Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Hall of Mirrors present… Psychedelic Sunday

I'm currently in Dorset on a mini holiday / End of the Road festival break so this is the last post until my return on Monday and it is a little break from my usual 'here is a band, check them out' style posting too because it features several acts I've already featured and a recommendation of a gig to go and see them.

An all day event takes place next Sunday, September 9th (from 4pm) at The Lexington (which I think everyone in London agrees is just about the best small venue in town) and comes with an incredible line up of acts with tickets available at a silly price of just £3 in advance (£5 on the door) - get them quick from wegottickets - this event real deserves a good turn out, reasons below...

Hosted and headlined by The Hall of Mirrors, a band I've been familiar with for a while but never quite got round to posting, possibly because one of the blogs nearest to this, the wonderful Breaking More Waves always covers them better than I ever could. Their retro, sun-kissed psychedelic pop is overwhelmingly gorgeous, nostalgic melodies and sweetly honed voices make for bright, harmonically brilliant pop that's going to cap off a truly wonderful day.

Before them though there are plenty of acts I've covered before and have had playing at my Beautiful Strange nights too, We Walk on Ice, a wonderful two piece led by Ida Jacobsson's compelling ethereal vocals and cinematic guitars backed by Lincoln's impressive powerhouse drumming (to be seen live), a band who create a sound that belie's their small number. Seawitches head down to London and I'll be seeing them for the first time, I can't wait to see how their twisted, trippy rhythms translate to the live arena.

Also playing are Carousels whose wall of sound shoegaze soundscapes I've been following for a while now, luscious boy/girl harmonies driving drums and swirling, layered guitars. A potent combination. From a similar aesthetic are the incredible Dark Bells, who literally blew me away at The Old Queen's Head back in May, led by Sydney natives (but London residents) Ash and Teneil the trio produce a whirlwind of epic sized dark-pysch noise that is going to bring them an army of fans once their nearly finalised EP is released.

Of the bands I've not covered or heard before I'm instantly enamoured to the 60's inspired good times vibe of The Hypnotic Eye, single "Marianne" is fast, energetic and full of power pop attitude, quite wonderful.

All that for £3.00. You'd be mad not to clear your diaries! Tickets from https://www.wegottickets.com/event/179613






Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Creatures of Love #5 - Vakkula

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It'd all gone a bit quiet in Creatures of Love land, a show at Hoxton Bar & Kitchen in the first week of January is the last time I remember hearing / seeing anything from the band so I'm glad then to see their return, even better though is that the track shared, "Vakkula" is all kinds of brilliant. I've featured the London based trio on numerous occasions since I discovered them via The Joy Formidable right at the start of 2011 and "Vakkula" will instantly satisfy any CoL cravings you may be suffering, it's every bit as dark and intense as their previous work, dramatic chimes and shadowy beats fill the track with an otherworldly, misty haze as Bonita Mckinney's eerie whispers build to booming choruses, big, bold and beautiful, three words that could be the perfect summation of Creatures of Love.

"Vakkula" is taken from the new Creatures of Love EP Boy Crimes and will be available via Creatures of Love's bandcamp page as a free download on September 24th.

Moses Gold - Powder and Gold

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I've known the man behind Moses Gold for about sixteen years now, that's over half our lives, therefore some of his disclosures in a full and frank interview with TLOBF don't surprise me much, others overwhelmingly do so. A brutal and candid interview that stirs up emotions in me on a personal level about someone I used to know extremely well before post University life took us to different places, Phill to Manchester and myself to (near) London. We remain in contact, he stayed on my sofa after band practice with his old band Stay+ (or Christian AIDS as they were) and I'm certainly not going to go through personal experiences here but it's comes as a shock to read some of these things about someone who I spent pretty much all summer playing Championship Manager 99/00/01 with (that or in the pub)...

Similarly laying his cards on the table is the latest Moses Gold track "Powder and Blood", an early morning, post euphoria come down track where dark, languid beats from the shadows tackle those inner demons through stark, confessional lyrics and a baritone voice. Sure to hit home strong, "Powder and Blood" is a intimate, atmospheric track from a man who, like the track is nothing short of amazing.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

End of the Road 2012 - Festival Preview Part Two

Without any further ado, part two of my End of the Road 2012 preview, this post concentrates on the rest of the weekend after part one's focus on the Bella Union Friday:

Savages - Facebook
Sunday - Big Top Stage 12.15

Savages, the band of 2012 for many, many people. Everything they've done has found plaudits glaore and they've been called the saviours of post-punk / guitar bands ever since the rumbling "City's Full" hit early this year, the single Husbands / Flying to Berlin did little to settle the hype.

With it's ferocious, blistering intensity the four piece are the very definition of entrancement, with dark rumbling bass lines, menacing drum rhythms and Jehn's venomous vocals which hit you like a ton of bricks, Savages music makes you want to play it louder and louder, again and again.



Dark Dark Dark - Facebook
Saturday - Garden Stage 15.00

Dark Dark Dark haven't been featured here for a while, since 2010's Wild Go came to my attention through its luscious pinnacle, "Daydreaming", a real treat of a track, where vivid landscapes created by the beautifully complex yet delicate and well-crafted instrumentation, soulful vocals and soaring melodies sooth your mind and transport you to a beautiful place, somewhere like a field in Dorset towards the end of the summer....

The band have a new album Who Needs Who due in October and I'm interested to hear that in a live arena beforehand.



