Welcome back to This Week In Records. The last few weeks have been more than a little insipid when it’s come to new releases, hence our special glances at festive chart contenders, songs and albums more explicitly about the now-banished-until-December Christmas thing, and 8,104 New Year’s Eve words about the 53 Fridays of new music that are a flattering (and, I’d argue, fascinating) way of holding on to 2016.
But that deluge is long gone – here, it’s time to start celebrating the new year by returning to our old ways. London Grammar jumped straight to it, putting out their first new song in over three years before I’d even tidied away the last of the far-too-strong rum and lemonades. The xx made up for the last two months of near-silence by putting out ‘Say Something Loving,’ another divine taste of what we can expect from album three this time next week. Azealia Banks yet again reminded us of her continued existence by doing something stupid.
And, of course, Ed Sheeran decided to hold back the two biggest new releases of the week until 5am and I had little choice but to join him in the benevolent state of mind that this, my 💯th post on The Edge, had lulled me towards. If you’ve got new music on the way that we should know about and have plans to release it at a time of day that is more fitting to the sleeping habits of which I can only dream, email us at email@example.com.
Ed Sheeran – ‘Castle On The Hill’ / ‘Shape Of You’
After gradually mutating from a year of utter social media silence to tweeting blue to eating paper to getting all mathematical to reveal that the sequel to + and × would in fact be ÷, the recently sworded Ed Sheeran is being the most generous chap in the industry by keeping diligent release-based columnists everywhere up until 5am to listen to be among the first to listen to his “music.” I emphasise the uncertainty around this word not because of my perceptions of Sheeran or his work – as irksomely soppy (and sub-par Marvin Gaye-y) as ‘Thinking Out Loud’ is and always will be, overexposure to much of + etched a permanent soft spot into me and anybody who can pack out three nights at Wembley Stadium and four nights at The O2 on the same tour isn’t to be sniffed at – but rather due to the ambiguity of the whole shebang.
Would it be one song to establish the core musical trends of 2017 from what would almost certainly become the biggest-selling album of this year and next? (After all, with Bradley Walsh being the biggest-selling debut act of 2016 by far, nothing baffles me quite like the album market these days.) Would he go one step further and just chuck ÷ out in full? Would his constant referrals to the impending delivery as “music” mean he’d devised some kind of bizarre new structure for pop-like sound beyond the simple single/EP/album format and was planning to take Nick Grimshaw hostage with it?
Not quite. An ode to Suffolk, the dashy ‘Castle On The Hill’ is a swing towards the nostalgic glisten of youth, broken limbs and all, that is tailored for stadium-sized singalong eruptions not too dissimilar to Kings Of Leon’s superb ‘Waste A Moment’ (“I’m on my way, driving at nineteen / Down those country lanes singing to ‘Tiny Dancer’ / And I miss the way you made me feel, it’s real / We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill”); written with the intention of heading for someone like Rihanna, the dotty ‘Shape Of You’ could pass instrumentally for a Sia song thanks to its astonishingly non-acoustic lilt and tales of drunken hookups
(“The club isn’t the best place to find a lover / So the bar is where I go,” “Grab on my waist and put that body on me,” “Last night you were in my room and now my bedsheets smell like you / Every day discovering something brand new / I’m in love with your body”). Worth staying up until 5am for? Far more than that Christmas song he wrote for The X Factor winner had allowed me to believe was plausible, that’s for sure.
You Me At Six – Night People
Back in the land of the regularly scheduled, 2017’s first big release comes to us from days of future past. Originally planned for January 13th and shifted forward upon the release of ‘Swear’ for reasons that I can only assume are those which will congest This Week In Records in seven days’ time, You Me At Six has been so organised with Night People that we took a few listens and put out our review of the record so long ago (i.e. last Friday) that its publication can accurately be described as last year. Head over to that piece from Sophie Trenear for more words like these:
Diving straight into its eponymous lead single, Night People begins on a strong note. Although the track unfortunately requires a few listens to adjust to, with a crackling chorus that borders on the edge of inaudible and verses which can only be described as hypnotisingly dissident, however ‘Plus One‘ feels to achieve the very sense that ‘Night People’ was aiming for. A spark plug of energy buzzing electric, it sits as the record’s first high point. With raw vocals and a heart-thumping backdrop of drum fills and rippling bass riffs, it’s one of the highest peaks of the entire album.
