Atmospheric post-rock in the style of other Scots the Twilight
Sad and Twin Atlantic, one of the duo is a harpist which brings
a woodland tone to the songs and first track 'Olive Grove' is
a delicately played and assuredly developed song with folksy vibes
and that undeniably modern Scots touch to its melody. 'Forestry'
takes a similar path and with some subtly unobtrusive electronics
in the backing, 'Timber' is reminiscent of Mogwai the morning
after a ceilidh and 'A Perfect Mess' only lacks actual bagpipes
to fully complement the prevailing Caledonian vibes.
Acorn - 'Influence'
Some musicians really know what to do with their drum machines
and sequencers and Canada's The Acorn bring us a silky smooth
slab of mellow techno that retains a danceable core despite its
dreamy laid backness. A guitar breaks in every now and again to
add some acoustic counterpoint to the fluid bassline and unobtrusively
thudding backbeat. Liked it a lot on the first hearing and slightly
more with each consecutive listen.
- 'Too Little Too Late'
From Manchester, all female quartet PINS went to Arizona to record
'Too Little Too Late' (at the actual Joshua Tree studios) and
they've got that grimy Elastica thing very nearly perfected. 'I
know you said you were my best friend / but it's too little to
late' runs the lyric over a video which features all four PINS
basically telling the camera crew to point those lenses in the
other direction, with teeth and knuckles bared. They're about
to go off on tour with Wire, whom you would expect know what they
Darlin' - Half Heart Necklace
Allo old school indie chops in the spirit of Allo Darlin's Fortuna
Pop labelmates Comet Gain, fuzztone guitar and tambourine and
everything. Partially Australian, all you new and ancient C86ers
already know the words and tune to 'Half Heart Necklace' and those
of you that don't are going to find them endearingly gauche in
that floppy fringed, kohl-eyed, reading a novel on a train sort
of way. One for the shoebox.
New Investors – ‘Atún’
The New Investors is a recently-formed
psych-pop band from Copenhagen, Denmark comprised of Glenn Müller
(lead vocals, guitars), Søren Tiemroth (guitars, keyboards,
vocals), Fredy Kaalhauge (bass, vocals), and Kristian Karup (drums).
The band members released the single ‘Atún’ at the end
of March and will drop their debut album this August. They mix
indie and 60s-tinged psych-pop with California surf rock on their
tunes and the unusual musical genre hybrid ‘Atún’ is a
prime example of that. Think Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass Band
blended with laid-back Dick Dale-like surf guitar to produce an
exotic tropical sonic cocktail. The song is a bit aurally disjointed
as it alternates between instrumentally different segments; one
with Spanish horns, a soft syncopated beat, and little reverb
guitar riffs; another with a strong surf guitar riff and pace
and dreamy vocals punctuated with the enthusiastic exclamation
“Hey!”. The result is a pleasant summertime amusement that should
put a smile on the face of anyone who listens to it. https://soundcloud.com/new-investors/atun https://www.facebook.com/thenewinvestors
Wheel – ‘One More Mile’
Gretchen’s Wheel is the solo alt-rock/indie-pop
project of Nashville, Tennessee native Lindsay Murray. On her
recent album Fragile State she composed all the music, sings main
and backing vocals and plays rhythm and lead guitar and keyboards,
and programmed the drums. She received a big assist from Ken Stringfellow,
a founding member of The Posies and producer (The Posies, R.E.M.,
Big Star). He produced Fragile State and came on as a guest musician,
providing backing vocals, rhythm and lead guitar, bass, keyboards,
drum programming, and percussion. Ira Elliot of Nada Surf also
joined in as a guest musician on drums and percussion for 7 of
the album’s tracks.
