June Selections

1) Denney Vs Mekon – What’s Going On

Word of warning, this song will make you want to go out #raving! UK Producer/DJ Denney from Leeds, unveiled his new single ‘What’s Going On’. The single served as Pete Tong’s Essential New Tune, as well as Danny Howard’s Hottest Record while filling in for Annie Mac the past few months. As one of the leading figures in the house scene right now, ‘What’s Going On’ serves up some pulsing bass, thrilling drum patterns and an infectious vocal sample from Mekon’s ‘00 hit of the same name, featuring the vibrant vocals of Roxanne Shanté. With the breakout success of ‘Low Frequency’ two years ago, Denney has gone from strength to strength with a string of releases via Hot Creations and Crosstown Rebels. Speaking with Danny Howard, Denney spoke about hounding Mekon for the original vocals and working on the track the past four years: “I must have done four or five different versions but it wasn’t right. I finally revisited it last year, and here we are”. With a summer of touring, festivals, Ibiza gigs and further Summer releases ahead – watch this space for an official release.

What’s Going On – Official release TBC
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2) Lorde – Perfect Places

With the release of her sophomore album, Melodrama, Lorde unveiled her latest single, ‘Perfect Places’. Having previously shared ‘Green Light’, ‘Liability’, and ‘Sober’, ‘Perfect Places’ serves up Lorde’s trademark anthemic choruses, whirring synths and unique sense of synaesthesia (seeing sounds as colour). Produced and co-written alongside Jack Antonoff (Fun, Sia, Taylor Swift), Lorde captures emotion like no other and serves up some darker undertones, with its throbbing syncopated rhythm, infused with sleek R&B stylings. Throughout ‘Perfect Places‘, Lorde suggests partying as a mechanism for survival and the bold extents people go to, in order to feel more alive. “All the nights spent off our faces / Trying to find these perfect places / What the fuck are perfect places anyway?”. Fresh off the success of her Glastonbury debut performance on the Other Stage last weekend, with ‘Green Light’ featuring as the BBC TV coverage intro music each day, Lorde is set to go on tour this Autumn with 5 UK performances including O2 Apollo in Manchester (26 Sept), London’s Alexandra Palace (Sept 27) and Glasgow’s O2 Academy (2nd October) – unfortunately no Irish dates announced yet.

Melodrama
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3) Mr Jukes – Grant Green Ft Charles Bradley

Having last featured in my March Selections, Mr Jukes, aka the solo project of Bombay Bicycle Club frontman Jack Steadman, is back with new single ‘Grant Green’. His latest offering sees him team up with American singer Charles Bradley for a delightful dose of gospel infused soul. Mr Jukes pays homage to the late American jazz-guitar legend, Grant Green, sampling his work throughout and even naming the track after him. Taken from his forthcoming debut album, God First, set for release July 14th via Island Records, enjoy this sumptuous Summer sizzler, filled with plenty of soul and funk. Upcoming dates for Mr Jukes include the Village Underground in Shoreditch (July 10) and a Piano Session for Huw Stephens on Radio 1 (July 5).

God First
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4) Grace Carter – Silence

Time to slow the pace down a bit with the stunning vocals of Grace Carter. Ok, so this track might have been released end of May, but I’m sneaking it into my June favourites (Shhh!) The 19-year-old singer/songwriter from Brighton, delivers a confident debut with a personal, yet defiant message. The track premiered as Zane Lowe’s ‘World Record’ on Beats Radio, where Grace commented: “I feel it’s quite relatable, and just excited for other people to find some strength in the song, like I did”. With over 1 millions streams on Spotify and co-written alongside George and Henry Flint, ‘Silence’ is available now. Currently working on her upcoming debut project, keep an eye on this rising star!

Silence
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5) Duke Dumont x Gorgon City – Real Life Ft Naations

I feel like you can always count on house music aficionado, Duke Dumont (Adam George Dyment) and North London production duo Gorgon City (Kye Gibbon & Matt Robson-Scott), to produce instant dance-floor bangers. With a string of hits between them including ‘Need U (100%) ft A*M*E’, ‘Won’t Look Back’, ‘Ready For Your Love’ ft MNEK and ‘Saving My Life’ ft RØMANS – ‘Real Life’ is no exception. Teaming up with rising Australian duo Naations (Nat Dunn & Nicky Routledge) for an infectious slice of 90’s house, ‘Real Life’ is filled with delectable, soulful vocals and infectious house-piano melodies. With Duke Dumont recently offering his production skills to Katy Perry’s ‘Swish Swish’ ft Nicki Minaj, Duke continues to highlight his crossover skills from underground club culture to more mainstream pop stylings. With Dumont and Gorgon City set to take up residency this summer at Amnesia in Ibiza, all three acts are set to perform at SW4 Festival in Clapham, London. (Aug 25-27).

Real Life Ft Naations
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6) Jorja Smith – Teenage Fantasy

I last featured Jorja Smith in my January Selections with her impressive debut single ‘Blue Lights’. Now the 20-year-old singer is back with her latest offering, ‘Teenage Fantasy’, serving as the follow up to last year’s Project 11 EP along with singles ‘Beautiful Little Fools’ and her collaboration with Kali Uchis on ‘Tyrant’. With ‘Teenage Fantasy’, Jorja’s stunning neo-soul vocals float effortlessly above some laid-back jazz accompaniment, all the while delivering a mesmerising ballad and a mature sound far beyond her years (oh, and an ending that’s completely charming). Brimming with talent, Jorja recently featured on Drake’s More Life ‘playlist/project’ with tracks ‘Jorja Interlude’ and ‘Get It Together’, further emphasising her global reach. Upcoming dates for Jorja include Latitude (July 13-16), Longitude (July 14-16) and a headline show at Electric Brixton (July 20). In the meantime, check out her cinematic video for ‘Teenage Fantasy’.

