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singles/eps - october 2015


 

The Velts - Foreigner

There’s a pop element to this Mediterranean group that is reminiscent of ‘Kilimanjaro’ era Teardrop Explodes. Straight outta Malta (an island just off Italy), these garage fiends border The Strokes, The Bravery and Jamie T. I’m enjoying mostly the minimal organ and jabby guitar sequence. I’m all about production and these chaps have proved here with ‘Foreigner’ that they aren’t shy of the studio. It’s great to hear something less generic than your everyday indie group. If you’ve got a twist about you which separates you from everything else, then you’re one step up and The Velts need not step down. Find this single before it finds you.

Gavin Tate


Craig Smith ‘One Poet’ - Crystallize Me

Here’s another great singer/songwriter who is currently establishing himself on the Jersey music scene. One thing that’s for sure here, is his passion and abundance of lyrics. Catchy uba-folk verses are followed by gospel like choruses. If I was to compare him to anyone, it would probably be David Longstreth of Dirty Projectors, mostly due to the vocal. With the right backing and session musicians, I can honestly say just from hearing this one song, that he could stride to be a successful solo artist and reach an audience that in this day and age, are hungry for this style of music and performer. Check him out.

Gavin Tate


Moby & The Void Pacific Choir - The Light Is Clear In My Eyes

I didn’t know what to expect before hearing the recent project from Moby, the man of the hour (nearly 2 decades ago). I’m actually really feeling this proto-punk electronic beast of a track. It’s as if he’s taken a leaf out of Devo’s book by letting his hair down after years of ambience. I never thought I’d hear him go down this route of music, especially this long after his mass chart success peak in the late nineties/early noughties. As laser’s fire through a field of industrial carnage, he repeats the words: “The light is clear in my eyes”, thus bringing this display of rappidness to a close. Buy it.

Gavin Tate


Christian Jegard - Have I Got News For You

There’s a lo-fi Beck quality to the debut single of Valentines/Bright Ones main man Christian Jegard. The video for this is like something Liam Lynch would’ve pulled out the bag ten or more years ago. Witty lyrics are backed up by quirky guitars; sounding not that far off that of Pearl Lowe’s former 90s Britpop claimers, Powder. As he mocks game show hosts and does his best Bowie impersonation, the song itself is incredibly catchy and borders Moldy Peaches, The Beta Band and Blur. If the title doesn’t encourage you to check him out, be sure to swim in an enternal swamp of Angus Deayton’s underpants suckers.

Gavin Tate


New Order - Plastic

Even with the absence of long term bass player Peter Hook, they still have the ability to unleash electronic screamers and to New Order’s credit, they were the innovators of this very style of music thus giving them the right to carry the torch for as long as they wish. I did much prefer previous single ‘Restless’, though this isn’t a bad follow up. The new album as a whole is epic and ‘Singularity’ is definitely the standout track for me. ‘Touched By The Hand Of God’ was the first ever song I recognised as a child and one I still play frequently. They should team up with Wire for a collaboration. Two of post-punk’s leading names together in the studio! Imagine that.

Gavin Tate


Lunar Twin - 'Champagne'

Competition time: how many mixes of 'Champagne' are there? 4? 7? You're getting warm. 8? There are in fact a total of 9 remixes of Lunar Twin's new single listed in the publicity and listening to the track it's sort of alright ballad until it basically gets remixed out of all recognition into a wavey ravey squelch. And can no one ever call a song about anything 'Champagne'? Please?
https://soundcloud.com/emerald-and-doreen-rec/sets/lunar-twin-champagne-remixes%20

JG


Jordan Okrend – ‘World Keeps Turnin’

Singer-songwriter/guitarist Jordan Okrend hails from NYC and pulls from the rock, jazz, and blues genres to craft his socially-conscious lyrics and acoustic guitar-based sound. He started playing guitar at the young age of seven and has performed hundreds of shows over the years. Between 2010 and 2012 Jordan released two EPs while studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. The recently-released World Keeps Turnin is his 3rd EP and the heartfelt title song encompasses Jordan’s world view and sonic sensibilities. Short and brisk, but mellifluous guitar strum accompanies his softly intoned vocals as he matter-of-factly, but hopefully, states “Life goes on no matter the past / so let go and just live along the way…” There’s a sudden segue from this spare guitar and vocals set-up to a surging instrumental accompaniment of brighter guitar lines, reflective piano notes, and lively drum beat and cymbals tick. Jordon’s vocals rise to a vividly emotive level and his passionate expressions run along until the end of the song.
https://soundcloud.com/jordanokrend/01-jordan-okrend-world-keeps
https://www.facebook.com/JordanOkrendMusic/timeline
http://www.jordanokrend.com/

