A particularly exciting Top 30 chart this week, with lots of movement and a ton of new music. The Killers keep a firm grip on the #1 spot for a second week with their hopeful anthem “boy”, and Death Cab for Cutie‘s “Here to Forever” advances to #2. “Bad Habit” by Steve Lacy moves up two spots to #4, and Beach Weather‘s dreamy “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” jumps five spots to #5. Entering the top 10 are “Please Write Responsibly” by Granfalloon, from his wonderful album Calendar, which I just reviewed, and “My Babe” by Spoon, leaping 10 spots to #10, the highest upward mover for the second week. God, I love Spoon, and love that song!
A whopping six new songs enter my chart this week, more than I can remember in a very long time, and interestingly, four are by British acts. Beginning at #25, they are in order: “These Are the Days” by Irish band Inhaler, fronted by Elijah Hewson, the heartthrob son of U2 front man Bono Hewson; “The Echo” by immensely talented British singer-songwriter A.A. Williams, a hauntingly beautiful song I was alerted to by fellow blogger Robert Horvat (Rearview Mirror); “Spit of You” by British singer-songwriter Sam Fender (the guitars are absolutely gorgeous); the achingly beautiful “White Horses” by British singer-songwriter Art Block, who’s similarly-titled EP I reviewed last month; “Crest of the Wave” by British band Foals, one of my current top 10 favorite bands who can do no wrong when it comes to music; and “I Like You (A Happier Song)” by Post Malone & Doja Cat, currently at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. I’ve had several songs by the great Post Malone on my chart, but this is the first appearance for Doja Cat.
BOY – The Killers (1)
HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab for Cutie (3)
SUPERMODEL – Måneskin (2)
BAD HABIT – Steve Lacy (6)
SEX, DRUGS, ETC. – Beach Weather (10)
BONES – Imagine Dragons (5)
TEK IT – Cafuné (8)
BROKEN RECORD – NAVE (4)
PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon (11)
MY BABE – Spoon (20)
PART OF THE BAND – The 1975 (12)
UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez (7)
VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco (9)
CRACKER ISLAND – Gorillaz featuring Thundercat (18)
FREE – Florence + the Machine (17)
FAILURE TO COMPLY – MISSIO (14)
SOMETHING LOUD – Jimmy Eat World (19)
BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé (13)
GIANTS – WALK THE MOON (21)
PARTY4ONE – dwi (22)
WHAT’S THE TRICK? – Jack White (15)
SISTERS – pMad (26)
BITTER – Wild Horse (27)
WET DREAM – Wet Leg (30)
THESE ARE THE DAYS – Inhaler (N)
THE ECHO – A.A. Williams (N)
SPIT OF YOU – Sam Fender (N)
WHITE HORSES – Art Block (N)
CREST OF THE WAVE – Foals (N)
I LIKE YOU (A HAPPIER SONG) – Post Malone & Doja Cat (N)
I’m happy that The Killers are still together and making music more than 20 years after their formation, and their latest single, the beautiful, uplifting anthem “boy”, takes over the #1 spot on this week’s Top 30. About the song, band front man and vocalist Brandon Flowers said: “This was the first song written after we had to cancel the ‘Imploding The Mirage’ tour due to the pandemic. I had recently moved back to Utah and started to make trips to Nephi, where I grew up. I found that the place I had wanted to get away from so desperately at 16 was now a place that I couldn’t stop returning to. I have a son approaching the age I was at that time in my life. With ‘boy’, I want to reach out and tell myself – and my sons – to not overthink it. And to look for the ‘white arrows’ in their lives. For me now, white arrows are my wife, children, my songs and the stage.”
In other chart developments, Måneskin‘s “Supermodel” inches up a notch to #2, while Death Cab for Cutie‘s “Here to Forever” moves up three spots to #3. I can’t get enough of Beach Weather‘s “Sex, Drugs, Etc.”, which enters the top 10 at #10. The biggest upward mover is “My Babe” by Spoon, jumping seven spots to #20. And the lone debut this week is the delightfully delicious “Wet Dream” by quirky English duo Wet Leg. I couldn’t stand “Chaise Longue” but really like “Wet Dream” a lot.
