Dave’s Heatseekers Chart Update July 29th

The disappearance into the main chart of Adele, Ray BLK and Kate Jackson has opened up lots of possibilities in the Heatseekers Chart, and Agnes Obel has taken full advantage. Her gorgeous apparent electro duet ‘Familiar’ hits the No 1 spot in the chart this week, and looks set on the evidence thus far to beat her previous biggest hit, 2014’s ‘Words Are Dead’ which peaked at No 9. We have already discussed this song, and the new No 3, Banks’ ‘Fuck With Myself’ in some detail, so let’s concentrate on the rest of the Top 5. And there is a massively exciting appearance at No 2 for The Kills and their new single ‘Impossible Tracks’. The Kills are one of those indie bands (think Catfish and the Bottlemen, and until ‘Curve Of The Earth’ came out, the Mystery Jets) who have never really caught my imagination. It all seemed a bit indie-by-rote somehow, and ‘Doing It To Death’, the first single from current album ‘Ash & Ice’ rather followed that trend. One week at No 99 was all it managed, chart wise. But look at this – ‘Impossible Tracks’ is a pounding, pulsing, bass heavy beauty of a song, blasting along behind Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince’s vocals, with an amazing intro that sounds not dissimilar to Boney M’s ‘Daddy Cool’, of all things. It’s a love song to wonder at too – “Oh my shaking heart, you got me from the start – you got me good” as the chorus says, with even better to come in the outro. “There’s a full moon over Sunset, got our feet in perfect stride… And we stride in perfect meter, like the sun won’t ever rise.” Time to take a proper listen to ‘Ash & Ice’ I think.

I have rather more history with the act at No 4 this week. I went through a period of about five years where I barely listened to any new music, and spend my time continually reorganising my favourite songs ever into what turned into a Top 300. One song heavily featured was ‘Young Blood’, from New Zealand’s The Naked And Famous. Alarmingly this song is now six years old – more encouragingly the band have a new album out this year, and lead single ‘Higher’ has all the perfect Naked And Famous hallmarks, with jangling synths behind Alisa Xayalith’s instantly recognisable vocals. ‘Simple Forms’ will be the band’s third album, and it is due out in October. And no, I have not got the faintest idea what my No 1 of all time is any more… there are too many fantastic songs to choose from. Then finally we have the terrific ‘Dope Dealer’ from Los Angeles rapper ScHoolboy Q, which has bounced up to No 5 this week. There’s a bit of a hip-hop revival going on at the moment – most relevantly, Juicy J has just entered the main chart with ‘Medication’. Bit of a theme going here, although ScHoolboy Q did in fact deal drugs in his younger days on the streets of LA. His fourth album ‘Blank Face LP’ has received critical acclaim and has already reached No 2 in the Billboard 200. I need to be a little careful with my hip-hop enjoyment though – for various reasons too dull to discuss I was trundling around South London on a variety of buses this week, and I decided that I probably shouldn’t be singing along too loudly to ‘Dope Dealer’…

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Garbage – Strange Little Birds Album Review

garbageIt’s time to catch up on some of the album reviews that I have neglected to post during the last few weeks, while we have been touring fabulous but ludicrously hot countries and I haven’t been getting round to writing the blog. So, in the next few days we will be talking about Christine and the Queens, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bear’s Den and Bat For Lashes. I will save the review of the best album till last (clue – hello Natasha!) But for tonight, let’s take a look at Garbage’s sixth studio album ‘Strange Little Birds’, which came out a couple of weeks ago.

It’s pretty astonishing to consider that Garbage have now been releasing albums for 20 years. The Beatles survived as a album releasing act for precisely eight years, just to put that into some kind of perspective. Bands do seem to stick it out for much longer these days. I suspect it is something to do with the different way we live now – the ease and speed of travel – and something to do with the different way that music is consumed by us, the public. You no longer have to live in each other’s pockets all the time, and tour for decades to bring your songs into the open (it does help, admittedly). Garbage have of course had a well documented hiatus in their history, between 2005’s ‘Bleed Like Me’ and 2012’s ‘Not Your Kind Of People’. In fact, the time apart probably helped them – ‘Not Your Kind Of People’ marked a return to the style of music with which they exploded onto the scene in 1996 with their self titled (and quite phenomenal) debut album. And their aim to ‘take pop music and make it sound as horrible as possible’, in Steve Marker’s words remains alive and well on ‘Strange Little Birds’.

