MUSICAL THUNDER FROM DOWN UNDER – 15 AUSTRALIAN ARTISTS THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT!

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Written by: Robert Percy    Edited by: Natalya Davies    Updated: 21 March 2019


 

Australia has its unique things that everyone knows about. Summer temperatures at Christmas. A myriad of animals that could either kill you, make your life a living hell or both. The Irwins (RIP Steve, stingrays are evil). The Wiggles. Neighbours. Home and Away. The hilariously overpowered muscle cars and Utes that were produced up until very recently by the local divisions of Ford and General Motors. The sleeper hit reality show Instant Hotel (which is going to be co-presented by none other than Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen in its second season). But what a lot of people should know about Australia is that it has provided a hotbed of great musical talent across multiple genres for the last decade or so.

With that in mind, I thought I’d put together a little list, in no particular order and with no genre limitations, of some fantastic Australian artists and bands that you should definitely get to know…

 

OCEAN GROVE

OCEAN
OCEAN GROVE, Source: The Music Network

These 90s revivalists from Melbourne have been making a huge scene ever since they first emerged near the beginning of the decade and are set to become a force to be reckoned with on the international touring circuit by the end of it. Whilst initially having a twin vocal setup with Luke Holmes providing hardcore influenced screams and yells and Dale Tanner (who was also the band’s bass player) providing a cleaner vocal style, at the beginning of 2019 Holmes departed and Dale switched to being the band’s singular front-man, his bass duties being taken over by newcomer Twiggy Hunter.

Whereas their earlier material was much more rooted in the heavier end of things, their newest material delves into an altogether more experimental territory. Their latest single “Ask For The Anthem” delves into some seriously funky sounds and quasi-rap vocals that wouldn’t sound out of place on a classic RHCP album. The band also have a reputation for creating low budget, off-kilter and brilliant music videos; it’s one of the things that really sets them apart from the rest. “The Rhapsody Tapes” was highly critically acclaimed and with the return of nu-metal and the sounds of the 90s as the 2020s come into view, expect these guys to go right to the top of the tree pretty damn fast.

Check out: “Ask For The Anthem”, “Glass Gloss”, “Thunderdome


ILLY

Illy

Another Melbourne-based artist, rapper and singer Illy (born Alasdair Murray) might be the most well known of the artists I’m including on his home turf. He’s collaborated with some well-known names including Anne-Marie, Jenna McDougall of Tonight Alive, Ahren Stringer of The Amity Affliction and Thomas Jules of Rudimental to name just four.

He has also won two ARIA awards (the Australian equivalent of a Grammy or a Brit) and been nominated for several others. Yet, weirdly, he doesn’t seem to have much of a foothold in popularity outside of Australia. Originally a member of rap collective Crooked Eye, he went solo in 2009 and since then has released four albums, with a fifth due for release this year. If you love hip-hop artists who have an ear for melody as well as bars, you’ll love this guy.

Check out: “Catch 22”, “One for The City”, “Youngbloods


VOYAGER

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VOYAGER, Source: The Prog Report

Perth’s Voyager have been plying their trade in one form or another since the late 90s. They sit firmly within the ‘ProgPower’ end of heavy metal. Shredding guitars (provided by the twin axe attack of Scott Kay and Simone Dow), “djent-y” rhythms and lush synthesized soundscapes are the foundations of the Voyager sound. This is accompanied by the rich crooning baritone of German-born multilingual (who includes written sections of lyrics in German and Russian in some songs) vocalist and keyboardist Daniel Estrin, his vocal stylings bearing more than a passing nod to Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran and the sadly departed Peter Steele of Type O Negative (“Iron Dream”,from their album “The Meaning of I”, was written in tribute to Steele). The end result is a gloriously epic mash-up of cheesy 80s choruses, big modern riffs, power metal keyboards and prog sensibilities that anyone who dips their toes into any of those worlds will love.

Check out: “Brightstar”, “Hyperventilating”, “Seasons of Age


YOURS TRULY

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YOURS TRULY, Source: New Noise Magazine

This feisty pop-punk group from Sydney have really started to gain some big momentum in the last year. With a sound not too dissimilar to the early years of Tonight Alive, they’ve managed to create big rock songs that are catchier than a virus. Vocalist Mikaila Delgado has a fantastic tone with just the right amount of edge and their material sounds slick enough to sound right at home on the radio (in fact, I actually heard “Circles” on Jack Saunders’ late-night BBC Radio One show not long ago!).

The video for “Circles” is fantastic too, with its liberal amounts of meta humour (the sets and cameras are clearly on show). Pop-punk has not only stayed the course since the 90s but has become very popular again too in recent years. If Yours Truly play their cards right, they could be big contenders in a scene filled with (unfortunately) just as much controversy as it has solid and slick bands.

