I’m back with another list of goodness for your ears, this time covering off the month of June. My listening abilities have been hampered a little this month (pesky Euro’s taking up so much of my time!!) but have no fear, I’ve still worked my way through hundreds of tracks to select the cream of the crop.
30. Mykki Blanco – Summer Fling (feat. Kari Faux) (Broken Hearts And Beauty Sleep – Album)
Laidback but lyrically cutting hip hop track, taken from her second album. This has enough of a poppy feel to the production to give it summery vibes but the words coming from both these ladies ensure that the blazing sunshine is hidden behind some serious shade. The guest verse from Kari Faux really stands out on this one, her conversational style of rap flows so nicely over the blissed out rhythm.
29. Little Simz – Rollin Stone (Rollin Stone – Single)
Loving everything that this lady has released so far this year and when the album drops in September expect it to feature highly on plenty best of the year lists. This track concentrates on showcasing her straight up rap attack, the production being far less lavish than the other songs released from the album so far. In fact the track strips layers away as it progresses leaving just voice, bass and the wonderful sound of an 808. Her flow is so on point and works perfectly with whatever she decides to accompany her, creating the sound of one of the most exciting artists to come from the UK in years.
28. Pa Salieu – Glidin’ (feat. slowthai) (Glidin’ – Single)
This was never going to fail!! Take two of the best from the UK hip hop scene and pair them over an electro beat that gets your feet moving and you are sure to create something great. Pa Salieu’s 2020 mixtape Send Them To Coventry was a strong introduction to the man and this is a brilliant taster for where he’s going next. Adding the superb talent of slowthai to the mix, still involved in bangers not even four months removed from the release of his own excellent Tyron (2021) album, meant this was always going to make the list.
27. renforshort – fall apart (feat. glaive) (off saint dominique – EP)
Angsty alternative rock from this Canadian newcomer. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done before but this really captures the right balance between maudlin and catchy – the poppiness and excellent production take it to the next level. When the guitars hit come chorus time they pack a significant punch. Taken from what is only her second EP, she’s definitely one to watch out for and that ability to write a pop hook into her songs should take her far.
26. Migos – Having Our Way (feat. Drake) (Culture III – Album)
Migos and Drake are a great combination (unless you dislike either or both of course!!) that seem to have the knack of producing something great every time they work together. Drake leads the dance on this for half the tracks running time and sounds focused, spitting one of his harder flows that have started to become less of a thing lately. The unmistakable vocals of the Migos triumvirate kick in for the second half and intertwine brilliantly with the atmospheric production – booming bass, tweeting hi-hats and muted orchestration create a swirling, luscious backing. The new album is definitely worth a listen but like most modern rap albums it’s at least 25 minutes too long!!
25. DaBaby – Red Light Green Light (Red Light Green Light – Single)
Another month, another DaBaby track that makes the list!! His flow is the best in the rap game at the moment and he can spit over anything and sound good!! The production on this track is crazy, absolutely banging but with a flute riff that wouldn’t sound out of place in a campfire scene in Lord Of The Rings. In fact, it reminds me of a piece of music from the original Golden Axe (1989) game on the Sega Megadrive (god, I’m old!!).
24. L-Side – High Times (feat. MC Fats) (Break Remix) (High Times – Single)
Proper old skool sounding drum’n’bass banger!! The original is really good but this remix by Break is the one. The bass on this track is awesome – put it on a decent set of headphones or stereo and feel the deep pulse hit you. The keyboards and synths have a lush, epic feel to them and coupled with the snatches of vocal give the track a trippy, soothing vibe – that’s until the bass kicks back in and loosens the fillings from your teeth, in the best possible way!!