The variety of styles employed by the band have crystallised into a grunge-electro hybrid, with distinct hints of metal cutting through some of the tracks. Then there is a contrast with much more poignant music which eats into your consciousness almost without you realising it. Such is the case with the current single ‘Even Though Our Love Is Doomed’, a superbly bleak track beautifully sung by Shirley Manson, despite the fact (as has been well documented) that she had never seen the lyrics before laying down her vocal. Her faltering delivery works perfectly with the gut-wrenching lines. It’s bloody great, frankly.

The album’s tracks are ideally sequenced. The full on assault of the opening three tracks is highlighted by the excellent ‘Empty’, with its classic Garbage punch and extraordinary opening couplet.  “I’ve been feeling so frustrated: I’ll never be as great as I want to be” – we’ve all had moments like that. The pace is then cut back, with the darkly powerful ‘Night Drive Loneliness’ flowing into ‘Even Though Our Love Is Doomed’. The excellence of Marker, Duke Erikson and Butch Vig is undoubted, but of course Garbage’s key calling card has always been the contrast between their low-fi grungy wall of sound and Manson’s sharp, intimidating vocal. There’s nothing quite as vitriolic as ‘Vow’ here, but Manson is firing on all cylinders. She carries the less cutting edge tracks, as ‘Magnetized’ and ‘We Never Tell’ see the interest dip ever so slightly mid album.

But that’s just a preparation for a grandstand finish. ‘So We Can Stay Alive’ starts with gentle electro beats very reminiscent of The Jezabels’ ‘Come Alive’ before crashing guitars and drums herald a stark change of pace. Then the song seems to finish before kicking back into life again. There is a lot of variation here and the song is all the better for it.  ‘Teaching Little Fingers To Play’ is a brilliant name for a song (it is named after Erikson’s piano primer), and as it focuses on the desire to move forward and leave behind the past, there is a wonderful link with Garbage’s debut album – “There’s no-one around to fix me now”. And then there is the outstanding ‘Amends’, a majestic way to close the album. A song that gradually builds in that classic manner I love so much as Manson decries the man who has let her down. The repeated refrain “Cause I don’t know, don’t know you” that ends the song hints (as with a number of other songs on the album) that nobody ever really knows everything about another person.

Garbage have produced an album which simultaneously feels totally contemporary, and yet revives memories of 1996. There are some standout songs on here, none more so than ‘Amends’. The band’s blistering music and Manson’s fearsome vocal are all present and perfectly correct. If they are still making music in another twenty years, I for one will be delighted.

****

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Dave’s Chart Update July 25th

Here is a musical mystery. Why don’t artists know which are their best songs? Or maybe I should ask why artists don’t release their best songs as singles? The obvious supplementary question is – why in these days of downloads and streaming do artists release singles in the first place? We are not in the days of ‘Relax’ or ‘Rivers Of Babylon’ any more when a single can sell 2 million copies and make vast amounts of money. But what a single can do is to raise the profile of an artist among the public, attract them to the artist’s other work, and lead in turn to sales of albums and to bigger live audiences. And sometimes it just takes one major song to break an artist from virtually nowhere – Lukas Graham’s ‘7 Years’ being a prime recent example.

So, it makes sense to release your best songs as singles then, in the grand scheme of developing your career. I alluded to this issue a couple of weeks ago when discussing Radiohead, and noting that many of their best songs were never released as singles. But then by the time Radiohead were selecting the songs to release as singles from ‘OK Computer’ and ‘Kid A’, there was no real issue with profile raising going on – so they could happily leave ‘Airbag’ and ‘Lucky’ to one side and allow us to discover them on the album. That excuse does not apply to a number of the leading songs in the Singles Chart this week. The current No 1 is a good example – ‘Cowboy Joe’ is sitting quietly as the second track on Hannah Lou Clark’s ‘It’s Your Love’ EP. There’s nothing wrong with ‘It’s Your Love’, of course – and this continues to climb my chart as well (at No 27 this week), but it’s just that in every respect (musically, lyrically, vocally, thematically, innovatively) ‘Cowboy Joe’ is clearly markedly superior as a song.

