Friday, 29 June 2012

Ormonde - New Music "Introducing"

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Ormonde, another new find from across the pond have left me speechless with the first (and only) track I've heard from the duo to date, the stunning "Can't Imagine". Taken from their forthcoming debut album Machine (due August 7th via Hometapes) it is simply heavenly.

That brief description could probably suffice, along with the wise advice to listen to the track (download / stream free below) but it deserves more words, unfortunately I'm struggling to find the correct superlatives to describe it.. Mellow, mystical and wrapped in soft beauty, the track is the very definition of bliss. Gentle acoustic rhythms provide subtle textures with Anna-Lynne Williams whispered dreams soothing your eyes, the guitar equally worthy of mention, with lonesome twangs added haunting atmospheres, intimate and beauty so incredibly entwined. Sublime.

Alice Jemima #6 - One a Day Update

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The last week of June 2012 should probably be renamed Alice Jemima week, with some parts of the country wallowing in football misery, muggy weather (I've missed the floods) and Wimbledon (though the guy nobody had heard of beating Nadal was pretty fun) what better to pick you up as we approach the weekend than an update on the 'One a Day' series from one of the most delicious voices posted here on a (possibly too) frequent basis.

Indeed, I've already posted about day one's track "I Didn't Know What To Expect" on Monday and today I'm bringing the next two (I know you can stream day four and maybe even five now too but I'm running behind). ..

I'm loving this series, Alice has already spoilt us with various self-recorded demos and these live tracks serve as a perfect compliment, seemingly recorded around Alice's house with some bespoke decoration in the background the intimate nature of the videos only adds to the charm and character, it's fair to say I completely adore day three's track, the perfectly titled "Sweeter Kind", a sweeter kind is exactly the sort of description to describe Alice's music, though a comment on youtube maybe hits the nail on the head ever better "You can put so much across with just your voice and a few simple notes. Very nice."

Day two's "Say It" similarly shines using just those attributes, guitar twangs and sincere vocals, effortless and defyingly beautiful. See you in a few days for the final tracks no doubt!


Thursday, 28 June 2012

Snøskred - New Music "Introducing"

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I'm finding time to dip into the ever-growing number of submissions to the blogs inbox increasingly sparse at the minute though one band that find their way onto the blog after landing in my mailbox though are new Norwegian five piece Snøskred.

A sound that is hard to define, I can't argue with the band themselves who describe it as "5 singers, equal parts dreampop, shoegaze and improvised noise - an engaging, eclectic and exuberant musical undertow", debut track “We Are” is certainly all of those things, raw and intense, exciting is probably the best word I can think of with fellow noise-mongerers Islet probably the nearest comparison that immediately pops into my head.

"We Are", as I've adhered to, is an experimental (maybe just mental) fusion of dense walls of noise and  layered soundscapes. The almost psychedelic melody starts with seemingly improvised guitar noise, pounding drums, synths and throbbing bass, the soaring brilliance doesn't let off for a second with the slightly muffled vocal harmonies similarly chaotic as the propulsive off-kilter rhythms continue exuding boundless euphoria. 

The single, release via Riot Factory (a new label to me but who seem to have a fantastic roster of artists that I've bookmarked to check out at a later time) is available on vinyl and also on iTunes now.


Lowtide - New Music "Introducing"

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I'm can't quite remember how Melbourne's Lowtide came on my radar, nevertheless I'm happy they did. Though I've labelled this post "Introducing" they've not a new band, with (according to their facebook), the band originally called Three Month Sunset as a solo act based around guitarist Gabriel Lewis, with the four-piece Lowtide later releasing an EP in 2010 and a 7" single last year, it is this single that forms my entry point.

Perhaps stereotypes dictate this but shoegaze isn't necessarily a genre I associate with Australia yet a few of the genres key traits are there to be heard on the wonderful "Underneath Tonight", layers of shimmering guitar textures swirl around driving bass rhythms with Giles Simon and Lucy Buckeridge's co-vocals undiluted throughout, sweet and soft, its dreamy and undeniably beautiful.

B-side, the down-tempo "Memory No. 7" is equally rewarding for different reasons, with its hazy, melancholic atmosphere and ethereal whispers, starting blissful and hypnotic, the track builds through circling guitar drenched in swathes of reverb, again the vocals harmonies remain crystal clear, a compelling release, it is available digitally via bandcamp or on vinyl here now.



Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Promise and the Monster - Red Tide

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When Simon Raymonde (founder of Bella Union) names an album in a feature entitled 'Ten Records I Wish I'd Released' recently released by an artist you've never heard of common sense dictates you check it out, being a clever boy, that's exactly what I did and hence forth how I came across Promise and the Monster.

Primarily the work of Swedish Billie Lindahl, the album in question Red Tide is actually her second, (debut LP Transparent Knives came out back in 2007). I'm actually struggling to find it online here in the UK (I don't use Spotify, I don't believe its the way music should be 'sold' / listened to), with nothing in any record store where I'd normally look (I did find the whole Promise and the Monster discography available in the Swedish label Drella's store) but thanks to the magic of the Internet I've found a couple of damn-right spooky videos introducing a neo-gothic folk sound that reminds me of the folkier side of Chelsea Wolfe combined with the mood and mystery of Gazelle Twin.

"Sand", like all of the Promise and the Monster tracks I've heard so far is drenched in atmosphere, both light and dark, evocative and frail, Bille's ethereal vocal is absolutely captivating, her hushed, gothic whispers chill to the bone whilst haunting percussion sets this spine-tingling beauty alive with rich, elegant precession.