Teenage Fantasy
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7) Tube & Berger – Dust Feel Ft. Richard Judge

Again, a bit of an end of May release, but sneaking this gem into my June picks. German Deep house production duo, Tube & Berger (Arndt Rörig and Marco Vidoviz), unveiled their latest single ‘Dust Feel’. Featuring the captivating vocals of long time collaborator Richard Judge (‘Disarray’, ‘Ruckus’, ‘Wide Awake’), ‘Dust Feel’ serves up an enchanting slice of progressive deep-house with its moody undertones and hypnotising, atmospheric synths. The single is taken from the dynamic duo’s sophomore album, We Are All Stars, and follows the success of previously released singles ‘Ruckus’ and ‘International Corporate Motherfuckers’. Upcoming dates for Tube & Berger include Tomorrowland in Belgium (July 23), Ushuaia, Ibiza (Aug 15) and London’s Ministry of Sound (Nov 25).

We Are All Stars
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8) Calvin Harris – Feels Ft. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean

Ok, I think we’ve found our song of the Summer and unsurprisingly, it comes from Calvin Harris with an assist from Pharrell, Katy Perry and & Big Sean. ‘Feels’ is an effortlessly cool, sun-drenched single, with its tropical vibes, funky bass-lines and breezy vocal hooks. This is the fourth single to be taken from Calvin’s forthcoming album, Funk Wav Bounces Vol 1, and follows previously released singles ‘Slide’ ft Frank Ocean & Migos, ‘Heatstroke’ ft Pharrell, Young Thug and Ariana Grande, and ‘Rolling’ ft Future and Khalid. With a never ending list of contributors, Calvin has recently come under fire from Canadian Producer, Deadmau5, who criticised the amount of high profile guest artists: “Anyone ever remember when calvin harris was just… calvin harris?”. The Scottish producer is also a multi-instrumentalist, playing all the instruments on the record – further promoting his never ending talents. Be sure to check out the hyper-stylised, psychedelic video.

Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1:
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9) Run The Jewels – Down ft Isaiah Dreads (Z Dot UK Remix)

Fresh off the success of their Glastonbury Pyramid Stage performance, US hip-hop duo Run The Jewels shared a new remix of ‘Down’ from West London producer Z Dot. Known for his work with the likes of Stormzy, Lady Leshurr and Wiley, Z Dot’s remix also features a new verse from 19-year-old rapper Isaiah Dreads (‘Hot Spice’, ‘U See Me’). Z Dot’s UK remix featured as Mista Jams ‘Jam Hot’ on 1 Xtra and serves up some menacing undertones with its skittering 808’s, snarling brass swells and Isaiah completely holding his own on the new verse. Upcoming dates for Run the Jewels World Tour include two dates at London’s O2 Academy Brixton (Nov 11-12) with further performances in Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham.

Down (Z Dot UK Remix)
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10) Lil Yachty – Better Ft Stefflon Don

With the release of his debut album, Teenage Emotions, US rapper/singer Lil Yachty unveiled his new new single ‘Better’. Featuring rising MC Stefflon Don, who recently featured on Toddla T’s ‘Beast’ ft Andrea Martin, ‘Better’ serves up a carefree, reggae-infused track, with its breezy, tropical vibes – the perfect summer chill track. ‘Better’ follows Lil Yachty’s 2016 mixtapes, Lil Boat and Summer Songs 2, as well as his most recent collaboration with Carly Rae Jepsen on ‘It Takes Two’. Teenage Emotions is available now and features a whole host of guest collaborations, including Diplo, Migos YG and Kamaiyah, Grace, Sonyae Elise, and Evander Griiim.

Teenage Emotions
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11) Kideko – Dum Dum

I last posted about Kideko in April, when he teamed up with Liverpudlian producer, Friend Within, for their beast of a track ‘Burnin’ Up’. Now the Brighton producer has unveiled his latest solo single ‘Dum Dum‘. The single premiered with Annie Mac as her Hottest Record and serves up an infectious samba sizzler, with its vibrant house piano, bustling percussion and bouncy, Carnival vibes. With the massive success of his collaboration with Kwali on ‘Crank It’ and the re-edit with Nadia Rose & Sweetie Irie ranking up over 15 million streams on Spotify – Kiedko sure knows how to get the party started. Expect this to be heard everywhere throughout the summer season. ‘Dum Dum’ is available now on Ministry of Sounds. Upcoming dates for Kideko include, Lovebox (July 14-16), Tramlines (July 21), and Creamfields (Aug 24-27).

Dum Dum
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12) Confidence Man – Boyfriend (Repeat- Edit)

Not much is know about this next group, other than they’ve just shared a ridiculously catchy Mark Ralph edit of their single ‘Boyfriend (Repeat)’. Confidence Man are an Australian four-piece group, a supergroup if you will, made up of former members of The Belligerents, the Jungle Giants and Moses Gunn Collective. They also have some of the best names around – Reggie Goodchild, Clarence McGuffie, Janet Planet and Sugar Bones. While Mark Ralph is a UK producer having worked with the likes of Hot Natured, Jamie Jones and Hot Chip. The preppy, electro-funk tune just oozes charm with its funky bass lines, swirling synths, quirky electronic flourishes and sassy vocals to match. With Huw Stephens recently commenting ‘I can’t emphasise how brilliant they are’ and just ‘so much fun live’, this is one track you’re going to have on repeat for quite some time – so ‘Get Down!’ Having just headlined The Moth Club in London, keep an eye out for future dates from the Brisbane supergroup, including a live session from Maida Vale Studios with Huw Stephens.

Boyfriend (Repeat – Edit)
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13) Superorganism – Nobody Cares

From one relatively unknown band to another, meet Superorganism. The Main/London collective shared their third single ‘Nobody Cares’, highlighting their quirky yet captivating form of glitch-tronica. The 8-piece group, made up of Japanese vocalist Orono and a yet-to-be-announced line up of eclectic musicians, have delivered a unique mishmash of quirky electro samples, wobbling basslines and sweet vocal hooks. ‘Nobody Cares’ is the follow up to ‘Something For Your M.I.N.D’, which appears to have been taken down due to an uncleared sample, and ‘It’s All Good’. Upcoming dates for the supergroup include a debut performances at London’s Village Underground (Oct 5). Don’t miss out!