Perfume Genius - Facebook
Saturday - Garden Stage 16.45

Another festival and another recommendation to see the wonderful Perfume Genius, his recent show at St Pancras Old Church an indication of his talents, simply sublime, it managed to leave the entire crowd in utter awe, bruised, plaintive and compellingly beautiful, just like his two albums so far. Those wanting an intimate, captivating experience to light up their Saturday afternoon / early evening should look no further.


First Aid Kit - Facebook
Sunday - Garden Stage 16.45

As with Perfume Genius, First Aid Kit and I seem to be sharing festivals this year, that's no bad thing at all as far as I'm concerned. I wrote a preview for the band about five weeks ago, so I apologise in advance for this mainly regurgitated post.

Another of the year's finest records so far is First Aid Kit's second full-length The Lion's Roar. The Swedish sisters have long been a favourite folk-leaning act of mine, since I first saw them at back at Glastonbury 2010. They've grown since and now backed by a full band have a full, deep sound that perfectly suits their breathtaking harmonies and (cliché time) mature-beyond-their-years lyrics. Sincere and heart-felt, latest single "Blue" the perfect insight to their beguiling balance of sweet voices and rich production.

Guaranteed to leave those in attendance spellbound.



Islet - Facebook
Saturday - Big Top Stage 13.00

Welsh noise-makers Islet treated us to an early year album highlight with their debut Illuminated People, single "This Fortune" is everything I've come to expect from the Cardiff experimental act, unconventional and shambolic (in a good way) melodies, propulsive rhythms and clattering drums.

The drums really are amazing, for the all the chaos the band bring to their records (and even more so their live show) they are incredibly tight musicians, I love the vocals here too, trademark yelps a plenty. This set is a must-see, Islet really do live up to their live show reputation, with totally bonkers on-stage antics, exuberant energy and also more importantly, some bloody brilliant tracks. It'll be sweaty, hypnotic and lots and lots of fun.



Toy - Facebook
Saturday - Big Top Stage 15.30

I've not got too much to add to what I've said a couple of times about Toy in the month or so, displaying almost as much hair as talent, the London five piece summed up the buzz with "Left Myself Behind", an eight minute runaway rollercoaster that combines the best bits of psyche, krautrock and shoegaze in one glorious track, gorgeous shimmering guitars duel with the korg keys and consistent drum beats, to keep it simple, it's one of the essential tracks of the last six months from one of the UK's hottest new properties. Truly superb, hard, dense, melodic, brilliant, just like latest single "Dead & Gone".

The album is due in September and promises to be one of the year's essential purchases.

End of the Road 2012 - Festival Preview Part One

I've been looking forward to the End of the Road festival for some time now, thankfully the time is almost here. One of my favourite labels Bella Union are curating an entire day at the festival, the Friday, and they have put together an exceptional line-up to start off the (hopefully rain free) weekend. I'll split my 'ones to watch' posts in two, one concentrating on the BU day and another on the rest of the weekend, both with six of the best acts to watch (there are plenty more acts to see) if you are heading to Dorset, or just a few recommendations if not.

Outside of the music the festival promises much too, laid-back atmospheres, lot's of variety in food and drink (one of my major criticisms of my last festival, Latitude), comedy, literature, family activities and incredible scenery and walks around Larmer Tree woods, a weekend is sure to fly by but with no further rambling (pun), I'll had straight into part one of my festival picks:

Mountain Man - Facebook
Garden Stage 12.30

Arguably the act I'm most excited to see is the opening act of the entire festival, Mountain Man had me spellbound back in 2010 with a breathtaking performance in the Crow's Nest at Glastonbury (check this video for proof), with a later show at St Giles Church in London living up to my initial introduction but since then, late 2010 we've had a period of silence, an EOTR performance last year was postponed with the girls later taking on a role in Feist's backing band.

Thankfully this year the girls make amends and return to these shores (though perhaps strangely there don't appear to be any other UK shows).  Largely acappella and always sparse, the trio's harmonies are from the heavens, their debut album Made The Harbor a timeless collection of understated, aching beauty. I cannot wait for this performance and the follow up album which hopefully must be nearing completion. (I live in hope).




Hannah Cohen - Facebook
Tipi Tent Stage 13.45

I've not seen Hannah Cohen since her performance at The Great Escape back in May, I'm expecting this show to be equally gorgeous. A sure fire entry into my top albums of 2012 with her exquisite debut Child Bride Hannah's to-die-for voice, haunting and intoxicating is bound to turn her audience into silent devotees and have them clinging to her every word, wrapped in melancholic acoustic plucks, her early afternoon set is sure to be an emotional, beautiful experience.



Still Corners - Facebook
Big Top Stage 15.30

As well as an exemplary field of Bella Union acts, the label have also invited some non-Bella friends to play, amongst them the divine Still Corners who I saw deliver possibly the best set I've seen (out of a good six or seven times) at Scala in May in support of EMA, their sound was fuller, darker and wrapped in sumptuous, mysterious beauty.

The band are working away on their next release currently and I'm very much looking forward to that, Creatures of an Hour introduced their exceptionally crafted film-noir aesthetics, otherworldly, kaleidoscope and damn-right wonderful. The live show is very much the same and should not be missed.



Lanterns on the Lake - Facebook
Big Top Stage 17.00

Another act who released one of my favourite albums of 2011 that I've not seen for too long are Lanterns on the Lake and I'm looking forward to breaking a duck which goes back to the start of the year and getting re-acquainted with the sextet's enthralling live show...