The most emotionally affecting and effective song off Fragile
State, which embodies the album’s title is the melancholically
mellow, smoldering alt-ballad ‘One More Mile’. Lindsay sings in
a hushed, breathy tone with a slight tremble to her sober, slightly
anxious vocals that recalls Margo Timmons. The song treads with
a steady and soft drum and cymbals pace while briefly flourishing
electric guitar lines keep the sonics bright and compelling. Lindsay
sings with heartfelt emotion that “…I am going the wrong way…/
to a place where I don’t belong / and no one waits for me.” Near
the end of the tune she pushes her vocals up into a lilting tone,
reaching a cathartic turning point as she sighs “I’m free as can
be.” https://gretchenswheel.bandcamp.com/track/one-more-mile http://www.gretchenswheel.com/
– Lemonade City
Meresha is an enthusiastic and engaging self-starter from West
Palm Beach, Florida who possesses a rich, soulful voice that belies
her teenage years. She’s been composing and recording her own
music for over 5 years and her 2nd pop/dance/electronic EP, titled
New Revolution, is out April 14th. “Lemonade City” is the first
cut off of it and it’s made for the shade on a hot summer day
in the city. Meresha actually keeps her emotions in check for
most of this urban electro-pop number, laying down a scintillating
beat, deep reverberations, and squiggly electronic notes as she
intones “swayin’ to them old-school beats in the summer breeze”.
The song is charged with a restless, uneasy energy as Meresha
edgily proclaims “you’ll die young if you follow our lead”, a
reminder that there’s danger, as well as delight, to be found
in the neighborhoods of ‘Lemonade City’… https://soundcloud.com/meresha/lemonade-city-2 http://www.meresha.com/
Britanys – Want To Be
Lucas Long (guitar and vocals), Gabe Schulman (bass), and Steele
Kratt (drums) formed The Britanys over a year ago, installed themselves
in Brooklyn, and have dropped two EPs. The second EP, titled It’s
Alright , was released in the fall of 2014. The band members are
back with their latest single “Want To Be” and a new video to
match. They tease and please with their nonchalant punk-rock/pop
tunes and “Want To Be” is no different. It was recorded at Converse
Rubber Tracks in Brooklyn and moves along with a shambling pace
and direction as Lucas sing-talks with a casual brashness, coming
across hypothetically like Brett Anderson’s infant brother. The
guitar line is sharp and bright, the drums and cymbal shimmer
are mostly laid-back, but emphatic when they need to be, and Lucas
whimsically sings “We want to be a little more fun” in a slightly
sneering, softly nasal, teenage fine-whining tone. The video features
band performance cuts and footage of the guys hanging out in the
city. Check it. http://thebritanys.com/
- Mump EP
I like the effect Glasgow has had on the southern sensibilities
of Bellybuttons. Variously described as ‘slacker-psych’, ‘bubblegum
garage’ and ‘navel-gaze’ the musical co-operative that is Bellybuttons
manage to sound edgy, wired and half-asleep all at the same time.
With lo-fi drums hissing their way through the echoey guitars
and two key vocalists sharing dream duties the effect of this
3-track EP is to entertain and derange in one sparkling fell swoop.
The opener ‘Guess’ sounds like Lou Reed guesting on a Ride work-out.
Sneaky, chromatic chord-shifts keep you on your toes while the
vocal takes you all the way down. The lack of any one writing
ego releases the band to ‘talk to each other’ in a free but coherent
way, like listening in on an esoteric conversation that you don’t
fully understand but it makes you smile just the same. ‘Don’t
feel so upset about all that national debt…’ Well, quite!
Second track Something About Nothing features a female vocalist
reminiscent of Sinead O’Connor but without any political pretensions.
It just is what it is. Dreamy, natural and gently threatening.
A bunch of high, shiny close harmonies lift us into a more full-blown
chorus while the fizzy cymbals and shimmeringly fractured guitar
glide relentlessly forward.
Closing track Red Wing delivers us once more into the hands of
‘Lou Reed’, sumptuously growling while the guitars answer back
paradoxically, confident yet uncertain, skilful yet tentative.
This is musical collaboration at its best. Always on the edge
of breaking down but never in danger of a fall. Like eating chocolate
cake on a cliff-edge. 8/10
Gaffney - When You’re In Love
If you have an ear for soulful music that would make the hair
on the back of your neck stand up higher than a sky scraper, you’ll
more than appreciate this amazing 4 minutes of pure brilliance.
Living between Liverpool and Berlin, he is one of the Channel
Islands finest exports. I’d go so much as quoting him as Jersey’s
answer to Roy Harper, and if you’re aware of his legendary status,
you’ll see that as much of a complement. “When You’re In Love”
is one of the greatest ballads you’ll hear today, and I strongly
recommend it to anyone and everyone.