BOY – The Killers (2)
SUPERMODEL – Måneskin (3)
HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab for Cutie (6)
BROKEN RECORD – NAVE (1)
BONES – Imagine Dragons (7)
BAD HABIT – Steve Lacy (10)
UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez (4)
TEK IT – Cafuné (9)
VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco (5)
SEX, DRUGS, ETC. – Beach Weather (14)
PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon (12)
PART OF THE BAND – The 1975 (13)
BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé (8)
FAILURE TO COMPLY – MISSIO (11)
WHAT’S THE TRICK? – Jack White (15)
SEASICK – The Rare Occasions (18)
FREE – Florence + the Machine (21)
CRACKER ISLAND – Gorillaz featuring Thundercat (22)
There are a ton of really outstanding songs out now, and I have to say that, having grown up during the 60s and 70s – which many consider to be the greatest years for music – I honestly never imagined I would still enjoy hearing new music at my advanced age in the year 2022. It keeps me hopeful about the future of music! Now, let’s get to the highlights of this week’s Top 30 chart. I love every song on this list, and wish I could place them all in the top 5. The haunting and topical “Broken Record” by British artist NAVE spends a second week at #1. The Killers‘ inspiring anthem “boy” closes in at #2, while Måneskin‘s “Supermodel” holds at #3 for a third week.
Entering the top 10 are “Here to Forever” by the ever brilliant Death Cab For Cutie, climbing five spots to #6, and “Bad Habit” by Steve Lacy, leaping eight spots to #10. British artist Granfalloon‘s delightful “Please Write Responsibly” and The 1975‘s enthralling “Part Of The Band” both climb four spots to #12 and #13, respectively. And Beach Weather continues their rapid ascent up my chart with their marvelous “Sex, Drugs, Etc.”, climbing seven spots to #14. Three songs make their debut this week: “My Babe” by Spoon, entering at #27, “Sisters” by Irish artist pMad, entering at #29, and “Bitter” by British trio Wild Horse, bringing up the rear at #30.
BROKEN RECORD – NAVE (1)
BOY – The Killers (4)
SUPERMODEL – Måneskin (3)
UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez (2)
VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco (6)
HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab for Cutie (11)
BONES – Imagine Dragons (7)
BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé (8)
TEK IT – Cafuné (10)
BAD HABIT – Steve Lacy (18)
FAILURE TO COMPLY – MISSIO (5)
PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon (16)
PART OF THE BAND – The 1975 (17)
SEX, DRUGS, ETC. – Beach Weather (21)
WHAT’S THE TRICK? – Jack White (15)
CLOSER – The Frontier (9) 19th week on chart
SIDELINES – Phoebe Bridgers (14)
SEASICK – The Rare Occasions (19)
MISTAKES – Sharon Van Etten (13)
LEMON TREE – Mt. Joy (12)
FREE – Florence + the Machine (22)
CRACKER ISLAND – Gorillaz featuring Thundercat (23)
Hailing from East Sussex, England is the talented and charismatic young pop-rock band Wild Horse, consisting of brothers Henry and Jack Baldwin and long-time friend Ed Barnes. Now in their early 20s, the guys are seasoned musicians who’ve been writing and recording songs since forming in 2013, when they were barely teenagers. Both Henry and Jack are multi-instrumentalists who play guitar, bass and keyboards, as well as sing vocals, while Ed plays drums and percussion, sings backing vocals and plays guitar on a few tracks. The Baldwin brothers are also prolific songwriters who’ve penned hundreds of songs over the years, with five albums, three EPs and numerous singles to their credit. I’ve been following them on social media for nearly five years, and have reviewed two of their albums, DANCE!! Like An Animal in 2019, and When the Pool Is Occupied this past December, which you can read here.