"Swim" is bolder, carried by a sweeping, ghostly rhythm (the instrumentation stands out throughout), the melody shifts from eereie echoes with breathy siren-calls to brave, soaring crescendos highlighting a big, mighty power stirring within whilst "Spine", fragile and desolate, is as far removed from that as can be, sparse and devastatingly beautiful, expect goosebumps, thanks for the tip Simon.





Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Franklys - New Music "Introducing"

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The Franklys are a London based four piece with members from Sweden, New York and err Milton Keynes, they reformed in late 2011 and have been building a name for themselves with a host of gigs around the capital since, with an EP planned for later in the year too.

From the demo / live tracks up on their soundcloud it's "Another Alex" which excites the most, a fiery rock-out beast where punchy drums, driving guitars and passionate vocals create stomping, infectious melody, one you can see going down just as well on the radio as in a sweaty gig venue. 

A live studio version of "Weasel" hints at the intensity of their live show, a raw and rambunctious track, grabbing your attention with manical drumming, shrilling vocal harmonies and a deep bass groove.




Laneway - Love is a Devil

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Laneway are Louise O’Reilly and Paul Hannan from Brisbane, Australia, "Love is a Devil" is the first single from their forthcoming album Turn Your Love Up (due September), the track serves as my introduction to the alt-folk duo and is a welcome listen today, which finds me still recovering from England's Euro exit (well the excessive beers and late night as a consequence of), the mellow, laid-back track is perfect to soothe my tired, aching mind and limbs.

Evoking wistful memories the slow, dreamy pacing and moody, melancholic haze would fit perfectly in a soundtrack to parts of Kill Bill, where The Bride is in Texas, before the wedding / chasing Budd / Elle Driver, down-tempo drums, dusty guitar twangs and a lone organ meander around Louise's sultry vocals, making you wish you were driving through American west tapping your boots to the beat, an early summers London day will have to make do. Gorgeous.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Alice Jemima #5 - I Didn't Know What To Expect

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I've already written enough superlatives about Alice Jemima this year that I was left a little awkward when I briefly spoke to Alice after she'd played a beautiful show in the wonderful upper room of Blacks last Monday (a gig hosted by Society of the Golden Slippers - follow the link to keep informed of their shows), pictured (credit Brad Inglis) the intimate room was the perfect showcase to Alice's irresistibly seducing vocals and delicate guitar lines. Bigger (though hopefully equally grandiose) rooms surely await this talented young (Happy 19th for a few weeks ago, Alice!) singer-songwriter from Devon, the watching A&R guys and fellow bloggers (hello me in the picture) surely sensed it too. Now that was a lot of brackets!

Alice returned today (not that she went away, with a Rhianna cover posted on her soundcloud only a few weeks ago and "First Love" posted here last month) with a lovely live video to a new track "I Didn't Know What To Expect". I did and I'm not one bit disappointed. A fleetingly short track at just over two minutes but for its duration you're left devastated by Alice's beautifully hushed vocals, fragile and simple, just genuinely gorgeous.

I've got a handsome Alice Jemima slide collection forming, now all I'm after is some music to spin on my record player!

Edit: this could go horribly wrong, my first ever attempt at Blogger app for the iPhone. Since I wrote this blog I've come to learn that this track is in fact the first of five new tracks to be shared in a similar manner this week. If that's not something to get excited about, I'm not sure what is!



All Eyes - New Music "Introducing"

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All Eyes are a new band from Minneapolis, a city forever in my heart due to one of its most famous sons Prince (don't worry non purple folk, All Eyes sound nothing like Prince) who've recently upload a trio of tracks to their bandcamp that provide a sneak preview to what appears to be their forthcoming debut release Shelf Life (I can't find anything to confirm that)...

Highlight "All I Want" excites immediately, combining spacey noir electronics, atmospheric guitar and dominating drums beats to delicious effects, building in momentum the shimmering shoegaze sound perfectly complements the siren like vocals of Alicia Wiley, gliding effortlessly in the mix her soft, breathy and seductive purr will steal your attention (and most likely your heart too).

The more experimental "Clean Slate" takes a languid, hazy trip through dark, brooding Portishead inspired sounds, the vocals are beautiful again and the guitar effects add an eerie ambience that will linger in your mind long after you've finished listening. Quite the start then.

Echo Lake - RIP Pete Hayes

Some incredibly sad news to start the week, Pete Hayes, drummer of one of this blogs ever present bands of the past eighteen months Echo Lake passed away last week at the age of just 25. Not a personal friend or acquaintance of mine but having seen the band seven or eight times in the same period I find the terrible news very sad and pass on my every sympathy to those who knew Pete, his friends and family.

Overshadowing the release of the bands debut album Wild Peace today, I hope Pete had chance to see the positive reception the album received before, little consolation to those he knew I know, but the music he was involved in has touched the hearts of many and will be there to remember him by.

Here's a beautiful tribute written by Thom.

R.I.P Pete Hayes 
27.1.1987 - 21.06.2012

We are so sad to say that our close friend and brilliant drummer Peter Hayes passed away on Thursday morning at the age of 25.

I can't believe I'm actually typing these words, we're all completely devastated and shocked.

If you knew Pete, then you'll know what an amazing person he was.
If you didn't know Pete then all I can say is that he was a total one off.
Always caring, always giving, always straight up and always with such a positive outlook on life. That was the thing with Pete, he just got on with it. Even in his last few weeks he would be sitting up in his hospital bed smiling and having a laugh with me.