Landing - Belgium
Begins sounding like last decades emo-prog band Thursday, but
then flops a beauty. Your typical generic Karrang band singing
about absolutely nothing. His voice sounds like it’s been dragged
through the singer of Good Charlotte’s back garden, prior to him
being elbow dropped profusely. The music is bleak and uninventive
!! They’re definitely the type of band you would more or less
chuck a bottle of piss at if you were at a festival.
Wire - Into The Orchid
The opening bass line sounds like something off of The Cure’s
‘Faith’ album, but then spirals in to a destination once established
by Queens of the Stone Age many moons ago! Huxley’s voice floats
over a field of hook laden garage riffage, with Wezzer style bridges.
The pace kind of pulls you in on “Into The Orchid”, and grips
you. Lyrics: “Choke you when I fall back” followed by immense
guitars. It’s great to see a q
uarter of The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster still making
great use of themselves. I wasn’t sure when I first heard the
Piano gang, but this single has won me over for sure.
Snapper – Wonky Bikes ep
Seems there's a bit of unfinished business for Messrs Ayers,
Friend and Thair aka Red Snapper. The three tracks from their
latest ep Wonky Bikes are taken from the album Hyena, last year's
70s funk-fusion homage to the Senegalese road movie 'Touki Bouki
(or 'The Journey Of The Hyena')', considered by many to be among
the band's best work. The acid jazz of Red Snapper always seemed
a bit out of place among IDM studio-based bands of Warp records
in the 90s (Aphex Twin, Autechre etc.), so after a brief hiatus
between 2002 and 2007, no surprises when they moved to London-based
Lo Recordings, a label that celebrates club and live music among
its roster of slightly leftfield electronic recording artists
(Four Tet, Grimes etc.).
The live version of 'Wonky Bikes' showcases Red Snapper's forte
for energetic and frenetic performance. The song celebrates the
“Voodoo Funk” of Hyena with its balafon-generated percussive effects
undercut with guitar, fuzzy bass and other odd sounds. On 'Traffic',
drummer Rich Thair gives his favourite album track the remix treatment
with some serious electro-jazz drumming, the Afrobeat-inspired
original given a stylish dance-driven makeover and a massive injection
of bass. St Petersburg-based DJ and producer Kito Jempere has
turned wonky beat 'Blue Chest' into a thrusting dance anthem,
all dubbed out with Russian commentary. Red Snapper's Wonky Bikes
ep is the third release from Hyena, so almost certainly a stepping-stone
to upcoming releases … where next?
Zacas - Bored With Me
Two brothers from South Africa 'going back to the roots of acoustic
music' so there's a complete lack of any other instrumentation
aside from a smartly played guitar and a vocal, and it's a pleasant
enough tune that provides an introduction to SA's latest musical
export. I expect they'll add the synths and strings at a later
Lea Porcelain - 'Similar Familiar'
From Germany, Lea Porcelain describe themselves as influenced
by Joy Division and Echo & The Bunnymen and there's a whiff
of Divisionness around 'Similar Familiar' although the vocalist
happily avoids the only too usual attempt at a note perfect Ian
impression (Editors, Interpol, there have been others) so what
we get is a big synth noise with a hooky backline and it only
slightly sounds a lot like JD and nothing at all like the Bunnymen.
although fans of German music will want to add Lea Porcelain to
their collections regardless of declared influences which, given
the echoing sepultural vastness and mitteleuropean glamour of
their sound should also include Simple Minds and Vienna-era Ultravox.
alongside Depeche Mode, OMD and Gary Numan.
