that cacophony of emotion eventually fades into quiet acceptance.
SONGWRITER(S): JEMMA JOHNSON, ANDY GATFORD, THOMAS BACON
LYRIC: MUSIC SO LOUD/DROWNING OUT MY DEMONS
BULLETPROOF BY LIAM BARRACK
Listening to this pop banger transported us back to the genre’s heyday of the mid-nineties. If you’re still missing peek Backstreet Boys or the days when NSYNC weren’t just the band that Justin Timberlake used to be in, this is the song for you.
SONGWRITER(S): BRIAN HOWES, LIAM BARRACK, RYAN WORSLEY
PRODUCER(S): RYAN WORSLEY
LABEL: FLYING COLOURS MUSIC
LYRIC: YOU’RE AN ELEVEN I’M ONLY HALF THAT
FATHER’S DAUGHTER BY SHANGRI-LASS
Duncan’s choice: “Imagine Goldfrapp being commissioned by Count Dracula to write an eerie piece of synth-pop and you get close to this after-dark masterpiece. And what would Allison and Will call themselves for this special performance, ‘Gothfrapp’ of course!”
SONGWRITER(S): ROSE LOVE
PRODUCER(S): ROSE LOVE, LEIA GRAHAM
LABEL: REDUNDANT SPAN RECORDS
LYRIC: IS IT WET OR DRY/MY SENSES, THEY HAVE DIED
YOU WON’T BE THERE BY BROKEN RECORDS
This rousing indie-rock gem finds Jamie Sutherland in an introspective mood. Ruminating on the loss of friends and the clouding of memory over time, his bandmates provide a suitably sympathetic landscape through which he can explore these feelings.
SONGWRITER(S): JAMIE SUTHERLAND, RORY SUTHERLAND
PRODUCER(S): TONY DOOGAN
LABEL: J SHARP RECORDS
LYRIC: STRANGERS PASS AND TALK, HOLDING HANDS/BUT YOU’RE ALONE
FEEL YOUR FEAT BY YOVA
Jova Radeyska’s dynamic vocals alone could carry this genre-defying song. Yet, with the help of the thumping percussion and aching saxophone, it becomes just one ingredient of a particularly boisterous sonic soup.
SONGWRITER(S): JOVA RADEVSKA, MARK VERNON
PRODUCER(S): MARK VERNON
LABEL: YOVA MUSIC
LYRIC: I SEE YOU CRYING IN MY DREAM/I FEEL YOUR FEAR IS TAKING ME
THE CROWN BY LA FAUTE
Dreamy pop that will appeal to fans of Lana Del Rey, Peggy Messing/La Faute is an art school dropout from the chilly prairies of Canada. She’s at her haunting best here, her voice a conduit to the other side.
SONGWRITER(S): PEGGY MESSING
PRODUCER(S): TOPHER MOHR
LYRIC: I COULD REARRANGE MY FACE OR LET IT FADE OUT
WASTED ON ME BY BERTIE NEWMAN
Like Ed Sheeran at his most wistfully romantic, the Hackney singer-songwriter does his best not to get buried under the weight of a new love. His wholesome delivery makes you root for the relationship that little bit more.
SONGWRITER(S): GETH, BERTIE NEWMAN, GETHIN WILLIAMS, JENNIFER MAUREEN STEWART
LABEL: BUCKS MUSIC GROUP
LYRIC: YOU’RE ADDICTIVE TO BE AROUND/I’M SCARED I MIGHT DRAG YOU DOWN
Augmenting this rocker with a swelling string section (think Everything Must Go Manic Street Preachers), the Canadian singer and songwriter pays tribute to her brother who sadly lost his life in 2013. As bold as it is moving.
SONGWRITER(S): CHRISTINA MARTIN
PRODUCER(S): CHRISTINA MARTIN, DALE MURRAY
LABEL: COME UNDONE RECORDS
LYRIC: I TURNED TO YOU TO READ MY POEMS/I LOOKED UP TO YOU TO WAVE YOUR WAND
FAMILY BY SOUKOU
Whether over simple piano chords or courageous soundscapes, Ena Soukou manages to capture the attention as she sings about generative trauma and letting go. Don’t be fooled by how effortless Family sounds, it’s clear that much thought has gone into it.
SONGWRITER(S): ENA SOUKOU
PRODUCER(S): NIKOLAOS “UNIK” GIANNULIDIS
LABEL: LAUTER LAUTER
LYRIC: LIKE ICE CREAM WITHOUT A CONE/A CUP CAN SOMEHOW BE SOMEONE′S HOME
Don’t let the breezy charm of ‘Talk To You’ fool you, there’s a sadness at the heart of this song that even the twinkling electronics and bright arpeggios can’t hide. That contrast between lyric and composition rewards those who listen closely.
