Author Archives: Clayton Warwick

[17 To End 2017] Ninja Clayton’s Best of the Year

A friend in the music industry told me a few years ago about a study that shows changes in musical tastes as you grow older. There comes a certain point where you shift the weight of your interest from discovering new music to revisiting music that meant something to you at different points in your life.

This year was that year for me. I don’t think I’ll ever go full-blown “you kids don’t understand good music” mode, but I did spend a good portion of my year looking back, rather than forward. Thrice, Strung Out, As I Lay Dying, Metallica (pre-Black album), Pantera, and countless other punk and metal acts filled my headphones, leaving little time for much discovery.

But, as much as I delved into songs from my past, my profession keeps me into up-and-coming acts, which continued to impress me throughout 2017. Here are my 17 favorites, in no particular order:

Martin Luke Brown – ‘Opalite’

I received an offer to premiere “Opalite” earlier this year. It was a no-brainer. I immidiately loved the juxstaposition between booming kick drums and raw, enchanting vocals. In fact, not only did Martin Luke Brown deliver one of my favorite songs, but he also became one of my new favorite artists.

Martin Luke Brown – ‘Into Yellow’

The artist so nice, I listed him twice. Holy, hell. ‘Into Yellow’ is absolutely gorgeous. Definitely one of the highlights from this past year. It calls on associations of other solo-vocalists like James Vincent McMorrow, James Blake, and Bon Iver. If I were you, I would definitely keep him on your ‘Artists to Watch’ lists in 2018.

’Into Yellow’
Mat Hunsley – ‘Do You Need Me Near’

Mat Hunsley’s folky gem always gets me longing for epic summer adventures in the mountains. His voice is powerful, dreamy, and soothing. It’s the perfect accompaniment to whatever warm weather activities lie ahead later this year. I just can’t wait to crack out this one out come May.

’Do You Need Me Near’
James Vincent McMorrow – ‘True Care’

JVM is one of my absolute favorite artists and will be till the end of time. To put it into perspective–my wife walked down the isle to ‘Cavalier.’ When I interviewed him and let him know, he dedicated it to us later at his show. ‘True Care’ is my favorite off his 2017 album offering. It’s raw, gorgeous, and showcases what everyone should know about him–he’s one of the voices of our generation.

Absofacto – ‘Light Outside’

I’ve been head over heels for Absofacto for years. It was an absolute pleasure to see him come roaring back with a stellar new tune. ‘Light Outside’ is absolutely worthy of you belting out each and every lyric as you drive to work. Take one listen and see for your self.

’Light Outside’
Someone – ‘Forget Forgive’

Someone delivered one of the most beautifully simplistic tunes from 2017. It’s very minimal, but offers a completely encompassing experience from start to finish.

’Forget Forgive’
Sam Dew – ‘Runner’

I first got turned on to Sam Dew with his Bill Wither’s cover. I would love to include that, but it’s a few years old, so I’ll opt to showcase another tune. ‘Runner’ is dubbed as R&B, but the heavy, distorted bassline guides it into the alternative realm, crossing genre lines with ease. It’s a fantastic tune and one that left a lasting impression on me.

Northern Faces – ‘Messin’ With Me’

Absolutely loved this indie rock jam from NY-based trio Northern Faces. With a big, bold, anthemic nature, I was immidiately hooked on ‘Messin’ With Me’ and could see this as a pivoting point for a huge 2018.

’Northern Faces – Messin’ With Me’
Moncrieff – ‘Symptoms’

Gritty, bluesy and soulful. This Londoner has plenty of attitude to share, and ‘Symptoms’ is the perfect embodiment of that edge. It’s raw and powerful, but still beautifully refined.

Vilde – ‘Just Visiting’

I wrote up a few tracks from Vilde this year. I love his unique tone and range and inventive instrumentation. It has such a unique air around it, one which I couldn’t shake throughout 2017. Keep your eyes peeled for more from this up-and-coming artist.

’Just Visiting’
The War On Drugs – ‘Pain’

I didn’t get into many albums this year, but The War on DrugsA Deeper Understanding was one of the few. It was a body of work that shimmered with reflections with the likes of Dylan and Springsteen. Fantastic listening experience, through and through, with ‘Pain’ leading the way for me, personally.

Butterjack – ‘Good Girls’

One hell of a tune from an artist that has less than 100 followers on Soundcloud. It’s smooth, groovy, and has lyrics that keep you coming back. Be on the lookout for Butterjack in 2018.

Eat More Cake – ‘Heat of the Night’

Undoubtedly my favorite new song from 2017. I honestly can’t count how many times I’ve listened to it. All I have to say is thank you, Eat More Cake.

’Eat More Cake – Heat Of The Night (Original Mix)’
Bobby Nourmand – ‘D U S T’

Bobby is a close, personal friend of mine. I typically don’t include him in lists like these because it feels a little awkward. But, I’ve been waiting on this track’s release for years. It’s easily one of my favorite works by him and I simply cannot leave it out. Absolutely brilliant piece from one of my favorite people on Earth.

