#NowPlaying (January 2020)

As a music fan, I should be focusing on “hot new bands” to keep an eye on over the coming 12 months. However, my listening habits over the opening weeks of 2020 have been my personal choice rather than being tipped off by whoever.


Admittedly I was first made aware of who Poppy was when her track, ‘X’, was used for a WWE NXT: Takeover show. The track was an intriguing blend of hippy ’60’s pop interludes with metallic guitars. From going down a Poppy-sized rabbit hole, it’s clear she’s a peculiar character.

She first emerged as a robotic-like internet persona with her odd ‘I’m Poppy’ viral video. It introduced the world to her unique (and somewhat uncomfortable) personality. As a music artist, it’s unsurprising her early releases revolved around electro-pop, complimenting her online presentation.

Since the release of ‘X’ in 2018, Poppy has gradually been shedding her sugary facade, embracing a darker side; last year’s ‘Choke’ EP saw her collaborate with socio-political rockers Fever333, ultimately serving as a stylistic bridge between ‘Am I a Girl?’ and her new album, ‘I Disagree’.

In my opinion, ‘I Disagree’ humanises Poppy, removing the AI facade that she’s become known for since her emergence, giving way to an honest and fearless set of songs. For the most part, songs such as ‘Concrete’, ‘Fill the Crown‘ and the title track sees her fully embracing, and building on, the aforementioned metal foundation with compelling results.

Throughout Poppy comfortably transitions between styles, and in the case of ‘Concrete’, in the same song. The mix of Billie Eilish-esque electro-pop (see ‘Anything Like Me’), industrial metal (‘Bloodmoney’) and everything else in the melting pot might seem jarring, but when threaded together by her authentic narrative, it makes for an engaging listen that draws you in with each listen.

Spanish Love Songs

It might not be a surprise to some that I was introduced to Spanish Love Songs when a press release about their outstanding 2018 album, ‘Schmaltz’, landed in my Already Heard inbox. With a clear comparison to the Menzingers, I instantly found a connection with frontman Dylan Slocum’s introspective, and mostly pessimistic, words. At the time I had a negative mindset where I considered myself a failure, hence the line “I’ve done nothing the past ten years” on the final track, ‘Aloha to No One’, was one I definitely identified with.

Nevertheless, ‘Schmaltz’ was album of the year for 2018 and is still something I listen to in full regularly. Besides Slocum’s outlook, the Los Angeles-based band have a tendency to write punchy and anthemic punk songs that, to an extent, counter their lyrical bleakness.

This month sees them release its follow up in the form of ‘Brave Faces Everyone’. While ‘Schmaltz’ bought the quintet considerable success; touring opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic and joining the impressive Pure Noise Records roster, it’s clear Slocum and company haven’t changed their demeanour. The three tracks released so far (‘Kick’, ‘Losers’ and ‘Losers Pt.2’) continues to the anxiety-ridden nature of its predecessor albeit in an outward and defiant manner.

As their bio suggests, Spanish Love Songs look to have turned a corner with hopeful eyes backing up their soaring choruses.

‘Brave Faces Everyone‘ is probably one of my most anticipated albums of the year so far. Admittedly, I have high hopes but from the three singles so far, I’m confident it’s not going to disappoint.

‘Bedtime Beats’ playlist

I previously spoke about how Peaceful Music became my go-to-playlist when I wanted something that wouldn’t distract me and allowed me to keep focus on whatever task I’m doing. In recent weeks, ‘Bedtime Beats’ has been a playlist I’ve regularly been listening to as “background music”.

Influenced/inspired by the wave of lo-fi hip-hop radio YouTube live streams (such as ChilledCow), ‘Bedtime Beats’ spacious and lightweight nature is ideal for a focused and/or chilled out environment.

Further reading:
Inside YouTube’s calming ‘Lofi Hip Hop Radio to Relax/Study to’ community
The Economics of 24/7 Lo-Fi Hip-Hop YouTube Livestreams