Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Nature Set - New Music "Introducing"


Here's an incredibly belated post, I intended to cover this band, Sheffield based four piece Nature Set on their first EP, Enough is Enough (available on 7" via Elefant - order from Norman Records now) some time back though obviously I didn't. I'll blame the age-old lack of time syndrome, so consider this a make amends, taking time out of watching the Olympics (I've got into it a whole lot more than I anticipated, I'm not a fan of commercial nonsense and corporate greed but the excitement of competitive sport is more than enough draw for me) for a brief 'Introducing' post.

I'll give a brief mention to the title track from the debut EP as it serves a perfect intro to the band and is wonderful. With bouncing electric guitars, synths and playful vocals it's a sure fire indie-pop dance-floor filler, a perfect combination of retro harmonies and a fun, youthful energy of early Brit-pop.

Moving on, Nature Set have more recently released their second EP If I Crawl, You Crawl via Dufflecoat Records (just a handful of CD copies left here) and lead track "Avalanche" similarly follows suit, led by a wonderful analogue synth line and powerful bass its spirited melody is sure to have you nodding your head in approval while the superb "Hands" is pure candyfloss pop, a wonderfully bright and easy sound with gorgeous interplaying vocal harmonies and fuzzy, urgent guitars, perfection.

Enjoy Nature Set in your own time below, you won't regret it.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Agent Ribbons - Family Haircut


I'd not heard of Agent Ribbons until this track, "Family Haircut", the lead track from the Sacramento duos forthcoming EP Let Them Talk (a preview to what will become their third LP) came to my attention but given a Vice première and over five thousand 'fans' on facebook (the gauge of a bands success for sure!) I may be in the minority.

Numerous factors have made be a little swamped at the minute, so much as that I'm writing this post before heading out for yet more birthday celebrations (yes, today), so the updates here have been a little thin on the ground recently and this post isn't exactly my finest ever moment but "Family Haircut" is a great way to start your week, fluttering between dreamy psychedelia and garage stomp with harmonies aplenty and a strong melody-line give the track a spin below. I'll certainly be doing the same with the EP which is due September 11th.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Deaf Club #3 - Moving Still


Deaf Club return with their third release in just over a year, the fabulous 7" single Moving Still, two tracks which confirm what I already knew, the confident young Welsh/London based quintet are one of the most exciting guitar based bands around today.

Take the title track "Moving Still" for instance, from its moody slow motion introduction and the alluring vocals of Polly Mackey contrast with powerful, shimmering textures, it catches your attention with brooding mysticims. Flip side "Lights" could be even better, similarly ambient and dramatic it builds up in tempo to a fantastic finale of guitar soundscapes and crashing tom beats. You can order the 7" via Piccadilly Records here if it takes your fancy.

I've not seen the band since a fanastic slot at The Great Escape, I was at Latitude for their single launch with fellow blog favourites Tripwires but Deaf Club do play again in London next week along with Carousels in what promises to be a great night, it's the day after my birthday so I'll have to wait and see how my head feels before committing to a trip to London! (Full Details).

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Honeyblood - New Music "Introducing"

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I'm wondering how I'd not heard of Honeyblood until last night when news that the Glasgow duo (vocalist / guitarist Stina Tweeddale and drummer Shona McVicar) play Vice magazines latest issue launch night at The Old Blue Last came to my attention (well the news that Carousels were playing came to my attention and I listened to the other bands on the bill). It might be a little late for me to get to that show this time (and you too) but I'm sure they'll be plenty of time to make amends down the line and you might want to do that...

Combining an early Blood Red Shoes dynamic of blazing guitar and hard-hitting drums with nonchalant, sun-kissed vocals more in fitting with Best Coast et al Honeyblood's "No Spare Key" is a fine introduction to the pairs simple but effective onslaught. Fuzzed up to fuck, the grizzly, crackled home-made sound of the recording enhances the garage rock aesthetics, chunky, loud and right in your face.

"Super Rat" ditches the racing tempo and feedback drenched guitar for cleaner, slacker pop sensibilities, melodic vocals and lyrics about (presumably) someone who Stina doesn't like all to much "I will hate you forever, you really do disgust me". Ouch.

Other than tonight's show, no further London dates are announced though Honeyblood support Frankie Rose in Brighton tomorrow. I'm sure they'll be back south soon.

Chelsea Wolfe #8 - The Way We Used To

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Almost as sure as day, when Chelsea Wolfe releases a new track I meet its arrival with endless superlatives, when I last talked about Chelsea (the exceptional "Flatlands") I mentioned my excitement ahead of the release of her forthcoming acoustic album, now titled (Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs) and due for release on October 16th through Sargent House... 

Now consider that excitement quadrupled for Chelsea has shared a track from the album, the hauntingly beautiful "The Way We Used To", which retains the dark, ethereality of her earlier work, though through its bare, stripped back nature loses some of the dramatic bleakness and tension which shrouds the likes of "Moses" or "Demons". That isn't to say the track is light and sunshine, with little more than the gentle pitter-patter of toms, ghostly guitar lines and mournful hymn-like harmonies leading to Chelsea's hushed whispers "The Way We Used To" is undoubtedly full of thoughtful, eerie space and also undoubtedly beautiful.

So, including the live version of "Flatlines", the two indications we've been given so far make me think that this release is going to be something beyond special. Can't wait.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Bat For Lashes #2 - Laura


So pretty much every blog under the sun has probably already covered the return of Bat For Lashes, but with good reason, Natasha Khan's controversial front cover to her upcoming third album The Haunted Man may have taken half of the headlines but they should really all be about the music too for the first preview from the album, "Laura", a piano-led ballad is truly, truly stunning.

I may have failed to connect fully with the Bat for Lashes live show at Latitude last week (I really don't like large main festival stages and outside ones either) but this intimate, breathtaking single really does cause goosebumps from the first listen. Around warm piano there's a beautifully poignant yet uplifting message to "Laura" which sees Natasha's vocals rising with the tracks progression and mood, from hushed, sparse beginnings to dramatic choruses, dripped in grandiose brass and strings. To repeat myself gorgeous. Gorgeous with a capital G.

You can catch Bat For Lashes on a UK tour in October which includes a stop at London's Kentish Town forum on the 29th. The Haunted Man is released a bit before that on the 15th and can be ordered with a limited edition print of the cover sleeve via recordstore.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Stealing Sheep #6 - Genevieve (Video)

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After my belated post on the wonderful Stealing Sheep over the weekend (with an incredible live version of previous single "Shut Eye"), I'm a little quicker on the up-take to new single "Genevieve", the second single from their forthcoming full length Into the Diamond Sun (released August 20th via Heavenly)...

If you're familiar with the trio already (as an increasing number of people seem to be - including a very belated Guardian New Band of the Day feature) you'll not be disappointed, "Genevieve" oozes with the same bewitching Wicker Man-esque atmospherics as much of their previous releases, a mish-mash of musical genres that combine to create haunting folkish tunes which hearty dashing of booming tom beats eerily discomfiting melodies and gorgeous vocal harmonies.

Medieval darkness combined with dreamy, ethereal beauty, something the girls seems capable of producing with effortless aplomb. "Genevieve" is gorgeous. No single pre-order links yet but you can pre-order the album and previous single through all good retailers.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Young Unknowns - New Music "Introducing"

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Brooklyn four-piece Young Unknowns have only got one track to their name so far, the rather brilliant "Target Practice" (available to download free via bandcamp) but it's more than enough to have me (yet again) chomping at the bit... Google leads me to learn the band are led by Meredith Meyer who has two solo albums to her name whilst a quick youtube search uncovers a breathtakingly beautiful solo track a world apart from the bands introduction...

"Target Practice" is the lead track to Young Unknowns forthcoming debut EP You Are a Young Unknown, with an as yet unannounced release date sometime in the Autumn (I'm old fashioned English in so fact that I cannot grasp the use of the word 'fall' to describe a season, that's a season of the year not a television series! ;)) but through its driving beat, fuzzed-up riffs and crisp melody there's an undeniably polished track which carries not only a radio friendly sound but one that's catchy and irresistible. Here's hoping the EP follow suit.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Stealing Sheep #5 - Shut Eye (Live Video)

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A quick post because I've already posted about this track (and the band on numerous occasions now) but I only discovered this incredible video today and it's too good not to share with you straight away on the chance you'd missed it too.

How do you make the fabulous "Shut Eye" by Stealing Sheep even better? Answer: Add a vast crowd of musicians bringing whatever instrument they may play, put them all in one garden space and let the Obscenic crew film it.

Even more off-kilter, hypnotic and well amazing than the original, watch below and be spellbound. It's incredible that such a large troupe of people can combine to make something that sounds so spectacular and rehearsed, amazing stomping rhythms and brass sections just two of the many highlights.

Stealing Sheep release their much awaited debut full-length "Into the Diamond Sun" next month with a Rough Trade instore planned for August 8th to celebrate.

OBSCENIC SESSIONS | Stealing Sheep | Shut Eye from OBSCENIC on Vimeo

Es Muss Sein - New Music "Introducing"

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One thing that is almost certain is that there is infinitely more talent around today then there is time for me to discover it all but it's discoveries like Es Muss Sein that make the endless trails around the Internet, emails and recommendations worthwhile. Sure often you open up a mail to find a remix of Justin Bieber or whoever happens to be 'cool' at that current moment in time but sometimes the chase has a reward that is worth way more than the time it took to discover them, this is one such case...

Es Muss Sein is Poppy Wilson, a young singer/songwriter from Kent, earlier this year she released her debut self-titled EP and with overflowing superlatives I'll now say how wonderful it is. "Sail" introduces Poppy's raw, intimate styling, slow paced guitar circles provide simple backing for her voice and lyrics to shine, there within lies the key to the EP, it's not so much about the sparse guitar riffs but Poppy's heart wrenching delivery and lyrics where she bares her soul down for all to hear. The very epitome of beauty, "Sail" is one of those tracks that stays with you long after it's finished.

"Those Days" comes close to competing with it too (even when backed by seagull harmonies in the live video below), similarly uncluttered the acoustic and voice track of reflection and emotion is lonely and wrapped in melancholia but also completely gorgeous. With her exquisite delivery and velvet voice Es Muss Sein, further development could soon lead Poppy to be drawing similarly plaudits to those of Ms Marling and co. Here's hoping...

Download the EP for FREE now via bandcamp - you won't regret it.

Friday, 20 July 2012

WILSEN - New Music "Introducing"


Another thank you to my mailbox here, New York based WILSEN (primarily the work of Tasmin Wilson) came to my attention through a concise email that landed in my overflowing inbox this past week, as soon as I clicked play (I do listen to every email I get even if I don't get time to reply to them all) on the soundcloud link I fell in love.

The only track on Wilsen's page so far, "Dusk", is deliciously sad and unbelievably gorgeous, with Tasmin's ethereal whispers the forefront of delicate, stripped back instrumentation where gently picked chord patterns and light brush strokes combine with the haunting, fragile vocals. Heartfelt and emotive "Dusk" is the perfect soundtrack to a relaxing, late night glass of whiskey (replace with wine / ale as you prefer!) whilst curled up on the sofa (presumably with your laptop or you won't be reading this!)...

The track is taken from WILSEN's debut full length Sirens due next week July 25th - immediately an album I can't wait to hear. Fall in love yourself below:

Erika Spring #2 - Hidden


I picked up on the solo work of Au Revior Simone's Erika Spring with her debut track, the overwhelmingly gorgeous "6 More Weeks" almost a year ago to the day now, fast forward to July 2012 and the ever brilliant Cascine have just released Erika's debut EP, the five track Hidden, equally intoxicating and enchanting, it charms from the very first listen.

"Happy at your Gate" is the perfect introduction, Erika's breathy vocal coos transcends beauty, silky soft and smooth her voice wraps you in a blanket of warmth and pure aural bliss whilst a airy veil of shimmering keys, punchy drum pad beats provide at atmospheric background. Title track "Hidden" is bolder, a jaunty synth driven track with sparkling textures and a melody that's rich and distinctive, a perfect combination that makes for an almost perfect dreamy pop song.

The 80's sounding "Like A Fire" would fit perfectly on the Drive soundtrack with its bubbling synth overtures, pitter-patter beats and alluring vocals, while "When Tomorrow Comes" doesn't disappoint, a simpler pop tune that allows Erika's vocals to gleam like an early mornings sunrise.

I've used this word already but this superb EP, instantly one of my favourites of the year, is the very definition of beauty. You can buy it on iTunes and 12" vinyl (via insound) now.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Latitude Festival 2012 - Review

Home and somewhat recovered from the exhaustion of moving office, home and attending a music festival all in the same week, time reasons dictate a slight change to how I'll review Latitude festival, rather than three parts focusing on each day of the festival I'll pick the best parts, the good parts and the bad parts of the weekend (in my opinion).

Out of the organisers hands of course was the weather, it was actually better than I expected. Two overnight downpours and another on Saturday afternoon mean the ground was wet and the campsite especially muddy but the organisers coped well I think and the main arena area didn't mud over, the car park situation could have been potentially disastrous but a dry and partly sunny Sunday saved much of that and despite some mud that a car wash soon sorted I returned home pretty much unscathed. And the festival itself...

The Great.

Zola Jesus: It's unusual for an act who I've seen four times prior to be my star of the festival but that's definitely the case this time around, Zola Jesus' show was sublime. Having reduced her synth count from my previous live encounters and instead with the addition of a violinist, Nika has also lost some of the 'stage stalking' which often caused her to spend most of her time pacing left and right, now rather concentrating on making the most of her dominating voice and incredible wealth of material her slot towards the end of the i Arena's Saturday line-up might have struggled to draw in the same sort of crowd as Django Django prior to her but it still received great applause from those watching and is definitely worthy of my gold medal placing.

Glaring out to the crowd with her dark, glitchy synths and commanding drums Nika's chilly, icy bellows made for a mesmerizing show. If you get the chance, go see her.

The Staves: Saturday was easily the best day for music (again in my opinion), earlier in the evening The Staves had enchanted my heart with a pretty short (just over half an hour) set of gorgeous folk led tunes with bewitching harmonies backed by subtle guitar and beats. Though really what makes this group special is the sister's voices, overwhelmingly gorgeous and listened to in almost silence by the appreciative crowd, it might have been my first viewing of The Staves but it definitely won't be the last.

St Vincent: A Sunday afternoon slot on the Word Arena is probably about the best Annie Clark can ask for billing wise in the UK, it's our fault, her incredible talents deserve so much more, for 40 minutes she treats us to her usual onslaught of extraordinary guitar craft and show-stopping vocals backed by her three piece band on drums and keys, her cover of The Pop Group's "She Is Beyond Good and Evil" still reduces me to "wow" after four viewings. 

I've said this before and I'm going to say it again, I want album four to be a full on rock beast. Please Annie?!

I Break Horses: Another Saturday i Arena act that blew me away. I've seen both of IBH's London shows so far and being honest the last one at Scala was only average, filling out a headlining slot in the large room by elongating tracks from the wonderful album Hearts beyond comprehension. There was none of that this time around, instead just the heavenly fizz of synths and shoegaze guitar textures played out over Maria's ethereal whispers. Beautiful

The Good.

