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Monthly Round-Ups

Monthly Round-Ups

Music Round-Up // September

Due to various reasons, largely down to the unability to find more hour in a day, I have been absent from publishing any new materials for over a week. However, during this off period, I’ve done loads of planning, shooting, reshooting and editing for the upcoming collaborative projects… but in the meantime, let’s share some music and love around.

Cannot believe we’re almost a third into October!! Time does fly, even more so with good music. Speaking of flying, September marked the (re)start of my travelling season, in fact, I finished composing this post in Dublin Airport so here I present you the music that accompanied me throughout my Brussels tour last month.

 

Katharine McPhee “Appetite”

It seems almost compulsory these months for me to include at least one track from a reality talent show alum in these Round-Up posts and this is no exception – American Idol season 5 runner-up and the star of Smash and Scorpion, Katharine McPhee has, in her modest-sized discography, always maintained an impressive consistence in the quality of her music, which is exactly what Appetite delivers.

Mixing smooth with sultry vocals, intensified with a sprinkle of arousing moans, McPhee stirs up a tastefully dark sex jam with this track… Ahhhh! Just when I thought Adam Lambert had topped my Best Post-Idol Songs with Underground (read my May Round-Up), this just has got me rethinking the whole list!

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One Direction “Infinity”

Didn’t expect to see this name on here, did you? No. Nor did I.

I must admit, even though I would never label myself a Directioner, I had always been secretly holding out hopes that the heartthrobs will truly deliver and I’d been nothing but disappointed by their hugely juvenile sound. Unsurprisingly, as the boys have grown up, so has their music.

The appeal in Inifinity for me is the extended maturity that we previously had a taste of in Story of My Life. In terms of the vocals, the Harry-led chorus is definitely a good shout since he is in my opinion, the best vocalist of the newly reformed foursome that they are now… it’s a shame that this didn’t happen earlier in their career as a collective.

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Ryan Adams “Out of the Woods”

Have you heard? Ryan Adams has covered an entire Taylor Swift album…

Citing Nebraska as inspiration for his adaptation of this 2014 top-selling album, Adams executes the mellowness and melancholia with stylised vocals rivalling Bruce Springsteen. The acoustics substitution for the synths is indeed refreshing, but I can’t say the rest of the project is as successful as I would’ve liked. Still, I do genuinely believe that this particular track is a true improvement on the original.

What do you think? Springsteen-sounding Swift? Yay or nay? 😉

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Sara Bareilles “She Used to Be Mine”

In my heart, easily one of the greatest singer, songwriter, pianist, recording artist of our time, Bareilles pours every last drop of her heart and honesty into this beautiful masterpiece.

Vulnerable, haunting and by Bareilles’ own unapologetic admission, deliciously self-indulgent, the Grammy nominee serves up She Used to Be Mine in preparation for her upcoming album What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress to be followed by Waitress musical set to hit Broadway in April next year.

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Troye Sivan “EASE (feat. Broods)”

What happens when two of my favourite fresh, Australasian acts join forces… THIS.

Just one of the six super solid tracks in the South African-born Perth native’s sophomore EP, EASE is hands down the standout moment. Sivan’s effortless crooning laced with Georgia’s signature comforting backing vocals (listen out for her totally awesome bridge!), the heartfelt words are wrapped tight and neatly with a sense of longing – not an unfamiliar territory for Broods and their 2014 debut full-length release (check out my Evergreen review.)

By no means am I saying this is Happy Little Pill (click here for my 2014’s Best Tracks)… but then again, what is? It is, however, a real testament to Sivan’s song-writing skills and Pop potential, proving him to be more than just a YouTube sensation but also quite the rising star to watch… Hedi Slimane most certainly is, are you?

 

Love, Oliver

Don’t forget to comment and let me know your September favs!

Monthly Round-Ups Music

Music Round-Up // August

Another month has come and gone and this one has been full of good, quality music from some of my favourite musicians so sit back, relax and enjoy my picks from August 2015!

 

Jess Glynne “Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself”

Jess is no stranger to this blog. Not long ago, one of her earlier singles made my choice of the week and now she’s reappearing with an August fav of mine that needs no introduction since it’s already topped several charts around Europe:

In terms of vocals, Jess yet again delivers another flawless performance, which is no surprise there! But I love this track for more than what meets the ear – the uplifting message behind the encouraging lyrics makes it worthy of a spot on my list of staple feel-good anthems and that’s what I look for in music: the ability to move me, to project a certain emotion or element… be it joy, frustration, melancholia, or in this case, perseverance.

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Loreen “I’m In It With You”

Loreen is a name many loyal Eurovision Song Contest fans are familiar with as the Swedish songtress was crowned champion in 2012 with a smashing entry regarded by most as one of the best to have ever graced the show… Not to mention she is also a regular to the competition having been invited back for a couple of performances since her victory.

Three years after Euphoria and a successful debut album, Loreen is readying her sophomore…

I’m In It With You embodies everything Loreen does best – theatrics. The magnificiently cinematic chorus manages to shoot chills through my bones every single time as Loreen somehow convinces me that she will stay by my side however dark and low life gets… F**k, if the rest of the album is as good as this, give it to me now!!

