Houston trio Khruangbin have established quite a name for themselves in recent years thanks to their poolside funk grooves and soothing, hypnotic soundscapes. After becoming a cult sensation with their critically acclaimed 2018 album ‘Con Todo El Mundo’, the band released their third full-length ‘Mordechai’ this year and it features the brilliant ‘Time (You and I)’ – a groovy, hypnotic tune that instantly transports you to sunnier climes.
El-P and Killer Mike have been making important, highly political music since the latter released ‘R.A.P Music in 2012 but their latest full-length LP ‘RTJ4’ felt absolutely vital given its release back in June.. The duo dropped the album after a week of nationwide protests in America against police brutality and the murder of George Floyd, saying “Fuck it, why wait. The world is infested with bullshit so here’s something raw to listen to while you deal with it all.” The duo address police brutality, racism, corruption, and protest head-on in the record with the presciently-titled ‘a few words for the firing squad’ a poignant closer. Nearly seven minutes in length, it’s a searing. sprawling track that fittingly goes out with a burst of improvised jazz. Backed by El-P’s devastating production, it all builds up for Killer Mike to deliver the final, crushing blow. “This is for the do-gooders that the no-gooders used and then abused,” he snarls. “For the truth-tellers tied to the whipping post, left beaten, battered, bruised / For the ones whose body hung from a tree like a piece of strange fruit / Go hard, last words to the firing squad was, ‘F*ck you too.”
Yungblud is creating a culture and will stick his middle fingers up to anyone who gets in his way. A song that has now landed on an album of the same name this December, the single ‘Weird’ was released during Lockdown 1 and acted as a burst of hope for the lost souls of Gen Z. It’s an upbeat pop gem featuring a arpeggiated synth-bass line and hope for the Black Hearts army.
Along with the announcement of their eighth album ‘Night Network’, The Cribs shared their first new track in three years with ‘Running Into You’ this year. Following legal issues with their management company that began to threaten their immediate future, Dave Grohl invited the trio into the Foo Fighters’ studio over in LA where they recorded the new album alongside Foos engineer James Brown and frequent collaborator John O’Mahoney. ‘Running Into You’ is a quintessential Cribs track that feels like a warm hug from an old friend. All fuzzy guitars and lilted vocals, 2020 was the perfect year for the return of The Cribs.
Loyle Carner first track of 2020 is arguably up there with his finest. With one of his most hard-hitting lyrics to date, ‘Yesterday’ sees Carner confront racism in the past and in the now, asking how much has really changed. Backed by a thumping beat, Madlib’s distinctive production lends an optimistic feel to the tune – his skewed samples and dissonant horns taking things back to the golden age of hip-hop. Offering a perfectly weighted fusion of the past and the present, it’s a sublime collaboration and welcome return from the rapper.
The track finds the Glaswegian singer-songwriter delving into the emotional labyrinth that is online dating as she contemplates the uncertain nature of it all. Opening with a hopeful guitar line, producer Karma Kid transforms the track into a punchy pop jam with strong, steady beats echoing around Amor’s intimate musings and cynical barbs. It’s a minimalist yet delectably smooth slice of pop that digs deeper than first expected as Alex Amor reinforces her undeniable potential.
Alex shared: “This was a time in my life when I had my four walls up. Dancing around the dating scene for the fear of getting burnt. Men had become so predictable in that world, that I was becoming cynical of someone’s compliments, well wishes and good intentions. So to avoid further disappointment and cope with dating apps, I had it in my head that I was always going to be disappointed and in doing so, the men I dated were always going to ‘Prove me Right’. However, I now recognise, I was self actualising this outcome to an extent.”
Switch’ is a glitchy, mesmerising offering which perfectly exemplifies Big Piig’s genreless approach – taking her down a completely different direction from her usual lo-fi stoner RnB. Designed to capture the tension, helplessness and pressure the world is under right now, the track’s raw production style and frustrated energy feel perfectly timed in the current climate. Embracing a distinctly modern pop sound and driven by the rhythmic purr of drum’n’bass, it’s a highlight release from an artist who has so far seized the attention of Radio 1, 6Music, Billie Eilish and more.
