2017 was a strong year for R&B/pop. It feels like a new artist pops up every day, but these ones caught my ear and made me listen over and over. From groovy beats, saucy lyrics, and hypnotic basslines, I am HOOKED on R&B. Here are some of my favorite artists/songs from 2017.
At just 24-years-old, Cautious Clay has laid out his territory for music lovers everywhere to hear. His production is high, while the aesthetic is enlightening beyond belief. His first single, “Cold War” has complex yet enticing lyrics. Josh gently sings, “Yellow tinted lenses and a pink gelato, fallin’ out the window, hit me back tomorrow.” With a voice reminiscent of a young Frank Ocean, Clay is one to watch making fans instantly attached.
Since its release, “Cold War” has nearly 700k streams on Spotify. It’s also received attention from numerous playlists including Pop Chillout, Fresh Finds, Weekly Buzz, Alternative R&B and more. Indie Shuffle says, “This is about as close to an angel as you’ll hear in the modern context.” AGREED.
Josh plays several instruments including, flute, sax, keys, bass, guitar, and drums, as you can hear on his latest single, “Joshua Tree.” He opened up to Pigeons and Planes about the meaning behind the song; “‘I don’t wanna be loved’ in the chorus is how I feel trying to have personal goals in life while also loving someone; feels really hard to do both. I am Joshua so a ‘Joshua Tree’ is like my growth in life so the song is exemplifying me.” The heavy chorus makes you feel other worldly, religious, and somewhat saved. A sound so modern and refined it makes you wonder where it’s been all this time.
Ashe is currently opening for EDM/Pop wonderboy Whethan on his fall tour. From the minute she sets barefoot on the stage, she makes it her own. With Blake Lively blonde long locks and a friendly smile, this California native is a ray of sunshine, head to toe.
Keyboard, drums, and backing beats help shape her sound on stage to something much higher and elevated. Ashe’s voice is what really drew me in. I was amazed at the amount of grit and power behind her otherwise Tinkerbell-like gorgeous vocals. She fits into pop music like a warm mitten on a cold hand in the middle of December.
The 24-year-old’s first solo single, “Used To It” has over 1,000,000 plays on Spotify and is growing more popular as she continues to perform it on tour. A cute song that features a slight hint of the dance/pop sound we’ve heard from her on other feature tracks like the recent “Right To It” with Louis the Child and Whethan’s “Can’t Hide”. I chatted with the singer about her musical beginnings and insanely bright future.
When did you first start playing music?
“Oh, I don’t know. Music sorta found me. I’ve been playing piano since 8 or so I think, singing and writing for as long as I can remember. I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston for writing and production, learning to write for big bands and orchestras. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to “be” in music, I just knew it was the only thing I wanted to do with my life, I wanted to be surrounded by it and drowning in it always.”
You’re featured on several collaborations, how do those happen for you?
“As far as collaborations go, it’s always pretty organic and happens in different ways. Whethan and the guys from Louis the Child have been friends for a while now and it seemed like collaborations were kind of inevitable because we were making music together a bunch.”
What does your solo career look like from here?
“Well, the next single from my album is coming out Nov 10! Called “Girl Who Cried Wolf”, and I’m sooo excited. I’m working on a full album and will be finishing it up when I have time off tour.”
What song do you love playing the most live? and what’s your favorite part about being on tour?
“My favorite song to play live is an unreleased song from the album called “Sometimes People Suck.” My favorite part about being on tour is getting to meet so many new people. Music is such a beautiful thing and I love watching how it brings total strangers together while I’m on stage. 💛”
Nos·tal·gia: a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.
“What do you need? Anything? You guys feelin good?” lead singer John O’Callaghan says sweetly to the boisterous crowd in front of him and the other four members of The Maine. A pop punk band from Arizona on their latest tour titled Modern Nostalgia. The band consciously decided that this tour would be different than previous tours; both of their latest albums Lovely Little Lonely and American Candy will be played back to back in full. Both show off the musicality still left in this band, from stretched out guitar synths to their classic pop/punk sound, and even a couple acoustic gems. Nostalgia seems to fit this bill. Nostalgic for love and everything that surrounds it seems to be the message.
A stage lined with a striped curtain reminiscent of a candy wrapper set the mood for the night; playful, sweet, and beautiful. Plush red rugs sat on the floor of the stage as the men (all in crisp white suits – which later turned to powder blue signifying a shift in the set) rocked out to some of their greatest music (in my opinion).
Songs like, “Lost In Nostalgia,” “American Candy,” and “How Do You Feel” felt even more electric live than they do when listened to through headphones. Zipped and tied up in suits didn’t stop these guys from head banging and shredding guitar for close to two hours. O’Callaghan makes sure every fan feels welcomed and happy. He high fives the one brave soul who crowd surfed, and wished the girl in the front row a happy birthday while performing. The flirty singer walks around to each band member, slapping their butts, rubbing their hair and leaning on shoulders. It’s clear the group has formed quite the brotherhood over the past 10 years and John is the ringleader elevating every moment as much as possible.
Not only do they manage to make you sing along, but they put a smile on your face, and a little sanity in your head. Like O’Callaghan preaches near the end of the show; it’s okay to not be okay, look to the people next to you, everyone’s going through something, but tonight everyone is enjoying music.