Check out: “Circles”, “High Hopes”, “Strangers


POLARIS

Another Sydney act, Polaris bring a brand of heavy yet catchy metalcore that tips its hat in the general direction of Architects, Erra and Parkway Drive. Front-man Jamie Hails and bassist Jake Steinhauser deliver a twin vocal attack that covers everything from metalcore screams and gritty melodies (performed by Jamie) to big, pop-influenced melodies (performed by Jake) while the music alternates in kind between massive riffs, huge choruses, ambient soundscapes and crushing breakdowns.

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POLARIS, Source: YDG Music Wikia

They’ve had an incredible last couple of years, the highlights of which include performing in huge venues in their native Australia and overseas in support of Architects, Parkway Drive and their hometown compatriots Northlane. They also signed record deals with Resist Records in Australia and Sharptone Records (also home to Don Broco, Loathe, Holding Absence and Emmure to name just a few) in the US, UK and Europe. If epic metalcore with choruses you can belt out at the top of your voice is your bag, you’d be crazy to pass these guys by.

Check out: “The Remedy”, “Consume”, “No Rest


PLINI

plini
PLINI, Source: Twitter

After splitting from the instrumental duo Halcyon to forge his own path, Plini began to blaze a trail as one of the front runners of a new generation of guitar-centric instrumental music. He has evolved from the low budget but charming jazz fusion influenced efforts of his first EP “Other Things”, where he performed and programmed most of the instruments himself. Going on to release his epic prog debut album “Handmade Cities” with assistance from Simon Grove of The Helix Nebula on bass and session musician and music teacher Troy Wright on drums. And now, his latest EP “Sunhead”, which features John Waugh, The 1975’s saxophonist of choice, and the ridiculously skilled Canadian keyboardist Anomalie as guest musicians.

Not a bad CV for somebody who’s only been carving his own path in music since the start of the 2010s! Plini’s guitar stylings are both technically and melodically satisfying, with many nods to great rock instrumentalists such as Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, as well as fusion masters like Allan Holdsworth and Al Di Meola. As well as this, his music is fantastic in a live setting, where he recruits whoever of his friends are available to deliver a free flowing and fantastically performed set of his material (with maybe a few surprises too along the way!). Plini looks set to become one of the next big instrumental guitar heroes and, from the way things are going, he could be touring all around the world every year for the next few decades.

Check out: “Flaneur”, “Handmade Cities”, “Heart


TWELVE FOOT NINJA

With their mad, off the wall music videos packed full of skits, in-jokes and scenarios that range from the whimsical to the downright disturbing (including one where they turned a fat basement-dwelling internet troll into sausages), you’d think that Melbourne’s resident musical ninjas were a pretty eccentric bunch. You’d be right and then some.

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TWELVE FOOT NINJA, Source: Dead Press!

As per a one time popular internet meme, somebody somewhere must have told them they could play any style of music… so they played all of them. Twelve Foot Ninja take heavy influence from Mike Patton’s various musical escapades, the popular rock, metal, reggae and jazz fusion acts of the mid 90s-early 00s era, which is all aided by the crazy (and criminally underrated) tuning-changing and guitar and amp emulation technology of Line 6’s Variax system. They effortlessly switch between punishing Sevendust and Meshuggah-style riffs in super low tunings to delicate acoustic passages, choppy jazz funk with more than a passing nod to Jamiroquai, dancehall beats and even the odd bit of Latin American stylings thrown in just for good measure.

The source of this glorious genre roulette? The band’s leader, session guitarist Steve “Stevic” Mackay, who has built on his experience of doing everything from playing with Delta Goodrem (no really, he did!) to doing shreddy solos for the soundtrack of a series of Power Rangers (I’m not lying… he really did this!) to create intricate yet catchy multi- genre compositions. He even wrote the band’s mythology, a story about… you guessed it… a ninja who can become twelve feet tall (it was published as a comic, if you’re ever interested in reading it). On top of all of this is Kin Etik’s soulful baritone, which covers all bases from crooning to delicate falsetto and topping it off with some incredibly powerful screams. If you’re a fan of any of the more rock and metal oriented end of Mike Patton’s work such as Faith No More, Mr. Bungle and Tomahawk, Twelve Foot Ninja will definitely appeal to you.