Then we have Alessia Cara, who has not done at all badly of course with ‘Here’, a gigantic hit in the States and a pretty major hit in my chart too. It’s ironic then that ‘Here’ is probably the 3rd best song on Cara’s debut album ‘Know-It-All’ – the two best songs are ‘Seventeen’, a No 1 in my chart last year, and the album’s opening track ‘I’m Yours’ which climbs from No 7 to No 4 in this week’s chart. But an even greater example is Lissie’s ‘Hollywood’, which spends a second week at No 2 this week. Lissie’s ‘My Wild West’ album has seen one official single released in ‘Don’t You Give Up On Me’ – you almost get the sense that she can’t be bothered with singles any more, given the solid audience she has for her albums and for her live shows. But isn’t she missing an opportunity here? ‘Hollywood’ is folk pop at its absolute best, with a subject that everyone can understand and associate with, and with a moving twist in the tale at the song’s climax. I don’t know if everyone else will like ‘Hollywood’ as much as I do, but given the song’s obvious qualities, it has to be worth a go, doesn’t it?

Sadly not, it seems. Indeed, ‘Hollywood’ has a bigger problem than its non release as a single would suggest. Lissie is touring the UK in December, and I am afraid that we will not be going to see her. Why? Because as far as I can tell, she has never played ‘Hollywood’ live. Not once. So maybe that brings me back to my original question. ‘Hollywood’ is Lissie’s best song, and she doesn’t seem to realise it. Or is there another reason why it never appears in her live set?

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Dave’s Heatseekers Chart Update July 24th

There is a change at the top of the Heatseekers Chart this week, as Adele’s ‘Remedy’ dislodges Ray BLK and Stormzy’s collaboration ‘My Hood’. Both are in their last week of eligibility for the Heatseekers Chart, which means that we will see both appear in the main chart when it is published tomorrow. There does seem to be a little snootiness associated with Adele these days. at least in the UK, where it is de rigueur to start sniping at people when they become successful. It is easy to forget that Adele was something of a darling of the indie scene when she first appeared – ‘Hometown Glory’ was certainly a major indie song, being extensively played on the sadly demised XFM (yes, I know Radio X is essentially the same, but with old fuddy duddy presenters). For me, and if you are allowed to say such a thing about possibly the world’s biggest recording artist (Beyonce, Rihanna and Drake might argue) Adele is a bit of a curate’s egg. Perhaps that reflects the contrast between her orchestral singing style and her ‘gor blimey fuck me mate’ personality. Some of her most colossal hits have left me cold – ‘Someone Like You’ always felt like a big-ballad-by-numbers, and it mystifies me as to why ‘Rolling In The Deep’ seems to be regarded as her greatest song. It’s not a patch on the outstanding ‘Set Fire To The Rain’ in my view – without doubt one of the fifty best songs ever. Those contradictions have continued on ’25’ – ‘Hello’ was of course amazing, but the follow up singles ‘When We Were Young’ and ‘Send My Love (To Your New Lover)’ were a lot less interesting. The latter is struggling to get beyond a peak in the 90’s in my chart at present. ‘Remedy’ is much better – a heartfelt and loving tribute to Adele’s son Angelo, but also to other important people in her life – and the confidence she gained from this song acted as a trigger to unblock her writing of the rest of ’25’. It will do very well in the Singles Chart.

We have two welcome appearances in the Heatseekers Chart to reflect on as well, starting with the mysterious Danish chanteuse Agnes Obel (are you allowed to have chanteuses in Denmark? You are according to Google Translate – ‘chanteuse’ in Danish is ‘chanteuse’). Obel is inspired heavily by classical music and by jazz influenced artists like Nina Simone, and she made her first appearance in my chart with the piano heavy ‘Words Are Dead’ last year. This song came from her 2013 album ‘Aventine’ – she is due to release her new album ‘Citizen Of Glass’ in October. She is experimenting with different keyboard sounds, and on her latest single ‘Familiar’ she has tried a trick beloved of Lapsley and produced a duet with herself, her voice being digitally altered to produce a male vocal line. ‘Familiar’ has many of the other Obel trademarks, including eerie and intriguing lyrics. ‘Our love is a ghost that others can’t see’… she is a fascinating artist, and ‘Citizen Of Glass’ is going to be well worth a listen.

