Thursday, 28 April 2011

We Walk on Ice - New Music "Introducing"


Facebook // I was recommended We Walk on Ice by a very reliable source, once again he was bang on the money. The duo is made up of lead singer and guitarist Ida Jacobsson orginally from Sweden and drummer Lincoln Trevisani from Brazil, they are based in London. With such wide ranging upbringings their sound could have been anywhere from Abba to CSS though thankfully We Walk on Ice appear not (I'm basing this on two songs after all) to be an amalgamation of those two acts. Instead there is a lush and ethereal indie-pop sound, oozing with a dreamy atmosphere and soaring melodies.

If you listen to the quite brilliant tracks available on Soundcloud, "The Beast" and "Sea Sick" you'll see why. Ttwo sugar-coated wonders, Ida's vocal flows through with a real breezy beauty, backed by some precise percussion and echoey guitar. I am certainly looking forward to seeing / listening to more.

Sea Sick by wewalkonice

The Beast by wewalkonice

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Maria Minerva - New Music "Introducing"

Facebook

I'm sure some of you can remember back in the old days before high-speed Internet came along and changed things, when music-whores would spend hours in records shops and walk out with a pile of records, some from artists they'd not even heard before, perhaps a name someone had passed on or a recommendation from a staff member (record shops even come with free human staff for general music advice purposes).

I remember going into town every Saturday when I was 15/16 and spending £15.99 (for one single album) on the Prince / Queen back catalogue, it was a trip full of excitement, and then the adrenaline rush when you got home and listened to the album for the first time, it was worth those hours working in between school.

This simple pleasure simply doesn't exist anymore, if you wanted to you could download the whole Queen discography in about half an hour for nothing, music has changed to a thing that (some) people regard to as a free commodity and those human interactions have changed to geeky nerds hiding behind a screen writing music blogs and posting on drowned in sound forums...

I realised with the help of Record Store Day a few weeks back that in some cases you can do those simple things you used to (I'm only a child of the 80's), get lost in a music shop and buy something on impulse. What all of that waffling means is, that's what I did with Maria Minerva. I walked into Rough Trade with a list of a few items to pick up, most of things I'd already heard and wanted. I came out two hours later with a few extra things that I got because they looked appealing or the Rough Trade write-up sounded very much to my taste, Maria Minerva's (aka Maria Juur, born in Tallinn, Estonia though is currently based in London) 'Noble Savage' 12"EP (released via %100 Silk) was the latter, the write up sounded just perfect, it wasn't far off either.

Four tracks, 21 minutes of super-sexy bedroom disco pop, "Noble Savage" sets the scene with it's beat-driven tribal dance percussion, with a layered ghostly hypnotic vocal it's pretty seductive all right. If that doesn't win you over then "Disko Bliss" surely will do so, there is a massive hint in the title, but the funky grooves, swirling synths and hand claps will get even the most ardent hipster strutting their thing on the dance-floor. I'm yet to investigate Maria's full length debut cassette, T'allinn at Dawn' though from the sampler "California Scheming" it seems to be equally intoxicating, the beats are there but hidden behind a hazy veil of reverb, I'll be on the lookout for that release then.

There's more to come, her new LP "Cabaret Cixous" is due in June via Not Not Fun.

Listen
Maria Minerva - Noble Savage
Maria Minerva - Disko Bliss


Maria Minerva - California Scheming from Not Not Fun on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Ren Harvieu - New Music "Introducing"

I can't give much of a write up because on this post for one simple reason; I literally know as much as this; Ren Harvieu is from Salford and is approximately 20 years old.

What I do know is that she possess a stunning voice, a truly stunning one, highly emotive and powerful as can be seen on the Youtube video, a cover of Roy Orbison's "Cryin'" (I've frankly no idea what's going on with Glasvegas in the video).

The seldom link on her myspace (I thought that was dead already?) gives a hint with a Soundcloud link to Island Records for another track "Through The Night", so I'm guessing she's Island Records main hope for 2012. There's a certain jazz club feel that won't be to everyone's taste I'm sure but the sultry old-school feel to the track is quite magnificent.

REN HARVIEU - THROUGH THE NIGHT by IslandRecordsA&RUK

Ghosts You Echo - New Music "Introducing"

Facebook / http://ghostsyouecho.tumblr.com/

Ghosts You Echo came onto my radar due to a gig with Cold in Berlin a few backs, a show which a heavy bout of hay-fever kept me in the house for, I'm sure it'd have been a pretty spectacular gig too...

From various things I've read I can't work out if it's a solo project of Victoria Wijeratne or a five piece band, I'll go with the latter but the main focal point is definitely that of Vicky, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, seeemingly an incredibly talented one too.

'Lifeline' their second EP was released last month via Roundhouse Records (a label run by the London venue) and what immediately strikes me are the beautiful arrangements and instrumentation on each of the four tracks, I really love the violin that sweeps its way through the duration of "Pull Through" and the empowering uplifting chorus on the same song, "Pull through, show what you've got // I'm made of, I'm made of something good". Opener "Erika" is probably the most instant, incredibly layered with ambient synths, a fantastic percussion line, more sweeping strings and a beautiful vocal from Vicky, surely destined for radio airplay.