It was this outlook on life that made me perhaps take advantage of our time spent together. This situation never seemed possible because he never ever stopped being positive and joyful. He never moaned, or acted ill and was an incredibly hard worker. It's a really rare thing to find all of these qualities in someone and he deserved more time to live his life to the full, which he always did.

If you ever saw us play live then you'll know what a great drummer he was.
I've been in 4 different bands over the past 10 years and while the line ups changed around us, me and Pete were always playing together. It was such a privilege to play music with him.

I'll always remember in our first band me, Kier and Steve lying to promoters that we were over 18 and that we were old enough to play in pubs. We were 16 and Pete was even younger than us! I remember sneaking Pete in the venue hoping nobody would ask any questions and after the gig Pete's dad Antony would pick him up and take him home because he had his year 10 GCSE exam later that week! I still can't believe we got away with it really. He was like a younger brother to us and we always had a lot of fun.

I'm really glad that the four of us moved to London, met Linda and formed Echo Lake. I know he was really excited about the album finally coming out and the possibilities that lay ahead of us. I can't believe that he won't be around anymore to see them out with us.

I could go on writing about him and the amazing memories forever, but another part of me is struggling to find the words to do him justice. So I'll just say that he put everything into Echo Lake and always played his heart and soul out. I'll always appreciate that and will always owe him so much for helping us get as far as we have in the past 2 years.

Finally, I'd just like to send all my love to Pete's family, who I am lucky to have gotten to know well over the years. When we were kids, your place was a home away from home for me (as it was for all of our friends who just loved being there so much!)
And to Pete's girlfriend Caroline. I'm so glad that you guys met each other, you made him incredibly happy.

All the love Pete, we'll all miss you so much.

Rest in peace and thanks for everything man, it's been awesome!

Xx



A charity fund has been setup in Pete's honour, to donate head to http://www.justgiving.com/echolake



Sunday, 24 June 2012

Obedient Wives Club - New Music "Introducing"


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Obedient Wives Club are the first band from Signapore to find their way onto the blog, though, to be honest I don't think I could name a single other band from the country (sorry!), the five piece's sound is described on their bandcamp as 'spectorgaze' and I can go with that, for amongst bucketloads of fuzz and surf-pop guitar lines are syrupy, 60's girl-group vocal harmonies. Don't worry name aside, they've nothing in common with the Islamic organisation...

"That Boy" kicks off their six track, self-titled EP with distorted, reverb-drenched dreams much akin to that of early Best Coast (minus the weed and cat infactuations), sumptuous retro-pop with melodic beats and fuzzy guitars blasting through quick paced singles pop, background "oohs" add cherry blossom vocals, totally moreish, it demands repeat listens. Following much the same mould with perhaps even better results is highlight "This Is It", catchy, energetic and upbeat noise pop, with its sun-kissed melody "This is it" is a track that can't help but put a smile on your face.

The rawer "Fragments" sounds like it was recorded in their bedroom (it possible was, the amateur feel adds some of the appear), with little polish to speak of gorgeous harmonies and hollow beats slowly build before blistering guitars, through the wall of sound YinQi Lee's vocals deliver the best perfromance of the EP while "Dreams" (which takes its taken and chorus from the Everly Brothers classic "All I Have to Do Is Dream") is pure summers day pop, hazy and utterly gorgeous.

Sure it's nothing we've not all heard before but as I've said before, if you studied pretty much any band of the past twenty years there would be something that wasn't 'original'. Who really cares as long as the sound is sweet in your ears and Obedient Wives Club's debut EP is surely that.

Smoke Fairies #2 - She Sells Sanctuary

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Smoke Fairies released their excellent second album Blood Speaks about a month ago now, I've previously blogged about lead track "The Three of Us", it turned out to be a fine introduction to the album which showcases a fuller, bluesy sound from the pair. Moving away from the sounds of olde England with darker, brooding soundscapes on the haunting title-track and "Hideaway" and the hazy beauty of "Awake" particularly excelling.

An exclusive CD available at Rough Trade gave reason to buy the album through them (also available on LP from the same shop), it's this release which leads to my ramblings. One of the tracks on the CD, a cover of The Cult's "She Sells Sanctuary" has been made available to stream and here I am hopefully sending a few listener's its way...

As far removed from the original as I can remember in a cover, Smoke Fairies make the melody and delivery their own. A metronomic, hollow drum beat is now the focus ahead of the originals traditional 80's stadium sized guitar and urgent vocals, Katherine and Jessica don't ever rush through their delivery, instead using their perfectly delivered voices to produce beautiful, interwoven harmonies with ambient effects and dramatic violins adding to a typically Smoke Fairies sound, ethereal and natural.


Saturday, 23 June 2012

Chelsea Wolfe #7 - Flatlines (live session)

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If I could get away with it I'd probably write about Chelsea Wolfe on a weekly basis but no doubt you'd get bored of my superlatives so I tend to wait for major updates, this post is half that. It's not quite confirmed news of her forthcoming album, yet, although the note that came with this incredible live session track states that 'Chelsea Wolfe performs her song "Flatlands" from her soon to be released acoustic album coming out on Sargent House in the Fall of 2012'. That's good enough for me!

This live version of "Flatlines" sets the mark incredibly high for the album, though a noticeable departure from her two official albums to date for "Flatlines" is really not dark at all, musically anyway, her trademark bleak and eerie tension replaced with something simpler and just achingly beautiful. The finger picking of Chelsea's acoustic guitar is delicate and soft, the backing violins devastating whilst Chelsea's hushed whispers are truly gorgeous, the introspective beauty in her words sure to bring goosebumps to many.