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Christopher “Tulips”

Sticking with the Scandinavian-Pop theme, I present a talented, singing and dancing Danish heartthrob who is pretty much the Timberlake slash Bieber of the unified kingdom:

I’ve been following Christopher’s career from the very beginning so you can take my words for it when I say this is by far his best vocal performance to date. Lyrically, lines like “girl, lean back, why don’t you relax?” and “you got me feeling so scandalous” suggest that the title is not so subtly used as a double entendre… at least I think so anyway. Maybe I just have a one track mind but it’s been a real pleasure witnessing Christopher’s progress from cheesy bumblegum to grown-up yet crude rhythmic Pop.

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Gabrielle Aplin “What Did You Do?”

Probably most famous for her cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s The Power of Love in some Christmas advert in 2012, Gabrielle Aplin returns to prove just what she is truly capable of:

Whether or not this song was inspired by Gabrielle’s personal encounter, her conveyance of an unexpected fall for someone who will eventually take over your life is simply impeccable in every sense of fragility and hopelessness so eloquently emoted. In a time when every other song on the radio is electronified, it’s refreshing to still hear organic music that puts all focus on the vocals backed by a guitar, piano and some light percussions.

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Carly Rae Jepsen “Gimmie Love”

Admit it, at some point in the past year you’ve hummed that Bieber-assisted viral song from three years ago at least once, maybe twice without even know it… Truth is not many know know that Carly first rose to fame on the Canadian adaptation of popular talent show Pop Idol. Since finishing third in her respective season, she’s produced three LPs with international hits like Call Me Maybe, Good Times and Tonight I’m Getting Over You popping up somewhere in between…

Back with a new album, she’s now giving us this catchy new tune among many others.

As much as I find E•MO•TION a completely solid project with more than decent to brilliant offerings, Gimmie Love for me is a definite clear standout. It’s a 80’s Dance throwback in the most contemporaty way possible. In fact, the old school influence can be heard throughout the album so if you’re into that, give Carly’s new album a try!

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my choices! I want to know what you think of them so please don’t forget to comment below with your thoughts and maybe your own August favs!! :)

 

Love, Oliver

Monthly Round-Ups Music

Music Round-Up // July

You know the drill so let’s get straight into the music!!

 

Christina Grimmie “Shrug”

The Voice US alumni are killing it lately!! Following Melanie Martinez‘s Cry Baby on my list last month (here), season 6 finalist and YouTube sensation, Shrug is Christina Grimmie’s second official single since finishing third on the talent show.

The track is jam-packed with sass and swagger, showing off a refreshing side of Grimmie I’d never seen.

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Kacey Musgraves “Dime Store Cowgirl”

This July favourite of mine is personal. It’s an account of Kacey’s career so far but the way she’s put it into words makes it very relatable to me.

Indeed, even though I’ve been living in the UK for the past six years and will carry on so in the many foreseable years to come, I still call my hometown “home”. There is no question that I’m a huge fan of Country music. I love the sentiment and storytelling element, and Dime Store Cowgirl perfectly embodies everything I adore of the genre.

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MKTO “Bad Girls”

I’ve been aware of this track for over a month and half now but it hasn’t grown on me so much until the last couple weeks so I thought I would include it here just for your pleasure.

Plus, the namesake EP has just dropped more than a week ago so it sort of counts as a July release… I guess? Anyway, Bad Girls is a flawless summer track through and through, with catchy lyrics and infectious beats so enjoy!

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Havana Brown “Battle Cry (feat. Bebe Rexha & Savi)”

A multitalented export from Down Under, singer/dancer/DJ Havana Brown charted worldwide with We Run the Night back in 2012 and has been releasing some decent music that I think are severely underrated.

Teamed up with vocalist Bebe Rexha and Dance music producer Savi, Havana’s sophomore album promises to bring a whole new sound with Battle Cry, which creeped in at the tail end of July – and it’s already soaring on my iTunes play count!

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Gin Wigmore “Written in the Water”

The Auckland native’s last release in 2011, Gravel & Wine made a lasting impression on me… to this day, I still play Black Sheep and belt to it! Written in the Water comes just as the perfect follow-up to that.

Although much to my surprise, I first heard this song a couple of weeks ago on the radio, instantly I recognised and was hooked on the soulful yet playful vocal delivery Gin does so well!!

 

There you have my choices for July! Tell me if you like any of my picks! Don’t forget to let me know in the comment who you’ve been listening to in the past few weeks!

 

Love, Oliver

Monthly Round-Ups Music

Music Round-Up // June

It’s that time again – time to review the month of June in music. Last month was a crazy one, I had loads going on (all to be explained in my next outfit post) including London Collections: Men, so I must confess I completely lost track of my music… Nonetheless, I managed to find some gems in the little I heard so listen up as I unveil my top picks from June!

 

Selena Gomez (feat. A$AP Rocky) “Good for You”

It might come as a shock to some that I choose to start off the list with a former Disney child star… who is not known for impressive vocal performances but give this a try, it may surprise you:

Her first single to ever debut in the Billboard Top 10, this track marks a huge milestone in Gomez’s career since her Barney days (I used to love that show!!) to finally finding her sound with Good for You. I could quite happily do without the rapping but I shall deal because the rest of the track is brilliant.

