Australia's Next Crop: The Best Of BIGSOUND 2015

BIGSOUND_REVIEWBIGSOUND doesn’t have a bad track record. If you just look at last year’s live lineup and compare it to where they are now, it should just about justify BIGSOUND’s importance for new artists. This week, SAFIA and Tkay Maidza are touring around the country on sold-out national tours, DMA’s, George Maple, Maidza and more have played international festivals while Hayden James has scored an international hit with Something About You - that is, of course, an abridged version of a long list of accolades. Knowing the potential of these young artists approaching this year’s event made it all the more exciting.

These are our picks of the bunch - the one’s we think we’ll be talking about as the most successful graduates come this time next year.

Day One Highlights


Sydney artist Charmian Kingston AKA. BUOY was hit with one of the more unfortunate mishaps of the week when her sound cut-out midway through the set but it did little to dampen what was a memorable first half. She’s got this effortless, water-soaked sound that washes right over you. Her voice is ethereal and perched in front of the piano, she looked shy but quietly confident. She’s one of the artists here whose music has already extended beyond this country, featuring on a number of international blogs. We reckon a hop over the pond next year could be very easily facilitated.

Set Mo

Sydney duo Nick Drabble and Stu Turner, better known as Set Mo, are proof that one song can really get your career firing. Their Deutsche Duke-featuring track White Dress has become one of the year’s best local releases and from Splendour In The Grass to BIGSOUND, every time they drop it, it sounds mighty. DJ sets at industry-showcase type shows can always feel a bit awkward but Set Mo managed to gather a dense crowd and got them firing with richly melodic house music that’s destined to soundtrack Aussie festivals over the next year as well as make them a big player in Europe.

Ready, Set Mo @setmomusic @bigsound #bigsound

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Life Is Better Blonde

Melbourne producer Life Is Better Blonde may only really have two released tracks to his name, Mine and Follow Me, but they have both been strong enough to gather some serious support online. He channels that James Blake singer/songwriter-cross-producer aesthetic and live he sat at the piano playing with a vocoder, churning out intimate, sonically-interesting tracks. He’s without a doubt an exceptional musician and it seems he’ll really benefit from a full-length release where he has the space to build and diversify his music showing everything he can do - which is a lot judging by his BIGSOUND performance.

??>?? Life Is Better Blonde @bigsound @viceroyaltymusic

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There was a lot of dark, brooding electronica at BIGSOUND this year so it was refreshing to see an act like Porsches with explicit pop sensibilities, bringing a bit of fun to the stage. Fully co-ordinated in Adidas tracksuits, the duo pulled one of the bigger crowds of the week and actually managed to create a bit of a party - impressive for a Wednesday night. Their sound sits somewhere between Jungle and Hot Chip, sounding like it could simultaneously win over a huge triple j festival audience and be added to heavy rotation on commercial radio. Their recent work with producer Kilter on Want 2 has put them in an envious position where they can jump between club music and alternative-tinged tunes with ease. By the sounds of it they have a number of hits at the ready and one of those could be their next single dropping next week. Very high hopes for Porsches.

Slum Sociable

Every year at BIGSOUND you know there are a handful of acts that the label has been hiding away, quietly confident in their immediate brilliance. Last year we saw it with George Maple and this year we saw it with Mushroom’s Slum Sociable. Their two tracks Anyway and All Night had them sounding a bit like a production duo, but what we got on stage was something very different. They presented as a full band with an exploding, soulful sound that felt vintage and nostalgic but also something completely different to everything else we were hearing at BIGSOUND. They spectacularly transferred their bedroom-sounding production into mainstage players that bursted with energy, easily making them one of the top three live acts of the week.


You get the feeling that playing in an industry setting before midnight is probably not the optimum habitat for Melbourne duo friendships but they didn’t let that deter them at BIGSOUND. Their abrasive brand of electronica physically rumbled the dancefloor and amongst all the delicate electronica this week, hearing Pedal To The Medal rumble out of the speakers was somewhat refreshing. This is a sound that’s begging to find a home in the depths of a Berlin nightclub at 5am but the tracks are so memorable that they even packed a real punch before midnight.