With his third release of 2020, Glasgow producer Wuh Oh reached new heights on ‘Softstyle’. Continuing to effortlessly traverse through a variation of distinct styles and genres, it’s almost as if Wuh Oh is crafting his own unique sub-genre of house music – one full of colour, eccentricity and unmistakable charisma. ‘Softstyle’ finds the right balance between virtuosic musicality and immediate dancefloor filler – a recurring vocal hook commandeers the frantic instrumental, alleviated only by a lulling breakdown that makes way for a big room trance section, steeped in heady euphoria and dancefloor vibes. We can only imagine the physical response this track will induce when it is eventually allowed to be played in a late-night venue. Until then, crank this song as loud as you can.
Ruby Gaines is the bold new project of singer-songwriter Megan Airlie. With her timeless, delectably smooth vocals sitting front and centre of the track, she channels definitive influences such as Billie Holiday and Fiona Apple, evoking strong feelings of longing and desire against a jazz-influenced instrumental that builds to a soaring, emotional climax. Produced in a renovated church in Galashiels in order to give it a distinctively raw and improvisational feel, it’s a striking amalgamation of the old and the new; a refreshing addition to the city’s ever-evolving soundscape.
Speaking to TTV, Ruby Gaines said: “Don’t let the b*stards get you down. Your voice is worth hearing like everybody else and you will always have the support of other women in music. I know that it often can seem alienating at times but you will find that there is a lot of generosity and heart with women in the industry. It’s super nice.”
Founded on an ethos of self-love and a desire to make a real difference through her music, kitti’s debut EP ‘Young, Careless and Free’ explores both the ups and downs of life – the uplifting and the painful, the personal and the universal – as she reflects on her own journey of personal growth.With a voice that is unhindered by genre, time or place, it almost goes without saying that Kitti’s phenomenal vocals sit front and centre of every piece of music she lays her hands on but when delivered against a backdrop of sumptuous neo-soul and nu-jazz, the results are truly breath-taking. Armed with a depth of character that feels so rare nowadays, she professes the importance of self-love over slinking grooves, stunning harmonies and 90s indebted R&B on the brilliant ‘kandy kissin’.
If the rest of their work could be considered exploratory or rooted in venturing to the outer-reaches of music’s more hallucinatory realm, then this 2 minute and 45 second melee of energy is the sobering light of the morning after.Produced by Chris Marshall, the man that’d helped to cement the blueprint for Glasgow’s modern-day interchange between punk and indie-pop has given them room to inspect its boundaries without displacing their tendency towards musical flights of fancy. Proving themselves to be anything other than risk-averse, ‘Hor-Cha’ sees the Glasgow-based sextet imbue a chaotic barrage of guitars and frenzied vocals with a refreshing cocktail of melodies that’d be more commonly associated with the unremitting exuberance of 60’s pop.Bridging gaps where chasms would normally lie in a way that only they can, its amalgam of sounds is in keeping with the intoxicating mix of hormones and inhibition-sapping substances that inspired the track.
Known for seamlessly weaving together R&B-inflected pop, sleek synths, plush harmonies, and buoyant grooves, ‘Sunrise’ initially came out in July and marked MICHELLE’s first release on Trangressive. A vibrant, groovy slice of summer, it has now been augmented with the addition of Arlo Parks’ soothing vocals and poetic lyricism.
Bringing some much-needed hope earlier this year, The Strokes unveiled a new album including this striking single. ‘Bad Decisions’ is a straight-up indie banger, harking back to the spiky, unkempt sound of their earlier material and featuring a glorious chorus. In a year that should have featured multiple Strokes’ gigs and festival sets, we’re full-steam ahead into 2021 – this album deserves a big field in tribute.
With a style of pop-punk that is uniquely their own, measuring equal parts British and American influence, ‘Learn’ contains many of the musical elements The Dunts’ adoring fans have come to expect; hooky vocal melodies over driven guitars and unrelenting drums. However, the lyrical content is more akin to ‘Bad Decisions’ than, say, ‘Marilyn’ or ‘Witch Hunt’; they’re introspective, and once again show the band’s ability to examine and comment on not just the world around them, but their own internal experience. It is this ability that sets them apart as songwriters and allows them to speak to the masses in a way that few other bands are able.
‘Haze’, while fitting with the canon of Webster’s previous work with The View, has a fresh vitality and style that is uniquely its own. There are shades of early punk, reminiscent of the likes of The Stooges or Buzzcocks, while the timbre of Webster’s distinctive voice and rock and roll drawl lends itself to the raw, vintage style. It is sure to go down a storm with fans old and new and marks the band out as a vital addition to the nation’s flourishing guitar music movement.