Always keeping busy and productive, Wild Horse has recorded a number of new singles which they plan on releasing this year, starting with “Joy Ride” this past June. They now follow up with a second single “Bitter“, which drops today. The song explores the emotional minefield of casual romantic relationships, in which one partner desires a ‘no strings’ arrangement with the freedom to see other people, leaving the other partner feeling dissatisfied, insecure and generally unhappy.
I really like the song’s breezy, guitar-driven melody, which nicely contrasts with the poignant, rather ‘bitter’ lyrics. As always, the guitar work is first-rate, accompanied by a lively rhythm section that keeps the toe-tapping groove going, while allowing the guitars and vocals to shine. Jack’s endearing, heartfelt vocals sound better than ever here, and we feel his sad resignation as he plaintively laments “A little bit of feeling’s what I need. And just a little bit of pleasure’s all you want. And now I’m stuck here in the middle, playing games. I really thought we could have talked this out by now. I’m just a little bitter.”
“Bitter” is a wonderful track, nicely showcasing Wild Horse’s continuing growth and maturity as a band.
I’ve commented more times than I can remember on this blog about the staggering amount of musical talent that continues to emanate from the United Kingdom. One of the many British acts I’ve been following for more than four years is the charismatic young rock band Wild Horse. Based in Heathfield, East Sussex, the talented trio consists of brothers Henry and Jack Baldwin, and their long-time friend Ed Barnes. Now in their early 20s, the guys are already seasoned musicians who’ve been writing and recording songs since forming in 2013 when they were barely teenagers. Both Henry and Jack are multi-instrumentalists who play guitar, bass and keyboards, as well as sing vocals, while Ed plays drums and percussion, sings backing vocals and plays guitar on a few tracks.
While presenting a fun, lighthearted image with their high-energy and eclectic punk-infused style of blues rock, the guys take their music very seriously. Their dedication and drive, fortified with thoughtful lyricism, ace musicianship and a mature approach towards the music business, have taken them far and brought them both critical acclaim and a loyal and growing fan base. The Baldwin brothers are also prolific songwriters who’ve penned hundreds of songs over the years, and now have five albums to their credit.
Their debut album It’s Begun, featuring songs recorded when their average age was only 14, was released in January 2016 by a New York-based record label they were signed with at the time. (Henry sang lead vocals on that album, where he sounded alarmingly like a young Mick Jagger.) Working independently since 2017, the guys subsequently released three EPs from late 2017 to early 2018, then followed that June with their second album Songs About Last Night. They’ve continued to drop a new album every year since then. In April 2019, they released their third album DANCE!! Like An Animal, which I reviewed, then followed up in July 2020 with their fourth album WE ARE IN AN IDENTITY CRISES…BUT WE LOVE IT, featuring 16 tracks. Now they’re back with their fifth album When The Pool Is Occupied, which dropped November 18th. Their most ambitious work yet, the album contains a whopping 18 tracks!
Before I get to my review, I want to include a few thoughts about the album the guys shared in an interview for Brighton and Hove webzine BN1. “The album name ‘When the Pool is Occupied’ is actually a metaphor for self-love. We realised that this was the theme of the album quite late into the making of it. When we started writing the album, we were not in the best place personally, with lockdown giving us anxieties about the future and the direction we were going in our lives. As we neared the end of making the album we were in a much better place, as the whole process actually taught us a lot about ourselves, and we decided to make it our most honest record. So the album has become a musical imprint of our journey to self-love and happiness, which we hope everyone who listens will be able to relate to!
This album is definitely more mellow and that is down to a few things. Firstly, we didn’t want to be perceived as just a rock band anymore, and wanted to push the boundaries as much as we possibly could. We wanted our first record back after covid to be one that would make people dance, hence the strong disco and 80’s influence. Also, we took a new approach to writing and creating music in not only taking the reins on production, but also because Jack (our main songwriter) taught himself piano over lockdown and began writing songs on [piano], which gave us a whole new feel. From there, synths became a much more integral part of our sound, and we became really obsessed with creating an atmosphere in our music. Our previous albums were all recorded quite quickly, whereas this one took us over a year. The main difference is that every single tiny note and lyric on this album had so much thought put into it, which is why we’re so proud of it.”