With @friendshipsau like these, who needs enemies? @bigsound #bigsound

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Ngaiire is kind of a veteran in the industry. She first came to the public’s attention in the first season of Australian Idol before collaborating with Paul Mac. Since then she’s risen up the ranks on triple j and has finally landed on a sound that’s really working for her. She pulled a massive crowd for her night-ending showcase that was full of powerful vocals atop subtle electronic arrangements. The album sounds like it’s going to be a stellar collection of future soul that showcases her beautifully textured voice alongside really strong melodies and electronic soundscapes. Once is an unbelievable entrance to that album and live it sounded beefed-up with backing vocals that made the chorus soar. She had everyone dancing and nearly everyone in awe of her voice.

Getting some serious @liannelahavas vibez from @ngaiire ??? #Bigsound

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Day Two Highlights

Gill Bates

Day Two was all about the new wave of Australian hip-hop and Gill Bates kicked it off with a sound that’s more influenced by Future and Travis Scott than Hilltop Hoods. He’s obviously grown-up devouring stateside hip-hop and he interweaved his set, sampling those tunes amongst his own. He’s the type of artist who could easily score a radio hit and craft a critically-acclaimed album because he lays down pop-infused hooks alongside impressive verses. BIGSOUND crowds aren’t the most lively at the best of times but he did a phenomenal job of getting Oh Hello going and once he’d gotten everyone to step closer to the stage it felt like a firing club show.

Oh hello, @gillbates_aus! #bigsound

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From one hip-hop act to the next, Rara are also inspired by US hip-hop. Chatting to us earlier in the day, they said they weren’t afraid to enter into the world of pop and cited influences from Justin Bieber to Travis Scott. On stage, they brought exactly that. At one stage they had all four mics front and centre of stage, looking like we were about to get a Boyz II Men show. That’s not what we got, obviously. Instead, they bounced off each other, delivering verse after verse over beats that ranged from slow-bangers to thumping house tunes. They dropped a number of new tunes off their forthcoming EP Planet 2016 with the title-track sounding particularly appetising.


Like so many of the young-guns who performed at BIGSOUND this year, cln has only been in the public-eye for about a year. In that time he’s gone from a bedroom beatmaker to a singer, at the request of his manager. He’s obviously still not completely comfortable singing as he let the crowd know a number of times but it would’ve been hard to tell had he not told us. Hold Me and Found off his latest EP are his strongest tracks to date and live they felt intimate and stirring. He makes stunning electronic soundscapes and manages to make them sound atmospheric while still being a “banger”, as he put it.


Baro feels like the Remi of 2015 - not that Remi has disappeared. He has a really international appeal but also has this organic quality to his beats that sound distinctively Australian. He’s got a huge musical palette and it comes across live as he fuses jazz with international hip-hop and pop, amping up the crowd with immediately catchy hooks while throwing down intricate, left-centre verses. He really understands rhythm and melody, finding sweet spots in places you wouldn’t expect. He dropped cuts off his latest EP 17/18 with This Is For You, Fuck Everybody getting the crowd particularly rowdy. It took him and his sidekick Marley a little bit of hyping but they weren’t going to give up until the whole audience was moving - and by the end they were.

@barryisrichard (Baro) dropping a ??? unreleased track. #BIGSOUND ps. pls release.

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We were already pretty convinced that Olivia McCarthy AKA. JOY. was brilliant and BIGSOUND just reaffirmed that for us. From the minute she walks on stage she’s utterly captivating, holding her hand out in front of her and rotating it as if that’s her wand to put everyone in a trance. Filling up the set mostly with songs from her debut EP Ode, she easily pulled one of the biggest crowds of the week and justified it with a stunning set. Her vocals are so effortless that sometimes it feels as if they fall from her mouth without her even opening. From the enchanting opener Crazy For You to the four-to-the-floor beat of About Us, McCarthy delivered a near-perfect set that made everyone either fall in love with her or cry from jealousy.