Josh T Pearson: The reason Josh is in 'the good' rather than 'the great' is probably based on nothing more than my preconceptions, after being blown away by Josh on the two previous occasions I was anticipating similar sorts of goosebumps this time around, it didn't quite happen that way on a late lunchtime Saturday show in a massive tent, nevertheless Josh's 40 minute set was faultless, playing 5 tracks from last year's incredible 'Last of the Country Gentlemen' alongside his usual joke telling (I do still chuckle at the Willie Nelson one) he had most of the crowd in the palm of his hand (especially three guys who took fandom to the next level).

Josh isn't really your average festival material but he handled it like the consummate professional he is, hopefully my next encounter will be somewhere a little more intimate and fitting.

Soko: Over the course of just over half an hour Soko managed to play about six instruments (a similar number was also played by her equally multi-talented violinist) and endear herself to the hearts of the audience with a set that crossed as many genres too.

Though I prefer her 'depressing' (her words) stuff which was kept to a minimum this time around, presumably Stephanie (probably rightly) assumes a festival set should be more upbeat, it was still a wonderful way to spend your early Saturday evening and besides a track where Soko played alone on drums that did nothing for me at all her set was another highlight of an extraordinary good days music.

Lana Del Rey: Yes indeed. I've stayed completely out of the Lana Del Rey hyperbole of the last nine months, I quite enjoyed "Video Games" when it was first released but a few months down the line I'd had enough of it, thankfully all the fuss has long since died down and I was able to go and watch Ms Grant with an open mind and form my own opinion.

Well when I say the fuss has died down I mean Internet 'self critics', Latitude's second stage, the Word Arena was packed, absolutely packed with eager fans and curious sceptics. I was in the middle but I soon found myself impressed. I thought it was good. Whilst not quite having the material to fill out much more than half an hour what she performed was impressive, her voice stands up to live scrutiny and her delivery was first rate. I can't say I thought too much to her spending a whole song 'meet & greeting' screaming fans in the front row - it was a bit boy band for me - but I walked away with the opinion that LDR not only has the style, she has the substance.

First Aid Kit: The first act of the weekend for me after I arrived a little late (Friday lunchtime), the Swedish sisters take to the festivals main stage well and play a set from mostly their most recent album The Lion's Roar alongside their wonderful take of Fever Ray's "When I Grow Up", it was overcast when they played but the beauty of their music can only serve to brighten up the mood of the crowd with "Emmylou" providing the first sing-along of the weekend.

Slightly different to my last festival encounter with the pair (in front of about 60 people at Glastonbury's Greenpeace stage) the sit was a fitting reward for the sister's development since.

Sharon Van Etten: This set should have been somewhere else some other time (I'm told the early billing is because Sharon needed to travel elsewhere during the day) but the lunchtime risers are treated to a heavenly set by Sharon Van Etten, perhaps better suited to more intimate surroundings it's the louder "Serpents" that hits home the most but besides an over long final track, Sharon shows exactly why the UK has taken to her music so well. Come back soon.

The Atmosphere: Sure Latitude is a middle class festival but the atmosphere was generally pretty good, well not electric by any stretch of the imagination, bands were appreciated respectfully and it was a pretty relaxed throughout. 

I personally didn't hear of any robberies (I'm sure there were some) or loutish behaviour by people which can often mar music festivals and in my opinion you can't ask for more than that. 

Also ranking amongst the good but would cause this review to go on far too long were Twin Shadow, Smoke Fairies, Slow Club, Bat For Lashes and Tune-Yards.

The Bad.

Reginald D. Hunter: Now don't get me wrong, I love Reg (this is a music blog not a comedy one so I'll keep this brief) but his show was about 25 minutes shorter than billed and used as a work in progress show for his forthcoming Edinburgh Fringe appearance, unfortunately on the whole it just wasn't very good. Hmm.

Food and Drink: Sponsorship, the cause of most evils in the world for sure and unfortunately Latitude isn't free from corporate 'partnerships'. The worst of such is by far with drinks, I'm an alcohol snob but a choice of Tuborg (surely Danish for Cat's piss), Magners (surely just sugar in a can) and Hektor's Pride (an ale, but a weak one - and one that ran out by Sunday) is not enough for a music festival that attracts 35,000 people.

I hope the organisers provide more range in the future, even just a 'Brothers Bar' like at Glastonbury or a separate 'ale bar' because the alcohol choice (especially when taking your own into the arena was forbidden) was to put it politely, rubbish.

The glass deposit scheme caused a few murmurs of complaint on Friday (you had to pay a £3 returnable 'deposit' for a plastic cup for your alcohol but after teething problems which meant you had to queue up twice to get a drink (which was scrapped on Saturday) it worked well and the lack of thousands of paper cups around the site was appreciated by me - now to do that for food as well.

Food was the usual festival standard and at the usual inflated price. £7 for chicken noodles, £3 for chips, £4.50 for a burger being a standard cross-section. I'm not sure if there is a set price that stalls have to charge or price collusion but what a breathe of fresh air it would be to have a seller charge their normal price.


Timings: Don't get me wrong, there was something I could have been doing between 11am and 3am the next morning every day, however, one of the things I found most unusual was that two of the stages (i arena and Lake Stage) stopped playing music at 9pm. Perhaps to give the headliners more audience but it led to the problems I had on Sunday, not wanting to catch Paul Weller or Wild Beasts and thus being without a musical act to see (it did lead to an early getaway though).

