Monthly Favourites

I’ve always been interested in a huge variety of musical genres, and with music so easy to create and publish nowadays, it can be hard to work through it all to find the artists you really love. I decided to start a monthly review of bands/artists from a variety of different styles and genres – here is January’s offering.

Review by Jane Howkins

Picture by Ilustrada

Ilustrada – Keychain

Keychain is a track by the curiously titled Ilustrada – the song has a bit of an 80s feel to it, with dreamy synths and huge drums being the name of the game here. In terms of genre, there is so much going on here, with elements of post-punk, pop, rock and dream-pop present within the music. Ilustrada has quite a unique vocal style, but it suits the music well. Check out his social media pages below.

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Brian Barron – Junky Boy

Brian Barron is a folk musician who also has moments of American and country present in his music – what stuck out to me most about Junky Boy was how heartfelt the music sounded. The lead vocals are provided by Brian himself, but the female backing vocals also work well when combined with the rest of the music. There’s a real sense of storytelling to his lyrics, which I loved.

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Rofi James – Berlin Wall

Rofi James are an Irish band from the Galway area, who released their track Berlin Wall back in November 2021. Their music has a rather dark feel to it, at least in terms of atmosphere. It’s quite a poppy song and it does have a mainstream sound to it, but there is so much more going on here than you might normally expect from this sort of music. It’s also incredibly catchy – just check out those synths!

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Tim Angrave – Closer

Closer is the sort of track that those into their electronic dance music should enjoy. Created by DJ and producer Tim Angrave, the song starts off with a cool percussive beat and bass melody, sounding quite sparse at times. The subtle nature of the track really helps to draw the listener in – the female vocals also sound great. Check out Tim’s website here and his socials below!

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Austin Carr – I Don’t Wanna Be Young Friend

I Don’t Wanna Be Your Friend is a lovely, folky release from musician and singer-songwriter Austin Carr. His soft vocal style is amazing, working well with the folk genre of the song. It’s quite slow at times, but the acoustic guitar melodies meld well with Austin’s vocals – the way the backing vocals are used to harmonise with the lead vocals is also stunning.

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Lara Snow – Wild Sea (Stripped Version)

This version of Wild Sea is a more stripped-down version of the original track by musician and singer-songwriter Lara Snow. The track sounds absolutely stunning and is really haunting to listen to at times. The main instrumentation comes from a gorgeously simple piano melody – Lara’s vocals also have a wonderful sense of urgency to them, highlighting the beauty of the song even more.

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Be – If You

If You is an electronic pop song from musician and producer Be – the synths that kick the song off are beautiful and run throughout the song, with the chord sequence they provide being the backbone of the track. As the song continues, more and more elements are added, meaning it will take several listens for you to fully be able to appreciate everything.

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ALTAN – Nevermind

ALTAN (not to be confused with the Irish folk band) is an electronic-pop artist based in Hamburg, Germany. Nevermind is one of his latest releases, displaying a knack for subtlety in a world where electronic music can sometimes seem like a barrage of noise. As well as the quiet beats, Nevermind also has an R&B swagger to it, with ALTAN’s vocals having a wonderfully soulful sound to them.

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Coral Palms – Something In The Air

Coral Palms are a four piece indie pop band from Devon in the UK, although their music also has that classic indie rock sound to it that became so prominent in the noughties. The guitar melodies on Something In The Air have a sharp and spiky sound to them, giving the track an upbeat ambiance. The vocals are clear and the change in dynamics between the catchy chorus and the verses sounds really amazing to behold.

Clifford – I’m So Bored

I’m So Bored starts off with an interesting vocal melody that is repeated over and over again, showing that musician and singer Clifford has a very distinctive sound to his music. It’s a pop-rock song with some electronic elements present too – Clifford sings in lovely fashion on the verses, whereas the shouted refrain on the chorus manages to change things up a notch.

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Kimley Mayron – Levitating Feat. Colonel Reyel

Kimley Mayron is a a French pop singer, who has teamed up with fellow artist Colonel Reyel on her single Levitating. This is perhaps the most mainstream pop sounding song here, with a cool reggae style beat existing under the music. It’s incredibly catchy – the way the male and female vocals intertwine should have fans of this sort of music tapping their feet along in no time!

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Sabreen Islam – Like A Movie

Sabreen Islam is an author and singer-songwriter based in New Zealand, showing just how creative she is. Like A Movie is her latest release, with the song being a slow piano based ballad. It’s quite a subtle track but her vocals sounded great when mixed with the rest of the instrumentation and the gorgeous backing vocals.

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Cry Red – Vertigo (Acoustic)

Vertigo (Acoustic) is a new release from Cry Red, a pop-rock band with a folky influence to their music. The song opens up with a gorgeous violin melody, which sounds really beautiful upon first listen. The song has a very emotional feel to it and you can really feel the emotion in the track. Just check out how gorgeous those strings are!

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Downhill – Mode

Mode is a track by Downhill, with the song having a mostly electronic feel to it. The song slowly ramps up the tension over the course of the track, rewarding the patient listener when the drop finally comes halfway through the song. It has a very ethereal quality to it, mixing ambient and electronic sounds together.

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Alibii – But I

Alibii produces pretty pop songs that have a slightly mainstream pop feel to them, but not so much as to overpower her music. The main instrumentation on But I comes from a gorgeous piano arpeggio that weaves throughout the song, laying a subtle melody onto the track. Her vocals are also very soulful, working well with the rest of the music.

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Sandra Grace – Got 2B Famous

Sandra Grace writes emotional and relatable songs about her own life, giving her music a genuine feeling of sincerity. Her new song, Got 2B Famous, is a catchy pop song with mainstream qualities to it, but it also sounds rather funky. The bass is a real stand out on this song – it’s great to hear a bass played in such a funky manner on a pop song such as this.

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Daggerplay – Castaway

Daggerplay are a Finnish band with a ska-punk/reggae feel to their music. It’s rare to hear this type of music coming from Scandinavia, making for a welcome change. Castaway is their latest song to be released, featuring a bouncy rhythm and ska style guitars. The chorus is rather catchy, having an anthemic ambience to it.

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Chrissie Huntley – Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is an electro-pop song from Chrissie Huntley, a British musician and singer, currently based in Bristol. The song has quite a minimalistic feel at first due to the beats, but after a few listens, more and more is revealed. Chrissie has a great voice and the song is really catchy, so make sure you check it out in our playlist below.

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Jesse Grossi – Moments Of Fire

We’ve featured Jesse Grossi’s music on these pages a few times before, so it’s always a delight to receive more music from him. Moments Of Fire is just as good as any of the other tracks we’ve heard from the singer-songwriter, with this song being a catchy pop-rock tune with a fantastic melody to it. Jesse’s vocals shine through as always – make sure you check him out if you haven’t already!

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Snap Infraction – Memories Of Ourselves

Snap Infraction are an indie rock band with an amazing sound to their music – Memories Of Ourselves is one of six singles released by them in 2021, and is easily my favourite track on this entire list. It’s one of the heavier tracks on this review, but it also has a great sense of melody to it – I particularly loved the eerie bass line on the verses.

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DJ Diverse – That Love

That Love is an EDM/dance song by DJ Diverse, a talented musician and producer. It’s quite a mainstream track, with beats that will make you want to get up and start dancing straight away. The synths are gorgeous and mix well with the beats – I also felt the vocals had a soulful feel to them, making the song really stand out.

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IRYS – Ride Or Die

IRYS is a pop singer and songwriter with a haunting alt-pop sound to her music. The synths and bass mix perfectly on Ride Or Die, helping to create a fantastic rhythm and melody. IRYS’ vocals are luscious, suiting the style of song well. One of the things I loved most about the track is the eerie feel it has, in part due to that stonking bass melody that runs throughout the tune.

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