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INsiders Guide: Caroline Romano, Julian Lamadrid, Cathy Jain, Tiny Boost, NLE Choppa, Lost Girl, mustbejohn, Charlie Clark, Jess Chalker…

 Nashville-based singer and songwriter Caroline Romano releases her electrifying new single, “Ireland in 2009.” Arriving on the heels of singles “Oddities and Prodigies” b/w “Lonely Interlude,” “The Hypothetical” and “PDA of the Mainstream,” the heavy-hitting new track is another impressive notch in the belt of this alt-pop trailblazer. An ode to gritty teenage romance, “Ireland in 2009” is packed with soaring vocals, anthemic production and Caroline’s signature unfiltered lyricism. “It’s a story of falling in love in car parks and waking up in your school clothes,” she says. “It’s about being far too young to know anything at all and the all-or-nothing emotions that come with juvenescence.” Caroline’s knack for storytelling is crystal clear on this song as she croons lyrics that channel the unmistakable nostalgia of young love: “In Ireland in 2009 / With my sundress that you kept like a prize… In the car park listening to blink / He’s got his calvins in the backseat.” 

Mexican singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Julian Lamadrid releases “The Neon God,” the final pre-release single from his forthcoming album Rebels of The Neon God, out on November 12th via Arista Records. Ahead of the album release, Julian has also launched the ‘Rebel Universe,’ a virtual world inspired by the upcoming album: rebels.julianlamadrid.com/Rebels of The Neon God serves as the follow up to Julian’s 2019 debut, Mala Noche. Featuring past singles like “Teenager,” “One More Trip,” “Cigarette” and “Patience,” the new 12-track album is a masterfully executed record unbound by genre or expectations. “The album is centered around the dichotomy between frustration and dance, vacancy and ecstasy;  enlightenment through pain,” says Julian. “I have glimpsed into the eyes of The Neon God, pierced through the void and  come out the other end, desperate for connection, hungry for the eternal.”

“In a word my “artificial EP” is about authenticity.” says Cathy. “Together, the four tracks take a look at how we define what is really “real” when we spend so much of our time either in our own heads or in a virtual world online. With each song on the EP, I’ve tried to create a snapshot of a few moments in someone’s life where they are thinking about this. I think that people (especially those my age) stress a lot about their image and how their life and feelings match up to what other people expect of them, but these songs have a more light-hearted, observational and kind of reassuring style rather than something heavy with a serious message, and this is reflected in the laid-back hazy vibe of the music.  

So, in the title track “artificial”, I’m picturing someone who feels like their life lacks authenticity but realises that their imagination and virtual life are all part of what makes up what they are. I picture someone sitting in a cafe lost in their own thoughts and there’s a bit of almost jazzy background piano to help create an image of that moment. All of the songs have this hazy, dream-like feeling but in quite different ways; more psychedelic in “green screen”, chilled R&B in “cool kid” and a darker, alternative style in “i see us in heaven”. I think the mix up in genres reflects the mixed up thinking about what is real and what’s fake, and how we tell the difference between the two.”

You can pre-order very limited vinyl here, or alternatively save on streaming platforms here.

Echoing the modernist pop of Billie Eilish, the production flair of Frank Ocean’s more soothing moments, and Lana Del Rey’s nostalgia for the recent past; ‘artificial’ continues Cathy’s long distance collaboration with artist/producer Heron @ Cracked Analogue (based in India) who has co-written, produced and mixed all of her hazy, sun-kissed, R&B-tinged alt-pop tracks to date.

cool kid immediately made an impact on its release. Following a first play from 6Music’s Lauren Laverne, additional support came from Steve Lamacq, and Radio 1; adding the track  to their coveted Introducing playlist; garnering big on-air talk ups from Annie MacClara Amfo and Greg James, while Jack Saunders subsequently named it as his Next Wave pick. The track also made its way onto major playlists across Amazon MusicApple MusicDeezer and Spotify.