Google searching leads me to discover it's an old track which was once upon a time available on a 'tour cd' in 2009, you lucky so and so's who have a copy of that. I've also included a gut wrenching rendition of "Halfsleeper" from Chelsea's debut below, spine-tingling, sensational, soothing. Whatever you want to call it, it's amazing.

After my seemingly endless wait for Chelsea Wolfe to play in the UK I finally got the chance to see her in April on what was the first show of her European tour at the Old Blue Last, a packed, hot room was reduced to silence as Chelsea and band performed a breathtaking set, highlights a many, it was loud, powerful and haunting, pretty much everytrhing I was hoping. Chelsea commanded the room with her ghostly voice and dramatic soundscapes, the drum beat increasingly dominant whilst guitars and keys were used to create the nightmarish ambience. A pretty special night I'm sure all who were there would testify to.

Criticisms? None really but patience has never been one of my strongest attributes so please can we get some more UK dates announced! I'd be equally delighted with a full band set or an acoustic tour.


Friday, 22 June 2012

SeaWitches - New Music "Introducing"

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Next up for my ramblings are a new find from Liverpool, SeaWitches, but I can't claim a single-handed organic discovery here, they were recommended by one of my gig-going friends, a man with his pulse firmly on the radar for new bands. Though the trio appear to have been around for a while now I can't see find any gig history out of their native city with a couple of demo tracks uploaded on their facebook hinting at a trippy, dark psyche pop sound that should find them many a new friend over the forthcoming months...

"Another Clown Fight" is a fine introduction (and the only one of the two I can embed here), progressively flamboyant with swirling guitar twangs, unsettling bass lines and percussion, I can guarantee the twisted rhythm of the melody will get in your head as bewitching vocals sing haunting, sharp harmonies. "Red Light" (which you can listen to via facebook) sounds rawer as breezy guitar echoes with distorted harmonies, part 60's / 70's psychedelia.

I might not know too much about SeaWitches yet (my normal Google search turned up little) but they are certainly the latest in a long-line of brilliant new discoveries from Liverpool that I'm looking forward to hearing more from.

The Rayographs #2 - My Critical Mind

In what must go down as one of the most secretive releases of 2012 so far, Rayographs return from a period of silence (although 1/3 of the band, Astrud has been busy releasing a record and touring as Paper Dollhouse) to release a new 12" record next week, My Critical Mind will contain two original songs backed with two remixes, I'll concentrate on the originals...

"My Critical Mind", taken from Rayographs self-titled album released last year on French label Desire has been given an dark, dubby remaster which manages to add even more menace to the tense ambience of the song, howling guitars add circling, eerie riffs with hollow drums and half spoken vocals which remind me of early Pulp, like the stalkish paranoia of "Being Followed Home" from Freaks, an observational narrative that hisses uneasily around its disconcerting tone. 

There's only 90 second clip of new track "Lux Underhand" to go on but it sounds even more nightmarish, unsettling guitars looping around nonchalant vocal drones and cymbal heavy beats, I can't imagine the rest of the track will let the sunshine in so perhaps it's best to lock the front door before playing the tracks below.

If that sounds like your thing, and it should, you can order My Critical Mind now via Rough Trade


Thursday, 21 June 2012

Hella Better Dancer #3 - Spring Demos

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One of my favourite bands of 2012 Hella Better Dancer have had a busy start to the year, with numerous live shows already under their belt and more lined-up over the forthcoming months, a drummer change and one CD already released (February's incredible Living Room) you'd be forgiven for allowing the London four piece some time to rest and record new material, instead, Hella Better Dancer have offered yet more new music, with the release of a new three track digital demo EP, the aptly titled Spring Demos.

More akin to their excellent live performances than the sparse, reverb-heavy beauty of the home-recorded project, Living Room, the three tracks highlight the young bands exceptional songcraft and gift for melody, exhibiting seemingly effortless progression through their career already "Dull" is a perfect example, the lead guitar has a bright, jangly rhythm which combines with chugging backing guitar and a driving rhythm section, luscious and melodic, the swirling atmosphere is explosive and powerful with Tilly's vocal as breathtaking as ever.

"Move Back In" and "Take This are equally worthy of my praise, the latter's sparkly riffs and punchy beats, the formers echoey guitar pop is moody yet quirky and catchy, these demos are the sound of a band comfortable with their craft and getting better.

You can download the Spring Demos for as little as you like (or as much, be generous) right now from HBD's bandcamp with physical version of the Living Room CD available now for just £2.50 here.


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Slow Club #3 - Beginners (Video)

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Hi Slow Club, I still love you I've just not posted about you recently, the only valid reasons are time and because I'm normally about two weeks slower than other blogs when it comes to 'news' so I'd rather spent my limited time highlighting lower profile acts and new music posts, but I can't resist this time around, I'm not quite sure how Slow Club managed it but that really is Daniel Radcliffe in the video for their lastest single "Beginners", taken from last years Paradise. 

Straight away it looks like things haven't gone to well for Harry Daniel after leaving Hogwarts, wearing a shirt you'd expect Toadfish from Neighbours to be wearing and looking rather depressed in a traditional pub (Faltering Fullback in Finsbury Park), the one take video sees Radcliffe pull off an incredible, intense and sullen performance of a man down on his luck. 

Of course I don't really buy into tricks in music promoting, it's about the music for me and I can safely say that throughout my three year relationship with the Sheffield (originally) duo I'm yet to be dissapointed. "Beginners" is great, though perhaps not quite my favourite from the album (I'm a sucker for the Rebecca led ballads like "Never Look Back", "You, Earth or Ash" and "Gold Mountain"), managing to sound both melancholic and upbeat, stadium sized drum beats with echoey guitar riffs and signature heart-warming vocals. Slow Club could just about to be ready to explode.

