May is over already which means another playlist of goodness is ready for your listening pleasure. Lots of different styles to get your ears round this month, some for making you move your feet, others to relax your mind but all are great in their own way. Let’s check it out –
30. Silk Sonic – Leave The Door Open (Leave The Door Open – Single)
This has been a real grower, it came out at the beginning of March but didn’t really resonate with me to begin with. After a number of listens its classic 70s soul sound really started to worm it’s way into my brain and revealed it’s true greatness. Silk Sonic is a collaboration between Bruno Mars and Anderson.Paak and finds the right balance between the soulful pop sounds of the former and the funk soul of the latter. This is their first single – definitely creating interest in what a full length album has to offer.
29. Mach-Hommy – Marie (Pray For Haiti – Album)
Taken from his excellent new album, this Newark rapper has a style and sound that conjures up the vibe of past greats such as A Tribe Called Quest or The Pharcyde but keeping it forward thinking enough to not be living in the past. A chilled out groove, with a hazy wooziness to it, swirls around your headspace, creating an Odd Future feel and allowing Mach to shine on top with his relaxed but tight bars.
28. Tom Everett – Reason (t e s t p r e s s Remix) (Reason – Single)
An already strong single in it’s original form, this remix takes it that bit higher and really gets you moving. The soulful vocal snippet is pitch shifted and melded to a house/filter disco groove that works just as well on your headphones late at night as it does blasting from the biggest sound system. Both Tom Everett and t e s t p r e s s are up and comers on the dance scene and definitely ones to keep an eye on.
27. Slayyyter – Over This! (Over This! – Single)
Brilliant pop single that combines sweet vocal melodies with processed rock/metal guitars and keeping everything catchy as hell. This American pop star in the making is set to release her debut album this year, following her mixtape release in 2019 and judging by the quality of the tracks that have been made available so far it should be something well worth a spin.
26. Trippie Redd – Miss The Rage (feat. Playboi Carti) (Miss The Rage – Single)
This one is a banger!! The production by Loesoe is huge, the bass hitting so hard that it causes everything to distort and sounds like the track is going to crumble away at any moment. It’s a great taster for the forthcoming fourth album by Trippie and after his previous three have reached numbers 4, 3 and 2 respectively then this must be odds-on to hit that number one spot.
25. Technimatic – Minefield (Minefield – EP)
BIG drum’n’bass banger, fast skittering drums, swirling, deep bass and sci-fi sounding keyboards all add up to an epic sound. You can hear the influence of dub and reggae in the mix too. It builds to an epic sheen of a conclusion and is another example of the reasons why the drum’n’bass scene is currently releasing some of the most exciting music around.
24. Cautious Clay – Wildfire (Wildfire – Single)
Superb soulful pop song from this American singer-songwriter. It has beautiful melodies, a tremendous falsetto vocal and shows restraint rather than going for overblown histrionics. It also has smart little production touches that really add to the atmosphere of the song and flesh it out from just being voice and guitar. His debut album is due this year and has the potential to be something special.
23. Skrillex – Butterflies (feat. Starrah & Four Tet) (Butterflies – Single)
The return of Skrillex is off to a good start. Despite releasing a handful of singles in the intervening years, he hasn’t contributed anything substantial since the Recess album in 2014. This track is further evidence of him moving away from the dubstep sound he forged a career on and settling into a more relaxed club style, helped in no small part by enlisting Kieran Hebden a.k.a. Four Tet on the track. It also has a pop edge and structure to it that is reflective of the guesting Starrah, one of the finest songwriters in pop music today (check out her list of tracks she’s had a hand in writing to see what I mean).
22. Sleater-Kinney – High In The Grass (High In The Grass – Single)
Still releasing quality material 27 years on from their first single, this is another great example of just how good these veterans are. Being reduced to only two members of the original line-up has not dented the strength of their songwriting in any way, still producing that slinky indie sound but with enough bite when the guitars hit to get a crowd rocking. After their initial break-up in 2006 they have been on fire since returning in 2014 releasing two really strong albums with a third on the way later this year.
21. Garbage – Wolves (Wolves – Single)
Best single in years from this American/Scottish band who’ve been releasing records for only one year less than Sleater-Kinney. This is the perfect balance of catchy pop and grungy heaviness that works so well when this band get it right. The production is slick and crystal clear (you shouldn’t expect anything less from a band that contains Butch Vig, the producer of Nirvana’s Nevermind (1991)) and the energy levels are high throughout, giving hope that the whole album can be just as good.
20. Crobot – Kiss It Goodbye (feat. Howard Jones) (Kiss It Goodbye – Single)
Delicious heavy rock, like a Southern fried Sabbath. This has riffs galore, drumming to die for and a guest vocal performance from Howard Jones (not the 80s pop star, the former Killswitch Engage vocalist!!) that absolutely rips. Definitely worth checking out their three previous full lengths before the new album drops this year to get yourself up to speed with these masters of the huge rock groove.
