BLANKS releases infectious indie pop single “Classic Armstrong”

BLANKS is a Dutch musician with an extensive fanbase, counting over 1 million YouTube subscribers on his Music by BLANKS channel. and millions of streams on Spotify. His latest offering “Classic Armstrong” is a catchy synth pop tune, full of energy and earnestness, and is the third single from upcoming album that will be released later this year.

“Classic Armstrong” starts with a retro inspired drum beat, then quickly introduces us to catchy melodies that only grow catchier by the time we get to the chorus, with vocals and production that are top-notch as usual with BLANKS. The song ends in a somewhat unusual way, as in not with a final chorus, but with an instrumental section with a simple lead synth oscillating between octaves.

The witty lyrics are well-crafted to revolve around the idea of comparing a crush to a melody, and even referencing the soulfulness of a ‘classic Armstrong’ record. The musical allegories continue up to the point where the artist compares the loved one to the perfect melody, stating that he doesn’t mind ‘the key’. To a musician such as myself, that seems like the perfect declaration of love!

The single imparts happy, larger-than life feelings of joy, very fitting for a song that is essentially about a crush.

Photo: Jantina Talsma

Talking about the song, BLANKS says:

Classic Armstrong takes me back to my first crush. The vibe, the sounds, the melodies: it reminds me of the music I listened to when I had my first serious crush. And whenever I listen to those songs, I just want to grab the nearest object, pretend it’s a microphone, and sing and dance along! I hope this song does the same for you!

The single comes with a charming music video, that depicts a cute friendship/beginning of a love story, and leaves us waiting for the next instalment of the story. Make sure to subscribe and follow BLANKS on socials to keep up with the next releases and news about the upcoming album!

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KTEE serves relatable anthem about the journey to self-love with ‘Back in Time’

KTEE (Katharina Aigner) is an Austrian singer based in Vienna. Her latest single ‘Back in Time’ is a relatable electro pop offering about wishing to go back in time to tell her younger self that everything will be all right, and that what seemed like insurmountable issues at the time will one day become insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

The confidence that comes with maturity reflects in the vocal delivery. The melodies are sung with conviction, and it is obvious that KTEE is an accomplished vocalist with a great technique, soulful tone and a recognisable timbre.

The song has a crisp arrangement, with a groovy synth bass that supports the arrangement and adds to the danceable feel of the track, and synth patterns reminiscent of the Chain Smokers. It wastes no time with introductions, and gets to the chorus before the 50 seconds mark, like a veritable pop bop. The chorus is catchy and well crafted. We also especially enjoyed the short but sweet middle eight with the change in the chord progression and the ‘sci-fi’ synth accentuating the time-machine narrative.

The punchy lyrics punchy are written in retrospective, effectively depicting the image of young KTEE as an outsider at school, and the journey to achieving self-love, to being comfortable in one’s skin and becoming a successful person despite the mean comments and people who were bringing her down.

Photo credit: Bern Wagner

Taking about the song, KTEE explains:

Life can be tough and sometimes it is not easy to believe that everything is going to be okay again and that time actually is indeed a great healer. Sometimes you need a little distance to see things more clearly.

Overall, KTEE’s new single is radio-ready pop hit, well-crafted and well-delivered, and based around a witty idea that many of us will be able to relate to.

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Tiny Anthem transports us to luxury lounge bar with new single ‘Take My Money’

Tiny Anthem is the moniker of Danish singer, multi-instrumentalist and producer Peter Monrad.

‘Take My Money’ was recorded during lockdown, the lyrics reflecting the longing for something that we’ve all been missing: going away for a change of scenery, holidays and entertainment.

As Peter is a bassist with a ton of experience, having toured all over the world, it’s not a surprise that the track is fantastically groovy and relies on an excellent bass line that is both rhythmical and melodic, moving up and down the scales effortlessly.

Add to that a funky guitar, a mellow retro lead synth and a delicious chord progression, and you get an instrumental that reminisces of 80’s lounge funk/soul music, and could fit on an Ibiza Chill compilation, therefore recreating perfectly the intended holiday vibes. In fact, when I closed my eyes and first listened to the track, I could visualise a classy late night party on a yacht in Monaco, some decades ago, where everybody is dressed up and sipping expensive cocktails.

Just like Tame Impala, who Tiny Anthem reminds me of, the track becomes even more impressive when one realises that everything on it is the work of only one person, including the vocals that deliver the melodies with ease, including the pretty catchy ‘Shut up and take my money’ hook in the chorus.