If you've not got it already you can order Paradise on CD and now also on LP (released for Record Store Day earlier this year) from all good suppliers, non better than Norman Records.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Two Trees - New Music "Introducing"

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I've been rocking a lot on here lately, it's the summer bringing out the bright indie-popper in me. Two Trees are here to change appease the one way traffic of the past week. A folk duo from Stockholm, just two songs in so for but their gorgeous harmony-laden tracks immediately ticking my boxes, appealing to the acoustic side of me, the one who wants to go for a long walk through the countryside or relax in the park instead of getting involved in the hustle-bustle of work life and the never ending news feed of the Internet, Two Trees are simply perfect for that, soothing and beautiful from the get-go.

Their debut track "Your Woods" caused a mini-storm on soundcloud with hundreds of comments and thousands of plays since it was uploaded last month, it's not hard to see why after just a couple of listens, genteel and understated guitar plucks lay a soft foundation for pure, dual vocal harmonies, the very definition of the the word heart-warming, the richness of the vocals causing goosebumps wrapped around plaintive lyrics.

"Lay Me Down" follows the same radiant simplicity and purity, circling guitars and delightfully pretty vocals. Just two songs so far, but on the strength of them alone it's pretty safe to say this won't be the last you hear of Two Trees.

Chastity Belt - New Music "Introducing"

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Staying across the pond but moving to the incredibly named Walla Walla, Washington, four piece Chastity Belt were guaranteed a listen when I smiled at their self-deprecating review, 'This is the worst music you will ever hear. Chastity Belt is the worst band to ever exist'... 

Obviously they're not, sure the all-girl quartet's noise-pop is shambolic, raw and with tracks entitled "Vagina", "Porn Star" and lyrics such as "This is sex, this is war, this is me fucking you on the dance floor" (from "James Dean") I doubt the American equivilent of the Ivor Novello's will be calling anytime soon but it's also fun, not-at all serious fun, that's all we need in our lives sometimes isn't it? With news of economic melt-down, death and misery all too aplenty what better than some loud, rioutous garage / party punk from four girls just out of college.

Their debut EP, aptly titled Fuck Chastity Belt exudes bucket-loads of youthful charisma and starts with possibly the strongest song (and most structured) "God Damn" which instantly begins with the choruses repeated exasperations, based around laxidasical guitar melodies and drum splatterings, "James Dean" continues in similar fashion, in your face lyrics (as previously mentioned), screaming vocal echoes and chaotic mosh inducing noise, Chastity Belt aren't I band I'd pick to listen to whilst I was trying to study something, you'll soon find your brain somewhere else.

You can get a digital copy of the EP now via bandcamp on a pay what you like basis with a whole host of similiar no-nonsense tracks up on their soundcloud to stream. One final tip, don't ever (I do mean ever) search 'Chastity Belt' in tumblr. Just don't.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Summer Girlfriends - New Music "Introducing"

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Sometimes when you've never heard of a band and you see their name you immediately decide in your head how they should sound, that happened to me with Chicago five piece Summer Girlfriends and, to no great surprise, my initial reaction was right...

Lead track "Shockwaves" introduces their sweet, lo fi, garage pop perfectly, oozing with syrupy harmonies and playful, summery melodies. Despite making me want to throw out the usual girl group nostalgic, catchy comments the girls manage to sound fresh and modern too, with seemingly random keys, jaunty bass and jumpy drum gallops "Shockwaves" rings with sunshiny fun and youthful optimism, making me wish I was drinking some of the cocktails in the press photos and not stuck inside looking at overcast skies but that's what you get when you live in England I guess.

The more thrashy "Bad Dreams" is pure fuzz pop, an tempo cut which races through its two minute duration with distorted guitars and with a chorus so infectious it should come with a health warning.

Summer Girlfriends have just released their self-titled debut album (released by Addenda Records) which can be ordered in the UK on CD/LP via Piccadilly Records.


Friday, 15 June 2012

Souvenir Stand - New Music "Introducing"

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Hello Friday, I'm very glad to see you, it's been a long, hard week. My weekend starts with this slice of gorgeous, care-free nostalgia from New Jersey's Stephanie Cupo, her brief bandcamp bio gives a more concise introduction than I could manage so here it is, 'a classical saxophonist gone indie pop 60s-inspired singer/songwriter', Stephanie, who records under name Souvenir Stand (with the help of some studio musicians) is here to brighten up your day.

To stop this post getting too long, I'll focus this post on her debut release, a three track EP 'Days I've Spent With You' which is available to download via Bandcamp for free (with a load more demo and cover tracks up on Souvenir Stand's soundcloud to stream and fall in love with). As I've already adhered to, Souvenir Stand is sugar and spice and all things nice, Stephanie's vocals bear an instant adorable charm, her soft and dreamy voice will send your heart all fluttery while the yesteryear melodies are effortlessly precise and pretty (I'm a sucker for fluttering keys it seems). The fit is perfect with the rose-tinted memories re-collected on the title track "Days I've Spent With You".

"All I Want To Know" and "We Will Have Our Day" similarly shine with timeless sweetness, understated instrumentation and pure, beautiful vocals. Though undeniably light and hardly ground-breaking (though really, what is), Souvenir Stand should be one of your summer hits, spread the word.



Thursday, 14 June 2012

Exlovers #4 - Emily

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Another shorter post for today and the second act who seemingly manage to crop up here with just about every track they've released thus far, 'Emily' is the second single taken from exlovers debut full-length 'Moth' (which itself comes out next week, June 18th via Young & Lost Club) and it's the perfect continuation of their wistful, 90's leaning, guitar driven, pure pop tunes (bit of a tongue twister that).