Lack of 'Introducing' stage: BBC Introducing is associated with a lot of major UK festivals now and something similar here would certainly improve things, be it a little stage in the woods or over by the outdoor theatre area I definitely think there is room and scope for a stage where smaller bands could get the potential to play to a festival crowd and perhaps get some intimate and acoustic performances from bands playing on others stages throughout the weekend. If Latitude wants to grow and progress further this is definietly an angle I'd like to see the organisers take (though I would say that being a new music fanatic).

Well that wasn't short was it?! If you are still here well done!. The summary, Latitude was a very good weekend that with minimal improvements and a repeat of this years stellar line-up could become an essential part of the UK's festival season.

Did you go? What did you think?

Shrag - Canines

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As I eluded to in my previous post, another vastly overdue post focuses on the headliners of my June Beautiful Strange show Shrag, the Brighton / London five piece have just released their third album Canines via Fortuna Pop! / WIAIWYA and from its first listen via a promo I was given at the show it has been one of my favourite releases of the year so far (and I'm not lying when I say it gets even better on repeat listens)...

I'll save full album reviews for people better at writing prose than me (see All Music's 8/10, Neon Filler's 9/10 or even NME's 8/10 for that) and instead will focus on the albums two singles so far, most recently the wonderful "Show Us Your Canines" which sums up the feeling of the album perfectly, overwhelming infectious with mood-enhancing melodies, racing rhythms with more bounce than your average trampoline and boy/girl shouty vocals that range from bittersweet to lusciously syrupy.

Equally brilliant is the punchy "Tendons in the Night", Shrag take a tough, fuzzy pop-rock approach to most the album and throughout show themselves capable of effortlessly crafting dance-friendly indie pop gems that are dynamic, distinctive and compulsive. Other highlights include "On The Spines Of Old Cathedrals", "Chasing Consummations" and the slow build-up of the epic closure "Jane With Dumbbells" - the whole fucking thing really.

You can buy Canines on CD or LP delivered for just £10 direct from Fortuna Pop! - do it. 

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Chips for the Poor - Fistula


The first of two very belated blog posts, Chips For The Poor are a little different to my usual offerings on here, I fell for them when they opened up one of my Beautiful Strange nights last month (headlined by the act I'll focus on in the next post) where they instantly won me over with their live show, one of the most rhythmic, melodious half hours I've recently experienced. 

Two guitars, a bass and a drum machine loops provide the sometimes punkish, sometimes jangly backdrop for singer Scott's half shouted cries, seemingly possessed, bent forward he swings his microphone around, jumps into the crowd and has the audience hooked. His commanding stage presence is one that has to be seen to be believed and fully appreciated, Chips for the Poor are certainly one of those bands who thrive in the live arena...

The bands latest single "Fistula" came out back in May, Norman Records loved it so much it got five stars and single of the week (so why not buy the 7" via them or label Parlour Records). I'm not sure what else I can say about that track other than it's brilliant, completely unconventional and unlike anything else around today. Tropical chords soon make way for spiky rhythms bathed in distortion, skipping beats and chanted vocals, beyond infectious, listen to "Fistula" below and you'll soon find yourself  falling for the tracks killer hooks. 

Chips for the Poor performed a Marc Riley session on BBC Radio a while back, you've roughly 20 hours to listen to it yourself here.

She Keeps Bees #6 - Counter Charm

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I've been away for four of five days which means I've got lots of new exciting news to write about as well as trying to tackle my increasing backlog of draft posts, starred messages and bands I've got in my head to write about, though jumping straight to the front of the queue are blog favourites She Keeps Bees who surprised me with news of a new 7" single release.

Last years Dig On was one of my favourite records of the year, raw emotion and power that hits you right in the gut, their live shows even better (as confirmed by excellent, packed out shows at The Lexington and Brixton Windmill) and I wrongly assumed Jess and Andy would be taking this year to rest, recuperate and record their next record. It seems they are already one step ahead of the game, with two tracks recorded as long as last October now being released on a new 45 entitled Counter Charm (a track which I'm sure I can remember from those aforementioned shows).

The lead track would feel equally at home on Dig On, around the signature, bare sounds of She Keeps Bees   (Jess's bluesy guitar riffs circle around Andy's Clattering drums) "Counter Charm" is a little part with menace most part delicious with Gaspar Claus's cello echoes causing murmurs while Jessica's vocals purr and enchant (see the wonderful live session version for further proof).

It's very doubtful "Blue Moon" made the release as an ode to Manchester City winning the title last season (especially given it's Halloween recording date) but the She Keeps Bees cover is a strong one, low vocals and a laid-back acoustic guitar start the track as far away from the pissed off, hard-hitting SKB of records, heavenly backing harmonies only enhancing the Sunday afternoon vibe

The band will be selling the recording on their upcoming tour dates, they play London's Cargo (urgh!) next Wednesday July 25th - tickets.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Curxes #3 - Spectre


Curxes are back with their new mutation "Spectre", more dramatic and monstrous than anything the Brighton / Portsmouth duo have released before and so good that after the half dozen or so listens I've given the track thus far I think I can safely say it's their best track yet, from the chilled ghostly introduction to the throbbing bass / crazed synth beat and Roberta's demented vocals it grabs your attention and doesn't let go, not one iota, until it finishes and then makes you want to enter Curxes world all over again.