Hopefully combining tracks from Gracious Tide, Take Me Home (my number three album of last year) with a couple of new tracks, their rich tapestry of intense, emotional melodies are spine-tingling in their beauty and sure to tug at your heartstrings, masters of multi-instrumental atmospheres, Lanterns on the Lake are not to be missed.



Veronica Falls - Facebook
Big Top Stage 20.30

As with many of these acts, Veronica Falls are a band I've seen and blogged on more than a handful of occasions over the past two or so years, the repeated superlatives used with these acts are to be forgiven though because without exception the acts are stunning.

Veronica Falls are no different, though switch the sweeping, celestial and cinematic soundscapes of my last couple of recommendations for a darker, faster macabre pop, bewitching in their intent, both bitter and sweet their delicious melodies and deadpan delivery will provide some of the weekends finest sing-along's.



Beach House - Facebook
The Woods Stage 21.30

A somewhat obvious choice of headliner but when it's Beach House, it's not important. A rare band who've managed to juggle commercial and critical success for two albums now with no sign of giving up. Bloom a perfection summation of the bands talents, perfectly constructed pop tracks combining both choruses with sparkling, impeccable melodies.

Its first single "Myth" brought the same magisterial, melodic dream-pop sensibilities that brought swooning reviews from all quarters but seems more dramatic, richer and larger in scale. Twinkling keys and shimmering guitars wrap around Victoria's trademark vocal, much like 'Take Care', "Zebra", "Walk in the Park" etc etc,

Beach House are simply not to be missed and their show will bring all sorts of goosebumps to lovers and dreamers all over the world, or in this case, festival.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Golden Fable #2 - Sugarloaf

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Golden Fable have recently announced their debut full length Star Map, scheduled for release September 10th it will be available through a variety of options, perhaps most impressively a ndeluxe version (available to order straight from the band via bandcamp) which comes with an exclusive download of acoustic versions of material from the ten track LP as well as some exclusive content and a poster etc...

That extra packaging is a nice addition of course but the thing you'll get the most use of is the CD, the enchanting "Always Golden" I've already mentioned but their latest single "Sugarloaf" deserves equal praise, celestial and luminescent, cascades of lusicous instrumentation swoon around your heartstings providing a soaring backdrop for Rebecca's sumptuos vocals, heavenly.

Another track to make a re-appearance is the bands debut "The Chill Pt 2" where skittling synth beats and ethereal tones combine in what is already the signature combination for this rather lovely duo.

The album is launced with a show in Wrexham on September 8th with the band set to support Field Music in October.





Saturday, 25 August 2012

Embers #2 - Tunnel Vision/Sins Unknown

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Manchester's Embers exploded around a bubble of blog hype towards the back end of 2011, three deeply ambitious demo tracks showcased a dark, larger than life approach to cinematic rock wrapped in colossal beats and fiery guitars, Embers seemed like the band to bring in the new apocalypse. Perhaps then it's a little surprising that aside from a couple of spring live shows the four piece have been anonymous in 2012 until today, presumably getting themselves together before (literally) unleashing their music.

It's brave then that their limited edition double A side debut single Tunnel Vision/Sins Unknown is a self-release job with no label money behind it, the 100 7" will fly off the shelf just the same I predict. If you want one you can get it here (released 24th September), act quickly.

We've heard "Tunnel Visions" before as a demo, now with some studio production behind it the single's cover of skyscrapers become a perfect summation, an anxiety fuelled wall of sound with screeching guitars and a fury of beats. If you thought that was big, just wait until you hear "Sins Unknown", similarly dark and dense, pummelling toms and shattering cymbals provide the opening power-surge, then avalanche after avalanche of rushing distortion and crescendos whilst the strong vocals cause indescribable euphoria.

Overblown sure, amazing, definitely. It's been worth the wait.




Friday, 24 August 2012

Young Romance #2 - Wild (Demo)

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Since I did my "Introducing" piece on Young Romance in the middle of last month I've become increasingly hooked on the young London based duo, my iTunes library, a source of some of my geeky statistical knowledge states I've listened to the incredible "Follow On Your Own" over thirty times already, with "Swollen Hearts, Bitten Tongues" not too far behind that. My feelings towards the band were only increased after a beautiful acoustic performance from Claire and Paolo for one of my Beautiful Strange nights (which also happened to be part of my birthday celebrations) at the end of July, drawing only one criticism from a few of my non-musical friends in attendance, the set was too short.

It's pretty easy to work out why I've become so obsessed with the band if you listen to an acoustic demo for a brand new track, "Wild", seemingly written and recorded just a few days ago (I do love the 21st century!), slow, delicate fingerpickings provide the simple, gentle melody for Claire's beautiful lead vocals to perfectly harmonise with Paolo's hushed backings, "Wild" gives me that warm, tingling sensation, yes, I love Young Romance.

It you're searching for a last minute gig tonight, Young Romance play at Power Lunches with another show lined-up for September 28th, the latter is in my diary.

Photograph by Pierre Antoine

Marika Hackman - New Music "Introducing"


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I don't know too much about Marika Hackman, other than the twenty year old is a(nother) singer/songwriter based in London who's been causing a bit of a stir around the folk community recently and is due to support Benjamin Francis Leftwich on tour in October, her debut, double a-side single You Come Down / Mountain Spines is to be released on September 4th and it's got me hooked (it's available to pre-order on limited 7" vinyl here).

Marika is blessed with a beautiful voice full of natural emotion and through the haunting use of an acoustic guitar, dramatic toms and traditional instrumentation "You Come Down" twinkles with bewitching old-folk tones and ethereal ambience, making you want to turn the lights down, light some candles, and soak yourself in the dark undertones. Just gorgeous.





Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Joy Formidable #14 - Wolf's Law

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On Tuesday I finally broke my gigging duck for August (there's been a drop of gigs on due to the Olympics but with still lots to see my only excuse is that I've needed a rest) to see the band I've seen more than any band ever, at last count around thirty times. The Joy Formidable aren't just any band though, a band I hold extremely close to me, for as well as releasing one of my favourite albums of recent time (and perhaps forever), they are honestly one of the most open, receiving bands I've ever come across. Both prior and after their sell-out, blow the roof of performance at The Lexington the band were happy to mingle with fans new and old, signing merch, posing for pictures (I even took a picture for some chap of Ryd and himself) and just having a chit-chat, it's this, their grounded approach that helps set them apart from so many other bands, that and their sensational music (and live performances) of course.

Tuesday saw the band play four new tracks, you can see videos of them all on youtube, one of which the band had aired previously in the UK at their Clarks gigs back in February "Silent Treatment", this Reading/Leeds warm-up show served as a UK debut for the other three. I'm going to concentrate on the last one they played, the title track to the bands forthcoming (rumoured to be January 2013) follow-up to The Big Roar, entitled Wolf's Law, played live as a delicate acoustic number, a perfect antidote to the blistering, brutal noise that had come before it with Rhydian's soft guitar circling around Ritzy's gorgeous heart-melting vocals, it was just gorgeous too.

Today the band shared the video to the track and also made the song available for free download by signing up to the bands mailing list here. Rumoured not to be on the album the recorded version retains the subtle approach at the outset, with the addition of harp and driving key twinkles it gentle, beautifully builds to a rushing crescendo of stadium sized proportions.

Arenas and stadiums (for better or worse) are the future for TJF now, it's been a good ride guys, long may it continue.



Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Woodpecker Wooliams - Sparrow

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The first time I came across Woodpecker Wooliams (aka Brighton based Gemma Williams) was at The Great Escape in May this year, I didn't actually see her lunch time show at the wonderful Fishbowl either but I did see about six acts throughout the day and made a note to check out the other acts, when I came to listen to WW I found her bandcamp page and started with her gorgeous mini album Patryoska (and soon progressed to the equally wonderful Diving Down), both introduced a multi-instrumentalist / singer/songwriter through a series of magical folk fairytales, predominately harp led tracks drenched full of haunting ambience sung through Gemma's enchanting whispers.

Her latest work "Sparrow" though, is a whole new ball game. It seems someone has really pissed Gemma off, "Sparrow" takes those tired Joanna Newsom comparisons and rips them up with a brutal storm of bleeping electronic drones and god knows what else, pulsating through the oddness and rip-roaring hysteria "Sparrow" is one of the singles of the year.

The track is taken from Woodpecker Wooliams forthcoming album The Bird School Of Being Human due via Robot Elephant with special release shows being held in London and Brighton on September 7/8 - futher details.



Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Founds #2 - Caves

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The rinse-repeat nature of predominately new music blogging means that is surprisingly easy to completley forget about bands that I've previously posted, being perfectly honest, Founds are one such instance. I posted about their debut track "Holograms" as long ago as last July with typically exictable prose:

"Glistening, chiming guitar soundscapes are prominent throughout, meandering melodies and gorgeous ethereal vocals that are more reminiscent of Scandinavian singers than Australian are a signature of "Holograms". As the song progresses the driving percussion becomes increasingly urgent and the aahing harmonies more luscious as it reaches a wonderful climax."

A year on, a few re-listens later and I can't disagree with that statement but yet the Brisbane based sextet still managed to slip from my mind completely with the EP earlier planned never arriving. My excuse is simple, there are so many incredible bands around today it's hard to check in on every last one, especially those with only one track to their name (at that time). Founds though, don't have just the one track now, with the release of their debut album Hadean to follow on 7th September (through Rare Finds) its second single "Caves" is all kinds of goosebump inducing cinematic pop, the opening passage of hushed vocals are ethereal and beautiful enough to cause icebergs to melt as cascades of lusicous instrumentations wrap themselves around as the track builds to a crescendo of driving, kaleidoscopic wondrousness. Grandiose and superb, the raw energy that pumps through "Caves" is a guarantee that Founds won't be slipping from my conciousness anytime soon, here's looking forward to a listen of that album...


Rachel Sermanni #6 - Waltz

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Rachel Sermanni has had me spellbound for quite a while now, from a solo show in a dark, beer-sodden first floor venue in Brighton to London's St Pancras station at rush hour and the idyllic setting of the grandiose Union Chapel, I've seen Rachel perform in a variety of locations over the past eighteen months but I've always left with the same feeling, that of blissful happiness after spending my time in the presence of Rachel's soft, soothing accented tones.

Her captivating presence and exceptional song craft, in my humble opinion of course, make her stand out above the crowd of current singer/songwriters, after a couple of EP's and a single I'm excited to finally hear Rachel's debut full-length Under Mountains, which will soon be with us (released September 17th and available to pre-order with an exclusive signed print direct from Rachel's store here).

The album's latest single is a track which I remember well from my first encounter with Rachel, "Waltz", a song which later found it's way on her Bothy Sessions EP, now with a slightly reworked acoustic melody that slowly introduces a full band to accompany Rachel's guitar and the addition of a male co-vocalist (sorry I don't know who) it remains just as exquisite and intoxicating in its beauty, fall in love with the track and Ms Sermanni for yourself below.