Nobody Cares
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14) Ray BLK – Doing Me

Time for a refreshing slice of UK R&B from Ray BLK (FYI, that stands for Building, Living, Knowing). Having kicked off the year as BBC’s Sound of 2017 winner, 23-year-old Ray BLK has gone from strength to strength with her straight-talking, down to earth attitude as heard in her latest offering ‘Doing Me’. The single promotes self-empowerment at its finest with Ray perfectly balancing her free style vocals with soulful R&B melodies, all the while highlighting the importance of being yourself no matter what. “My dressing is expression so don’t judge me by my clothes”. Having recently featured on Gorillaz’s latest album Humanz alongside Zebra Katz and Rag‘n’Bone Man, expect plenty of new material from Ray BLK this year. Produced by Jimmy Napes (Disclosure, Sam Smith, Jessie Ware), upcoming performances for Ray BLK include Lovebox (July 14-15), Wilderness (Aug 3-6), Reading & Leeds (Aug 25-27) and Bestival (Sept 7-10).

Doing Me
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15) Cristoph – Feel

Last, but by no means least, is Newcastle producer Cristoph with his new single ‘Feel’. Having just signed to Eric Prydz’s new imprint, Pryda Presents, Cristoph has the task of representing the label’s first ever release – and what a way to kick things off. ‘Feel’ serves up a mesmeric slice of progressive house, with its dynamic beats, swirling synths and Jem Cooke’s hypnotic vocals floating effortlessly above. With an impressive back catalogue of releases including ‘Alone’ and ‘Closer’ via Hot Since 82’s Knee Deep In Sound imprint,  his Eleven EP via Sasha’s Last Night on Earth imprint, and his collaborative Last Dance EP with Jeremy Olander on John Digweeed’s seminal Bedrock imprint – Cristoph is proving just why he’s a force to be reckoned with. Having previously joined Prydz on the North American leg of his tour earlier this year, as well as supporting him at EPIC 5.0 in London, upcoming performances for the Geordie producer include his debut at Tomorrowland on the Pryda Stage (July 30), Creamfields (Aug 24-27), SW4 (Aug 26-27) and further support slots for Prydz during his debut Ibiza residency at Hï Ibiza. (Tuesdays from June 20-Aug 22)


Feel
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ICYMI: Previous June Posts

Check out the full playlist below and here’s to another exciting month of music ahead!

 

 

Future Festival 2017

 

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“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

At the beginning of January, BBC Radio 1 unveiled their highly anticipated shortlist for the Sound of 2017. 23-year-old Ray BLK was crowned the winner of the coveted poll with her soulful R&B vibes, while bluesy-soul singer Rag’n’Bone Man came runner up. Continuing with their unparalleled support and recognition of new music, Radio 1 presents a further look into the future of music with Future Festival; a live event showcasing some of the brightest new stars of 2017.

So, who are the artists set to make a big impression in 2017? Let’s have a look at all the featured artists and be sure to tune in live tomorrow evening with MistaJam and Huw Stephens from 7pm.

First up is 20-year-old Alma (Alma-Sofia Miettinen) from Finland, making waves with her distinct vocals and brightly coloured hair.  Alma first appeared on Finland’s version of Pop Idol and has gone from strength to strength and hair colour to hair colour, before signing to Universal Music last March. Having been compared to the likes of Beth Ditto, Alma’s talent is being recognised internationally, having supported pop start MØ in Helsinki, as well as a seal of approval from Elton John on his Beats 1 Radio show. Alma’s debut single ‘Karma‘ delivered a heavy dose of sass and swagger, not to mention 20 million Spotify streams. Her latest electro-pop single ‘Dye My Hair’ is taken from her debut EP of the same name and is available now via PME Records/Polydor. Upcoming dates for Alma include the iconic SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas (March 13-19) and Flow Festival in Helsinki, Finland. (August 11-13)

Reading four-piece The Amazons (Matt, Joe, Elliot, Chris)  successfully made this years coveted Sound of 2017 Longlist. Having burst onto the scene with the explosive ‘Stay With Me’ produced by Tom Dalgety (Royal Bloody, The Maccabees), the group have been busy touring their energetic and raucous sound with The Strypes and Jimmy Eat World. The Amazons have received great support from BBC introducing, who provide support for unsigned, undiscovered and under the radar artists. Their music was soon supported by the likes of Huw Stephens and Annie Mac, leading to at performance on the BBC Introducing Stage at 2015’s Reading and Leeds Festival. Their latest single ‘Little Something’ featured as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record back in November. Currently signed to the Fiction Records, home to Tame Impala and The Maccabees, The Amazons are fast becoming one of the most exiting young bands to watch. Upcoming dates include Leicester (March 11) The Portland Arms (March 14) and London (April 12)

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London quartet The Big Moon have been heavily influenced from the grunge and Brit-pop girl groups of the 90s, as heard in singles such as the self-produced ‘Sucker’, ‘Cupid’, ‘Silent Movie Susie‘ and their latest single ‘Formidable’. Juliette, Celia, Fern and Soph bring a boisterous energy, along with their slick harmonies and thrilling guitar jams, reminiscent of sister act HAIM. Having toured with the likes of The Maccabees and The Vaccines, the London quartet have completed a staggering 738 gigs in 2016 alone! Currently signed to Fiction Records (Tame Impala, The Maccabees), keep an eye out for their debut album Love In The 4th Dimension set for release April 17. Upcoming dates include Oxford (Feb 12), Cardiff (April 21), Belfast (April 25), Dublin (April 26) and London (May 2) Check out their full tour dates here.

When Drake remixes one of your tracks and premieres it on his OVO Sound Radio show on Beats 1, it’s safe to say you’re going to garner quite a bit of interest online.  17-year-old South London rapper, aka Santan Dave, clocked up over 18 million streams on Spotify when Drake jumped on his single ‘Wanna Know’. The remix is also set to feature on Drakes forthcoming project ‘More Life’. With his pick of record labels vying for his attention, Dave has taken the advice from Septa and Stormzy and remained independent. Having started free-styling in the underground scene, shortly followed by his debut single ‘JKYL’, Dave showcased his talents on Semtex’s 1Xtra show and Charlie Sloth’s notable Fire In The Booth. With a string of impressive releases and collaborations including ‘Thiago Silva’ with AJ Treacy, Dave excels with his lyrical style and a mature sound far beyond his years, earning him a nomination for this years Sound of 2017 Longlist. The classically trained pianist highlights his broad musical tastes with influences from Hans Zimmer to Pink Floyd. Upcoming performances in O2 Institute in Birmingham and O2 Academy Islington. (March 30-31). Currently working on his debut album with producer Fraser T Smith (Adele, Kano), be sure to check out his debut EP ‘Six Paths’. 