Jen Dan


Lowly - 'Fire'

Yet more summery pop to take our minds off the approach of autumn and Lowly bring it with some flair and enthusiasm, a song you'll be able to listen to next June and still find yourself singing along with its blissed out reveries and inventive turn of tune. Good one.
https://soundcloud.com/bella-union/lowly-fire/s-qZDxb

JG


Swerve - 'Everything'

Sometimes songs are speeded up in the studio to make them sound, well, whatever it is that speeding songs up makes them sound like but 'Everything' seems to have been slowed down a fraction just so that we can hear everything that Swerve are about, which is pared down no frills crunching stomping guitar tunes, no pretence at originality or making any grand statements, just cranking it out like it's an unreleased Tom Petty b-side playing at 33rpm.
https://soundcloud.com/swervetheband/05-everything-1/s-nb2d8

JG


Charity – ‘Beautiful Moments’

Like a flower blooming from gritty, but rich soil, singer-songwriter and guitarist Charity Ward is flowering from her native Detroit environs into an international musical artist. She recently released her a-little-bit-pop, a-little-bit RnB EP titled Yellow, and like its sunny and hopeful connotations, Charity shines brightly on each of its 4 tracks, none more so than on ‘Beautiful Moments’ and its inspiring accompanying video. Amid gleaming, strummed acoustic guitar strings, a subdued, but traipsing drum beat, and sporadic pulls of strings in the backdrop, Charity lifts up her warm and pleasant vocals, sweetly declaring on the chorus about being “…intoxicated by the you and I / ‘cause you’ve got beautiful moments / deep in your eyes.” The song is about love, and can be interpreted to be any of its variations – familial, romantic, platonic. In the video Charity hits the streets of Detroit, strolling around a market, biking in the city, and strumming her guitar. Her journey is intercut with shots of several young girls in tutus practicing their ballet moves among the ruins of rundown buildings. The next generation is brimming with hope and is ready to blossom, keeping the dream of a better future alive.
https://www.facebook.com/charitytheartist?fref=ts

Jen Dan


The Libertines - Heart Of The Matter

The opening lyrics: “No one can hold a light to your misery” begins a tale of wickedness and bad intentions. The one thing I truly love about The Libertines, is their ability to unleash poetic songs that stick in your head for eternity. Considering this band have been on and off for a good 10 years, this single is just as good as any off the first two albums and is the strongest on 3rd offering ‘Anthems For Doomed Youth’. Like I said about Carl Barât And The Jackals work; it’s like pirate music for indie kids; the bass being forefront in the verses, allowing the guitar to take charge during the chorus. A reminisce to early days ‘Up The Bracket’ era and they still have that garage revival element and messyness that landed them the throne over a decade ago.

Gavin Tate


Kimia Penton – ‘Pieces’

Middle East-born, London-raised, and now Dallas, Texas-based Kimia Penton is not only a singer-songwriter and violinist, but also a psychologist and she brings a sensitive awareness to her violin playing and vocals. She has amassed a devoted following on Facebook of over 23K fans and has named her profile there ‘Kimia’s Journeys’. She is releasing her album, Lessons from Life and Love, on October 16th and ‘Pieces’ is one of the violin-steeped numbers from it. Her sound is a blend of influences from the pop, jazz, and Middle Eastern genres and her use of violin and soulful vocals achieves a vibrancy and poignancy to her songs. ‘Pieces’ saunters with a laid-back, hand drum-driven rhythm, piano notes, and strummed acoustic guitar. Kimia’s violin line trembles bittersweetly over the proceedings and her voice follows suit as she regretfully reflects on a past relationship with someone who is wrong for her, where “…my heart left me / Every piece betrayed me / to follow a beautiful mistake.” Kimia’s heart may be in pieces and aching, but her spirit on this song is strong as she mulls over her heartbreak.
https://soundcloud.com/kimiapmusic/pieces
https://www.facebook.com/kimiajourneys

Jen Dan


Years & Years - 'Eyes Shut'

Not massively keen on this one. An alright if not very inspired sounding ballad that falls short of the sort of uplifting sound that Years & Years are aiming for, and a confusingly drab video set amongst some empty tower blocks that doesn't really work on any level. Years & Years have got better songs than this and they could do with refilming the video that goes with it, a desperate looking gloom fest that grabs the song by its ankles and chokes it up a dark alleyway. Why?