Arcades - 'Let's Get Away'
Modern sounding synthpop designed solely for going clubbing on
the beach this summer, something like Sigma's 'Nobody To Love'
with a vocal and a less housey rhythm, although no less funky
for that. We know what you're doing this summer, New Arcades. https://soundcloud.com/newarcades
'Talented beyond his years' says the PR and, probably celebrating
his 21st birthday during his upcoming European tour Mylets is
as adept a musician as many 22 and 23 year olds are, turning in
a fast paced slice of atmospherically charged electronica fuelled
guitar and bass powered synth pop that'll doubtlessly prove as
crowd pleasing in Eindhoven as in Budapest as in Leipzig. Ends
a bit suddenly though, Mylets seems to have been in such a hurry
in the studio that he forgot to push the 'fade button' at the
end of the track, which could have the regrettable consequence
of making that its most memorable part. 'Heard that Mylets dude?',
'yeah, the one that goes 'crunk' right at the end'. Cool. mylets.bandcamp.com
The Reveurs - 'Take A Bow'
I wonder if it's somewhat predictable of me to write, when hearing
a new track by a new band with a quite obvious influence, that
it 'sounds a lot like ...' in this instance Kings Of Leon? In
a good way, I hasten to add but the influence is more than obvious
including how the song is put together, last verse included. I
heard a band doing some really good Kings Of Leon covers recently
and the Reveurs are going to show everyone how it should be done,
one of these days. http://www.thereveurs.co.uk/
Burr - 'White Night Black Light'
Just give Doug Burr a listen, swamp folk from the backwoods with
a Beefheart edge and a convincingly frenetic rhythm that'll have
you running around the garden looking for giant salmanders while
reciting HP Lovecraft short stories to next doors hedge. Before
the darkness finally descends and you beg the Lord's forgiveness
for necking an entire half bottle of JD in an attempt to commune
with the lost soul of Roky Erickson, nip back indoors and play
'White Night Black Light' again, and wonder what'll happen if
you listen to one of Burr's albums. Stirring tales from Texarkana,
you really thought no one made music like this anymore. http://dougburr.com/
Bed - 'Caves'
There's definitely some quality new club influenced music around
and 'Caves', with its effect heavy bassline and thumb shredding
emulator riffs is yet more proof that indie electronica has a
presence again. Actually sounds as if at least part of it was
recorded underwater. https://soundcloud.com/seabedband/caves
Lila Rose - World on Fire
World on Fire by Lila Rose is an impassioned, hypnotic, subtly
disturbing song, accompanied by a strong video from her collaborator
The theme is apocalyptic, with the earth seen as the mother,
and the mother as a bound naked woman, ropes across her breasts,
bound to a cross.
Lila appears underwater herself, along with images of a new-born
baby and foetus, reminding us of the dark oceanic origins of the
earth and the maternal care she now needs.
Musically the rythmns evoke tribal origins, simple and thunder-struck,
with shades of massive Attack and Bjork in the accompanying atmospheric
sweeps. Echoes of Enya in there too, especially in the vocal layering,
which shows off an impressive vocal range.
The lyric is tight and well structured, emotional without being
sentimental, and brings a vitally important subject into fine
The ultimate message is one of precarious hopefulness, if only
we can ‘Hold, hold, hold’, which is the repeated choral mantra.
“Here’s a glimpse of goodbye, As we walk this fine wire.”
This is not an easy subject to tackle but these few minutes
say more than some green politicians could muster in a week. A
perfect marriage of sound and vision 8/10
– ‘Stor Eiglass’ (Warp records)
The opening track on techno/drum ‘n’ bass/jazz pioneer Tom Jenkinson’s
new album Damogen Furies (released April 20th) more than lives
up to the author’s description of the album as being a brutal,
visceral and hallucinatory experience. ‘Stor Eiglass’ features
knotty 4/4 rhythms and a mix alive with punishing synth lines
and atonal bleeps and must count as one of Squarepusher’s most
direct tracks to date. This single, and Damogen Furies as a whole,
may well prove to amongst Jenkinson’s most accessible releases
and could well mark the point at which fans who lost patience
with his jazzier and more avant-garde excursions get back on board.
– ‘X Marks The Spot’ (Play it Again Sam records)
Since bursting on to the scene in 2011 with his Mercury-nominated
debut Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam, London-based vocalist
Obaro Ejimiwe has tried to expand his sound from the drowsy hip-hop/electronica
that he was initially know for. ‘X Marks The Spot’ (taken from
his third album Shedding Skin) therefore sees him branching out
into alternative rock territory, with a three-piece band adding
new wave guitars and hypnotic rhythms to his downbeat, almost
spoken-word vocals. As admirable as it is to see an artist developing
and widening his sound, I much preferred the groovier and more
optimistic feel of some of his earlier tracks; this single didn’t
really offer enough aspects of melodic or lyrical interest to
rise above its morose tone.