Monday, 20 August 2012

The Hundredth Anniversary - New Music "Introducing"

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Brighton's The Hundredth Anniversary formed as recently as January this year but already have a split tape to their name, with another release scheduled (as yet unheard, unnamed) for October 1st via Tiny Lights, so for now as my introduction to the band, I'll revisit the older release, it serves as a beautiful introduction nevertheless.

Released via Reeks of Effort at the end of June the Gut tape sees two tracks by the band alongside tracks by GUM and Tyrannosaurus Dead (who actually share the same vocalist), who also happen to be two bands currently sitting in my (ever expanding) draft folder waiting to be written about - it's well worth getting for just £1 (d/l) via bandcamp.

"Caroline" is just gorgeous, weaving soft, fuzzy guitar lines around pitter-pattering drums and Eleanor Rudge's warm, seductive vocals the contemplative tone drenches the track in a hazy melancholia but its the rich and luscious melody that will stay with you long after the tracks duration, while on "Ice Cream" a strong, repeated key line dominates, ringing out strident and optimistic amongst chiming guitars, the blossoming track reveals a real sense of quirky charm and strong, confident song-writing ability.

Armed with just these two tracks it's perhaps a little early for proclamations of 'the best new alternative band' but The Hundredth Anniversary have certainly made a bold statement of intent. Bring on that new release.



Big Wave #3 - Dying on the Vine


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Hello Monday, it's so good to have you here again. Of course, the idea of being in the office 9-5 is so much more appealing than enjoying the hot weather outside like I spent the majority of the weekend (when I wasn't getting annoyed at football - welcome back my love)... unfortunately that doesn't pay the rent, so instead, here is a track to transport you back to the garden/beach/park from my favourite bunch of Torquay-ers (I've no actual idea if that's the name for somebody from Torquay) Big Wave, with a brand spanking new track "Dying on the Vine"...

Released on Friday as part of Art Is Hard's Pizza Box series you can download the track for free following the link I've just given along with a host of other tracks too and you'll probably want to do that (even if it's just for Big Wave alone) as "Dying on the Vine" is all sorts of amazing, bigger and bolder than anything the five piece have recorded before, immediately drawing you in with powerful, bright guitar lines, punchy drums  and bouncing synths, this is pop music kids.

The track might be available on the bands forthcoming 7" single, due in a couple of months, more on that soon enough...



Saturday, 18 August 2012

Tender Trap - Step One

listen.to/tendertrap

I'm lucky enough to have had a preview copy of the forthcoming Tender Trap for a few months now, entitled Ten Songs About Girls it hits the shops in September (the 10th via Fortuna Pop! to be precise) with the single "Step One" released first on Monday, August 20th.

Soaked in playful, call and response harmonies and a rocking guitar melody "Step One" is a manual for wannabe girl bands with "find like minded girls", "write a great chorus - never mind the verse", "get a pink guitar" and "choose a striking name" amongst the many bits of advice given in the song, however full much in jest the track may be written I'm sure some bands wouldn't do far wrong by listening to the advice of Amelia Fletcher...

I'm not here to talk about unreleased album tracks and brag about my pre-release promo but the LP's driving opener "Train From Kings Cross Station" and the twinkling "Leaving Christmas Day" are indie pop classics in the making, with previous preview "Love is Hard Enough" equally rewarding. The signatures of the album throughout the full, dynamic sound of the bright instrumentation and the three way vocal harmonies, here the bitter-sweet lead of Amelia's combine with the girl group doo-wop's and repeated choruses to glorious effect.

Tender Trap play London's Buffalo Bar for the ever impressive odd box records on Friday, September 28 - details.




Friday, 17 August 2012

Daughter #3 - Smother

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One of the my most anticipated future releases (and I'm sure for countless others too) is the debut Daughter album, Elena Tonra, Igor Haefeli & Remi Aguilella have had a (on the surface) quiet 2012 so far, playing a mere handful of dates and seemingly readying the aforementioned LP for their new label 4AD. Earlier this week though, we were treated to the first fruits of their labour, the haunting "Smother", due for release as a limited 7" on October 1st backed with a re-working of one the tracks that started my love affair with the beguiling talents of Ms Tonra, "Run"...

"Smother" instantly takes its place alongside Daughter's already impressive collection of intimate and atmospheric tracks, akin to the confessional, heartbreaking power of earlier track "Love", the slow building "Smother" tugs at your heart strings with its vulnerable guitar lines, ambient electronic washes and rumbling percussion as Elena's poetic song craft and hush ethereal whispers cause goosebumps to the listener. Tortured, bruised and oh, so beautiful. I cannot wait for more.

A new show was also announced this week, Daughter will play their biggest headline show yet at London's Hackney Empire on January 24 next year - tickets.


Thursday, 16 August 2012

PINS #2 - Bella Union Signing + October Release & Tour

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I was quite happy to throw my hat into the ring of rabid fanatics on day one of the PINS launch, two stunning debut tracks hinted at infinite potential that justified much of the frenzied attention that has followed the Manchester quartet from blogs and fans alike since their inception. Their debut tape sold out on day one and then a re-issue promptly did the same (with a CD version being snapped up in no time too), PINS are undoubtedly one of 2012's hottest new acts and I'm really happy that the fight to sign them has been won by the impeccable Bella Union, who today announced their signing alongside a limited edition 10" vinyl due on October 1st with a supporting UK tour.