It's a world where we seem to want to draw comparisons from other artists here I'm struggling, perhaps a little reminiscent of Natasha Khan, though the bedroom doom-pop of demo "The Dead Sway" actually reminds me of favourites Terror Bird, perhaps it's the casio honed melody and the haunting vocals, it's a brilliant insight into what might be to come in any case (as long as they steer away from the Kings of Leon cover that can be heard on Soundcloud).

Ghosts You Echo - Erika
Pull Through by Ghosts You Echo
The Dead Sway (very very rough demo) by Ghosts You Echo

Anna Lena & The Orchids - New Music "Introducing"

http://annalenaandtheorchids.bandcamp.com/ / Facebook

Anna Lena & The Orchids are a seven piece band based in Liverpool, though Anna Lena the lead vocalist and the songwriter in the band is originally from Norway and the Scandinavian heritage is evident in her voice, a slightly accented ethereal and peaceful vocal which is a real joy to listen to.

Anna self released an EP, 'Child' last year and you can listen to a few tracks below or download from bandcamp. The Hauntingly beautiful title track leads into "Miss Audrie" which gives a perfect insight to the groups alternative folk style, evocative and ambient soundscapes which stand out thanks to pleasing melodic and well-crafted instrumentation.

"Statues" is probably my favourite, a delicate piano introduction leads to a beautiful and dark track, Anna's wistful and serene vocals capable of soothing the headiest of minds before it briefly erupts into a storm of cello and drums.


Monday, 25 April 2011

Worship - New Music "Introducing"

http://www.facebook.com/worshipuk

I didn't touch my computer for about 36 hours - it was quite refreshing to take a small break, I'll return this Bank Holiday Monday for a short-ish post on a group from Reading that I've not been able to find much information about. Worship sound is primarily electronica, but with pop orientated melodies, stuttering synth lines and soaring vocals meaning some blissfully atmospheric tracks.

There are three tracks to listen to on the group soundcloud but I'm unable to embed them here, so hear is another track "Collateral", perhaps the most ambient and eerie of the tracks I've heard so far. The group don't appear to have any releases yet but are playing quite a few live dates and might well be ones to catch.

Listen
Worship - Collateral

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Holly Miranda #6 - More Covers

http://hollymiranda.com/home.html

It's been pretty quiet on the Holly Miranda front this year, a new website aside I'm hoping Holly has been tucked away writing the follow up to the sublime Magician's Private Library, though she treated us to a nice Easter surprise of a covers feast.

Further to the two covers posted here in January Holly has added a bundle to her Soundcloud page, so far eleven tracks in total featuring a variety of covers, modern hits and older tracks too, all with Holly's stamp on them - if this was an album, I'd certainly be buying it (hint) for now we'll have to stream away.

I've added a few of my favourite below, an even better treat for me would be a UK show so I can make up for my schoolboy error I discussed about on one of my previous Holly posts, it was preaching to the converted with me, but these covers are completely beautiful, her dreamy, ethereal, magical voice turns me to putty everytime.

Holly Miranda - Crystalized (XX cover) Featuring Glowhearts and Timmy Mislock by holly miranda
Holly Miranda - Two (Antlers Cover) Featuring Glowhearts and Timmy Mislock by holly miranda
Holly Miranda - Goddamn The Sun (Swans Cover) by holly miranda

P.S. If you are new to Holly, follow this label and make sure you download the concerts you'll find linked, they'll be on constant repeat for days I assure you.

Edit 25th April: One more, one of the best songs ever written, Holly you really are spoiling us:

Holly Miranda - Stand by me (Ben E King Cover) by holly miranda

Friday, 22 April 2011

Ivana XL - New Music "Introducing"

http://www.facebook.com/ivanaccc

The second post in a row of an artist that's been around for at least three years and I'd not heard of until this past week, this post is with thanks to She Keeps Bees whom have Ivana XL as a like on facebook and I was intrigued enough to click on it during one of my random internet browsing sessions, Ivana XL is the moniker of Ivana Carrescia who like SKB is based in Brooklyn and her slow dive songs are here to transport me to slumberland tonight.

I couldn't find a proper discography but on iTunes there are so many tracks to digest in one go (33) that I'd be here until the morning (I think there are three EP's and one LP), so I'm just going to give a brief summary using Ivana's souncloud embeddable tracks, then if you like what you hear, and you should, you can do some of your own leg work!

"Black Eye" is stripped back to just a carefully plucked acoustic guitar and Ivana's stunning voice, equally mellow and sultry, a perfect foil for a late night glass of bourbon or an afternoon coffee and cake, basically what I'm saying is anyone who's finally worked out that four prepubescent boys ripping off The Libertines / Oasis / The Beatles (working in reverse order) is pretty shite.
"Sundowner" is equally raw and bluesy, it's beautifully soulful in every movement. A reflective, melancholic and understated gem and "Happy Birthday" which is absolutely lovely, a dreamy piano waltz and a swirling melody, utterly gorgeous.

You can download a free thirteen track compilation of tracks from Ivana's Bandcamp page, that'll be a perfect introduction then. Couldn't find any CD's in my normal search locations, it's late and I'm tired so will update here if I do!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY by IVANA XL
BLACK EYE by IVANA XL
SUNDOWNER by IVANA XL

Joana and the Wolf - New Music "Introducing"

Facebook

Joana And The Wolf are a London four piece fronted by Lithuanian singer-songwriter Joana Glaza, so says their PR and who am I to argue. The band seem to have been around for a while but are new to me, just this week, seemingly back from hiatus, but with a single coming out early May what better time to introduce yourself to Joana and her canidae ...

