Saturday, 31 December 2011

Soap&Skin #3 - Boat Turns Toward The Port

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Easily one of my most anticipated releases of 2012 is the forthcoming mini LP / EP (whatever you want to call it) by Anja Plaschg, Soap&Skin, the twenty one year old Austrian (in itself it's incredible to think she is still so young) follows 2009's breathtaking 'Lovetune for Vacuum' with her next release 'Narrow', an eight track, thirty minute release due Feb 13th in Europe and somewhat annoyingly (for me) on March 19th in the UK.

The lead track "Boat Turns Toward The Port" isn't one for you New Years Eve party tonight, it will send shivers down your spine for Soap&Skin certainly appears to remain a creature of the dark, cold, night. Through mechanical glitches and majestic piano strokes Anja's vocals painful cries across this beautiful, sorrowful track of loss and suffering.

The wonderful TLOBF perfectly summed up the feeling I get from her music with this sentence about her debut: "Lovetune for Vacuum, remains amongst the most disturbing records I own, full as it is with unremitting, beautiful bleakness.". Disturbing and stark yes but also completely rewarding and beautiful too.

Soap&Skin play London's Scala on April 11th - tickets - getting them is highly recommended, her show at Union Chapel in 2010 was one of the most intense, powerful, emotional gigs I've ever been to.

Soap&Skin - Boat turns toward the port from Soap&Skin on Vimeo.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Night Fruit #2 - Dark Horse

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I mentioned the debut EP by Cambridge, MA trio Night Fruit way back in September 2010 and now over a year later they have released the follow up 'Dark Horse', a three track 7" which came out in early December, recorded and mixed by the band themselves it should firmly introduce them as ones to follow...

At almost six minutes the lead, title track "Dark Horse" is a gorgeous blend of shoegaze and dream pop with swirling, shimmering guitar melodies that rise and fall, driving drum rhythms and Amanda Dellevigne's identifiable vocals, it's an intricate and multi-layered melange of part anthemic rock and psychedelic, dreamy wonder. Similarly closing track "Bittersweet", a calm before the storm beast, a spiralling guitar-saturated ethereal glow progresses to gritty, alt-rock powering riffs with a wash of electronic noise, I can't help but fall for this band.

They have some local (to them) gigs up on their facebook page and a digital version of the single is available on a pay what you want basis from the bands bandcamp, as well as on 7" vinyl (limited to 300) for just $5 plus postage. Do check out their equally impressive debut EP 'Triangles' as well, available from the same place similarly on a pay what you like basis - an all round winner.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Severin - New Music "Introducing"

I don't know too much about Severin besides the simple facts that they're a duo based in London consisting of Danny Sanchez (guitars / noise) and Elizabeth Anne Martin (beats / guitars / electronics) and have recently signed to Tip Top Recordings for their debut EP release 'Everything Breaks' due in March 2012, they've shared the first (and only) track I've heard so far via their Soundcloud account and you can help yourself to it below...

"Factory Fodder" introduces their sound to as beat heavy with propulsive metallic glitches and swirling guitar prominent, through the sweeping tribal rhythms Elizabeth's gorgeous vocal shines, warm and instantly accessible, the track promises much for that EP.

Severin play as part of Artrocker & PopRox's New Blood Festival at Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen on January 11th 2012, with Man Flu and Vuvuvultures - full festival (it's quite excellent) details.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Abi Wade - New Music "Introducing"

Abi Wade came to my attention through the Drowned in Sound forum, when 1/3 of an excellent band (Esben and the Witch) starts a label you definitely check out the acts they sign, that's where I discovered this extraordinary talent, self stylised as '' Abi combines just those tools to compelling effect on her debut EP 'And Blood And Air' (available on iTunes).

Two preview tracks can be snapped up below, both equally sparse and spacious, "Stability" and "Hope" use the cello as the primary instrument to create an eerie, rhythmic pulse for her beautiful, haunting voice. Backed by minimal echoing percussion you can see why Esben's Daniel Copeman was moved to create the label Love Thy Neighbour, for the mysterious atmosphere and the beautiful, stark nature of her music is similar to Esben's otherworldly whispers, yet Abi Wade's sound is firmly her own too.

There's nothing manufactured here, her natural soundscapes are an undoubtedly striking listen. Certainly a name to follow. Listen / watch below:

Abi Wade - Stability

Hope by Abi Wade

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Memoryhouse #3 - The Kids Were Wrong


One of my tips for 2011, Toronto duo Memoryhouse took a little longer than I expected to gear up for their debut full-length but we now know its name and release date, 'The Slideshow Effect' is due 28th Feb via Sub Pop (track-listing and full details here) and last week we were treated to the first sample from it...

A progression from 'The Years' EP, "The Kids Were Wrong" sees them in more upbeat, poppier form, a galloping drum beat and shimmering guitar textures combine with the soft, beautiful vocal of Denise Nouvion's to gorgeous, dreamy effect. The duo seem to be able to effortlessly create hazy, sumptuous beauty's that are warm and endearing, that album is very much one to look forward to.

Memoryhouse play, to my knowledge, their debut UK shows in March including a date at London's Cargo on Wednesday 28th March - details.