Check out: “One Hand Killing”, “Coming For You”, “Mother Sky


DEAD LETTER CIRCUS

There was one point where it looked like Dead Letter Circus’ socially conscious progressive rock, fronted by the distinctive high tenor of Kim Benzie, mixed with electronic sensibilities could reach the big time internationally. They even had what could almost be considered a viral hit when they attempted to do a soft acoustic/electronic version of the Rage Against The Machine classic “Killing In The Name Of” for the popular Australian radio station Triple J’s “Like A Version” sessions, which was met with as much bewilderment as there was praise.

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DEAD LETTER CIRCUS, Source: Music Insight

Then they seemingly dropped off the radar following a bit of a bad time with label support outside of their native soil. However, they have carried on creating and evolving their music away from the wider world popularity they once had. Maybe one day soon they’ll return to their previous international breakout stardom? One can only hope.

Perhaps the dark and creepy atmospheric track “Silence”, a post-mortem musing by Benzie about a man who sexually abused children, has a fairly heavy significance in 2019 with the various allegations surrounding musicians now coming out. Regardless, even though they are clearly one of the underdogs now outside of their native country, Dead Letter Circus are a band who have the potential to be truly timeless.

Check out: “Silence”, “While You Wait”, “The Armour You Own


CIRCLES

circles
CIRCLES, Source: Progarchives

Originally a part of the “djent” movement, Melbourne prog rockers Circles decided to retool and rebrand after losing their long time front-man. Moving to a four piece, with guitarist Ben Rechter stepping up to the microphone to handle lead vocals as well, the band embraced a more rough and ready sound that may be very far removed from how they originally started out, yet they still retain a lot of their original charm. A big change of sound can be a very risky decision but they seem to have pulled it off very well and with new label and management deals signed that include the US, UK and Europe, be prepared to see a lot more of them within the next few years.

Check out: “Tether”, “Blueprints for a Great Escape”, “Dream Sequence


DVSR

What do you get when you combine the huge riffs of “djent” with the fast-paced rap of Tech N9ne and Busta Rhymes and the songwriting sensibilities of P.O.D.? You get Sydney natives DVSR.

dvsr
DVSR, Source: Killyourstereo

The enormous, super down-tuned guitars provided by guitarist and main songwriter Andrew Stevens are some of the beefiest you can hear this side of a Meshuggah album. Andrew “Anti-Matter” Youkhana, on the other hand, is quite possibly one of the best rappers in the game right now, combining both incredible lyricism covering everything from personal to political topics and the ability to switch it up into hyper speed (I’d LOVE to hear him do a Fire In The Booth, he’d absolutely kill it).

It’s very easy to compare DVSR to British favourites Hacktivist due to their similarities with combining “djent-y” guitars with rap vocals, but to do so is honestly somewhat ignorant – both bands are from totally different countries where both the rap and metal scenes have different sounds and different influences. The band recently played their first show outside of Australia at 2018’s UK Tech Metal Festival and hopefully, with the release of the follow-up to 2017’s “Therapy”, they’ll be venturing internationally a lot more.

Check out: “Ready For War”, “Unconscious”, “Slave to the Beat


STAND ATLANTIC

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STAND ATLANTIC, Source: Evensi

Stand Atlantic have been gaining a lot of hype since the release of their debut album “Skinny Dipping” last year and for very good reason. The Sydney natives have a knack for creating beautiful, catchy and emotionally charged rock music. Guitarist and vocalist Bonnie Fraser is an incredible lyricist as well as being a fantastic singer and songwriter; she’s able to hit you right in the feels with a single line (“Toothpick” very much comes to mind here). They’re already booking up tours all over the world and winning over audiences everywhere they go, so if things go to plan, they’re destined for huge levels of success and maybe even a lot of mainstream attention.

Check out: “Lost My Cool”, “Toothpick”, “Speak Slow


THE HELIX NEBULA

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These instrumental progressive metal wizards, the lineup of which includes regular Plini collaborators Simon Grove and Jake Howsam Lowe, are quickly becoming a regular staple amongst those who like the technically minded end of heavy music. They specialise in well written yet incredibly virtuosic music and are also more than willing to reach slightly outside the box for inspiration – they have even done a prog metal re-interpretation of Jon Gomm’s viral hit Passionflower”.

The Helix Nebula currently only have one EP (released in 2014), but a full album is on its way, albeit an album that has had an incredibly long gestation period because all four members have been very busy with other projects. Regardless, it should be absolutely mind- blowing when it does see the light of day.

Check out: “Sea of Suns”, “Passionflower”, “Sailing Stone


I, VALIANCE

If you thought Twelve Foot Ninja were weird… you ain’t seen nothing yet until you listen to I, Valiance.