Somewhere between terrifying and nightmarish (and that's just the altered image that accompanies the release) Curxes have already been labelled "better than your favourite band" by TVPME and "like the sound of two lusty robots f*cking" by Breaking More Waves and who am I to disagree with them? Brutal, punishing and brilliant. Listen to Spectre below. 

A 7" is planned for August 10th - pre-order details via the bands website soon no doubt.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Freedom Fry - New Music "Introducing"

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Here's a post made in pure, wondrous optimism! As you read this I'll be at Latitude Festival where given the weather forecast the title of the latest track by the French / American duo Freedom Fry (Parisian Marie Seyrat and Los Angeles' Bruce Driscole), "Summer in the City" is likely to be the furthest thing from my mind. So as I'm probably spending my time walking around in mud and rain (though I do get to see an incredible line-up of acts so I'm not complaining too much) here is a distinctly, well, summery song to get you in the mood for your weekend and who knows, someone up there might just decide to cancel the rain and give us some sun. Yeah, right!

"Summery in the City" is as bright and breezy as they come, the accompanying video lays that out from the second it starts with a sign welcoming you to 'summer city', drum machine beats and shimmering guitars provide the upbeat surf melody for the duos soft, beautiful vocals to shine. Simple and effective the track can't help but deliver smiles all round.

Earlier track "Billy The Kid" from the self-confessed 'wild west themed' EP Outlaws (that kind of gives it away too) leads to a sounds you're probably expecting, distinctive guitar twangs and breathy, alluring dual vocals, totally different but equally rewarding. The rest of the EP similarly so. 

All tracks are available on the duos bandcamp for a nominal fee now.

Young Romance - New Music "Introducing"


One of the main reasons why I still enjoy running a fan-based blog after a couple of years is that you're still capable of finding something new that makes you go "wow". Of course if I wasn't running a blog there is every chance I'd still find that (and actually have time to listen to more of the artists that I feature rather than searching for the next days/weeks/months posts) but it's a great reward for the hours I spend listening to music each and every day (although I've been slack this week having moved house and my inbox has tripled).

One such moment happened at the start of last week when I discovered London duo, Claire and Paolo, Young Romance, who came to my attention when they jumped in to take the place of the wonderful Joanna Gruesome at an Indietracks warm-up at Brixton Windmill last week - I couldn't go, I was hosting my own with Tender Trap, September Girls and Cosines (it was a wonderful evening) - but I listened to their track "Follow On Your Own" and got that tingling sensation that signals something like 'I've found one'.

"Follow On Your Own" is incredible, switching from big and bold choruses with strong drums and fuzzy guitar to pure, sweet pop verses at the flutter on an eyelid, it's instant and incredible. Obviously I hear a lot of voices and it's a bloggers right to have about half a million 'favourite' things but Claire's voice is absolutely stunning, possessing a devastating range and delivering power and emotion with seemingly effortless ease I don't think I could have asked for a better introduction to the band.

That track came from their self-titled EP (which you can download for free via Eardrums pop), a vinyl release is planned via the ever excellent Oddbox Records - I'll most likely update you on that when I can! 

I got similarly excited when I discovered earlier track "Swollen Hearts, Bitter Tongues" via soundcloud, a beautiful song that should cause many heart to go aflutter, simply gorgeous.

Anway, I'll have to end the superlatives there, it's almost one am and I'm due to go to Latitude Festival in a few hours, let Young Romance into your life, you won't regret it...

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Cassolette - New Music "Introducing"

Facebook / cassolette.org/

Cassolette are a self-described jangly indie pop band from Sarasota, Florida who produce the sort of bright, sweet mood-enhancing music that's as catchy as it is saturated in fuzz and breezy hooks. A perfect combination of US style surf-rock and more traditional UK indie-pop, their simple, instant formula is once I've fallen head over heels for.

Taken from their most recent release, the six track Blame The Weatherman EP "Annie" is the perfect introduction, full of natural charm, upbeat melodies and interlocking vocals, sugary girl group chords complement bouncy key lines, jangle guitars and snappy percussion, wonderfully infectious and sunkissed the equally impressive "Our Cars" just as worthy of my praise.

Fast paced, fun and brilliant, a cover of the Primitives "Crash" closes the EP in style, sticking pretty close to the original, its powerful, punchy pop choruses and great guitar hooks make you wish you were running around the playground all over again.

Stream the EP in full on bancamp and order now via French label Anorak Records

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Fountains #2 - Easily Led

Facebook / fountainstheband.bandcamp.com/ 

Back on the 1st March when I first posted about Fountains I had no idea that four months down the line I'd be where I am today, having already promoted two shows with the band with Beautiful Strange I'm now gearing up to do a third which so happens to be a release party for the latest label release, the bands first vinyl, Easily Led.