Another artist performing at this years Future Festival and who also made the Sound of 2017 Longlist, is 17-year-old Declan McKenna from Hertfordshire. Having successful won Glastonbury’s ‘Emerging Talent Competition’ back in 2015, Declan has gone from strength to strength with his refreshing slice of indie-pop, even self releasing his debut single ‘Brazil’. Declan has been heavily support by BBC introducing, supporting unsigned, undiscovered and under the radar artists. This led to a performance at Maida Vale and Radio 1 ’s Big Weekend. Declan’s approach to music is clever and thought provoking with a real sense of social awareness, as heard in ‘Isombard’ which tackles the subject of xenophobia. His latest single ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come’ was featured as Mista Jam’s Hottest Record. Upcoming dates for McKenna include Patterns, Brighton (Jan 31) and The Garage, London (March 23).

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19-year-old Jorja Smith, yet another artist to make this year Sound of 2017 Longlist, burst onto the scene with her unique sense of thought provoking soul and dreamy R&B. Having released her debut single ‘Blue Lights’, while maintaining a job in Starbucks, she soon gained the attention of some high profile stars including Drake, Skrillex and Stormzy – Not bad fans to have! ‘Blue Lights’ samples Dizzee Rascal’s ’Sirens’ mixed with her stirring lyricism and fragile yet powerful vocals,  bringing Lauren Hill’s Miseducation to mind. Jorja wrote her first song at 11, so it’s no surprise she continued to study music in her A levels, where the classical composers she studied later influenced her follow up single ‘A Prince’ ft Maverick Sabre.  Similar to Dave, Jorja has decided to release music independently. Having sold out her first UK headline tour last year and released her Project 11 EP, 2017 is set to be big year for Jorja who’s currently set to perform in New York and LA later this month.

Nadia Rose kicked off the new year placing 5th in the Sound of 2017. The 23-year-old South London MC/rapper burst onto the scene with her distinct voice, skilful rhymes, fiery flows and clever wordplay. While working in a betting shop, Nadia decided to follow her dream and embark on career in the UK rap scene. Probably one of the best moves ever, with explosive singles from ‘BOOM’, ‘Station‘ and ‘DFWT‘ to back her up.  2016 proved her breakout year, where she won her first MOBO award for the video ‘Skwood’.  Having just released her debut 9-track EP ‘Highly Flammable’ (Jan 13) featuring tracks such as ‘Puddy Cat‘, ‘Tight Up‘ and the infectious re-edit of Kideko and George Kwali’s ‘Crank It (Woah)‘, Rose has staked her claim as a force to be  reckoned with. While Nadia brings artists such as Missy Elliot and Eminem to mind, she also brings her own creative flair to the table. Who knows, maybe a collaboration with her fellow MOBO award winning cousin Stormzy could be on the cards! Upcoming dates include Rust in Denmark (Jan 14) Outlines, Sheffield (March 3-4) Lost and Found Festival in Malta (April 13-16) and Sonar in Spain (June 15-17)

LA based producer/songwriter duo THEY. made up of Dante Jones (production) and Drew Love (Vocals), have joined forces under new independent label Mind Of A Genius Records (Gallant, ZHU). Having received critical acclaim for their debut 3-track EP Nü Religion with their genre defying blend of hip-hop, rock and R&B, they later followed this up with a successful collaboration with Zhu and Skrillex on ‘Working For It’. Both Drew and Dante have varied musical influences from New Edition to Kurt Cobain and have aptly referred to their sound as ‘Grunge’n’b’. Their varied influences are perfectly captured throughout, with their effective use of heavy guitars, atmospheric production, falsetto vocals and edgy rapping. Other releases include ‘Deep End’, ‘What You Want‘ and their latest single ‘U-Rite‘. Upcoming tour dates include LA (Jan 20th) and NY (July 28-29). Hopefully we’ll get some UK and Ireland dates soon!

This years Future Festival is hosted by Mista Jam and Huw Stephens and will take place at Maida Vale Studios on January 17th. To be in with a chance of attending the legendary Maida Vale studios, you can register for tickets HERE. (Entry has now closed) If you miss out on tickets, the whole event will be streamed LIVE on the Radio 1 Website from 7pm! #R1FutureFestival

Check out the Full Spotify playlist below and also HERE.

January Selections

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So the January Blues are officially over, but we nevertheless had one incredible month of music to kick off 2016, after a jam-packed 2015. In case you missed it, be sure to check out my Top 100 tracks and Top 30 re-edits and remixes of 2015. But that was last year – on with the new! 2016 kicked off in style with new music from the likes of Villagers with their special live-edition album ‘Where Have You Been All My Life?’. Sohn delivered an infectious remix of Honne’s ‘Gone Are The Day’s, while Kano kicked things into gear with ‘3 Wheel-ups‘ ft Giggs and Kano. Tiggs Da Author brought us the upbeat and catchy ‘Run‘ ft Lady Leshurr, while Flume returned with his epic new single ‘Never Been Like You’ ft Kai. Laura Mvula teamed up with Nile Rodgers for her funky, soul-filled single ‘Overcome‘, while Katy B collaborated with Kaytranada on the seductive ‘Honey‘. Other big releases included RiRi’s long awaited return, with the release of her new single ‘Work’ ft Drake, taken from her highly anticipated eighth album ANTI. The single went on to dominate iTunes and went to No.1 in 89 countries. Welcome back Rihanna. Speaking of Drake, the Canadian rapper dropped his first single ‘Summer Sixteen’ from his forthcoming fourth album ‘Views from the 6’. Former 1D member, Zayn Malik, premiered his new single ‘Pillowtalk’, along with raunchy video, starring girlfriend and model Gigi Hadid. Co-written and co-produced by Zayn, Pillowtalk is taken from his debut album ‘Mind Of Mine’, set for release March 25. Be sure to check out his candid interview with Beats 1’s Zane Lowe. Before I get into my January selections, lets check out what else has been happening in the world of music news.

