While Nerve Radio prepares itself to relaunch with a whole host of new and exciting shows, one of Nerve’s flagship programmes from last year is returning with a whole new look, a whole new set of incredible new tunes, and even a whole new presenter to run it. In advance of its new series premiere on October 15th, James Stephenson will be posting written articles talking about his picks for the best new music released over the last week, and will continue to do so throughout the rest of the year. Showcasing the best new releases from established artists, as well as up and comers who deserve a slice of the spotlight, this is the only place you’ll need to find something new to listen to.
Discover something different when Nerve Radio’s New Music Monday with James Stephenson launches on October 15th, 2018.
One week closer until the all-new New Music Monday hits the airwaves, and its been yet another weird, wonderful and occasionally worrying week in the world of song. Its also been an especially difficult task to cut down all the music I’ve trawled through these past few days down to just eight gems, because there have genuinely been a bunch of really good records that have dropped – as such, just like Joshua Coase did last year, I’ll be making a Spotify playlist for New Music Monday each week with all of my picks, as well as a whole herd of tracks that either didn’t quite make the very high grade, or are just so utterly bizarre they have to be listened to.
Highlights this week include some Spanish dream wave, Lil Wayne actually putting out a decent song, a six and a half minute cinematic instrumental track because why the hell not, and Young Thug having the nerve (plug!) to literally sample Elton John and rap over it. So why not dive in and discover something different by clicking on this glowing, sort of orange sentence?
Without further ado then, these are the New Music Monday tracks of the week!
JAMES STEPHENSON’S TRACKS OF THE WEEK
From the first moment I heard Lauv and Julia Michaels’ new collaboration, the dazzling duet ‘There’s No Way’, I knew it would be on this list.
Both of these artists have been bubbling just under pop superstardom for a little while now, with Julia Michaels best known for breakout hit ‘Issues’ and a slew of excellent songwriting credits for pretty much everybody on the charts, and Lauv has supported Ed Sheeran on tour as well as releasing the very good ‘I Like Me Better’ last year.
Together, they absolutely excel off one another: Lauv (real name Ari Leff) has crafted a stunner of a pop song here, and his earnest vocal bounces perfectly off Julia’s unique tone. That’s not even discussing the truly gorgeous instrumentation underneath them, that bounces the song up like a trampoline. This is an awesome pop record and awesome duet, and not the only terrific one on this list.
Taken from yet another new album/mixtape/whatever it is by possibly the most productive artist in hip-hop, Logic has dropped a special track on us all. ‘100 Miles And Running’, sampling the NWA record of the same name, is six minutes of damn good rap.
Above all, this is just an awesome beat to listen to – its got a great old school sound provided by longtime Logic beat maker 6ix, and it’ll be the perfect track for any driving you’ll end up doing this week.
The superb contributions both by rapper Wale (whose work here will make you want to get Kanye ‘Now Ye’ West replaced with him) and singer John Lindahl are noteworthy, but ‘100 Miles And Running’ would be a hip-hop classic for the final verses alone, in which Logic casually decides to rap at a speed barely perceptible by the human ear.
With a couple of other white rappers spending their time taking cheap shots at each other over old tweets, the stage might just be set for Logic to take over as one of rap’s main men.
LANY are probably one of the hottest bands in the world at this moment in time, and its because of terrific songs like ‘If You See Her’. Another top-notch record from vocalist Paul Klein, drummer Jake Goss and multi-instrumentalist Les Priest, ‘If You See Her’ is an emotive, heartbreaking indie ballad about a lost love.
LANY (an acronym of Los Angeles, New York) have a melancholic flavour that extends through most of their tracks, and especially of their latest singles taken from their sophomore album ‘Malibu Nights’, which drops this Friday. ‘If You See Her’ is proof that this album should definitely be on your radar.
And, in an interesting turn of events, frontman Paul Klein has just broken up with Dua Lipa – and many LANY fans have been ironically thanking her for potentially inspiring this superb single.
Now, this is what New Music Monday is all about. Discovering something completely different. I’d never heard of Yumi Zouma until literally this morning, and probably neither had you: this New Zealand-based band don’t even have a Wikipedia page. What they do have however, is one hell of a song in the uniquely titled ‘Powder Blue / Cascine Park’, which implies to this writer’s mind they couldn’t pick between two titles.
No matter – its luscious. An excellently produced indie track with a terrific falsetto vocal ice skating over the top of it, Yumi Zouma will be an unknown no longer, and certainly to you and me. This track is the opener from their new EP ‘EP III’ (much less uniquely titled, but again no matter), which is well worth checking out for the gorgeous, Greek-inspired artwork alone.
From the indie scene to EDM – this show really will go in all sorts of directions – and a new track from house producer Arty.
Born in the USSR mere days before the Berlin Wall’s collapse (and following in Zedd’s footsteps, who was also born in that region at a similar time), Arty has taken the logical next step from being born under communist rule into becoming one of the hottest producers in dance music, working with Above & Beyond and Mat Zo and securing major remixes for artists like Halsey and OneRepublic.
His new single ‘Perfect Strangers’ is a really terrific dance track, with pulsing synths, gorgeous melodies and a dance floor-ready drop that should get you involuntarily tapping your feet in no time.
There is one key rule in pop music that I subscribe to and its this: pop music is done best by Scandinavians.