Listen / Download for the price of an email below:

Memoryhouse - "The Kids Were Wrong"

The xx #3 - Open Eyes

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Unless you've been on Mars since 2008 chances are you're fully familiar with London's The xx, since 2009's self titled debut sent them through the blogosphere and into the homes of millions of households worldwide, members Romy xx and Jaime xx have since leant their names to various projects and the latter as a highly successful solo artist in his own right, on Christmas day whilst most of us were tucking into excessive Xmas dinner and pudding they treated us to the first glimpse of the studio sessions for the follow-up...

"Open Eyes", a demo track that may or may not find itself on their forthcoming second album is a typically sparse track, perhaps even more so in this unfinished form, characteristically xx, intimate and melancholic with Romy's hauntingly beautiful vocals and a singular, minimalist guitar backing. I'm sure the album is a lot of peoples most anticipated of 2012, I'm certainly looking forward to hearing it...

The xx have already been announced for Primavera festival in June, I'm sure many more festivals appearance and live shows are to follow.

The xx - Open Eyes (Demo)

Friday, 23 December 2011

Happy Christmas

Just a quick note to wish all the readers of this blog a very merry Christmas.

I hope you get everything you wish for and all that jazz...

This is the last post before Christmas, they'll be a couple of posts between Xmas and the new year so it's not quite see you in 2012 just yet but now I've finally finished work for the year, I'm going to enjoy three or four days away from my computer!

I'm not sure 51 seconds counts as a song, but he's a heavenly verse of "The Christmas Song" by Niki & The Dove, shame they didn't do the full track:

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Pale Seas - New Music "Introducing"

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Pale Seas (formerly known as Netherlands) are new to me although from a hype machine search it appears I've been living on Mars, 'Something or Nothing' is their forthcoming debut single from the now London based (originally from Southampton) five piece (due 13th February) and it's just the thing to listen to on a long, cold winters morning.

"Something or Nothing" sees sparkling glockenspiel and slow waltzing guitar entwine around dreamy, gorgeous melodies. The B-Side is even better, "Amour" is absolutely stunning, stirring instrumentation and beautiful, soft harmonies over wistful, languid pacing, it's undeniably soothing and utterly delightful.

Their songcraft is what stands-out from the two tracks, two luscious, multi-layered tracks with slightly dark lyrical content and melodies from the heavens, from this wonderful introduction it seems Pale Seas will be a band to follow into the new year.

Something Or Nothing by Pale Seas

Amour by Pale Seas

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Twenty Five of the Best Songs of 2011 - Part Two

12. Zola Jesus - Vessel
Posted 29th June: "Vessel" is a stunning return for Nika Roza Danilova, harsh metallic beats and Nika's colossal voice create an immediate, menacing atmosphere that's dramatic and chilly."

11. Dum Dum Girls - Coming Down
Posted 20th July: "Coming Down" is a real heart on sleeve lament. Dee Dee's smoky vocals recall more Hope Sandoval than the lo-fi fuzzed-out Shangri-La's of the debut. Languid, echoey guitars shimmer with emotion and longing, complementing the woozy and wistful lyrics perfectly, everything about this track is mellow, luscious, amazing. For those late night, alcohol soaked melancholic moments. Undeniably vulnerable and beautiful, if the album hits me like this track then it's going to be something special."

10. Echo Lake - Sunday Evening
Posted 3rd January and June 15th: "...Their sound highlighted perfectly on the shimmering beauty that is "Sunday Evening", with its hypnotising intensity, chiming guitars and foot-stomping progressive beat..."

9. Daughter - Love
Posted 10th November: "Elena's voice remains pure and beautiful throughout, it's probably one of the most emotionally affecting, gorgeous voices I've heard recently, listening to the opening verse of the heartbreaking "Love" with its wounded, confessional lyrics is a provides a genuine goosebumps moment. If you aren't amongst those 6000 followers perhaps now is the time to stand up and pay attention, I'm sure dozens of A&R guys already have."

8. The Great Wilderness - Dark Horse
Posted 22nd September: "Their most recent (and best) release is the spellbinding "Dark Horse", a sprawling nine minute epic, seamlessly flowing from luscious, dreamy melodies, shimmering guitar rhythms sewn together by vocalist Paola's haunting voice to a shattering cataclysm of pummelling drums and frenetic guitar riffs played with such searing intensity you'll be left gob smacked, then you'll want to press repeat, again and again."

7. The Joy Formidable - Spectrum
Posted 6th February: "Their sound is individual and unique, but recognisable and accessible. Whilst managing to simultaneously sound like and unlike every guitar band you ever heard, The Joy Formidable are a truly astonishing and daunting prospect but fortunately they are blessed with enough style and charisma to create the perfect package".

6. Braids - Lemonade
Posted 6th January: "Lemonade" is the stand-out, a seven minute masterpiece which pushes the boundaries of mainstream psych-pop, swirling, tropical soundscapes and bubbling ambient electronics give the perfect platform for Raphaelle's delicately soft vocals (which hide somewhat of a dirty mouth)."

5. I Break Horses - Hearts
Posted 10th May: "Hearts", for me at least, is the signature I Break Horses track, perhaps because it's what hooked me first, it's simply heavenly. Frozen beats sparkle while pulsating rhythms add a slightly sinister tone (my initial reaction was The Terminator theme) all softly woven amongst echoey drums and the hushed yet, ethereal coos of Maria Lindén. Her voice, as beautiful as it is, acts as another layer of the instrumentation where the lyrical content matters little."