What better way to kick of 2016 than with the BBC’s Sound of 2016. The poll predicts artists set to make a big impression for the year ahead. The top 5 included a tie between WSTRN & Mura Masa, Blossoms came in at 4, NAO at 3, Alessia Cara as runner up and Jack Garratt claiming the coveted first position. Check out my write up here. Justin Bieber continues to dominate the charts, claiming 2016’s first number one with ‘Love Yourself’ and even made history securing second and third place with singles ‘Sorry’ and ‘What Do You Mean’. However, it wasn’t long before fellow Canadian Shawn Mendes dethroned Bieber with his new single ‘Stitches’. Elsewhere in the charts, Adele’s 25 went on to secure the first number one album of 2016, bringing her reign to seven straight weeks.

2016 launched some exciting new album releases. Flume announced details for his forthcoming album Skin, while Kanye announced details of long awaited album ‘So Help Me God’, ‘SWISH’, ‘Waves’, Update 10/2/16 The Life Of Pablo, set for release February 11. While Kanye loves to tease fans and no doubt annoy record companies with his constant album name changing,’So Help Me God’, ‘SWISH’, ‘Waves’, The Life Of Pablo will be live streamed to the world on February 11th in Madison Square Garden. For those not lucky enough to live in NY, check out your local Cineworld for further listings.  Nashville rockers Kings Of Leon are currently working on the follow-up to 2013’s Mechanical Bull, while in other comeback news the one and only Emeli Sande is putting the finishing touches to her second album, the follow up to 2012’s Our Version Of Events. In other comeback news, The Last Shadow Puppets (Miles Kane & Alex Turner), who recently unveiled their latest single ‘Bad Habits‘, announced news of their forthcoming album Everything You’ve Come To Expect, due April 1. (And no, it’s no joke) The album will serve as the follow up to 2008’s The Age of the Understatement – so you could say it’s been a long time coming! Continuing with comebacks, Craig David has signed an album deal with Insanity Records/Sony Music; his first album in six years. Having already shared lead single ‘When the Bassline Drops’ with Big Narstie late last year, followed by a surprise performance on Xfactor with Reggie&Bollie, expect his forthcoming album Following My Intuition later this year. In the meantime, be sure to check out his epic cover of Bieber’s ‘Love Yourself’ in the Radio 1Xtra Live Lounge. As we walk even further down memory lane, 90’s girl band All Saints are back in the studio after ten years (ok, I’m starting to feel really old now!) Their new single ‘One Strike’ is set for release February 26th. Let’s hope their new material lives up to some of their classics such as ‘Never Ever’, ‘Under The Bridge’ and ‘Pure Shores’

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With so many albums announced, tours usually follow. Having announced their comeback and headline performance at Coachella Festival, LCD Soundsystem will be going on tour this year. (Dates TBC). Radiohead’s Thom York also confirmed they’ll be touring this Summer and are set to headline a series of EU Festivals including OpenAir St Gallen (Switzerland), Primavera Sound (Spain) and NOS Alive (Portugal). Arcade Fire announced details of their EU Festivals dates and will join Radiohead and The Chemicals Brothers at NOS Alive this July, while The Last Shadow Puppets announced details of their tour, kicking off March 26th in Edinburgh and playing various dates in London, Liverpool, Paris, Dublin, Italy, NY and LA. In a blast from the past, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (AKA Will Smith) and Jazzy Jeff are sent to join forces once again as they embark upon their world tour this Summer. Smith confirmed the news on Graham Norton, saying they’ve written about 25 songs so far. What a 90’s throwback!

Legendary Coachella Festival confirmed LCD Soundsystem, Guns N’ Roses and Calvin Harris as their 2016 headliners. They join an impressive list of artists from Disclosure to A$AP Rocky, Grimes and Foals and rumours of N.W.A reuniting. While over this side of the pond, the Glastonbury rumour mill is still in full force, with Stone Rose, Coldplay, Foo Fighters and Adele all in the mix. Organiser Emily Eavis, confirmed this years festival will be well represented by a wide range of female artists. Girl Power! Lovebox Festival announced LCD Soundsystem and Major Lazer as their headliners. The festival will take place at Victoria Park (July 15-16). Over the August Bank Holiday weekend, brotherly duo Disclosure and Foals are set to headline Reading and Leeds Festival, while Chemical Brothers, Above and Beyond and Cirez D are set to take over SW4Bestival announced The Cure, Major Lazer and Hot Chip​ as their headliners, with a further headliner yet to be announced. They join Years and Years, Bastille, Krept & Konan and more. Safe to say, we’re spoiled for choice with festival lineups this year. In the lead up to the Brits, War Child’s Passport to Brits, announced details of their series of intimate gigs, all in aid of children whose lives are torn apart by war. Gigs include special performances from the likes of Coldplay, Jamie XX, Lianne La Havas, Florence + The Machine. Tickets are by ballot with entry costing £4.50 (Bargain and for a great cost).

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With the BRIT Awards just around the corner, Adele, Coldplay and Justin Bieber are set to take to the stage. They join Little Mix, James Bay, Jess Glynn and The Weeknd, who have all been confirmed to perform on the night. Coldplay’s ‘A Head Full of Dreams’ will battle it out against Jamie xx’s ‘In Colour’, Adele’s ’25’, Florence + the Machine’s ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’, and James Bay’s ‘Chaos And The Calm’, in the Mastercard Album of the Year category. In the Best British Female category, Adele is up against the likes of Amy Winehouse and Florence Welsh. Notable snubs include Grimes, Disclosure, Muse, Maccabees and Grime artists from Stormzy to Skepta and Lady Leshurr, which is especially surprising considering last years captivating statement with the help of Kanye and half the UK Grime scene. Be sure to watch Ant & Dec host for the second year running Wednesday Feb 25 on ITV. In other award news, The Oscars announced their nominations, with Asif Kapadia’s feature-length documentary Amy, on the life and career of Amy Winehouse, nominated for Best Documentary Feature. Elsewhere, Straight Outta Compton was been nominated for Best Screenplay, documenting the rise of NWA and the lives of Dr Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy-E. Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes received their first ever Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song with the latest Bond theme ‘Writing’s on the Wall‘. Smith And Napes are up against Lady Gaga’s ‘Till It Happens To You’ and The Weeknd’s ‘Earned It’. The 2016 Academy Awards, hosted by Chris Rock, will take place on February 28 in Los Angeles. Continuing with Awards season, The Grammy’s announced Adele, Bieber, Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, Lady Gaga, Little Big Town and Pitbull to the lineup of performers. The 58th Annual Grammy Awards will take place in LA’s Staple Centre (Feb 15).

