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Giggs, Dave, Julia Jacklin, Adam Lambert and Joesef plus spotlight artist Max Rad - the best new music this week

In her weekly Now Hear This column, music correspondent Roisin O'Connor goes through the best releases of the week

Roisin O'Connor
Saturday 23 February 2019 17:11 GMT
London-based artist and producer Max Rad
London-based artist and producer Max Rad

The music industry is just about recovered from the Brits by now, which were a fun if noticeably tame affair compared to 2018. As predicted, George Ezra walked away with the award for Best Male Solo Artist over rapper Giggs, but the south London rapper doesn’t seem that fussed. In fact, he just dropped an entire new album.

While he doesn’t exactly stand still, Big Bad… is case and point for how Giggs, like his peer Ghetts (who features on “Run Me Down”), refuses to pander to mainstream music trends in order to raise the profile of his own work. He knows what he does best, so the record is packed with slow-tempo tracks where he relies on stark, icy beats and his unmistakeable vocal rasp that annunciates each word. He’s probably one of the only people who could make “rave in Ibiza” sound like a threat.

Dave, a younger but just as vital UK rap talent, has shared the single “Black” from his hugely anticipated debut, Psychodrama. The track is an affecting contemplation on what the word means to Dave himself and to wider society, and is accompanied by a superb video that stars many of the rapper’s personal heroes, from Stormzy and Raheem Sterling to Ozwald Boateng and Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon.

Other album releases this week include the utterly sublime Crushing by Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin, which received a full five stars in a review by The Independent’s critic Helen Brown. I’m obsessed with the fragility of “Don’t Know How To Keep Loving You”, where Jacklin sounds as though she’s on the verge of tears as she sings of the devastation at realising her feelings for her lover have changed.

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Slowthai has a rowdy new track that showcases his talent for blistering observational rap, in the case of “Peace of Mind” it’s short vignettes of a dysfunctional family dynamic. Adam Lambert has released his first new single since 2017’s “Two Fux”, “Feel Something”, which was written “about me climbing out of the low period, defying my disillusionment, owning my needs and opening my heart”. Lambert has been busy touring with Queen but it sounds like a new album of his own is on its way.

There’s a rather startling track, “Limbo”, from a brand new artist called Joesef. I don’t know much about him yet, other than he’s from Glasgow and his debut single is quite unlike anything else I’ve heard for a while. He has a wonderful voice that is bound to draw endless comparisons to Amy Winehouse thanks to that dreamy crooning style of delivery, and “Limbo” is similar jazz and blues-influenced.

My spotlight artist this week is Max Rad, an electronic pop artist and producer who caught some attention for his track “Carousel”, and has now dropped a new single called “Flesh & Blood”. He sings in a compellingly detached manner that forces you to focus on the intimate nature of his songwriting, which follows themes of the trickier parts of relationships. I caught up with him about the new single and what else he has lined up for this year.

Hi Max, how's your 2019 so far?

It's been good! All going well. I've just got back from a trip down to Devon working on some new material, and now busy working towards my headline show at Camden Assembly on 25 April. I've also got some reworks of a couple of tracks in the pipeline, they'll hopefully be coming out pretty soon.

When did you start composing/producing your own music?

I started playing guitar pretty young, I think I was about six. I began making up songs straight away. My brother played drums back then, so my Mum and Dad got us a microphone and a cassette recorder and we started recording stuff - making it up on the spot. It wasn't until I was about 12 that I started writing the lyrics down and trying to make actual songs. Then I got more and more in to producing, I started to build up my own studio, that was around 4 or 5 years ago. I've always recorded my own music, for me the recording process is an essential part of writing, so it came fairly organically.

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Your single 'Carousel' was about a woman toying with a guy's obsession with her – what's this new song about?

This song is about grief, and an experience I had down on the coast last winter, thinking I saw someone that I couldn't have seen walking along the shoreline. It really affected me and this song came out of that.

It's got singer Laura Welsh on backing vocals, how did you guys meet?

We met when I was producing an EP for a friend of mine Turan, who knew Laura, so we got in together to do a bit of writing for her stuff. We were in my studio one time and I asked if she'd be keen to sing on this track and luckily she was.

Have you been working with anyone interesting on new music?

For this project I've been keeping things fairly insular, making the tracks on my own for the most part, but I'm keen to start collaborating more on it, for sure. I also produce for other artists, I have worked on Nathan Ball's last few singles, and there's more on the way. And then some other stuff that I'm not sure I'm allowed to talk about... ha!

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