4. Austra - The Beat and The Pulse
Posted 24th January: Austra are Domino's latest signing, the work of Katie Stelmanis whose debut release "Beat & The Pulse" is dominated by a powerful, pounding dance-floor filling dark electro beat"

3. Lanterns on The Lake - I Love You, Sleepyhead
Posted 29th November : "...windswept instrumentation sweeps and swoons while heartbroken melodies tug at your heart strings, the updated version of "I Love You, Sleepyhead" the perfection summation, genuinely gorgeous..."

2. EMA - California
Posted 1st April: "California" is beautifully stark, through grinding, droning walls of feedback, the opening line of "Fuck California, you made me boring" sums up Erika's defiance in one line and it's repeated refrain "I’m just 22 / I don’t mind dying" is almost triumphant."

1. Josh T. Pearson - Honeymoon's Great! Wish You Were Her
Posted 29th November : "The most stunning most though is on the devastating centrepiece "Honeymoon's Great! Wish You Were Her", the longest track in an album of lengthy numbers, at thirteen minutes it's raw, emotional and regretful "I’m in love with another woman, please don’t tell the wife / I cannot seem to stop it and it’s fuckin’ up my fucked up life" (in fact just read the whole lyrics here), a poetic lament to unrequited love and being stuck between two women. I'll repeat myself, an album of such heartbreaking fragility and beauty that I can't say any more than just listen to it."

Twenty Five of the Best Songs of 2011 - Part One

I almost didn't post this (there is an obvious element of repetition between this and my favourite albums of the year) but as it was half finished decided to see it through, posting the first half now and the second half a little later today... the following are twenty five of (let's face it there were a lot more than 25 great songs this year) my favourite tracks of the year, not specifically displayed in order, impossible task!

25. Wild Flag - Future Crimes
Posted 7th September: "A guitar heavy, spunky track with infectious riffs, dancing drums, playful organ and catchy lyrics"

24. Dark Dark Dark - Daydreaming
Posted 20th January: "...the lead track "Daydreaming" is a really treat, vivid landscapes created by the beautifuly complex yet delicate and well-crafted instrumentation, soulful vocals and soaring melodies."

23. Battlekat - All The Useless Things
Posted 18th October: "All The Useless Things" continues along a similar vein to the earlier tracks we've heard, combining radio-friendly electronica and experimental mysticism, its relentless, thumping beat might just be the best thing I've heard from them so far"

22. The National - Think You Can Wait
Posted 16th March: "A slow-burning ballad with some achingly beautiful orchestration and an intoxicating backing vocal from Sharon Van Etten. You may guess I'm a bit of a sucker for female vocals but Matt Berninger's is arguable one of the most striking and impressive of his generation, especially with such heart-wrenching emotional songs as this."

21. Fever Ray - The Wolf
Posted 8th March: "Karin has contributed a track to Catherine Hardwicke’s (Twilight) new film Red Riding Hood, as much as it pains me to say it with the Fever Ray / Gary Oldman presence the film looks horrendous... "The Wolf" however is anything but horrendous, it's a sinister and frankly insane track. I'm sure it fit's in well on the dark adaptation of the classic Grimm fairy tale, if this doesn't make you want to run naked through a wood then nothing will, be a bit chilly though..."

20. Cold Cave - The Great Pan Is Dead
Posted 8th February: " The song, “The Great Pan Is Dead” is fucking great, generating an almost indistinguishable explosive wall of noise, a pummelling beat accompanies fuzzy guitars all washed around with mind blowing synths. A massive statement for the new album, can't wait." Shame, for me at least the album turned to be slightly disappointing.

19. Help Stamp Out Loneliness - Record Shop
Posted 30th August: "The themes are not in your ordinary indie-pop territory, playful melodies often hiding bitter-sweet lyrics such as rock star stalking on "Record Shop" and the romances of Nico on opener "Cottonopolis And Promises" but it's just as accessible and alluring all the same. Vocalist D. Lucille's cool, nonchalant vocals sound in contrast to the instrumentation but it works perfectly, HSOL are simply glorious."

18. Softspot - Holy Father
Posted September 7th: ""Holy Father" is an absolute monster. It starts peaceful enough, Sarah's hauntingly beautiful voice hits you straight away, it's unique, stunning. Accompanied by the rat-a-tat of drum sticks, slowly increasing in intensity as Brian's textured guitars glisten on the edge simmering until finally it explodes, cumulating in a euphoric cataclysm of aural pleasure, heavy-hitting drums, guitar buzz and hard bass-line riffs"

17. Veronica Falls - Come on Over
Posted 11th July: "The outstanding and hopeful closure "Come on Over" is certainly one of the highlights of the album and contains just about everything I love about Veronica Falls, urgent pacing where cleverly constructed male/female vocal harmonies deliciously combine whilst infectious, head-nodding melodies which embed themselves around your brain"

16. Clytem Scanning - Massue
Posted 26th January: "it's propulsive industrial beat is intense, addictive, brilliant. Marianne's vocal pierces through and then there are the crunching, dirty, sludge-like guitar riffs. It's one of the best electro tracks I've heard this year"

15. iamamwhoiam - John
Posted 19th May: "iamamiwhoami is certainly no gimmick, her Knife-esque electro soundscapes push every known boundary with their overall presentation and artistic creativity. It's definitely ambitious and it's unbelievably stunning, take her come back track "; John" with a long sprawling and frankly creepily weird video (that's one hell of a lot of toilet roll!) it's just outstanding, perhaps surpassing her own highs heard on "O" and "Y" the additively melodic electro dance track is simply one of the best tracks you'll hear this year, iamamiwhoami have raised the bar again, I hope it's the start of a new series of clips from her."