I'm not sure if the name is inspired by Peter and the Wolf, I guess it must have come up before but it's an apt comparison as a recurring theme throughout the tracks I've been hooked on this past few days are animals, nature and the spiritual world, A fantasy world Red Riding Hood on acid perhaps.

A single 'Hide Me' is out early next month, "Hide Me" has got real bite, a scratching guitar line all carried by Joana's voice, oscillating between powerful and seductive whispers, then "Vagabond Song" a gorgeous earthy, ethereal number which the brief three lines I've just written do no justice (listen to both below). Going back over the older material (new to me) was a revelation, starting with "Natural Born Killer", an utterly bonkers and brilliant track, for the second time in a week a music video has had me evoking imagery of living in The Wicker Man, continual writhing with the hands, general oddness, over-long stares and err, apples. All I'm missing is the maypole and then I'm ready to be carted off to a giant statue and burnt alive. Perhaps not, it's completely enchanting anyway.

"Demon's Bride" (unsurprisingly) is dark and ghostly, starting with melancholic piano it reminds me of Soap&Skin with it's unsettling atmosphere which provides temporary calm as the track gradually builds up to a climax of shimmery guitars, precise drums and banshee-wails.
The best though is "Entertainer" a seven minute song that's just too bloody good for words, I'm not sure if it's released or not, certainly couldn't find anything but you can stream it on facebook, link above.

I've been watching some fantastic live videos on YouTube the past few days and they really show off Joana as a fantastic lead, a mixture of Natasha Khan and Siobhan Fahey, it's pretty breathtaking whatever influences you may draw from her performances, a phenomenal stage presence and a staggering vocal range, one moment an ethereal goddess, the next a howling (sorry) rage.

Straight onto the must see live list goes Joana and the Wolf then, unfortunately (for me) their next gig I cannot make, the single launch for Hide Me is 11th May at  Favela Chic.

Joana And The Wolf - Hide Me

Joana And The Wolf - Vagabond Song

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Seapony #3 - Blue Star + Album Details

http://seapony.bandcamp.com/

It's Easter Weekend (finally) and for one shall be celebrating four straight days off work (or the Birth / Death / Re-birth of Jesus as it's alternatively known) by enjoying as much of this Spanish summer we're enjoying in April, in the UK. That means wearing t-shirts, eating ice creams, drinking beer and listening to songs like "Blue Star" by Seapony.

Since I first mentioned the group last October they've been signed up by Hardly Art and have readied a new album. "Blue Star" is the first new track to arrive and continues with Seapony's signature sound of effortlessly simple yet instantly charming indie-pop.

So pour some nice cool beer, slap on some sunscreen and get your ghetto blaster out in the garden, you're neighbours are sure to love this too:

Seapony - Blue Star

If you missed it first time around, here is the one that kicked it all off, the dreamy (boom boom) "Dreaming":
Seapony - Dreaming

The album 'Go With Me' is scheduled to be released 31st May, order it here US folk, UK to follow (I hope).

Golden Glow - New Music "Introducing"


Dear guitar, I am sorry I've been neglecting you recently, here is a welcome return of my favourite instrument - let's face it girls don't look quite so good hidden behind a keyboard - Golden Glow is the project of Manchester singer / songwriter Pierre Hall and his rather fantastic track "Adore Me" owes a lot to the city in it's post-punk influences, with scratching guitar lo-fi soundscapes delivered with a half spoken drawl vocal, it's pretty spectacular for its brief duration.

Debut album 'Tender Is The Night' will be released on May 24th, you can listen / download another track from it "All Time" below which a more laid-back Sunday afternoon track and is certainly making me interested in hearing more.

Golden Glow - Adore Me
Golden Glow - All Time


Golden Glow - Adore Me from Mush Records on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Alessi's Ark #3 - New Album Release

http://www.alessisark.com/

A quick post today as time has completely escaped me and I'm out again tonight (it's the turn of 2:54, Echo Lake and The History of Apple Pie - three bands that have featured here, so should be good!). Alessi's Ark second album 'Time Travel' has completely crept up on me, it's due next week, 25th April. You can pre-order it from Bella Union.

You can listen to two tracks below, if you are familiar with Alessi's material you'll be glad to know that "Maybe I Know" (a cover I think, I'm not familiar with the original) and "The Wire" do not stray from her adorable, cutesy acoustic folk sound with her warm voice as easy on the ears as ever, even if the lyrics and tone is perhaps more melancholic than on her debut, looking forward to hearing this in its entirety next week.

Alessi is on a small UK tour in May. Dates here.

Listen:
Alessi's Ark - Wire by Bella Union

Alessi's Ark - "Maybe I Know"


Alessi's Ark- Maybe I Know from Bella Union on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The National #2 - Exile Vilify

http://www.americanmary.com/

The National have done it again, it seems they can't help but make everything they touch turn to gold, another new, none album track has been released today, this one is called "Exile Vilify" it's an exceptionally beautiful piano led ballad with gorgeous string arrangements and of course, Matt Berninger's vocals.