There aren't any real details yet, not a track listing or a pre-order link but you'll be wanting to make sure you order the aforementioned LUVU4LYF EP as soon as it is made available, promising four tracks of ferocious, hypnotic noise-pop with perhaps the recently shared live cut of "You Don't Need To Be" an indication of a darker, raw sound, minimalistic but electric, PINS are sure to have even more plaudits thrown their way before the year is out.

The full live dates can be found here, the two that excite me are the London show on October 24th and perhaps even better a Manchester homecoming show at the Soup Kitchen on October 13th with September Girls. Road trip time...

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Caitlin Rose #22 - Lately I've Let Things Slide

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Hello, what's this I hear, the exquisite voice of this blogs (actual) favourite Caitlin Rose on a new recording? Yes indeed. Caitlin has provided a cover of "Lately I've Let Things Slide" to a new charity compilation of country leaning tracks by British singer/songwriter Nick Lowe entitled, with little fuss, Lowe Country: The songs of Nick Lowe.

I'm not overly familiar with Lowe I must admit but Caitlin's typically luscious vocals and steel guitar twangs give her version an easy, smooth feel where the rich instrumentation is almost as sublime as her impeccable delivery. Further details on the release can be found via Fiesta Red.

In other news, facebook and twitter posts have indicated Caitlin is currently in the studio recording the follow up to Own Side Now with a release of (hopefully) early next year, fingers crossed I can last that long...

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Bec Sandridge - New Music "Introducing"

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Now that the event that I promised not to mention again is over (just how bad was the closing ceremony?!) and the UK returns to normal I'll aim to up my slow posting average of the last month or so. My July was busy for various reasons, one of them though was hardly hard-work, I promoted four shows (under the Beautiful Strange banner), the last of which included three acts I've already included on thE blog Anna Lena, Isobel Anderson and Young Romance and one I'd been meaning to but never quite managed, consider this a long overdue make amends...

Bec Sandridge is an Australian singer-songwriter who has spent the last two summers in the UK (as well as some time in the US in 2012) playing a number of shows around the country, her last before heading back to her homeland this time around was my aforementioned line-up at The Gallery Café at the end of last month, her voice blew me away instantly, there stood Bec, a tall, lone figure behind a microphone armed with just a guitar seemingly too small and this beguiling, unique voice that draws silence from the audience and makes the hair and your arms stand on end.

Her latest EP Lyons and Bees highlights this immense talent, kicking off with the title track where circling backing echoes provide the backdrop for dominate drums to lead Bec's guitar and vocals, strong and commanding it's a fuller sound than her solo live show but one that equally impresses. The highlight of the EP though is undoubtedly the incredible "Over The Sea", awash with a gloriously bright melody, spacious instrumentation and strong, emotive lyrics while Bec's hauntingly beautiful vocals glisten like the sun on mornings dew, just overwhelmingly gorgeous.

Bec promises to return to the UK next summer, I already can't wait. You can get the Lyons and Bees EP on iTunes or at Bec's shows.



SNEAKPEEK #3 - Another Girl To You

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As a blog writer you often find that you immediately take some bands straight to your heart, one such instance occurred with me last year with California's SNEAKPEEK, I discovered them not long after they teased us with some incredible demos on their soundcloud page last summer and almost a year later I'm really happy that the release day for their debut LP is finally here (self-titled, self released and available for just $5 on bandcamp now), it's a cracker too...

I've previously mentioned the psych-rock beast "Walk All Over Me", "Western Sky's" distorted, scuzzy guitar riff and the hazy, reverb-drenched "Through The Looking Glass", and now, as their debut drops the band have shared a video to one of the albums highlights (there are many), the nostalgia fuelled daydreams of the break-up ballad "Another Girl To You".

The video produced by Igigi Studios and directed by Sur Realismo is the perfect accompaniment too, a gorgeous natural setting bringing to life the woozy walk in the park ambience of the slow-burning melody, Dora Hiller's sweet vocals combine blissfully with nonchalant bass and lazy drum patterns, a beautiful blend of noise-pop and psychedelic sweet, let Sneakpeek into your life, you won't regret it.



Monday, 13 August 2012

Allo Darlin' #2 - Northern Lights / Golden Age

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Allo Darlin' are certainly on the short-list for my album of the year so far, their second LP Europe (released through Fortuna Pop) is one of those rare albums which flows perfectly without any duff tracks over forty minutes so full of sunshine and wistful memories it can't help but bring out memories, as with life some good, some bad but on the whole, a journey likely to leave you overwhelmingly happy inside.

I've already mentioned previous single "Capricornia" a joyous, sweet slice of pure pop and the rest of the album is equally single worthy, whether it's the albums beautifully crafted ballad "Tallulah" which sees Allo Darlin' go back to their roots with Elizabeth's emotional lyrics pouring out over simple uke plucks, or the wistful highlight "Some People Say" Europe is utterly glorious.

The third single to be taken from the album "Northern Lights" (released 27th August and available to pre-order here) is another moment to saviour, unashamedly upbeat with sunshine guitar jangles, colourful drum slapshes and pitch perfect vocals. It's B-Side "Golden Age" is unique to this release (thankfully, I'm getting a bit Scrooge-tastic in my old age as far as singles without real b-sides go) and is equally bright and immediate, a rich, magical guitar-led melody that is so irresistibly charming it's going to have you bouncing around your bedroom/garden/festival, whichever you prefer...

Elizabeth and the gang are on tour in early September ending with a show at Kings College, London on the 13th, get your tickets here. It promises to London's indie-pop highlight of the year.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

HighasaKite - New Music "Introducing"

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Norway might not be doing quite so well as us at the Olympics (I promise that's possibly the last time I mention them) but there is no denying the Scandinavian country have made quite an impact with this blog on the new music front. With Like Spinning, Anna Lena, All We Are, Snøskred and probably a few others all previously featuring here, the latest discovery from the country for me are Oslo trio HighasaKite with the lead track from their debut EP (released August 20th) "Indian Summer".