14. Lykke Li - Sadness is a Blessing
Posted 1st March: "Wrapped around her intimate, vulnerable lyrics are amongst the most beautiful songs I've hard this year combining sumptuous melodies, Lykke's gorgeous voice and pounding, tribal percussion, lots of percussion... On the starkly arranged "Sadness is a Blessing" we hear a heartbroken Lykke sing with sincere emotional tenderness of a victim of unrequited love."

13. Planningtorock - Living It Out
Posted 17th September : "this invigorating single version features some frenetic strings and convoluting beats to improve an already stunning track. The video sees Janine mystical and menacing, prancing around the streets of Berlin in a hazy, funky stomp - sensational."

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Birthday Kiss - Sentimental Christmastime

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This is band I promise to come back to after the whole 'festive thing' has calmed down for I'm pretty excited to investigate their work further, an email dropped in my mailbox today from a band unfamiliar to me, the newly (2011) formed Leeds act The Birthday Kiss, it basically said something like this; 'we're made up of ex parts of The Research and The Lodger... we've made a Christmas song called 'Sentimental Christmastime' and would love it if you gave it a listen and posted it on your blog'

I was hooked straight away, both bands I own records by and had been lost in the abyss of my brain, The Lodger's debut 'Grown-Ups' was absolutely great but if I'm honest I'd totally forgotten about their existence (I just checked my iTunes, I've not listened to them since 12th May 2009), the same could be said for The Research, though with the exception of their incredible singles "I Think She's The One I Love" and "Lonely Hearts Still Beat The Same" it's October 2008 since I'd given either of their albums a listen, consider me back in the game...

The track I'm posting now is the festive one with a relatively short expiry date (I doubt Saint Nick is going to wait for me to fully digested the rest of their material) "Sentimental Christmastime" is a gorgeous original song, both male and female are lovely, with understated guitar chimes and precise drums beats (as well as bells to add a real Christmassy feel) creating a warm and cosy feeling that goes some way to hiding the lyrics calling off a relationship on Christmas Day. It's available for free download below or here if the soundcloud limit is exceeded.

Sentimental Christmastime by The Birthday Kiss

P.S. I listened to Black and White from their soundcloud, it's absolutely brilliant.

Model Railway Exhibition - Jennifer's Brother

I'm not about to self-promote without full disclosure that Verulamium Records is a little bedroom label that I started to (try and) release a few songs that I like and given that this blog is a platform for me to discuss the music that I like, I don't think it's too nepotistic of me to mention it here...

On 9th January 2012 Model Railway Exhibition will release their debut single 'Jennifer's Brother' as a limited tape through Verulamium Records... They are great, a London-based three piece playing scuzzy/swirly shoegaze/pop over programmed beats. Full details below:

Model Railway Exhibition - 'Jennifer's Brother'

The tracklisting is: A. Jennifer's Brother B1. Future Perfect B2. Don't Wake Up

Limited to 100 handmade card sleeve cassette singles and available to pre-order now from Model Railway Exhibition Bandcamp and Verulamium Records Big Cartel for just £2.00 plus P&P. All purchases come with digital download in your desired format.

You can stream two of the tracks below:

Jennifer's Brother by model railway exhibition
Future Perfect by model railway exhibition

To celebrate, Model Railway Exhibition will play a single launch at Islington's The Old Queen's Head on Tuesday 10th January. It's free entry so please do come along, also playing are the wonderful Hella Better Dancer with another act to be confirmed - see the facebook event page for further details.

Model Railway Exhibition: Website // bandcamp // facebook

They've also shared a newly written / recorded Christmas song which you can listen to below:

Always winter in Grantham by model railway exhibition

Monday, 19 December 2011

Josh T. Pearson #2 - Xmas EP

Josh T. Pearson's album 'Last of the Country Gentlemen' was voted 2011 Album of the Year by the wonderful Rough Trade at the end of last month (slightly more acclaim than the second place I gave it!), to celebrate Josh donated a bonus EP of Christmas songs and wrote a rather rambling message which you can order / read here.

One of the tracks, "O Holy Night" has been made available as a free download, presumably as a seasonal gesture of goodwill, do take advantage of that because it is a quite, quite stunning version. Perhaps not the version you'll hear in church coffee mornings this week but the stark, drawn out rendition of the classic hymn sees Josh stamp his signature sounds throughout, darker and haunted with Josh's painstaking emotional vocals and incredible guitar-work guiding you through eight beautiful minutes.

The whole five track EP runs at 28 minutes in length and includes sprawling acoustic version of "Silent Night", "O Little Town of Bethlehem" as well - it comes highly recommended, as of course does the album.

Josh T. Pearson - O Holy Night by Mute UK

Creep #2 - Animals (ft. Holly Miranda)


The problem with spending much of December devoted to the yearly cycle of lists is that you miss the fine new music that comes out around the same time, this for instance, a new track from Creep first aired over ten days ago but didn't catch my eyes until I started reading through some of the backlog of posts on my Google Reader over the weekend, it features guest vocals from none other than the wonderful Holly Miranda, Creep clearly have a thing for using gorgeous female voices, previous single "Days" featured Romy XX and feature collaborations are line up with Grimes and SIA.

