Under The Radar: 5 Tracks Released In February That You Need To Hear
Here are my top five picks for tracks released in February that you need to hear from artists that you may not know.
Following on from my previous article on new releases which have slipped under the radar, I’ve decided to turn this into a series to help increase up and coming artists exposure and bring their wonderful music to your ears. Here are my top five picks for tracks that you need to hear from artists that you may not know.
Glass Caves - "Common Tongue"
I’m a sucker for 80s revival inspired, funk-pop tracks and this record by Glass Caves ticks all the boxes. If you enjoy swirling 80s synths combined with a driving bass line and live drums and electric guitar riffs as much as I do, then "Common Tongue" will be going straight into your playlists.
Glass Caves are a four-piece band hailing from York, UK and they certainly haven’t gone down what we would now refer to as the normal route in the industry to make a name for themselves and grow a fan-base.
By normal route I mean through promoting their music online and on social media, instead the band focused on and built more success from busking in major UK cities, burning and selling their own CDs. The independent band busk for a living, which helped fund their debut album released in 2014 and their own UK tour.
"Common Tongue" could be the single that takes this band to the next level in their already fascinating career. The atmospheric, sparse intro on the track doesn’t exactly prepare you for what’s to come but that’s certainly not a bad thing, with the band setting the scene, on the dance floor in a nightclub watching a woman approach you.
With the language barrier on both sides, the pair can’t communicate their true feelings, but they let their bodies do the talking, dancing through the night as the track bursts into life in the opening chorus and drives throughout the rest of the track. The band even used a fade out at the end of the song, I’ve got a lot of time for that. Bring it back into fashion, that’s what I say.
Expect to be hearing a lot more about Glass Caves in the coming months.
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Ka-Li - "KUDOS"
"KUDOS" is the second single from North London R&B/Soul duo Ka-Li. Singer/songwriter Indigo Lily and producer Sam Posener met when they were teenagers and share a love for downtempo music and soulful song-writing.
My interpretation of the record with reference to the lyrics is Lily’s sweet and inspiring conversation with her younger self, telling her how proud she should be of where she is now and how far she has come. The overall message is "kudos to you" for weathering the storm and dealing with adversity in life.
Musically, the record is packed with soul, predominantly a guitar driven track, there are also splashes of electric piano, pizzicato strings, and wah-wah guitar riffs.
If you liked "If I Lost You" by Why The Face, who I introduced you to in my previous article, then Ka-Li will definitely be your vibe.
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Manu Grace - "Saturday Night"
Manu Grace is an up and coming singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist from South Africa. It’s difficult and unjust to pigeonhole her into a particular genre but people have mostly described her music as sensitive pop and I would concur with that.
"Saturday Night" is an incredibly raw and sparse electronic record, with Manu’s vulnerable vocals and pretty harmonies telling the relatable story of regret, not going home with a significant other that she liked that evening. The lyrics: "How could I have known you’d still be on my mind?" resonate throughout.
This is the final single taken from her debut EP, "June", which was released on 22nd February. This body of work will be a mix of home and studio recordings.
Speaking about the EP release on her Facebook page, Manu said: "My favourite part of existence is feeling stimulated, mentally and intuitively—and I feel really lucky to be able to do something that challenges me in each moment. I can’t wait for someone other than my unsuspecting housemates to hear it!"
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M.I - "Runaway"
If smooth R&B is your groove, then float away to the sounds of East London-born singer/songwriter M.I.
After winning BBC1’s television series Pitch Battle as part of the vocal group Leeds Contemporary Singers, M.I decided to break away last year in pursuit of a solo career.
This led to the alternative R&B artist beginning to explore a variety of genres in pursuit of finding her own sound, performing around Leeds and joining the likes of Kelis, Sampa The Great and Will Young on stage. Citing some of her musical influences as being Jhene Aiko, Rukhsana Merrise and Willow Smith, "Runaway" is a relaxing record, layered with soft, soaring vocal melodies and sweet arpeggiated guitar progressions, all performed at a nice, gentle pace.
Speaking about the track, M.I said: "Runaway is about escapism. Wanting to get away from all your troubles with someone you want to spend all your time with. Being giddy. You know when you really like someone and just don’t know how to behave? And you carry on like an idiot? Yeah, that." I love her honesty and that is certainly reflected in her vocal performance. The record has not been overproduced and that is nice to hear, her vocal sound that has been captured still feels very raw and the emotion carries.
Lyrics such as "does my love drive you insane? You know there’s so much more to gain" reflect her state of mind, knowing that her feelings towards her significant other are only natural, coupled with this constant sense of doubt that she’s being overbearing and wanting to run away and escape these thoughts.
I’m excited to hear more of M.I’s work and her honest take on life and all its emotions in future releases.
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Popcore - "Haven"
I’m bringing you a variety of genres across these five tracks so there’s hopefully something for everyone. If you’re a fan of soaring synthetic soundscapes coupled with high energy EDM then you’ve found paradise in the form of "Haven".
Popcore are a duo from the UK comprising of Alex Reade and Miles Whittaker, two producers who met online in 2013. Since forming in 2015 they have released five singles and an EP, "Golden Hour", out last year.
"Haven" is a fun, high tempo track combining dream pop with electronic dance beats and has a very catchy hook that is bound to leave you grooving and singing along after a few listens.
Speaking to me about the record, Reade said: "Miles and I spent two weeks working together on several tracks in August last year and it was the first time off we’d had from our jobs in 2018. I think we both needed a break from the day-to-day monotony, so 'Haven' is about escapism and breaking away from this life.
"It’s the idea that this haven is safe and people like us get comfortable and change can be scary. Bear in mind how we were when we were younger, you can still take that mentality. You don’t need to hold onto nostalgia but it’s actually about pushing forward and paving your way through and doing the things that matter to you. So, this song was a message for us ourselves really that we needed to hear and also something that many others can relate to."
The duo has plans to release several tracks over the coming months so if you like what you hear, look out for those!
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My Favourite Albums & EPs Released In February
Emily King - Scenery
Manu Grace - June (EP)
Tourist - Everyday
Ward Thomas - Restless Minds
Why The Face - W T F (EP)