The first New Music Friday of 2017 was one to savour as Ed Sheeran dropped two huge new singles, alongside releases from Sundara Karma, London Grammar, The xx and many more. Here are our tracks of the week alongside in depth reviews:
The Best of the Week
Track of the Week: Ed Sheeran – “Castle on the Hill”
Castle on the Hill is a self proclaimed love song to his hometown in Suffolk “Found my heart and broke it here / Made friends and lost them through the years.” It’s an incredibly personal song which references many past events in the singer’s life “Fifteen years old and smoking hand-rolled cigarettes / Running from the law through the backfields and getting drunk with my friends.” The song is a Coldplay/ Shawn Mendes euphoric mix in which Sheeran realises how far he has grown “Me and my friends have not thrown up in so long, oh how we’ve grown.” With the final verse a heartfelt tribute to all the friends who stuck with him as a child, the first single from new album Divide is set to be a world-defying anthem.
The xx – “Say Something Loving”
The latest release from The xx’s upcoming album I See You is a modern electronic love song bringing together feelings of intimacy and affection. It seems fitting that the song was released just after singer Romy Madley Croft announced she was engaged. The track highlights the unfamiliarity and weakness that true love brings and sees the singer’s questioning themselves as they struggle to deal with the feelings in their current circumstances. It is absolutely stunning, and one of the band’s best songs to date.
Dua Lipa – “Thinking ‘Bout You”
Rising pop star, Dua Lipa, releases laid back but addictive song Thinking ‘Bout You. Lyrics “I can’t get high / I can’t get by / I can’t get through / I can’t stop thinking ‘bout you” sees the singer declaring all feelings in an intimate love song which is more relaxed than previous pop hits Hotter than Hell and Blow Your Mind (Mwah).
Wiley – “Speakerbox”
The Godfather of Grime returns with another new song from new album The Godfather. Speakerbox. With an introduction from Skepta, the song is a hard, fast flowing reminder that Grime is the world leading genre at the moment in the UK. The track explains the rise of the Grime star from the beginning to where he is now, with name shoutouts aplenty. With an outro also by Skepta, explaining Grime’s plan for the future, this is certainly going to be a track to increase Grime’s ever growing influence.
You Me At Six – “Spell It Out”
The band’s equivalent to Foals’ Spanish Sahara, see’s the Surrey rock band completely stripped back with singer Josh Franceschi taking the spotlight in a stunning vocal display. It’s the most personal song from their new album Night People, with the singer questioning “Is this the end?/ End of an era” before a drum build up leads to an emphatic and chaotic wall of sound with vocals “Shall I spell it out for you / No one here is bulletproof,” rising over the top of a stunning track.
London Grammar – “Rooting For You”
The London trio returned with new track Rooting For You, on January 1. Hannah Reid’s glisteningly beautiful vocals shine over a simple guitar background. Reid’s vocals star in this modern love song, detailing the intimacy between two lovers. The song is the trio’s first music since 2013 and it’s an incredible start to what will be an incredible year for the band.
Sundara Karma – “Lose the Feeling”
The Reading four piece’s most relaxed song on new album Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect, Lose the Feeling combines R.E.M styled guitar with twinkling piano to make a catchy yet laid back track which sees singer Oscar Lulu searching for a deeper meaning to life, “I don’t wanna lose the feeling / Searched so hard to find the meaning / I found the door and I’m kinda hoping / To use my head and crack it open.” It’s a wonderful song from a stunning debut album.
Ed Sheeran – “Shape of You”
The second of Sheeran’s new releases, Shape of You, moves the artist into a different direction. The music is similar to Sia’s Cheap Thrills and bares its closest comparison to Don’t with its fast paced vocals. With a dancehall groove, the song is seductive, driven by the singer’s desires. Chorus “I’m in love with the shape of you / we push and pull like a magnet do” alongside lines “Say, boy, let’s not talk to much / Grab my waist and put that body on me” show a complete division between this track and the other new release. Alongside the humorous line about a first date at a restaurant “We talk hours and hours about the sweet and the sour,” this song sees Sheeran experimenting with a new sound which is born to be played live.
Other Noticeable Tracks
Saint Raymond – “Oh Brother”: Huge sounding, The Lumineers and Eliza & The Bear influenced folk rock from young singer/songwriter Callum Burrows.
Amber Run – “Fickle Friend”: Chilling, atmospheric indie rock from British quartet, borrows sound from Half Moon Run in a wonderful track.
Georgia – “Feel It”: Grimes’ style electro pop from young Brit Georgia Barnes.
The Shins – “Name For You”: The return of the classic guitar pop group is a bouncy, indie pop treat similar to early Vampire Weekend songs.
Harlea – “You Don’t Get It”: Huge rock filled with swagger mixes Band of Skulls, The Black Keys and The Pretty Reckless.
British Sea Power – “Bad Bohemian”: British Sea Power return with a simple, fast paced jangling indie track similar to The Courteeners which shows promise ahead of new material.
RAY BLK – “Patience (Freestyle)”: The Sound of 2017 winner mixes a jazzy Kendrick Lamar style groove with soulful vocals including a hit out to the label that dropped her, “You ain’t got no more hits / Label said you’re dismissed.”
SOHN – “Hard Liquor”: Glistening vocals alongside repetitive verse beats mixes with a huge Depeche Mode sounding chorus to create an electronic masterpiece.
Tyga & Kanye West – “Feel Me”: Heavy beats and plenty of swagger sees both rappers at full confidence including a shout out to both of their partners.
Kehlani – “Undercover”: Glistening, warm vocals from R&B newcomer borrows from Akon’s Don’t Matter .
Snakehips & MØ – “Don’t Leave”: Dance duo Snakehips collaborate with upcoming Danish star MØ on an infectious track about heartbreak and forgiveness.