The best of current music according to me, featuring a mixture of popular releases, lesser-known recent tracks, and just what is stuck in my head at the moment.
Rationale – Prodigal Son
A new single from an up-and-coming artist, Prodigal Son is a synth-tinged, very emotional piece of music. Rationale (real name Tinashe Fazakerley), a Zimbabwean who moved to Britain aged 11, has an incredibly expressive voice, capable of great depth and meaning, and it is central to one of the most profound songs I have heard for some time. With his new album out in March, Rationale is definitely one to watch, and his impressive earlier single Fast Lane also comes highly recommended by me.
Clean Bandit ft. Sean Paul and Anne-Marie – Rockabye
Continuing in this band’s tradition of combining modern pop with orchestral sounds and guest vocals, Rockabye is deservedly the current number 1 in the UK charts. Lead vocalist Anne-Marie carries a song that hints at heavier meaning but never loses the danceable groove which drives it along. The video is also rather entertaining once it gets past the one-minute mark. Clean Bandit all but launched one of their previous collaborators, Jess Glynne, so it will be interesting to see what comes of this.
The Rolling Stones – Out Of Control
In an eventful year for arguably the biggest rock band in the world, they performed this song during a tour of Latin America, which seems to revere the Stones as something close to a religion. A lesser-known song of theirs, Out Of Control showcases their ability to not only blast out a good tune, but to really play a crowd, and look as though they’re having a ball doing it. With their covers album ‘Blue and Lonesome’ currently riding high at number 1 in the album charts, the old rockers appear to be far from done yet.
Vaults – Midnight River
This electronica band from London have struck a good balance between using lead singer Blythe Pepino’s soulful, echoing vocals and the strong sounds of piano and strings, giving equal weight to each. Their sound is reminiscent of the likes of London Grammar (who, confusingly, are from Nottingham), and they are yet another band whose development will be interesting to watch. As Pepino dances through a variety of costumes, Midnight River‘s rhythm and hook come to be inescapably catchy.
The Last Shadow Puppets – Les Cactus
Les Cactus is undeniably the most bonkers song I have heard in 2016, from modern rock outfit The Last Shadow Puppets, who are chief Arctic Monkey Alex Turner and his friend the guitarist Miles Kane. Here they let rip with a cover of French singer Jacques Dutronc’s 1967 song Les Cactus, which is, as you may have guessed, French. And about cactuses. And there is something joyous in hearing Turner’s Yorkshire accent belting out French nonsense about cactuses whilst doing a stupid dance and watching his mate rock out on guitar.
Amber Run – Stranger
Another band to watch, this British rock group, who formed in 2014, specialise in slow, soul-searching melodies. Stranger is a prime example of this, with lead singer Joe Keogh’s versatile, soaring voice starting off quietly but roaring into life towards the end. The video, which features black-and-white footage of the band floating underwater, adds to the overall atmospheric effect no end. They will release their second album, ‘For A Moment, I Was Lost’, in February 2017, and on this evidence we should keep an eye out for it.
I hope you enjoy listening.