23. Swindle – LOST (feat. Loyle Carner, Kojey Radical & JNR Williams) (Swindle – Single)
This has such a cool vibe, a jazz inflected 90s hip hop style, which is so refreshing compared to a lot of the bleak sounding rap coming from the UK scene. Each MC absolutely gives their all on this track, switching up styles and varying the pace of their delivery with ease. It has a beauty to the track, really encapsulated by the gospel chorus, that offsets perfectly against the hardness of the raps and creates a melting pot of goodness that shows traditional rap sounds can still flourish in today’s musical world.
22. Make Them Suffer – Contraband (feat. Courtney LaPlante) (Contraband – Single)
Obviously with a name like Make Them Suffer you’re not getting an acoustic ballad on this one – this is pretty fucking heavy and it rocks!! The difference for me on this track is the sheer scope of the record – it’s huge!! The guitars, drums and vocals bludgeon you over the head with heaviness and technicality but it’s the use of keyboards and piano and Courtney LaPlante’s soaring chorus that give this the extra edge to set it apart. These guys have been releasing stuff since 2012 and have a back catalogue that’s well worth dipping into.
21. Angels & Airwaves – Restless Souls (Restless Souls – EP)
If you told me that in the year 2021 I would be including an Angels & Airwaves track on a list of my favourite songs then I would have to call your bluff. But here we are, a band I’ve never had much of an interest in before (I’m not even a big fan of Blink-182) have released what is far and away the best and catchiest song I’ve ever heard from them. The chorus on this is so good and instantly sticks with you from the very first listen. Even Tom DeLonge is in far better voice than usual, his nasal whine is one of the barriers to my enjoyment of his various musical activities. A really pleasant surprise. Now, if I end up liking a whole album then the world really has gone mad!!
20. Sub Focus – Airplane (Culture Shock Remix) (Airplane – Single)
You always know you will be getting something quality when it comes to a Sub Focus release and adding in the mighty Culture Shock on the remix can only make things even better. This has that perfect balance of atmospheric keyboards and synths and passages of calm before building to a full dancefloor filling drop. I’ve been really impressed with the Culture Shock releases so far this year and hoping we may see a full length by year’s end.
19. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – My Town (feat. Joe Talbot) (My Town – Single)
Featuring Joe Talbot from Idles on guest vocals, this was always going to be a track that I was looking forward to and it doesn’t disappoint. What I found most surprising though was just how catchy this is. I was expecting the anger of these two frontmen to come tearing through but whilst lyrically it’s there, musically and melodically this might just be the most accessible thing they’ve ever done. Truth be told, it took me a few listens to really appreciate the song as I was hoping for an absolute rager but now it’s settled in my brain I have to say this is better.
18. Fredo – Talk Of The Town (Talk Of The Town – Single)
Already dropping new material after releasing his really strong Money Can’t Buy Happiness (2021) album at the end of January, this track is every bit good enough to have been included on it. Alongside regular collaborator Dave, Fredo has one of the best flows in UK rap, a voice that can draw you in even if it’s set against a minimal production. This is taken from his forthcoming full length Independence Day (2021) and dropping two albums in a year is no mean feat, especially if the quality remains as high as this.
17. Bokassa – Careless (In The Age Of Altruism) (Careless (In The Age Of Altruism – Single)
Now this rocks!! Containing elements of punk, hardcore, rock and metal, with a sprinkling of pop melodies and harmonies, this was a really pleasant surprise. They are a Norwegian trio who have been releasing material since 2015 but were new to me and after hearing this I’m in full anticipation of their third album, Molotov Rocktail (2021), dropping later this year. Just check out the cover art for this bad boy, so good that I had to get it on the site as the featured image for this list!!
16. Kojaque – Casio (feat. Maverick Sabre) (Town’s Dead – Album)
On the first few tracks I heard from this Irish rapper I couldn’t shake the thought from my head that I just didn’t like this as much as I liked For Those I Love (who I think has released one of the best albums of the year). I decided to give the Town’s Dead album a couple of spins and actually it’s pretty decent, this track being the standout for me. It’s got a smooth vibe, relaxed flows and sumptuous vocals from Maverick Sabre but lyrically it deals with some serious mental health issues and is an important listen for anyone who might be experiencing any of the kinds of feelings that are being discussed in this song.
