It’s not easy to listen to someone being mentally torn apart, to have their innermost personal thoughts laid bare on a song is often a heartbreaking experience. With RnB riser sV, however, his stripped-back single ‘Summer Snow’ may be a lesson in heartbreak but is a refreshingly cathartic and emotionally relatable experience.
With a history soaked deep in fashion design, experience producing music for acts in China and Korea as well as crafting his debut EP (or self-proclaimed ‘mini album’) around his war with depression – sV is ever the intriguing artist as all great names tend to be.
The track itself is the sound of genuine anguish. As sultry loops of electric guitar fill the reverb-laden soundscape, sV accompanies a wave of soft, crashing beats with his own sorrowful deliveries – begging us to “not let him fade away”.
One could write books on the track’s compositional accomplishments – with its crescendo-like structure bringing a natural evolution to such a short track – but track’s crown jewel lies in how well sV translates his own emtoional strife into something almost tangible.
This, of course, relates to the entire ‘AnxiousAlbum’ project from which ‘Summer Snow’ originates – a collection of material spawned from a harrowing grief.
“I created this album at the height of my depression. After years of not being able to create anything.The album is dedicated to my cousin who passed three years ago. Bringing mental health to the forefront; the impact of anxiety, depression, and stress in one.” – sV
It’s certainly a message that resonates with the strength of the artist that laid it before us. It doesn’t matter what your musical affiliations might be as, with such emotional poignance on display, ‘Summer Snow’ is required listening for everyone and anyone.
Despite the world of real estate not being the expected driving force for musical invention but Vietnamese electro-pop icon and real estate executive, Kiey, is not one to let such stereotypes hold him back. The artist’s lead single that borrows its namesake from his latest EP, ‘Sunday Sanctuary Part. 1’, is an eclectic journey through some of the year’s most enchanting pop music.
The track arrives as a lighter insight into the rising stars palette, especially when compared to the likes of the exec’s darker 2019 debut EP ‘Night To Myself’ with a focus on an assault of striking strings and beats that appear to swell and fade with each rising verse. It may mark a stylistic change but only proves to explore the artist’s versatility. It’s a soundscape that will be as easy to lose yourself in as is it is hard to get out of your mind; a true earworm incarnate.
What is, perhaps, most surprising about the track is its maturity and professional production value. I don’t think anyone would have batted an eyelid for a slightly wooden performance or sloppy mastering – considering Kiey’s drastic swap between his day job industry – but instead Kiey arrives on full form with no intention on letting his inexperience be anything other than a reason to heighten his ambition.
Overall, there is no better introduction to the shimmering and glistening world of Kiey, there is something here for those of any tastes. Plug in, take note and pay attention; Kiey is one to watch.
Nothing quite tops a serving of saucy, suave singer-songwriter Latin pop right? Confident, empowering and abundant with charm and charisma – the genre has all the characteristics of legendary musical heartthrobs throughout history and newcomer SENTI seems to know just how to harness such features. His debut single ‘He She It’ is a powerhouse in suave seduction and, yet, comes armed with an unexpectedly poignant message for ‘love’ in 2021.
The more traditional elements of the genre present within ‘He She It’s DNA are a fantastic foundation for SENTI to provide his smooth-talking deliveries upon. Through a balancing act of gently plucked Spanish acoustic, foot-tapping percussion and satisfying electronics, this is a soundscape that is a pure joy to be submerged in.
With a lyrical protest against the arbitrary judgements and barriers that plague modern love, SENTI’s message is clear in this initial glance at the multi-instrumentalist’s musical persona.
“The song is essentially a stand against toxic mentality in modern love and to say that other people’s opinions don’t matter. All that matters is that you’re happy together…” – Senti
This is only helped by SENTI’s well-arranged hook harmonies which provide the track’s key moment of goosebump-raising influence. So, we have fantastic instrumentals, good pacing and a chorus with enough earworm value to make the Beejee’s jealous; the complaints are simply absent.
In fact, all this becomes all the more impressive when the context of the track’s composition is laid bare. SENTI (aka Adil) recorded all the instruments himself and, unbelievably still, his musical endeavour are only a backdrop to the artist’s heroic efforts as a junior doctor working on the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic. With such circumstances, you would expect and forgive rough production and a general lack of inspiration but SENTI clearly has no intention of cutting corners with ‘He She It’ as concise proof.