I've been listening to it for a couple of months already and I can tell you straight away that it's amazing, I'm not going to give my usual superlatives as that sort of vaunting doesn't wash well with me, instead I'll say that you can listen to both sides of the limited vinyl (to 250 copies) release below and watch the lead tracks video too. It's out on Monday July 23rd and you can order it right now via bandcamp - http://beautifulstrange.bandcamp.com/

The release show takes place at The Waiting Room (formerly The Drop) on Stoke Newington High Street on Tuesday July 24th with Fever Dream, Lost Left and Es Muss Sein also playing. It's free entry so you'd be mad to miss it! All the details can be found via facebook / tumblr and feel free to share the word with your network. Bring £4 for a vinyl!

IO ECHO - When The Lilies Die

Facebook / ioechomusic.com/

Sometimes you miss seeing bands for no reason other than fatigue / lazliness, one such instance for me was IO Echo, they played at a venue I'm still yet to go to (London's Birthdays) a week or so after The Great Escape alongside fellow new band (and keenly admired) PINS but after I'd seen the latter at TGE I decided to rest my weary bones at home instead of heading out to Dalston. I might have made the wrong decision, I'd not heard of IO Echo (aka Ioanna Gika and Leopold Ross) then, their debut single "When The Lilies Die" came my way only recently (I'm aware it's a an updated version of a track that's been floating around for a while now) and I was instantly sold.

The video combines a real Eastern aesthetic with a headlong adrenalin rush of crunching drums, shoegaze guitar textures, oriental rhythms and gorgeous, silky smooth vocals, it's a wonderful slice of uplifting pop, just what I need as I quickly write a blog on my lunch break before returning to a pile of unwelcoming work and then home to box upon box of unpacking (I've moved house, hence the temporary slow-down here).

IO Echo's debut album Ministry of Love is due September 11th and is definitely one to keep an eye out for, especially if fellow early track "Shanghai Girls" is anything to go by..

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Field Mouse - New Music "Introducing"

Facebook / fieldmousemusic.com/

Field Mouse from Brooklyn have been a band I've been meaning to post about for ages, ever since a friend linked the track you can watch below "You Guys Are Gonna Wake Up My Mom" on my facebook. I'd not heard of the dream-pop four piece prior to that but the band immediately became the sort of discovery that a few years back led to the start of this blog, a band who straight away grab your attention with a killer track.

That track, beautiful and hazy, was the Steinman-esque titled "You Guys Are Gonna Wake Up My Mom", a shimmering, reverb-heavy daydream where fluttering drum beats and glistening soundscapes providing the perfect drop for the heavenly vocals, very much in the Slow Dive / Lush vein of atmospheric, gorgeous early 90's shoegaze. It's a song I could listen to endlessly on repeat as I'm meant to be packing up to move house (I have been packing - I'm having a rest!).

Earlier track "Glass" similarly swirls around gleaming guitar based textures and silky smooth vocals, I don't think I'll ever get bored of the video even if for its entire duration it simply focuses on the face of singer Rachel Browne with various backdrops and bubbles.

Facebook leads me to believe they've just finished what will be their debut full-length, one to keep an eye out for then. In the meantime you can get the "You Guys Are Gonna Wake Up My Mom" 7" via Small Plate Records in the US here.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Alice Jemima #7 - One a Day / Safe / Pain

Facebook / alicejemima.com/

I've been over-working myself the past week, so much so that I've only just got around to listening to last weeks final two tracks on Alice Jemima's rather wonderful 'One a Day' series that start last week...

I've previously mentioned the first three tracks so I won't repeat myself again but Day four is probably my (new) favourite of the lot, "When You Dance" possesses all of those attributes I've talked about countless times already, wrapped in a charming, intimate atmosphere Alice's deceptively simple guitar led melodies and pretty as a flower vocals could melt the sternest of hearts.

The final day's track was met with 'technical gremlins' which meant soundcloud was used ahead of the live videos of the rest of the week, which is a shame because I'd be interested to see the live process in making "Oblivious", possibly the most ambitious track of Alice's so far, with laptop beats added to soft, glistening guitar twangs and layered backing vocals. I already know the dazzling effect of Alice's sweet, delicate tracks and it's good to see her experimenting.

For most people five new tracks in a week would be enough, but not Alice Jemima! Seemingly more prolific than 80's era Prince, a new track was released yesterday, a cover of London electronic act Strangers' track "Safe / Pain" and it's all kind of goosebumps too, taking a dramatic 80's leaning synth-pop epic and turning into something so painfully beautiful. Love.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The History of Apple Pie #3 - Do It Wrong


The History of Apple Pie were one of the (relative) success stories of last year, newly formed a few demo tracks on the 'net spawned an impressive number of facebook followers (over three thousand), two excellent releases and some pretty great shows, after a little breather to start 2012 the five piece are back with a new track "Do It Wrong".

It's the heaviest, 90's influenced grungy track from the band to date, the super charged guitar riffs are colossal and ragged though through the noisy fuzz the band are sensible enough to leave their catchy pop sensibilities well alone, alluring melodies and sugar sweet vocals still highly evident, a ridiculous cliché to follow but "Do It Wrong" is very much done right, a very welcome return.