"Indian Summer" hits you straight away with booming percussion and dramatic synths building the basis of the soaring synth-pop anthem, though that said, there is the overwhelming sense of space here, with sparse, echoey melodies making you feel like your running through the Norwegian wilderness as the bold, empassionate vocals of Ingrid Helene's knock you out, her incredible voice will no doubt draw comparisons to Lykke Li, strong and unforced, as crescendo after crescendo the breathetaking tracks comes to its conclusion.

I've also included a wonderful live video from what I take is Norway's equivalent of GMTV which showcases that sense of space equally, slowed down the track becomes a beautiful, haunting lullaby and the other track "Everything Sank In You" equally impresses, if you're after moody, dark, minimalist icy pop then HighasaKite are the band for you.

The Indian Summer EP is released via Riot Factory on August 20th.


Saturday, 11 August 2012

Ellen and the Escapades #3 - The World's Greatest

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There's only two days left of the Olympics now, I'm sure like most of the nation who've found themselves on the edge of their seats at the most unlikely of sports (Taekwondo, Rowing, Shooting and Canoe Slalom to name but a few - not the horse dancing though, that was just odd!) they'll be a bit of a national hangover next week with no sporting action to turn to as you return home from work and I'm equally sure that the sense of optimism brought by all of the positive broadcasting of Team GB's success will soon be shrouded once more in gloom as news of worsening economies, job losses and the unthinkable again takes centre stage, first though I'll try and keep the positivity here for just a little while longer...

The latest ray of hope comes in the form of a cover which at face value could make you wince, Leeds' Ellen and the Escapades covering none over than R Kelly and his part anthem part cheese-fest "The World's Greatest", gone are the children's choir, R Kelly dressed as Muhammed Ali and of course the woo's, instead dramatic strings and the rising feeling of empowerment is replaced by subtle, laid-back guitar and soft brush strokes, with Ellen Smith's vocals perhaps even smoother than the original, it's her stunning vocal delivery that gives the track a completely different feel to the original, just beautiful and perfectly in keeping with Team GB's successes. I'm staying patriotic for at least a little bit longer....

Friday, 10 August 2012

Fabulous Diamonds - Lothario

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I fell for the undeniably mystical charms of Melbourne duo Fabulous Diamonds (aka Jarrod Zlatic & Nisa Venerosa) a couple of years ago with their second LP Fabulous Diamonds II after a five star review from the wonderful Norman Records, an innovative record which excelled at brining hypnotic, spacious tracks that as well as being challenging in length were undisputed masterpieces of wierdo psychedelia/pop.

So, after that, I'm not quite sure how I'm one month late to this, the release of the lead track for their third album Commercial Music, blame what can only be called Manic July. There's actually a change in stance from the duo here too, "Lothario" sees the first time an song (and album for that matter) has been named by Fabulous Diamonds. Perhaps it's all part of a ploy to bring their music to a larger audience by breaking down the barriers of an unnamed track. Everywhere else though, the track picks off exactly where the previous record left it, with long, sprawling melodies that are immerse, complicated and unique.

It's difficult to pick a genre for the band, clattering rhythms, drum patterns and analogue synths are all there, as are drones and Eastern influences both in the music and the chant-like backing vocals. What is certain is that "Lothario" is six and a half minutes of incredible textured music, the deep, repeated drum beats give the track a dark menace ahead of the floating melody and moody vocals. Enducing all sorts of bizzare imagery and trance like intensity. In summary, the lead track to Commercial Music isn't quite as commercial as the title leads you to believe but for those not put off by challenging arrangements and elongated tracks that go on far too long for radio airplay, there are many treasures to be found.

Commercial Music came out last week via Chapter Music in Australia, now to wait for it to arrive in the UK.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Tashaki Miyaki #4 - Tonight

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I was really gutted to miss Tashaki Miyaki's London shows a few weeks back, sandwiched between moving home, my daughters birthday and also my own they came at a time which was just a little outside of scope for my pleasure. Those shows saw the LA duo joined on tour by Dora from fellow blog favourites SNEAKPEEK and were met with rave reviews from a few of my friends who were lucky enough to see them, for my benefit, I hope they'll be back in London sometime soon...

For now though, I'll have to make do with their latest 7" single, which I picked up from Resident in Brighton on Monday and can be streamed in full below, a double a-side releaed through luv luv luv, the lead track "Tonight" continues Tashaki Miyaki's perfect run and sees stomping drum beats combine with the bands signature hazy daydreams, fuzzy guitars and sweet, seductive vocals, as ever, a potent combination to fall helplessly in love with.

The flip side is a track I talked about in its demo form, "Best Friend", languid, breezy and oh so perfect on a day like today as the sun shines down on us, if I was eighteen again (I'm not, though I'd snatch your hand off for a second chance) this would be the soundtrack for my (feeble) attempts to get the girl, just gorgeous.


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Terrible Truths - New Music "Introducing"

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Terrible Truths are the latest discovery I've made through the wonderful US label Mexican Summer, from Adelaide, Australia the trio have recently released their latest single Lift Weights via the Californian label and it's a great introduction to a lo-fi sound fluttering between a real pop core with raw surf jangles and garage funk-punk rhythms that reminds me somewhat of a combination of Las Kellies and Grass Widow.