This is everything that we expect from a genre veteran and more. Charisma, spirit and a desire to innovate; SENTI has it all.
Keeping track of the hordes of ‘rising stars’ is as much of a task as any – the accessibility of new music is definitely a double-edged sword at times – but one name to bloom out of obscurity that demands attention is Jazmine Flowers. Having beaten lockdown as well as the ‘debut jitters’ on first EP ‘adulting’ we had a chat with one of Alt-R&B’s most promising names.
AM: First of all, huge congratulations on the new EP! How does it feel to have it out?
JF: Thank you! Ahh, it feels really good, I put so much energy into ‘adulting’ I’m just really happy that people can finally listen to and experience it.
AM: Up until now you’ve been releasing singles, how does it feel to have released your first ‘body of work’? Did it allow you to craft something with a wider message?
JF: It’s definitely a different feeling, this feels like a bit more of a statement, like you said with a way broader message. Of course, the EP is about growing up but I touched on so many subjects within each of these songs so it’s really just a cool opportunity to voice all these experiences and feelings I’ve had.
AM: Could you walk us through your general songwriting process?
JF: It does depend on who I’m working with and how I’m feeling that day. But I will usually pull up notes on my phone, where I have pages and pages of words, phrases and concepts that I like and see what fits the vibe of whatever the producer is working on. Then I’ll put some sort of meaning to those words and build from there!
AM: What were the most challenging aspects of recording/writing ‘adulting’?
JF: Well, a couple of weeks before I was due to finish recording the final vocals and mix the whole EP I got the coronavirus hahah which wasn’t ideal. Thankfully, I was out of self-isolation and completely better the day before I got back in the studio but I still sounded quite ill, if you listen to the middle 8 of ‘not like my friends’ you’ll see what I mean! But the whole writing process was chill, it’s made up of songs from before, during and after lockdown.
AM: The entirety of the ‘adulting’ EP is something you can really lose yourself in, was it ever intentional to write something that could be felt like an ‘escape’ from the world?
JF: Wow, thank you, that’s a huge compliment! Umm, I think because I tend to listen to music as an escape, I maybe make music like that naturally? It feels great to know that, with my music, I can do for other people what music does for me.
AM: You’re very first single ‘Awkward’ was released during a period of lockdown, was the writing and recording process of ‘adulting’ plagued by the lockdown as well? What challenges did it present?
JF: Half was and half wasn’t haha! I first wrote ‘awkward’ out in the beautiful city of Bergen, Norway back in autumn of 2019. Then in 2020 when we decided that ‘awkward’ was going to be my debut single, it was lockdown and I, of course, couldn’t fly back to re-record anything. So I finished writing and recording the vocals in London; it was a pain discussing every tiny detail by email rather than just in person but we made it work.
AM: What do you think you’ve learnt as both a person and an artist from writing ‘adulting’?
JF: Ahh so so soo much! The biggest thing I’ve learnt is that I’ll always be learning. When I write songs, like ‘ANGEL FORM’, I don’t really know what they’re about until i look back way later and realise ohhh yeah in that month I was feeling really happy or I went through this or that then. So it was interesting to go through some old songs and work out what they were about and why those lyrics came out of me when they did!
AM: Since the release of ‘Awkward’ in February, your status as a musician has grown significantly in a relatively short time? Has it taken some adapting to?
JF: To be honest, it doesn’t feel like much has changed haha so not much to adapt to! Numbers on my socials have grown and I have a lot more people supporting me now which is incredible! But it still very much feels like the start and that I have a lot more to do in terms of proving myself as an artist…or not proving myself but more so building a connection with the people who listen to my music and progressing as a writer, producer and musician!
AM: As a young artist, what are your main career aspirations?
JF: As an artist, all you can really wish for is to have as many people as possible hear or see your work. That’s all I really want.. and to one day do a ‘Hot Ones’ interview… then I’ve made it hahahah!
AM: I’ve recently graduated from uni and am of a similar age so I can understand the stress that comes with ‘needing to get your life started’, do you have any advice for musicians of your age that might not know how to handle the stress of adulting (excuse the pun).
JF: Congratulations on graduating from uni! I could never haha! Well, I’ll first be honest and say, I also don’t know how to handle the stress of adulting! What seems to be working for me is staying genuine as an artist and just as a person. If you’re falling out of love with what you’re doing then take a break. Stay in check with yourself, do a quick little self MOT, are you drinking enough water, eating vegetables, doing some form of exercise, even just a walk? And don’t forget to masturbate.
AM: Is the next step for your musical career already planned? Tours? A debut album perhaps?
JF: In truth, I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing with my life. I have nothing planned hahaha, I do have a show lined up on 25th October which is SOO exciting, I haven’t performed live in three years! and I also have a fuck load of songs. I just need to choose how to release them!
Straight out of Nashville, DJ and Producer Dennis Mongan, also known as Sintra, brings the masses a rich mix of electronic and cool pop tones in the form of ‘Break’. After discovering the joys of electronic-based music Bonnaroo music festival, his curiosity spiralled into creating his distinct sound, a boiling pot of various influences and scenes that culminate into an addictive new take on the long-lived genre.
Bass-heavy and driven with impressive control, ‘Break’ incorporates electronic signature tropes as it builds behind a smooth vocal performance, only to spill into energetic layers that conjure up images of a dark lit club bathed in LED lights. The track is effective as it encourages listeners to let go and feel the music, demonstrating Sintra’s ability as an artist to create a response that goes far beyond a foot tap.
“Break is about being caught in a bad romance. There’s frustration but there comes a point when you decide to stop caring and just enjoy yourself. That’s the energy I wanted to capture.” – Sintra
Bold in its production and unapologetic in its style, ‘Break’ stands out from the crowd of mass-produced electronic-based tracks, a common trend in music culture currently, due to its complimenting layers, consistent builds without becoming repetitive and vibrant soundscape it creates. Overall, Sintra establishes himself as someone to watch, with the ability to create catchy tracks that don’t skimp out on the soul; he has the talent to go far, and listeners should be thankful we’re here for the ride.
Dropped July 23rd, ‘Used To’ is a sinfully rich dark pop single, overflowing with style and R&B influences; the track is the perfect introduction to Toronto based singer LOR and her refreshing authenticity.
A clean and straightforward piano-led instrumental is enriched with LOR’s distinct vocals as she croons about an unfulfilling relationship and flawed romance. Whilst the topic is effortlessly relatable, LOR manages to take ownership of it and not only infuse her musical spin but honest and deep cutting lyricism to keep the track mature and fully realised. This isn’t a breakup song; more, it is a recounting of how being lost in ‘love’ can keep you from finding yourself or your self-worth.
Using her vulnerability to radiate control, LOR takes a sour experience and turns it into audio magic, turning pain into power and demonstrating her skills as a lyricist and creative force. ‘Used to’ combats broken promises with smooth melodies, ethereal harmonies and certain vocal runs that will give you goosebumps every time. Coming in just under three and a half minutes, the track is all-encompassing and doesn’t waste a second, keeping a solid pace and bursting with a bittersweet narrative.
“Used to is about being in a relationship with someone who constantly lets you down but knows how to make it up to you every time, just enough that you don’t have the guts to walk away.” – LOR
‘Used to’ is available for streaming now, why not listen below?
Released July 2nd, ‘Speeding Up’ is the newest indie-pop collaboration between Mokita and the electro-indie duo slenderbodies. The track is a cohesive ‘bop’ that merges dreamy ambient pop tropes with a full sounding instrumental, producing a chilled out catchy arrangement that will fuel a montage worthy summer.
The artists have a combined 3.4 million monthly Spotify listeners respectively, and that number is more than well earned as they create stunning pieces filled with indie-electric pop excellence as separate artists. Dropped July 2nd, ‘speeding up’ is just over three minutes long but doesn’t waste a single second. With R&B-esq vocals smoothly weaving their way through an upbeat backing, the track feels straight from a movie and creates a listening experience that can only be described as ethereal. With each artist blending their signature styles effortlessly, the audience is invited to sit back and enjoy, as the unhurried single expertly takes them on a rich-sounding adventure.
Mokita, otherwise known as John-Luke Carter, is a singer/songwriter/producer from Nashville who excels in refreshingly honest storytelling and brutally beautiful pop music. Having worked with the likes of Stand Atlantic and American Football (and so many more), and his catalogue has 400+ Million Streams on Spotify alone and 12.9 Million streams on Apple Music, Carter is a force to be reckoned with. His willingness to bear all for his art is not only commendable, but set’s him apart from the rest of the pop pack due to a blatant authenticity that cannot be ignored.