It's a stand-alone track for the computer game Portal 2 - no, me neither but it's led to a breathtaking National song so I'm all for it, stream below and purchase via iTunes now.


The National - Exile Vilify

Light Asylum - New Music "Introducing"

http://www.lightasylum.com/ / Facebook

Every so often a song or a voice stops you in your tracks and makes you go WHOA! Well that's exactly what happened to me with Light Asylum and their track "Dark Allies". It's absolutely massive in every sense of the word, gargantuan, enormous.

If the vocals don't grab your attention then I'm pretty sure nothing will. Singer / Songwriter Shannon Funchess has one of the most powerful and deep voices, with an intense, incredible range. Then there are the songs too. With its repetitive storm of menacing synth, "Dark Allies" is simply incredible, if this track isn't filling dance-floors for the next few years something is going wrong, I can only imagine it'd be completely insane live .

It's not a one track pony either, perhaps "Dark Allies" is the jewel in the crown but on "Knights and Week Ends" Light Asylum continue with the industrial beats, a clear signature sign is the monstrous, energetic new wave. The beat of "Skull Fuct" pays clear homage to New Order, there are other 80's post-punk influences I could spout off but I'm sure you've heard them before, what matters is it's another doom-laden electro pop beast. Just four tracks, twenty minutes in length but it's so intense and strong it leaves you breathless, wanting more. Hopefully more is what we will get, a debut LP is in the works...

Listen below:

Dark Allies by LIGHT ASYLUM

Knights and Week Ends by LIGHT ASYLUM

Here's the rather NSFW video, it's rather cool too - I was expecting a Star Wars fight at any second!:

Dark Allies - Light Asylum from Grant Worth on Vimeo.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Kindest Lines - New Music "Introducing"

Facebook / http://kindestlines.blogspot.com/

I previously mentioned that Stereogum's '18 dark bands to watch' feature reminded me to post about Chelsea Wolfe, it was also my introduction to Kindest Lines...

The first track I heard from the New Orleans three piece wasn't exactly what I'd call 'Dark', "Baltimore" is brilliantly additive and lush but it's a dreamy electro-pop dance floor filler, slight new wave influences and a hard-hitting drumming line aside I initially wondered why Stereogum had included them in this particular list.

That changed with a listen to the other two tracks on their Facebook page, the minimal synths of "Hazy Haze" notable for it's precise drums and distant, ethereal vocals and stand-out "Destructive Paths to Live Happily" with throbbing, fuzzy pulses, echo drenched guitars are tracks for the same underground industrial club I mentioned last week with The Voyeurist.

The group have a debut LP in the works, ‘Covered in Dust’ is due in June.

Kindest Lines // Baltimore by TheArtOf...

Emmy The Great #6 - New Album Release Date and Free Track

http://emmythegreat.com/

Little bits about the release date of the new Emmy The Great album had been leaking out the past week or so, today it was officially announced, 'Virtue' will be released on June 13th. If you want the full track listing etc head to DiS.

Emma is definetly in my favourite artists bracket, the pledge show last year was brilliant - she is playing the same church in St Pancras again in June, three times in fact - only one date has tickets left at time of writing, I'd advise you act quickly. She's brilliant on stage, dead pan humour, a gorgeous voice and of course, her fabulous material - she's also playing Glastonbury but the initial Clashfinder has a tear inducing clash with Caitlin Rose. Given Emma quotes Strummerville as a link on her website, I'd be pretty surprised if we aren't treated to secret show their late one evening too.

You can download a free track off the new album, "A Woman, A Woman, A Century of Sleep" (which you can stream below) via. If you didn't get involved in the pledge you can pre-order the album via Rough Trade - no details on their site yet but looks like it might have a bonus disc, I might be buying a CD for my Dad and keeping that then!

Anyway, the track is quite brilliant, as you'd expect:
A Woman, A Woman, A Century of Sleep by Emmy The Great

Also check out The Guardian for a track Emma wrote and sung for the Nation's happy couple, William and Kate.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Trust - New Music "Introducing"


I was intrigued and also slightly put off by Toronto duo Trust for two reasons, firstly Maya Postepski who's the drummer in Austra is the songwriter in this project (that's the intrigue), the put off was the cover of the vinyl, I won't post it her but let's leave it as it's NSFW... The duo's sound fits perfectly in the icy cool 80's cold-wave scene that's having a resurgence at the moment.

Robert Alfons takes the lead with haunting, effected vocals whilst the brooding, slow-motion synths would be perfect at a goth disco. US folks can order the 7" from one of the best labels going, Sacred Bones.

Listen to "Candy Walls" below, their single and certainly my favourite and then the equally provocatively titled "Glory Hole". Not a band for Daily Mail readers then...

GLORYHOLE by TRUST

Trust - Candy Walls

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Russian Red #2 - Fuerteventura

http://www.russianred.es/

Russian Red returns with her second album 'Fuerteventura' on May 10th, for a reason completely unknown to me she is ridiculously ignored in the UK, hopefully this second album will change that... For a limited time, if you sign up to her mailing list you can get the title track for free.