‘Freaked Out (Inside The Machine)’ can sonically and conceptually be split into three parts, yet each part comes together to create one compelling whole. Opening in rather subtly hypnotic fashion with steady rhythms, a warm glow of keys and an alluring lead vocal, the band welcome us into their weird and wonderful world by way of a protagonist who is conflicted with his past and unsure of what is real.
As the tempo begins to speed up with layers and layers of intricate and feverish instrumentation, a surreal saxophone solo takes over and the track plunges into a dream-like state – said to mirror the character entering a strange time machine. The final part sees him come to terms with his surroundings, as if suspended in another dimension yet with greater clarity. Steeped in melancholy and loungey psychedelia, the final part is a far more ambient affair but our attention never wavers.
‘Brought to life in 7 West Studios with the help of Johnny Madden and Jamie Holmes, ‘National Health Service’ is vastly different to anything we’ve heard emerge from the esteemed studio thus far. Autobahn 86 deal in combative and invigorating electronica that is founded on an ethos to infuse the political and socio-economic with the danceable. Describing themselves as ever-evolving, primal and unifying, ‘National Health Service’ is the perfect introduction to their bold manifesto.
Written before the Covid-19 pandemic began as an homage to the National Health Service which has been the subject of cuts and controversy for years, the message of the track hits even harder in the current climate. Built on a foundation of acid-bass synths and scorched synth leads, the track features a powerful spoken word performance from John Jokey (also known for his appearance on Baby Strange’s ‘Bad Man in Prague’) who delivers the hook line “I was born a child of the national health service”. His speech is delivered with power and authority against the increasingly aggressive and ravey backdrop, – like a formidable rallying cry. The band told us “We want you to think of a trade unionist speaking to people on a soapbox, rallying the masses”
Zoe Graham’s been on the TTV Radar for over a couple of years now, we took the artist on the TTV Discover Tour in 2019 and what we witnessed was nothing short of mesmerising. ‘Fault Lines’ is proof of growth in the artist, demonstrating just what Zoe Graham is capable of. This track is big with huge sounding production and left-field arrangement. We’re predicting a successful 2021 for Zoe Graham, the world needs to hear this.
Haim’s ‘Women In Music Part III’ proved to be their most diverse and adventurous record to date. One of its many highlights includes pop bop ‘The Steps’ – an upbeat anthem about not being the perfect significant other for someone else but doing just fine for yourself. Described by the band as a “therapeutic” track that they hope fans will scream along to in solidarity, there’s a vintage, groovy feel to the onslaught of different guitar sounds and stirring rhythms.
Ayrshire rapper Bemz is ready to put Scottish hip-hop on the map with the release of his new EP ‘Saint of Lost Causes’. Featuring collaborations with Cold North, Paque, Kobi Onyame, Oyakhire and Hamz, it’s a compelling introduction for those not yet acquainted with the Nigerian-born, Glasgow-based artist.The Kobi Onyame-assisted ‘Suddenly’ is an undeniable highlight, lending smooth Afrobeat textures to the collection while Onyame delivers the earworm hook.
Following the release of ‘Bathe’ and ‘Wither Away’ in lockdown, new single ‘F’ saw Fauves shifting things up a gear once more. Transporting us back to the infectiously smooth sounds of the 90s, the track opens with warm dreamy synths, breakbeats and funk-inspired bass lines before Ryan Caldwell enters with his playful signature falsetto. A wholly intoxicating sonic journey ensues, one that traverses through a melting pot of funk and soul-inspired R&B influences under the stewardship of Jamie Holmes’ masterful production. Built around another memorable chorus, it’s their meticulous attention to detail that continues to surprise with little sonic gems revealing themselves through waves of dreamy psychedelia – from the twinkling synth lines to the mystical sound of Lizzie Kiyoko’s flute floating over the post-chorus to Matthew Devlin’s occasional sax flourishes, gradually becoming a hallmark feature of their sound. Brimming with atmosphere and gradually easing its way onto the dancefloor, the track finishes in absolute euphoria with a full band jam. ‘Goodbye…’ Caldwell whispers as they ease their way into an exciting new chapter. With a long list of credits, ‘F’ is a product of real collaboration and innovation from a band whose creative inspiration seemingly knows no bounds
Taking their sound to towering new heights, Another Sky’s ‘Fell In Love With The City’ is quite simply massive – majestic, sweeping soundscapes meet warm walls of guitar while Catrin Vincent’s astonishing, otherworldly vocals are beyond compare and enough to give you goosebumps. Written after a transformative period in the singer’s life when she moved from a small town to London, the track captures the freedom and sheer euphoria of that life-changing moment. With their debut album also out this year, Another Sky are a very special band you don’t want to let slip by.
A year on from the release of their debut album ‘Poor Girls / Broken Boys’, The Vegan Leather returned in October with ‘Gloaming’. Taking its name from the old Scottish word for ‘twilight’, ‘Gloaming’ is an exhilarating return from the Paisley art-pop group that brings their deep-rooted electronic influences to the forefront while retaining all of the vibrant infectiousness that put them on our radar in the first place.Inspired by a reading of Emily Brontë’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, Marie Collins takes the lead over an eerie smattering of synths and a four-to-the-floor drumbeat as her haunted vocals conjure images of wild, untamed landscapes and feverish dark nights; where sinister, otherworldly forces are at large, attempting to lead us astray.
Nearly five months on from the release of their stunning EP ‘The Waves and I Would Wonder’, the trio are back with a deeply moving new offering titled ‘Babyshowers’. Opening with a gentle electronic hum and subtle hip-hop inspired beats, what at first appears to be a dreamy, otherworldly concoction soon takes on greater meaning when lead vocalist Stuart Ramage reveals the inspiration behind the song. He said: “While driving back to our home town on a dim morning, Roan showed me a beat he was working on. Stereo cranked, he played the intro to what is now called ‘Babyshowers.’ The chord progression cradled the spring morning. Reflectively, I started writing as he looped it for the duration of the drive. The lyrics reflect on a relationship I had when I was 16, where my partner had a miscarriage. Being so young I’m not sure I properly processed what had happened, so this song is my attempt to express how I feel now that I’m older. Known for his multi-faceted, shape-shifting productions that oscillate between the heart-wrenching and euphoric, Roan Ballantine opts for a more minimalist approach on ‘Babyshowers’. The beautiful subtlety of the instrumental allows Stuart Ramage’s emphatic vocals and emotional lyrics to shine as he reflects on his loss, showing that with even the deftest of touches, they are able to make a resounding emotional impact on the listener.
Opening their account for 2020, ‘Everything is Easy’ saw the newly-named Dead Pony explore cool new dynamics and push the parameters of their grungy sound into exciting new territories, all while retaining the killer hooks and high octane riffs for which they initially became known. Built on a brilliantly addictive and danceable groove, there’s shades of 80s post-punk and disco thrown in but the main draw is in that brilliantly intense vocal dynamic between Anna Shields and Blair Crichton – Crichton’s menacing baritone a foil to Shields’ dreamy lead. It’s all connected to the idea that not everything is as it seems as the front woman explains. “‘Everything is Easy’ is a take on how simple childhood experiences can be soured as you grow older. Lyrically, we tried to capture that feeling of betrayal you feel as a young, naïve child when you find out Santa isn’t real or that your conception wasn’t via your Dad finding a snotter on the wall and raising it to become you. We came up with this idea after having discussed how ridiculous the things were we believed as children”.
Known for bringing their love of of underground electronica, brooding beats and multi-faceted production styles together with an appreciation for bubblegum pop and cheesy lyrics, the idea of contrast lies at the very heart of ‘The Low Sound’ both sonically and lyrically – it’s all about counterbalancing happiness with sadness, darkness and light and pairing singer Adam’s upbeat lyrics and passionate delivery with Sam’s manic, shape-shifting production. Oscillating between dreamy verses and waves of all-consuming euphoria, it’s the duo’s most ambitious production to date and it’s an absolute triumph that has been on our playlists all year.
Despite a 12 month jail sentence being handed to him in February 2019, Paisley rapper Shogun has had an extremely prolific and fruitful 2020, releasing fifteen tunes and an appearance on BBC documentary The Rap Game. Discussing his experience with Pressparty, Shogun remarked that he had applied for the show to “show people that Scottish people are true lyricists.” This is in no doubt on track ‘One Take’. Released in April, the song’s doomy tone captures the mood of those early lockdown days just as many of us were coming to terms with the realities of the pandemic.
‘Best of Me’ is a powerful display of raw emotion as Tamzene reflects on a past relationship, allowing her stunning vocals to shine against a stripped back piano melody. Describing it as her ‘picking up the pieces’ moment she says: ” I wrote this song at home on my very old and out-of-tune piano, after one or maybe three glasses of red wine…I kinda wanted to both remember and forget about the past.” The only way is up for Tamzene in 2021.
