The Best Songs of 2018 - January

2018 seems to be starting on the right foot with a mix of dreamy pop singles and indie favourites with some of my favourite songs from January.

Nightclub - The Vaccines

Bringing the rock-funk to this list, The Vaccines have started bringing out singles for their soon to be released fourth album “Combat Sports”. This song is a little different to the rest of the vaccines past work, which was what drew me in originally. Dropping their generic indie sound for something more bold and brash, The Vaccines have crafted a song that brings the all guts no glory epitome of indie rock and mixes it with a variety of killer solos, fast paced drumming and lyrics of a lost one night love. The frantic kick pedal in the chorus and smooth guitar licks just after work so well, and this could finally be the album that gets me into The Vaccines if the rest sounds like this stellar single.

Safety Net - Speak Low If You Speak Love

Ryan Scott Graham, bassist of New York pop-punkers “State Champs” side project (under the name SLIYSL) released his second album, and this single is packed with a wide range of feelings and passionate lines of a lovesick romancer wanting an ex back. This song features some beautiful vocal lines (proving this side project is more than just an acoustic solo fad) over some haunting piano work. The electric drum kit is the icing on the cake, giving what would usually be a silky, emotive ending track influences from the current chart toppers. This song is made for late nights and long drives, and I’m all over it.

Water Baby - Tom Misch (feat. Loyle Carner)

There can only be trouble when two of the UK’s biggest upcoming acts come together and bring out one of the best songs of the year in January. This song sounds like sitting in a comfortable chair with a bottle of whiskey next to a roaring fireplace. The artists compliment each others voice, with Tom bringing the soulful choruses and Loyle rapping smoothly over passionate beats. The piano and bass provides the rhythm for the song, where Tom’s nonsensical melodies follow the trumpets repeating diminuendos. The song fades out with a well-executed piano solo and leaves me with a sense of amazement and excitement for whats next for these two stars.

Corporation - Jack White

Taking ideas left right and centre from Queens Of The Stone Age, The White Stripe’s Jack White released “Corporation”, the 3rd song from his upcoming album “Boarding House Reach”. This song has been on repeat for me since it came out due to it’s insane mix and complete funkiness. There is so much going on in one riff that it took me a few listens to individually pick out each melody. The simple hip hop drum beat keeps the pace for Jack to play multiple solo’s and shout occasional opera-esque vocal lines, with a mix of cowbell, synth, keyboard and brass guiding this killer track.

Faded Heart - BØRNS

RNS is back! His second album, “Blue Madonna”, bounces ying and yang between major and minor emotions in this stacked ballad. Not only is BØRNS (real name Garret Borns) octaves incredible, the mix and thought put into this track (and album) is mind blowing. The small guitar lick added the end of each chorus and the distortion in the bridge is genius, and this track brings a whole sense of affection over its well mixed production. Starting as what sounds like a Rex Orange County influenced filler track, this song is not to be ignored with it’s all glits-and-glamour attitude and musical prowess. “Don’t you break my faded heart”, he screams, leaving me wondering where he took mine the first time I heard this song.

Car Seat Headrest - Cute Thing

Following Will Toledo’s work as “Car Seat Headrest” has always been an interest of mine, and his new single “Cute Thing” drew me in from the very first listen. Channelling the punk of Joyce Manor, Will has crafted a song just shy of 6 minutes that has me banging my head the whole way through. Though not impressive sonically, this anti-romance anthem combines sharp, witty lyrics of lust with some hard hitting drum sounds and heavily distorted guitars. I can only imagine this song being a crowd pleaser live, and Car Seat’s new album might even top his 2016 stellar release, “Teens Of Denial”.

Jesse - Frankie Cosmos

A relatively new artist on my radar, Frankie Cosmos’s first single from her second album layers soft and meaningful vocals over some blissful chilled out indie rock. “And I knew/If I thought really hard about flying/I could probably do/It I’m just too tired for trying” she sings over a lone electric guitar before bass and drums come in with a simple but fitting backbone for the chorus. Though not being impressive musically, Frankie’s abstract but relatable lyrics and high pitched voice bring this mix of lo-fi emo, rock and indie together into a cute lullaby for the early hours.