I've done just that and it's wonderful, "Fuerteventura" is a cutesy folk waltz highlighting Lourdes' quirky and gorgeous voice perfectly, it's a song that is so easy to love instantly. You can stream the lead single off the album "I Hate You But I Love You" below, a wistful ballad that while straightforward is carefully crafted and has a beautiful melody making it as equally pleasurable as anything off her debut 'I Love Your Glasses'.

I was pretty tempted to pre-order this rather lovely deluxe vinyl set of the album, but I was put off with the postage charge - in keeping with most third party hosting sites that think it's actually okay to charge £12.91 to ship a vinyl (admittedly box-set) to the UK. I think I'll wait for a proper distribution channel to have the release, for £13 I'd expect Miss Hernández to deliver it personally (sure there'd be quite a few takers if she were!).

There's a host of Spanish dates in April, hopefully the UK will see at least a couple of shows, I don't think she's ever played here...

Russian Red - I Hate You But I Love You

Friday, 15 April 2011

Fielded - New Music "Introducing"

http://fielded.bandcamp.com/ / Facebook

You'll know if you read this blog that I'm very much into experimental enchantresses who sing post-apocalyptic tales (maybe it's because Fallout is one of my favourite games?) with a mystical and gothic tinge, my latest discovery from that realm is Fielded who (and I'm quoting a PR release) is the solo project of Ga'an front-woman and vocalist, Lindsay Powell, from Chicago.

Fielded isn't just another Zola Jesus or any other dark, brooding miserablist who's spent a lifetime listening to Kate Bush and Bjork records, She exhibits on her album 'Terrageist' (an LP that I completely missed on its 2010 release) an evocative range of emotions, with lighter textural tones amongst the sounds of ritualistic sacrifices and haunting dreamy soundscapes.

"Fire Rock Walls" conjures the sound of incantatory pagans, you know the sort - those that Edward Woodward gets mixed up with in The Wicker Man - the main focus is on Lindsay's wonderful siren-like voice, which varies from banshee-wails (best seen on "Demon Seed") to spectral whispers, it's utterly enchanting, created a blend of spectral, eclectic pop.

The Witchy woman vibe continues in "The Watcher" where repetitive layered gospel chants (much like the operatic section of The Knife's epic "Colouring of Pigeons") echo like a haunted church, when the minimal instrumentation kicks in half way with a wobbling synth pulse the track truly becomes otherworldly and completely divine.

"Another Time" and "Red Queen" are both built around foreboding, warbling synths and layered vocal chants, "Another Time" especially excels with an imposing, creepy beat creating a wonderful atmospheric track with thumping drums. If you like your music a bit bonkers and are unfamiliar with Fielded, their might well be a new Queen in town.

'Terrageist' is available now on limited to 300 copies vinyl via Catholic Tapes here. It looks rather wonderful, and at just $20 including shipping to the UK, it's too good not to order one for myself (as well as a previous tape release), if you like what you hear you can also download some early songs for free via her Soundcloud. Haven't found a digital release yet, this will sound amazing on wax though.

Fire Rock Walls by Fielded
Another Time by Fielded

Just to enhance those ritualistic paganisms comparisons here is the video for "Another Time":

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Valentina - New Music "Introducing"


Facebookhttp://www.valentinamusic.co.uk/

Okay I lied in my last post, it's my blog I'm allowed... Instead the next post is a new artist I found just last night thanks to Rough Trade's Twitter account, I think that's a first - to discover an artist thanks to a random re-tweet! I originally thought it was a mention of a release by Valentina Mushy (perhaps I wouldn't have clicked on it if I knew it wasn't), in fact it was a release for London based (guessing by her London gigging history - I couldn't actually find any bio information) Valentina who is just about to release her debut EP, 'Weights'.

Rough Trade's description was enough to arouse my interest so I headed to Google, found her website and listened to the rather brief snippet of her track "Heart of Glass" (which I have embedded below), what a bloody tease that was! It was more than enough to have me hooked and five minutes later in posession of the stream of the release, two listens later I started this post. 'Weights' is a wonderful debut release exhibiting ridiculous promise on five intelligently crafted organic songs with a varied and captivating sound.

"Heart of Glass", (not a Blondie cover) is a piano led lament which gradually builds with a stunningly powerful chorus and choir-like ooh's backing leading to a wonderful emotionally charged climax. The EP's other book-end is also a piano number, opener "Weights in the World"  is seven minutes in length yet feels three, a slow burning and delicate introduction leads to a beautifully melodic sparkling waltz, Valentina's sumptuous voice is the highlight throughout.

The other three tracks are more traditional introspective singer / songwriter, best exemplified on "It's A Line", a beautiful fractured ballad where simple arrangements, just a bare acoustic guitar and Valentina's tender voice, allow you to enter her personal memories in such way as you feeling you're snooping on an intimate disclosure, the backing harmonisations are simply the die for, and then "You Never Dance", a sparse and tender ethereal tale of love falling apart. This talented lady looks to have a great future ahead, I didn't use the word gorgeous on purpose till now, that's what this is, utterly f-ing gorgeous.

I've added the EP to my shopping list for my trip to Rough Trade (Record Store Day!!!) on Saturday, the EP is out everywhere on Monday 18th April. Listen below and order if you are so inclined, you should be.

