ALBUM: Bishop Briggs – ‘Champion’

“I hope you like it. And if you don’t, please don’t tell me. I’m far too sensitive to hear that” jests Bishop Briggs about her single ‘Jekyl & Hide’, lifted from her sophomore album Champion. Whilst she’s speaking about a specific track, her sentiment is one that can easily be applied to her new record, which explores her strength and vulnerability as an artist, and as a woman, across ten vibrant tracks.

Her 2018 debut album, Church of Scars, was featured in the Top 10 on the Billboard Album Chart in the same year. Following up that success can be tricky, but Briggs has kept things simple on Champion, focusing on emotive lyrics and catchy beats to get her message of self-empowerment across.

The brief, confessional ‘I Still Love You’ acknowledges the fight between the heart and the head. Briggs’ struggle to let it go is explored through gentle piano sounds and slow atmospheric percussion. ‘Can You Hear Me Now?’ follows, with its buoyant beats and Briggs’ defiant vocals breaking through in the chorus. Briggs sets a solitary scene in the opening verse to eponymous track ‘Champion’ – “alone in my car / I’m in a parking lot” – but she offsets this with an empowering chorus of extended vocals and foot-stomping beats.

Disappointment and heartache permeate ‘Tattooed On My Heart’, as Briggs laments about a relationship full of fake promises and lacking in closure. It’s a relatable listen filled with more of her clear vocals, supported by a backing choir which makes the song an unexpectedly uplifting listen. The melancholy ‘Someone Else’ follows, with Briggs expressing a desire for space and solitude over tentative piano.

Co-written with K. Flay and produced by Joel Little, ‘Jekyll & Hide’ (incorrectly spelled for a reason) coins a new dating phrase – “Are you Jekyll & Hide-ing me?” – as a way to describe the chaotic feeling of dating someone who appears to be two-faced. It’s followed by the revealing ‘Lonely’, which flows in the same vulnerable vein as previous track ‘Someone Else’.

On ‘Wild’ Briggs finds solace in running full pelt in to the unknown, her voice races across layers of sharp beats and powerful backing vocals. The funky ‘My Shine’ spotlight’s Briggs’ breakthrough in the aftermath of a relationship that dimmed her light and dulled her confidence. ‘I Tried’ closes the record, a demo that documents the exhaustion and the relief of leaving behind someone who drained you of your energy and efforts.

Acknowledging the many ways in which a woman can be strong, even when tangled up in a bad romantic relationship seems to be Briggs forte. At times times repetitive, but always relatable; Champion is an uplifting record fueled by the desire to overcome the forces that hold us down.

Listen to Champion on Spotify below. Follow Bishop Briggs on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

FIVE FAVOURITES: CRONICLE

Swedish artist CRONICLE may have cut her teeth playing in punk-pop band Tantrum to Blind, but now she’s exploring her song-writing talent through the medium of brooding electronica. CRONICLE (aka Melanie Mohlkert) has shared three singles to date, with her most recent offering ‘Bruises’ focusing on the aftermath of a relationship.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a new artist is by asking them what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with CRONICLE to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you listen to her track ‘Bruises’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Taking Back Sunday – Where You Want To Be
Taking Back Sunday is the band I still call my favourite band of all time. It’s kind of funny actually, because the first time I heard one of their songs I was like “What the hell is this noise?” but I was 13 years old and my (really cool) cousin who’s just one year older than me was super into them, so I was intrigued.

Then diving into their music opened up a whole new world for me. I was already a big fan of bands like Nirvana, The Offspring, Millencolin and Good Charlotte, but these guys were just something else. Their angsty and raw vocals with intense, emotional lyrics that literally have no filter at all, backed with sick guitar riffs and energetic drums just made me FEEL so much. It was like an amplifier to your heart and soul at that age and to be honest, it still is. I love this band so much. I feel like their way of phrasing what you want to say in lyrics, their guitar riffs and emotion will always be one of the core pedestals in me as a songwriter. Being able to show how you can be hurt and vulnerable with your music but at the same time saying “f*ck you” is definitely something they taught me about, and I’m forever grateful for that.

2. Ellie Goulding – Halcyon Days
This album is f*cking incredible. I actually can’t remember when I came across it first, I think it might have been that I fell in love with Ellie’s song ‘Figure 8’ and after that, checked out the whole album and damn, I couldn’t stop listening to it. It definitely was my first proper introduction to the electronic pop world and those kind of soundscapes. I think there are parts of this album that are pretty similar to the whole emo alternative rock elements I’m so in love with. To be honest ‘Figure 8’ would make a sick emo rock song, but here the electric guitars are kind of replaced with heavy synthesisers instead. I think that’s what I fell for. I also love, love, love the vocal production, how her voice is often used as an instrument. Then there are these rough organic sounding instrumentals, mixed with amazing electronic sounds. Ellie has generally really inspired me and been a big role model as the badass female solo artist that she is. I’m not a huge fan of the direction she’s taken musically over the last few years, but she’ll always have place in my heart.

3. K.Flay – Life As A Dog
I think it was in 2014, when my band had split up and I started getting really into electronic music that some friends of mine sent me a link to K.Flay’s tunes. They had just been doing Warped Tour in the US and got to know her because she was playing the festival too. They were like “Mel you’re gonna LOVE this chick” and oh my, they were right. I was hooked by the first synth that hit my ears in ‘Make Me Fade’ and K.Flay’s amazing whisky voice, smart, full of attitude lyrics and awesome beats. There’s also some electric guitars and bass, cutting through the production here and there and it’s simply a mix of everything I love.

The fact that she’s this awesome smart rapper just makes her pretty much royalty to me. Her Majesty K.Flay – the Queen of everything. I was at her first ever London show when she supported Lights and nobody really knew who she was. I had brought some friends with me who really dug her too after my passionate introduction and we were in the back of the room, jumping and singing along to her set. Her manager caught our little private party in the crowd and had to come up and ask how we knew about her. Then the craziest thing of this story here is that I actually got to support her when she had her first headline show in London and that was my first ever Cronicle show!

4. Twenty One Pilots – Blurry Face
I remember seeing ads on YouTube for their music videos and I thought to myself that there was just something really cool and real about them. After checking out the album I was a fan for life. I feel like I’ve always been really drawn to artists who are genuine and speak the truth in their music and these guys definitely do that. They also know how to write BANGERS. This is my “pick me up” album. It’s the one that I turn on loud as f*ck in the morning to get me going, to get my mood right for the day. I also love driving (read speeding) and skating to it. They are incredible musicians, performers and Tyler’s lyrics are just something else.

I will forever regret that I missed Reading Festival a couple of years ago when they played it. I was sat home behind my laptop watching their set online and even just through the 13” screen their show was absolutely mind-blowing. I also really respect how much hard work they’ve put into their career in terms of playing shows, touring so much of the world before they “made it”. They’re the real deal and I’m stoked to see how huge they are today, it gives hope to someone like me.

5. Lana Del Rey – Born To Die
What can I say, how can you not love this album? Lana is an incredible songwriter and she really knows how to drag you into her world and turn you into an addict. This album is the soundtrack to my summers spent broken hearted and lost. It made them more beautiful somehow. I’m so captivated by her voice and lyrics and again, the production is a mix of organic instruments and electronic elements – my favourite thing. Lana is sharing sadness and pain in a proud way and there’s just something so empowering about that. I feel proud to be a woman with a broken heart not afraid to share my deepest pain because of her.

Thanks to Melanie for sharing her favourites with us!Follow CRONICLE on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut