Following their previous R8B/Soul effort ‘Erased’ in 2021, London producer RAY ALEX once again teams up with LA vocalist and songwriter Sydney Jane for his self-produced single ‘Grey Rock Shuffle.’
Projecting past traumas and psychological abuse, Ray Alex and Sydney Jane offer an alternative antidote to toxic and narcissistic behaviour with ‘Grey Rock Shuffle’. Co-produced with ako, the song nods to Larry Heard, Vikter Duplaix and funky house from that era and has an oxymoronic twist in how the dark unsettling lyrics in the song coexist with its vibrant, off-centre instrumentation that feels upbeat and inviting.
‘Grey Rock Shuffle’ is the first of seven songs to be released from Ray Alex’s second EP ‘Unseen Powers’ in Spring 2023 on his independent label Incorporelle.
Ray Alex has also co-wrote and performed on Julia Romana’s debut album ‘Blood Be Fluid’ and is set to release songs with London rapper SAMSON and Atlanta rapper JoeJas in early 2023.
Swedish new wave punkster MANUELA IWANSSON‘s debut album ‘Dark Tracks’, out now via Lack of Sleep Records, is a long-awaited effort that is the result of almost four years of work after unveiling her self-released EP ‘Dream Lover’ in 2018. Highlighted by the 80s-esque, gritty synth-pop anthem that is focus track ‘Strangers on a Train’, the album flaunts a musical journey that takes from the callous rock stylings of the late 70s and mixes them with the new wave evolution characteristic of the Blondie era, all serving to present an alluringly dystopian listening experience that lingers on the beauty of impermanence.
‘Dark Tracks’ is unrelentingly self-explorative. Iwansson wears her heart on her sleeve for anyone to see as she belts across the ten tracks, familiarizing listeners with a darkness stemming from unmet desire and lovers lost. The album plays like a jukebox with every song standing on its own as a vintage and vigorous tour de force.
Iwansson had this to say about the fabric of the project: “The album is basically a portfolio of me. It is very much a debut album – a little rough around the edges at times, but made with a lot of heart. I put a lot of thoughts into the lyrics, and a lot of emotion into the melodies. At times I play around with words a lot, and I constantly want to improve my writing … The whole project is about 80s aesthetics with 70s punk vibes; grit, rain, cities at night, neon lights, trains, and cars, and movement; leather and lace and rock ‘n’ roll. Nothing ever looks as good as a photo booth photo in black and white.”
The Stockholm-based artist once toured the world with punk outfit Terrible Feelings but now looks at her solo career as an opportunity to make timeless new wave hits, boasting a sound inspired by influences such as Pat Benatar and Suzi Quatro yet entirely her own. With ‘Dark Tracks’, makes a point of crafting earworm hooks and choruses that work in the middle of a rowdy yet heart-wrenching punk aesthetic.
Following the release of her EP ‘Dream Lover’, Iwansson served as an opener for Orville Peck on a full European tour in 2019, simultaneously releasing a series of singles and chipping away at her debut LP over the next couple years. While hard at work in preparation for its release, she has still found her way on stage this year, opening for Viagra Boys, Molly Nilsson and Current Joys this spring.
‘Strangers on a Train’ + ‘Dark Tracks’ are now available on all streaming platforms. Have a listen below…
Must Listens: Strangers on the Train,Loving Is Easy, Dead Weight
GHALIA can immediately draw in a crowd with her single, ‘444’ thanks to its intimate soulful punch packed with incredible vocals and harmonies.
Set in the often dark, lonely, and quiet time of day at 4:44AM, the track follows a melodious conversation between Ghalia and vocalist Rehana who plays the role of the ‘angel.’ Calling out to this figure through dreamy vocal layers and lyrical pleas, Ghalia asks for the angel’s presence and guidance to help her through sleepless nights, give her signs to keep persevering, and above all, provide reassurance that she should keep her faith in the ‘angel.’
With an undeniably ethereal sonic quality, Ghalia flawlessly delivers emotional lyrics that tell the story of the give and take in relationships, the importance of mutual faith and trust, and the risk we all take when we open ourselves up to someone. Following Ghalia and Rehana’s captivating conversation with one another, the track builds to a sharp and emotionally electrifying guitar solo, which perfectly contrasts against the mellow and soothing quality of the rest of the song. Describing ‘444’ as her “most vulnerable song yet,” Ghalia combines her seasoned storytelling skills and relatable lyrics with catchy and dynamic R&B production to perfectly encapsulate the complicated relationship between herself and the angel.
Following her signature formula for creating new music by starting with a beat and simple melody, ‘444’ initially started out as a solo project, but quickly became a duet and collaboration with Toronto-based vocalist Rehana when the two connected via social media during the pandemic lockdowns. The two talented artists then came up with the idea to turn the one-sided track into a dichotomous conversation between the pair in which they both express their desire to be needed and desired by one another. Although the two have never met in person, after sending various melodies, verses, and mixes back and forth, ‘444’ has truly become a collaborative sonic forum where Ghalia and Rehana have bared their deepest insecurities and emotions with one another.
Inspired by a diverse group of talent that ranges from The Weeknd to Kehlani to Justin Bieber, Ghalia has used their work as a launching pad for her own – weaving melancholy lyrics with invigorating R&B style beats to craft her own unique sound.
Ghalia’s ability to capture the attention of listeners with specially-selected beats, complex drops and arrangements have set her apart from the rest. Her new single ‘444’ will be sure to delight her current and future fans, alike. Check it out below…
As we enter the season of goodwill, most of us look forward to spending time with love-ones and perhaps catching up with friends we haven’t seen for some time. British singer-songwriter NICKI WELLS reminds us that festive times aren’t a celebration full of family and friends for some in her new self-penned single, ‘A Little Christmas of My Own’.
Much like her recently released single ‘Carry On’, Nicki Wells’ takes to the piano on which she first learned to play as a child to add a rich and inviting timbre to this steadily paced acoustic number.
Nicki explains the inspiration behind the new single: “It’s a bittersweet song about Christmas because for some, it can be a lonely time, not everyone has a family to go to. But by the end there is a sweet acceptance of a quiet and calm Christmas.”
In keeping with the intimate sound of this single, the accompanying video was created by Tarq Bowen and presents a beautiful and cozy visual.
‘A Little Christmas of My Own’ was released last Friday (2nd December). Watch the video for the single below…
London-based singer/songwriter LEO KELLY-GEE‘s catchy single, ‘Headphones’ evokes that explosive feeling you get when you have your favourite song playing in your ears and you can’t help but dance along and imagine you’re the main character in your own music video.
The chirpy piece takes you through an euphoric journey of evocative verses, uplifting choruses, before transporting you to another planet in the ethereal bridge and a blistering guitar solo to see the song out.
Inspired by artists like John Mayer, Paul Simon and George Ezra, Leo was a semi-finalist in the Isle of Wight Festival’s New Blood competition in 2020, and continues to perform to sold-out audiences across London. An accomplished guitarist, Leo takes centre stage in his live performances, possessing the energy of Tommy Emmanuel, Jon Gomm and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Now here’s your chance to get your happy on and have a listen to ‘Headphones’ below…