Then it is welcome back to Jillian Banks, known professionally by her surname. Banks has had a number of songs place in my Singles Chart before, notably the excellent ‘Beggin For Thread’, and she now returns with the highest new entry in the Heatseekers Chart this week. Is she trying to court controversy with a title like ‘Fuck With Myself’? I kind of wondered if we were going to be treated to an ode to masturbation a la Hailee Steinfeld’s ‘Love Myself’, but actually the song has a much more straightforward and understandable genesis than that. Banks was having a rant in the studio one day, presumably when things were not quite going right, and her frequent co-writer and producer Tim Anderson let the Banks storm blow out before asking her if she wanted to have read back to her some of her statements. ‘I fuck with myself more than anybody else’ was one of them, and this struck a real chord with her. The song is very strong, with clear evidence of the major meld between indie and R+B that given Banks her characteristic sound. It further reinforces my view that like so many of my favourite artists, Banks is a woman on the verge of a major breakthrough. Her second album (as yet untitled) is due out at the end of September.

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Shura – Nothing’s Real Album Review

shura lpIt is strange that in my mind’s eye new artists always seem to be linked to other acts whose careers kicked off at the same time.  Such is the case with 25 year old Alexandra Lilah Denton, better known as Shura, whose debut album ‘Nothing’s Real’ has been released this week. Shura is inextricably linked in my mind to other one-name-monikered  electro-influenced female vocalists who also appeared in late 2014 and early 2015. There is a tough standard to meet there, and Shura has always seemed less innovative than Lapsley, less soulful than Laurel, less in-your-face than Halsey. But what she always has had is the knack of writing uncomplicated pure perfect pop songs. And ‘Nothing’s Real’ not only illustrates this, but the odd other string to the Shura bow.

Recent singles ‘What’s It Gonna Be’ and ‘Touch’ get us right in the swing after an interesting little instrumental and the somewhat unremarkable title track. ‘Touch’ is a particular gem, a beautifully bittersweet song showcasing Shura’s ability to create something memorable and moving from the most straightforward of parts. There’s plenty of danceability here too, particularly from her first major hit ‘Indecision’ which is remixed here into a more bass heavy club friendly format.

There is a great deal of optimism in the music. ‘What Happened To Us’ is actually a pretty sad song as Shura reflects on the breakdown of a relationship. “I was never ready for your love… it was never meant to be. So tell me how come I still feel so messed up” she sings in the chorus. But the breezy nature of the instrumental gives you the sense of someone pushing aside their cares and worries with a hugely positive outlook on life. The relentless bounciness does start to wear a bit thin in ‘Tongue Tied’ but fortunately Shura still has plenty of aces left to play. “Make It Up” is a gentle song with more soul and emotion at its heart, and ‘2Shy’ is simply perfect. This was the winner of my chart’s Pop Song Of The Year last year, an award that remains completely justified.

Then there is time for a real twist in the tail. After the straightforward dance track ‘White Light’ (never one of my particular favourites) Shura gives us a touching hidden track followed by a really inventive album closer in ‘The Space Tapes’.  This takes segments of some of her other songs and mixes them up in a trip hoppy orchestrated electro finale. Shura co-produced the majority of the album with Athlete’s Joel Pott, but ‘The Space Tapes’ is all her own work. There’s some real imagination and experimentation in this track which I hope she will explore more in her next work.

In summary then, this is a bright, breezy, thoroughly entertaining pop album. There may not be a huge amount of complexity in the music, but actually that is the magic of ‘Nothing’s Real’. The songs stand on their enjoyability and their cheerfulness, even with the lyrics sometimes telling a different tale. And there are flashes of inventiveness which will stand Shura in very good stead in the future.

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Dave’s Chart Updates July 11th

It’s a second week at No 1 in the Singles Chart for Hannah Lou Clark, whose ‘Cowboy Joe’ holds off challenges from Radiohead and from the increasingly threatening Lissie. ‘Daydreaming’ has been a pretty unheralded No 2 in fact, coming into the chart as it did a week behind ‘Burn The Witch’, the much more heralded lead single from ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’. But it has quietly become Radiohead’s second biggest ever single in my chart, behind their only No 1, ‘Paranoid Android’. It is worth pointing out of course that many of my favourite Radiohead songs (‘Airbag’, ‘Lucky’, ‘Black Star’, ‘Sulk’) were never released as singles – I can’t quite recall an act who have released inferior tracks so often as singles, leaving much better songs on their albums. Lissie meanwhile jumps from No 8 to No 3 with ‘Hollywood’, and she looks a definite contender for No 1 now. There is some movement at the bottom end of the Top 10 as The Duke Spirit, Haelos and Tom Odell all climb at least 5 places. Odell and Haelos have had Top 10 hits before of course – Odell with 2013’s colossal No 1 ‘Another Love’, much beloved of the NME, and Haelos with this year’s debut single ‘Pray’, but ‘Wounded Wing’ is The Duke Spirit’s first Top 10 single of their long career. Very well deserved too.

The biggest climber this week is Nieves’ ‘Broken Oars’, which jumps from No 91 to No 55. My guess is that you won’t know very much about Nieves – they are unheralded enough to not have their own Wikipedia page yet. They are a four piece from Glasgow – Brendan Dafters, Herre de Leur, Martin Murray and Ross Forsyth, and they make what the band themselves describe as ‘piano driven alt-folk’. De Leur’s keys contribute something different to the band’s sound: you can hear their influence clearly on ‘Broken Oars’. The other obvious standout feature is Dafters’ strong accent – very reminiscent of The Twilight Sad’s James Graham. Indeed The Twilight Sad are one of Nieves’ main influences, along with Frightened Rabbit and Death Cab For Cutie among others. ‘Broken Oars’ is a majestic song, with extraordinarily emotional lyrics that tell a tale of a life in the past and a dying relationship. ‘More time, she said – I loved you more than life, I begged’ sings Dafters, adding, heartbreakingly ‘I tried to be everything – I couldn’t stop these walls from falling in’. The video is pretty gutwrenching too. It’s a wonderful song from a band who should achieve every success.

Finally a major shout out for Ray BLK and Stormzy, whose wondrous ‘My Hood’ has rocketed from No 32 to No 1 in this week’s Heatseekers Chart. Without getting too technical, the positions of songs in the Heatseekers Chart is determined by my estimate of where they will eventually peak in the Singles Chart, and so songs that rapidly climb in my estimation will see their Heatseekers position change rather dramatically. Not usually as much as this though – it just adds further confirmation that ‘My Hood’ is going to be a very major hit when it enters the Singles Chart in a couple of weeks. A couple of other Heatseekers to note – first Christine and the Queens, acting as a wonderful illustration of how excellent music, well performed can spark a band to major success if they get the right breaks. The exceptionally charismatic Heloise Letissier’s superb performance of ‘Tilted’ on Graham Norton’s show a few weeks ago has propelled the song’s parent album ‘Chaleur Humaine’ into the UK Top 10. And it’s welcome back to Phantogram, whose ‘Fall In Love’ was one of the electropop highlights of 2014. New single ‘You Don’t Get Me High Anymore’  has a lot more punch and attitude, and it’s terrific.

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Singles Review – Ray BLK and Bear’s Den

I have an interesting relationship with hip hop. Of all the genres of mainstream music, it is probably the one where my tastes are the least predictable. I find a lot of hip hop to be rather dull and repetitive, and certainly whole albums-worth of it can start to seriously grate. Even a work as obviously good as Drake’s ‘Views’. And yet the best male and female artists in my Chart Awards last year were both hip hop artists – the aforementioned Drake and Nicki Minaj. Can I analyse why I really like some hip hop songs but not others? Well, Drake being involved helps – ‘Energy’, ‘Believe Me’, ‘Truffle Butter’… then there is last year’s Hip Hop Song of the Year, Kendrick Lamar’s ‘King Kunta’. Then there is the kind of hip hop which mixes with soul and maybe a touch of grime, and which suddenly produces a miraculous fusion of sheer, unstoppable quality. The kind of song that everyone should love – whatever their musical interest. Such is the case with ‘My Hood’, the magnificent new single from South London’s Ray BLK.