Disclosure teamed up with Aminé and slowthai on the incendiary ‘MY HIGH’ earlier this year. Centred around the one potent hook (“please don’t fuck up my high, my high, my high”), the two rappers bring their own swagger and braggadocio to the frantic track with Aminé setting the pace and slowthai following suit, keeping the pace at 10 all the way through to the finish. Capturing the riotous feeling of their earlier tracks with the added element of rap, it’s a brilliant, rampaging highlight of their album ‘ENERGY’ which was released in August.
Recorded at their regular haunt 7 West Studios with Chris Marshall and Johnny Madden, Gallus’ ‘Marmalade’ is arguably their finest and most dynamic to date. From the very outset, they channel a Parquet Courts-esque combination of propulsive post-punk and modern ennui; feelings of anxiety and paranoia almost emanate from the feverish instrumental as Barry Dolan offers no shortage of lyrical quips over a relentless stream of duelling guitars and pulse-quickening rhythms.
Peppered with flashes of character and creativity, they delve into the kind of audacious breakdown that Squid would be proud of, ramping up the melody without losing any of their trademark aggression, before seeing things out in thrilling fashion with a blast of guttural vocals and hardcore punk. It’s an invigorating listen which is sure to blow the cobwebs away.
With a seemingly irrepressible knack for crafting heart-rending piano-led ballads, Aaron Smith seized our hearts with this deeply moving track called ‘Your Turn Now’. While previous single ‘Brother’ featured a more fleshed-out arrangement, this new offering strips his music back to the very core again – his raw vocal take only joined by gentle harmonies and an evocative piano melody. Beyond the easy comparisons to Lewis Capaldi, Aaron Smith’s deeply honest lyricism and stirring ballads are so incredibly raw with emotion that it’s impossible not to be immersed in every track he produces.
A track that will undoubtedly have felt incredibly relatable to listeners across the country in the midst of self-isolation, ‘TV Set’ finds frontman Piero Marcuccilli stuck in a rut – talking to his TV set, unsure what time it is and where to go next. He rises above it though, channelling his anxiety and bewilderment into one of the band’s finest tracks to date.Full of all the punchiness and punk-based tenacity that has informed their entire discography up until now, ‘TV Set’ is more lyrically introspective than we’re used to hearing from the outfit but its a sentiment that is bound to ring true with their fast-growing fanbase. Pair it with the band’s Strokes-esque guitars, heaps of distortion and anthemic choruses and you’ve got another impressive addition to their catalogue.
Declan Welsh & The Decadent West released a new EP in 2020 following on from their incredible debut album last year. The standout track from ‘We Wish You All The Best’ had to be ‘Shame’, a simply sublime slice of poetry. After a bagging a spot on this year’s SAY Award Shortlist, Declan Welsh & The Decadent West are ending 2020 on a positive note despite the disruption to the band’s live plans. We can’t wait to see what they do with album number 2.
Picking up 6 Grammy nominations in November, Taylor Swift has produced one of the most incredible musical gifts of the year with ‘Folklore’ – her surprise album that sent critics in a tizzy. ‘Exile’ features a collaboration with Bon Iver – a duet the world didn’t know they needed until ‘Exile’ dropped. A perfect marriage of vocals with harmonies to sooth a tortured soul, ‘Exile’ is a tremendous celebration of heartbreak.
Taken from the new album born in lockdown, Biffy Clyro’s return to the airwaves this year is a celebrated one. One of the more delicate tracks from ‘A Celebration of Endings’, ‘Space’ allows frontman Simon’s vocals to shine, showcasing a vulnerability in growing older. One for swaying to during the impending madness of Biffy Clyro gigs in 2021.
