And so it’s that time of year again. The nights rapidly draw in after making the exasperated jaunt back from British Summer Time to good ol’ GMT. The fog lies thick over the city as the temperature make it’s downward meander to sub-zero degrees celsius. The feeling of autumn, and indeed shortly after the crisp sensation of winter, is thick in the air. It seems like just the thing right now would be a nice warming tot of hot chocolate and some tunes to cosy up with. I can’t help with the heated beverage part of that, but the musical segment is right here. So without further ado…
The Sam Willows – Take Heart
An early entry into this month’s listening, this quartet from Singapore are making some catchy sounding songs. I can already hear some of these tunes getting stuck in my head. The first and second songs are currently the stand outs on their new album, Take Heart, but from what I’ve heard of the rest it’s some decent pop all round. One small criticism is the overzealous and obvious use of pitch correction throughout, but that’s more or less a given for most pop. They make up for it with some really amazing harmonies.
A Great Big World – Already Home
It’s a great month for new music, as you’ll see later in this post. Among the artists rearing their heads again are the duo A Great Big World. Their first album was actually pretty damn good in many ways. It was just the kind of piano-driven, musical inspired pop I thoroughly enjoy. In addition, it was produced by Dan Romer who keeps popping up on some of my favourite modern albums. Although their new album is out, this has just spurred me into listening to their older stuff. It’s because of this I remember this heartfelt ballad; one of the under appreciated songs off of their first album.
Ingrid Michaelson – One Night Town (Feat. Matt Kearney)
Following on from A Great Big World, I went hunting down other albums that Dan Romer had produced and mixed. I noticed a rather prominent name on that list was Ingrid Michaelson so I decided to have a listen. She’s actually really good. Her last album in particular has some very well written and produced songs. One that stands out is a duet with another familiar name, Matt Kearney. It’s a really good song with some great singing and it’s superbly arranged. It’s safe to say I’ll be listening to more Ingrid Michaelson for quite some time.
Sara Bareilles – I Didn’t Plan It
This month has been pretty stellar for new releases. Among them was this unexpected gem from Sara Bareilles, who has in fact composed the songs for a musical called ‘Waitress’. She reportedly loved them so much that she was compelled to release an album, called What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress, filled with her reworkings of these songs. I have to say that this album is an expert blend of the complex piano driven style indicative of musical theatre with the solid pop stylings of Sara Bareilles. There is possibly no song that more typifies this statement than ‘I Didn’t Plan It’, a heady frollic in the piano heavy riffs before dropping down into driving pop in the chrous. Throughout the album, Sara Bareilles is on fine form in her vocal performance, bringing along Jason Mraz for the ride on a couple of songs. All in all, definitely worth a listen if you at all like piano driven pop or contemporary show tunes.
Ellie Goulding – Lost and Found
I know I had an Ellie entry last month, but Delerium dropped in its entirety this month and I’ve finally had a good chance to have a listen all the way through. At the moment, the song that is my personal favourite would definitely be Lost and Found, but the whole album is pretty much showing Ellie off at her best. From someone whose favourite Ellie Goulding album remains Bright Lights, that’s definitely a compliment.
The Rooz – [Untitled]
I wasn’t expecting an awful lot when I started listening to this track, however I was certainly very pleasantly surprised. From the first bar a powerful driving piano kicks in and develops into an exquisite and evocative piece of modern rock. Turns out these guys are, according to their website, all sub 20 years old and have already been touring with some large acts and played the Royal Albert Hall. That’s pretty damned impressive. They have several EPs and singles to their name, which are all of similar superb quality; all available to stream on Spotify. I look forward to seeing where these guys go in the future.
The Yeah You’s – 15 Minutes
Despite making it high in the UK charts in 2009, this one apparently went completely under my radar. This duo from London somehow manage to combine modern inspirations such as The Feeling with strong elements of both The Beatles and ELO in a really awesome way. This song in particular is rich with vocal harmonies, which I really enjoy. Also, I really like the idea behind this particular song, which, like the band themselves, describes the situation of having your 15 minutes of famous. Their only album Looking Through You is an absolute joy to listen to, so I highly recommend it.
We The Kings – Completely
I’m subscribed to a number of YouTube channels, but I don’t tend to watch many of them on a regular basis. However, I do try and keep up with the daily vlogs from the members of We The Kings; mainly Danny Duncan, but I often watch Charles Trippy and Travis Clark as well. Because of this, it was impossible to have not known that their new album, Strange Love, was out this month. It came, and overall it’s pretty good. When I first listened to it I was initially disappointed, but on additional listens I’m liking it more and more. My initial favourite track was XO (feat. Elena Coats), mainly due to the beautifully arranged chorus, however I’m currently really liking Completely. The whole album is well worth a listen. It’s on Spotify and can be purchased on iTunes for a pretty reasonable price.
Sam Tsui & Rita Daniela – Open Up the Sky
As well as this being a really good and well produced song, as is the way with Kurt Hugo Schneider, the single shot video is impressive as hell. The song was originally a Sam Tsui original, but the duet with Rita really pushes this song to another level.
Eva & the Heartmaker – Gone in a Flash
This one passed across my musical radar after a friend and fellow postgraduate, Nick Gaunt, and I went on a spree of sharing are favourite music by Scandinavian artists. Although I their excellent song Joanna had crossed my musical desk before, I hadn’t acknowledged the artist. Boy, do I wish I had. This Norwegian duo are offering up just the right mix of anthemic synthpop with an 80s inspired slant for my taste. The song I was sent is Gone in a Flash, but their two most recent albums, Traces of You and Dominoes, are both totally stellar and definitely worth a listen. I suspect their others are as well, but I haven’t quite dug back that far in their back catalogue yet.
Newton Faulkner – Passing Planes
The final entry on the list this month, and the latest release as well, is a tune from the new album by Newton Faulkner, Human Love. I really like Newton Faulkner. He’s done some amazing music over his time and this is no exception. In this album he’s moving toward a much more pop inspired sound on most of the songs, while once again managing to remain completely distinctive. This song is my first listen favourite from the album.
Thanks once again for joining me on my musical romp through the autumnal month of November. I hope I’ve been able to provide a tonic with which you can stave off the winter blues for another couple weeks. Until next month, Adieu for now.