Well, let me say that Wild Horse has created a near-epic album running just over an hour in length, and featuring 18 wonderful tracks that span across genres from rousing post-punk bangers to angst-filled piano ballads to bouncy dance-pop gems. The songs explore issues related to growing up in the modern world, relationships, struggles with addiction and mental health, and the long journey towards self-acceptance and self-love.
Opening track “Happy Love Songs” is a short and bittersweet piano-driven tune that sets the tone for the album. In his quirky endearing vocals, Jack plaintively laments “Why are there never happy love songs anymore? It takes two to fall in love, but it only takes one to fall apart. And then there’s never.” The song immediately segues into “Freaky Together“, a catchy, lighthearted earworm celebrating the liberating freedom of a no-strings-attached approach to relationships and life (ah, the joys of youth). The guys layer jangly guitars and woozy synths over a delightfully funky bassline and thumping drumbeats to create a fun and sexy dance beat that aims straight for the hips. Jack croons “Baby, I know that you could never need me. But come on let’s get down and dirty. Oh yeah, Oh, give it to me.” The sweet video nicely showcases the guys’ youthful charm and charisma.
The guys keep the lively vibes going with the delectable “Pornstar Martini“, an irresistibly bouncy mashup of punk, disco and funk, then later slow things down with “Coffee In The Morning“, the first of several romantic piano ballads. Jack’s heartfelt vocals are raspy and vulnerable as he sings of his ardor and desire to a potential romantic partner: “I’m sitting in my dirty University room. Haven’t slept for days now. And I was hoping that you could come around and stay, for 17 days.” But once they’ve become a couple, cracks appear in their relationship, which are explored on the lovely but bittersweet “Feel“: “I wanna talk to you about last night. You know I hate it how we always fight. But if you saw the world through my eyes, then you would understand about the way I feel.” And on “Symphony of Broken Hearts“, Jack sings of the pain he’s feeling over a broken relationship: “You said forever, and then you couldn’t stay. You said forever, until you walked away. And now I’m lying on my own, feeling sorry for myself.“
One of my favorites on the album is “Anxiety“, a joyful, upbeat song about the emotional roller-coaster ride we willingly take when attraction for another hits us like a ton of bricks, rendering us helpless in the throes of passionate longing. I love the exuberant synths, funky dance grooves and the guys’ beautiful vocal harmonies. Jack’s plaintive vocals sing of emotions we’ve all felt at some point in our lives, fearful we’ll make a fool of ourselves: “Petrified by the things you say (petrified). I only met you yesterday (yesterday). But really I’m fine. I’m just going with the groove. Only been preparing for like 24 hours through.”
Another favorite is the ebullient and sexy “Pray 89“, in which the guys sing the praises of a seemingly more innocent time (although those of us who were already adults in 1989 know it really wasn’t) and the freedom of living a life where self-love without emotional attachments is prioritized, but with an appreciation of the beauty in other people. The lyrics include the album’s title: “You bring the fire and sexy eyes. I bring the smoke to stay alight. When we go party we’ll do it right, like we belong in ‘89.Dance on the table to New Order’s new song. And we’ll be feeling alright when the pool is occupied.”
The guys’ willingness to venture out of their musical comfort zone is exemplified by the bluesy hip hop track “Confidence“, on which Henry’s backing vocals are more prominent. On the poignant “Just About Enough”, they turn tinkling piano keys into a true percussive instrument as they combine them with assertive strummed guitar notes and pounding drumbeats to become a powerful driving force, before finishing things off with gorgeous bluesy guitars, accompanied by Jack’s fervent vocals. And on “OneNight Robbery“, Jack does a decent job rapping some of the verses letting a former girlfriend know he doesn’t appreciate how she used him and only wanted his money after all the nice things he did for her.
Hands down the most charming track on the album is “Record Collection“, a delightful pop-rock song with a retro 60s power pop vibe. The sweet lyrics speak of connecting with someone you meet on a night out and taking them home, not because you want to have sex with them, but because you like their taste in music and want to share your record collection with them: “I don’t wanna be your lover. I just wanna show you my record collection. I don’t wanna get under the covers. I just wanna know if you like Mott the Hoople. I don’t wanna touch your hand. Just tell me your favourite band. Oh, the only thing I’m turning on is the record player.” I love the jangly guitars on this song.
“Kelsie” is a shining example of how a kiss-off song can still sound sweet. “Kelsie, you’re much happier on Twitter. But you want me back on tinder. And I just laugh and smile ‘cause I’m finally over you. Have you noticed I don’t care what you do? When you tell me you’re getting drinks bought for you. Shit, me too.” The track has a mellow, head-bopping melody with subtle hip hop elements, making for a really pleasing tune. The guys close the album on a positive note with “Thank You (It’s Gonna Be Alright)“, a minute-long piece with a church-like organ riff accompanied by Jack’s echoed vocal repeating the words “It’s gonna be alright“, followed by “The pool is occupied.” As the music abruptly ends, he says “And that was the album, thank you very much. Woo!”
Woo indeed! What a fun, delightful and brilliant album this is! With WhenThe Pool is Occupied, Wild Horse pushed themselves into expanding their songwriting and sound in the hopes of making their most honest record yet, and I think they’ve succeeded quite nicely. It showcases their continued growth and maturity as songwriters and musicians, while their sense of humor and playfulness remains fully intact.
Today I’m pleased to present the exciting young British rock band Wild Horse. Formed in 2013 while in their early teens, the talented Heathfield, East Sussex trio consists of brothers Henry and Jack Baldwin (both of whom play guitar and sing vocals), and their school friend Ed “Barking” Barnes on drums. While presenting a fun, lighthearted image with their high-energy, punk-infused style of blues rock, the guys take their music seriously with dedication, thoughtful lyricism, and a mature approach towards the music business.
Wild Horse quickly began earning recognition, first being nominated for the “Rock the House” competition in 2014, then later becoming finalists in 2016. The Baldwin brothers are also prolific songwriters, and in 2015 the band signed with a New York record company who released some of their original tracks on mixed EPs, leading to the release of their first album It’s Begun in January 2016. Now working independently, they recorded and released three EPs between late 2017 and early 2018 containing a total of 16 tracks. They followed up in June 2018 with their second album Songs About Last Night, and this past April (2019) dropped their third album DANCE!! Like An Animal – is that a great album title or what!
The album addresses themes related to transitioning from horny, angst-ridden teenagers to the sobering realities of adulthood. It was recorded at Cobham Sound Studios, and produced, mixed and mastered by Niall Squire. Stephen Baldwin (Jack and Henry’s dad) played bass, Hilary Squire played saxophone and percussion, and along with Ella Squire, sang backing vocals.
DANCE!! Like An Animal begins with the abrupt sounds of Jack’s distinctive vocals accompanied by a pleasing little guitar riff as he sings the opening lyrics to “Blame“. His unusual vocal style is hard to describe, but has an endearing quirkiness as he plaintively croons in his strong British accent: “Sometimes I feel like I’m on my own. Wandering around with a gun in my hand. I swear if it happens again I’ll start a band, and I’ll write a song about all of my troubles and what’s going on in my other life. The one you haven’t seen.” After the line “Don’t want you to feel as fucked up as I do“, the music ramps up with a volley of shredded guitars and raging percussion, and I’m now hooked on the guys’ exuberant punk rock grooves that set a joyful tone for the album.
They next launch into “Frustrations“, a rousing banger about sexual tension. This time Henry sings lead, channeling equal measures of Michael Hutchence and a young Mick Jagger both in sound and swagger as he seductively teases “Can’t you see I’m into you. I suppose you’re into me. Can’t you see it’s got to be. Frustrations taking over us. Dance like an animal. Dance like an animal for me!” Jack provides his charming backing vocals that contrast nicely with Henry’s as they both let loose with some tasty riffs while Ed hammers out the sexy beat. I really dig this song.