JG


Hurricane #1 - 'Think Of The Sunshine'

It is October. By the time anyone aside from reviewers gets to hear 'Think Of The Sunshine' it could very well be Christmas, so Hurricane#1, why unleash your admittedly bouncy summery powerpop comeback single with its lyric about sunny, summery weather in the middle of autumn. Are you going to Australia soon? Yes, actually it has cheered me up a bit. A bit.
https://soundcloud.com/tapete-records/hurricane-1-think-of-the-sunshine-single-edit/s-Taoqc

JG


Tumbler – ‘Break or Fall’

Out of the Epsom, England area comes music act Tumbler which is comprised of Richard Grace, his son Harry (one of Richard’s 6 sons), and David Needham. The folk-rock trio first formed as a duo, with Richard, a self-taught guitarist who has played in various bands much of his life, and Harry as its core members. With a bunch of music compositions ready to be finalized, Richard and Harry went looking for a venue where they could commit them to record and discovered David and his studio in Epsom. David worked alongside Richard and Harry and soon came on board, even before the band was given a proper name. The result is a 12-track debut album titled You Said which was released in mid-September.

One of the highlights off of You Said is the lead single ‘Break or Fall’, a stirring, heartfelt, Verse, Chorus, Verse number that melds acoustic and electric instruments. Synth strings sweep through its start, but disappear as acoustic guitar strum and a pronounced drum beat take over. Richard sings in a plaintive, slightly trembling tone on the verses, then raises his voice to exclamatory level on the chorus sections. The drum beat becomes more emphatic, the pace quickens, strings flit in and out, and an electric guitar line augments the acoustic guitar strum. On a quieter passage that occurs late in the song, Richard reveals in hushed, emotionally vulnerable tone “No, I don’t want to go / home … / I don’t want to go / alone.”
https://soundcloud.com/tumbler-4/break-or-fall

Jen Dan


J. Burn – ‘Freight Train’

Jay Burn, under his slightly shortened moniker J. Burn, composes Americana/country-rock numbers that recall a bygone era. His latest EP, Burnt Blue, precedes a full-length that’s scheduled for release later this year. The 4 songs of Burnt Blue travel the forgotten country roads and lost train tracks of an earlier time in American history. They are anchored by the basic set-up of guitar and drums and bolstered by the bobbing sway of violin and banjo and the plunk of occasional piano notes. Through it all, Jay sings in a plaintive, unfussy tone, recalling Bob Dylan in spirit and lyrical content.

The briskly paced, but instrumentally and vocally mellow, ‘Freight Train’ kicks off the EP on a rambling note with strummed guitar lines, lightly sawed violin, and a quick shuffle of brushed drums. Jay sings in a matter-of-fact tone that he’s suffering from a broken heart and that “I just need to go / and gather my belongings / and head on down that road.”, like a train following its track to a different destination. He wants to leave the past behind, including the memories of his broken up relationship, and focus on what lies ahead because, as Jay intones more hopefully on his wanderlust-tinged lyrics, “You know, the future’s wide open…”
https://soundcloud.com/jburnmusic/freight-train?in=jburnmusic/sets/burnt-blue-ep
https://www.facebook.com/jburnmusic

Jen Dan


Stephen Inglis – ‘Long Run’

Honolulu, Hawaii-living Stephen Inglis is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and guitarist who is renowned for his work in the Hawaiian Slack Key guitar genre, where one or more strings of a standard-tuned guitar is detuned to create the formation of a single chord. Stephen has had a storied career, joining forces with Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann as House of Spirits from 1998 to 2001 and recording and touring with Hawaiian music legend Rev. Dennis Kamakahi. He has four solo albums to his name in both electric and acoustic guitar styles, including the acclaimed Slackin’ On Dylan for which he won the Hawaii Music Award in 2011. His latest album, Learning You By Heart, was released this past June and it’s full of warm-hearted, brisk to placid alt-folk and Americana numbers.