’D U S T’
Icarus ft. Talay Riley – ‘Trouble’

Hot damn, I grooved my ass off to this number quite a few times in 2017. The horns, the lyrics, the driving, four-to-the-floor beat all add up to one of my top picks from this year. It shouldn’t come as any surprise, though. Icarus has been killing it regularly.

’Trouble (feat. Talay Riley) (Extended)’
Walker & Royce – ‘Take Me To Your Leader’

Despite my growing age and receding hairline, I do, in fact, like to still get out on the dance floor and boogie. This tune from Walker & Royce was always my go-to when I was ready to ramp up for an evening out. Sporting silly lyrics from Dances With White Women, it’s a carefree party-starter. Big ups, boys.

’Walker & Royce – Take Me To Your Leader (Radio Edit)’
Jesse Ware – ‘Midnight’ (Goldie Remix)

Oof. This track saw a heavy placement in my regular rotation. I’m a massive DnB head and this Goldie jam not only holds a place in my 2017 favorite list, but in my all-time DnB favorites.

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#TMNMailbag #2: Bass Machina – HALO

Bass Machina

For the second installment in our TMN Mailbag series, we have the ultimate pleasure of premiering a stellar track from San Diego-based Bass Machina.

“HALO” is officially dropping today with us, and on Spotify, and couldn’t be a more perfect song to carry you in to your holiday break. It’s fresh, energetic, and will have you sporting an ear-to-ear grin as you head home from work this afternoon.

With live-recorded guitars, impeccable percussion work, and playful synths, it’s a radiant future bass track that’s chock-full of good times throughout. In fact, it’s so well put together, that we were shocked to find out these cats only have 20 followers on Facebook, and 44 followers on Soundcloud.

It’s safe to say you’re getting in on the ground floor, which is always a fun thing to look back on years later. Make sure to keep tabs on this duo on Facebook to keep up with future releases, show dates, and more.

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#TMNMailbag #1: Shuhandz & High Flown – Apex

Shuhandz & High Flown

Every day, we’re bombarded with email submissions from publicists, record label reps, managers, and even agents. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing. We often find incredible music and have the unique chance to bring a debut look at a new artist. On the other hand, sometimes it can get a bit overwhelming, but that’s just the way the industry works.

As much as we love our associates in the industry, a lot of us got into this to share the music we found. We came up in an era of Soundcloud and Bandcamp scouring. It didn’t matter if a track was one week or one year old, we posted it because we thought it was good.

So, we’re going to get back to this. And, we’re going to start today with our first ever #TMNMailbag post. No publicists. No managers. No label reps. These tracks are coming directly from the artists, and in this case, from Asheville-resident Shuhandz.

Released a few months back, “Apex” is a collaboration with High Flown, another North Carolinian. It picked up a decent head of steam, racking up over 20k streams and healthy spattering of comments that fell for the chilled out vibes.

With a silky smooth bassline, calculated percussion work, light guitar hits, and ethereal, vocal synths, “Apex” could be somewhat of a go-between track. It could be picked up by your heavy bass head, looking for a chance to wind down at the end of the night. On the other hand, fans of ambient electronic music could be swayed to start checking out more drippy trap tunes like this one.

Make sure to keep your eye on Shuhandz moving forward.

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Cavalry – A Little Rough [TMN PREMIERE]

As the work week comes to a close, so many of you out there are on the hunt for new tunes to carry you through your weekend adventures. Whether you’re hoping to find that rally cry to carry you into a night at the clubs, or the latest indie folk tunes to accompany a lazy night in, you’re all sharing this common thread. This is why Friday premieres are always my favorite, and today is no different.

Coming your way from Liverpool, England, Cavalry is comprised of Alan (Vocals), Austin (Guitar), Steven (Guitar), Paul (Bass), and Gareth (Drums). Over the past few years, they’ve been garnering critical acclaim from the likes radio hosts, publications, and tastemakers across the board. Their latest release, See the Night Perform, out on Fierce Panda (Coldplay / The Maccabees), will follow along with those previous emphatic nods of approval.

Originally, we had come on board to premiere “A Little Rough,” but things progressed into an added treat for everyone tuning in. Below, you’ll not only find a full stream of their debut EP, but an accompanying track-by-track guide directly from the band. Not a bad way to kick off your weekend, eh?

Press play, then scroll below and read along.

’A Little Rough’


‘Heresy’ is really about dealing with modernity – the simple, everyday tribulations and the dystopia that’s hidden in plain sight. It’s a mortal cry for hope and sense in this troubling age we’re all in, but there’s definitely introspection as well.

Like a lot of our songs, we love creating an ambience and atmosphere, and finding startling ways to dispel and dismantle what we’ve created. But all in a way that retains a mainstream aesthetic. Heresy does the same – it’s dark and light in equal measure, but there’s a pop foundation underneath it all.