Glowing write-ups from, ClashThe Line Of Best Fit and NME added to the groundswell of support from leading industry tastemakers.

Cathy Jain was raised in China before relocating to the UK at the age of 13. She not only speaks fluent Chinese, but also plays the traditional instrument the guzheng, which reiterates her diverse talents as a musician, vocalist, producer and songwriter.

In the wake of a handful of recent live shows, including a standout performance at Latitude, news on forthcoming additional dates will follow shortly.

When it comes to story telling and depicting tales of the street, Tiny Boost is amongst the best in the UK. Teaming up with experienced music executives ‘Jud and Fos’ from TruCulture, they gift their listeners with a heartfelt street ballad.

STREAM/DOWNLOAD: TINY BOOST X TRUCULTURE – NIGHT & DAY

This anthem showcases Tiny Boost in excellent form. As he effortlessly rides the bass heavy trap beat, we are given a demonstration of the gritty lyrical content that the UK rap veteran is capable of. Speaking on this release, Jud and Fos commented “Tiny Boost has linked up with TruCulture for his latest release, Tiny Boost has made a name for himself as the streets real life story teller, in Night & Day he depicts how hard life is on the streets and the struggles witnessed in his excellent story telling. We’re excited to collaborate with well respected, South-London rapper Tiny Boost as he lends his hand to the ever-growing movement of TruCulture.”

Memphis rap star NLE Choppa is back today with “Jumpin” on NLE Entertainment/Warner Records. The energetic single serves as the first release from Choppa’s forthcoming EP Me vs. Me, out on December 3, and features Chicago rapper Polo G. The fiery track finds the duo in search of cash and come ups. An accompanying cinematic video explores similar themes, featuring the pair in a multi-act heist story fit for the big screen. Listen to “Jumpin” HERE and watch the video HERE.

Jumpin” puts Choppa’s precise flows at center stage. Flipping through flexes and delirious threats, the track lets him show off what he does best. “Play with my cash and I’m on your ass,” he raps. “Like the pockets on the back of your pants.” His ability to blend clever one-liners with a sense of menace is on full display, an approach that Polo also adopts on his melodic verse. 

The accompanying visual plays like a classic heist film, with Choppa and Polo serving as the stars. Armed with guns, masks, an armored truck, and dazzling grills, the duo embark on an epic bank robbery, only to get into a shootout with the cops. Like Robin Hood, though, the crew escapes, and the     pair end the video chuckling with one another, thumbing through their spoils.

Last year marked his first Top 100 single and 1Xtra playlist in the UK with ‘Walk Em Down’ featuring Roddy Rich and this along with his release with Lil Baby ‘Narrow Road’, another UK success was supported by Tiffany Calver, Tim Westwood, Kenny Allstar 

Fresh off her recent link up with Backroad Gee on high quality two-stepper and summer anthem “Rockabye” and tipped by the likes of The Fader and Clash, Lost Girl delivers another perfect slice of Garage with the release of the emotive single ‘Forever’.

Her debut single ‘I Won’t Give Up’ recently hit 1 million streams and “Forever” looks set to follow as the young artist sings with real passion and feeling about a past relationship, “I thought you would be my forever”. Supported by a minor key instrumental, and a propulsive drum sound “Forever” maintains that signature garage club vibe that Lost Girl has mastered.

The young talent from Reading also delivers her dazzling mix of tracks to make her EP debut with ‘EST 1999’. This EP started with her journey began back in 2020 and includes the sparkling pieces of work that have come along the way mixed with some new and innovative styles too.

A prodigy of the Covid world, meant she experienced a delay to the live music scene but that has all changed this summer with the 22-year-old performing at festivals such as Reading, Leeds and Wireless where she entertained many large crowds that did not exist when we last had live shows. Lost Girl also very recently supported Wes Nelson at his first headline show in London. Her debut single released last year ‘I Won’t Give Up’ recently hit 1 million streams.