Snakehips & MØ – ‘Don’t Leave’
Last week’s perusal through every single thing released in 2016 reminded me of just what a frabjous day of music July 15th was. It was KDA’s ‘Just Say’ that ultimately got the focus in that piece, however a glance back to its This Week In Records column exhibits stellar releases from Dusky, Hailee Steinfeld and Grey, HONNE, Justice, Låpsley, Michael Kiwanuka, Samm Henshaw, and Tom Misch. One of its cuts that, like the KDA release, bizarrely missed out on a tremendous chart run came from Snakehips, who followed ‘All My Friends’ with a ZAYN collaboration on a day that MØ put in a pair of shifts at Lovebox. ‘Don’t Leave’ brings those two parties together for a third proper attempt at a big hit, nudging some future bass explosion bits into a track that may take a few listens to adjust to but on the whole delivers a convincing Flume/Tove Lo impression.
Sundara Karma – Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect
Now is the time to get excited about new music, and The Edge is the place to be. So far this week we’ve revealed the first four members of The List’s 2017 edition – twisted poppers Sälen, spritely songwriter Will Joseph Cook, consummate poet Loyle Carner, and political rockers VANT – and we have another six fabulous names to introduce you to today and throughout next week. There’s even a Spotify playlist with the best bits from each act getting added each day.
Our first Friday batch for the year brings one bunch of new folks eagerly looking to seize the day and doing so with a good old album title of preposterous lengths: with Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect, Reading indie kids Sundara Karma look to capture the “pandemonic” nature of their live shows. If ‘Olympia,’ ‘She Said,’ and new re-release ‘Flame’ are anything to go by, Oscar Pollock and co. are behind one of the best records of the year so far.
Dua Lipa – ‘Thinking ‘Bout You’
Last year, one of our leading tips was Dua Lipa. This year, following two radio-adored singles of her own (‘Hotter Than Hell’ and ‘Blow Your Mind (Mwah)’) that were far larger pop moments than their chart positions would suggest and a collaboration with Sean Paul, she’s made it as far as the BRITs Critics’ Choice shortlist, losing out with Anne-Marie to Rag’n’Bone Man. In large part, that’s probably because her debut album still hasn’t quite made it out of the label’s vault. (The self-titled record is due on February 10th.)
Fortunately, the delay in its release is giving ‘Be The One‘ another chance to do what it did in every country with a true musical soul – Australia, Belgium, and Slovenia are prime examples – and chart very well indeed. This does mean that my favourite song on radio right now was first released over 14 months ago, however the record’s latest teaser has been hanging around (superbly) on her YouTube channel for a little over three months longer, BUT IT’S FINALLY OUT NOW SO WE CAN ALL BE HAPPY TO START 2017.
Remind me of these words (and this song) when everything inevitably falls apart.
Selected Other Releases
Brian Eno – Reflection
Great Good Fine OK – III EP
Afrojack & Jay Karama – ‘Diamonds’
Amy Macdonald – ‘Dream On’
Boehm feat. Brandyn Burnette – ‘Let’s Give It A Shot’
British Sea Power – ‘Bad Bohemian’
Elbow – ‘All Disco’
Fred Falke feat. Jake Isaac – ‘All Night, All Day’
Fred V & Grafix & Metrik feat. Kate Westall – ‘Tension’
Georgia – ‘Feel It’
Get Inuit – ‘Barbiturates’
Handsome Ghost – ‘Brand New Colony’
Harlea – ‘You Don’t Get It’
Indian Askin – ‘Drinkin Time’
Jazz Cartier – ‘Tempted’
Jens Lekman – ‘What’s That Perfume That You Wear?’
Kehlani – ‘Undercover’
Kiesza – ‘Dearly Beloved’
London Grammar – ‘Rooting For You’
Lupe Fiasco – ‘Pick Up The Phone’
Lupe Fiasco feat. Bianca Sings – ‘Made In The USA’
Lupe Fiasco feat. Jake Torrey – ‘Wild Child’
Professor Green feat. Dream Mclean – ‘Active’
RAY BLK – ‘Patience (Freestyle)’
Saint Raymond – ‘Oh Brother’
Sia – ‘Move Your Body’
SOHN – ‘Hard Liquor’
Ten Fé – ‘Twist Your Arm’
The Shins – ‘Name For You’
The xx – ‘Say Something Loving’
Tyga feat. Kanye West – ‘Feel Me’
VANT – ‘DO YOU KNOW ME?’
Wiley – ‘Speakerbox’
Young T & Bugsey – ‘What’s That (Is It A Monster?)’
One More Thing…
For far too long, these long lists of new things have been compiled without any straightforward way to give the vast majority of them a listen. In 2017, that all changes. Give our shiny new Spotify playlist a follow and all this musical newness will be right there in time for breakfast every Friday morning.