Track Of The Day: ARXX – ‘Couldn’t Help Myself’

Following acclaim from the likes of Diva Magazine, John Kennedy, BBC Radio 1’s Jack Saunders and BBC 6Music’s Steve Lamacq for previous singles such as ‘Deep’ and ‘Not Alone But Not With You’, Brighton’s ARXX have cemented themselves as firm favourites with the release of their brand new single.

A swirling slice of honey-sweet pop, ‘Couldn’t Help Myself’ is a positive reflection on the freedom that can come from a break-up. Complete with the fizzing energy and empowering, gritty drive that we’ve come to know and love from the duo, a colossal anthemic musicality builds alongside the sassy allure of Hanni’s vocals, oozing a danceable, joyous vivacity as colourfully catchy hooks flow.

An immaculately produced pure pop banger, ‘Couldn’t Help Myself’ once again showcases ARXX as a band consistently honing and developing their sound to create the freshest, most addictive of tunes. Impossible to pigeonhole into one genre, ARXX continue to impress us with everything they do and remain one of the most exciting bands I’ve ever come across.

Of the track, Hanni explains:

‘Couldn’t help Myself’ is a brutally candid reflection of a relationship gone wrong.  The exclamation of  “It’s not me, it’s you” epitomises the joyful fuck you spirit of the song.  This song is for; those times when break ups are a good thing,  forgiving yourself and getting rid of toxic relationships and for unashamedly just having fun.”

‘Couldn’t Help Myself’ is co-produced by Black Honey’s Chris Ostler and Tommy Taylor, with mastering from Katie Tavini. ARXX are releasing this single through Share It Music, raising money for Gendered Intelligence.

We can’t wait to catch this new single live when ARXX headline our night at Shacklewell Arms on 22nd July, alongside Lusa Morena and an incredibly exciting (currently secret) main support! Tickets here.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Photo Credit: Rosie Powell

LISTEN: Sophia – ‘Strong For Two’

Strong For Two‘, the latest offering from Rotterdam based singer songwriter Sophia, is a reflective track which popped just the right spring in my step as I took my first strides into 2022. 

With lyrics like “Please don’t be afraid / I get lonely too / there’s no need for shame / you can own your truth”, Sophia shows herself to be he a strong lyricist with an observational and bravely personal outlook. Frequently inviting us to embrace our vulnerability, line by line, Sophia cultivates such a bond with her listener that each verse comes to feel like the warming layers of a good hug.

Complementing the lyrics is a neat and upbeat sauntering rhythm which hints at the R’n’B influences on Sophia’s work. Her ability to vocally switch tempo and tone throughout the song also makes the track feel like a journey, like I’m being taken by the hand into the middle of the dance floor – or maybe just the middle of myself. The song closes with the appearance of several new voices speaking the reaffirming words “You know where to find me”. This surprising touch adds an exciting female flourish to the song which offers a genuine sense that we really are all in this together: a track for the New Year truly. 

Tutku Barbaros
@tutkubarbaros

EP: Billie Flynn – ‘Hey Stranger’

I’ve taken a while to find the words for Billie Flynn’s debut EP Hey Stranger, a heartfelt meditation on grief. Each listen has highlighted something new and different, evoked more and more feelings; gorgeous, but increasingly hard to describe in words. It’s a thing of feeling. It feels like memories whispered on a cliff edge and the wind carrying parts of you away. It feels like the moments of stillness after the soil’s been turned. It’s incredibly honest and it  demonstrates Flynn’s infinite potential – her lyrics speaking truth to grief, while fitting comfortably into the cosy featherlight and luxuriously breathy cocoon of her voice box. 

The quality of production is consistently immersive – heady and cinematic, each song getting the best out of synths, pianos and Flynn’s unique tone. I’ve written about and adored previously released tracks already, but the latest ‘Forever Goodbye’ shows Billie’s artistry at a whole other level, it surpasses expectations. I held my breath as I listened. It’s about a loss which occurred during Billie’s teenage years and is utterly stunning in a very special, incisive and relatable way. Lyrics such as  “there’s a look in the eye of a friend when they mention your name, like they’re reminding me of pain, like I’d ever let it go” get to the core of what it is to live with loss in the presence of others. The trepidation, the repetition, the changing pace of the world outside as something privately sinks into your soul, and the never ending cycles. For an EP to so unambiguously be about the life changing power of loss without being in any way maudlin, is truly magical. 