I may have other reasons for loving this song, because I am a South London boy by adoption. I have lived in South East London for nearly thirty years, and there is something special about this part of the world: its people, with their straightforward, no bullshit attitude being perhaps the most special part. Ray BLK is 22, and hails from Catford, a part of the world I know very well (my sons went to school there, and I spend part of my time working at the local hospital in Lewisham). BLK has already generated lots of buzz with her soulful rich voice, and her first single ’50/50′ was something of a lyrical masterpiece too, a tale of a man who can’t give her everything she wants, accompanied by a video featuring BLK and her girlfriends in and around Catford. ‘My Hood’ ratchets up the brilliance to another level entirely. This is a beautifully bittersweet tale of growing up in South East London – specifically the borough of Lewisham (namechecked in the song as ‘the blue borough’ in the context of its signage) and landmarks such as the infamous Pepys Estate in Deptford, where ‘That building turns you to a woman from a girl’. There’s a gently melodic backing track, and a wonderful rap interlude from Stormzy (he’s also a South Londoner, from Croydon). The South London of ‘My Hood’ is a place of broken dreams and difficult lives (‘The woman in the Caribbean shop is always rude’), but yet it sounds like an impossibly romantic place too. ‘Through concrete, flowers grow’ is the kind of line that catches at your throat every time. ‘My Hood’ is a glorious, majestic song, and I absolutely adore it. This is my kind of hip hop. And I love the picture on the cover of the single too… taken I am guessing from the top of the Pepys Estate.

One song I have strangely not mentioned in my Heatseekers Reviews recently is the new single from Bear’s Den, ‘Auld Wives’. Had I been writing this blog 18 months ago you would know Bear’s Den very well by now. The band, from London are now effectively a duo: Andrew Davie and Kevin Jones (third member Joey Haynes left the band at the start of this year to spend more time with his family). Bear’s Den write folk tinged indie rock with a tendency to the epic in their influences and their lyrics, and their debut album ‘Islands’ was excellent. It reached No 3 in my chart and produced three Top 10 singles in ‘Elysium’, ‘Think Of England’ and ‘Agape’. Their new album ‘Red Earth and Pouring Rain’ is due out in a couple of weeks, and ‘Auld Wives’ is the lead single from the album. It is a superb primer in Bear’s Den if you’ve not heard them before – they have a unique sound, with Davie’s vocal being immediately recognisable. The song’s subject matter is pretty typical of the unusual inspiration that lies behind their work. The Auld Wives Lifts is a formation of three huge boulders, one lying across the top of the other two, located in the bleak Craigmaddie Muir, north of Glasgow. Not only are the rocks’ positions unusual, but they have faces carved into them which mirror those found elsewhere in ancient settings around the UK. Davie’s grandparents owned a cottage near the Auld Wives, and it is Davie’s grandfather who provides the subject for the song, after he developed dementia. ‘But I swam across the ocean to find your memory’ sings Davie, noting with sadness ‘No, you don’t recognise my face’. Dementia seems to be an increasingly potent driver for songs – Daughter’s ‘Doing The Right Thing’ is about the disease too, and there are hints at the start of Torres’ ‘Strange Hellos’. Both of those songs made the Top 10 – I am pretty sure that ‘Auld Wives’ will do the same. It is a typically excellent song from one of the country’s best bands. I am very much looking forward to the new album.

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Dave’s Chart Update July 3rd

It is an extremely well merited rise to No 1 this week for Hannah Lou Clark’s debut Top 100 entry ‘Cowboy Joe’, which displaces Daughter’s ‘How’ after the latter spent two weeks on the top spot. I have been raving about ‘Cowboy Joe’ since I first heard it, and it has completed an extremely rapid rise to the top in only its sixth week on the survey. Fans of the actual charts and statistics related to them will know that having a No 1 with your debut song is by no means unusual – indeed, approximately half of all acts who have No 1’s hit the top with their very first chart entry. In my chart it is not an unusual feat either. Four acts had No 1 hits with their debut chart entries last year – Lapsley’s ‘Painter (Valentine)’, Stina Nordenstam’s ‘Murder In Mairyland Park’, Alessia Cara’s ‘Seventeen’ and the Christmas No 1, Frances and ‘Let It Out’. Lapsley went on to have a second No 1, following up ‘Painter (Valentine)’ with ‘Station’ – whether Clark’s second single ‘It’s Your Love’ is a No 1 I doubt, but it is moving nicely up the chart at present too, climbing to No 53 this week.