The album’s closer, ‘Long Run’ is Stephen’s most contemplative song of the album, doing away with the drums, vocal harmonies, and upbeat rhythms. It also feels like his most heartfelt and direct tune, with Stephen singing in a clear, rich, but ruminative manner about the past and the future. He equates the past with a train speeding down the track and that there’s “…no turning back…”, while the future is “…a pool of dreams called tomorrow / Not looking to see sorrow.” He is reveling in the here and now and what’s good in his life, declaring that his life is his own amid a gentle flow of limpidly picked acoustic guitar lines and the soft keen of burnished harmonica pulls.
https://soundcloud.com/stepheninglis/the-long-run?in=stepheninglis/sets/learning-you-by-heart
https://www.facebook.com/stepheninglismusic

Jen Dan


Nemo James – ‘The Poet’

Singer-songwriter Nemo James has a striking name and it was crafted by him after he learned that his grandfather used to be nicknamed Nemo. The James part came from the ether, or so Nemo thought, until he found out by strange coincidence that his grandfather had been one of 8 children and the eldest was named James. As a friend of his once told him, this was all an intriguing ‘omen’, which is Nemo spelled backwards… Even more interesting than his moniker is Nemo’s long-standing and varied career which has carried him across the globe and in different occupations, from his native Croatia to the U.K. Nemo has even written a book about this life titled Just A Few Seconds. He was once a session musician but went solo and after a 12-year break from recording and performing Nemo is back with a 17-track, over-an-hour long, fittingly-titled album, The Minstrel.

Like the oldest brother of Nemo’s grandfather who was a poet, Nemo has blended together folk and country styles on the single ‘The Poet’ and on the rest of the songs of his acoustic-based album. Chuck Sabo assists on drums and Djemal Cakic supports on flugal horn. ‘The Poet’, is low-key and steeped in a 1970s singer-songwriter vibe. A measured drum pace paces lightly throughout the number and Nemo’s clear, but subdued vocals are accompanied by fluidly picked acoustic guitar strum, short bleats of flugal horn, and slowly sweeping strings. Nemo is quietly reflective, sing-talking his bittersweet lyrics of “He’s a poet / a dreamer / creator of the world.” – “But don’t forget the man inside / He stands alone.” The guitar line and horn become more expressive by the end of the song and are bolstered by shimmering cymbal crash.
http://www.nemojames.com/index.php

Jen Dan


John J Presley – White Ink EP

Blues, three chords and the truth. Three chords and the truth. Play them differently. It takes guts to play something that you want to be incessant. You have to believe that your voice gets the songs to somewhere else while the music sticks in the head. Go in through the top, at the head and aim for the heart and hopefully find yourself lower.

It's possible and I know you know it is too because you've yelled and sweated and grooved. You can name 10 songs right now. People have done it and now you have a kid. This should be the music of hips. The music of closed eyes. The music of deafening roars. The music of burying you head into shoulders pulling yourself into someone and holding them tight.

The Blues. Howl at something. Howl for something. Can you call for something and get it? Make people believe. Presley has the exact voice you'd expect for this, growly and sure, a perfect wobble when he says Time waits for no one. Well, I'm still looking for the perfect songs and I still want them to start at exactly the right moment. Everything gets discounted from there.

The White Ink EP has shake and rattle but you know exactly what that shake and rattle is so nothing hits you harder than a good accompaniment to getting to somewhere else... until Sweet Superstition, Rise To My Confession and Ill At Ease. While every song is named from the Blues Rock spin the wheel name chart, these last three get it much better.

It comes out at three really good songs and two pretty good songs and it is worth listening to the first four to enjoy the last two more. All you're looking for is a way to feel whole again. You're always on the way. This isn't bad for music to keep going to.