Limited to just 300 and released via the ever excellent Marshall Teller Records, you can pre-order this beauty via Rough Trade now - don't expect them to hang around too long.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Knickers #2 - Baby, It's You


On my 'Introducing' post on Knickers in early May I said basically how amazing they are so it's with some regret that I'm still yet to have my second live encounter with the band (their last show in June clashed with one of my own Beautiful Strange nights).

To tide me over there's been a great video to one of the tracks I covered last time, the lead track to their debut EP "My Baby's Just A Baby (But I Love Him So)", available to buy now on 7" via Elefant and also a new release via the House vs Home singles club which you can download for free at bandcamp right now, you'll be wanting to do that, both releases signal Knickers to be one of the most exciting, engaging indie-pop bands to emerge in my memory...

In the form of two covers, the lead track "Baby, It's You" (famous for versions by The Shirelle's and The Beatles amongst others) oozes with the same type of 'cool' and retro pop sheen that made their debut fresh and insanely addictive, jazzy horns and laid-back drums provide the clean, crisp melody while Sarah's gorgeous, swoonsome vocals literally melt your heart, in a world of abysmal cover versions this one is simply heavenly. The flip side, the French sung "Les Cactus" is an upbeat, jangly stomp led by catchy brass, organ and percussion, I'm not familiar with the Jacques Dutronc original but this funky little number is a guarantee to get you in the mood to jive the night away.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Latitude Festival 2012 - Preview Part Two

No waffle (I'm pretty short on time!) just straight into part two of my tips to see at Latitude Festival. Part one is here in case you missed it (and are interested).

Laura Marling - Facebook
Saturday 14th July - Obelisk Arena

A second to headline billing on the main stage for Laura Marling, a quite incredible rise for arguably Britain's most successful current singer/songwriter, with her recently announcing that her fourth album is written it's a rise that I can't see ending any time soon either...

The last time I saw her at Glastonbury last year a couple got engaged, expect similar declarations of love during her set at Latitude, Laura's three albums to date portray the vulnerability and versatility of her songcraft and beguiling voice, stark and haunting her staggering talent will be one of the stars of the weekend.

Daughter - Facebook
Sunday 15th July - The I Arena

Daughter's rise over the last eighteen months (although on a smaller scale to the above Ms Marling) has been equally impressive, from a self-released demo EP given away free to a small number of followers to a Mute signing and thirty seven thousand fans on facebook alone.

It's hardly surprising, I didn't do a best of 2011 EP's posting but if I had both Elena's releases His Young Heart and The Wild Youth would have featured highly and I'm sure Daughter was close to a spot on the BBC sound of 2012 list, perhaps the lack of exposure and instant success that demands is a good thing for her career...

Expect emotionally affecting heartbreaking moments and spine-tingling intimacy at her show at Latitude's I Arena, another I genuinely cannot wait for.

Tim Ten Yen - Facebook
Friday 13th July - The Lake Stage

Now something a bit different, I used to love Tim Ten Yen, unfortunately I've not seen him perform for a few years now but Latitude has given me the perfect time to correct my oversight. 

Back in 2006/7 I was obsessed with a band called Apartment (I still am, if only they'd found the success they deserved...) and Tim was a regular support act (Tim also played with David on one of his few solo shows since), his act basically (I keep using the past tense as I've not actually heard anything from him for over 24 months) comprised of Tim and an iPod along with his Sinister Cat (stuffed). 

Tim Ten Yen's show is a guarantee to brighten your mood and get you ready for the festival ahead, come and watch him, I promise you won't be disappointed.

I Break Horses - Facebook
Saturday 14th July - The I Arena

I'm very interested to see how I Break Horses go down at a festival, I've seen both their two London live shows so far and the second at Scala was a world apart from the first. Transforming the album Hearts into a seamless piece of art. Pulsating synths and drums perform the backbone as the tracks are stretched from the original state, somewhere in the mix the reverb-drenched vocals of Maria Lindén shimmer and shine.

Still a band in their infancy, I Break Horses are very much an act to grow up with and saviour in their journey. 

Zola Jesus - Facebook
Saturday 14th July - The I Arena

Another act I needn't cover in too much glory again (I've already done it countless times), Nika Roza Danilova's Zola Jesus returns to UK shores a year after the release of Conatus to headline Saturday's I Arena line-up.

Her incredible sound based around her bands harsh, metallic beats and Nika's colossal voice will create a menacing atmosphere that's dramatic, hypnotic and immediate.  One of the most prolific, incredible artists of our time Zola Jesus is an obvious pick and one you shouldn't miss.

Perfume Genius - Facebook
Sunday 15th July - The I Arena

My pick to close the festival, Mike Hadreas (Aka Perfume Genius) will close a stage which seems to have taken over this preview, The I Arena on Sunday, those of you wanting an intimate, captivating experience to end their weekend should look no further.

His recent show at St Pancras Old Church an indication of his talents,  sublime, it managed to leave the entire crowd in utter awe, bruised, plaintive and compellingly beautiful, just like his two albums so far.

Of course, I could have easily included Toy, SoKo, Lucy Rose, Smoke Fairies, The Staves and of course Bon Iver to name but a few of the other quality acts playing over the weekend - the line-up is that good. Cannot wait!

For the full line-up, last minute tickets and more head to Latitude's official website - http://www.latitudefestival.co.uk/