Talking about the track, Peter says:

“I want to make music that grooves and moves people. I love 90s hiphop and all their original samples and I want to have that come through in my music.”

I’d say that it does come through brilliantly, and the inspiration most likely goes back even further than the 90’s. One thing is for sure though, ‘Take My Money’ is one hell of a groovy track!

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Katie Kittermaster releases bittersweet summer bop ‘Out of Love’

Katie Kittermaster is a pop singer-songwriter on the rise, hailing from Kent, England. With impressive stats on Spotify and TikTok, and a sold out headline show in London this September, she has recently secured a publishing deal with BMG.

Her latest song ‘Out of Love’ is a radio-ready pop single with bittersweet lyrics, a driving pop beat and a remarkably catchy chorus.

The song doesn’t waste time with instrumental introductions and dives straight into the verse, introducing us to Katie’s gorgeous voice, which has a uniquely sweet timbre and manages to project strength while staying youthful and vulnerable.

Just like with Katie’s other previous releases, the production is top-notch, but with more upbeat, summery vibes, and peppered with ear candy and reverb throws. We especially enjoyed the engaging pop guitars, and the vocoder harmonies, and also the unexpected minor chord brought in at the end of the middle eight.

The lyrics are evocative and relatable, simple words painting an engaging narrative of scenes from the past relationship, or addressing the lover that she is now ready to move on from. Talking about the inspiration behind the song, Katie says:

“Out Of Love” is a track about realising a love you once knew has turned bitter and quite honestly boring. I think I’m safe to say this feeling was mutual, thank god!! However it still sucked.

One thing that definitely doesn’t suck is Katie’s new single, and we are looking forward to hearing of her future music career achievements – they are sure to come!

Find out more about Katie on Instagram, Facebook and her website.

Roos Meijer unveils profound new single ‘In My Name’

Dutch alt-folk artist Roos Meijer releases ‘In My Name’, the first single from her upcoming debut LP ‘Why Don’t We Give It A Try?’, set for release in November 2021.

Roos has set herself for quite an ambitious and unique project, with the songs on her upcoming album being inspired by conversations with eight societal change-makers for causes relating to climate, anti-racism, feminism, human rights, orphans, LGBTQ+ youth, and homelessness. ‘In My Name’ is inspired by a conversation with Julia Jouwe, an activist for a free West Papua who took up the legacy of her late grandfather, in the fight for the freedom of his native people.

Musically, ‘In My Name’ is an atmospheric number with dreamy double tracked vocals and deceptively simple vocal melodies, stretched over chord changes that surprise and delight, with profound, politically charged lyrics.

Opening with a strong statement about how history betrayed so many voices, Roos continues with what is a poignant social commentary, that manages to stay elegant at all times, and not fall on the preachy side. This is achieved through the contrast between the uplifting message and the reflective, subdued nature of the music. The arrangement is eclectic, an alt-folk with sparse chamber pop elements and an unexpected but extremely effective ethnic instrument solo at the end. The fade out is longer than usual, maybe depicting those unheard voices that faded away from history.

The music of Roos Meijer is interesting and thought challenging. If the rest of the songs follow the same vein, this will be an album to look out for!

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Mikara – ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’

‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ is the newest single from California based Japanese American pop artist Mikara.

Comprising of just an acoustic guitar and Mikara’s sweet-toned vocals, ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ possesses the charming simplicity of a diary entry. Sung over a chord progression that stays the same all throughout the song, yet somehow does not become monotonous, the hazy vocal is imbued with the nostalgia of a relationship that is already becoming a memory.

The delivery flows naturally, a musing monologue with unpretentious lyrics exuding the youthful air of a first love, and first heartbreak. The recurring line that also gives the title of the song, is a subtle hook, but one that proves to be a bit of an ear-worm by the end of the song.

Written, recorded and produced in her bedroom, “You’re Gonna Miss Me’ is an excellent bedroom pop piece.It is intimate, honest and does not need artifice to create a memorable piece that excellently portrays the emotional numbness that comes after a disappointment in a relationship.

Talking about the inspiration behind the song, Mikara explains:

“Breaking up with your best friend HURTS. I went through the stages of heartbreak, anger and disappointment. I felt like I was trapped with these feelings, held hostage to a toxic relationship grasping for a sense of normalcy. It took some time but I’m finally free. I’ve started a new chapter and this is my rebirth.”