Lost Girl proved herself an onscreen natural making her TV Debut on Celebrity ‘Goggle Box’ alongside her manager and mentor Tinie Tempah. With support across the board from the likes of Clash, Notion, GRM Daily, Mixtape Madness, RWD, Trench, The Fader the Reading born artist has garnered an impressive 6.5M global streams and 4M UK streams

Recently surpassing a million Spotify streams on her debut single ‘I Won’t Give Up’, this track needs no introduction since its release last year. Demonstrating her Garage-esque flair from track number 1, she instantly had her fan base wanting more. Later releasing ‘Lazy Love’ alongside the female Drill Queen Ivorian Doll, this track was a stellar way to show her collaboration ability which has also taken place on the EP.

The team ups did not stop there, as her and Backroad Gee combined to gift us with the summer two-stepper ‘Rockabye’. All these creative outbursts were matched with top visuals which helped to illustrate the likeable vibe that Lost Girl possesses. Just before the liberating of ‘EST 1999’, the fanbase she has built received the final single ‘Forever’ which put Lost Girl’s emotive side on display.

The undiscovered tracks on the EP include ‘Give It To Me’ which shows Lost Girls versatility as she branches onto a modern R&B style track with her very own British stamp. Using a more concealed version of her voice she delicately caresses the melodically rich and spacious beat.

Diversifying further, she has left the powerful slow rhythms to the EP itself. ‘Arizona’ has a slow 90s type hip hop beat. Less push on the singing and more on her intelligent lyrics and pleasant melodic flows. Showing she can do more than Garage, this track is composed beautifully with talent throbbing guitar solos, all spot on to the vibe she created in the track.

All of her work since arriving in style on the scene has led to this release, boasting over 5 million all time streams on Spotify alone, this is just the beginning. This moment marks a monumental period for Lost Girl with her first ever EP. Coming a long way from when Tinie Tempah messaged her on Instagram, Lost Girl has transformed into the full package and there is no looking back.

After a successful year of releases, Hertfordshire born and bred rising newcomer mustbejohn drops his effortless six track EP ‘I’m In If You Are’.

 

Heavily inspired by his surroundings mustbejohn is fast becoming known for his relatable, catchy and fresh sound. Merging genres throughout the six tracks, John’s musical influences act as a bed for his frank and raw song-writing as he tells stories of life in the city, parties and people he knows.

 

Offbeat rhythms jump beneath jazzy brass on ‘Little Bit’ as John’s understated vocals sing “Can’t you unwind just a little bit, glass of wine and a little spliff. Take your time in the pit of it” above Ska influenced production. The track’s nostalgic feel acts as a contrast to the vocal driven contemporary dancefloor heater ‘Raining Colours’ with its bouncy synths and steady drum loops. With his distinctive and raspy tone, rapper Joe James lends his vocals to ‘Follow That Sound’ joining mustbejohn above simple and steady production, “the cities tryna bring me down” the pair sing in emotion-fuelled and hard hitting track.

 

Talking about the EP as a whole mustbejohn says: “I’m in if You Are’ is quite literal in the sense, I’m in if you are! I’m sharing my personal experiences, ones with friends

and a whole lot of stuff I’d probably be best not saying, but that’s probably what makes it worth the listen! There’s a blend of genres that I’ve always loved in there and that makes it really special for me. This record is the soundtrack of the most recent years of my life; messy nights, hangovers, confusion mixed in with some hope along the way!”

As the nights draw-in and world begins to close a weary eyelid in 2021, the Astrid frontman and founder of No Big Deal Records releases an emotive single of change to chime with the seasons.

Following a sunny spell in Los Angeles with a high-flying career in the music industry, “Blink of an Eye” was written as Clark returned home to the blustery shores of Stornoway to face some hard truths and the end of an era.

