Thursday, 31 January 2013

January 2013 - A Month in Music

A new feature (although I previously tried something similar) that may or may not continue with time dependent. Basically the idea is a summation post where I give all of or some of my favourite things from the month. It could be an EP, an album, a gig or a discovery made. It doesn't have to be from this month either, just when I happen to come across it. Then it wouldn't be me without adding a bit of waffling praise. It all sounds utterly self-pleasing but hopefully you might find something which you agree with. As ever these sort of things are highly liable to change. Let's give it a try anyway...

Gig(s) of the month.

Daughter - St Mary's Church, Brighton - January 17th
Serafina Steer - St Leonards Church, Shoreditch - January 24th

January was quieter than normal for me, in fact I only went to five gigs, probably less than half my normal monthly return. It was quality other quantity though with my favourite of the month so close between Serafina Steer's majestic album launch at St Leonard's Church in Shoreditch last week and Daughter's set at St Mary's in Brighton that I've decided not to attempt to split them.

Both were impeccable sets delivered by incredible singer/songwriters, Daughter's spine-tingling show highlighted everything you've already read about her/them. Elena's haunting vocals and bruised, intimate song-writing alongside subdued percussion and shimmering textures. It had St Mary's completely silent, half in awe, half just enjoying the moment.

Serafina Steer's show was equally wonderful. For this, her album release gig, her delicate harp patterns are joined by a string quartet and a whole host of other musicians, one of which was none other than Jarvis Cocker (he produced the album too - more on that below). He joined Serafina for three tracks, one on guitar, one on tambourine and vocals and another on a wind-up air machine. Incredible.

So was the show, serenely beautiful at times and other eccentric and fun, "Disco Complitation" and the Jarvis duet "The Removal Man" especially, the highlight though Serafina's gorgeous, dream voice, it pulls you and sends you off to a better place. Much like the album, head to the next paragraph for that!

Album(s) of the month. 
Serafina Steer - The Moths are Real

I try and avoid album reviews for the reason simple reason that I'm not very good at them so I'll try and avoid that trap here (too much). I first came across Serafina Steer on her Bloody Hell EP a couple of years back and it's a track re-worked from that EP that blows you away first...

"Night Before Mutiny" is arguably too good to be an opening track, it completely blows you away and leaves the rest of the album an almost impossible task of competing with it. Something The Moths are Real generally manages to achieve through with a striking collection of brilliant folk-ish tracks (it's not really an album you can define to any particular genre) and Serafina's inventive, story-telling lyrics.

The emphasis throughout is on Serafina's voice with fluttering harp often leading beautiful melodies, with the odd bit of quirky instrumentation thrown in for good measure, never better than on the funk-laden "Disco Compilation" and "The Removal Man", a track so witty and good that I'm sure co-vocalist Jarvis Cocker would love to snap it up for a (forthcoming? please!) Pulp album. "Ballad of Brick Lane" is softer and gentle ballad and after an amusing start "Skinny Dripping" turns to a pastoral, tender beauty. 2013, you might only be one month old but you've started off alright to me.

Runner up. The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law.

I'm finding it really hard to review Wolf's Law, if you know me and this blog at all you may know my love affair with The Joy Formidable goes back a good three years now and in that time I've seen them forty-odd times with a handful more to come over the next month. That makes being subjective quite difficult...

I'm going to serve a review here too, I'll possibly do one when I'm happy with it. Wolf's Law is definitely more of a grower than TJF's earlier work and it's the softer, tender moments that are my early highlights. "Silent Treatment" and "Wolf's Law" I already knew from live airing but it's the string-laden "The Turnaround" that strikes me most, woozy and gorgeous, it highlights the power of Ritzy's voice, restrained and beautiful perfectly. "Forest Serenade" is perhaps the closest to the bands earliest work, energetic and powerful with a killer, joyful (pun intended) chorus. Anyway, I promised I wouldn't do a review and this is in danger of turning into one.

I love this band, buy their album and more importantly see them live, you won't regret it.

Single / track(s) of the month.
Can't split these two I am afraid.

David Bowie - Where Are We Now?

Ask anybody one month ago if we'd have a new Bowie album due in the first quarter of 2013 and I'm sure they'd have laughed at you. Everybody would have been wrong too because we do.

The first preview from it "Where Are We Now?" is instantly Bowie, reflective and philosophical from the get-go, a moody track with a brooding whisper to his vocals that reminds me of some Heathen work, vulnerable and beautiful, Bowie has kept us all guessing and returns from apparent exodus to blow our minds. The album apparently contains a couple of heavier tracks that will do more than that - I can't find the link to the article on that on just now, sorry.