About Her - Gender Roles

After recently signing to Big Scary Monsters, Gender Roles have been preparing to release their debut album by releasing their second single from it. This blaring, gritty punk tune has both heart and balls  as its screeching guitars shine through the whole track. I’ve been a fan of the Brighton three piece since they released their last EP, “Planet X Ray”, and this song (along with previous phenomenal single “Plastic”) and promises to fans that the band keep getting bigger and better. The state of the UK DIY punk scene is thriving right now, and Gender Roles are leading the charge.

Album Review - Don Broco: “Technology”

Don Broco’s third album see’s the band take a dramatic shift in style towards a more experimental but messy sound.

When Don Broco first released “Everybody”, I was one of many who were keen to hear the new direction the band would head in. The last two albums set an incredibly high bar for the Bedford four piece, with 2015’s “Automatic” allowing them to tour the US for the first time with State Champs and headline one of London’s biggest venues: Alexandra Palace. Through being more of a fan of Priorities, both albums were summer favourites of mine and seeing the advertising for Technology plastered in every rock-related magazine around had me intrigued to say the least.

The record first starts with the song of the same name, setting a thundering  tone for the album and brutal ending riff. Side A is filled with all the previously released singles such as “T Shirt Song”, “Stay Ignorant” and “Everybody”. These are all solid tunes, and although similar, set the standard for the album and giving a rough idea for the rest of the tracks. These songs have some of the most hard hitting riffs I’ve heard in some time, and we can even hear some influence from other genres with some songs adding in a wider range of effects and instruments. My favourite track off of the album, “Pretty”, shows the whole band at its best, with some of the best vocal hooks and use of synths in the release. “The Blues”, clearly influenced by the genre, is a track that strikes a good balance between the bands newer and older sounds. “Greatness” seems more influenced by both pop and funk, with a larger emphasis on vocal harmonies and some refreshing drum patterns and bass lines. When listening, it’s easy tell this is the bands most well produced and mixed album yet.

It’s from this song where everything just massively nosedives from the nearest cliff. “Porkies” see’s vocalist Rob Damiani change his vocal style to a more shouted grunt, and I’m still confused as to who in the band thought this was a good idea. This song also features some of the worst lyrics on the album, along with so much vocal distortion on the second verse that it becomes unclear to even understand. Earlier track “Come Out To LA” features a similar problem, copying melodies direct from what would seem like the current top 40 and butchering them. “Got To Be You” sets the tone for a much slower and melodic track for the album, but easily becomes forgettable.

“Good Listener” massively picks up this side of the album, featuring the catchiest hook and guitar solo of the whole release, although again plagued with awful lyrics:

“I’m talking to my mum and she asks what I’m having for tea. 

Then I turn my Google on, up it pops buy some chili con carne”.

 ”¥” has sees a return of what seems like random, hastily thrown in effects (looking at you, vocals) and random pop influences left right and centre. “Something To Drink” provides a slower, more ballad-like style coming from the drums and guitar work, and although this is a decent track, it again feels forgettable and uninspired. Annoyingly, both deluxe tracks “Blood In The Water” and “Potty Mouth” give the expanded version a saving grace, leaving me asking myself why these songs (especially “Potty Mouth”) were exempt from the original 14 track release.

Overall, this record puts Don Broco on odds to become one of the UK’s premier rock bands, but it feels like it’s all mostly coming from the cutting room floor. Am I fan of this album? At times. Does this really need to be 14 songs long? Definitely not. This album is all over the place with sounds and influences that seems to fit many genres but not really thrive in any. Dip into the singles, and leave the rest out of bounds.

Best Tracks:
 Technology, Pretty, Stay Ignorant
Worst Tracks: Come Out To LA, Porkies, ¥ , Something To Drink

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