First, we dig into the angsty songwriter aboynamedblu. He emerged last year with two 6 track EPs which have given us a great look at what kind of artist he is. In fact, it is pretty unusual for an artist to arrive with so much content so quickly. In effect, he has already produced a full album in the space of 6 months. Yet, we can see why these tracks weren't released as one cohesive album. It is not because there are gaps in quality but because they span such a wide variety of aesthetics and atmospheres. From the introspective sonic dreamwave of 'building a boat' and the melancholic acoustics of 'sadnight4rocknroll' to the uptempo electro rhythm of 'SNOWY' his music twists and turns constantly. It demonstrates an impressive understanding of atmosphere and as a collection it highlights that this project is capable of conveying practically all emotions in one.
The standout track has to be the most punk infused of the lot, 'POSH BOYS CAN'T DO DRUGS'. In terms of instrumentals it has the strongest band feel with its punchy drum beat and strong bassline driving it forward. The vocals have a distorted and angtsy urban punk feel similar to contemporary high energy London acts like NOISY. It is still pretty stripped back in arrangement but it is purpose built for a sweaty underground gig. His work as a whole shows his songwriting ability but this track provides those key signals that aboynamedblu is not only attuned to dreamy atmospheres but is also capable of inciting a true rebellious energy that is undeniably infectious.
With only two songs to her name, German songwriter Philine Sonny has quickly become one of the hottest Bedroom Popstars from across Europe. Her first release 'Lose Yourself' is introspective in style with jangly washed out guitars providing the backdrop to her somewhat solemn late night musings. Her music probably carries the strongest melancholic tones of anyone on this list as the deeper vocal lines mirror those swelling 3am thoughts that just won't leave. Yet at the same time, there is something calming to these late night isolated vibes as it makes you feel like you have your own space to breathe and escape the hectic day to day.
Her latest single 'Same Light' offers this same low -key introspection to begin with. However the chorus has a slightly more heartwarming and bright feeling with an up tempo drum rhythm and beautifully rich saxophone accompaniment elevating the state of the song. Now, her next track is just around the corner with 'Oh Brother' set for release on February 25th. It is the final single before her debut EP and again it offers a really strong character. The rich tone of the acoustics hits instantly, transporting you into a more sedated, contemplative state. Although, the vocals are delivered with more of a flat melancholia than a passionate heartbreak it is hard not to feel sentimental towards this sound. Together her releases have showcased the emotive power that Philine holds. Any lover of thoughtful late nights alone should be excited for this EP.
Sophie and the Giants
Electro Pop heavyweights Sophie and the Giants lie in stark contrast to many artists on this list as, although they don't yet have an album to their name, they have a wealth of experience behind them. They have consistently been releasing singles since their debut in 2018 and last year saw them keep up this pace with a string of new tracks ending in the Dardust/Benny Banassi collab 'Golden Nights'. The song is a straight dancefloor anthem. The vocals shine through as they slowly build energy along with the the steady two-step rhythm. The chorus is one that grows on you every time, its slick feel-good vibe radiates more and more as the track goes on and will leave a warm impression on any party.
Their newest release 'In The Dark' sees them team up with Purple Disco Machine and as is therefore unexpectedly full of big retro synth chords that create a funky base level for the vocals to deliver their smooth pop melody on top of. With this track Sophie and the Giants stand strong next to the icons of Modern Pop. With a sweet tasting chorus and powerful vocal display comparable to Dua Lipa they really are the go to Electro Pop act across Europe right now!
Talking of some retro synth vibes from Sophie and the Giants, producer/songwriter Edwin Rosen combines the very deepest elements of 80s electronic textures to create tracks that are both high energy yet melancholic. This bittersweet contrast runs throughout all his music and leads to a really intriguing sound that allows you to experience a whole range of emotions but also leaves you unsure of which ones you are experiencing.
His latest release 'Vertigo' is constantly driving forward with a rolling echoed drum rhythm and old post-punk/surf bassline running underneath. The synths are poignant once again, washing a thoughtful texture over the top of the energetic beats. Edwin's vocals carry a deadpan heartache similar to Spector as if he is diverting from his fears by trying to create a cinematic soundscape in hope of escapism. This is one for late night drives and rain running down window pains, any moment where you want to imagine yourself in a melancholic montage scene from your favourite film.
Channelling long suppressed feelings of anger and unrest are Cologne's Post-Punk quintet SMILE. They are perhaps ironically named as, lyrically, they tackle a range of modern frustrations from social pressures to alienation. Last month they arrived with their debut release 'I Hate It Here' which featured two singles, 'Yucca' and 'Foliage'. The tracks fit seamlessly alongside the modern UK Post-Punk scene with, filled with swagger and a slick yet slightly menacing attitude.
The soft tone and blasé delivery of the vocals bares a resemblance to the other upcoming female fronted bands such as Wet Leg and Dry Cleaning. Meanwhile the band layers complex rhythms that tangle together to form a dense and intricate web of sound. 'Yucca' showcases their audible angst with a fuzzy thick sound whereas the crisp guitar tone and the more peculiar inclusions of woodblocks and saxophones in 'Foliage' make for a more abstract Art-Rock feel that rings of Black Country, New Road at times. Certainly one of the most intriguing Post-Punk acts from across the continent.
The Spotify bio of Berlin collective 5ON5 sees them describe their music in just one word...fresh. Indeed their sound does have a distinctly modern and vibrant feel to it. This is likely due to the incredibly varied melting pot of musical influences that the four members each bring to the project. Music industry veteran Max Koffler combines his honed songwriting skills with the slick sounds of rappers Sinan Pakar, and Maxx B as well as vocalist Yumin.
This concoction of musical styles means that their music has a very lucid and varied style yet there latest release goes against its title 'Don't Dance' and offers a dense Daft Punk esc electro fusion that is sure to get you moving. It begins in quite low key fashion, with smooth keyboard textures and lots of funky instrumental subtleties creating a good groove. The vocals are melodic but don't dominate, instead teasing the chorus' to come. As it builds, the verses entrance you in this groove and each chorus becomes more and more infectious with that line "I don't dance anymore" becoming increasingly stuck in your mind. The track takes a more abstract turn later on with a warped vocal reminiscent of 'Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger' demonstrating their artistic blend. It is hard to judge what they will do next as their sound is never fixed in one genre but in the mean time get up and indulge in this Dance inducer.
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