Those sexual tensions reach the breaking point on the provocative “LISTEN! Stop Messing Around“, where Jack laments about how his sexual desires continue to go unmet by an unhappy set of circumstances: “I wanna take you out but I’ve got no money to spend. So let me take you closer, closer to my bed./ That time you nearly gave me head. Oh I was feeling blessed. Then your phone started to ring. You walked out the door and you left me wanting more./ Got fucking on my mind but it never ends that way. Oh girl can’t you see what it’s doing to me. I can barely stand up and I’m begging for you please.” The song has an infectious bouncy melody with some fine gnarly riffs.
The guys touch on the perils of excessive drinking and how it wastes both time and brain cells on “9:10“. Jack moans of his inability to stop, despite his best intentions: “And I swear to god I’ll stop at ten past nine. But another brings me wine. And all I see are blurred visions of the night, and stories about how I totally died.” “Why Do We Pretend?” speaks to the coming of age experience of discovering that perhaps a relationship you thought was great is just not meant to be. “Maybe I was wrong. Maybe we don’t get along. And we say it will all work out in the end. But we know it’s wrong. And when you don’t answer your phone, and I’ve just had enough of you. And I’m sure you have too.” The guys’ bluesy guitars, combined with Hilary Squire’s soulful saxophone and her and Ella Squire’s impassioned backing vocals, make this one of the standout tracks.
The guys keep the punk grooves rolling with “Hypnotise“, a fun, upbeat track that has Henry singing about being under the spell of a girl. But they then take a more serious turn on “The Kids Are on Drugs“, one of my favorite tracks on the album. The song starts off with Henry singing in a somber voice, accompanied by a simple strummed guitar: “The kids are all on drugs just to keep them sane. Oh the kids are all in pain, and they want to escape. But they can’t, because the world won’t let them.” The music suddenly erupts into a frantic punk song with raging guitars and furious drumbeats as the guys rail about the myriad anxieties facing today’s youth. I especially like these pointed lyrics about the toxic need for acceptance and validation on social media that I can relate to: “Lying on the street on a tab of ecstasy ’cause you only got 74 likes on your Instagram./ Social media makes them sad.”
Things lighten back up on “Seduction“, a sexy tune about the power of erotic attraction. I love the spicy little flourish of Latin guitar at the beginning, as well as the great piano keys and sultry bass line. Hilary’s soulful sax makes a welcome reappearance in the chorus. “(Can’t Believe How Much) The Night Has Changed You” is a song to a friend who remains unsettled and unable to connect with their true self: “I would say I wanna be you. But privately everyone is blue. So I’ll settle down. Settle down with who I am. And you should settle down with you.” The track has a lively, bass-driven beat with fantastic guitar work and Ed’s impeccable drumming. Henry’s vocals really sound like Mick Jagger on this track, and despite the huge contrast in their singing voices, he & Jack harmonize quite nicely.
“Impossible Words” is a bluesy number with a Country-rock vibe, courtesy of some marvelous twangy guitars and harmonica. The tongue-in-cheek song seems to wrap up the album, not only literally but figuratively, by pulling in some of the titles of other songs: “I have frustrations, and you’re the one to blame. All you do is hypnotise me baby, at ten past nine./ Why do we pretend? Cause I can’t believe how much the night has changed you.” I love it! Following this track are three ‘clean’ radio edit versions of “Blame”, “LISTEN! Stop Messing Around” and “The Kids Are on Drugs”.
DANCE!! Like An Animal is a wonderful album that I enjoy more with each listen. Henry, Jack and Ed are immensely talented songwriters and musicians, and with an already impressive catalog of music to their credit, I’m confident they will only continue to grow as artists. They’re currently in the process of writing and recording new music for another album, and I can’t wait to hear it!