When drawing one of the biggest crowds at @bigsound ain't no thang... @joyaus_ #bigsound

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Koi Child

If you’ve heard Tame Impala’s Currents you’d know that Kevin Parker’s taste is pretty damn good, that’s why you’ve really gotta pay attention to a new band that’s been produced by Parker purely because he thought they were great after seeing them live. It’s easy to see why too. They combine hip-hop with jazz and Badbadnotgood-style instrumentation on-stage to create a rhythmic party driven by frontman Shannon Patterson’s unbelievable flow. Put simply, there wasn’t a live set that came close to the quality of Koi Child’s. Given they have only had one song, the excellent Black Panda, they managed to keep the crowd entertained for the entirety of the set and even had them asking for an encore. Their chemistry together is infectious and they bounced off each other the whole time looking like they were having the time of their life. You’ll be hearing a lot more about Koi Child before the year is out.

@koichild were so fly ??????

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First Impressions: FKA twigs, Disclosure, CHVRCHES & More

FI_18AugFirst Impressions is an interns roundtable review of songs on their first (or second) listen. Each week we review six new songs from the past week, each giving them a score out of five and awarding our pick of the week. This week we pick apart tracks by FKA twigs, Slum Sociable, CHVRCHES, Vic Mensa, Deer and Disclosure.

FKA twigs
in time

Zanda: More sparkly goodness from FKA Twigs here. This is actually one of the simpler tracks that I’ve heard from her, and it benefits from not trying to do too much. The modest melodic aspect of it ensures that her incredible vocals remain the centrepiece of the whole track, with strong bass lines also giving it another dimension and some depth. 3.5

Sam: All the most recent tracks we’ve heard from FKA twigs have all been pretty sparse and electronic but this one feels the most accessible. It’s bound by this early 2000s R&B aesthetic but then peppered with heavy, affecting electronic sounds. twigs sounds gentle and sensual bringing a real direct honesty to the song - the lyrics help that too. When twigs sings over a sparse beat she has this knack of making it feel startlingly intimate and that’s what in time achieves. This could actually be her best track since Two Weeks. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Slum Sociable

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Zanda: I’m immediately taken by the gorgeous, twinkly piano line that sits in behind the vocals. It’s an accompanying line but it sits above the vocals in pitch which makes it stand out. and that’s just one aspect of the superb layering that makes this track so impressive. With various piano, bass, guitar and synth/effect lines coming in and out of prominence, Slum Sociable explore a massive range of textures and timbres within a relatively limited melodic space. Oh and its funky as hell. 4.5 Zanda’s Pick

Sam: Wow. First single Anyway was good, but this one really makes you sit up and take notice. It sounds like an old-soul brought forward to the future with smokey, crackling vocals accompanied by a jazz-infused instrumental. Australia has really found it’s sound in terms of electronic music recently but it’s beginning to sound a little tired. No one else is really doing this in the country and it’s so damn refreshing to hear. 4

Never Ending Circles

Zanda: So far CHVRCHES new album sounds like it’s going to be exactly what you’d expect, an exploration in synth pop. They stick to a relatively simple formula, but it works incredibly well and happy melodies make people happy. Gorgeous contrasting sections of Lauren’s pure vocals vs affected vocals give this track another catchy dimension to it as well. 4

Sam: Totally with Zanda - CHVRCHES have delivered up a few solid tracks now and it’s exactly what you expected it to sound like. That’s a good and a bad thing. On one hand, Leave A Trace and this one are really excellent, which they are, but on the other hand it sounds like the album may be a bit of a sequel to The Bones Of What You Believe and it may get a little boring. In saying that, we’ve only heard two tracks so they could have some really interesting stuff lined-up for the album. In the meantime I’m just going to take Never Ending Circles for what it is which is a big, bold, sparkling electronic track that features Lauren Mayberry killing it once again. 4

Vic Mensa
I Been

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Zanda: I remember listening to an interview Vic Mensa did on triple j about the huge success of Down On My Luck and he was honestly quite surprised as it was very different to most of his stuff. I Been is probably a bit more reflective of his true style; its grimier and definitely not as easy to listen to as DOML so if that’s what you’re expecting you’ll be disappointed. Having said that this is a dank track and his flow is excellent. 3