SONGWRITER(S): DAN CROLL
PRODUCER(S): DAN CROLL, MATTHEW E. WHITE
LABEL: COMMUNION RECORDS
LYRIC: CLOTHES STACKED IN A PAPER BAG/THERE’S NOTHING LIKE THE END OF AN ERA
EVEN MIAMI IS COLD BY SARAH SEGAL-LAZAR
Love turns sour as the Canadian songwriter heads to Miami for an ill-fated rendezvous with her boyfriend. Despite the 30℃ heat, the experience leaves her feeling cold. This is storytelling in song form, and it’s deftly told.
SONGWRITER(S): SARAH SEGAL-LAZAR
PRODUCER(S): MATTHEW BARBER
LABEL: GRASSWATER RECORDS
LYRIC: YOU TAUGHT ME THE ONLY WAY TO KEEP A MAN/WAS TO LIE AS OFTEN AS I POSSIBLY CAN
DIFFERENT ANIMAL BY THE HIGH STRUNG
A melodic maelstrom of Americana, the kind that Mumford & Sons do so well, Mark Owen leads his band on a rollick of romantic recovery. The vocal harmonies Allison Laakko add to the feeling that both sides of this relationship are better off apart.
SONGWRITER(S): JOSH MALERMAN, MARK OWEN
PRODUCER(S): ZACH SHIPPS, JASON BERKOWITZ
LABEL: PAPER THIN RECORDS
LYRIC: OUR HOME WAS DESTROYED IN NERO’S FIRE/WHILE I WAS BALANCING ON A PIANO WIRE
BREATH BY OSLO TWINS
The electronic beat acts as the paper bag, helping the Bristol outfit remember to breathe and return to the world they feel so cut off from. A trippy and dreamy affair, Tom Connolly’s violin hints at a lingering sense of peril.
SONGWRITER(S): CLAUDIA VULLIAMY, ERIC DAVIES
PRODUCER(S): ALI CHANT
LABEL: FASCINATION STREET RECORDS
LYRIC: FROM THAT SILK UNDER THE MOON/NOW IT’S DARK INSIDE
HEY ALL TOGETHER BY IVAN NEVILLE
With help from Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, Michael McDonald and David Shaw, the New Orleans soul icon wants to bring a feeling of togetherness back to communities both small and large. Lofyt ambition it may be, but this is one catchy start.
SONGWRITER(S): IVAN NEVILLE
PRODUCER(S): IVAN NEVILLE
LABEL: THE FUNK GARAGE
LYRIC: I DON’T WANNA BELIEVE IT, BUT IT’S TRUE/YOU DON’T LIKE ME THAT MUCH COS I DON’T LOOK LIKE YOU
BACK TO THE START BY MAZEY HAZE
Seeped in jangling Rickenbacker flourishes that would pry open even the most ominous nimbostratus, this is the sound of the Californian summer filtered through the eyes of a rising star of the Amsterdam indie scene.
SONGWRITER(S): NADINE APPELDOORN
PRODUCER(S): NADINE APPELDOORN, PIETER VONK
LYRIC: WHEN I’M UP THERE ALL WILL BE GOOD/I’LL WALK FOR DAYS JUST TO FIND AN EMPTY CUP
BIG HOUSE BY NIEVE ELLA
The verses take their time, building brick by brick, but any structural solidarity is undone when the chorus comes in to blow the roof off. Lovers of indie-pop won’t care though, melody this memorable deserves to be sung to the heavens.
SONGWRITER(S): IAIN BERRYMAN, NIEVE ELLA PICKERING
PRODUCER(S): IAIN BERRYMAN
LYRIC: I WANNA LIVE INSIDE YOUR BRAIN/AND TAKE AWAY THE PAIN THAT GETS YOU DOWN AFTER YOU WAKE
FEVER DREAM BY ADAM YOUNGMAN
Devin’s Choice: “From the first lines of Fever Dream, Adam’s powerful lyrics pull you into the story of a developing infatuation. In addition, his vocal and instrumental skills make the song hypnotic, touching, and relatable for listeners.”