Valentina - Heart Of Glass
Valentina - It's A Line


Heart Of Glass from Valentina Pappalardo on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Lilies On Mars - New Music "Introducing"

http://liliesonmars.com/ / Facebook

My next two posts are both from artists that I've had sitting as 'starred' on my gmail account since the turn of the year, instead of posting a video and two words I try and write a few paragraphs on my posts so I do tend to struggle to post more than one or two a day given a (standard) pretty hectic work / family / social life... last night someone I know mentioned Lilies on Mars, it was enough to trigger a click on the email and write my typical waffle...

A three piece based in London, Lilies on Mars describe themselves as an experimental shoegaze band on their Soundcloud, it may just be me but when I read shoegaze I tend to think of My Bloody Valentine type bands with pretty indistinguishable vocals and  a bleeding, feedback driven wall of sound, that description is not the case with Lilies on Mars. (On the whole) Their sound is utterly delicious, made out of sweet vocals, smooth keys and swirling guitars that offers a wonderful mixture of dream-pop, indie-rock and folkier moments throughout their second album 'Wish You Were a Pony' (released 23rd May - buy). There are some pictures of a hand-made limited edition CD on the groups facebook, they look nice...

I'll start with the first track I heard, "Aquarium's Key" a light, shimmery intro before the uniquely accented vocals enter in a dreamlike haze, the song is a perfect introduction to the band with its luscious and rich arrangements, bursting with sumptuous melodies, sparkling cycling guirar riffs and purposeful percussion.

There are some serenely beautiful moments ("Hiding Under Water" / "Coming Slowly Undone) gorgeous throughout, lush vocal harmonies and dreamy melodies create a laid-back and ethereal sound,  another favourite is the tender lullaby "I'm Confused, It's OK" a particular delicate beauty, you can imagine a sunny day with a book whilst these soothe you with all sort of aural loveliness.

As well as the soft-focus there's a more urgent side best portrayed on "A Lost Cause" underpinned by crunching guitars and a crisp, driving drumbeat, and "Angry Lullaby" which starts the polar opposite before switching to a dirty, grungy sound of rough-edged guitars, piercing howling cries and discordant vocals which almost makes you think your CD has got muddled up and you've found that MBV comparison I'd written off.

Give a few tracks a listen below and discover for yourself that it's rather wonderful. There are some London shows coming up, dates here.

Listen:
Aquarium's Key by Lilies on Mars
Hiding Under Water by Lilies on Mars
Angry Lullaby by Lilies on Mars

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Rayographs - New Music "Introducing"

Facebook / http://rayographs.com/

London based Rayographs are gearing up for the release of their self-titled debut album (out 25th April on Desire - order link). I'd not heard of them until I was scrolling through the acts confirmed for London's Stag and Dagger festival last weekend, the trio stood out as the best of the initial new (to me) bands investigated; (there are two 7" released in 2008/9 to track down too).

"Space of the Halls" is the lead offering off the album and it's rather great; infusing 60's psychedelia with dark bluesy garage soundscapes, with its video taken straight from the David Lynch handbook. Starting as a weird, eerie dream, it kicks up the tempo and uses some frenetic flashing shots towards the finale to match the intimidating, sinister atmosphere created by the hypnotically repetitive shrilling guitar riff. It has certainly given me a craving to hear the rest of the album.

Listen to Space of the Halls below and head here for a free download: You can help yourself to a further two tracks from the bands website, "Hidden Doors" especially triumphant with a smoky, sprawling beat that gathers momentum from the outset with a voluptuous and moody vocal that evokes a similar landscape to the one I mentioned last week with Religious to Damn, that of a vast open desert, rattlesnakes et al.



Here is the video:

Rayographs 'Space Of The Halls' from NTSH London on Vimeo.

ANR - Big Problems

http://anrmiami.com/

ANR are two guys from Miami who create some grandiose electro-pop with Michael John Hancock's falsetto crooning instantly likeable, as normal I missed their album 'Stay Kids' on release, but I caught up with the group thanks to the release of the second single from the record, "Big Problem".

The video edit of the track is intense, a twilight zone-esque eerie twinkle interwoven with some menacing synth beats before the video plays out as a cross between a Sam Raimi and Robert Rodriguez slasher flick, with a serial killer and scantily-clad ladies a plenty, probably NSFW if you are in your office... It's one of the best video's I've seen recently. I imagine there will be a Thriller style ten minute video too, look forward to seeing that.

Also check out "Stay Kids" a funky psychedelic disco floor gem. The band play The Great Escape and some other UK dates in May.


ANR - "Big Problem" from stereogum on Vimeo.

ANR - Big Problem
ANR - Stay Kids
ANR - The Endless Field Of Mercury

Monday, 11 April 2011

Chelsea Wolfe - The Grime and The Glow

http://chelseawolfe.net

I was meant to post about Chelsea Wolfe a while back, then foolishly proceeded to totallly forgot about her until an appearance in Stereogum's "18 Dark Bands To Watch In 2011" provided a welcome reminder of her bewitching talent.

A singer / songwriter based in Los Angelos who released her debut LP 'The Grime and The Glow' late last year (so late I think it's far to include it as a 2011 release) with another 'Apocalypse' due later this (both via Pendu). If you were after a quick summation of her music, the album titles do a pretty apt job, quickly telling you that this isn't going to be the album you reach for when the Grandparents are round, for this is some of the most challenging, disturbed and haunting experimental noise-pop you'll likely to hear any-time soon, and an album that for every bit challenging is equally compelling.

