We’re now halfway through the year and musically it’s been pretty good so far. There is so much music out there that you are bound to miss some of the good stuff. So sit down, relax, and delve into some great picks from our writing team. Hey, you may find your new favourite song or record of 2023.
Peter Wellman (Writer)
Best Single: Saint Harison-ego talkin
This one has been making the rounds on the internet for a bit and there is a reason. With a voice that draws a lot of comparisons to Sam Smith, Saint Harison has been taking the internet and my Spotify by storm. That high hook sticks with you, with a beat that is so simple behind it. It has to be the standout single from the EP and a perfect addition to the modern R’n’B catalogue.
Best Album: Temps-PARTY GATOR PURGATORY
So when you hear a comedian has made an album, it is usually a bad sign. Has something gone wrong? Have they had a meltdown? Do they need to buy thousands of albums from 2016 and declare it the best year for music? James Acaster turned his love of music into an eclectic mix of an album. Also, potentially one of the cutest album arts of the year.
Acaster is a percussionist first, reveling in odd and non-standard time signatures. The album was made out of reverence for musicians. Each of his 40+ contributors and collaborators was approached with a sound and told to do their own thing. This was stuck, glued slapped, and squashed together by the main man.
There are some tracks where their influences are very clear. ‘kept‘ is distinctly inspired by Danny Brown, with the frenetic rapping style over breakdowns. It’s chaotic but it is clearly a music lovers album. The driving beat of ‘no,no‘ partnered with the voice of Xenia Rubinos is so perfect. The breakdown on that song is a gorgeous groove that brings a lengthy track together.
Tara Folkes (Writer)
Best Song: Jade Novah-Butterfly
Described as “a song about letting go of what no longer serves you”, Jade Novah delivers a beautifully uplifting melody. The airy and light track is produced by her husband and manager, Devin Johnson, who once again doesn’t fail to deliver, with his wife also doing the same. Novah inspires listeners to find happiness within and become the best version of themselves. ‘Butterfly‘ is a truly beautiful, inspiring song.
Best Album: Janelle Monáe-The Age of Pleasure
It won’t take long for you to get in the mood for summer with Janelle Monáe’s long-awaited fourth album. The project is full of island vibes and raunchy lyrics that will surely get you in the mood for the heat. Featuring the singles, ‘Float‘ and ‘Lipstick Lover‘, ‘The Age of Pleasure‘ is an LP that gets better with each repeated play. Even though the album is only 32 minutes long, you will be left wanting to hear more from it as soon as you finish it
Bethan Eyre (Writer)
Best Song: Olivia Dean-Carmen
‘Carmen‘ is the fifth and final single to be released ahead of the debut album ‘Messy‘ from Walthamstow rising star Olivia Dean. The track is brimming with triumphant, soulful energy. In addition, it’s wrapped up in a beautiful message, with family at the heart of it all. Dean wrote the song as an ode to her grandmother, who moved from her home in Guyana to the U.K. as a part of Windrush. From the diverse range of instruments used to the recorded speech at the beginning and end of the song, she beautifully unites the different cultures and figures that have shaped her and her musical expression. Further to this, Dean’s recent offerings have shown such depth and richness in the things that inspire her craft. The rest of the record is sure to emulate this further.
Best Album: Matt Maltese-Driving Just To Drive
With his fourth studio album to date, Matt Maltese dropped ‘Driving Just To Drive‘ in April. It offers a mellow, poetic reflection of shared life events and experiences. His style on the record encapsulates elements of both his British and Canadian nationalities. It has a classic British indie ballad sound prominent in tracks like ‘Irony Would Have It‘ and the title track ‘Driving Just To Drive‘. Whereas we hear more of a Canadian folk-inspired sound on ‘Florence‘. Maltese has a gentle, tender quality about him on the record, as he uses its creation as a vehicle to navigate the feelings of loss, grief, and heartbreak.
Thomas Atkinson (Editor-In-Chief)
Best Song: Jorja Smith-Little Things
The Walsall-born singer is no stranger to making a dance banger and she’s done that again on ‘Little Things‘. Mixing in R’n’B with elements of funky house, this jam about that feeling you get when meeting someone at a club absolutely goes off. Moreover, her smooth and exceptional vocals match the dreamy beat. Meanwhile, the bass at the end of the song is the cherry on top. Truly a great summer hit that will take the club scene by storm. The Nia Archives remix ain’t too bad either.
Best Album: Jessie Ware-That! Feels Good!
Following up on a top-class record like ‘What’s Your Pleasure?‘ is difficult but Jessie Ware did that and more. Further continuing her evolution as a post-disco and dance music maestro, this album adds elements of funk into the equation. Ware just fits this project’s themes of finding a good time and the fun production to a tee. It’s an almost flawless listen that proves she still has plenty in the tank and is a definite album of the year contender.