"Animals" is gorgeous combination of Holly's breathy vocals, soothing and dreamy and an eerie, icy cold synth pulse with dramatic string swirls and drum machine beats, the accompanying videos creepy, futuristic themes fit of the track perfectly. Ideal for a cold-winters' night.

Aside from this collaboration, Holly Miranda has been treated Pledge Music users to a few preview tracks from her forthcoming album next year, they're beautiful.... cannot wait for both that and her next UK show.

CREEP - "Animals" (Feat. Holly Miranda) from stereogum on Vimeo.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Creatures of Love #4 - Black Elf


I watched The Grinch this morning so it is somewhat fitting that the first festive track I'm featuring this year (even though I've been receiving Christmas based emails since October) is the anti-Christmas song 'Black Elf', from another of my shortlisted bands for the 'tips for 2012' posts, Creatures of Love.

Its theme a close cousin to the overall message in The Grinch, one of contempt to the excessive commercialisation and lack of Christmas traditions, though before all you Santa lovers reach for the humbug button, give the track a listen below because it's a brilliant song...

The accompanying video features four rather disturbing looking elf's, each with the bands faces stuck on (and their logo) ringing bells and 'dancing', for those unfamiliar with the London based trio the song is a fitting introduction to their sound, atmospheric, dramatic and absolutely enormous.

I've not mentioned CoL since The Joy Formidable tour, I think it went pretty well for them, certainly the couple of dates where I checked the merch stall on the way out they seemed to be out of stock and both of their extremely limited CD singles are now sold-out. I'm looking forward to their debut, whenever it maybe, I hopefully next year!

Creatures of Love next play in London on January 4th as part of the Poprox New Blood festival - tickets are £4 (or £10 for a season ticket for every night) - details can be found here.

Creatures Of Love - Black Elf by CreaturesOfLove

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Summer Twins - New Music "Introducing"

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Well the long autumn we had (in north London anyway) is certainly well and truly over and the past week has seen freezing winds, rain, a sprinkling of snow and more rain mean I've spent the week permanently in a state of cold, yet, before I fully turn to the Christmassy (and anti-Christmassy) songs for the festive period I'm going to try and keep the sunshine in with this absolutely gorgeous new(ish) track from Riverside, California sisters Chelsea and Justine Brown, recording as the somewhat apt Summer Twins.

The pretty as a flower "I Don't Care" is the first taster from Summer Twins' debut album (available for free download from bandcamp), set for release in the US January 2012 via Burger Records (although apparently a different version is already released in Japan). It's a dreamy sun-drenched pop track that combines shimmering guitars sparkles, kick drum and beautiful sugar-sweet vocals with laid-back verses and syrupy harmonies. There's absolutely nothing not to like so why not put down the sherry and raise a glass of pimms one last time in 2011. If you like that sort of thing of course!

The sisters have a previous EP release too, 'The Good Things' came out towards the end of 2010 and showcases a variety of styles, switching from luscious and nostalgic 60's pop on the lovely "Good Friends" (which in itself switches half-way with a tropical, psychedelic end) to a lively guitar heavy sound on my favourite track on initial investigation "The Good Things", a stomping beat and lovely harmonies lead the track to bridges where the band show they really know how to rock out. I'm very much into what I've heard so far and am looking forward to further investigating Summer Twins' output. I've not seen any UK coverage, there should be some, I think they'd go down a treat.


The Good Things by Summer Twins

Good Friends by Summer Twins

Friday, 16 December 2011

Tips for 2012 - Part Five

So onto the fifth and final tips for 2012, as much as I enjoy all the end of year list culture, I am looking forward to the blog returning to normality, though when I say that, I mean in the New Year. The next week or so will bring a combination of some normal "Introducing" posts I've been saving for post-list and some seasonal posts, then I'm taking a very much deserved, and possibly needed break of 7-10 days before returning in very early January.

Just Music That I Like's Tips for 2012 - Part Five.

Previous parts can be found here: One // Two // Three // Four // Five

Rachel Sermanni

Again, perhaps for regular readers an obvious pick, Rachel Sermanni has been a firm favourite here since she caused me goosebumps when I first saw her back in May at The Great Escape Festival, her pure and beautiful voice matched by an enchanting storytelling song craft left me completely smitten, her lyrics inspired by her homeland, traditional Scottish music and poetry are intoxicating and natural throughout.

There is a busy start to the year for Rachel with a string of Scottish dates as well as a London show at Union Chapel alongside Russian Red (tickets) and the release of her debut EP 'Black Currents' on the 30th of Jan, the four track release is sure to be just the start for of her career (although she's a familiar face on the live circuit already), a perfect showcase for her stunning vocals and seemingly effortless blend of genteel meandering acoustic moments and haunting, bold and defiant melodies.

It's impossible to pick a highlight amongst the EP, the wonderful narrative and delicate waltz of "Song to a Fox", then there's "Breathe Easy", the most beautiful of the four, blissful and pure or "The Fog" darker, where strong instrumentation leads you down into a shrouded, alluring universe and finally, the ebbs and flows of the yearning title-track, throughout it's equally delicate and captivating, a stunning release from an artist sure to be the soundtrack to many afternoon's up and down the country.