Sam: The first 15 seconds of this is so good. It sounds really dark and also builds you up for a tempo-raising, fire-spitting rap but we don’t really get that in the end. It’s a solid track that’s right up the alley of his most recent stuff particularly U Mad but in many ways it’s predictable and a little forgettable. It would be good to hear Mensa rapping over some more interesting beats - something a little faster and even a bit glitchier. I Been is demonic and abrasive but it needs a moment that really punches you in the gut - we never get that. 3.5

Cry For Help

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Zanda: There’s a lot to like in this track. The effects and synths all work nicely to create some positive vibes and an overall pleasing aural aesthetic. However I feel like the EQ’ing sounds unfinished and overall the tune is lacking depth. There is also very little melodic development, it just seems like two very recognisable sections alternating back and forth. Lots of potential though, as this is in fact Deer’s first single release! 3

Sam: This one’s a really interesting one. It takes a few cues from that tropical, cartoon-like sound that producers like Paces and Sable have nailed but it darkens it a bit with darker, rumbling beats. Those beats really dig it into the ground and give the track a bit of strength. It’s kind of like TNGHT have been stripped-back to their bare-bones and recreated in paradise. As such, we’re left with ear-candy aplenty but alongside a hip-hop influenced weightiness that makes it feel less fleeting. Really promising stuff from the new producer. 4

Willing & Able (Feat. Kwabs)

Zanda: This track really showcases Disclosure’s ability to tailor their production to the style of any vocalist that they are featuring. Willing & Able has so much soul, and that is just as much to do with the tempered version of house music that lives underneath the awesome and catchy, soulful vocals by Kwabs. The typical bass used is held back in tempo, really allowing Kwabs to shine, whereas when featuring guys like Gregory Porter they’ll really up the anti and produce a track with much more intensity (ie. Holding On). It may not sound like it on first listen, but Disclosure are genuinely becoming one of the more versatile acts going around. 4.5

Sam: Kwabs is one of my favourite new vocalists and him teaming-up with Disclosure is an absolute no-brainer. Willing & Able is smooth as hell, soulful and built around a swelling chorus - but so are all Disclosure tracks really. At this point I’m starting to get a little nervous about the Disclosure album based on the fact that so far all the tracks have been solid but nothing has been different enough from Settle to really capture attention. I thought Bang That was a really positive step for the duo, delivering something with a little more gusto but since then it’s been a little predictable. That’s not to take away from the song as a standalone product - if I was hearing it with no context I’d say it was a banging song. The unfortunate fact is, I’m not and I’m just craving something that really catches me off-guard. 3

Now it's time for your vote: 

[poll id="51"]


10 Songs You Need To Hear This Week: Lana Del Rey, FKA twigs, Disclosure And More


After a few quiet weeks it feels like this week has been jam-packed with new music. We got a new FKA twigs EP, a new Lana Del Rey song and an unexpected Joanna Newsom album announce. We probably could've done 30 songs you need to hear this week but we know you're busy people and so we won't take up too much of your time. Here is a much more concise 10 songs that you must hear.

Make It Up

Lorde and Fourtet love London artist Tirzah and that means so must the world. This latest single has been floating around for a while now but it's only officially just been dropped on British label Greco-Roman's Soundcloud. Produced by Micachu, Make It Up is a muted pop song with mumbling bass but crystal clear vocals. It's an understated banger but after a few plays it really starts to sink under your skin.

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Lana Del Rey
High By The Beach

It's hard to believe this has only been out for a week. High By The Beach already feels like Lana Del Rey's best song to date and by the looks of it, it's also going to be her highest charting - it's held the number one position on the US iTunes for much of the week. The video revealed today is everything you'd imagine it should be. It's melancholic, dramatic and hyperbolic. You don't really see her getting high by the beach but she is by the beach and she shoots down a helicopter with one hell of a gun so we'll take that as good enough.

