The Best Of Huw
The Best Of Huw
Huw Stephens is like that cool friend who introduces you to amazing music that you would never have heard if it weren’t for him. Except, seeing as he has his own show on BBC Radio 1—and when he started in 1999, at age 17, he was the youngest person ever to present on the U.K. station—trust us when we say that he’s much, much cooler than any of your real-life friends. That’s why we’ve asked him to share his 10 favourite tracks and artists of the month, every month. Better free up some space on your iPod, because your new buddy Huw is about to bombard you with new tunes.
Illustrated by Andy J. Miller
This time of year, music writers get all giddy looking back at the best albums of the last 12 months. It’s a good way to find out what you might have missed, granted, but the conveyor belt of new music never stops. So let us look ahead. In 2013, the names on everyone’s lips will belong to two awesome new rappers. Check out Angel Haze and Joey Bada$$ for a glimpse of the future. Both sharp, funny performers who know their hip-hop history (and wear their influences proudly), they’re creating quite an impression with their smart, succinct rhymes.
Of course, right now all the Christmas classics are reemerging, and nothing beats “Fairytale of New York,” a hit released 25 years ago by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl. It’s being released again on limited vinyl for the collectors, and remains my favourite Christmas song of all time. It adheres to my rules for a successful yuletide hit: 1. You have to mention Christmas at least once. 2. No schmaltzy, chestnuts-roasting-on-an-open-fire nonsense. You have to have a twist—there has to be a bit of bah, humbug! in there. Everyone knows that we build the holidays up to be something they’re invariably not, so to have that realistic take on the festive period is always a good thing in my book. Anyway, back to the here and now with 10 excellent new tracks that I recommend highly:
CHVRCHES, “The Mother We Share”
This Scottish band has only played a handful of gigs (including some dates with Passion Pit), but is one of the most hotly tipped groups out there. CHVRCHES’ take on emotional pop—a mix of excellent electronic noises and intriguing lyrics—make them a very exciting proposition.
Joey Bada$$, “Waves”
Young, new, and taking on the world, Joey Bada$$ is straight out of Brooklyn and loves his skateboard. Unlike some of his peers (ahem, Odd Future), there’s nothing dumb going on here, just pure passion, deep topics, and a J. Cole level of realness.
Clean Bandit, “A&E”
The only band in the world right now (that I know of), mixing house, classical, and hip-hop. This London crew do it with expertise and style and should create a big impact in 2013. Their snazzy videos will only find them more fans.
San Cisco, “Beach”
It’s cold, wet, and miserable here in the U.K. right now—but not in Fremantle, Australia! The sun always shines on pop pups San Cisco, and everything they touch turns into melodic aceness. “Beach” is just the tip of the (melting) iceberg; the group has a radiant new album dropping in the new year.
Roses Gabor, “Stars”
Having collaborated with SBTRKT (“Pharaohs”) and Gorillaz (“Dare”), Roses Gabor is ready to shine on her own. Produced by the excellent Redlight, “Stars” is sultry smooth, but with just the right amount of jackin' beats.
Mallory Knox, “Wake Up”
Along with Deaf Havana, Young Guns, and The Blackout, Mallory Knox are owning it when it comes to young British rock right now. Deep and hard, but not afraid of getting all anthemic on our asses, this lot is the real deal.
It’s heavy on the synths and sounds sweeeeet. Scottish producer S-Type, who joins the ranks of fellow countrymen Hudson Mohawke and Rustie, has been touring with AlunaGeorge recently and makes creating heavy-hitters like “Billboard” seem easy.
Tall Ships, “Gallop”
Definitely one of the more interesting guitar bands from the U.K., this Brighton band have been working hard on their craft for four years, to devastating effect. This track’s pounding drum beat, astounding lyrics, and rousing chorus get me hot under the collar.
The 1975, “Sex”
Having a song called “Sex” that isn’t rubbish is a feat on its own. To have it swagger and sway with such beauty, as this Manchester band does, is another thing altogether.
Laura Mvula, “She”
Every once in a while, a voice comes from out of nowhere and knocks you for six. This is it. Turn it up—and be amazed.