The Fog by Rachel Sermanni

Stealing Sheep

Stealing Sheep's recent retrospective EP "Noah & The Paper Moon" was a wonderful introduction to many who were first put onto the Liverpool based trio thanks to their signing to the equally lovely Heavenly Recordings, I had this to say of the release back in October:

"If you've yet to fall for the trio's mystical and undeniably sweet charms then "Paper Moon" is a great entry point, off-kilter rhythms, hand-claps and whimsical melodies all swathed in beautiful harmonies and tribal drums add up to a track that is equally entrancing and brilliantly fun".

Those of us who've been following the girls for a little longer are looking forward to 2012, a year that promises a debut album and (many) more live shows (after recent successful support slots with Emmy The Great / Slow Club with a February tour with Field Music is already announced). Their distinctive take of psychedelic / folk pop combines quirky, delightful rhythms that can literally go anywhere over their duration entwine around layers of gentle electronic washes, intricate guitar textures and genuinely sumptuous three way vocal harmonies, yeah, I'm looking forward to hearing more of that!

Stealing Sheep 'Paper Moon' by heavenlyrecordings


The last pick is another that returns from last years tips post (so to avoid too much repetition, I'll keep it brief), 2:54, the Thurlow sisters 90's inspired scuzzy, grunge pop is I think guaranteed to (belatedly) take the world by storm, their recent 'Scarlet' EP highlighted every thing there is to get giddy about in four tracks of smoky, smouldering and moody atmospheric pop.

Take the title-track “Scarlet” for instance, where a sharp, reverb drenched guitars, chugging bass and Colette's gorgeous, seductive purrs pour out, wrap themselves around you and won't let you go.

One thing for certain, I'm certainly looking forward to catching them live after missing out on the last shows. If 2:54 follow up on the quality of their current releases, 2012 is for the taking.

2:54 - On A Wire by House Anxiety

Anyway, that's your lot, there were at least ten more bands I could have picked, I won't name them, you'll know them by continual praise of them over the forthcoming 12 months. New bands aside, 2012 is shaping up good with new releases from Perfume Genius, The Joy Formidable, Islet, Blood Red Shoes, Tennis and hundreds more planned / to be announced. Can't wait.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Tips for 2012 - Part Four

Just Music That I Like's Tips for 2012 - Part Four.

Previous parts can be found here: One // Two // Three // Four // Five

Lucy Rose

Another predictable choice for long-time followers perhaps, Lucy Rose showcased her rare talent on two gorgeous singles in 2011, both 'Scar' and 'Middle of the Bed' highlighted her spine-tingling vocals, effortlessly pure and beautiful and an extraordinarily intimate song craft. Her songs, though simple in melody, backed by hushed guitars and soothing  percussion the effect of her music is calming, heart-warming and one that induces the most beautiful of thoughts.

2012 promises to bring even more from Lucy, her debut album for starters, guaranteed to bring goosebumps to thousands of listeners up and down the country. Already renowned for her live show (she sold out London's Cargo without a release to her name) Lucy is sure to be a word on every radio station DJ's lips next year, before that, you can see her at Camden's Barfly on 31st of Jan - tickets.

Lucy Rose - Middle Of The Bed by Lucy Rose

Niki and the Dove


The only one of my list to make the 'official' one, the BBC's Sound of 2012 (Lianne La Havas was very close), Niki and the Dove have featured in almost every 'Ones for 2012' list I've read thus far and with good reason, their flamboyant electro-pop is bright and dramatic, energetic and genuinely refreshing, N&TD make quite the change from the drab, dreary music which often finds its way into prime-time radio these days, the Swedish Duo an act with clear homage to 80's stars like Prince, Madonna and (uh-oh) Kate Bush are uplifting and fun.

There are elements of so many things in there the result could be horrendous; euro-dance, power pop, afro-rhythmic drums, yet horrendous is as far removed as possible from the end result, "Mother Project" showcases their more experimental side, distinctly Scandinavian atmospheres based around icy vocals and chilly beats (and not forgetting the pan-pipe solo) and "The Fox" the theatrical, with its anthemic arrangements and flickering synths, everything thus far has been eagerly lapped up and is quite, quite delicious.

Signed to Sub Pop, their new found fame will mean more is expected from them than perhaps just a month ago, still, I'm looking forward to hearing the result next year.

The Drummer by Niki & The Dove


Novella could be another case of a tip too soon but I don't care, with just one 7" to their name (the perfect 'Oh Brian') to date the London trio/foursome (I'm not sure, their pictures / facebook seem to suggest it's a three piece but the three times I've seen them they've been a four piece backed by an exceptional, hard-hitting drummer -perhaps he's just for live-shows) are firmly amongst my favourite new bands.

The live shows point to my excitement surrounding the band, an intoxicating concoction of wholesome noise, a grungy assault of three way guitar fuzz and pounding beats with an added veneer of melodic sheen that's bewitching and brilliant.

Their latest track "Santiago" (from an incredible split record including Echo Lake and The History of Apple Pie released just this week (details and order here) and celebrated with a live show tonight - I'm going) gives a perfect indication, slightly more urgent pacing, led by galloping drum beat, thick guitars and girl group vocals, simply delicious.

Tips for 2012? I hope so, though 2013 will do me just fine.