The enchanting "Emily" sees the London quintet's signatures continue, beautiful melodies inducing memories of gorgeous summers days past and dual vocal harmonies, softly whispered and as pretty-as-a-flower, a(nother) track that can do nothing but make you kick your feet back and smile. Warm and familiar, exlovers are like a long lost friend who you've re-encountered after years apart and don't want to lose touch with again, just lovely.

You can pre-order 'Moth' signed with a four track bonus acoustic CD from Recordstore now, the band have an album launch show at The Waiting Room (formerly The Drop) next Tuesday, June 19th - details.

The Belle Game - New Music "Introducing"

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A new discovery for me, although not a new band, Vancouver / Montreal based five piece (though it looks like they used to be seven) The Belle Game came to my attention through their new single, the splendid "Wasted Light" which follows an EP from late year (which has promptly been added to my 'to listen' pile) and is the first taster of the album 'Ritual, Tradition, Habit' due later this year.

"Wasted Light" is a fantastic introduction for those like me who haven't come across the band before, metronomic kick drum, ambient guitar shimmers and chiming keys provide the platform for the beautiful crafted track to progressively build, the layered instrumentation is both luscious and joyous as crashing crescendos ebb and flow around the ethereal vocals of Andrea Lo, with the gorgeous backing harmonies equally sumptuous, the track gets better and better as it progresses, the bellowing trumpet finale my highlight.

A track you'll want to listen to over and over again, which you can as "Wasted Light" is available to download for whatever price you like via bandcamp

Lucy Rose #4 - Lines (Video)

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There isn't too much I can add to what I'm previously written about Lucy Rose, her beautiful voice is the sort that's effortlessly able to melt hearts with its soft beauty, in 'Lines', Lucy's upcoming single (her first with new label Columbia/Sony, released 23rd July) there is a marked progression from her early, tender acoustic demos with a full band sound, particular highlighted by bombastic guitar riffs and a gentle rhythm section groove, that's not to say Lucy has changed her style, "Lines" still retaining her most important identifiers, her angelic voice and intimate song-craft.

With a wealth of incredible singles behind Lucy already (the previously mentioned 'Middle of the Bed', 'Red Face' and 'Scar' to name but three) and her debut album 'Like I Used To' to follow on 24th September, the ever growing number of new admirers are sure to prove that all those 'insiders' / bloggers who tipped the sublime singer/songwriter for success for a while back now were surely right.

Lucy is on tour in the UK right now with a show at London's Heaven next Wednesday - tickets.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Ghosts You Echo #2 - I'm Alive

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Ghosts You Echo have returned an altogether different beast with new demo track "I'm Alive" (and as a new streamlined trio), veering away from the ambient, emotive orchestrated synth pop of "Erika" and "Pull Through", the energetic "I'm Alive" is a faster, more menacing beast with juddering guitar, pulsating synth and crashing percussion duel with Victoria's searing vocals.

Completely destroying any of the comparisons I used on my 'Introducing' piece last year the ferocious track builds to something much darker, raw and exciting, incredibly, it's still only a 'very rough' demo. Ghosts You Echo don't have any gigs lined-up at the minute, I'm sure that'll change soon.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Tashaki Miyaki #3 - Demos

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A late night post, I'm shattered so hopefully when I read this back in the morning it makes some sort of sense. For those of you who read my earlier post, I ran the half marathon and then had a late lunch in a local pub which meant I fell asleep on my return home and unfortunately abandoned my gig planning evening (Bethnal Green is about 75 minutes from my house so it's not just a pop along gig), which is a bit annoying but enough, or this will start turning into some sort of online journal!

Tashaki Miyaki have been a favourite of mine since I discovered their sweet, languid fuzz-pop last March, a wonderful EP followed with highlights "Get it Right" and the reappearing "Somethin' Is Better Than Nothin'" the perfect summation of the bands Best Coast meets slowed down shoegaze, a random play of the former led me to search for new material by the Californian duo and I'm delighted to say that not only did I find some but it's just as magnificent.

"Best Friend" takes the relaxed vibe almost to the next level, lacking almost as much urgency as I did on my run today, the track slow and melancholic gently sways along with honey-honed vocals bathed in hazy reverb, metronomic drum beats and jangle guitar riffs, it's tranquil pop candy and just gorgeous (apparently the track is 10 months old - no idea where I've been!).

Heading to bandcamp I discover to more, "City" is equally woozy and fuzzy, the guitar almost howls and creates a somwhat spookier, creepy ambience while I probably don't need to tell you their version of "If Not For You" is similarly lazy day perfection, a crawling guitar solo brightens the middle section and the harmonious "ah ah ah" in the chorus adds syrupy dreams. I'm certainly looking forward to the full-length, I suspect many others are too.

Tashaki Miyaki head to Europe with dates still being finalised so keep an eye out for them.



Parakeet #3 - Shonen Hearts

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A quick update today folks, I'm off to run a half marathon in an hour (it starts 100 yards from my house which kinda rules out any excuse I've got not to), so I'm up early and passing the time whilst I should still be in bed, ho hum. I've already broken some of the 'Bloggers Style Guide' there, oh well, I don't agree with much of it in all honesty.

This blog isn't a piece of fine journalism and I'm not interested in making a career writing about music. Making obvious, condescending points and criticising grammar (I haven't read many blogs who don't follow at least basic English language principles and I'd personally prefer a down to earth approach rather than a blog that uses twenty words stolen from a thesaurus) alongside some pieces about how to look professional isn't a guide in my opinion. I'll settle with what I do already, if you don't like it, I doubt you are reading this.