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Phoebe Ryan “Homie” + “Mine”

Phoebe Ryan is an uber talented, jade-haired newcomer based in LA who has claimed many hearts her own with mash-up covers and debut single Mine earlier this year:

I know the track first came out months ago but the EP has just dropped in this past month so that’s got to qualify its presence on this list? No? Anyway, Ryan’s musical style is very much reminiscent of Chvrches whilst the breathy quality of her tone and soft crooning brings to my mind Lights and a greener (in every sense of the word!) Ellie Goulding – what a mix!!

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Melanie Martinez “Pity Party”

I will always know Melanie Martinez as the girl who played a tambourine with her feet whilst performing Toxic on The Voice, where week after week, she cleverly transformed well-known Pop tunes like Bulletproof and Too Close into her own…

And she just did it again with Pity Party, which samples Lesley Gore‘s 60’s classic It’s My Party that gives the song some seriously intense depression and desparation.

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Ryn Weaver “Pierre”

Pierre is rumoured to be the next single from Weaver’s fresh-out-the-oven album, The Fool, which I proud own a copy… I’d be a fool not to! I mean this Californian internet sensation writes some of the most beautiful lyrics. The album booklet reads more like a poetry book. Pair her with hitmaker Ryan Tedder, another favourite songwriter of mine, you have this dazzling track that tells a moving story:

This is not the first time Ryn Weaver appears on my blog. Last year, she had a song on my end of year music round-up with OctaHate, which I’m still addicted to btw! That’s why I went and preordered the album (full review to follow) and Pierre is hands down one of the best tracks.

 

So, those are my choices! What is yours? Let me know what you think about this list and tell me your favourite track from June 2015!!

 

Love, Oliver

Monthly Round-Ups Music

Music Round-Up // May

Just because I don’t write enough music posts and this interest of mine is what fuels my daily life, I have come up with a great idea to keep up with modern music on my blog… after all, it’s called Suede & Symphony.

may musicWords: Oliver @oliverinstead

Starting now, at the end of the month or the beginning of the following month, I will be making one special post to share my absolutely favourite releases in the last four weeks. These will be the tracks that are skyrocketing on my iTunes play count, the tracks I’ve kept on repeat all month long.

Please note that I will only consider those I have actually listened to so if there’s been a particularly popular song and I have somehow missed it, then it’s unlikely it’ll appear on my lists… but if you think it’s a track that I really need to know, please feel free to tweet me about it @oliverinstead or simply let me know in the comments below!

 

Tove Styrke “Number One”

Conveniently kicking off the list is Number One by the Swedish songtress:

It hasn’t been long since Tove appeared in a music post of mine with one of the previous singles, Borderline (read here) off her sophomore album, Kiddo – which will also serve as her first crack at the US market. With the addition of this glittery synth-led jam, the record is shaping up very nicely indeed.

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Pia Mia “Do It Again (feat. Chris Brown & Tyga)”

Teaming up with the dynamic duo, Pia Mia has the song of the summer:

I’ve been following Pia’s rise to superstardom fairly closely. It was her contribution to Divergent’s soundtrack that initially caught my attention but then she went on to produce some of the most solid EPs and now I’m just proud to see this budding popstarlet getting the recognition she deserves with this smash hit… but that’s not all, she’s also scored herself a Missguided campaign!

So if you don’t already know who Pia Mia is yet, better start getting used to this voice and face.

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Josef Salvat “Till I Found You”

Having seen him perform live (and boy, does he perform) and heard all of his official as well as some yet-to-release materials, I can safely say that Salvat’s upcoming debut is one of the most exciting this year.

As usual, he matches explosive beats with heartfelt lyrics that don’t simply paint pictures but take you places. Till I Found You is no less cinematic than any of his previous works and I’m seriously in love with it.

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Little Mix “Black Magic”

Probably the most mainstream track on my list this month.

I was skeptical at first when the X-Factor champs talked about its “unusualness” but having listened to it, I honestly have to say I’m really liking the new sound. Although the lyrics are merely passable and the singing isn’t bad for a Pop tune (I have heard way better performances from the girls, cue Turn Your Face), it’s the 80s beats that make this track what it is – a rhythmic nostalgic trip back in time. I mean, is this the new age Girls Just Wanna Have Fun or what?

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Adam Lambert “Underground”

From the current Queen frontman, Underground is perhaps my favourite song from an American Idol alum in the last five years.

Unlike most typical Lambert songs, this is a dark, almost haunting R&B ballad that is stripped off of all the extras and theatrics. What’s left here is pure emotion-filled vocal deliveries – Adam proves just why he’s so rightfully the Freddie Mercury of our time.

If you like this, then I strongly recommend you to check out Ghost Town, which is yet another eargasm of a track.

 

So what do you think of my picks? Do you have a favourtie? What songs have you been blasting in the past month? Let me know and stay tuned for my June selection!!

 

Love, Oliver