King Princess – ‘The Bend’
The New Yorker’s first two records, 2019’s ‘Cheap Queen’ and 2022 follow-up ‘Hold On Baby’, are turbo-charged with emotion and ambition. ‘The Bend’, produced alongside The National’s Aaron Dessner, is similarly so: “I just want to feel again” Mikaela Straus sighs amidst the ending of a doomed tryst.
Best bit: The song’s direct chorus offers a total gut-punch: “When I get over the bend, I’m overwhelmed again, I’m seeing red/I don’t have to take it that hard, you should tell that to my head”.
Genesis Owusu – ‘Hole Heart’
On the smooth and laidback ‘Hole Heart’, the Ghanaian-Australian artist casually declares himself to be “a vessel for everything the world fears”, before then nonchalantly comparing himself to the US bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman. Come for Owusu’s excellently unpredictable lyrics, stay for the Gorillaz-reminiscent beat and smoky piano-led instrumental.
Best bit: Owusu’s contrasting, multi-layered vocals mid-way through, which jostle for attention in a track that reveals more and more of itself with every listen.
Blu DeTiger – ‘Lipstick’
Blu DeTiger first made her name with slick bass covers of radio hits and has since gained millions of TikTok followers for her almost effortless technique and musical versatility. Yet ‘Lipstick’ proves why her original music is just as accomplished: noodling basslines and a playful groove lend a soulful vibe to a track that glows with confidence.
Best bit: Blu’s quirky and direct speak-sing delivery is consistently catchy. It’s the sound of an artist who wants to remain resolutely herself – what’s cooler than that?
Flo Milli – ‘Einstein’
“I think he want me because I’m one of a kind,” the Alabama rapper proclaims on ‘Einstein’ atop big trap beats and a tumbling xylophone melody. It’s one of a number of bold lyrical statements made by Flo on this swift cut, including references to Italian food (see below), a nice bottle of wine and, of course, the titular theoretical physicist. “I’m Flo Milli, I do what I wanna” — there’s certainly no doubting that.
Best bit: Flo’s quite inspired pasta-themed lyric: “If you a G, then keep it silent like lasagne.” Garfield, let alone Einstein himself, would approve.
Dot Major – ‘Hideaway’
For anyone who’d heard London Grammar’s third album ‘Californian Soil’, to learn that Dot Major, one-third of the group, has gone full rave will come as little surprise. The songwriter and producer’s new project is budding with energy and ambition, as heard on his new solo endeavour.
Best bit: The hard-hitting, acid house-infused middle section sees Dot let loose in a major way.
MICHELLE – ‘The Peach’
MICHELLE’s music plays like a vibrant jam session, an ode to the nurturing power and effortlessness of their friendship. Their bond is made immediately clear on ‘The Peach’: the track’s unhurried atmosphere, G-funk ripples and smooth group harmonies feel like the sound of six best friends having the time of their lives together in the studio.
Best bit: The back-and-forth chants embellished in the chorus, which flow in multiple and unexpected directions. MICHELLE’s unique vocal styles reaffirm that they are the coolest kids on the block.
Jockstrap – ‘Concrete Over Water’ (C23 Piano Remix)
At the core of Jockstrap’s debut album ‘I Love You Jennifer B’ stood ‘Concrete Over Water’, a six-minute ballad of epic proportions. Their piano-led remix for C23 is refined, stripping the song back to its core of Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye’s remarkable musicianship.
Best bit: The bolshy electronics of the original have been tempered, but the raw melody feels more enchanting, particularly in the song’s hypnotic chorus.
070 Shake – ‘Reset’
Following fruitful pairings, 070 Shake once again turns to confidant Mike Dean for ‘Reset’. Dean’s work with Kanye West, Jay Z and now the New Jersey star has made him a rare thing: a producer with household name status. The pair connect effortlessly on the track, 070 Shake’s crystalline vocals are typically piercing.
Best bit: The attention-grabbing opening line, pitched between regret and rage: “remember to forget me, remember why you left me”
Renforshort – ‘Bebe’
Renforshort’s bouncing ‘Bebe’ is yet another example of the hotly-tipped Canadian artist’s knack for writing the kind of tunes that rattle around your head for the rest of the week. The 20-year-old – who already has the approval of Travis Barker, Mike Shinoda and Yungblud – confidently commands the space on this breezy pop-rock cut that you’ll be reaching to replay again, again and again.
Best bit: Ren’s seamless pivot to rapping following the first chorus – what can’t she do?
JVKE – ‘Golden Hour’ (Orchestral Version)
Initially released in July 2022, JVKE’s ‘Golden Hour’ recently broke into the top 10 of the US singles chart. The ballad’s twinkling piano lines, soaring vocals and lyrical nods to Frank Ocean’s ‘Blonde’ and Childish Gambino have received a grandiose orchestral upgrade here, enhancing the stirring nature of the original.
Best bit: The sweeping orchestral arrangement that’s heard towards the end of this new version that eventually gives way to a reflective solo piano section, both of which leave a lasting impression.
Chloe Moriondo – ‘Killbot’
Chloe Moriondo brings big guitars, punchy pop-punk energy and plenty of attitude to ‘Killbot’. Clocking in at just under two minutes, this track understandably gets to work quickly in leaving its stamp on the listener; Moriondo’s alternating hushed vocals and manic yelps in its chorus being one such highlight.
Best bit: That first explosion of chunky guitars and crashing drums that takes ‘Killbot’ into another dimension.
Danielle Ponder – ‘Spiraling’
On ‘Spiraling’, a gently swelling instrumental arrangement of brushed drums and deep vocal effects evokes a state of subconscious drift. Danielle Ponder – a supreme, distinctive vocalist with a tone that can curl up low and lush – details her weighty feelings by giving them space and melody. It’s powerfully cathartic.
Best bit: When Ponder chooses to show off what her voice can really, truly do. “Why can’t I just let it go?”, she belts repeatedly, projecting its bluesy power outwards.
Weval – ‘Unstoppable’
The Dutch electronic duo more than live up to the title of this thumping dancefloor offering: take the old-school dance beat that practically crashes in through the door at the very beginning. Bringing to mind The Chemical Brothers at their mind-melting best, ‘Unstoppable’ then builds its way slowly but surely to a euphoria-inducing crescendo that’s well worth the wait.
Best bit: When Weval finally drop the climatic beat following a teasing 30-second build-up to usher in ‘Unstoppable’s triumphant third and final act.
FelixThe1st – ‘I Swear’
“I know that your heart’s not here, but tell me that you care,” the Londoner implores to a love interest over watery keys and the kind of jittery, trap-infused beat Lil Uzi Vert would approve of. The rising rapper made his name as one to watch on TikTok, and you wouldn’t bet against ‘I Swear’ scoring FelixThe1st another viral hit.
Best bit: When said trap beat kicks in just before the one-minute mark, underscoring Felix’s outpouring of emotion.
Half Alive – ‘Beige’
Sleek and emotive, ‘Beige’ conjures up a compelling landscape of crackly, warm tones. In a previous interview, lead singer Josh Taylor described Half Alive’s lyrics as the “sweet spot” between “abstract” and “relatable”, and this track is a shining example of that: it’s an exploration of connection and heartache, set to a late-night soul-inspired instrumental.
Best bit: As the pre-chorus soars into life, Taylor depicts a collision of thoughts with an increasing force, while the backdrop of lo-fi production quickens in pace.
Words: Sam Moore, Thomas Smith, Sophie Williams