19. salute – Want U There (Want U There – Single)
Born in Vienna and based in Manchester, this producer/DJ drops his best single yet. A euphoric floor filler, full of vocal snippets and samples that swirl around the track like a gospel choir rocking up at a club on a Saturday night, this track gives you that rushing feeling that only the best dance tracks can achieve. Once it gets going it never lets up and is sure to get you moving no matter where you are.
18. The Wombats – Method To The Madness (Method To The Madness – Single)
Having lost touch with the career of The Wombats sometime around the release of their third album, at first I was taken aback by the reigned in sophistication of this track. I was expecting fun-loving uptempo indie rock but what I got was this sumptuous slow burner that builds to an excellent second half. I am a sucker for songs that are structured with an explosive release for the concluding passages and this does not disappoint. I’ve only had a few days to really let this track sink in but with each subsequent play I am loving it even more and if it had come out earlier in the month it would have featured higher on the list for sure.
17. Hayley Kiyoko – Found My Friends (Found My Friends – Single)
Love the production on this pop beauty. One of the catchiest, classiest pop songs of the month, this deserves to push this multi-talented lady to the next level. In between working on the follow up to her debut album she’s a film and tv star, appearing in titles such as Lemonade Mouth (2011), Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015), CSI: Cyber (2016) and Five Points (2019). Now fully focused on her music, she’s on her way to becoming a star in the making.
16. Sub Focus & Wilkinson – Freedom (feat. Empara Mi) (High Contrast Remix) (Freedom – Single)
Last years collaborative album between Sub Focus & Wilkinson was a really good listen and contained some great tracks, including the original of this. This remix from one of my favourite artists in the world of electronic music surprisingly flew under my radar for some reason. It originally came out in January but due to the sheer amount of music I am consuming this year it was overlooked by myself. Luckily I backtracked and sought out this release and I’m really glad I did. It’s got all the goodness you would expect from a High Contrast remix coupled to the epic big room drum’n’bass sound of the original artists – basically a flawless, winning formula.
15. Holly Humberstone – The Walls Are Way Too Thin (The Walls Are Way Too Thin – Single)
Excellent pop song from this English singer-songwriter. Following her really strong Falling Asleep At The Wheel (2020) EP, this is another step up and should help push her to the forefront of the pop scene. For fans of Phoebe Bridgers, Lorde or Haim she is sure to become a new favourite but is talented enough to appeal to anyone with a love of great music.
14. salem ilese – Dinosaurs (S4E7)
Best track on her (L)only Child (2021) EP, this has one of the strongest choruses of the month. Building from just guitar and voice for the first verse, when the synths and keyboards hit come chorus time be prepared to be swept away by it’s widescreen majesty. Play it loud and let it soar!! Releasing singles since 2018, she’s maturing and really starting to find her sound which shows great promise for her future.
13. Wilkinson – Keep Dancing (feat. Amber Van Day) (Keep Dancing – Single)
The bass on this is the shit!!! Not as fast as his usual fare, this takes time to build on a bed of lush keyboards and synths and a haunting vocal from Amber Van Day, before dropping an absolute beast of an elastic bassline. If this doesn’t get you moving then I’m not too sure what will!! Wilkinson has been producing quality electronic/dance tracks since 2011 and just seems to be getting better.
12. Junior Jack – Another Thrill (Like This) (feat. SESA & Sharon Phillips) (Another Thrill – Single)
Absolute fun loving dancefloor filler!! Starting as a house track with a soul vocal from Sharon Phillips before morphing into an absolute banger, full of Daft Punk-squelch, Fatboy Slim style big beats and a ragga influenced vocal, this will not only get your body throwing shapes you just didn’t think you had in you but put the biggest smile on your face the whole time. Junior Jack has been involved in a couple of huge dancefloor hitters so far this year, hopefully he can make it a hat trick sooner rather than later.
11. DJ Khaled – THANKFUL (feat. Lil Wayne & Jeremih) (KHALED KHALED – Album)
Opening track on the really solid new album by DJ Khaled, a man who seems to have the knack for creating hit after hit whilst sometimes only contributing the shouting out of his own name!! On this track he is actually the producer and does a brilliant job utilising the sample of Bobby Bland’s superb ‘Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City’ (also used brilliantly by Jay-Z on The Blueprint (2001) album) alongside a smooth vocal performance from Jeremih and a decent verse from Weezy. In truth there are a few tracks from the album that were close to making this list but this was my favourite.
10. J. Cole – m y . l i f e (feat. 21 Savage & Morray) (The Off-Season – Album)
The return of the mighty J. Cole was much hyped and didn’t disappoint. One of the best rappers in the game today, The Off Season (2021) dropped and whilst not an instant classic, like so many great albums it rewards with repeat listens. Perhaps the most instant track on the album was this slice of hip hop coolness. J. Cole and 21 Savage both drop excellent verses and show how well they work together but the earworm of a chorus by Morray is the tracks highlight. Based on the chorus from the absolutely brilliant track ‘The Life’ by Styles P & Pharoahe Monch (if you’ve never heard it then be sure to seek it out), it will get you singing along regardless of whether you know the original or not.