Baz Luhrmann, the creative mind behind Romeo & Juliet, Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby, shared his new trailer for the Netflix original drama ‘The Get Down’. The musical-drama takes place in the Bronx, NY, depicting the flourishing music scene and birth of hip-hop in the 1970’s. Elsewhere in TV, American Idol is still going, and even had a surprise auditionee in the form of Kanye West (AKA the greatest living rock star on the planet… his words, not mine). The rapper auditioned with the classic ‘Gold Digger’ earning himself a golden ticket to Hollywood. With the success of the US Lip Sync Battle (I’m looking at you Mr and Mrs Channing Tatum), the UK version has finally hit our shores. With hosts Professor Green and Mel B taking on hosting duties, the UK version seems a lot tamer, with guests including David Walliams, Michelle Keegan, and Carol Vorderman …. They ain’t no Beyonce! Super Bowl madness has just about set in, with Coldplay set to headline the halftime show on February 7th. They follows in the footsteps of Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, U2, Paul McCartney and last year’s performance from Katy Perry (including left shark). This year, Beyonce, Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson join Coldplay for what is set to be an incredible performance. In other Global TV events (which many would argue is far more entertaining) The Eurovision Song Contest will once again take to our screens on May 14 from Stockholm, Sweden. Ireland announced Westlife’s Nicky Byrne as their representative with his single ‘Sunlight’. We’ve sent a Turkey and Jedward… so it’s can’t really get any worse. While the UK announced the public will decide who represents the UK in Eurovision: You Decide (Feb 26). Fast becoming one of my favourite TV features, James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke on The Late Late Show has struck gold again with the one and only Adele hitching a ride and blasting out some classic tracks. Adele and Corden serenade us with hits such as ‘Rolling In The Deep’, ‘Someone Like You’ and even a version of Spice Girls’ ‘Wannabe’ and Nicki Minaj’s verse on Kanye’s ‘Monster’

In tech news, Amazon Prime introduced ad-free internet radio stations and X-Ray Lyrics, while Apple confirmed Beats 1 will be the only free music service offered by the company. The music streaming service has since reached 10 million subscribers, still half the amount of Spotify. Speaking of, the streaming platform has taken on a number of acquisitions, hinting at possible changes to their streaming future. One of the platforms include audio messaging platform Cord Project and social music app Soundwave. Spotify are also planning to introducing video content exclusive to mobile devices, with a catalogue consisting of short form content from BBC, Comedy Central, ABC etc. And the good news, the video content will be available to all users, not just premium subscribers.

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Time for some celebrity beef, and believe me Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa and Amber Rose provided much entertainment with their series of tweets. It all started with a name; Kanye’s album ‘Waves’ to be precise, which Khalifa criticised saying “Hit this kk and become yourself.” Kanye took offence to Khalifa’s use of KK, which he thought referred to his wife Kim Kardashian. What followed was a highly entertaining barrage of tweets from Kanye, trading insults and even dragging exes into it. Queue Amber Rose who completely laid into Kanye. The rappers have since called a truce, sharing messages of love and deleting previous tweets. Great publicity for both artists who are gearing up for their albums releases in February. When it comes to rap battles, there’s only one person who can ultimately decide on a winner; The President of the United States. Yes, Obama was asked the difficult question during a YouTube Q&A where he replied ‘Gotta go with Kendrick. I think Drake is an outstanding entertainer but Kendrick… his lyrics, his last album was outstanding. That’s the best album of last year.” Obama sure knows his music! Over at Radio 1 and 1Xtra, Chris Price, formerly of Last.fm and MTV, has been announced as the new Head of Music. He will take over from George Ergatoudis in March, who has been nabbed by Spotify.

In sad news, British icon David Bowie passed away at the age of 69 after an 18-month battle with cancer (Jan 10). Having just released his album Blackstar days before his passing, Bowie proved to be a creative visionary not only in life, but in his passing too. His last single ‘Lazarus’ was an eerie foreshadowing of what was to come, with the poignant lyrics “Look up here, I’m in heaven”. Blackstar served as the his last goodbye to his loyal fans. The Grammy, Ivor Novello and Brit Award Winner, had a remarkable career having released 25 studio albums. Since his passing, 13 albums and 9 singles dominated the UK charts. Bowie even broke Adele’s Vevo record for most viewed music video in one day with 11.1 million views for ‘Lazarus’ and 51 million views across his entire back catalogue. Lazarus went on to become the fastest selling album of 2016 in the UK, claiming his first ever US no 1 in the process. One of Bowie’s final projects included The David Bowie Musical, which serves as the followup to the cult classic movie The Man Who Fell To Earth. The production, titled ‘Lazarus’ is set to come to London in 2017.

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David Bowie mural at his hometown of Brixton, London

Now in February, we can look forward to The Brit Awards, The Super Bowl Halftime Show, The Grammys and plenty of new music. In the meantime, check out my monthly favourites below.

1) Alex Vargas – Shackled Up

British and Danish artist Alex Vargas unveiled his latest single ‘Shackled Up’. The single is taken from his forthcoming Giving Up The Ghost EP, and serves up an emotive and captivating single, showcasing Vargas’ hypnotic vocals and impressive range.  Presenting future R&B soul, Vargas weaves in and out of the defined beats and slick production, captivating each listener with each falsetto hook. Having previously supported Jack Garratt on his headline tour, upcoming dates for Vargas include Naked Song Festival (Netherlands, June 25). Giving Up The Ghost EP is available now via Copenhagen Records / Locomotion Entertainment.