Never Ending Circles

Glasgow trio CHVRCHES are well and truly back into the swing of things. They have announced their second album Every Open Eye, given us the first single Leave A Trace and now we have the second taster Never Ending Circles. With it's sprawling synths and thudding bass, the track is probably a little more accessible than Leave A Trace. That's not to say they give us a huge chorus here. Like many a CHVRCHES songs they cruise into the chorus and use the instrumentation to really swell the emotion and build climaxes - not pop hook.

Willing & Able (Feat. Kwabs)

After spending so long without Disclosure it feels like the new tracks are starting to flood in. Willing & Able featuring British soul singer Kwabs is the fifth track we've heard from Caracal and quite honestly, it's probably the best. Kwabs' voice is perfect for Disclosure's deep house soundscapes and he brings the soul with a little more depth than Sam Smith does on previous single Omen. There are still plenty of feature to look forward too though with The Weeknd, Lorde and Miguel all set to appear on the album.

Don't Go

Reece is an 18 year-old singer from Virginia who struck us earlier this week with this brilliant track Don't Go. With so much stuff flooding Soundclpoud everyday, it's often hard to stop upon something for more than a few seconds but Don't Go is a song that immediately demands your attention. It's the falsetto that hits you first and then those weighty beats that he sits back in so beautifully. Then by the time the chorus hits you're already searching for more information about him. It's an exceptional mid-tempo banger and given his young age, he'll probably deliver plenty more of these in his time.

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FKA twigs
In Time

When you've woken up for the past month hoping to see a new Frank Ocean album it's good to wake up and see something that's equally exciting. FKA twigs' new EP M3LL155X is exactly that. Both because it's new twigs and because it's utterly arresting. In Time is the highlight of the five-song set. It's a distorted, twisted track that manages to weave in both pop and R&B melodies making us think we've got a grasp on it before taking us on another detour. Her voice sounds fragile and the lyrics have this beautiful dark optimism to them - if there's such thing.

Slum Sociable
All Night

Melbourne duo Slum Sociable make it two-from-two with the release of their latest track All NightAnyway released earlier this year is still one of the better Aussie tracks this year and now they've delivered another surefire winner. It's a bluesy hip-hop flavoured track with a hook that grabs you in the first second of the song. The production feels polished yet organic and the samples are old school without sounding gimmicky. We just have so much hope for these guys now - a big one to watch for the rest of the year.

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Suicide Blonde

It's stuff like this that makes us tick. Mallrat is a sixteen year-old rapper/singer/ridiculously talented citizen of Brisbane and Suicide Blonde is her debut. It was produced by Adelaide's Tigerilla and sits somewhere between US rapper Kitty and Australia's very own Allday. She manages to carefully tread a line between hip-hop and pop, serving up some thumping bass - the type that Robyn makes sure all her tracks don't go without. It's quite frankly ridiculous to think how young she is but so exciting to think of future possibilities. Also, sorry we're late on this one - not exactly sure how this gem passed us by.

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Ginger & Drum

Sydney duo Ginger & Drum really caught our attention with the shimmering electro-pop song Ticking Boxes and they have us pricking our ears up once again for their latest Habits. They have this knack of easing you in slowly with the verse and then hitting you with a chorus that makes your heart bleed. The melodic undertones on the chorus of Habits are just ridiculously delicious and that's not even mentioning the vocal which also gets us right here <3. They're playing a few free shows in the next few weeks that if you have half a brain you'll be at before someone plucks them out of this country and spits them overseas. Head to their Facebook for deets.

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Joanna Newsom

It's been five years since Joanna Newsom's triple-disc masterpiece Have One On Me but you can't blame her for taking a little while with the follow-up because greatness simply doesn't happen overnight. Sapokanikan is the first taste of the forthcoming Divers (out 23rd October) and it's a delightfully perky number with a marching-band tempo that reminds us a little of Fiona Apple's The Idler Wheel. That is, of course, a great thing and we find ourselves smitten once again by Newsom's grace and delicate expertise.


8 New Songs That Will Get You Naked


A Gym Class Heroes song once proclaimed "We have to take our clothes have a good time", and maybe they were onto something. Music is one of the biggest aphrodisiacs of all. That and oysters and since we can't send you oysters (costs, smells etc.) we've decided to put together eight of the most clothes-losing songs around at the moment. It's also a way to shamelessly plug new music while getting you all hot around the collar at the same time.