9. Nicki Minaj – Seeing Green (feat. Drake & Lil Wayne) (Beam Me Up Scotty – Album)
Taken from the re-issue of her 2009 mixtape, this is one of a handful of brand new tracks made for the release. Re-uniting with her Young Money bandmates Drake and Lil Wayne, they are free to spit rhymes over one of the best beats of the year. Built around a sample of ‘In My Mind’ by Heather Headley, the production is laid back and soulful and loops throughout but never gets boring. The best verse goes to Weezy but all three are in good form. The mixtape is well worth checking out as it showcases a pre-fame Nicki at her hungriest.
8. Sandy B – Ain’t No Need To Hide (Sam Divine Remix) (Ain’t No Need To Hide – Single)
If you are a fan of 80s/90s house music then this is the one for you. Sandy B is an absolute house music icon working with artists and producers like Deep Dish and Stonebridge. Teaming up with DJ/Producer Sam Divine, known as The First Lady Of Defected (the legendary dance music record label), they’ve concocted this club banger, sure to be a favourite as the dancefloors begin to see more action again. The single has been remixed by a handful of producers but this is hands down the best.
7. CINTHIE – City Lights (Gerd Janson Remix) (City Lights – Single)
The original version of this track is awesome as well and was very close to also getting a spot on this list. The Gerd Janson remix retains the lush strings and synths of the original but adds some house keyboards and an uptempo beat to give it a more dancefloor friendly feel. It’s absolutely huge sounding and would sound just as good over the end credits of a science fiction spectacular as it will no doubt sound on the sweaty dancefloor of an underground club.
6. Foo Fighters – Waiting On A War (Medicine At Midnight – Album)
For some strange reason, despite loving this track the moment I heard it, I’ve neglected to include it on any of my tracks of the month lists so far!! So I’m rectifying that here!! The standout track from their latest album, you know what you are getting with the Foos, which isn’t a bad thing. Starting with a ‘Times Like These’ vibe before building to a conclusion reminiscent of ‘New Way Home’ from the almighty The Colour And The Shape (1997), this absolutely rocks come the songs end and reminds you just how powerful this band can be.
5. Gojira – The Chant (Fortitude – Album)
One of the standout cuts from their magnificent Fortitude (2021) album (check out my review on the site to see just how much I loved it), this is not as ferocious as a lot of their stuff, instead concentrating on power and melody in equal measure. The vocals here are the cleanest they’ve ever produced, with harmonies that are like a metal Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Huge drums, huge guitars, skyscraping melodies – perfect metal!!
4. The Streets – Who’s Got The Bag (21st June) (Patrick Topping Remix) (Who’s Got The Bag – Single)
Oh yes!!!! Now this is a dance banger. The original single is the first song by The Streets that I’ve liked for a long while but this remix is something else. Patrick Topping has been dropping bangers for years now (check out ‘Turbo Time’) and adds a pace and groove to this that gets you moving in all the right ways. It’s absolutely relentless and will leave you gasping for air once you’ve finished raving to it’s stellar 6 and a half minutes.
3. Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – Soon It Will Be Fire (feat. Moses Sumney) (Soon It Will Be Fire – Single)
Beautiful piece of music from these jazz inflected veterans. It’s epic in length (almost 10 minutes) and in scope and contains an absolutely sumptuous vocal performance from Moses Sumney, just sit back, put on your headphones and let it’s majestic sound wash over you. The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble are an American eight piece band made up of seven horn playing brothers and one unrelated drummer. They’ve worked previously with Gorillaz, Damon Albarn and Tony Allen and create a fantastic amalgamation of jazz, hip hop, soul, funk and world music.
2. Royal Blood – Oblivion (Typhoons – Album)
Total rock beast and highlight of the new LP, this is as heavy as their earlier stuff but with the dancefloor ready groove that runs throughout the album, this will sound huge when they hit the festival circuit over the next 12 months. The riff is an instant earworm and is coupled with a chorus that refuses to dislodge itself from your brain. The whole album is a really good listen and has a handful of tracks that could have made the list.
1. Rag’n’Bone Man – Anywhere Away From Here (Life By Misadventure – Album)
The pure emotion and superb vocal performance elevate this track to my number one for the month of May. I loved it as soon as I heard it, it just gripped me and the moment it finished I needed to hear it again. This is my preferred version but the one with a guest appearance by P!nk is also great and is only not in place of this due to my snobbish dislike of P!nk’s back catalogue (‘So What’ sends shudders down my spine in the complete opposite way to good!!). I’ve liked Rag’n’Bone Man since I first heard ‘Human’ but I think he’s truly come into his own on the new record, completely understanding the artist he wants to be and letting his unbelievable voice ring out loud and clear.
Here’s the full Spotify list –