"Don Juan" and "Lift Weights" both stumble along with simple and infectious bass guitar lead, sloppy drums and intertwined vocals, there maybe plenty of bands producing this sort of minimal, hypnotic pop-punk at present but these two tracks indicate there is definitely room for a least one more...

UK readers can order this through Norman Records and save a hefty postage bill.


Monday, 6 August 2012

Summer Cannibals - New Music "Introducing

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Another band using pretty much everyone's favourite season, summer for half their name, though unlike Summer Camp, Summer Twins or Summer Girlfriends who've all been featured here recently Summer Cannibals (Jessica Boudreaux & Marc Swart from Portland) aren't here to bring sunshine to your day with bright, breezy indie pop, their darker take on things more resembling the blood boiling, sinister atmosphere of the second half of their name...

The awesome lead track "Handle This Love" swaggers from the start with a brilliant guitar line and a raw, rough stomp, with Jessica's howling vocals the best of the lot. Cool and sexy, makes sure you give it a listen below.

The other track, "Can't Get Enough" equally impresses with a gritty, bluesy rock rhythm, part seductive, part menace it may only be two tracks shared on a bandcamp with relatively few other details to be found to date, but they hint at an exciting future ahead for Summer Cannibals.


Sunday, 5 August 2012

WILSEN #2 - ANAHITA

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I first wrote about one of my favourite recent finds a couple of weeks back, WILSEN, whose debut full length Sirens is out now (you can download it via iTunes) and is a sure fire entrant into my albums of the year, a futher treat sees Wilsen share a video showing the recording of one of the tracks from the LP, its closure, "Anahita" (the video is an edit - the track itself lasts for some seven incredible minutes). A track which perfectly sums up the delicate fragility of Wilsen's songcraft and the intoxicating beauty of this, her stunning debut.

Rising and falling almost Daughter-esque from soft, tender intimacy where Tasmin's heartfelt vocals showcase a range of shattered emotions with twinkling guitars providing a gentle backdrop before slowing increasing with a steady percussive beat to a raging crescendo of harmonies and poweful drums. Utterly stunning, perhaps not quite the time of year for the contemplative melancholia as Olympic fever sweeps the UK but easily one of my favourite tracks of the year so far, and that after the write up I gave "Dusk" earlier...


W I L S E N - Recording A N A H I T A from ARA on Vimeo.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

My Tiger My Timing - The Gold Rush

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Surely the most apt title of a track I could post about right now. Something Team GB have come more and more accustomed to in the last 48 hours, "The Gold Rush" is the latest single by London based five piece My Tiger My Timing's debut album Celeste.

Released prior to the Olympics (with perhaps more than a little foresight, or great coincidence) the track is sure to improve your mood even further, I challange anyone but the hardest miserablists not to find something satisfaction with both the Team GB athlete's performances at London 2012 and "The Gold Rush", with its layers of tropical guitars and surf rhythms it's a pure crowd pleaser, upbeat grooves and gorgeous vocals, a potent combination as the nation rides (literally) on the crest of a wave (sorry, poor pun).

Listen below, alongside earlier preview "Wasteland" which similarly infectious with jittering riffs, fervour and atmosphere is another winner (late night writing certainly appears to bring out the cheese in me).

Anyway, I'm off to watch more medals get won, come on Jess Ennis!


Friday, 3 August 2012

SoftSpot #6 - Disciple Fix / Album News

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Some very welcome news by one of my Stateside favourite acts SoftSpot who've this week annouced their debut album Enso, to be released on September 4th with the immediate release of its lead track "Disciple Fix", if like me you've followed the Brooklyn based trio (primarily the work of Sarah Kinlaw and Bryan Keller, with Blaze Bateh taking over from Andrew Spaulding on drums) for a while now the news of their official debut LP is one that brings a bucket-load of excitement...

Over the past eighteen months or so SoftSpot have developed themselves to be in my opinion of the most creative, explosive acts around with a series of wonderful dramatic and beautiful tracks, "The Cleansing Hour", "Holy Father" and "Slack Tide" to name just three. (You can listen to / read about all of those tracks with a click through the blogs archive here).

"Disciple Fix" doesn't disappoint as an introduction to the new album either, building brilliantly (as so many of their tracks tend to) with a fusion of fast paced tropical rhythms and eastern influences blending with Sarah's ethereal vocals, as sensual and gorgeous as ever and then comes SoftSpot's trademark gear change where the track blossoms excitingly with driving beats and kaleidoscopic circling guitars which race to a conclusion that will have you champing at the bit for more. Consider me excited for Enso after this extraordinary aperitif.

You can download "Disciple Fix" and SoftSpot's previous EP Nous from bandcamp now.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

New Myths - New Music "Introducing"

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I'm not sure where this discovery came from so sorry to any potential blog I found this on.

New York trio New Myths released their debut self-titled EP back in March (via bandcamp on a pay-what-you-like basis) and it's well worth a belated discovery, lead track the spellbinding "False God" is arguably the strongest of the three tracks, full of dynamite hooks and knock out vocals, buzzing lead guitar fuzz mix with euphoric bass and pounding drums to make a pacy, tight and a real killer start to the EP.

"It Burns Through Your Armor" draws from 80's new wave as well as modern pop sensibilities with its gorgeous breathy vocals and dramatic beats while "Like A Ghost" similarly excels with dominating drums leading to haunting harmonies and twinkling guitars. New Myths is a shiny, glossy EP that serves as an excellent introduction from a trio who are well worth keeping an eye on.