SONGWRITER(S): ADAM YOUNGMAN
PRODUCER(S): ADAM YOUNGMAN
LYRIC: YOU CAME OUT OF THE BLUE/AND KNEW JUST WHAT TO DO
DEAD BODY BY KEHLI
Crunching guitars and gang vocals help create an anthem for everyone who has been in a toxic relationship and come out of the other side a stronger person. Turn this up loud and remember that you deserve better!
SONGWRITER(S): AIDEN HALLIDAY, KELLY IRWIN, OLI FOX
PRODUCER(S): OLI FOX
LABEL: ROUGH BONES LTD
LYRIC: I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN WHEN I WENT DIGGING/THAT YOU WOULD ALWAYS PROVE ME RIGHT
WHEN IT HURTS BY JAKE ISAAC
This modern soul number features the entwined and complimenting vocals of Jake Isaac and Jack Savoretti. Together, unafraid to connect on a deep emotional level, it’s the sound of two people sharing their hopes and fears and a welcome tonic.
SONGWRITER(S): JACK SAVORETTI, SOPHIA AYANA, CHRISTINE OSBORNE, JAKE ISAAC, LITENING
PRODUCER(S): JAKE ISAAC
LABEL: OIL + WATER, AMLOR MUSIC PUBLISHING, HOUSTON COMMA, UNIVERSAL MUSIC PUBLISHING
LYRIC: I’LL MEET YOU IN THE VALLEY/I’LL BE THERE WHEN YOU’RE LOW
SLEEPOVER MOOD BY FREAK SLUG
Peppered with strange SFX, a distinctly 80s production and a slyly Latin groove, the Manchester alt-pop artist is on a mission to woo that shy introvert who just can’t conquer their nervousness.
SONGWRITER(S): XENYA GENOVESE
PRODUCER(S): XENYA GENOVESE
LABEL: OUR HOUSE
LYRIC: YOU WANT SOMETHING DIFFERENT AND I CAN GIVE YOU EVERYTHING
ANOTHER WAY BY THE HORN
Like a classic Britpop banger that’s been injected with a shot of modern production to bring it back to life, ‘The Horn’ swaggers its way onto the dance floor, clears the room of all pretenders and reminds us that we all need a bit of bravado in our worlds.
SONGWRITER(S): DANIEL MONK, JONATHAN TAYLOR, NICK TRUE
PRODUCER(S): DANIEL MONK, NICK TRUE
LABEL: LITTLE BIG HORN MUSIC
LYRIC: I WANT ANOTHER WAY/TO DANCE WITH EACH OTHER/ANTHER WAY TO ROMANCE
SOBER BY SIOBHÁN WINIFRED
A scratchy guitar and fragile voice kick things off before being joined by swirling synths and an insistent rhythm section. That dynamic ebb and flow cleverly matches the push and pull of a song wrapped up in a difficult relationship.
SONGWRITER(S): SIOBHÁN WINIFRED
LYRIC: ONE DRINK AND YOU’LL SAY EVERYTHING I WANNA HEAR/BUT, WITH TOMORROW COMES APOLOGIES
MAN OF THE YEAR BY JOSHUA RADIN
Intimate lyrics that invite you in and a melody that’s so unforgettable it borders on dangerous, the troubadour has absolutely done it again. Expect to hear it soundtracking your favourite television show very soon.
SONGWRITER(S): JOSHUA RADIN, MAX GRAHN
PRODUCER(S): FAT MAX GUS
LABEL: NETTWERK MUSIC GROUP
LYRIC: YOU’RE THE COAL I’M THE FIRE THAT DIES EVERY NIGHT
BERGEN STREET BY THE CHAPIN SISTERS
An ode to a particular stretch of road in Brooklyn, Abigail and Lily’s wistful harmonies capture the song’s intimate nature. Vocal alchemy that you long for from sibling bandmates, the spell endures long after the last note.
SONGWRITER(S): ABIGAIL CHAPIN, LILY CHAPIN
PRODUCER(S): EVAN TAYLOR, SETH THOMAS, JESSE LEE, THE CHAPIN SISTERS
LABEL: LAKE BOTTOM RECORDS
LYRIC: GOODBYE TO THE SOOT IN THE WINDOW RUTS/AND THE AIR THAT SMELLS OF THE TIRE DUST
EYES ON ME BY DAVE OKUMU & 7 GENERATIONS
With the help of a raging electronic thrum and throbbing percussion, the Mercury-nominated singer, songwriter, and producer tackles the racist structures that help to prop up a rigged system. There’s both depth and pop immediacy.
SONGWRITER(S): DAVE OKUMU
PRODUCER(S): DAVE OKUMU
LYRIC: THE SYSTEM’S BROKEN