Murlo- Jasmine (Feat. Gemma Dunleavy)

"If you would say the word, I'd be there baby", opens the song delivered with smokey, tantalising vocals. Is there anything else you really need? Murlo is a london producer who's made a name for himself with his take on grime but Jasmine is a far less abrasive affair. It's from a new EP he's dropping 6th February and features a vocalist by the name of Gemma Dunleavy who's a talented singer from Dublin. Murlo's textured approach to the instrumental compliments Dunleavy's vocals perfectly. It could very well be Murlo's breakout.

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Petite Noir- Shadows

There's something deeply compelling about newcomer Petite Noir. He has the sound that I'm sure Kele would've liked later Bloc Party records to sound like- one that's anxious yet still smooth and uber cool. The 24 year-old from Cape Town, South Africa has a clean, well put together look that makes him look like a ready-made success story yet it's his tunes that really drive it home. Shadows is a slightly haunting song yet it has an alluring quality by way of the tempting vocals. "If you really want me just tell me if you love me", he sings in falsetto. The girls are going to love him, the guys are going to want to be as cool as him. It's a win win.

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Brenmar- Plenty To Share (Feat. Ro James)

New York producer Brenmar is not exactly new but his new EP, Award, is and so is him collaborating with fellow New York RnB singer Ro James. James has the vocal qualities of Frank Ocean and effortlessly builds up the tension in the verses for Brenmar to skillfully release on the drop. It's the type of song that would make people get close and low in a club spawned by the lyrics are "girl shake that arse for me".  It was pretty difficult to pick just one song from the Award EP, the whole thing sounds like sex.

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Lisa Alma- Man

We're a big fan of Swedish label Dumont Dumont and Man by Danish singer Lisa Alma is the latest release from that label. In Man Alma takes total control singing, "I'm your man tonight" over a flickering, light-lacking beat. She then continues with "Everything you want in the night time baby". It's the type of song that's not immediately sexy but it eventually gets under your skin thanks to her frank honesty and careful coos which are peppered with smokiness.

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Slum Sociable- Anyway

Victorian duo Slum Sociable are already being pent up for big things. Without even releasing their debut single, Anyway, the pair had lined up a show at Melbourne's Sugar Mountain this week and Anway was premiered on British tastemaker blog Line of Best Fit. Anway is an old soul. A dusty sounding track that feels like its already stood the test of time. It's got a certain antiqueness to it almost sounding as if it's a sample from the long awaited Avalanches record. So, what's sexy about dust? Imagine dimming the lights, lighting a candle and hearing the first crackle of the needle against the vinyl. That's sexy.

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Alxndr London- Cold Sun 

As Mika would attest to, girls love falsetto. Ok, maybe Mika's not the best example but East London newcomer Alxndr London is a good example. Cold Sun is a concoction of falsetto, trippy soundscapes and mood-setting guitars, creating the perfect after-dark soundtrack. It's not a song made for the clubs, it's one made for intimate settings where it can be elevated by plenty of volume. We may be growing tired of electronica's relationship with RnB but this is an example of how good it can be when it works perfectly.

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Jess Nolan- My Love

"I wanna know what makes you move/Send shivers up and down your spine" is a pretty bold lyric to open your debut single with but that's what's needed to grab attention. My Love is a deeply personal, intimate track that's instrumental is subtle, but that's where the subtlety ends. She's clearly a confident songwriter and the confidence is what makes this song so attractive. You can almost see the candle blowing out as the song descends into well-timed darkness. It's an interesting setting for a song that's actually about something coming between her and her lover. Surely, there won't be anything coming between them after this track.

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Good Love- Alone

Good Love used to go by the name of Patrice but now he's decided to change to Good Love, adopting a much sweatier sound. Alone is an RnB-built tune with pitch-manipulated vocals and slinky percussion. The chorus brings with it howling guitars and vocals with as much grunt as an '80s power ballad. It's got it all. Unfortunately though Good Love can't isn't reaping the benefits from the song. He's still...alone.