There’s hope and transformation woven in  too. ‘The Good Girl’ beautifully explores the personal journeys our pain can inform as Flynn sings about shedding people-pleasing tendencies, pushing boundaries and growing into someone different. What does it mean to be authentic? What does it mean to reject expectations? What are those moments in life when we feel ourselves truly step into our own power? These are the questions ‘The Good Girl’ provokes. 

The emotional energy of Hey Stranger might not neatly blend with the sugar coated Christmas tunes we’re hearing blasted around us, but there’s no doubt that the moment for this EP is now. In a period where so much and so many are being grieved, this body of music is timely and refreshingly close to home.

Tutku Barbaros
@tutkubarbaros

FIRST LISTEN: CRISP&CLASSY – ‘XTRA CRISPY’

Feminist LGBTQIA+ electro-pop duo CRISP&CLASSY (aka producer Kat Knix and singer-songwriter Plushy) pride themselves on bringing sexual liberation and self-acceptance to the UK pop scene. Now, having captured our attention earlier this year with vibrant singles, ‘Basic’ and ‘Boom Bay’, and with acclaim from the likes of BBC 6Music’s Tom Robinson, they’re excited to be releasing their debut album, XTRA CRISPY.

Fusing together an eclectic palette of genres to create something wonderfully uplifting, the collection interweaves funk-fuelled Raggeton beats and synth-driven soundscapes, as sensuous vocals offer an empowering lyricism. So, put on XTRA CRISPY, turn it up, and lose yourself in its blissful, sassy splendour and sparkling, soulful drive.

To celebrate the album’s release, Kat and Plushy have written a few words about what to expect from XTRA CRISPY…

Wanting to release an album with a selection of our best songs has always been a hot burning wish of ours, ever since CRISP&CLASSY came out of our womb. It’s been a big dream to create a body of work that was conceptual and had a sexually liberating message. Alongside our single ‘Boom Bay’, our new album carries seven more tracks that will tickle your senses and make you feel thirsty for more! 

The XTRA CRISPY album is here to celebrate duality and the battle between being sassy or emotional, being punk or pop, being sexy or needy. This album is a gender and genre bending experience. 

With a delicious mix between New York House synths, Reggaeton beats and sassy bass lines, C&C is serving you Fried Futuristic Electric guitars and Luxury Alien Spit in a glass by the beach! XTRA CRISPY takes the sexiness of Kali Uchis and Blood Orange, and pours it over the nerve of Mykki Blanco, Peaches and Prince.

This album is a combination of coping with the pandemic through creativity and tunes that we have been baking in the oven for over four years. Above staying true to the CRISP&CLASSY sound, we wanted to talk about the things that we were going through on a personal level. 

Having a lot of time on his hands, Plushy would be on dating apps like Grindr a lot during lockdown… Therefore, tracks like ‘My Nudes!’ talk about different obscure dating apps related experiences and are here to make you dance, but also encourage you to claim and own your virtual property and your sexuality, alongside tracks like ‘Thursty’. Kat Knix, on the other hand, missed being ‘skin to skin’ with someone and the hope of it leading to something more… So, ‘Spoon’ was born simply out of sexual frustration, along with Kat’s lack of romance and cuddles.

We also love writing about taking charge of your own sexuality; celebrating your sex drive by bringing equality and body positivity to bed with your lover. ‘SML4U’ expresses the frustration of a younger Kat feeling the pressure to shave before sex, in fear of being rejected for being ‘too hairy’ and not ‘feminine enough’.

We also love collaborating with fellow creatives and are lucky to have some special guests on the album. The incredible Jadeya is doing us the honour by embellishing ‘Thursty’ with her demanding and honest lyrics. Her bars are incredible and they add that juicy flavour we’ve always wanted to have on our songs. MEMA. is another talented guest on the album, who is also an incredible guitarist. We owe her a lot for joining us in developing the XTRA CRISPY sound. You can hear MEMA.’s electric guitar riffs on tracks like ‘Infatuated’ and ‘Spoon’. MEMA. helped us achieve that nostalgic and slightly cinematic ’90s sound we’ve always wanted to incorporate in our music.

We hope that XTRA CRISPY will uplift the listener to stand their ground and unapologetically be themselves EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK! Escape with us to the CRISP&CLASSY World; a safe haven, where you can be yourself and let your hair down. It’s always summer in the C&C World and here we always have a reason to celebrate ourselves and party hard. Once you’re in, you’ll never want to leave.

Massive thanks to Kat and Plushy for talking to us about XTRA CRISPY! Listen to the full album, for the first time, here:

To celebrate the release of XTRA CRISPY, CRISP&CLASSY will be playing a special launch gig at The Waiting Room next Tuesday 19th October. Tickets available here.