A song about life passing before your very eyes and facing up to life’s most difficult choices, to finding a brighter future and forging a new destiny, Charlie Clark reflects of the track:

“I was getting overwhelmed with melancholy about relationships and mistakes I’d made and things I should and have not done etc.  I was reflecting on more microcosmic internal issues…. I refer to my mind as radio K-F**k fairly often. Sometimes the best thing to do when you feel overwhelmed is nothing at all.”

Initially written on just acoustic guitar, the resplendent finished version ventures from sleepy, pared-back melancholia, before erupting into colourful, cosmic arrangements adorned with Beatles-esque multilayered harmonies, blazing mellotron melodies and supernova guitar lines.

Produced by Jason Shaw (Cambodian Space Project) and mastered by Mark Gardener from RIDE, “Blink of an Eye” is epic and emphatic, without being bombastic and strikes a direct hit at the emotional heart of the track. It was recorded in Uig on the Isle of Lewis, alongside other sessions for Charlie Clark’s upcoming album: ‘Late Night Drinking’ – coming soon.

Tuning-in to the gentle psychedelic aura of “Blink of an Eye”, the new single is accompanied by an official video directed by Clark himself. Watch here: https://youtu.be/Dth8Zu6_OrY

“I wanted the video to be like a hallucination where you can feel the vibrations and rhythms of the most simple things. Where everything is still but incredibly vibrant. Like meditation…or good mushrooms” adds Clark.

ess Chalker is an Australian-born songwriter and artist living in London UK. Musically, she hails from humble roots as one of YouTube’s first ever viral artists (with over 1.5m views on her self-penned songs.) She went on to front Australian new-wave duo, We Are The Brave, whose grassroots hits Your Ghost’ and ‘Sparrow’  achieved close to a million streams across YouTube, Soundcloud and Spotify.  She is now embarking on a bold new solo career and announces her emotive, self-reflective debut full-length album, “Hemispheres”, to be released on 5th November 2021 via her own imprint 528 Records. The album is supported by the Australian Government through Australia Council for the Arts.

Jess’ musical journey to date has been rich and varied: on leaving We Are The Brave, she traversed three continents as a songwriter and producer, her writing talents earning her a Grammy credit and taking her from Sydney, to LA and London as a much sought-after collaborator. Artists Jess has worked with include Sam Fischer, Tate McRae, Isamachine, Gold Kimono, Passenger, Hotei, Glen Matlock, Guy Sebastian, John Alagia (John Mayer) and many more. Jess earned her Grammy status in 2018, when she co-penned Say Hello”, the single that helped Lisa Loeb win Best Kids Record for Feel What U Feel. Along with Florence + the Machine’s Isabella Summers, Jess was recently commissioned by Amazon Original to create an original composition for the show, Panic. The song, “Darkest Hour (performed by Tate McRae) was later held in consideration for an Emmy nomination.

Now, as an artist in her own right, Jess is free to explore more instinctively personal, close- to-home sentiments. Indeed, the stunning new album “Hemispheres”, laced with guitar-driven hooks and retro synths, featuring strong alternative/electro-pop production, dives boldly into lyrical themes that explore the entire range of human emotions, both the highs, and the lows. The album examines our inner demons, self-doubt, but also resilience, strength, and the curative values of self-love, with Jess’ expressive vocals slicing through at every turn. Latest single “Don’t Fight It,” is about acknowledging that sometimes you have to roll with the punches in order to change paths, and follows the release of album tracks Dance in the Rain and West Hollywood.

 

Hemispheres”, was completed under the weight of the pandemic, as Chalker dealt with the loss of her day job, being so far away from family and undergoing heart-breaking health challenges at the same time. Like many others, she found herself spiralling, and turned to music to find the creative outlet she needed. She says: “When the pandemic hit, like everyone else, it turned my world upside down. I was one of many people globally who lost their jobs, but the silver lining was that for the first time in years, it gave me a chance to stop and breathe.”

neillfrazer@hotmail.com

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Written by Neill Frazer

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