Mikara plans to release her debut EP later this year, so if you want to stay up to date with her new music, do make sure to follow her socials:

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Find the song on all platforms: https://withkoji.com/@Mikara

Air Circus (feat. DJ Maisie Mais) – ‘The Last Time’

Bournmouth-based duo Air Circus share a refreshing take on pop with their latest collaboration with DJ Maisie Mais.

The group, comprising of Adam Adrian, Dan Follant and collaborator Maisie Mais, have just released the single, which is a wonderfully bizzare combination of eclectic layers and instrumental elements, all tied together by Maisie’s sweet, straight-forward-pop voice.

DJ Maisie Mais performed the lead vocals

The instrumental is a throbbing culmination of warped and detuned, jangly guitars, bouncing electronic elements and retro off-beat synth bass, and the vocals are very Lily Allen. The chorus contains an ingenious instrumental hook intertwined with catchy vocal melodies, on top of a bouncy, fabulously danceable rhythm.

The production draws inspiration from artists such as FINEAS (brother and producer of Billie Eilish), who uses found sounds to create instrumental parts, such as striking a matchstick to create a snare drum sound. Air Circus used the sound of a deoderant can discharging to create a hi-hat sound. It took many takes to get the sound they wanted, and it wasn’t long before they had to open a window.

The track was written and recorded over lockdown, but unlike Leeds-based duo Lines of Flight, Air Circus did not find that working separately really got the creative juices flowing. UK restrictions were only allowing separate households to meet up outside at the time, so the solution? Set up a recording studio in the garden. In fact, two gardens, one at each home. Every part (excluding the vocal, which Maisie Mais recorded at her home and sent over) was recorded outside in this way, with the result that some birds and neighbour sounds can be heard in the recording.

On the meaning of the song, Air Circus explain:

“The Last Time’ explores Maisie’s experience of holding desperately onto friendships and relationships, despite knowing that theoutcome of every single day will be an argument. This self-awareness acts as a sounding board of frustrations, questioning whether she will make it ‘the last time’ or keep getting hurt.”

‘The Last Time’ really is a refreshing take on pop; unusual, interesting yet infectiously catchy. It is the first release as part of a larger project, and we are looking forward to seeing what else will come out of it.

Stream ‘The Last Time’ on Spotify now

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Freddy Hall – ‘Something Good’

Brooklyn-based artist Freddy Hall answers lockdown loneliness with determined optimism in upbeat, Motown inspired single, ‘Something Good’.

The first release in anticipation of upcoming album, ‘Dazy’, Hall delights us with a refreshingly retro track arranged for big band in the style of Amy Whinehouse and Motown artists such as Stevie Wonder or The Supremes. Produced by Anthony ‘Rocky’ Gallo (John Legend, Cigarettes After Sex, Gavin DeGraw) and featuring the wonderful horns arrangement of Broadway director Cian McCarthy (Moulin Rouge, The Book of Mormon), ’Something Good’ takes a stand against what Hall describes as the ‘loneliness epidemic’. 

The bright, upbeat arrangement is counterpointed by Hall’s dreamy indie vocals, and honest lyrics:

“I don’t need much, I just want something good. I’ve been on my own for way too long, and well, something good might stay, yeah, something good might change how I’m feeling now.”

The arrangement is a really interesting blend of 70s soul and indie pop, and it’s refreshing to hear a recording with so many live elements – all the parts are recorded by live players. McCarthy has arranged the horns masterfully, adding wonderful texture, depth and dynamics to the track with bouncing counterpoints and filling the gaps with joyful bursts of melody. Gallo’s production is also top-notch, with a crisp and clear mix that jumps out of the speakers, and the nice additions of crowd ambience add to the message of the song – by adding an atmosphere of live performance, one thing we’ve all been missing throughout the pandemic.

Of all the artistic responses to Covid we’ve seen this year, this one stands out. While many have fully embraced themes such as the ticking clock and boredom, our powerlessness in the face of the situation or the loneliness of isolation, this track boldly antithesises these simultaneously acknowledging them in a tasteful way. The song is about the innate human need to socialise and connect with others.

On the release, Hall says:

“This song has been swirling in my head for many years now but I didn’t know exactly where to take it. I revisited it a few months into isolation and everything just poured out. […] This track has a fun sound juxtaposed with a serious, at times too-honest, and very relateble theme. At the end of the day, don’t we all just want ‘Something Good’?”

The track is also accompanied by a charming stop-motion music lyric video featuring magazine cutout lyrics and a lego concert:

Stream ’Something Good’ on Spotify now!