It is pretty hard to pigeon-hole the sound (and you know bloggers like to pigeon-hole) as there's such a vast variety of music styles, though an underlining characteristic is the moody, claustrophobic atmospheric drone that prevails throughout. The raw, fuzzed-out dirty blues sound of "The Whys" and the repetitive drum beat and distorted riff of "Moses" recall a PJ Harvey that has signed her life away to the occult. Grime is apparent on the murky sludge and wailings of the damn right fucked up "Deep Talks" and there is a shift of lo-fi ambient folk on "Cousins of the Antichrist", religious undertones and the dark, morose imagery is never too far away.

Then there are some tender, beautiful moments. The repetitive piano melody of "Benjamin", my highlight of the LP, sees Chelsea's ethereal soft whispers howl like wind over the melancholic waltz, it's utterly spellbinding. Likewise, the acoustic bare-boned  "Halfsleeper" is an almost traditional folk tale tainted by an otherworldly backing vocal. It's impossible not to mention an iTunes bonus track, a cover of "You Are My Sunshine", as far removed from the original as possible, transformed into seven minute track far removed from the uplifting 40's sing-along, starting innocently enough as a slow and relaxed acoustic number, it's not long before the ever present hiss, ghostly wail and eerie random noises take over the track, where the distant sounds of a music box playing close in a fittingly chilly finale.

There was a French tour in March but I don't think she's reached the UK yet, I'm sure that will change, it'll be a must see when she does.  8.5 / 10.

Order 'The Grime and The Glow' in the UK from Rough Trade, limited to 500 and I can't imagine they'll be there too long.

Listen:



Sunday, 10 April 2011

Lykke Li #2 - Velvet


Covers are a touchy subject for many, a lot of people frown against all covers in principle and most people (me included) need at least some stamp of originality from the artist covering to see any merit for them, see Ellie Goulding's cover of Elton John for a perfect example of how to rub people up the wrong way (although to be fair to her, she has had a couple of covers that are very decent)...

Lykke Li has been ticking all my boxes since I first walked into Rough Trade on February 28th and discovered her (see this post for my thoughts on that and album review) and continues to do so with this cover of The Big Pink's "Velvet", a track transformed so much that if you heard it amongst a set of 'Wounded Rhymes' songs you'd be hard pressed to work out that it's not an original track.

Gone is the throbbing beat and distorted ambiance of the original, instead we've a stripped down (it was recorded for MTV unplugged), beautifully tender track, exhibiting the same vulnerability in her voice as she does on the album, it's a pretty spectacular cover if you ask me (you can watch the set on the MTV website here - although in the UK it seems restricted). (Thanks to Music From Go to Whoa)

Listen:
Lykke Li - Velvet (The Big Pink)

Here's a rather lovely acoustic version of probably my favourite track off 'Wounded Rhymes', "Sadness is a Blessing":
Lykke Li - Sadness Is A Blessing (Acoustic)

The Voyeurist - New Music "Introducing"


Facebook / I can normally pinpoint how I came across a band, but I don't actually know how I discovered The Voyeurist. I've a bookmark folder with 100's of bands I stumble across with the intention of listening to when I'm in such a mood, generally this folder gets larger and larger, anyway, The Voyeurist were in their and the name took me by fancy, so I clicked on their Soundcloud and voilà; here we are...

Perhaps I should have grown up in a world where people only listen to Krautrock for its influences are certainly sound-tracking the majority of my 2011. Yesiree, The Voyeurist are fine purveyors of brooding, new wave electro-pop. Listen to "NW1" or "Messiah" for a perfect introduction to the London three-piece, distinct industrial undertones run through dark sinister beats, yet there is a pop-orientated and almost catchy rhythm to their output.

Ghostly coo's introduce "His Face Was a Spider", before rumbling drums and throbbing bass take the track on a menacing journey of claustrophobic macabre ambiance. This is edgy pop noir, if The xx are comedown music, then The Voyeruist are the trip.

Now I'm off to find a some people to lure into a dark, leaky basement and make them listen to this loudly, on repeat.*

Listen:
Messiah. by TheVoyeurist

His face was a spider. by TheVoyeurist

NW1. by TheVoyeurist


The Voyeurist - NW1 from Pierre Henri Landriau on Vimeo.

* I'm not actually going to do that officer, please don't arrest me, I'm just a geeky music-blogger.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Modern Superstitions #2 - Live Vids / UK appearance

A quick post as I'm somewhat hungover today, I just wanted to share my excitement about Modern Superstitions name appearing on the list of bands for The Great Escape, I can't find any more UK dates at the moment (other than an appearance at Above Audio on May 13th as part of the festival), I think it's the bands first European trip and they will certainly be one my bands to see list, here is what I said about them back in January.

See these videos for proof:






Modern Superstitions - Visions of You

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Clytem Scanning #2 - Soil in the Synth track

http://clytemscanning.com/ / Facebook

At the back end of January I came across a video by Clytem Scanning and was hooked, I initially posted about it here, take a read, I'm still hooked on it now, "Massue" is just about everything you could want in an electronic track, I'll stop about that song as I've covered it already and it wasn't the reason for this post...