On the other side of the coin, slenderbodies are a duo steeped in electro-indie pop that formed in 2016. With a discography of ‘low-key pop’, they consistently create whimsical soundscapes accompanied with soft grounding vocals. Their 2021 album ‘are we?’ is an excellent collection of songs that perfectly show off not only their style but skill too.
Overall, ‘speeding up’ is a great collaborative effort that deserves to be played at max volume whilst speeding down a dirt track in the heat of a post lockdown summer. Both slenderbodies and Mokita have brought their best to the single, and it shows.
Hailing from East London, Zac Hurst is going from strength to strength with his newest single, ‘Falling In Love On My Own’. Modern pop excellence dripping with realistic emotion, Hurst’s latest offering comes after the hugely successful ‘2020’ which stormed the iTunes charts, and offers a tale of genuine feelings and relatable experiences.
Teaming up with Tik Tok famous couple Shan Wills & Ryan Snellings for the accompanying music video (see below), the story is further weaved from colour pallettes, or lack of, and real people back up the raw lyricism in the track. The stylistic yet straightforward video is refreshing and compliments the contemporary production and tone of the song. There’s no need for flashy visuals or over the top effects; instead, the narrative-driven video perfectly offers another look into the music and the songwriter.
‘’This project began during the first lockdown. I wanted to write a song about being away from someone you love, without being able to do anything about it… hence ‘falling in love on my own’. I’ve played this song close to 100 times on live streams/live gigs now, with some of my followers knowing all the words, so it’s tried and tested, and I would say this song is probably around a year’s work on and off which makes it very exciting to finally release’’ – Zac Hurst
Overall, ‘Falling In Love On My Own’ (released July 2nd) is clean and showcases a smooth and powerful vocal performance from Zac Hurst that perfectly wraps up the sentimentality that oozes out of each note. It’s an excellent example of modern pop devoid of cliches, replacing them with frank honesty and solid storytelling.
Halsey has announced her fourth studio album, “If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power,” on Twitter, complete with artwork and release date. The ‘Closer’ singer tweeted yesterday (July 7th) simply with a caption containing the album’s title and the date ‘August 21, 2021’, accompanied by the dubbed ‘striking’ artwork oh Halsey sat on a very ‘game of thrones’ style throne, holding a baby and dressed in regal finery. (See below – CW//Partial Nudity)
The Nine Inch Nails produced album also got a video posted on Halsey’s youtube channel, which also literally unveils the artwork from behind a red curtain, under the guise of a thirteen and a half minute walk around New York’s Metropolitan Museum Of Art. The video is silent and carries a dignified power to it as the singer wanders around the location dressed in a similar thematic outfit. Never feeling drawn out or over the top, it nails the feeling of anticipation – making it tangible for anyone who watches.
The upcoming album is being hailed as Halsey’s step into the world of punk rock, yet previous collabs of hers (e.g. Bring Me The Horizon and Yungblud) prove that she is no stranger to the genre. It will be interesting to see the usually pop-centric artists take on a more alternative sound. If the success of the likes of Olivia Rodrigo’s angsty sing-alongs tells us anything, it’s that the charts are screaming out for some alt-pop rock fusion.
The ‘Summertime Sadness’ singer has taken to Instagram to share little teasers for her forthcoming release ‘Blue Banisters’. She has set the tone for what will be her eighth studio album by sharing the artwork for the proposed album in an Instagram post on July 4th.
Whilst her 19.8 million followers were not given a release date; they were treated to a snippet of an unreleased song earlier that day. Accompanied with the caption “Album out later later… Single out soonish. Have a good fourth x”, the clip contains a melancholy piano piece and Lana singing the lyrics “my body is a map of LA”. The clip delivers what people can expect from the singer as her clear voice produces an emotional performance. Even just from this small snippet, fans should be excited for more of her trademark style so soon after her March 2021 release, ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’.
With three singles already released: ‘Wildflower wildfire’, ‘Text Book’ and the titular ‘Blue Banisters’ (all dropped May 20th), the music world should be gearing up for the album to be gifted soon. After a supposed release date of July 4th, which Del Rey gave in April of this year, who knows when it will see the light of day.