You can find Freddy Hall on socials using the links below:

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Josh Savage – ‘In Too Deep’

Josh Savage shares accomplished second single “In Too Deep” from upcoming album ‘Another Life’, out in February 2022 on Savage Tribe Records.

‘In Too Deep’ is a tasteful love song that beautifully depicts the excitement and fear that come with the realisation of having irreversibly fallen in love. 

Recorded in Berlin, the newly adopted home of the British musician, ‘In Too Deep’ stands out through flawless production and Josh’s expert songwriting. The moody intro set the tone beautifully, with engaging guitar and soothing, immersive vocal layers. Josh’s wistful voice carries through the tune effortlessly, in a way that reminded us of Catfish and the Bottlemen. 

In fact, Josh has supported them on tour, along with other renown acts such as Kodaline or Jack Savoretti, among other impressive accolades such as millions of Spotify streams, and over 700 live shows. The experience and skilled musicianship are apparent in this release, and even more so in some of his earlier, rawer releases on Spotify. However, song like ‘In Too Deep’ or his previous single ‘Young Fools’, hit the perfect balance between honest songwriting and polished sound that can compete with any mainstream release.

The pre-chorus is quite catchy in itself, and opens up into a soaring chorus, that is at once engaging and enveloping, while maintaining an introspective feel. The backing vocals repeating the line ‘is this what it’s like’ seem like a peek into the artist’s stream of consciousness, as if observing its own mental state while incredulously falling in love.  

Talking about the song, Josh explains that ‘In Too Deep’ is about the uncontrollable feeling of falling in love, like the sensation of being pulled underwater.

What is interesting is that the musician was never one we’re writing love songs. However, things change:

“When I first set out writing songs, I promised myself never to have the word “love” in them. I felt songs that did were cheesy and cliché. And then I met someone – in Paris of all places. We hand wrote letters to each other, sent them across the ocean and met all over the world. I finally understood ‘love’ and hard as I tried, could not find a replacement, no other word did it justice so I caved in and broke my own rules.”

Here is the first single of the album, ‘Young Fools’, to get more of a taste of what’s too come. 

Josh Savage is definitely one to look out for. Keep up to date with upcoming singles by following his socials:

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Lines of Flight – ‘Heading Out To You’

Separated by lockdown but connected through technology, Lines of Flight have achieved something special: producing an album worth of material with nothing more than an iPhone each and an internet connection.

The Leeds-based duo, comprising of Matthew Henderson (vocals & synths/programming) and Helen Whale (vocals), met online and began collaborating using the free GarageBand app which comes pre-installed on the iPhone, sending files to each other via WhatsApp and recording vocals using iPhone headphones and mics. By the time the duo finally met each other, they had already written five songs. Five more followed to create a ten-track album, ’Signs of Life’, which Lines of Flight have since had mixed by Leeds-based producer Ed Heaton, are putting out one track at a time throughout 2021.

Track number three is ‘Heading Out To You’, which was recently dropped on Spotify:

‘Heading Out To You’ is a dreamy synth-pop track that calls back to 80s artists such as Depeche Mode, awash with retro synths and underscored by a dramatic piano and computerised drum beat. The vocals are produced in a lo-fi way, which on first listen I thought was a conscious, artistic decision that works rather nicely, rather than due to working around the limitations of iPhone microphones. Multiple layers of vocals fill out the sound nicely, and when coupled with a lo-fi effect, you get that washy sound popularised by artists such as Sufjan Stevens. It’s also nice that the vocals are not over-produced, and still retain that human touch.

The song itself is about yearning for escape. Of the track’s origins, Matthew writes:
‘This song came about following a drive out to the north-east coast. I was reminded of driving up Sutton Bank in the snow, in a wonderful old car that my dad drove – a 1970’s Datsun Laurel. It felt so luxurious! At the time I was driving to a party and all the anxieties of that I had as a teenager, but in the song I reposition it to be my final drive to reach my dad – to be reunited with him, in his car – to travel to the ‘other side’ as referenced in the song (which in itself is a reference to the ‘why did the chicken cross the road’ joke – the dark existential humour of ‘to get to the other side’, always appealed to me). I did this by remembering that when I was driving to the party I nearly crashed – which I then reframed as a means to reaching my dad.’

‘Heading Out To You’ is also accompanied by a music video directed by Amy Cutler, which was also filmed on (you guessed it) an iPhone:

It’s great to hear how Lines of Flight have taken the constraints of the situation, having to work remotely and having no access to a recording studio, and use these creatively to create something new and unique.

To follow Lines of Flight and hear the rest of the album as it is released, follow them on social media using the links below:

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