Clytem Scanning lends vocals and lyrics to another superb track I came across today, actually a track released by London based Soil in the Synth who from his Myspace seems to specialise in remixes / covers some classic tracks (and Everything Everything).  The track is titled "Stabilise" and it is fucking brilliant, taking the Terminator references I talked about last time further with a pulsating mechanical beat, demented robotic dance moves sinister undertone that is right up my alley.

An album 'Armada' is due very soon - can't wait for that, I'm sure I'll bring you more information / audio when I have it, if it's anywhere near as good as the debut EP and "Stabilise" I'll probably be going on about it for quite some time yet! Really hoping for a live show soon, or at the very least more of that tantalising live clip.

Watch:

SOIL IN THE SYNTH with clytem scanning "Stabilize" from Miss Lois Iron on Vimeo.

and finally here is the video for "Massue"

Clytem Scanning 'Massue' from Miss Lois Iron on Vimeo.

I know some of you prefer audio:
Stabilize - SITS with Clytem Scanning [Taken from debut EP] by SoilInTheSynth

Massue by clytemscanning

Religious to Damn - Glass Prayer

www.religioustodamn.com/ / Facebook

Sometimes when you trail through Rough Trade and see "a must hear for fans of zola jesus, siouxise and fever ray" you expect it to be too good to be true, though in the case of Religious to Damn it perhaps is not. The moniker of Afghan-American Zohra Atash, whose breathy vocal recalls Kate Bush and Siouxsie, the former in the fragile, alluring voice that encapsulates so much of 'Glass Prayer', the later on the ferocious moments where Zohra releases herself from the shackles with the wails of a siren.

The titles surmise the mood too; "Drifter", "Sunset", "Terra" and "Black Sand" are amongst the titles in a very earthly album, evoking imagery of rattlesnakes, burning embers and galloping horse-bound over the American west. I've no idea what 'Gypsy-Rock' is (it's the phrase that the reviews I read here and here used) but the sound of Religious to Damn certainly has an ethereal hazy quality to it, as well as that of a highly seductive and exotic dream.

The brooding "To Love the Machine" introduces the album with haunting and moody rhythms lead by acoustic guitars and of course, the vocal. Together it's an intoxicating cocktail, the album continues in fine form with the more pop approach of "Drifter", whilst the ambient textures of the blossoming "Glass Prayer" is also quite beautiful. Tamaryn makes a guest appearance on two tracks here, adding her dreamy backing to "Let the Fires Burn" and "The Wait" which is a particularly pleasing and dirty rock stomp.

My favourite moments come during the galloping "Terra" with increased tempo and pulsating rhythmatic drumming and on the bewitching "Sunset" where a psychedelic Bat for Lashes springs to mind, with black-hearted bass-lines leading the track to a dramatic pinnacle where Zohra's love-lorn yelps and cries give arguably the best minute of the record.

If I had a fault with the album it's probably that it is too restrained in places and doesn't switch into a higher gear quite enough, although the album flows beautifully well I can't help thinking that a demented shift on a couple more tracks would have been the icing on the cake - this of course could just be because I've got more than a weak spot for dark, nightmarish pop.

Still don't take anything away from the album, 'Glass Prayer' is a rich and thoroughly enjoyable album. Released via the great M'Lady Records, order via them or Rough Trade7.5 / 10

Here is the video for "Sunset", it's very Pagan (or my perception of pagan at least!).

Religious to Damn "Sunset" from Tiffany Frances on Vimeo.

Religious To Damn - Drifter

Religious To Damn – Glass Prayer

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Just Handshakes (We're British) - New Music "Introducing"


http://justhandshakeswerebritish.bandcamp.com/

You see some bands with truly, truly terrible names, some so bad that it puts you off listening even if the music ends up being pretty decent. For example, Cold Cave were supported last night by a band named DrumCunt, I've heard they are actually pretty decent but with a name like that I decided to stay in the pub and watch Real Madrid hand a lesson to Tottenham...

Another trend is the increasingly repetitive names you see, if you add 'Wolf', 'Crystal' or 'Club' you are guaranteed to at least get a mention in a hipster mag or two. Basically what those rambling sentences means is that it was really refreshing to see the unique and smirk inducing name of Just Handshakes (We're British) crop up in my mailbox...

I think the band have been around a while but their new EP was my introduction to the Leeds based group, as part of the 'New Adventures in Pop' series (released April 18th via Elefant Records - buy) it is four tracks offering short and concise indie pop greatness; absolutely perfect for a day like today with clear blue skies, Just Handshakes distinctively cute and sunny sound will brighten up an already glorious day with their fun and playful sound, just like music should be (well sometimes).

Lead singer Clara possesses a distinct, dreamy gorgeous voice that might split the mainstream crowd but I really like it, see "Falling Over Our Fear" for a sample of their honey-sweet sound with jaunty, jangling guitars lines and an infectious sing-along chorus it's another slice of C86 revival pop. I think "Downward Spiral" is probably the highlight, sticking with same melodic guitar led formula, embedded by a wonderfully catchy synth, you can just picture yourself having a dance in a field on a warm summers day to this. In Glastonbury this June perhaps?

Listen:
FALLING OVER OUR FEAR by Just Handshakes

DOWNWARD SPIRAL by Just Handshakes