The Best Songs of 2018 - Feburary

February see’s the release of some stellar albums and a few intense and visceral tracks from hardcore to R&B and everything in between.

Code Orange - The Only Way

Code Orange seem to be the name on everyone’s lips right now, and their latest single “The Only Way” seems to prove why. Dropping this song as part of Adult Swims Singles Series, the track features industrial drum beats and screeching pinch harmonics, with singer Reba Meyers taking the lead with drummer Jami Morgan’s screams supporting behind. The second half of the song descends into a sample-induced breakdown, bringing back a heavy riff and a synth induced bridge, but then adds some grand piano and re-vamps the chorus. Slightly different than the bands other material, but just as groundbreaking - this song just proves how good Code Orange are at constantly reinventing themselves as a band. 

Nameless, Faceless - Courtney Barnett

When Courtney Barnett brought out “Over Everything” her collaboration last year with Kurt Vile, I was disappointing with the direction I thought she was taking. I was (and still am) a huge fan of her debut but something about Over Everything made me think she was going down a more generic and mainstream indie/alternative route. Not only does “Nameless, Faceless” restore my confidence in Courtney’s songwriting, it’s also one of the best songs of her career. This track balances rock and indie together hand in hand, and is layered carefully and completely. The lyrical matter of this song couldn’t be any more relevant and appropriate to 2018, and as the first single from her second album it seems like shes developing more and more with each release. The themes of dynamic range and improving her songs from softer indie rock tunes has come far and this song is no excuse. 

“Men are scared that women will laugh at them. Women are scared that men will kill them”

Love Lies - Khalid, Normani

This song took me by surprise when it came out as I wasn’t expecting myself to enjoy a song like this so much. Both Khalid and Normani sound fantastic together on this track, especially with their harmonies in the choruses. At heart a repetitive R&B track, this song has a tight and well mastered production and blends some aspects of pop, dance and blues all together. The starting guitar is a nice touch and helps build up the verse, with the bass then coming in to build up to the hard hitting chorus. Although the songwriting is on the weaker side (especially compared to some other songs on this list) this tune is insanely catchy and I can only imagine hearing it on MTV all year round.

Frank Ocean - Moon River

Though technically a cover, Frank Ocean’s rendition of Audrey Hepburn’s song in “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” is delightfully beautiful and painfully emotional at the same time. The track just features Frank and two guitars, with multiple takes of his voice being gracefully intertwined in polyphony. Even when not producing his own work, he manages to make this track fit as if it came off of 2016’s Blonde. Frank Ocean successfully puts his own unique spin on “Moon River” whilst keeping true to the original, which makes for an interesting listen of a classic movie theme. 

X (Mwah) - Hellions

One of the most inventive and unique bands in alternative punk, Hellions dropped new track “X” this month. Blending modern alternative rock chorus’s with a very visceral and unique hard vocal, the track is one of the best work the band have released to date. Their most recent album “Opera Oblivia” really stuck out to me as a twist on what everyone else was doing at the time, making for a very special and underrated release. “X” only builds on what made them so great, with every member of the band assisting in vocals throughout the tracks eccentric and inventive lyricism. Though not as polished and peculiar as tracks such as “24”, Hellions new direction certainly puts them in the limelight for whatever 2018 throws at them.

I Am - Jorja Smith

The “Black Panther” film had a massively hyped but mixed bag of a soundtrack, with the Kendrick Lamar produced album having plenty of ups and downs throughout. However, Jorja Smith’s track “I Am” was definitely an extreme highlight on the album. One of the slower songs on the release, this track shows how versatile and talented Jorja is, with her octaves in the chorus dominating the track and distorted, distant guitars and bass hits providing a stage for her to shine on. Kendrick comes in for a short bridge which helps mix up the dynamics of the song, and then a string section and orchestra come in to end the track, providing a short but sweet and blissful ending to one of the best songs from Black Panther. 

Reflections On The Screen - Superorganism

Being one of the most hyped new bands must be pressuring, but Superorganism make high quality songwriting seem easy on this single from their debut album. The song starts with sounds from what seems to be a tropical forest - birds chirping and wind bustling through leaves open the intro up to a velvet-y guitar tone. A lighthearted but strong feel accompany’s this track from start til end. The vocals are soothing on the ears, with the guitar providing the main rhythm for the song until synths, bass and drums come in for the chorus. The bridge features a sampled, highly distorted version of the melody with a soft keyboard introducing the final section. Soft is a good way to describe “Reflections On The Screen” with a surprisingly big punch, and I’m excited to hear the groups delicate but deep sounding debut.

Sister Cities - The Wonder Years

The Wonder Years have always had a place close to my heart, with their honest emo-punk tinged lyrics about growing up but not moving forward and dealing with heartbreak landing close to me. The band have moved from genre to genre, with “Sister Cities” being a lot more emo and punk-rock than their past pop punk work like on “The Upsides”. The track sees vocalist Dam Campbell sing of a harbouring love through tough times, with his harsh singing and a phased guitar riff being the main melodies in the track. The drumming and production of this song is also exceptional, with an off-beat hi-hat in the chorus adding in a breathe of fresh air in a stereotypical chorus. There’s something for everyone here, with even the video being filmed beautifully, fitting with the passion The Wonder Years put into their music. 

Psycho - Post Malone (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)

Post Malone seems to be everywhere you look at the moment after his big breakout single “Congratulations”, and it’s well deserved. Although overall his album didn’t do much for me (a mixed bag of good singles and horrid filler) Post Malone’s latest single from his second album featuring Ty Dolla $ign is a huge hit. “Psycho” fills the gap for a soulful banger on his second album, swapping a harsher beat and “in your face” production on other singles like “Rockstar” for a more down-tempo tune with some souring vocal lines. The simple trap beat and xylophone-like sounds help compliment Post’s voice perfectly, with his voice being everything about this track. Ty Dolla $ign doesn’t add much apart from copying Post’s delivery style, and some of his lyrics in this track are truly awful, but it quickly passes as it goes back to the chorus. Overall this song makes for some relaxing night listening and is a step in the right direction for what seems to be his impending world domination.

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