If there’s a grand concept to the whole EP, it’s found in ‘Black’. The line ‘See The Night Perform’ comes in at the absolute climax of the song, which has gone from crushingly intimate ballad, to full-blown post-rock anthem.

It’s definitely bold and takes intense turns. But it’s a patient song and for it to work, the meaning needs to be subtle. It’s about trying to validate the simple wars you have within yourself against the backdrop of everyday life.


‘A Little Rough’ is a curve ball for us. Again, it’s laden with bare emotion dealing and atmosphere, but there’s an undeniable groove. It’s infused with too many influences to count: folk, trip-hop, electronica, post-rock, but again never straying away from the simple pop-song underneath. We think of Ben Howard and Portishead, and everything between as a good.

It’s about being absolutely elemental – having nothing but the need to find purpose, and fighting against the temptation to give in.

‘A fire to derive, a solace in your mind, well I won’t waste my time.’


‘Cabin’ is the surefire release at the end of the EP. It’s about striving for escapism from a position of isolation and introspection.

It’s the first song we ever wrote after coming together, and it’s almost a tribute to the inception of the band. Just before we started life as ‘Cavalry’ many of us were newly back in Liverpool after living away from the city for some time in New York, Vancouver, Asia. Soon after, we were in a remote writing camp away from everything, and lighting the first fires of what would become our material to date. It’s an important song for that reason: in moments of doubt, it just helps to remember the purpose of being in a band, making music that you care about.

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Butterjack – Good Girls [TMN VIDEO PREMIERE]


Thank god this track is coming your way close to the weekend. If I had been covering it prior to Thursday, I’m sure I’d be getting some angry tweets for unintended consequences from listening to this smooth-as-fucking-silk track from NW England-based Butterjack.

“Good Girls” has an undeniably catchy feel to it, with underlying R&B undertones coupled with sexy percussion and glowing synths. It’s one of those tunes you can’t help but nod along to, as it encourages you to head out for a wild night on the town. Don’t hold back. Give in. Let it take you for a ride.

The video for ‘Good Girls’ is special to me because all of the ideas for things like this feel like your babies. I saw this idea when we were thinking about videos and it was an idea that I took through all the stages and ended up with EXACTLY what I wanted. Emmie Bednall, who helped create the vision is an absolute animal. She totally understands the project and the evolution in the videos and having her on the team is priceless. I think videos are really important as it’s a chance to give the song another narrative, fresh ears through your eyes!

Aside from this funky fresh new tune to add to your collection, we also have a first look at the accompanying music video, which will surely be a treat to graphic novel and Archer fans around the globe. Have a look below:

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Bliss Nova

Depending on how you look at it, a little bit of gorgeous, haunting synth-pop is either the perfect thing to welcome winter in, or is better served for the shimmering light of warmer months. Personally, I feel like today’s offering from Toledo-based Bliss Nova aligns with the former, providing the perfect soundscape for the upcoming chilly months.

“Now” is the latest offering from this fraternal duo comprised of Daniel and Joel Trzcinski, which follows up their last EP release, just six months back. It’s gorgeously layered with fluttering synths paired with solid guitar work and heavily treated vocals. From a structural point of view, it serves up plenty of intrigue, straying away from a traditional pop model, especially towards the end.

On top of a first listen, we’re also bringing a first look for you today. The music video is one hell of a trip, taking you on a psychadellic ride as you listen along.

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Someone – Forget Forgive [TMN VIDEO PREMIERE]

Forget Forgive

Earlier this year, I brought you a first look and listen at former popster Tessa Rose Jackson, under the gleaming new moniker of Someone. Since then, she’s been busy releasing a handful of new tunes, each one showcasing the sophisticated breadth of both musicianship and songwriting abilities.

“Forget Forgive” is the most recent offering. Softly sung and set to a repeating guitar strum, it has an intentional simplicity that’s positively haunting. The uncluttered soundscape is perfect for the emotive lyrics and beautifully layered chorus, which will leave you completely and wonderfully enveloped.

This release came out earlier this month via [PIAS], but today, you’re getting a first look at the accompanying music video.

Because the subject matter of this track is so straight-forward, I wanted the video to give the song a twist. During a brainstorm with my manager, we settled on the idea of translating this internal struggle into an actual struggle. A fight. Skin-on-skin action; rough, ruthless and messy. Just like the way we treat ourselves sometimes. But to support the dreamy, emotional quality of the music, we wanted to film it in super slow-motion, so that the colliding movement between the two characters can become almost like a dance.

Being a massive sci-fi lover, the intro to the video is a big nod to all my favourite B-movies from the 1980’s (which also gave me a great excuse to write an intense opening score full of vintage synthesizer madness). – Someone

Have a look below and then make sure to mark your calendars for the 27th. She’ll be playing at Cinetol in Amsterdam, and if you’re in the area, you should definitely go catch her live performance.

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