Sander – ‘Mendrake’
Contrary to the implication of its name, Len Sander is not a
singular singer, but a Swiss electronica band made up of Blanka
Inauen (vocals), Simon Inauen (keyboards), Alessandro Hug (percussion,
keyboards, electronics), Flavio Schönholzer (bass, electronics),
Dennis Schärar (guitars), and Markus Brütsch (drums).
The band members released their darkly enticing debut album, Phantom
Garden, just over a month ago and have now dropped a video for
the single “Mendrake”. The constantly restless and visually disorienting
video was culled and created by Janic Halioua from hours of footage.
The low-key, but mesmerizing “Mendrake” consists of a quick clip
of glitchy, percussive electronic blips that dot the sonic landscape,
along with slower, short swoops of guitar lines. Keyboard notes
flit in and out and a reverberating sound builds up to noise levels
as Blanka sing-talks in a cool tone that “When I am disguised
/ I can be whoever they want to see”. A nocturnal atmosphere pervades
the track as it alternates between a concussive beat and calmer
lulls of just Blanka’s voice and echoed, sporadic electro-notes. http://www.lensander.com/
Maze – ‘The Devil May Cry’
London-based dance-pop singer-songwriter Mark Maze was born and
raised in a rough neighborhood on the outskirts of Leicester and
it was through his experiences growing up in this area that he
realized that he wanted to focus on bettering his life and realizing
his dream of creating his own music. At first he joined an R’n’B
vocal group, but the record label management was too restrictive
and he soon took off to work on his own material. The result is
the catchy and compelling debut album, Uncomfortable Truths, which
was released this past January. Mark mixes his perceptive and
vulnerable lyrics and soulful vocals with a grittier dance-pop
production that encompasses hard beats, rock guitar lines, shimmering
synths, and fanciful electronic flourishes.
Standout song and opening number ‘The Devil May Cry’ is an absorbing
piano ballad that’s fused with electo-pop sonics and, most of
the time, an up-tempo dancefloor pace. Rich, flowing piano notes
and Mark’s emotive, but slightly restrained vocals are brightened
by dawning synth strings that build in intensity. Midway through
the track a gritty, propulsive electro-shock beat kicks in as
Mark steamily intones “It tastes much sweeter / when the fruit
of love’s forbidden.” The restless pace is augmented by swooshing
‘falling star’ sonics, electronic squiggles, deeply struck piano
notes, and sheet metal reverberations. A fleeting lull appears
with just light piano notes and Mark’s voice, but it’s gone in
a flash as the main dance-pop sound is again increased with a
circling electric guitar line and back-up vocals as Mark cries
out in an impassioned tone “ The devil may cry / ‘cause what I’m
touchin’ isn’t mine…” http://www.markmazeofficial.com/
Disco – ‘Only Like It’
The Athens, Greece-located, synth-pop/dance-pop duo of Dim Bin
and Theod Kopoul has released a self-titled debut album on Undo
Records and the songs on it combine foot-tapping beats, 80s synths,
bittersweet moods, and thoughtful lyrics. Dim and Theod just dropped
a video for their third single, ‘Only Like It’, off and it’s one
to sway along to in the late night clubs of cities around the
world. It features an incessantly repetitive, but awesomely infectious
chorus of “I only like it when you do it my way / Does it feel
right?” that recalls the vocal tone and catchy, sing-along style
of chorus bits from Does It Offend You, Yeah? and similar bands.
Time to put your hands in the air, and wave ‘em like you do care… https://www.facebook.com/saddisco.official
I don’t know how to describe this song other than lyrically diabolical
and musically horrendous. This 2 piece pair of knickers originate
from England’s southern detachment aka The Isle of White and if
this is what’s currently coming out of the place, then I hope
The Bee’s make a comeback fast. It’s as if Jedward woke up one
day and decided they would venture in to the world of music, but
fell out of their tree house and broke both their necks rupturing
their lungs in the process.