2) Ben Pearce – Pomelo

Mancunian Producer/DJ Ben Pearce shared his latest single ‘Pomelo’ from his forthcoming EP of the same name. Having spent most of 2015 touring, along with his monthly residency shows at Rinse FM, his Summer residency at Ushuaïa ANTS in Ibiza and working on his new material; Pomelo serves up a welcome return for the producer.  The slow burner of a track, gradually gains momentum with its hypnotic, melodic arpeggios and textured layering, delivering an unassuming club smash. Pomelo is available Feb 5th via Moda Black. Upcoming dates for Ben Pearce include Snowbombing in Austria (April 4) and Lost Village Festival (May 27-30)

3) Rosie Lowe – Woman

Devon-born Rosie Lowe unveiled her new single ‘Woman’. Co-produced by The Invisible’s front man, Dave Okumu (Jessie Ware, Amy Winehouse), Woman serves up a shimmering slice of pop with a strong sense of women empowerment. It’s beauty lies in the stillness throughout, with Lowe’s smooth vocals taking center stage.  Woman is taken from Lowe’s debut album Control, which is set for release February 19th via Wolf Tone/Polydor. Upcoming dates for Lowe include The Hope & Run in Brighton (Feb 24), Oslo Hackney (Feb 25) and London’s Scala (May 11)

4) Lunice – Look Like

From his hard hitting trap stylings with TNGHT back in 2013, Canadian Producer Lunice premiered his latest offerings ‘Look Like’. The track is part of Lucky Me’s annual Advent Calendar series, offering free downloads in aid of the Syrian Refugee Crisis, and has already seen releases from fellow TNGHT producer Hudson Mohawke and Jacques Greene.  ‘Look Like’ serves up plenty of edge with its trap and hip hop stylings, skittering beats and infectious synth work. With the release of his surprise 180 EP back in November, Lunice is gearing up for his highly anticipated debut album 360, later this year.

5) Aprés – Prophet

22 year old producer/DJ Aprés has done it again with his latest single Prophet. The track premiered with Annie Mac on Radio 1 and serves as the follow up to ‘This Ain’t Love’ ft Andrea Martin and the highly received ‘Chicago’.  Prophet serves up some instant feel good vibes with its driving, house-piano chords, warms synths and infectious melody. Upcoming dates for Aprés include Ministry of Sound with The Magician (Feb 20) and Snowboxx Festival in France (March 12-19). Prophet is available now via Love & Other.

6) Miike Snow – Genghis Khan (Louis The Child Remix)

Swedish Trio Miike Snow made their long awaited come back late last year with ‘Heart Is Full’, shortly followed by lead single Genghis Khan. Now, producer duo, Louis The Child deliver their unique remix.  The Chicago based producers made quite the impact recently with their remix of Ty Dolla $ign’s ‘Blase’ and the captivating single ‘It’s Strange’ ft Kay Flay, which I’ve had on repeat ever since. The Chicago based duo infuse their smooth synth work and future bass melodies throughout this indie/pop gem. Upcoming dates for Miike Snow include Ultra Music Festival in Miami (March 18-20) and and Coachella Festival (April 17, 24), while Louis The Child are also set to perform at Coachella. Miike Snow’s third studio album iii is set for release March 4. In the meantime, check out the other remixes available for Genghis Khan, including Hook N Sling, Empress Of, CID and Yacht Club here(SEP post??)

7) Yeasayer – I Am Chemistry

Brooklyn band Yeasayer made their long awaited return with the captivating new single ‘I Am Chemistry’, which serves as the follow up to 2012’s album Fragrant World. I Am Chemistry creatively showcases their trademark strands of experimental, psychedelic rock, not to mention one of the best instrumental synth breakdowns that I’ve heard in a long while. Mix that with the melodic sounds of a children’s choir, and you’ve got one utterly unique single. Welcome back Yeasayer. I Am Chemistry is taken from Yeasayers forthcoming fourth studio album Amen & Goodbye due April 1.

8) Eric Prydz – Breathe ft Rob

What do you get when you put two electronic heavyweights together on a track? Pure class! In the lead up to Eric Prydz’s forthcoming Debut album Opus – yes DEBUT, Prydz unveiled his latest single ‘Breathe’ with none other than Knife Party’s Rob Swire. While the two producers have very different styles, it nevertheless works in perfect harmony, with both producers respecting and honouring each other’s vibe. Prydz premiered the single on his Beats 1 show, showcasing a more slower tempo, yet still highlighting his signature synth arpeggios, with Swire’s infectious vocal line reminiscent of his Pendulum days. Rob Swire is also gearing up for a big return, with news that Pendulum are set to perform at Ultra Music Festival in Miami this March and the release of Knife Party’s forthcoming Trigger Warning EP. Opus is available Feb 5th via Virgin Records. Upcoming dates for Prydz include EPIC 4.0, with dates also set for SW4 under his alias Cirez D, while Swire is set to perform at Ultra Festival with Knife Party and Pendulum.

9) Jorja Smith – Blue Lights

With an already impressive list of rising UK talent such as Mabel and Nao, make way for 18-year-old Jora Smith and her debut single ‘Blue Lights’. With great support from the likes of Stormzy and Elf Kid and Skrillex, ‘Blue Lights’ serves up an emotive and reflective track about social commentary, with Jorja’s captivating, raw vocals, reminiscent of Amy Winehouse and Lauryn Hill, making quite the impact. Inspired by DIzzee Rascal’s ‘Sirens’, which she samples throughout, Jorja Smith is definitely one emerging star to keep an eye on.

10) Santigold – Chasing Shadows

American singer and producer Santigold, unveiled her new single ‘Chasing Shadows’. Produced by Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend), the track serves as the follow up to her previously released singles ‘Can’t Get Enough Of Myself’ and ‘Who Be Lovin’ Me’ with ILoveMakonnen.’ Chasing Shadows serves up an upbeat, bouncy track, with Santigold’s falsetto style vocals soaring above the carnival style melodies and punctuated beats. ‘Chasing Shadows’  is taken from Santigold’s forthcoming 99 Cents album, due Feb 26 via Atlantic Records.  Upcoming dates for Santigold include House Of Blue in Texas (March 21) and the Ogden Theatre in Denver (March 24).

