No lie, Jordan Stephens does it again and with utter aplomb on standalone single “TELL THE TRUTH!”. The track is the culmination of his team-up with producer Joe Hertz, also partly responsible for Stephens’ moreish January Miraa May collab “Big Bad Mood”. The engulfing, synth-laden track drags you into the former Rizzle Kicks member’s greatness, that has seen him establish himself as a truly formidable solo artist in the alternative sphere in recent years. No sign of a new project on the way as of yet, however, we shall wait in anticipation for Stephens’ inevitably deftly-crafted next move.
Jordan Stephens, Sidders, Ewan McVicar and Tamera lead this week’s new-music round-up.
Jordan Stephens – “TELL THE TRUTH!”
Sidders – “Paper Kisses”
North London singer-songwriter Sidders rounds off the year with “Paper Kisses”, his fourth track dropped since ending his year long hiatus at the beginning of 2022. Exploring the perils of leaning on materialistic pleasures to compensate for life’s problems, Sidders says: “I wrote the track when there was a lot of pressure to stray away from the love of things. It’s a reminder that you can trust in yourself and not get lost in the noise of always chasing money.” Sidder’s mellow but bouyant sonics come somewhere inbetween hip-hop and pop, and have seen him play to sell-out headline crowds at some of the capital’s most storied venues – Camden Assembly, Cafe KOKO and The Fiddler. As 2023 beckons, we can’t wait to see where this burgeoning talent goes next.
Double 99 x Ewan McVicar – “Ripgroove”
Scottish DJ sensation Ewan McVicar steps in to celebrate a quarter-century of speed garage juggernaut hit “Ripgroove”, by trailblazing garage duo Double 99. The “Tell Me Something Good” hitmaker adds his remix chops to the iconic cut, leading a remix EP to honour the anniversary of this classic from garage’s defining history books. With neverending supplies of energy, Ewan McVicar really said welcome to the weekend with this 2020s re-interpreation.
Tamera – “Insensitive”
Purveyor of consistentl fluid-R&B bangers Tamera returns with the compulsively dance-inducing “Insensitive”. Imbued with her West African heritage, the luminous tropical beat furnishes the track amid her silky vocals and magnetic melodies. Winter sun delivered in spade loads courtesy of the rising star – we can’t wait to see what’s in store from her as 2023 dawns.
Ruth Lyon – “Flood”
Newcastle-hailing folk/chamber pop artist and songwriter Ruth Lyon shares “Flood”, the last track to be unveiled from the star on the rise’s new EP “Direct Debit To Vogue”. The closing track from the project, “Flood” sees Lyon rebuke those who fetishise and other the disabled community: “I don’t want to be your inspiration porn that makes you feel warm like a nice cup of tea / In fact, I’d rather you found a kink that didn’t involve me,” she sings. Drawing on the likes of Yard Act and Self Esteem for inspiration, Lyon positions herself as a force to be reckoned with in the industry.
SOFY – “btw”
Leicester-hailing brit-pop artist SOFY has shared “btw”, the latest 00s-infused single from the artist on the up. A tender moment from SOFY, “btw” sees her merely ambling around an acoustic guitar with her effortless vocal and observational, blunt lyrical style reminiscent of the likes of Lily Allen. The release comes in anticipation of SOFY’s sold-out show at iconic London venue Omeara on 30th November. Entering her star-making epoch in 2023, if SOFY’s not on your radar already, she’s certainly about to be.
Mac Amish x Cotton x Raíz – “DLM”
Documenting the gloom of the transition from Autumn to Winter, French rapper Mac Amish shares “DLM” an abbreviation for “dans le mal”, meaning: “in the bad”. Amish says “the song is a more gentle way to scream the heavier feelings of anger and disappointment that can be felt as the track builds gradually.” Reuniting with Cotton and Raíz following previous collaborations, the three emerging talents exhibit the alchemic musical connection they share in this most relatable of mellow jams.
MEEKZ – Respect The Come Up
Burgeoning Manchester rap star MEEKZ deplores us to trust in the ascencion on ten-track debut mixtape Respect The Come Up. Suffusing his lyrical acuteness, captivating storytelling, and unadulterated Mancunian flair, Meekz delivers an HD screening of his life and odyssey to becoming one of UK rap’s most captivating voices.