One of the most talked-about rising stars in Scotland, Luke La Volpe sings like he has lived a thousand lives. There’s something so timeless and authoritative about his delivery that listening to his voice seems to evoke the same comfort and familiarity as listening to classic singer-songwriters of the past. Deep and soulful one minute and showcasing his soaring range the next, he leaves you hanging on to every word and syllable – his intelligent, seductive lyrics delivered every time with spirit and conviction. Opening track ‘Dead Man’s Blues’, a song the frontman debuted during his TTV session back in February, is a stunning piano-driven number dripping in atmosphere and cinematic production
After the success of their debut album ‘Infancy’ last year, The Ninth Wave travelled to the Outer Hebrides to record material for a new body of work under the stewardship of The Horrors’ frontman Faris Badwan – the result of those sessions being the ‘Happy Days!’ EP. Led by its menacing title track, ‘Happy Days!’ marked a significant shift as they replace the bombastic choruses and cascading synths that were so prevalent throughout ‘Infancy’ with a harsher, rawer sound that suggests they’ve been listening to a lot of Nine Inch Nails in the wake of their debut release.The song is built on a bed of prowling, feverish electronics that oscillate between dark, menacing sections and ethereal moments marked out by a recurring ghostly toy-box piano motif. As if tightening its grip with each minute that goes by, Haydn Park-Patterson’s understated delivery betrays its hidden depths before it culminates with an onslaught of crushing beats. A beautiful return from the outfit, it’s a truly captivating listen from start to finish.
The band pulled absolutely no punches in this return with an opening tirade of pummelling rhythms and thrashing, searing guitar riffs – enough to jolt anyone out of a mid-quarantine slump. Johnny Madden goads the listener with his typically deadpan delivery – “Now that’s what I call music” he declares over a barrage of menacing, off-kilter riffs – as they push the parameters of their signature punk sound with staccato guitar stabs and syncopated rhythms.All anchored around one of those big Baby Strange choruses, it’s a track full of interesting turns and fresh inspiration that indicates there’s still a lot more to come from the punk veterans.
Written after her first trip to Japan in 2019, ‘Kyoto’ is one of the many highlights of Phoebe Bridgers’ acclaimed second album ‘Punisher’. Featuring flourishes of euphoric brass by Bright Eyes’ Nathaniel Walcott and input from Warpaint’s Jenny Lee Lindberg, it’s another gorgeous reminder of Bridgers’ lyrical prowess, pairing her lovely turn of phrase with upbeat, rumbling guitars and a yearning hook.
Featured on their second EP of the year ‘The State Of Things’, Lucia & the Best Boys struck gold with this passionate slice of alt-pop ‘Perfectly Untrue’. Recorded in LA around the same time as ‘Let Go’, the track is a compelling follow-up that may seem more upbeat on the surface but actually finds the singer in a similar state of emotional turmoil. It’s a bold and honest depiction of heartbreak; a moving portrayal of the singer’s mixed feelings that’s mirrored in the contrast between the shiny, upbeat instrumental and sharp lyrical wordplay – “I’m all dressed up in gold, my heart is black and blue” she sings on the instantly addictive chorus. It’s also another sign that the trio are shifting away from the gritty, rockier approach of their previous material in favour of a more widescreen, atmospheric alt-pop sound.
Following the global success of her 2019 debut album ‘WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?’ and the James Bond soundtrack cut ‘No Time To Die’, Billie Eilish dropped ‘my future’ at the end of July – a deeply intimate song that touches down on self-growth and self-reflection. ‘my future’ starts off characteristically wistful but becomes more upbeat as it progresses thanks to percussive beats and a funky bass line. She said “We wrote this at the very beginning of quarantine. It’s a song that’s really really personal and special to me. When we wrote this song, it was exactly where my head was at – hopeful, excited and a craaaazy amount of self reflection and self growth. But recently it has also taken on a lot of new meaning in the context of what’s happening in the world now. I hope you can all find meaning in it for yourselves.”
Few singles this year have been preceded with the same level of anticipation as the 1975’s ‘Too Shy’. Featuring one of the best choruses the band have ever laid their hands on, it’s a shamelessly huge pop moment that follows in the same vein as ‘The Sound’ or ‘Love It If We Made It’. Throwing in all the eighties excess they can muster and driven by an all-consuming sense of rose-tinted joy, the band evoke The Cure and Tears For Fears in this hugely melodic slice of emo-pop while exploring the distinctly modern discourse of an online relationship. There’s even the golden nugget of an FKA Twigs appearance who provides the ghostly opening vocals on the album’s longer version. Boasting an instantly recognisable guitar line and a truly euphoric sax section that will bring on the kind of endorphin release we’ve all been craving, ‘Too Shy’ is the 1975 at their very best.