I'm not starting any fights, The Recommender is a fine blog who discoverers some great new artists and writes about them in exemplary fashion, I just find the post a bit pointless and I guess it irks me that blogs need to come across as professional, leave that for the pro's and career-maker's (who'll actually get, or be aiming to get, paid). Hobby blogging (like this) should be for the love of music and with a busy life and full time job, I'm pretty sure 95% of my posts are littered with errors.

Parakeet, now playing as a trio with Jon Jackson on guitar, have released their third track "Shonen Hearts" which like their opening track "Tomorrow" is rough and tumble, 90's leaning pop-grunge, with in your face distortion and hard-hitting drums, the swirling guitar melody makes this one perhaps more pop leaning and the surging, fast-paced whirlwind is certainly going to make you want to nod your head in appreciation. Something you'll be able to do that live now, with Parakeet already playing their opening gigs with a couple of support slots, they headline Madame Jo Jo's on July 24th supported by the wonderful Novella - one gig I'll certainly be hoping to get to.

Friday, 8 June 2012

The Tuts - New Music "Introducing"

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I'm writing a blog post on my Friday lunch break, it's been one of those sorts of weeks. A working week that's only (so far) been two and a half days long and has felt ten times as long, a trip straight into London last night for a hat-trick of gigs (Bleech at Rough Trade, Carousels and Savages at Hoxton Bar & Kitchen and 2:54 at Scala) means that today to add to the bout of cantbearsed syndrome I'm pretty tired, so when I came to write a post I was looking for something upbeat, instant and fun, The Tuts offered just that...

"I Call You Up" is the debut track (though there are lots of live recording on youtube) by the London based trio and it's utterly delightful, a shining indie pop gem with a loveable 90's melody, crashing and bouncing with guitar-laden distortion and youthful harmonies, "I Call You Up" fits together perfectly, puts a smile on your face and sounds just great. The live videos hint at an energetic, kick-ass live show (as well as some gorgeous, harmonious acoustic ones), leading nicely onto this next paragraph about both my introduction to the band and a chance to catch them live.

I discovered the band through the line-up for a music festival I've already recommended, the Kiss The Music Weekender at The Sebright Arms, Bethnal Green (full event details) which takes place this very weekend with The Tuts playing on Sunday alongside other such wonderful acts as We Walk on Ice, Fountains and Hella Better Dancer. I'm running a half marathon that morning and then running there (probably not actually running, more likely stumbling)...


Thursday, 7 June 2012

Haim - Forever (Video)

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As I previously mentioned in my review of The Great Escape, my favourite band of the weekend was a band I'd hardly listened to before it, one who'd been swept up in a frenzy of Internet buzz since they were one of NME's (amongst many others) highlights of SXSW and one I was unsure I'd be able to get along with in a live arena, I very quickly learnt that I did and Haim were my pick of TGE 2012. It wasn't just me either, both of my friends I shared a B&B with (and who actually saw the LA sister's other show) agreed as did may other writers and bloggers...

Haim had it all, brimming with confidence, personality and dare I say it 'cool' their harmonies are to-die-for and their guitar playing sensational, the live drumming intense and powerful, their live show oozed 70's American rock meet Fleetwood Mac which may or may not be apparent in their recorded material, of which so far is more anthemic and poppy, "Better Off" is big and bold with a harder synth edge than I remember from the live show while "Go Slow" is just gorgeous, a sultry, slow-motion groove that is probably the originator of the R&B references doing the rounds.

The band have just released a new video for probably the strongest of the three, "Forever", a hot, funk-laden melody and jagged guitars, it's got bounce, style and substance, one I dare even the grumpiest of grumps (that's quite often me) not to like. The video interlaces old footage of the girls on bikes with more recent footage where the bikes are somewhat upgraded alongside some rather suspect dancing in a hairdressers, who knows...

What is next for them? I'm going to guess a backlash. This is 2012, this is the Internet when a band gets popular they get slated, it's part and parcel... One thing for certain is that major labels will be trying their hardest to get them on board, Haim will be massive for sure but why do the words 'major' or 'mainstream' have to be frowned upon on blogs? I'm not sure, this one is simply a chronicle of my recent music tastes, I don't claim to have the answers. I'll let people who want to slate bands they don't care for do what they want to as long as it doesn't interfere with my enjoyment (I'm looking at you people who go to gigs and decide to chat), I'd rather post about the positives, it's slightly more rewarding.

Haim's debut EP also entilted 'Foever' is still available to download for free via their website. They also return to the UK, playing a sold-out show at The Barfly on Monday 18th June, I'll see anyone lucky enough to have tickets there.


The Sundowners - New Music "Introducing"

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Liverpool quintet The Sundowners are here to bring back the good times* of the late 60's and early 70's (*disclaimer: so I've heard, I was born in 1982 and if I'm honest am quite happy in 2012), lack of beards aside you'd even be forgiven their press shots were pictures of an early Fleetwood Mac, their harmonically brilliant songcraft takes you to the same level of musicianship, strength and beauty too. Gorgeous, nostalgic melodies and sweetly honed voices make for bright, dreamy pop that is sure to bring joy and have you tapping your feet in appreciation.