15. No Mana – Can’t Say No (feat. Tommy Trash) (Can’t Say No – Single)
Absolute electro banger. This has a sleazy nightclub feel and has a woozy sheen to it that gives it the feeling like you’ve just had that one drink too many and things are starting to get a bit hazy!! Both No Mana and Tommy Trash have been around on the dance scene for a fair few years and specialise in the kind of tracks that get you moving but leave you feeling like you need a good shower afterwards.
14. Wolf Alice – How Can I Make It Ok? (Blue Weekend – Album)
I really like the new album by these guys and this is the track that stood out the most for me. It has a lush soundscape and gorgeous vocal melodies and the pure pop moment it conjures up midway through is brilliant. The little riff is a great earworm and the way the track builds throughout, layering on guitars, keyboards and vocals makes this one of the most exhilarating listens of the month. Start with this and then check out the rest of Blue Weekend (2021), it’s well worth it.
13. Skrillex – Supersonic (My Existence) (feat. Noisia, josh pan & Dylan Brady) (Supersonic (My Existence) – Single)
I’ve been impressed with the return of Skrillex so far and this is the best release since his comeback. A melting pot of electronics, ethereal vocals and bass, it starts beautifully serene and ends up sounding like the last dying breaths of a malfunctioning, virus riddled super computer. Like all good songs should!! Definitely give your ears a treat and listen to this through your headphones, there are so many little pieces and fragments of sound being produced and you hear something new each time.
12. Kojey Radical – 2FS (2FS/Woohaa – Single)
Taken from his double A-side single, both tracks are worth a listen but this one is the winner. Kojey’s flow is excellent and he drops some great lines on this but it’s the production that sets it apart. The bassline is so good and the futuristic electronics going on in the background give this a really fresh feel. It reminds me of Roots Manuva and that is a very good thing, anyone looking to find a classic UK hip hop record then look no further than his Run Come Save Me (2001) album.
11. Nothing But Thieves – Futureproof (Futureproof – Single)
Brilliant track from these English rockers, this is a real forward step for these guys. Last years Moral Panic (2020) album was a good listen but this is undoubtedly the best thing they’ve done so far. It has a great mix of pop melodies, electronic elements and huge riffs and if they keep this up they could reach the top table of British rock and sit alongside bands like Muse and Biffy Clyro. I like the fact that they are not resting on their laurels and are getting new material out there at a decent rate and i’m looking forward to hearing what’s next.
10. Tkay Maidza – Cashmere (Cashmere – Single)
This has awesome production and one of the catchiest choruses of the month, one that will be playing in your head whether you want it to or not. This Australian artist is on a bit of a roll currently, each release over the last 12 months has been better than the last and I’m really looking forward to her next EP which is due later in the year. So far chart success has avoided her but if she continues to release tracks as good as this then it can’t be too far away.
9. Rag’n’Bone Man – Crossfire (Life By Misadventure – Album)
I really like the Life By Misadventure (2021) album and this song has been stuck in my head since I first heard it. It has such an upbeat, euphoric feel and showcases the fact that his voice works just as well on a faster paced track as it does on those soulful ballads he excels at. This also contains a great bassline and sound that really drives the track forward and helps to create a song you can’t help but sing/shout/jump about to.
8. Turnstile – HOLIDAY (TURNSTILE LOVE CONNECTION – EP)
This hardcore punk band from Baltimore, Maryland are certainly one of the leading lights on the whole scene. This track is absolutely awesome. Starting with a Fugazi esque bass intro, it adds some electronic elements which give it a distinct difference to a lot of the stuff being produced in this scene. Then come the riffs and fury, all the while attaining an accessibilty via vocal hooks and melodies. If you like this be sure to check out their previous full length, Time & Space (2018), it’s a bit of a gem.