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I, VALIANCE, Source: Killyourstereo

The Melbourne-based five piece combine the deathcore stylings of bands like Thy Art Is Murder with blaring synths, dissonant guitar leads, trap influenced beats, trippy atmospheres, blasts of circus music and some of the most ridiculous screamed vocals you will ever hear this side of a Mayhem album.

Originally fronted by Aversions Crown vocalist Mark Poida (a legend in his own right in the deathcore scene thanks to the absolutely insane noises that he’s able to create), they went through multiple prospective front-men after he parted ways with them to focus on his new band before settling on their equally mental current front-man, Terrence Kilner. Mark did however return as a guest vocalist on the heavily rap-influenced “Three Daggers”. They have been in the process of gradually releasing a full album’s worth of music in a series of EPs, two of which were released last year, and hopefully a third will be in our ears very soon.

Check out: “I, The Enemy”, “The Blood Beneath My Nails”, “Three Daggers


AVERSIONS CROWN

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AVERSIONS CROWN, Source: Blabbermouth.net

Do you like deathcore? Do you like aliens? Do you like vocals that sound like aliens? If the answer is yes to all three, Aversions Crown is the band for you. Featuring ex-I, Valiance vocalist Mark Poida and an H.P. Lovecraft-style mythology revolving around warmongering, genocidal aliens wreaking havoc upon the earth, Aversions Crown specialise in bombastic soundscapes, blast beats and some of the heaviest breakdowns you’ll ever hear. Buster Oldenholm, the brainchild of Swedish masters of brutality Humanity’s Last Breath, had a huge hand in the production of their latest album “Xenocide” and it really shows; it’s loud, proud and not for the faint-hearted.

Check out: “Erebus”, “Parasites”, “Prismatic Abyss


THE BEAUTIFUL MONUMENT

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THE BEAUTIFUL MONUMENT, Source: Bigsound

2019 looks to be a breakout year for Melbourne alt-rockers The Beautiful Monument. Sporting an all-female lineup and an arsenal of huge tunes from their 2017 debut “I’m The Sin” and their brand new single “Deceiver” and having already toured with Tonight Alive, they look and sound more than ready to take on the world stage. They cite A Day To Remember and The Ghost Inside as huge influences on their sound so if you’re a fan of either of those bands, you’ll definitely enjoy this breath of fresh air in the more melodic and pop-punk influenced end of heavy music.

Check out: “Deceiver”, “Disorder”, “Perceptions


 

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RAP RADAR: 10 UK RAPPERS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT…

Updated: 23/08/17          Written by: Natalya Davies

Since the breakthrough of Grime into the UK mainstream’s consciousness around 2016, the nation’s rap scene has flourished into something very exciting for music lovers. This breakthrough made way for an appreciation of the drill, dancehall and afrobeat fusions of artists like J Hus, Yxng Bane and IAMDDB, making UK music a serious contender globally.

As a homage to this recent success, I wanted to spend some time putting together a collective of my favourite UK rap talents across a number of different genres, however, I wanted to use my platform to do this differently.

We all know that the AJ Traceys and Giggs’ are HOT on the music scene, so picking artists like this would make for a completely predictable listing; despite their worthiness to be entitled the hottest UK rappers of the modern day. No, for this piece, I wanted to challenge myself to feature only artists with under 100k monthly listens on Spotify* so that I could truly showcase the underground kings and queens that you may be missing out on!

So, without further ado, here are the top 10 rappers you need to know about…

 

10. NOVELIST

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Monthly Listens: 28,000*

For Fans of: Asco, Ambush Buzzworl, Youngs Teflon

First in the list, but last in my ranking is Novelist, a 19 year old MC and producer who has certainly put his stamp on Grime culture in London. Through features with the likes of Skepta, Kanye West and Tom Misch, he is rapidly proving his versatility and potential despite being such a young artist.

“So, if Novelist has worked with the greats, why is he so under-the-radar?” – you may ask. Well, this is likely the result of his devotion to the underground rap scene, assuring that a traditional route (not dominated by social media strategies and D2C marketing) is the way he wants to keep things. Who can blame him?

Recommended track: 10/10

9. JAM BAXTER

Image result for jam baxter

Monthly Listens: 46,000*

For Fans of: Fliptrix, Verb T, Dabbla

If you’re looking for something truly underrated, Jam Baxter’s poetically cryptic and mysterious lyrics versed with atmospheric Hip Hop beats and dark imagery makes for a very interesting mixture – indeed.

“Excellent Donut” featuring Ed Scissor was the track that originally brought my attention to the rapper, its alluring layers yet minimal structure are bound to instantly hold you captive.

