Here are my top five picks for tracks released in April that you need to hear from artists that you may not know.
The artists I feature in this series are spread across all corners of the world and certainly have bright futures ahead of them. This month there is more of a focus and appreciation on phenomenal female vocalists but still plenty of variety. Here are my top five picks for tracks that you need to hear from artists that you may not know.
Geejay - "City"
Geejay are an exciting emerging duo from North London bringing their own unique blend of funk and hip hop to the contemporary jazz scene illustrated perfectly in their new single "City".
Gina Jane and Jacob Lobo met while working at a coffee shop and were brought together by a shared passion for music, particularly soul, jazz, funk and hip hop, releasing their first single, "Horizon" last year.
The title track from their new EP released this month is incredibly engaging, packed with rhythmical changeups and funky grooves, featuring a smooth saxophone that steals the show.
"The City" combines the best of both worlds with organic funk and jazz and electronic elements, it would work well as a highly enjoyable instrumental. That being said Gina Jane’s powerful vocals and rich harmonies are exceptional, a highly welcome addition to this fun track.
Following the release of this single, the duo took to their Facebook page and said: "This track is inspired by our day to day experiences of living in a city and our recent visit to LA: whilst out there we ended up in an area known as 'Skid Row' which is home to approximately 30,000 homeless people. To see this in a city that is madly glamorised we were left wondering if 'money's the motive and societies broken'..."
Fresh off playing their first headline show at Servant Jazz Quarters at the end of April, the future is certainly looking bright for this duo!
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Hope Tala - "Lovestained"
West London singer-songwriter Hope Tala is providing the early sounds of summer with Brazilian bossa nova inspired single "Lovestained".
If like me you’re a fan of neo-soul and alternative R&B then Tala will soon be entering your playlists and she is already making herself known with debut single "Blue" now close to the one million streams mark on Spotify.
The follow-up to her sparkling debut EP "Starry Ache" released last year, "Lovestained" is the first single taken from her sophomore EP "Sensitive Soul", set for release this summer. If this track is a sign of what’s to come then it’s going to be the perfect record to listen to while soaking up the sun.
"Lovestained" opens with an intriguing, rhythmic guitar riff paving the way to let Tala’s soft vocals tell the story of being on the cusp of striking up a magic partnership in a relationship. The track really comes into its own in the chorus with the introduction of a sweet and charming steel drums melody that features throughout, making for a very pleasant and enjoyable listening experience.
Speaking about the track, Tala said: "Lovestained sits in the grey area between infatuation and love when you just want the person you’re interested in to give you a little bit more of themselves so that you can let yourself fall for them."
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Kelsey Lu - "Poor Fake"
A hidden gem unearthed in Kelsey Lu’s elegant debut album, "Poor Fake" is a fresh take on combining the beauty and purity of classical music with modern pop music and slick Los Angeles production.
The classically trained cellist and singer-songwriter first arrived on the scene with her one-take recording EP "Church", heavily influenced by her musical and family upbringing as a Jehovah’s Witness living in Charlotte, North Carolina. Now residing in LA, Lu has gone on to work with Florence and the Machine and Solange and is set to join Blood Orange on tour soon.
Her debut album "Blood" is beautifully crafted, with Lu able to find her own unique sound on her atmospheric and captivating tracks, coupled with somewhat surprising but delightful collaborations with both Skrillex and Jamie xx.
Personally, "Poor Fake" is the standout track on the LP and is engrossing from the start with a melancholic score of violins providing the introduction, fooling us with the direction we expect the song to take. After the ambient opening, the record suddenly bursts into life with a funky bass line along with drums, pretty piano licks and driving violin riffs.
Lu’s flawless, elegant falsetto tones and gorgeous harmonies are a real treat to listen to, especially when coupled with lyrics that read like poetry. "Like a moth to the flame, you held it. When their attention swayed, lies rooted. Through the hearth of the fog, I want you to find me. Masterpiece and from the forgeries of fools. I've cut my hands on a thousand pieces."
The track may deal with themes of whether something is real or just a poor fake but there is certainly nothing false or anything left to be desired by this track or Lu’s album as a whole.
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Lily Moore - "Why Don’t You Look At Me"
An artist who has been showing enormous potential since the release of her wonderful debut EP "Not That Special" just over a year ago, Lily Moore is really coming into her own and starting to gain the world recognition and attention she deserves.
I was bowled over when hearing her second single, "17", for the first time last March. Her songwriting displayed maturity beyond her years, coupled with the confidence and youthful exuberance of her powerful, distinctive vocals, making her one of the best breakthrough artists of 2018 in my eyes.
Her second EP, "I Will Never Be", elevated Moore to new heights, with the title track being one of the finest examples of raw, emotional storytelling you could ever wish to hear, putting her in the same bracket as Amy Winehouse and Adele when they were her age, just 19.
"Why Don’t You Look At Me" is a step into the more contemporary pop world for Moore, but a welcomed transition that still encapsulates her charm and soulful vocals, along with highly relatable lyrics.
Packed with punchy brass and strings, this uptempo R&B track tells the story of Moore going through the motions, with her love interest no longer reciprocating the same emotions and feelings for her, much to her devastation as she cares so passionately about them.
Residing in Brighton in the UK, Moore has already supported some very big names in the industry on tour including George Ezra, James Bay and Vance Joy. It certainly shouldn’t be long before this 19-year-old is playing her own major headline shows.
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okaywill - "Pretend"
A new signing to Majestic Casual’s label, Majestic Records, okaywill is an exciting prospect as an artist specialising in the increasingly popular bedroom pop genre.
The producer based in South Carolina has already made a large impact in the SoundCloud community and is becoming more and more popular with each release, with his second single, "Emotional", garnering over 800,000 streams on Spotify to date.
okaywill’s fourth offering, "Pretend", is an electronic, synth-infused bop, complete with a rich, fat bass line and pumping drums in the track’s euphoric moments.
I love that "Pretend" offers plenty of light and shade in its production. okaywill certainly has a talent for keeping the listener engaged at all times, electing for the main synths, bass and drums to drop out in the pre-choruses, allowing for his haunting harmonies to shine through.
"But I let you slip away from my love again. You say you don’t make mistakes, so better just pretend", sings okaywill in a story that contemplates different timelines and the possibility of perhaps foolishly letting go of a relationship. "Pretend" can certainly strike a chord with all of us who listen.
Inspired by Boy Pablo, Clairo and Rex Orange County among others, okaywill is gearing up for the release of his debut EP "Falling For You" on June 14th and I am certainly looking forward to following the evolution of this young producer/singer-songwriter’s career.
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My Favourite Albums & EPs Released In April
Amber Simone - For Those Moments (EP)
Arlo Parks - Super Sad Generation (EP)
Ella Haber - Clay (EP)
Kaleem Taylor - Surface (EP)
Kelsey Lu - Blood