As the days become increasingly short, music is perhaps our only light keeping us going until the holiday season starts proper. So, we bring you our pick of the bunch to keep those spirits high from the musically varied Panoptic team. You can listen to our Spotify playlist, and follow us, here.

Freddie Metherell, ‘Slide (bet)’ by Kamaiyah

Kamaiyah doesn’t want her music to sound “hella dark” and, with an instrumental that sounds remarkably familiar to Nu Shooz’s 80s groover ‘I can’t wait’, she doesn’t seem to be finding that too difficult. ‘Slide (bet)’ is a track with beats reminiscent of old school drum machine era. The synth line is interrupted intermittently by silky sax that juxtaposes the bluntness of her laid-back rap. There is a calm self-belief in her delivery that perpetuates itself in her lyrics chanting “Yeah I fucked up this summer/I didn’t put out one damn song/ But y’all hoes still ain’t did nothing.” She can forget the summer, Kamaiyah serendipitously supplied me with the soundtrack to strut through these dark winter months.

Brooklyn Jones, ‘Mr 10pm Bedtime’ by Girli

Pink Pop-punk princess Girli has just released her newest EP and the whole thing is bloody brilliant. ‘Mr. 10pm Bedtime’ definitely has more Kate Nash or Charlie XCX vibes compared to the other tracks, and shows off her vocal skill. Written about an annoying neighbour whose early bedtime interfered with her nightlife while she lived on her own for a year, her sweet and playful tone successfully masks her exasperation and makes for a cheerful tune to wipe away the winter grey. My favourite lyric of the song being “Baby, don’t tell me you don’t get why/I need my friends and a bottle and a guy/Forget the day, I love the night/Mister 10 PM bedtime.” It’s a cracking tune.

EJ Oakley, ‘Exploding Whale’ (Doveman Remix) by Sufjan Stevens

It’s hard not to visibly cringe nowadays when someone utters the words “epic fail”, but Sufjan Stevens and his beautifully soft-spoken voice have such an air to them that he could read aloud a phonebook in a foreign language and you’d wish the experience would never end. Originally released in 2015, ‘Exploding Whale’ – Stevens’ non-album single released on his tour for album Carrie and Lowell two years ago – is now back with a vengeance, but it is anything but the “epic fail” that Stevens describes in his lyrics. Given new life by pianist Doveman, ‘Exploding Whale’ evolves from its previous incarnation rife with electronic blips and glitch-hop distortion into a more pensive, thoughtful piece that may even make you shed a tear or two. That is, if you don’t take note of the lyrical elephant – or should I say, whale? – in the room.

Clare Clarke, ‘Fireworks’ by First Aid Kit

This sweet little song seems to stick a little more than the rest, asking “why do I do this to myself every time? I know the way it ends before its even begun”. The band, First Aid Kit, is a Swedish folk duo made up of two sisters, Klara and Johanna Söderberg. Their pure vocals and melody can’t help but catch my attention, and the simple but poignant lyrics even more so. Its melancholic warmth can’t help but keep the wintery frost away, the perfect companion for these darkening days. The single is from their upcoming album Ruins which is due to be released 19th January 2018, their first album for four years – I would expect good things!

Image: Kamaiyah, album art ‘Before I Wake’

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