- A Whole New Shape
The bass intro is not that far off from PIL’s “Low Life“. And
then follows a wave of washy shoe-gazing guitar with spurts of
dream laced samples. This sub-pop South London trio have almost
re-invented Dinosaur Jr by sounding exactly like them bar the
immense guitar skills. Nobody in this life will mimic the sounds
that J Mascis unleashes! Saying that, I did enjoy the effort and
even though the grunge revival is never ending, I have heard quite
a few surprises lately.
It doesn’t take long in to this song before I’ve made up my mind
that it is beyond dog shit. The truth is, I’ve never liked this
band and never will. You could respect them for the way they’ve
carried themselves over the years but at the end of the day, they’re
a band for the musically uneducated and masses of long haired
rock havens still blabbing on about how amazing Eddie Van Halen
is. I’d rather get raped with a wooden spoon than listen to this.
- Five Day
If you’re in to repetitive dream pop, you’ll be sure to like
this number by the minimal London quartet. Not really my thing
but I can appreciate the dynamics and progression that surrounds
them. One thing that really stands out is the high pitched lead
guitar and stabbing sounds at the end, though It would be difficult
to pigeon hole as I can’t think off the top of my head anyone
they sound like other than maybe I Am Kloot? I knew from the word
go that this tune would end with a great climax.
Blackburn - Dead Reyt
I’m reminded of The Real People from the opening bars of “Get
On With Your Life“ by the West Yorkshire hopeful. A cascade of
harmonies and hook laden 90's Britain guitar follow suit. The
bass line is ace, though I can’t help but think of Eagle Eye Cherry’s
“Save Tonight“. Next up is “Keep It Real” which starts with an
immense string section with a flood load of words and the occasional
piano! I like the layering of delayed guitar towards the end.
“Marchin’ On“ makes me picture a flee of street band soldier drummers
backed with their colleagues on brass surrounding a parade float
carrying Noel Gallagher’s new album tapes. Finishes with “Monday
Morning” which sounds like something Northern Uproar pushed out
20 years ago.
Lives - 'Reconfiguration'
Other Lives turn in an atmospheric number that only lacks a screeching
great guitar solo to let reviewers describe it as an actual reconfiguration
of the heydays of 1970s prog rock. Very moody and glancing over
its shoulder at Kasabian, it's a good enough song but there's
probably a more appropriate choice of single on Other Live's as
yet unreleased album. Quite what anyone will make of the video
in which a fencing match turns into a balletic performance is
Axis/Orbit - 'Around'
I was expecting some electronica but 'Around' is a grungy garage
rock number with a BRMC influence, and perhaps going back further
to the bluesy jams of Uriah Heep and the Groundhogs with a proper
guitar solo using effects pedals and everything. Definitely a
70s influence around this month. http://axisorbit.bandcamp.com/album/axis-orbit-2-song-free-preview
Vincent - 'How Much Further'
No, not St. Vincent, Miss Vincent are a punk rock band from Southampton,
or more accurately a harder edged Emo band although the four Miss
Vincents were probably still in their prams when My Chemical Romance
were thrashing it out in technicolour a decade ago. 'How Much
Further' is noisy and tuneful and developed beyond a mere thrashabout,
I expect the Joiner's Arms roof is missing a slate or two after
their most recent gig.
Harry Macintosh Project
- 'Such Is The Vulture's Love' EP
Conjuring all manner of wildlife documentary images, the sound
of a stricken wilderbeest at the mercy of the feathered scavengers
of the savannah. The Harry Macintosh Project are doubtlessly planning
some conservation of their own, beginning with 'Error Terror'
and its double timed drumming and lyric about a rucksack. If you
need to hear a song titled 'I Spent A Night In A Washing Machine',
call the Harry Macintoshes. Don't forget to ask them if it was
switched on. https://soundcloud.com/theharrymacintoshproject/sets/such-is-the-vultures-love-ep-1
Steve Hackett - 'The Wheel's Turning'
You might have expected the original guitarist of 70s prog giants
Genesis to settle quietly into his later career but 'The Wheel's
Turning' is a bit of a spectacular reminder of what a Les Paul
was designed for, right up to the really, really good bit right
at the end. The animated song video that looks as if it was made
on Microsoft Office has lyrics onscreen so you can sing along
as well as air guitar yourself into a dislocated shoulder.