Music truly has the power to lift the spirit, and that’s exactly what THIS SELECTION of songs has done for me these past couple of weeks. I, like many in the LGBTQ community are still feeling the devastating emotional aftershocks dealt by the tragedy in Orlando, so whenever I feel a tinge of sadness—I turn to music. When I lost my Mom a few years ago to ALS, music played an integral part in my healing process, especially since I was separated from my family by a few hundred miles . This isn’t the first time we’ve had to deal with a tragedy and it won’t be the last—thankfully, music will ALWAYS be an emotional outlet for us to turn to.
Now, go lose yourself in the music and familiarize yourself (or RE-familiarize yourself) with the following “Brilliant Pop Bits” — JAIN (from France), Jones, Rationale and XY&O (all from Great Britain). These songs all bring my immense joy and I hope they will for you too. ?
JAIN / Come
While the 24 year-old singer/songwriter and beatmaker currently calls Paris home, her background is quite diverse, spending time in the Republic of Congo, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. JAIN‘s worldly upbringing absolutely comes through in her distinct sound—Arabic percussion, African rhythms mix with reggae, soul and hip-hop, all nicely finished with a contemporary electronic production. JAIN is certainly one to watch. Her brand new “Come” EP is out now via RCA Records/Spookland/Sony Music France and features an extended version of the single as well as brand new remixes by Femi Kuti, Frank Pole and Cosmic Dawn (iTunes / Spotify). Already out internationally, JAIN will release Zanaka (meaning “childhood” in Malagasy—a language spoken in Madagascar and mother’s native tongue) this fall. Check out the imaginative music video for “Come” up top and the Frank Pole remix below.
Jones / Melt
UK soul/pop singer JONES released her latest single, “Melt” on June 15th, just a few days after the tragedy in Orlando that left 49 innocents dead in a gay nightclub. Still emotionally rare and raw—the opening line of the song resonated with me almost immediately. “Whatever happens, you know we’re gonna repair.” The chorus on “Melt” is like a ray of sunshine bursting through the clouds, hitting me in the heart and making me feel kinda like I did when I heard Corinne Bailey Rae‘s glowy 2006 hit, “Put Your Records On” for the first time. Sure—totally different song, but both are beaming examples of sunshiny soul-pop guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
“Melt” was released via UK indie label, 37 Adventures and offers fans a first taste of Jones‘ forthcoming debut, New Skin, due later this year and featuring collaborations with MNEK (Becky Hill, The Saturdays), A.K. Paul (NAO, Jessie Ware) and Rodaidh McDonald (Låpsley, How To Dress Well). The song was produced by British singer/songwriter/producer duo HONNE (ALSO amazing) and has remixes in the works from Jay Prince and Embody. I’ve been virtually attached-at-the-hip to Jones since last September when I heard her sweet, sultry Honne collab, “No Place Like Home.” Soon after, Jones slayed me solo with songs like “Indulge,” “Hoops” and a stunning cover of “How Deep Is Your Love” by the Bee Gees. While she has yet to tour the States, the budding British talent did make her stateside debut at SXSW earlier this year so a string of U.S. dates are inevitable. In the meantime, “Melt” away with me down below and give the new song a listen. It’s also available to download and stream (iTunes / Spotify).
Rationale / Palms
Zimbabwe-born Brit, Rationale is one of my most exciting finds. The 32 year-old singer-songwriter first captured my attention last summer with I heard his song “Fuel To The Fire” played on Zane Lowe‘s Beats1 show. While the song itself was excellent, it was Rationale‘s voice that drew me in, smiting me down with his impassioned delivery and unique tone. I found myself similarly smitten with follow-up releases, “Re.Up,” “Fast Lane,” “Something For Nothing,” and his latest—”Palms.” Rationale just wrapped up a string of sold out club shows in the U.S. (his first American tour!) and I had the extreme privilege of seeing both of his New York dates. The positive energy this dude exudes while playing for an audience is an absolute joy to witness. While there was no denying his chops, you never really get a feel for an artist until you see them live, and I gotta say—big things are coming for Rationale. Talent, passion, drive, heart—this man is the real deal.
Currently in the midst of a MASSIVE string of European festival dates, here’s hoping we see Rationale back on our shores soon. His debut self-titled album is due September 23rd through Warner Bros. Records, but you can pre-order it now (iTunes / physical). The 12-track album will feature three of Rationale‘s career-defining tracks; “Fast Lane,” “Fuel To The Fire” and “Something From Nothing,” as well as latest (and the album’s OFFICIAL lead single), “Palms.” Give it a listen below.
XY&O / Chameleon
You may recognize XY&O from previous features on this blog—that would make sense, since I’ve been a MASSIVE fan of this up & coming Welsh electronic pop trio from the start. They first captured my attention last spring, with the release of “Low Tide,” regularly delivering consistently immaculate pop songs all the way up to the release of their debut EP, Shimmer & Shade in April. Now that they have a body of music out there, ready for consumption, XY&O is ready to take that plunge into the mainstream. Following a string of well-received gigs around the UK, the dudes (Skip, Tudor and Nick) just played their biggest crowd to date, joining BBC Introducing at Glastonbury (NBD) this past Friday. As if effing GLASTONBURY wasn’t big enough news, the band has a TON of new music on the horizon, including plans to release one song a month for the rest of the summer (June through August). YESSSSSSS!
The first cut, “Chameleon” premiered earlier this month on Huw Stephens‘ BBC Radio 1 show. While the song still has those trademark XY&O elements we know and love—earnest lyrics, heartfelt delivery, a bounty of sparkling synths—it feels a lot bigger to me. Sonically, “Chameleon” feels like more of a straight-up-dance-tune than anything else the band has released to date, and that’s definitely not a bad thing. Think of Shimmer & Shade as summery, fun, beach party-ready bops—think of “Chameleon” as something they’d play at the moonlit after party. Give it a listen up top, and stay tuned for the next song, “Every Single Second,” coming in July.
ZHU / GENERATIONWHY
I’d been EAGERLY anticipating new music from mysterious Grammy-nominated LA-based producer/remixer ZHU since the release of last year’s BRILLIANT Genesis Series EP, which featured high-profile collabs with AlunaGeorge, Gallant, Skrillex, Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony (among others). Lucky for us, we have “GENERATIONWHY,” which ZHU premiered live this year at Coachella. The song is the title-track on his forthcoming debut album, due July 29th on Columbia Records.
So smitten was I with his last EP, I had to partake in his Neon Cities tour, subjecting MYSELF to the mix of bros and drunk girls that frequent douche-central (AKA Terminal 5). ZHU managed to sell out 2 back-to-back nights at the 3000-capacity Manhattan venue—an impressive feat for ANY ARTIST, much less one that never shows his face. The show was a big-budget electronic DJ set, complete with guest stars, an impressive light show (Terminal 5 DOES NOT skimp on lighting, that’s for sure), a titillating visual display projected onto a MASSIVE screen, and live instruments played by 2 dark and equally mysterious hooded figures. I normally don’t do DJ sets alone—because I’m an awkward solo dancer, but I completely lost myself in the music. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing him at Lollapalooza next month. Give “GENERATIONWHY” a listen below and stream/download it to your heart’s content (iTunes / Spotify).