Like a plain-clothed police officer perched in the back of a Hyundai on a stake out, we watch the internet. We stare at it compulsively for most of the day and night, attempting to piece together the rolling news stories, the reaction pieces, the outrage, the Hottest Things That Are Happening Right Now, into something that makes sense. Often, as you know, this feels like an impossible task. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to complete the internet.
That's especially true when it comes to music. Sure it's easy to keep track of the latest hip-hop beef, but it's harder to delve deeper, find the music you might have missed. That's why over the past few months we’ve been bringing you our favourite discoveries in a column we’ve unanimously declared will provide our readers with All The Good Shit.
July’s been a great month for music. Sure – half of the industry have been getting wankered in fields, sun-soaked villas, and polo-club retreats. But there’s been an all-you-can-eat buffet of exciting new material from some of the most promising artists. Blood Orange released the stand-out track of his career – a ten-minute long collage that captures feelings of isolation and tackles some heavy subject matter. Alice Glass – in her first track since leaving Crystal Castles – dropped a powerful, brick of a track. Vince Staples killed it with Summertime 06; Drake’s been hell-bent on ending Meek Mill’s career; by the time the month is out, we’re bound to get something new from Frank Ocean.
This column isn’t really meant for those artists, though. They receive coverage across the board and in those hours spent compulsively stalking the web, you’ve no doubt come across them. Instead, we’re here to bring you some new music you may not have already heard. The songs we’ve spent the last month obsessing over, convinced we’ve stumbled across something special in one of those late night excursions into the saharas of Soundcloud. So with that in mind, here are our favourite releases from around the United Kingdom in July. You can find our worldwide round-up here (when we publish the link).
CAS – “6pm”
Oh christ. Is the world ready for CAS? I mean he’s definitely the future of UK rap, one of the smartest and most talented MCs to come through in a long time. But he’s also a sick fuck who just raps about murdering and raping like his life was some kind of 1st degree theme park. I feel like he could inspire an old-school Daily Mail moral panic, which would be great, we're long overdue one. I might just write out a random verse from “6pm” so you know what I mean:
“Nick Cage got me on a sick wage
Pulling strings like Jim Page
Pulled Jessie J off the fucking stage
Make her feel this dick in her ribcage
Drown out her screams with my laughter
Nut in her twice, her breakfast the morning after
Crush the morning after pill in her juice to avert a disaster
The only time I use a condom's for stuffing coke
Stick it up this chick's bumhole or down her throat
Put her on a plane, train or on a boat
She comes back to me with a bag of unmarked notes”
sshLexxi – “079”
There’s a strong belief that artificial intelligence is one of the greatest threats to humankind. Talk to Stephen Hawking, and he’ll tell you it “could spell the end of the human race”. Bill Gates too, is in the camp that’s “concerned” about robots with super-powered brains. Essentially, the world’s top scientists and computer programmers, along with the Global Challenges Foundation, believe that computers with “human-level intelligence” are up there with nuclear war and super-volcanoes as the greatest risk to civilisation.
One day, all computers will be immeasurably clever and capable of processing emotion. But what if, at that point, they don’t turn into killing-machines and instead, like the rest of us, exhibit signs of sadness, loss, despair, and grief? When that happens, I’m willing to bet it’ll sound like sshLexxi’s “079”. The latest track from the London producer – his first in four months – sounds like machines weeping. Literally pouring their eyes out, tears running down the face, streaming. This is the real meaning of EDM: Emotional Dance Music - Ryan Bassil
J Hus ft. Fekky – “Drive Me”
You know when everyone is just pissing you off with their incompetence and their bullshit and their hollier than thou crap and all you wanna do is let hell rain down on them. Yeah well this is that, basically - Sam Wolfson
Courage – “For Tonight”
There’s butt-all info out there on Lincoln producer Courage. All we know is that he’s released a remix of Janet Jackson’s “No Sleeep” and one original track called “For Tonight” – which is a consummate banger. Seriously: it’s the sound of walking to your friend’s house on a Friday night, can of beverage in your hand and loose change ratting around in your shorts or socks as the sun begins its late-Summer set. This is one of the most uplifting tracks to come from a new artist in a minute. Its release slap-bang in the central of summer feels more than fitting - Ryan Bassil
Fredwave – “Change”
You know when the beginning of a track catches you? Like you’ve fallen from a thirteen story building and been cushioned by its grip; like it’s wrapped its arms around you and you’ve found your safe place? That’s what happened the first time I heard Fredwave’s latest track “Change”. He’s got two other songs on his Soundcloud but, given that I’m a sucker for a spoken-word introduction, it’s his latest track that really gets me going. In a similar vein to the current crop of British singer songwriters – Leks Rivers, Hira King – “Change” showcases a strong, soulful voice over some deep production. Ryan Bassil
Melé - "Ambience"
Feel bad for Melé if they’d just released this three years ago it would have been all over the Olympic ceremonies like a rash. This is one of these tunes that screams carnival and sporting montage and fucking drum circles of well-meaning volunteers but does so in a way that makes us want to take a fist full of pills and trespass through some private woodland - Sam Wolfson
Denzel Himself - Pleasure EP
Denzel Himself’s parlance is unparalleled. Listen to “Thrasher” – Denzel’s most popular track to date – and you’ll witness “Window” turn into “win-doh”, or hear “blown” sound like it’s voiced from the mouth of a weatherman who is marvellously particular about linguistics. It’s these small instances – where certain syllables are stressed – that make Denzel stand out. He’s got a unique voice. It’s distinctly British yet never ventures into the tea’n’spliff vibe that can often be commonplace in the United Kingdom’s home grown rap scene.
Pleasure is Denzel’s debut body of work. In the EP’s opening track it’s evident that Tyler, the Creator has influenced him – there’s a spoken word introduction and colourful, piano chords which morph into synths – but across the record it’s clear that Denzel’s accelerating in his own lane. And given the amount of people who packed out the launch party for Pleasure in Dalston last weekend, his ascent has been co-signed by the earliest of London’s tastemakers - Ryan Bassil
Fekky - “Way Too Much” (Feat Skepta)
You know Fekky’s one of those guys you need to watch out for: on “Way Too Much” he claims you need to “tell your girlfriend to stay out of [his] DMs”. Almost a year since “Still Sittin’ Here”, a track that’s literally remained on repeat in club nights across London since its release, “Way Too Much” enlists another grime legend, man of the moment Skepta. Obviously it goes harder than Tyson Fury in a bare-knuckle brawl.
Pesky! - “Keep Me”
Isn’t it annoying when your band can only rehearse one hour a week because you have to make time for homework, Scouts and dance club? Or when you have to record your six-track mini-album over a single weekend in a classroom on an iPad using whatever instruments you have access to? You know?
Nope, I have no idea tbh and neither do you, but Pesky! - a group of tweens from Cumbria who just put out their first release via Fierce Panda - know the feel all too well. Of the seven members, two are 11 years old and the rest 12, but their mini-album (knowingly titled ‘Smells Like Tween Spirit’) is an accomplished batch of shoegazey guitar-pop seemingly way beyond their years, both in terms of inspiration and execution. The only notable difference from Pesky! to bands like Teenage Fanclub or Lush is that they actually sound happy.
“Keep Me” captures the naivety of youth from a place of absolute honesty. It’s a rare and brilliant glimpse into how pure music can feel when it hasn’t been tainted by the gifts of ennui and self-loathing that puberty brings. - Emma Garland