Recommended track: For A Limited Time Only

 

8. BARNEY ARTIST

Image result for barney artist

Monthly Listens: 80,000*

For Fans of: Loyle Carner, Alfa Mist, Chris McClenney

Barney Artist, from East London, is different to anything else featured on this list – a very special addition, in fact. If you are a fan of  Hip Hop, chill vibes and relaxing soul beats, then look no more, Barney is exactly what you have been looking for.

After numerous collaborations with Neo-Soul royalty Tom Misch, Jordan Rakei and Alfa Mist, Barney is quickly becoming one to know within this scene.

Recommended track: I’m Going to Tell You

 

7. NADIA ROSE

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Monthly Listens: 98,000*

For Fans of: Stefflon Don, Lady Leshurr, Yungen

One thing that is apparent in the behaviour of young rappers is the need to be daring  and harness a confidence that is indestructible, however, with Nadia Rose, this captivating swagger is so convincingly natural. Rose, who also happens to be the cousin of Stormzy, has a striking dexterity in the rap game, similar to the likes of Lady Leshurr.

If you want a taste of this addictive prowess, simply head over to her video for “Stations” where you can see her rapping on train tracks – without permission!

Recommended track: Skwod

 

6. MAXSTA

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Monthly Listens: 48,000*

For Fans of: Ghetts, P Money, D Double E

Despite being a rather underground artist, Maxsta is a well renowned and experienced name in the Grime scene – however, his position says nothing about his talent; simply that he is unwilling to compromise his sound to appeal to a larger audience.

His music perfectly encompasses the brutal essence of Grime, in a way that is extremely authentic. For anyone that is even merely interested in UK rap, Maxsta is a must-listen.

Recommended track: Guns and Roses

5. REEKO SQUEEZE

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Monthly Listens: 39,000*

For Fans of: Recky, SL, Harlem Spartans

Originally a member of popular Drill crew ‘Section Boyz’, Reeko Squeeze is a UK rapper that is proving to be one to watch over the next year. Despite finessing the ego and hard edge that is essential in the rapper aesthetic, Reeko possesses a likeability and drive that is likely to win you over, even if the music is not for you.

This infectious drive is sprinkled throughout Reeko’s tracks, mixed with a boyish cockiness, making for an unforgettable combination.

Recommended track: Diablo

 

4. REEKZ MB

Image result for REEKZ MB

Monthly Listens: 48,000*

For Fans of: AJ Tracey, Abra Cadabra, MoStack

Reekz MB is another truly underground artist, his music often shedding light on the harsh reality of growing up as a young black male in the nation’s capital – without filter. There is an undeniable aggression to Reekz’ style accompanied atop hypnotic drill beats, making him a great listen for those that are big fans of the underground rap scene.

With Drill groups like Harlem Spartans and 67 dominating London’s South-side, it is likely that this is not the last that you will hear of rappers like Reekz.

Recommended track: Blueprint

3. SUSPECT

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Monthly Listens: 86,000*

For Fans of: Avelino, Fredo, Skepta

Labelled an “underground king” by many,  Suspect isn’t your average UK rapper. Not one interested in the fame and fortune that haunts so many younger rappers, Suspect is truly here to establish himself as a serious artist – making music worthy of respect and high regard.

You don’t need to do your research to learn this, however, a quick listen to his albums “Loading” (2017) and “Still Loading” (2018) will tell you this about the rapper. There is an evident natural aggression yet certainty to his sound, similar to the likes of Skepta, projecting the “no messing” attitude which has captured the attention of American audiences.

Recommended track: One Way

 

2. DOUBLE S

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Monthly Listens: 33,000*

For Fans of: Ghetts, JME, Black the Ripper

Double S is another one of these incredible talents that successfully manages to slip under the radar – making him more stylishly distant than underrated. However, despite being somewhat isolated from the public eye, the London MC’s monthly listen count reflects nothing on the gems that are waiting to be discovered in debut album “Double Vision” (2017).

With collaborations from Grime heavyweights JME and Wiley, “Double Vision” is a release fueled with the fastest lyrical flows and an infectious bravado, making this a release which should be on the radar of all grime fans.

Recommended track: Secret

 

1. KNUCKS

Image result for knucks rapper

Monthly Listens: 95,000*

For Fans of: Big Tobz, KwolleM, Yung Fume

For an avid music fan, I appreciate nothing more than an artist striving to infuse their own unique flavour into their work, and this much can be said for North-West London rapper Knucks. If his witty yet staggeringly suave nature isn’t enough to have you hooked, then his self-produced soul infused beats should surely do the trick.