Lola Young – “Stream of Consciousness”
South London, Brit-nominated artist Lola Young shares a vivid account of self-discovery on “Stream of Conciousness”. “It’s a contemplation of who i am, my insecurities, the mistakes I have made and what I’ve learned from them to grow into the young woman i’m becoming,” Young says. Relatable but dexterously told stories are coupled with her rasp-tinged vocals, for yet another transfixing release from what looks inevitably to be a key pop voice of 2023.
LATER – “Woman”
Delectable jazz comes from French alt-indie four-piece LATER on “Woman”. Amalgamating sonics from pop, funk, jazz, and soul, “Woman” sees the band looking both inward and declaring all-consuming infatuation with a love interest, via blunt lyricism and intoxicating melodies. “The lyrics deal with the passion we can feel for someone that can sometimes turn to obsession and madness,” the band says. “It is as much a tribute to love as it is a real admission of weakness or even fear of relationships.”
The Degrees – “No Escape”
Bristol duo The Degrees combine vintage notes of classic soul, acid jazz and trip-hop in their dark, rumanitive, all-consuming single “No Escape”. “‘No Escape’ is really about feeling trapped and being manipulated into believing there is no need for escape,” Isha from The Degrees explains. In a key not far from the likes of The xx and Acid Attack, The Degrees make entrancing their listener look easy on this enchanting number.
Sam Wills – “Sweet Distraction” (feat. Kofi Stone & Jake Milliner)
A triple dose of some of UK soul’s most unmistakable new voices collide on “Sweet Distraction” led by Sam Wills. Recruiting Birmingham hip hop artist Kofi Stone and South London jazz-inflected producer Jake Milliner, the three blend indie soul with dustings of jazz-leaning hip-hop, in the alchemic link-up. “For me ‘Sweet Distraction’ is about finding an escape from feelings of self doubt and lack of purpose,” Wills says. “This song was the first thing I made when I was feeling a bit lost after my debut album dropped, and helped me reconnect with my creativity.”
Josie Man – “jealous in my dreams”
The second EP from Wonderland Autumn/Fall 2022 issue star Josie Man “me at 23” has arrived, bringing with it the effervescent UK Garage smash “jealous in my dreams”. Leaping amongst uber-kinetic production, Man interprets how soberingly real our dreams can feel, and her urge to keep jealousy out of her life, and for that matter, her dreams. “Me at 23” is a bunch of songs I put together – songs that helped me get through the age of 23,” Josie Man says. “This EP will forever remind me of who I was when I was 23, and I can’t wait for that.”
Lana Lubany – “CLONES”
Alt-pop goodness comes courtesy of UK-based Palestinian-American artist Lana Lubany on latest track “CLONES”. The addictive, retro-leaning cut pairs Lubany’s pensive lyrics with instantly infectious production, and her gorgeous vocal. “It’s about internal battles,” the future-star explains. “It’s about being so lost that I start seeing strangers in my own reflection – each face representing a new version of myself, which is supposed to help me find myself, but instead I end up lost and questioning my identity & purpose,” Lubany explains.
PSI.KO – “To Me, From Me”
Paris-born, London-raised Iraqi rapper and artist PSI.KO makes a monumental step in her journey to the echelons of British rap with “To Me, From Me”. The elusive artist who conceals her face in a bid to elevate the focus on her art, combines astute bars with endearing melodies, and barrel loads of heart. ‘If I looked you in your eyes, would I see your soul? Or maybe someone that I didn’t know?” she questions on the track’s hook, revealing her inclination for inner reflection. Letting the music alone do the talking, it’s safe to say we’re hooked on PSI.KO’s every word.
Sbk – “IMPOSSIBLE”
The candour of grime rapper sbk’s lyricism emerges at the fore of the intoxicating “IMPOSSIBLE”, accompanied by an intimate music video shot by videographer star of tomorrow Alibi Visions. A multi-hyphenate by nature, sbk also designed the artwork for the track, combining his poignant lyrics with his multi-dimensional skill set. Following May album Nothing Lasts Forever, sbk once again seals his place as a commanding voice of the underground.
Lojay – “Canada” (feat. DJ Maphorisa & Kabza De Small)
Afrofusion icon in-waiting Lojay’s latest single “Canada” featuring DJ Maphorisa & Kabza De Small doesn’t just invite you to dance, it insists. Amapiano forces DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small bring rhythm in abundance to the club-destined collab. It follows Lojay’s breakthrough single “Monalisa” which has accumulated over 209 million views and streams, and led him to work with leaders in West-African music like Wizkid and Ayra Starr. One thing’s for sure “Canada” looks set to see Lojay grab the world’s attention once more.