The most obvious challenger to Clark in the next two or three weeks is Lissie, who has jumped from No 14 to No 8 this week with the sublime ‘Hollywood’. This song has also shifted rapidly up the survey, being in its 5th week on the chart – in contrast, several songs continue to climb after almost three months on the chart. These include the aforementioned Alessia Cara, moving from No 11 to No 7 with ‘I’m Yours’, Chase and Status, whose ‘Control’ has finally jumped into the Top 10 this week, and Haelos whose ‘Separate Lives’ has now been on the survey for 14 weeks and has reached No 16. The pace with which a song moves up the chart is the best predictor of future No 1 status I think – large climbs from low down aren’t a bad predictor either, so it’s a good week for Garbage, Chvrches and Glass Animals who all have 30+ place jumps up the survey. And then we can also congratulate Tegan and Sara, whose Heatseeker No 1 ‘Stop Desire’ is the highest new entry this week, at No 69. We also have new entries for a couple of other songs that I have discussed recently in Amber Arcades’ ‘Turning Light’ and Ingrid Michaelson’s ‘Hell No’ – both of which I expect will make the Top 30.

 

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Dave’s Heatseekers Chart Update July 1st

Hello boys, I’m back! Yes, after a couple of weeks involving (among other things) a trip to Hungary and a visit to Independence Day: Resurgence (I don’t really do movie reviews on here but we might mention this again in the next few days), I am hoping to finally get the blog running more regularly, and with some social media support as well. Just one mention from a star on their Twitter account can boost your views significantly, I have discovered.

It must be summer, I think, because the Heatseekers Chart this week is dominated by summery, electro pop, female vocal music, some of it from acts you might not immediately associate with electro pop. Such is the case with this week’s No 1, Tegan and Sara’s ‘Stop Desire’, the first cut from their current album ‘Love You To Death’. We saw Tegan and Sara a few years ago at the O2, supporting The Killers. They were essentially an indie duo then, and their music was all very worthy but ever so slightly dull, I thought. Things changed when they suddenly launched into proper pop music on their last album ‘Heartthrob’, a directional shift influenced by Taylor Swift and Katy Perry among others. If ‘Stop Desire’ is anything to go by, their new album should cement their newfound pop stardom, because this is a glorious, bouncy, sunshine filled surefire hit. ‘Tonight, you’re fuel to my fire – you can’t stop desire’ goes the lyrical refrain. Pop music at its best can be pure, gorgeous entertainment and that is exactly what this song is.

Another formerly worthy indie act who has swung across to pop is New Zealand’s Philippa ‘Pip’ Brown, better known as Ladyhawke. She had a series of decent singles from her self titled debut album, of which ‘My Delirium’ and ‘Paris Is Burning’ will probably be the most familiar to you. Her follow up set ‘Anxiety’ rather passed me by, but her new album ‘Wild Things’ is now out, and the lead single ‘A Love Song’ is another superb pop song, admittedly with some slight twists in the lyrics. ‘This could be my life, but it’s only words to make me feel right when the meaning’s blurred’. Brown recorded some darker material before settling on the light feel of the tracks on ‘Wild Things’, but there’s a hint of darkness lurking around nonetheless. We’ve seen Ladyhawke live too, at the sadly demised Hop Farm Festival back in 2008 or something – she was very good indeed, I recall.

There are some more familiar names among the top 10 in the Heatseekers Chart. Shura, who we are hoping to see later this year when she plays at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town has yet another of her superb indie pop songs in the Top 5 with ‘What’s It Gonna Be’ while Alan Walker (whose ‘Faded’ might have triggered off this invasion) has the follow up ‘Sing Me To Sleep’ at No 9 (and you are correct, this features another superb uncredited vocal from Iselin Solheim). Then we have Chvrches. Now, I don’t quite know what my problem has been over the years with Chvrches – they are exactly the kind of band you would think I would really like, with their excellent electro-indie-pop output and their charismatic female lead vocalist Lauren Mayberry, but somehow it’s never quite worked for me. One song aside – ‘Lies’ is brilliant, of course. However, things seem to be changing. ‘Warning Call’ has hit the Top 100 and looks set to do well, and then we have ‘Bury It’, their collaboration with Paramore’s Hayley Williams which is excellent. ‘I never promised you anything I couldn’t do’ sings Mayberry – sound advice I’d say. One other interesting feature of a lot of the women involved in these acts is their tendency towards the outspoken. Mayberry is a staunch advocate of women’s rights, Tegan and Sara are well known for their support for the LGBT+ community and I’ve seen Shura speaking assertively about matters relating to her sexuality too. Do assertive women make excellent music, does making excellent music give you the base from which to be assertive. or am I oversimplifying the argument? I’ve always admired outspoken and assertive women, I suppose – I married one, for starters!

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