Despite releasing a rather typical ‘Afrobeat’-inspired track “Hooper” featuring Not3s, Knucks is one of very few UK rappers that can not be defined – quite similar to rap’s lovable rogue, Dave. Knucks does not limit himself to certain styles and beats, instead, his experimental nature makes for some of the most interesting sounds currently circulating the London scene.

Recommended track: Vows

 

 

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Releasing new music or a new project? Email aamusicblog2017@gmail.com or contact via instagram @ABSOLUTELYAUDIO for review/article enquiries. More information is available via the contact button on the homepage.

 

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INSTAGRAM… THE MUSIC INDUSTRY’S FRIEND OR FOE?

Updated: 26th July 2018         Written by: Natalya Davies

“It is justifiable to suggest that Instagram is Facebook’s second chance at reaching out to social media users effectively; and music is the answer”

 

IG2

 

With explosive, new releases from Ariana Grande and Twenty One Pilots, Drake dominating the charts and Cardi B’s baby making an appearance, it must be said that July has already been a busy month for music news. It comes without surprise, then, that other stories have seemingly slipped through the cracks, somewhat unnoticed.

On July 9th, self-proclaimed life guru, Jaden Smith played a role in creating what could be a new potential route for the modern artist; an Instagram exclusive album release. The young artist revealed “SYRE: THE ELECTRIC ALBUM” via his social media page accompanied by six alluring visuals, forming a larger picture, with Instagram being the sole platform of access, at the time. Despite this being a music industry first, so far very little has come from Smith’s creative attempt, therefore, has it simply fallen short by recent music news or is it really just an ineffective method?

 

 

In an attempt to compete with YouTube and its staggering 1.57bn monthly active users, Instagram has recently launched IGTV, an attempt to reach out to content creators of all kinds that are naturally gravitating to the visual worlds of these popular social platforms. However, this is not Instagram’s first effort to bridge the gap between the creation and its audience; in late June, a music sticker was added to its features, allowing their 400 million users to add a 7 second clip of fully licensed music to their posts via Instagram Stories.

With the awareness of the important interaction between Instagram users and music, music has become a key strategy for the enhancement of the social media experience, reinforcing the company’s relevance in the marketplace. Alongside this, as users begin to adopt the music sticker as a soundtrack to their featured moments, a new, potentially effective way for artists to gain compensation and exposure has been created.

“This heavy adoption of music could potentially lead to yet more power in the hands of the IT sector – and with this power, you can never assume that the music industry’s best interests will be taken into account.”

 

It has been argued previously that Facebook’s audience has become increasingly disengaged, particularly with music artists and content creators as the medium lacks the personal touch that Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube encapsulates. In light of this, it is justifiable to suggest that Instagram is Facebook’s second chance at reaching out to social media users effectively; and music is the answer.

The issue that has been identified, however, is that this heavy adoption of music could potentially lead to yet more power in the hands of the IT sector – and with this power, you can never assume that the music industry’s best interests will be taken into account. This move does suggest to be something potentially disruptive, especially considering that the industry has only recently regained stability with streaming services growing in popularity.

While it is easy to predict that users will embrace the fusion of social media and music, it is unlikely to predict whether the Instagram exclusive release will be as successful. It has recently been argued that the opportunity for music windowing (whereby artists release music exclusively to one platform for a limited time) has long gone – it seems that consumers no longer mind the wait for the new music to arrive on their favoured platform. Therefore, this is likely to be an explanation for the lack of success in Jaden Smith’s Instagram “window-like” release.

On the other hand, however, in the past, Instagram has been used as a beneficial tool, particularly for artists seeking high engagement, with little marketing. The method of the “surprise” album release through social media has been a concept adopted by the likes of Drake and Beyonce, and has seen to create large amounts of traction through the audience’s excitement. While Drake and Beyonce are two of the world’s most successful artists of the modern day, this is a great example of how Instagram and similar social media platforms can once again bring the audience closer to music.

However, as the saying goes, everything must be in moderation!

 

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JANUARY FAVOURITES | 2018

Here’s just a slight glimpse of what I have been enjoying this month…

 

DISCOVERIES

VOWS – KNUCKS

For fans of: Kojo Funds, Dave, Mostack

As an avid music fan, it is a personal goal of mine to discover new music and artists as often as I possibly can, daily preferably. Despite the amount of music you listen to or the genres you delve into, each listener will find sparks in different artists dependent on various factors like relatability, lyrics, beats, etc. However, this ‘spark’, so to speak, is exactly what makes finding new music so exciting and the biggest spark I have come across recently was when discovering London rapper Knucks.

