If you find that the average perennial pop earworm lacks bite, get acquainted with the teeth in the flawless futurepop earworm, ‘Demons’, by Justine Eltakchi.
After a productive 2020, which saw the singer-songwriter releasing two EPs and six singles, 2021 shows a different side of Justine Eltakchi. Her latest single brings forth a darker, more experimental hyperpop sound that isn’t afraid to lyrically rip right through to the core of suffering as the instrumentals echo the mental instability before the final crescendo that illustrates that breakthrough when the black cloud finally shifts.
Demons is a single that compels the listener to put themselves first and throw away the saviour complex. Considering that there is a fair amount of women out there lusting over serial killers with the belief that they can ‘fix’ them, Demons is an essential track.
After spending years as a session guitarist working alongside Greta Isaac and Hannah Grace, Lloyd Jerwood made his solo debut with his single, ‘To New York’.
The dream-pop track speaks to dreamers, to the ones who live vicariously through fantasy instead of inviting real-life chaos into their lives. Considering that we’ve all had plenty of time to spend with our fantasies and exploring meta possibilities during pandemic life, it is safe to say plenty will find resonance within this evocatively fiery release that utilises driving indie jangle-pop guitars and shimmering synths, to exhilarating radio-ready effect.
After such a promising debut, the rest of 2021 looks bright for Lloyd Jerwood.
To New York is now available to stream via Soundcloud.
Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Ali Angel brings us her new single ‘Play Pretend’, a slice of summery upbeat Americana-tinged bluesy pop-rock that’s reminiscent of Sheryl Crow, KT Tunstall, or Meredith Brooks, all twangy Telecaster riffs, horn section fills, and Texas Shuffle drum patterns, capped off with Angel’s soulful, resonant vocal.
It’s ‘top down’ driving music of the very best kind, long straight dusty roads, sandy deserts, and palm trees; that timeless, classic feel of the very best summertime ‘radio’ rock, the lyrics humorous and lighthearted yet full of sunshine and self-knowing. Angel’s voice really is good, a little vibrato and a lot of heart, and the music swings, swaggers, and grooves in equal measure. It’s a perfect summer tune, and it heralds great things for Angel’s forthcoming debut EP, due later this year.
You can hear ‘Play Pretend’ via Ali Angel’s website and across all major streaming platforms from the 23rdApril. Check out Ali Angel on Facebook and Instagram.
It’s not often as a reviewer that one starts to run out of superlatives, but when it comes to UK-based singer-songwriter Izzy Frances that’s highly possible. Frances has already had some serious success with new single ‘Stay With Me’, reaching the top ten on iTunes on its day of release, and staying there ever since; already a semi-finalist in last year’s UK national song-writing contest, Izzy’s gained support from BBC Introducing for all her releases so far, and on this basis of this track it’s very easy to see why.
‘Stay With Me’ is a beautiful, gentle, vaguely folk-oriented piano-led ballad which is carried superbly by Frances’ delicate voice; a mix of heartfelt emotion, soft and gentle yet raw and powerful all at once. The sparse piano arrangement adds perfectly to the feel of the delivery; there’s touches of Beverly Craven, Phoebe Bridgers, and even Norah Jones to the vibe, the lyrics mature and exposed whilst the minor-chord accompaniment sits stunningly well underneath. ‘Stay With Me’ is subtle and tender, stripped bare, fragile and emotive, and exquisitely well done.
You can hear ‘Stay With Me’ on SoundCloud now. Follow Izzy Frances here.
UK-based singer-songwriter Coupdeka brought narrative pop to the next level with her latest single, Love Online, which optimistically captures the potential for love during Covid times, even if it has to be digital.
Under the influence of 80s indie icons such as Mazzy Star, The Slits and Blondie, Coupdekat brought a comforting feeling of familiarity to the track as she runs through the dystopic pitfalls of dating in 2021; if you know, you know. And if you know, you’ll undoubtedly find plenty of resonance in lyrics such as “we only make love online”.
Any fans of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Shiny Toy Guns will appreciate Coupdekat’s indie approach to contemporary pop with Love Online.