We all know its true: ABBA, the other countless Eurovision winners from the icy north, Avicii (God rest his soul). The Nordic states hacked pop music long before we did or ever will, and they’ve been reaping the benefits ever since. And Hanne Mjøen, so Scandinavian there’s a line through her O, a relatively unknown singer from Oslo in Norway, is the next pop-star off their seemingly endless conveyor belt.
‘Sounds Good To Me’ is spectacular; a near-perfect pop song. From Hanne’s soft yet powerful vocal, to the absolutely insane chorus drop into just a single synth, so tightly produced its like it exists within a vacuum. For a pop music lover like me, this song is like Christmas and my birthday rolled into one – which is what people say to me when they buy me one present for both as they’re a week apart.
This is a banger, plain and simple. I really love this song and I hope you all will too.
I’m not too big of a fan of the British R&B scene, but occasionally there’s a record that’ll totally change my mind – ‘Blasphemy’ just so happens to be one. Recorded by Ebenezer, fresh out of North London, ‘Blasphemy’ is actually a play on the words ‘blast for me’, which he claims his squad will get done for him.
While lyrically there’s nothing too dissimilar from most of the tracks in the current British scene, the production is a surprising and refreshing change: a summery, almost light-hearted beat underpins the proceedings here, and Ebenezer’s melodic delivery is just as feel-good.
This record kind of feels like a Drake song meshed with something like B Young’s ‘Jumanji’, and the pieces hold together much better than they have any right to.
Poetically, we started with a terrific duet and we end with one just as good, with a cinematic twist: its ‘Shallow’ of course, one of the songs in the upcoming remake of ‘A Star is Born’, with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.
What’s incredible about ‘Shallow’ isn’t the excellent lyrics, or song structure, or perhaps the film it’ll be part of (early reviews are suggesting its fantastic, and could be an awards contender). Its that the two vocalists aren’t vocalists by trade. Cooper, the director and star of this movie has managed to transfer to vocals with surprising grace, delivering a solid and gruff vocal that keeps the song grounded.
Lady Gaga, his co-star, isn’t a vocalist either. She is a god.
Just listen to what comes out of her mouth on this record. It’s just…wow. If singing alone could win a Best Actress Oscar, then nobody can touch her (and with Jennifer Hudson being an Oscar winner for ‘Dreamgirls’, it isn’t out of the question…). Above all, this is a supremely heartfelt song about feeling broken that is up there with anything released this week – a terrific song that you won’t get tired of even as you hear it everywhere for the next six months.
JAMES STEPHENSON’S ALBUM OF THE WEEK
There were a lot of choices this week for full length records from all across the musical spectrum, and the choice this week was a toughie.
Honourable mentions should go to German singer-songwriter Roosevelt for delivering a fantastic record with Young Romance – its packed full of great indie rock tunes, and ‘Losing Touch’ only missed out on making my tracks of the week by a hair. As well as them, Sigala‘s debut album Brighter Days has plenty of dance hits from the last couple of years on it, but it feels more like a greatest hits compilation than a proper album. Finally, there’s a really good album out from New York-based three-piece Against The Current called Past Lives that has some Paramore vibes in there: ‘I Like The Way’ is a gem from that release, and you can find that and a link to the full album on the Spotify playlist if you want to take a look.
But my pick for Album Of The Week this time out is…
YSIV – LOGIC
‘YSIV’ (standing for Young Sinatra 4, as a reference to the persona Logic is re-adopting on this record) has been released only six months after Logic’s last full length record, and yet there’s absolutely no feeling of fatigue when it comes to this guy’s music. Born Sir Robert Bryson Hall II (yes, really, that’s on his birth certificate), now known as Logic, this man might be the best rapper around right now. I know that’s a big statement from someone who knows nearly nothing about rap really, but hear me out.
Eminem dropped ‘Kamikaze’ last month and immediately made everybody stop and analyse it: one of the biggest themes of that record seemed to be just how much Eminem disliked ‘mumble rap’, setting out targets on Lil Pump, stealing the Migos’ trademark flow, and of course murdering Machine Gun Kelly in cold blood. But also on that record, he gave shout-outs to the rappers he felt were keeping his genre alive – Logic was one of them. And the thing is, Kamikaze’ as an album has nothing on ‘YSIV’ – Logic beats him on individual tracks, on lyrics, on flow, on just about everything.
And yet, this album won’t get as much heat as ‘Kamikaze’ because there isn’t a feud attached to it. Maybe that’s a good thing, because I reckon that in a few years this will be the album that’ll be a much cooler vote for one of your favourite rap records. From the aforementioned ‘100 Miles And Running’, to Logic dedicating a touching verse to the tragically departed Mac Miller on ‘YSIV’, him and co-producer/childhood buddy 6ix warping Jaden Smith’s ‘Icon’ to fabulous effect on ‘Iconic’, and an eight-minute collaboration with the Wu-Tang Clan that could send most of their competitors back to school, this album is terrific all the way through.
Not only that, its consistently and excellently produced throughout, with ‘YSIV’ taking you through its headphones into a perfectly controlled sonic world. This album is a throwback to some of the old school classics – an album to cruise in the car with, to chill out with, to grab a drink and just listen to. Logic has nailed this record, as per usual. And for his efforts, not that he’ll ever know it, he’s won the New Music Monday Album Of The Week.
New Music Monday will finally make its long-awaited return to the Nerve digital airwaves and the speakers of the Student Centre at 6pm on October 15th, and every Monday at 6 from then on in (excluding holidays of course).
Until next week :)