If you've been on Mars, head to Bowie's website to find out more about The Next Day, due March 11th - I cannot wait.

Prince - Screwdriver

After Rock & Roll Love Affair towards the end of last year I got excited thinking that Prince was back, it sounded like the Prince we all love (well not all), like a lost song from The Revolution and better than much of his post The Rainbow Children output (which in my opinion is a criminally underrated record). Sure Prince has turned in a few good tracks in those years, Guitar, F.U.N.K., Dance 4 Me, Black Sweat all jump straight to mind but his albums have lacked any consistency. Now though, perhaps, the signs are looking good...

Latest single "Screwdriver" makes it two for two, after an incredible short live cut of the track was released via the 3rdEyeGirl youtube channel a few weeks ago highlighting a raw, guitar led jam. The actual single came last week via the video embedded below. Whilst not as raw, a Chaos & Disorder esque version would be amazing, the single still rocks out and is nothing short of great, with a female trio making up his new backing band (3rd Eye Girl?) "Screwdriver" is full of playful and suggestive exuberance, characteristics nobody does better than Prince. The Guardian say everything better than me so I'll keep that short and sweet.

His new website looks cool too, but that said I'm still feeling bitter about however much money I wasted on Prince's Lotusflow3r website a few years and shall not be early-adopting to any potentially new pay-for-play sites just yet...

EP of the Month.
Sea of Love - So Loud

I gave this one a glowing review already on my Introducing feature so I'll keep it brief and just tell you to go and buy the limited to 300 10" vinyl.

So Loud is an affecting EP that leaves you longing for more... stark soundscapes and spine-tingling intimacy, displaying heart-wrenching fragility of love lost around a haunted wall of sound and delicate guitar nuances.

Below is the video which introduced Sea of Love to me, make sure you've seen it too...

Runner Up
La Luz - Damp Face

Another EP I've reviewed this month so I'll keep this short and rely on copy and paste (head to the original post for a better write-up). Actually from 2012 but I didn't discover La Luz until a earlier this month. Their debut EP Damp Face is ace...

A Ennio Morricone homage is the hazy "Clear Night Sky" with spidery guitar patterns that jangle and twang around an infectious, creepy melody while the closing track is another stunner, "Easy Baby" slows things down with a languid, lazy day melody and brings those Spector girl groups straight back to the fore with gorgeous backing harmonies, super, super sweet.

Discovery of the Month.

Plaid Dragon

There's been some good discoveries this month so this was a tough one, good have easily picked Waterbaby or Dog in the Snow or Torres but I'm going to go with Plaid Dragon, "Dog Physics" is just an incredible track.

The highlight of the EP though is the title track and closure, which spends three minutes of its duration as a blissful folk-ish tune, with languid instrumentation and mellow vocals before exploding in a cacophony of noise. A wonderful signal of intent with the five piece from Missouri due to release a follow up early this year.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Daughter #6 - Still

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Since this video went live yesterday afternoon I've already come across three or four long, sweeping posts giving the track and artist, Daughter, universal praise and credit. As I've already done that on numerous occasions I'm going to try and refrain this time around, you know the drill by now I'm sure, it's Daughter after all, it's fragile, it's intimate and it's utterly wonderful...

"Still" is somewhat surprisingly Daughter's first proper video release and comes ahead of the trio's debut album If You Leave due on March 18th via 4ad. I went on a trip to Brighton a couple of weeks back to see the band as the London show had sold-out by the time I got my act together and I can promise you, if you've yet to see them live, you are in for a spine-tingling sensation or a hundred. Beguiling and timeless, Daughter is about to become your favourite artist of the moment.

Monday, 28 January 2013

The Hundredth Anniversary #3 - Jump

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Brighton has seemingly always been a hot-bed of creative talent with a long line of successful bands calling the seaside their home, one of the latest acts who I've been expressing my love for from the city are The Hundredth Anniversary, who today announced their debut 7" single, The Jump (Limited to just 100 copies on 7") released March 18th via Tiny Lights (and available to pre-order now via Bandcamp).

It continues the quartet's unfaltering habit of combining luscious textured sounds with brooding, aching vocals. "The Jump" is utterly beautiful from the get-go with Eleanor Rudge's plaintive tones gliding effortlessly over an airy melody where shimmering guitars and laid-back drums sooth and caress.

