dark cyberpunk street scene


AXLS: Fahrenheit 104 (Out 03/02)

Serene electronic pop trio AXLS has taken a change of course with their new single Farenheit 104. Their 2020 project was billed as a space concept album, and the weight of those words made it possible to overlook the catchy melodies and danceable beats. This year the Newcastle-based group places its floor-filling ambitions front and center.

There’s a sense of immense size and space in Farenheit 104. At moments the synths take on a choral, almost religious seriousness. Its temperature is icy but it calls up a fever, the mad desire to forget ourselves and become part of a single, multibody being on the dance floor.

It’s a potent track for this particular cultural moment, when we face the allure of clubs and decide if we’re willing to accept the risks. Loss of individual identity is built into Farenheit 104’s DNA; it’s honest about the fact that something can happen when we give ourselves over to the moment. Danger and desire both sit in the lines, “Its in my bloodstream, it changes everything.” 

Fahrenheit 104 is a resistlessly danceable tune; not as melancholy as I’m making it sound, driving toward a huge chorus and roof-lifting beats made of metal and ice. It’s so clean it’s got no fingerprints on it, and its inhuman precision invites you to be the realest thing in it. It drags you in, repeating what feels like the only important question: “Is it loud?”

dark cyberpunk street scene

Craig Lee and the Humblebees: Hater’s Way

Fresh this weekend from Craig Lee and the Humblebees, single “Hater’s Way” grabs hard and fast. It’s got a hard-driving train beat that’s familiar in the best way and a distinctly dirty sound. Lee’s instinct for simplicity is strong. He goes straight for the gut with a three piece band and the most shoutable melody you’ve heard all week.

This single crosses borders effortlessly; the instruments say stateside while Lee’s nasal timbre says the North is rising. The hang-tight bass is straightforward and juicy, and the rhythm section rides the groove so well the song hardly needs its third chord.

If there’s a flaw, it’s that it’s 29 seconds too long; it’s hard to resist doing that chorus one more time. With a sound that’s at home in a low-ceilinged club or a flatbed strung with utility lights, the tune promises that Lee’s live set is one to catch. Hater’s Way is three minutes and twenty three seconds of latter day rockabilly brilliance. 

Thundizzle: Do It Right

There’s a man who wants to hype your party. His name is Thundizzle. His CV includes rap, hip hop, trap, pop, R&B, grime, and dancehall, and his new single Do It Right is blistering. With an old school vibe and earworm keyboard samples, Do It Right is a tight 3 ½ minute package of fun. It also showcases a performer with intelligence, humor, and a lot to say. 

Thundizzle is a mature producer who is sure of himself and what he has to offer. His songwriting is  confident, his beatmaking is relentlessly energetic.

Don’t let the upbeat feel of this song make you think a party is all he’s good for; his previous project Grown Man Shit is a clear-eyed contemplation on the responsibilities and rewards of manhood. Do It Right is a fantastic track in its own right, but it might also be your introduction to an artist you should hear a lot more of.

Gaz Price: Down the Road

Hartlepool singer-songwriter Gaz Price’s first single of the year, Down the Road, is an observant look at working class life, strongly informed by his background. 

The song features a strong opening riff and toothy lead guitar that alternates space with Price’s vocals, almost approaching a duet. Otherwise the instrumentation is solid but secondary to Price’s voice. His point of view leads the song, and the guitar acts as a second self.  His lyrics are observant and his point of view distinct, making the song deeply personal despite a storytelling approach. He watches life unfold around him; the single mum, the guy selling drugs to make ends meet. “It’s crazy, but it’s all I’ve ever known.” 

Price is ambitious. Since honing his craft on the regional circuit he’s focused on breaking nationally this year. Due on February 4, Down the Road features crisp radio-friendly production and a driveable, singalong chorus that bode well for his hopes.

Magerison: Be Cool

Be Cool is the lead single from acoustic reggae singer Magerison’s EP of the same name. In his live solo shows Magerison uses heavy layers of loops and effects to create a sense of fullness, and this recording strives to recreate the experience.

Be Cool is overtly beachy in the intro, but the melody soon discloses Magerison’s roots in jazz. The feeling is amplified by the scatting of a jazz flute and watery backing vocals.

The lyric is a lullabye, but the sense of the track is vaguely sinister; it reminds you that although the ocean may rock you to sleep, it might not ask you to wake up again. Due out on March 1, Be Cool is beautiful and not quite dreamy. It’s that disquieting moment right before you fall into sleep, just before the dreams begin.