Santiago by Novella.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Tips For 2012 - Part Three

Just Music That I Like's Tips for 2012 - Part Three.

Previous parts can be found here: One // Two // Three // Four // Five

Fear of Men

I recently called Esben and the Witch my favourite Brighton band so I'll call Fear of Men my favourite south-coast new band (although I think half the band are London based), either way I'm not one for geographical based disputes, I say I'm from London when I live 25 miles outside for a start and lived in the Midlands for over 2/3 of my life (currently), the UK based (there, debate over) four piece have caused quite the stir from the birth of their early demo tape featuring the endearing indie-pop beauty "Phantom Limb", full of fuzzed up energy, jangly guitars and gorgeous ethereal vocals. It took the blogging scene by storm early this year and has had the band on my 'ones to watch' lists ever since.

The followed it up with the stunning "Ritual Confession" 7" and more recently 'Alice Munro Demos', the lead track "Doldrums" is the polar-opposite of its title; shimmery, swirling guitar lines lead the way with Jess's voice possible the most beautiful we've heard it yet back by gentle rat-a-tat drums. I've still only seen them once (well and the last 30 seconds of another gig after travelling across London from elsewhere hoping to catch them - I didn't), so that is something to be corrected next year. Hopefully they'll be plenty of chances to do just that, as well as some new releases to drool over too.

Doldrums by FEAROFMEN

Fear of Men - Ritual Confession from Josh Cowdry on Vimeo.


iamamiwhoami, arguably the largest act on my tips list by some distance has created a plethora of fanboy attention and blogging hypebole thanks to a mysterious viral Internet launch that took quite some time to discover as the work of Jonna Lee, she / they've (still no conclusive evidence to know if it's an act lead by Jonna or the work of Jonna) have still only played one gig, in Stockholm in August and spent 2011 relatively quiet, though managing to release one of the best tracks of the year in "John", which along with the exquisite 2010 EP 'B-O-U-N-T-Y' leads iamamiwhoami, in my view, to be one of the most compelling acts of today.

Her combination of innovative, boundary pushing ambitions, creative (and frankly creepily weird) artistry through imaginative use of natural landscapes and sexually suggestive metaphors in her videos and some of the best synth-based atmospheric / Knife-esque electro soundscapes I've ever heard is equally spectacular and captivating. Everything so far has been so polished, so perfect, there's clearly someone with deep purse strings behind the project. Yet one big question remains... Will 2012 see iamamiwhoami finally break all the Houdini antics and play some real shows, release something physical and justify all the hype? I think so and I cannot wait.

Iamamiwhoami: y

Let's Buy Happiness

One of the (two) carry forwards from my tips for 2011, Let's Buy Happiness had a fine 2011 as I reported a couple of weeks back, their two released singles "Fast Fast" and "Dirty Lakes" were equally shimmering, joyous and celestial, there have been numerous well received gigs and a growing army of fans yet we've been made been made to wait for the debut album, which gives me every reason to firmly believe that 2012 promises to be the year.

There have been a few previews, "Clean Mistake", "Skinny Moon" and "Crooks" have all be staples in the live set for a few months and promise big, big things. If you want a cheeky look in at their live set, head here for an eight song set at London's XOYO a little while back - delicious.

I don't need to add much more, LBH are in the top ten of my most featured acts on this blog, if you're late to the party, listen below and fall in love.

Fast Fast by letsbuyhappiness

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Tips for 2012 - Part Two

Just Music That I Like's Tips for 2012 - Part Two.

Previous parts can be found here: One // Two // Three // Four // Five


An easy choice and one who I almost had in my tips for 2011, Elena Tonra's Daughter has had an exceptional 2011 with two stunning EP releases gaining her a increasing stream of press hyperbole and a live show which highlights her intimate song-writing talent, equal parts despairing and heart-warming and a spine-tingling voice seemingly from the heavens.

Now backed by a full band who add textured drums, shimmering guitars and a pulsating heartbeat to the tracks on her latest release 'The Wild Youth', most evident on the spellbinding "Medicine" where electronic programming create this hazy, smoke filled ambient air while gentle piano strokes and a bewitching vocal add to one of the most gorgeous, spectral tracks of the year.

Elena's haunting voice, pure and beautiful, is arguably one of the most emotionally affecting voices I've heard recently, listening to the opening verse of the heartbreaking "Love" with its wounded, confessional lyrics is a provides a genuine goosebumps moment. 2012 I am sure will bring many, many more. I can't wait for what Daughter releases next. A sign of which might be told on April 12th with Elena's largest gig to date at Islington Assembly Hall - tickets.

Daughter - Love (taken from 'The Wild Youth EP') by ohDaughter

Daughter - Youth (The Amazing Sessions) from Amazing Radio on Vimeo.

Echo Lake

Another easy choice for me, a band I've seen live six times in 2011 (with an seventh to follow this week) Echo Lake released my favourite EP of the year way back in January (the now sold out 'Young Silence' available digitally here), their sound highlighted perfectly on the shimmering beauty that is "Sunday Evening", with its hypnotising intensity, chiming guitars and foot-stomping progressive beat.

Similarly perfect is the swirling, psychedelic pop infusion of "In Dreams, "Young Silence" with rattling percussion and layer upon layer of hazy, frenzied guitars and the tranquil, fuzzed-up dream pop gem that is "Buried at Sea", blissful, kaleidoscopic soundscapes of the highest order.

