Listening Post #16

by Emily Pratten

1. Is There Somewhere – Halsey

This track comes from Halsey’s debut EP, the likes of which is not yet available in the UK on iTunes or Spotify because record labels think staggered release dates internationally are an excellent idea. Disclaimer: they’re bloody not. You can find the songs from the EP on Halsey’s Youtube channel, “HalseyVEVO” and I implore that you all check it out. The slow burning of the backing instrumental works infectiously with her rich and velvety vocal and the production is equally stellar, making for a quiet build that drops into a chorus that boasts a plethora of intricate electronic layers. “Is there somewhere you can meet me” quietly rings out, a heartfelt plea to the subject of the story.

2. Blank Space (Cover) – Rhodes

I always debate the legitimacy of covers on this listening post but I’ve done it before so I’m going to do it again. With Rhodes. Again. For the Radio 1 piano sessions an old and continued favourite artist of mine took to recent smash hit Blank Space and did a phenomenal job. I felt like a proud parent. A lot of the high tempo energy has been taken out of the original track and replaced with a quiet stoic power and an emotional intensity we can rely on Rhodes to deliver. It’s always difficult to write analytically about a genuine favourite because it’s hard to find things to say that aren’t “I love them without reason, aren’t they just great?” The lyrical content becomes more accessible and hard-hitting as the tone of the song has been changed, the piano lulling us into a false sense of security playing a song that we recognise and then capitalising on our vulnerability by causing more of a stir in our chests than we were perhaps expecting. It’s wonderful and even got Rhodes a tweet from the Queen of the World herself. Taylor Swift is a Rhodes fan. Not surprising, however, because how could you not be?

3. Spinning Wheel – Black Honey

This one’s a banger. It’s an epic, starting off cinematically with a distorted 1940s vintage voice against a Wild West style backdrop that wouldn’t be alien in a saloon. It’s captivating and dramatic, much like the drop that follows – heavy and catchy guitar riffs and up tempo percussion, the voice now singing “Love is like a spinning wheel” in an almost carnivalesque declaration. The guitar in this one is killer, the whole track is quirky and belongs in a montage for an out of date action film. But in a really, really cool way. The whole thing is really sexy if I’m being completely honest.

4. S.O.S. – Femme

S.O.S is punchy and aggressive. The bold and single drum beat that starts the song continues throughout, the instrumental is basic, and the percussion is the backbone of the song. The simplicity of the song is not a weakness; it could start revolutions I’m sure. She sings “Are you gonna save me or are you just gonna stand there?” It’s sassy and empowering and good to listen to if you have somewhere to be or someone to scold.

5. Bad Boyfriend – Spector

Fred Macpherson’s signature deep, honey-like vocal is immediately very wonderful and causes you to invest. It’s probably not the best thing Spector have ever done but for some reason I really, really like this one, despite how simple and potentially boring it is. I like the soft verses, the built up chorus, the lyrical content, and the ebb and flow of Macpherson’s voice.