Knucks resides in a league of his very own, serving us modern rap with a clever retro twist. ‘Vows’ portrays the rapper’s audacious boyish charm, similar to likes of AJ Tracey,  fused with an authentic jazz inspired sound that acts as a nostalgic time machine, taking anyone that listens to a past musical era. With UK rap and R’n’B being as well received as it is currently, artists like Knucks will have no problem standing out from the crowd.

Future releases from Knucks will be very highly anticipated, no doubt.

TROPICAL – SL

For fans of: AJ Tracey, K-Trap, Harlem Spartans

Similar to Knucks, Croydon rapper SL is proving to be a contender in the UK music scene with his latest single ‘Tropical’ which was released on December 25th, 2017; quite the Christmas present. Again, my favourite part about SL’s sound is that he has taken such a relevant sound and added an innovative twist which sets him apart from the rest of the rather saturated crowd.

Grime is often perceived as an intimidating or even aggressive genre, which is why the unlikely contrast of the minimal and mellow music works so well behind SL’s daring lyrics. The future seems very bright for the young rapper, I can only hope that we see more of this.

THE WEEKEND – SZA x CALVIN HARRIS

For fans of: Daniel Caesar, Miguel, Kehlani

It’s important to remix mostly because sometimes you have to be sure that there is no better version of you to be attained… and then sometimes you realise that there are definitely better versions to be attained, and you have to get in and attack those moments. Commit yourself to being something better.(SZA)

Whether this recent reflection from SZA is talking about music or something much much deeper, the meaning rings true. Experimentation can go wrong, but it can also go so right and the latter can definitely be said for the recent remix of SZA’s hit ‘The Weekend’ by Calvin Harris. This version exposed SZA’s well-known R’n’B sound to an infectious funk flare that has recently come to the mainstream eye through the likes of Bruno Mars and Tuxedo. While her original hit is an incredible song by itself, this remix proves that a better (or different) version of you really can be attained through a different outlook.

LIFESTYLE – BELLY SQUAD

For fans of: Lotto Boyzz, Big Tobz, Nafe Smallz

Donning the sound that is currently booming from the streets of London, Belly Squad have fused the best of Afrobeat with UK rap elements, a sound which is sure to catapult the trio into the forefront of the musical limelight in the coming year.

Recent release ‘Lifestyle’ is the epitome of an infectious club classic that is sure to grow in popularity throughout the coming year. With one listen of this track, you will certainly be humming along to the chorus and reaching for a beer (trust me, I was).

EXCELLENT DONUT – JAM BAXTER x ED SCISSOR

For fans of: Dabbla, Hopsin, Verb T

If you’re a fan of lyrical content, then this is the one for you. A perfect collaboration between UK rap heavyweights Jam Baxter and Ed Scissor, ‘Excellent Donut’ will leave you feeling reflective as the clever musical poetry poured into the music sinks into your mind.

With much of the music that I have recently discovered or is currently in the mainstream charts, it is clear to see that lyrical content often goes overlooked or is viewed as not as important as aspects such as melody and beats. Jam Baxter and Ed Scissor, however, are a much needed reminder that lyrical poetry is still very much present in modern music as a beautiful art form of its own.

jan 1

SONGS

DON BROCO – COME OUT TO LA

For fans of: Mallory Knox, Young Guns, Lower Than Atlantis

The fifth teaser unveiled for the much anticipated third studio album ‘Technology’ from Bedford based four piece Don Broco, ‘Come Out To LA’ is the perfect representation of why the rock scene needs bands like this. Rather than following the crowd with their sound or visuals for that matter, Don Broco are experimenting with electronic influences, pop choruses as well as hard rock heaviness to create something completely new and exciting.

With such a broad genre as Rock, it is extremely easy to get lost in the crowd, especially with how rapidly fan bases can be cultivated in modern times, however, Don Broco, as well as others such as Enter Shikari, are just a few acts that threaten to be here for a long time. Here’s to February 2nd!

ITS A VIBE – 2 CHAINZ, TY DOLLA $IGN, TREY SONGZ, JHENE AIKO

For fans of: Pusha T, A$AP Ferg, Juicy J

In these unfavourable winter months when the days are short and the weather is far, far too cold, sometimes relaxing just needs to be on the agenda which is why this song has landed into my favourites this month.

‘It’s a Vibe’ is a track that should be a favourite of any R’n’B lover because it really is a ‘fits all’ sort of song. Whether you’re relaxing by yourself after a hard day or getting some drinks in before a heavy night, this song will set the tone perfectly and makes you want to sing along in a world of your own.

KNOW MY TING – GHETTS x SHAKKA

For fans of: Kano, Giggs, Wretch 32

With the uprise of grime in the UK mainstream, it is unbelievable that an artist like Ghetts has been so undeservedly overlooked, however, ‘Know My Ting’ featuring hot topic Shakka stands to shake up the game.