My introductory paragraph mentioned how many times I've seen them live, enough in itself to show how good I think they are and with their debut album due next year (no details to share yet) Echo Lake are certainly one of the acts I'm expecting to feature a lot (more) here over the next twelve months.

Sunday Evening by Echo Lake

Echo Lake - Buried at Sea from ///NO PAIN IN POP\\\ on Vimeo.


I'm taking a chance with Embers, there is every chance when I come to review these tips in 2012 I'll be saying 2013 will be there year but this new Manchester band released three of the best 'rough demos' of the year and if they have written more exceptional material and manage to find the right resources to put an album out next year then the crown of Manchester's best new band could easily be theirs...

From the epic, sweeping orchestrations of the stark "Days Turn Into Weeks" to "Tunnel Vision", a darker, colossal monster and "Without Fear or Favour", dramatic, cinematic, brilliant these four northern boys are three tracks from three and yet without news of a proper release or even a live show to announce I think that in this time of people craving instant fulfilment (partly caused by blog craze I bit like this I guess) we could just be awaiting the most powerful, gloomy and damn right exciting release of 2012. Keep your eyes and ears peeled.

Without Fear or Favour by e m b e r s

Monday, 12 December 2011

Tips for 2012 - Part One

Following from my review of my 'Tips for 2011', the next five posts are going to be my '15 Tips for 2012' listed alphabetically. As with last years posts, my tips aren't necessarily fifteen acts I'm tipping for stardom (though a few perhaps will hit the mainstream) but are fifteen of (I could have picked more) the new acts (my only criteria to be in this list is that the artist cannot have released an LP previously) that I believe will offer some of the best releases of the forthcoming year, without further rambling, straight on to part one;

Just Music That I Like's Tips for 2012 - Part One.

Previous parts can be found here: One // Two // Three // Four // Five


Battlekat, the band formerly known as Just A Number 05272011 released one of the best EP's of 2011, though their '05272011–10242011' went mainly unnoticed (especially considering the incredible buzz their initial tracks "The Pain" / "He Didn't Want A Love Song" created in the blogging world), nevertheless, the Danish four-piece delivered a fantastic six track extended play that combined the powerful, hypnotic beats of The Knife with a mainstream crossover potential of Robyn.

The tracks in their arsenal are already outstanding, the confident "All The Useless Things" sees crunching electro beats, rushing percussion and icy cool synths combine with vocalist Matilde's wonderfully distinctive high-pitched vocals in faultless manner. The highly charged "Business" continues with their twisted, rapid beats was could easily be remixed (and have) to make either a techno club anthem or dance-floor filler while "Mother Nature" is an altogether edgier affair, a darker ambience, abrasive and metallic with electronic glitches, warped distorted vocals and pulsating beats.

I caught one of their London shows at Madame Jo Jo's and for a band that had were less than six months old it was an incredible performance, polished, confident and aggressive. Battlekat can do brooding, they can do infectiously catchy and they can do warped mysticism all with apparent ease. I'm looking forward to their return to London and, of course, new material (hopefully in 2012).



You know when you hear two or three songs from a band and think "wow, this is just fantastic" and then you realise that those songs are the very first songs released by a band that haven't even played live, so you rush to see their second ever (I couldn't make the first) live show and you leave even more impressed and are itching to hear more (coincidently that show was the same bill as the previous tip, Battlekat), well that's what happened with Carousels (Lucy Wilson and Nick Benton), I'm still itching to hear more now.

What we have (so fare) are three stunning tracks, I'm still pretty happy with what I wrote back in July so here it is again; ""Here to Me" is arguably my favourite, buzzing chain-saw guitar riffs, layers of feedback and a gorgeous flowing melody, there is even room for some hand-claps, what isn't there to like?!. "Sleep" is a stomping, droney shoegaze wonder that sounds like it was made in the 90's, walls of energetic guitar noise, hard-hitting drum-loops and Lucy's soft butter wouldn't melt vocals. Fantastic".

Nothing official for me to point you in the way to buy yet, just fall in love with their music like I have and hope that 2012 brings more, much more.

HERE TO ME by Carousels

Cold Specks

Is seeing someone perform for fifteen minutes long enough time to categorically say that they are 100% deserving of a place in a 'tips for 2012' thread? I think so, I'd previous featured Cold Specks back in July and had this to say...

"One listen and it's easy to see why the hyperbole is in overdrive, her voice is extraordinary. Her soulful, smoky purr will hit you like a freight train and "Holland" uses its strength and beauty perfectly. A dark, gospel track, it starts melancholic and graceful as it develops around her voice whilst delicate guitar plucks, sweeping strings and a repetitive drum beat build up to reach an empowering finale. Haunting, spiritual, beautiful"

...Yet until she blew me away with a short (stripped back) set supporting Josh T. Pearson at Barbican Hall a week or so back I hadn't completely decided on this post, five minutes into the set I had. The rest of the crowd sensed it too, for a support act there was complete silence and an overwhelming applause at the end of the set, a crowd that perhaps hadn't heard of Cold Specks (the moniker of Al Spx) left knowing it alright.

Trophy hunters should seek out her debut 7” ‘Holland’ now, limited to just 250 copies and available here. Check out the video for one of the tracks she played at the Barbican “Lay Me Down", her incredible voice, the intimate nature of it all, simply stunning. Watch this space.