7. Tyler, The Creator – CORSO (CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST – Album)
This is an absolute hip hop banger!! Taken from his latest album (which is well worth a listen), Tyler, The Creator has matured into one of the best and most consistent artists in hip hop today. Tyler’s flow is as great as always but it’s the production on this that takes it to the next level. Over a beat that bears resemblance to the kind of work the Neptunes were doing with Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Tyler spits at pace and gets a bit unhinged at times, giving this an exciting edge sometimes missing from today’s rap.
6. Jensen McRae – Wolves (Who Hurt You? – EP)
Delicately beautiful and mature piece from this talented young artist. It talks about the lucky escapes she’s had from potential sexual predators in her life and the effect that’s had on her as a person and acts as a warning to any young girls listening that might find themselves put in situations like these. That she manages to create something so tender and immensely listenable from such harrowing subject matter is a miracle itself and just goes to show the incredible musicality she possesses.
5. CHVRCHES – How Not To Drown (feat. Robert Smith) (How Not To Drown – Single)
This is the best CHVRCHES track I’ve heard so far and I’m not sure how much of a role the imperious Robert Smith of The Cure plays a hand in that. It has such a widescreen, epic feel to it, crisp and clear production that just builds in scope as the song goes on. On top of that it’s got an instantly catchy chorus and the unmistakable vocals of Mr. Smith, who just adds a classiness to proceedings that you only get from superstars. Great stuff and a brilliant taster for their new album which is due in August.
4. Gang Of Youths – the angel of 8th ave. (the angel of 8th ave. – Single)
This has an uplifting, anthemic feel to it without being po-faced or overblown and just gets better and better as the track goes on. This group of indie rock Australians have been around since 2011 and really feel like they’re about to hit their peak. You can hear elements of New Order, U2, even Simple Minds but with an injection of Gaslight Anthem vitality and tempo and it all adds up to a record that deserves to be played to and sung back by huge festival crowds. Their third album is due this year and should be one worth seeking out.
3. Fred V – Prosopagnosia (Trust Me/Prosopagnosia – Single)
I was already a fan of Fred V from back when he was part of the awesome drum’n’bass duo with Grafix but since branching out on his own he’s now on a whole new level. Still chock full of the key elements that make a d’n’b banger (the bass on this is a thing of beauty) but containing a real beauty and sophistication, this is dance music for the head and the heart as well as the feet. Sit back, turn this up and let it’s wonders wash over you and bear witness to the fact that some of the most exciting and incredible music in the world today is being produced by this vibrant scene.
2. Jaykae – 1000 Nights (feat. Jorja Smith) (1000 Nights – Single)
This just snuck onto the list as it was only released on the last day of June but it’s so good and instantly got me playing it on repeat that I had to put it on here. Lyrically this is excellent, telling the story of mistakes being made, pride, anger, revenge taking control and leading to a jail sentence being the outcome or something even worse. This is all set to a smooth, sensuous garage beat and accompanied by the gorgeous vocals of Jorja Smith, making this the kind of track that you can play late at night and really let it all sink in and be swept up in it’s beauty and realness.
1. Bleachers – How Dare You Want More (How Dare You Want More – Single)
This is just an absolutely awesome pop rock song!! It sounds like it could have been released anytime in the past 50 years and at the same time only come from the here and now. It has elements of Springsteen, Vampire Weekend and Thin Lizzy and one of the best saxophone solos put down on a rock song in a long time. It even has a part that reminds me of the Benny Hill theme tune!! I’m pretty sure that wasn’t on their watchlist when making this record!! Bleachers is the project of Jack Antonoff, mainly known as the guitar player in Fun. but really carving out a name for himself as a producer and songwriter for artists such as Taylor Swift, Lorde and Lana Del Rey. Luckily he’s been keeping some amazing tunes back for himself if this little beauty is anything to go by.
Here’s the full Spotify list –
Here’s the full Apple Music List –