They've got two equally brilliant tracks up on their soundcloud to give you an introduction to their sound, the upbeat "Gone Into The Sun" and the similarly vibrant "No Goin' Back", both tracks are drenched in the rich, syrupy dual vocals of Fiona Skelly (brother Alfie takes care of lead guitar) and Niamh Rowe, whose stunning harmonies seemingly effortlessly blend with sun-kissed guitar shimmers and punchy drum beat kicks, the girls' paired delivery has a natural charm to it and the bounce of the melody from the tight rhythm section can do nothing but raise moods.

Luscious and cool, The Sundowners are currently lining up their debut single and I can see it being a huge, huge success.


Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Carousels #2 - Stay With Me

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Last summer a lot of us blogs got excited by Guildford / Cambridge duo Nick Benton and Lucy Wilson's Carousels, three debut recordings emerged highlighting stomping, buzzing chain-saw guitar riffs, layers of feedback and gorgeous, hazy vocal harmonies, the exhilarating fizz of "Sleep" especially getting us shoegaze lovers a bit hot under the collar.

The band though were not as content as the armchair critics, for despite glowing praise in columns such as NME Radar and The Recommender after a less than a handful of live shows as a duo Carousels decided to disappear behind the scenes and re-write themselves as a 'real' band, where laptop and looping pedals had previously made distortion and beats, three news members (Danny, Danny and Angela) joined the ranks to make up a new and improved Carousels, slowly returning earlier this year with a handful of shows played under an alternative name (the first at one of my Beautiful Strange nights), the band are now ready to launch themselves once more into the spotlight with their new demo "Stay With Me" and return to the live arena under the Carousels banners (on Thursday with Savages and O Children at Hoxton Bar & Kitchen - unmissable - details).

"Stay With Me" does not disappoint and certainly does not fuck around, instantly penetrating your brain with a huge wall of sound from swathes of droning, spiralling guitars and a punishing drum beat, which fully intoxicates when interwoven with Nick and Lucy's dual, melodic vocals "Stay With Me" retains the energy and blistering pace of Carousels earlier demos, commands to be played loudly and seen live, do so on Thursday, you won't regret it.

Seapony #7 - What You Wanted

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Back when the UK was basking in an early summers glow I was posted summery flavoured indie-pop on a daily basis, the return of rain and grey clouds stopped that for a while but after a long weekend of ignoring the dismal weather and trying to enjoy time away from the office what better than a new track from a band who define bright, blissful pop better than most, Seapony, who return with the lead single from their forthcoming second LP 'Falling' (due September 11th via Hardly Art).

The track "What You Wanted" is exactly that, a beautiful, care-free buzz surrounds a catchy guitar / keys melody, almost impossible not to like, the track stays pretty close to the Seapony formula thus far, dreamy, breezy and overwhelmingly delightful.

Their debut LP 'Go With Me' was one of my albums of the year last year and there is every indication that 'Falling' will follow suit, one album I'm definitely excited to hear.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Beautiful Strange Update

Is there better time for a bit of self-promotion than a double bank holiday weekend? Yes, that's probably the short answer. Half of this blogs normal readership (I naturally assume most people who read this thing are about my age group, 30 (ish) - do tell me if I'm wrong) are probably in the pub for the third consecutive day by now.

Hopefully as a result avoiding what looks like a nationwide mass BNP rally in your town centre. I'm not actually anti-monarchy, they serve the country well in some ways but waving flags to celebrate them is a little bit out of my satisfaction level, arguably less than a three week (and continuing) propaganda campaign about the Olympic fucking flame but that's a whole different issue (and one I won't be bothering with here)...

I've four incredible shows lined-up billed under my promoting name 'Beautiful Strange' to talk about (head to beautifulstrangepresents.tumblr.com/ to miss the spiel and see whom), I have actually been asked a few times why I didn't continue with the blog title for the promoting... simply, I don't think it translates too well and I like the name Beautiful Strange, it actually sums up the sort of music I seem to like pretty well (and it's also the name of a Prince song). Right, less waffle, more plugging.

I've got two events coming up in the next couple of weeks, pretty different sort of shows but equally amazing. First on Tuesday June 12th at The Old Queen's Head, Islington a single launch for the wonderful Brighton / London five piece Shrag. Their new single 'Show Us Your Canines' is due via WIAIWYA / Fortuna POP! on Monday 4th and after a false-dawn of a release show, Beautiful Strange was delighted to jump in to host the event. Support comes from label-mates Evans The Death and Chips For The Poor and tickets are just £5 from wegottickets - it'd be great if you could come and say hello.



Then the very next day, Wednesday 13th June in the gorgeous St Margaret's Chapel at The Gallery Cafe (pictured here at the last night I hosted there, a sold-out This is the Kit show) the incredibly talented Shura playing a very special acoustic, unplugged show.

This one is going to be incredible, listen to her 'Nght flk' EP for proof, on record it gives you that spine-tingling sensation, live it's going to be a whole different level. The chapel room is gorgeous and intimate - fitting no more than 45 people, gigs there offer 'one of those moments'.  Support comes from the amazing Worry Dolls, another band I've had my eye on for a while and can't wait to hear live.

Tickets for this one are just £4 and available here.



Further ahead I've got Tender Trap, one of my favourite new bands September Girls and Cosines for an Indietracks warm-up show on July 4th and another event with a clean sweep of acts previously blogged on July 10th (at The Old Queen's Head again) Just Handshakes (We're British), Alloy Ark and Curxes. Further details and links to facebook events etc can be found via tumblr. There's also news of a release with Fountains for those of you interested in that sort of thing...

I'll leave the plug there, I understand people don't visit this blog to get events chucked down their throats, but they are the sort of thing that perhaps those of you London based are interested in, after all this is a music blog about music I like and my events are exactly that. Now where was I, oh yeah, Rule, Britannia!