Boston-born pop singer-songwriter Aricka J pushed the feminist movement forward with her latest release, ‘Man Up’, which addresses the toxic immaturity that every woman, at some point, has probably endured in their lives.
Whether you want to vent about a man reaching out with entitlement and expecting you to save them or a partner dragging you down with them in a relationship, Man Up is an empowering track that reminds the listener that there is no virtue in tolerance, and you have full permission to walk away from what no longer serves you. The upbeat pop track, which is accented by afrobeat elements, is powerful enough to put toxic relationships to bed; for good.
You can check out Man Up for yourselves by heading over to Spotify.
With such a vast array of artists joining the airwaves, phenomenal releases can be overlooked, such as Californian singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Reese Taylor’s 2020 standout single, ‘After the Party’.
At the age of 17-years-old, she not only has the ability to appeal to the human psyche by her eerie, ethereal dark pop melodies, but she can also scathingly berate toxic behaviour that people seem to exhibit without repercussion.
After the Party poignantly attacks hedonists intent on living the high life with little mind to what their behaviour does to people around them. We all know them, the ones desperate for the world to see just how much fun they’re having when anyone with emotional intelligence know they’re trying to fill a gaping hole with superficial pleasure.
There may be a moody edge to Reese Taylor’s take on pop, but she doesn’t hide behind a pretence in the same way that many dark pop artists do. Her sense of vulnerability is still perceptible, but her astute wit dominates the soundscape all the same.
The official video to After the Party is available to stream via YouTube.
Eighties-inspired, funky soul pop with a jazzy bent; if Paula Abdul and Quincy Jones got together to produce a nascent, ‘Holiday-era’ Madonna it might sound something like ‘Lockdown Love’ by Romania’s River Mara. Fun, flashy, with an immensely danceable groove and deliciously catchy hook, it’s evocative of big hair, sequins, and glitter-balls, a time of velvet-roped night-clubs (remember those?), Ray-Ban Wayfarers, and ecologically dangerous amounts of hairspray.
A classically-trained pianist and composer, Mara is currently studying classical composition at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama, but that’s still left her time to garner a collective 350 Million YouTube views for her songs ‘Sweet Dreams’ and ‘Lie To Me’ for Andra, one of Romania’s biggest singing stars. On the basis of ‘Lockdown Love’, with its insane little ear-worm chorus and effervescent upbeat enjoyment , it’s really not hard to see why.
Recorded in his home studio in Salt Lake City, Utah, Richard Tyler Epperson’s ‘Another Day’ is a beautiful, poignant acoustic guitar and piano-led number, an ode to desperation leading to hope, depression and anxiety mixed with the desire for another chance, hope that tomorrow might be better. There’s very much a Paul Westerberg/Replacements ‘Aching To Be’ vibe about the track, with a touch of very quiet Husker Du or Sugar, The Jayhawks, or Buffalo Tom’s ‘Tail Lights’ somewhere in the mix, too.
It’s a beautiful, gently soulful track, Epperson’s vocal, guitar, and piano soft and powerful but added to by the additional instrumentation of guest Jacob Montague, who also added mixing and mastering sparkle. The strength of a good song is in its ability to be told in the simplest form – acoustically, with a voice and simple instrumentation and arrangement – and by those criteria, Richard Tyler Epperson’s ‘Another Day’ has all the hallmarks of a great.
You can hear ‘Another Day’ on Spotify, and follow Richard Tyler Epperson here.
London-based pop artist, Joe Hayes has followed on from their enigmatic 2020 debut with their sophomore single ‘My Mind’.
In some ways, it’s a familiar funk-fuelled perennial pop earworm. In others, it’s an eccentrically daring release that exhibits Joe Hayes’ natural born authentic talent when it comes to reflecting human emotion through hook-filled melodies and massive choruses.
My Mind is a stunning portrait of how agony and euphoria often come hand in hand with love. With palpitation-inducing breaks and energising drops, My Mind is a flawless feat of radio-ready pop that will leave any fans of Bruno Mars, Jax Jones and Charlie Puth arrested from the first verse to the last.