Christopher Carney


Kung Fu Jesus – ‘Smartphones’

Scottish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Craig Snape, otherwise known as Kung Fu Jesus, is usually a musically mellow fellow who crafts lyrically-aware, trance-inducing electro-pop/alt-rock tunes, but on his single ‘Smartphones’ he’s got something serious to say about the state of society today and he doesn’t mince words. Against the catchy, fluid roll of a fast-clacking beat, bass strum, and whispery electronic percolation, he rails against the governmental institution, declaring matter-of-factly “We’re livin’ in a slave nation.” where smartphones record everything we say and do and drones in the skies are “robot government spies.” The chorus is the sharp-minded kicker, as Kung Fu Jesus cries out in frustration “Smartphones are for dumb motherf*ckers.” The language may be raw, but it’s effective, as well as the spoken word ending of a female voice asking “Can you hear me now?” For a pick-me-up from this perceptive, but bleak viewpoint check out the smooth, laid-back grooves of “Rainbow Road”. Both songs are featured on Kung Fu Jesus’ recent album, Celestial Gold.
https://www.facebook.com/kungfujesusuk

Jen Dan


d.oh – ‘There Goes My Heart’

d.oh is the shortened moniker of the Canada-located, indie electronic artist Daniel Oh and he released a 4-song EP, self-deprecatingly titled A Lukewarm Reception, about a month ago. Daniel combines various styles into his electronic sound, including RnB, rock, and blues. Daniel is a true solo musician, composing his songs and singing and playing all of the instruments on them. He dropped his debut EP, Hole In My Sock, this past January and has quickly followed that up with A Lukewarm Reception. This one-man-band takes the listener on a smooth, affable journey on the single ‘There Goes My Heart’. It’s a low-key, but alluring number that radiates with the soft simmer of ticking beats and subdued keyboard notes. Daniel sings about his mysterious object (well, subject…) of desire in a hushed croon, wondering “I think you’re taunting me / Is it your nature I see?” As the song progresses, the rhythm builds up with a hand drums beat, sharper synth squiggles, Daniel’s layered vocals that include him sighing out the song title line, “There goes my heart…”
http://ohitsdoh.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ohitsdoh

Jen Dan


Zaflon – ‘Blink’

Zaflon is moniker of London-based, electronics-immersed producer Dan Clarke. He used to play in various indie bands during his school years, but after graduating with a music degree from Westminster University and working with a digital multi-track machine, he decided to use his skill set in the studio, collaborating on a diverse array of projects. Now he’s focused on his own music and his first single ‘Blink’, which will be officially released on October 9th. It precedes a debut EP of Zaflon’s original electronic compositions out later this year.

Zaflon bring his electronic wizardry to ‘Blink’, which features guest vocals from independent vocalist, musician, and producer Mina Fedora. It’s a deeply intricate track filled with intense, frenetic beats that contrast with Mina’s cool, airy vocal tone. The sizzlin’ percussion of blips, clicks, and lazered notes are bolstered by urgent keyboard ascension while Mina floats in the ether and then builds up her vocals to a sweetly keening level. Involving and breathtaking collaborative stuff from Zaflon and Mina.
https://soundcloud.com/zaflon/blink-feat-mina-fedora-1
https://www.facebook.com/zaflonmusic?fref=ts

Jen Dan


Brielle – ‘Rock The Catwalk’

Electro-pop princess Brielle stalks with sharp attitude through ‘Rock The Catwalk’, both vocally on the song and visually in the accompanying video. ‘Rock The Catwalk’ is a clever and fun remake of the classic ‘Rock The Casbah’ by The Clash. Who would have thought that a gritty, albeit catchy eco-politico-messaged rock tune from the 1980s could be revamped in glam fashion into a house-styled, electro-pop hit? Brielle name-drops designers like Chanel, Lagerfeld, Gucci, Posen, and more, declaring defiantly “There’s a new It Girl / What they gonna do?” amid an upbeat clacking rhythm and shimmering synth notes. As ebullient electro-notes drop, Brielle gives her definitive answer - to “Rock the beat and hit the spotlight.” while she struts her stuff down the catwalk. In the video, Brielle gets to play dress-up, donning glitzy duds that are alternately timelessly retro and fashion-forward. The artificial catwalk changes to a desert landscape near the end of the vid, with Brielle still exuding attitude, but acting more natural than her model poses on stage.

https://www.facebook.com/briellemusic

Jen Dan