Finding the sweet spot between 90s alt-rock and sweet melodic pop, one of ‘Fake It Flowers’ many highlights includes the thunderous ‘Together’. Capturing the honest and vulnerable feel of the album, it finds the singer longing for affection with anthemic choruses and heavy guitars. Bea says “This song is about the dependency you have with someone and missing that when you’re away and learning to be by yourself. It’s written from that point when you’re feeling alone and thinking everything is better when you’re with that other person.”
Opening with a confident swagger, Spyres turn the relatable tale of a riotous night out and fake ID attempt into a swirling, instantly addictive anthem. ‘The DOB doesn’t match but neither does our street” Emily Downie and Kiera McGuire sing, pairing the sharp wit and precise lyrical style of Courtney Barnett with swirling melodies, alluring vocal harmonies and hazy surf-rock influences. Hugely confident and ambitious in execution, Spyres are undoubtedly primed for a massive 2021.
Steadily amassing a loyal following all over the UK and beyond, The Snuts continue their rapid ascent with the release of a moody new single ‘Always’. Deeply atmospheric from the get-go, Jack Cochrane’s passionate vocals and lovelorn lyrics are delivered against rousing guitar lines, ghostly harmonies and a steady drumbeat. It’s the kind of track that reflects the band’s move to the Main Stage, brimming with ambition and confidence. Never afraid to shake up the indie-rock template, it is set to feature on the band’s upcoming debut album, slated for release in 2021.
Glasgow singer-songwriter Joesef released his ‘Does It Make You Feel Good?’ EP this year to widespread acclaim and it featured this stunning collab with Loyle Carner. Bringing a sultry dose of melancholy to summer playlists all over the UK and beyond, I Wonder Why’ is a pensive, introspective piece of pop about loss and heartbreak. Energised by Loyle Carner’s assured delivery, it went onto become a big Radio 1 hit.
One of the crowning jewels of Fontaines D.C’s Grammy-nominated second album ‘A Hero’s Death, ‘Televised Mind’ is one of their finest tracks to date. Opening in dark and unsettling fashion with an onslaught of anxious, circling guitar lines, the track never quite lets up throughout as Grian Chatten delivers his nihilistic lyrics in signature deadpan style. “All your laughter pissed away/ All your sadness pissed away/ Now you don’t care what they say/ Nor do I“, the frontman sings over a brooding instrumental that almost seethes with malicious intent. Submerging the listener in deeper to their menacing world, it’s a track that captures the hypnotic feel of bands like The Prodigy and The Brian Jonestown Massacre.
With an ability to rouse emotions through her music in ways that many artists are unable to conjure, ‘Black Dog’ is a highly powerful track dedicated to those with mental health struggles. With the mindset of a poet, Parks is consumed by the words she delivers – showing powerful restraint in every quietly whispered syllable and starkly honest vignette. “Let’s go to the corner store and buy some fruit / I will do anything to get you out your room,” she gently sings against lo-fi beats and tender strings. It’s beautiful song and a gentle reminder that we’re not alone through these trying times.
When we look back at Scotland’s musical output in 2020, one of the many positives we can take from an otherwise tumultuous year is the arrival of Lizzie Reid. With her arrestingly personal lyrics and sensitively delivered tributes to love, loss and heartbreak, she has created a sound that is strong and vulnerable in equal measure that offers hope and solace at a time fraught with tension. For this reason, her opening single releases have made for essential listening. ‘Seamless’ is one of the most accurate depictions of heartbreak we’ve heard in some time; her voice warm and clear and every word packed with emotion. When delivered alongside gently twanging guitars and a stir of strings , her words have the kind of impact that is usually reserved for artists such as Laura Marling, Julia Jacklin and other renowned masters of their craft. “How could it be that tearing at the seams has been seamless for you?” is the devastating sign-off as we are left with a deeply mature yet hard-hitting reflection on love and loss.
A track we’d been eagerly anticipating since their outstanding BBC Introducing performance emerged online back in January, its official release lived up to all the hype and more. An emphatic follow-up to April’s ‘Cut Your Hair’, ‘Hey Boy’ another dazzling celebration of self-expression and self-love that comes packed with an even greater punch. A religious, organ-like opening builds up to a glamorous, synth-laden journey full of stomping basslines and anthemic gang vocals that become almost mantra-like in their delivery.Inviting us into their ensemble spectacle once more, the track is a playful ode to queerness and fearless individuality. A swirl of eighties new wave and modern queer pop influences, it’s big, bombastic, addictive and most importantly, fun; a track that is equal parts dancefloor filler and anthemic earworm.