11) Benga – Make Moves

London-based producer Benga has made a triumphant return with his heavy, electro banger ‘Make Moves’. Taken from his forthcoming Future Funk EP, ‘Making Money’ serves up a relentless barrage of incessant robotic beats and repetitive vocal loops, giving the track a sense of immediacy and urgency. Having taken a break to focus on mental health issues, Benga is back stronger than ever with his 3-track EP Future Funk set for release February 26th via his own imprint, Benga Beats.  Upcoming gigs for Benga include London’s Fabric (Feb 12).

12) Eats Everything – Big Discs

While Bristolian producer Daniel Pearce, AKA Eats Everything, came runner up in my Top remixes and Re-edits of 2015 with the infectious Tiga vs Audion’s Dancing (Again!), his never ending production skills continue into 2016 with his latest single Big Discs.  The single serves up some serious feel good vibes, with its infectious series of looped beats,  whirring synths and cheering crowd samples. Big Discs  is available now via Pets Recordings. Upcoming dates for Eats Everything include the Lost Village Festival (May 27) and Bestival (Sept 8-11)

13) AlunaGeorge – I’m In Control

British electro pop duo AlunaGeorge, (Aluna Francis and George Reid) unveiled their new single ‘I’m In Control’ featuring Popcaan. The single premiered with Annie Mac on Radio 1 and serves up some minimal r&B, with some infectious dancehall vibes and Aluna’s undeniably sweet vocals throughout.  Since the release of their 2013 debut Body Music, the duo have appeared on a number of high profile collabs with Jack U, ZHU and Baauer. Expect their second album ‘I Remember’ later this Spring via Interscope/Island Records, featuring production from Flume and ZHU. In the meantime, be sure to catch them at Mardi Gras World East (March 11), Ultra Music Festival (Mar 18-20) and Coachella (April 15-17).

14) Netsky – Work It Out Ft Digital Farm Animals

Belgian drum & bass producer Netsky, has once again teamed up with British production group Digital Farm Animals for their new single ‘Work It Out’. Having previously collaborated on last years summer smash ‘Rio’, Work It Out offers up some anthemic D&B, with catchy vocals, captivating piano riffs and all around feel good vibes. Work It Out is available now via EPIC Records. In the meantime, you can catch them in Montreal (Feb 3) as they kick off their North American tour ‘Netsky and Chill’ – a definite contender for best tour name!

15) Stormzy – One Take Freestyle

Grime artist MC unleashed his fury in new single ‘One Take Freestyle’. The track sees Stormzy take aim at Boxer Dillian Whyte, and the BRIT Awards. With Grime continuing to dominate the music scene, there’s a distinct lack of Grime artists represented in the BRIT Awards and Stormzy creatively and passionately calls them out as ‘Embarrassing’. His rapid rap skills flow with great intensity over original beats from Rude Kidd & Ghetts’ ‘One Take’. Upcoming dates for Stormzy include Digital at Newcastle Upon Tyne (Feb 10) and MADE Birmingham (July 30)

16) Ricky Blaze – Apart ft Alexus Rose

22 year old Brooklyn producer Ricky Blaze, has been championing his Reggae Pop vibes around the globe. For his latest single ‘Apart’, Blaze has teamed up with fellow Brooklyn artists Alexus Rose, whose vocals take center stage throughout, with her hypnotic falsetto style vocals.. Mix that with Blaze’s subtle production, playful rhythms and defined Reggae beats throughout. ‘Apart is taken from Ricky’s forthcoming EP Conquer The Moment, featuring Gyptian, Kranium and more. Conquer the Moment is available now via FME Recordings.

17) Tourist – To Have You Back

London producer William Phillips (AKA Tourist) unveiled his new single ‘To Have You Back’. The slowburner of a track gradually builds, adding further weight to it’s layered electronic textures, and building on the infectious vocal interjections throughout, before reaching its pivotal drop, when all the layers become one and work in such harmony. Having previously worked with the likes of Disclosure, Lianne La Havas, Years and Years and  as a co-writer on Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’, Tourist knows how to construct a song to such  a high standard. ‘To Have You Back’ is taken from Tourists debut album U, due later this Spring. Be sure to catch Tourist on tour in May, kicking off in Dublin’s Academy (May 7), London’s XOYO (May 11) and festivals including Field Day (June 11-12) and Bestival (Sept 8-11).

18) Fracture – Makin’ Hype Tracks

Charlie Fieber, AKA Fracture, is back with his new single ‘Makin’ Hype Tracks, taken from his forthcoming Hype Tracks EP. Having remained a prominent figure in the drum & bass scene since the early 00’s, Fracture continues to push boundaries with his latest EP, exploring his various influences from Jungle, to drum & bass and footwork. The title track serves up a mass of energy, with its dynamic drum n bass vibes and smooth hip hop influences . The 4-track EP sees Fracture collaborate with Deft on ‘I Just’, and DJ Spinn & Taso on ‘Acid Claps’. Hype Tracks is available February 5th via Exit Records.

19) Rationale – Something For Nothing

With the success of previous singles Fuel To The Fire, The Mire and Fastlane, London-based singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Rationale, has captivated audiences with his blissed out R&B vibes and rich baritone vocals. His latest single ‘Something for Nothing‘ premiered with Annie Mac on Radio 1 and once again serves up some groove-laden riffs, smooth, soulful vocals and blissful synth infused production throughout. Something For Nothing is available now via Best Laid Plans Records. Having smashed his set at Radio 1’s Future Festival, upcoming dates include a Prince Albert in Brighton (March 30th), King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow (April 5) and a headline set at London’s Village Underground (April 7)

20) Royce Wood Junior – Love’s A Lonely Town

Peckham-based Producer Royce Wood Junior, premiered his new single ‘Love’s A Lonely Town’. The single is taken from RWJ’s previously released debut album The Ashen Tang, however the album has since been reissued and features three new tracks. The talented singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and former flatmate of Jamie Woon, delivers a unique blend of future soul, with delightfully intricate synth textures, accompanied by his bluesy, melancholy vocals. The Ashen Tang is available now via 37 Adventures. Upcoming dates for RWJ include London’s Oslo (Feb 10).

 

Check out the full playlist below, with over 90 minutes for your listening pleasure. I’ve also created a handy Spotify playlist too!