In comparison to a large number of grime records released within the last year, Ghetts serves us something that truly stands out as unique and even catchy with it’s repetitive hooks.

LET IT RING – MOSTACK

For fans of: J Hus, MIST, Kojo Funds

Mostack is just one of the many British artists catapulting ‘Afrobeat’ and UK R’n’B into the musical forefront which has caught the attention of many.

‘Let It Ring’ features such a relevant sound in current UK music and proves to be much of a modern club classic which comes as no surprise when listening to its catchy and repetitive chorus. Even one listen will leave you humming along.

IN MIND – PARTING GIFT

For fans of: Holding Absence, Noija, Glass Tides

The black horse of my five favourite songs for January, Parting Gift are post-hardcore newcomers based in Manchester that threaten to take over the UK rock scene. ‘In Mind’ instantly evokes emotion due to the contrast of its soft reflective verses and chaotic, pleading choruses.

As cliche as it is to say, ‘In Mind’ takes the listener on a journey through which different thoughts and feelings are provoked. Rather than being consistent, the song progresses and retracts, which is reflective of the troubled lyrics. There is a certain power when a song is so convincing to its listeners and this is a power which Parting Gift have in the bag.

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ARTISTS

SHAKKA

For fans of: Not3s, Avelino, WSTRN

Within the last few months, Shakka has been making his presence recognised in the UK R’n’B/Afrobeat scene through many collaborations with artists such as Not3s, Wretch 32, Ghetts, Young Thug and many, many more. Shakka has fallen into my January favourites as he is one to watch in 2018, an artist that I am finding very interesting watching grow musically. He is living proof that innovation is alive in modern music as he brings a distinctive sound to the table with an energy that is certainly infectious.

Image result for shakka

RECOMMENDED:

‘No Drama’ Not3s Feat. Shakka

‘I Heart The Weekend’

 

LOYLE CARNER

For fans of: Tom Misch, Casisdead, Rejjie Snow

Another exciting career that is developing right before our eyes is that of Loyle Carner, a UK ‘Hip-Hopper’ with an authentic neo-soul touch that differentiates the rapper from his competition. Having been nominated for a Mercury award in 2017, alongside various other awards, Carner has been the topic of conversation in the music world and you can bet this is just the tip of the iceberg for the artist.

Image result for Loyle Carner

RECOMMENDED:

‘Ain’t Nothing Changed’

‘Crazy Dream’ Tom Misch Feat. Loyle Carner

 

MABEL

For fans of: RAY BLK, Stefflon Don, Not3s

Without a doubt, Mabel has been one of the stand-out stars of 2017, with ‘Finders Keepers’ dominating every club, shop and radio station in the UK. Having been brought up by parents that have already had a fulfilled and successful career in the music industry, many would feel that there are massive shoes to be filled, however, Mabel takes it all within her stride and uses her parents as drive to become one of the biggest modern stars in the world, and she is very much so on her way there.

Image result for mabel mcvey

RECOMMENDED:

‘Finders Keepers’ Feat. Kojo Funds

‘Fine Line’ Feat. Not3s

 

Want to get involved? Comment below your January favourites!

4. ASTROID BOYS – BACON DREAM EP (2016)

Image result for astroid boys bacon dream

If you haven’t already jumped on the Astroid Boys hype then fear not, their exciting journey has really only really just begun.

A boyish five piece outfit from Cardiff, South Wales, Astroid Boys are one of the handful of bands that I have had the pleasure of watching grow into something extremely promising. Their fusion of hardcore and grime influences create a sound unlike anything currently in the UK music scene, more effective than any fusion of metal and rap that I have ever stumbled across previously.

‘Bacon Dream’ is a collection of songs that differ so much in contrast but manage to compliment each other perfectly at the same time. There are grime influenced electronic songs like ‘Rinsa’ and ‘Tayluh Swift’, hardcore influenced songs like ‘Dusted’ and ‘Mingin’ and just when you thought they couldn’t do any more, they even included some experimental downbeat hip hop influenced tracks like ‘Giggs’ and ‘Hungerstrikes’.

Despite the fact that they are doing something completely different, what I find most attractive about this act is the energy and attitude displayed in their music. It’s raw, loyal to it’s roots, all mixed with a cheekiness and cocky certainty that any aspiring band should have.

So, if you haven’t already, I highly recommend you give this EP a listen.

RECOMMENDED TRACKS

‘Rinsa’

‘Tayluh Swift’

‘Dusted’

Want to get involved? Comment below your favourite albums of all time!