I can't see those 100 copies lasting too long so get ordering soon. Listen below.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Wanderhouse #2 - Sugar

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Unlike Robin at Breaking More Waves, I rarely use the music and sex analogy, if I did though, this track would surely be the sort of song I'd want on my playlist to "woo" the girls as it were (the reason I use the description 'woo the girls' is probably the reason I stay well clear of it too!).

"Sugar" is the second track by Los Angeles duo of Marie Moreshead & Doctor Rosen Rosen aka Wanderhouse and like the 'fucking gorgeous' "Use Me Up" it gets you in the mood for slow-love from the get go with smooth, muted sythns and Marie's sensual, whispy vocals.

I used the gorgeous word last time around but really there is no better word to use to describe this beauty, soft and gorgeous, download "Sugar" below.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Alessi's Ark #4 - The Rain

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A welcome back to Alessi's Ark whose been a little quiet the past twelve months or so, her return is really quite lovely though, "The Rain" is the first taster of her forthcoming third album The Still Life released via Bella Union on April 15th and sees a deviation from the understated acoustic singer/songwriter style of Alessi's earlier work.

Of course it wouldn't be Alessi without minimalistic arrangements or her naturally sweet vocals but "The Rain" is a marked development from 2011's Time Travel, here experimenting with a larger spectrum of sounds with electronic beats and abrasive samples shimmering around her intimate guitar plucks, the result creates an ancient ambience just as beautiful and charming as you'd expect from Alessi's Ark.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Secret Mountains #2 - Coasting

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I've not featured Secret Mountains here for over two years, I'm not too sure why I'd seemingly forgotten about the Baltimore group. It appears from a brief study of their website that there has been a few EP's and a single over the period that I've missed but I'll start with the track that brought me back to the sextet "Coasting", the lead track from the groups forthcoming debut LP Rainer - due February 22nd via Friends Records.

To start with a summation, "Coasting" is a rich tapestry of textured bliss where a flickering portion of propulsive rhythms, spooked atmospherics and subtle, nuanced guitars sent you to an allured, almost druggy-like state as gauzy vocals and beautifully composed melodies full of originality immerse you completely.

An overdue visit to the 'missed' releases discovers a fantastic EP Winter Sessions, similarly hypnotic and soulful. "Make Love Stay" combines explosive, cinematic landscapes full of sweeping melodies and heart-warming vocals with languid shimmers on the gorgeous "Weepy Little Fingers". "Golden Blue rattles along with carefully crafted rock melodies blending into psychedelic guitars and shadowy beats, progressive, experimental, wonderful, however you want to surmise Secret Mountains, this is a band that you could truly become obsessed with. I doubt I'll be 'forgetting' about them any time soon.

Young Unknowns #3 - Covers

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Young Unknowns got a few of us new music bloggers hot under the collar towards the end of last year with two wonderful tracks shared from their debut EP You Are A Young Unknown. "Far Enough" and "Target Practice" introduced a luscious cocktail of smouldering melody and crisp, driven indie-rock choruses, now before heading to London town in a couple of weeks time (with two gigs currently planned, the first on Feb 5th at Buffalo Bar - details) the four piece have shared a couple of pared-down covers highlighting a softer, minimalistic side to the band.

Their version of the Cars classic "Drive" is completely stripped back of its mid 80's synth beat and pace, transformed into a tender, heart-wrenching ballad with little more than flickering atmospheric beats and Meredith Meyer's gorgeous vocals. Words which could equally be used to described an equally brave choice of cover, Springsteen's "I'm On Fire", where delicate acoustic and cavernous drums lay the tapestry for Meredith's whispered vocals - with the final minute especially beautiful. Two breathtaking, melancholic covers that Young Unknowns have made their own - stream below.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Veronica Falls #10 - Buried Alive

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Making a second album better than your debut is a tough ask, often a band/act has half their life to make album one. They can use songs from previous acts, solo projects or tracks written over a long period of time, often these end up released in one package as a debut album, then after positive reviews and perhaps label interest / signing a band has about twelve/eighteen months to tour that record and to write a new one at the same time. Perhaps it's to expected then that some bands whose debut was praised to the hilt promptly find plaudits harder to come by second time around, sometimes perhaps it's just too much of an ask too soon. On this occasion though, I'm posting about a band who might just have made a second album that surpasses the debut.

Veronica Falls have been so prolific in the past couple of years it has almost felt like they never went away at all (in a good way, not like that annoying neighbour who is always on their drive when you leave your house) and after 2011's wonderful self-titled album charmed the pants of countless number of us they've already spoilt us with the exquisite "My Heart Beats" and "Teenage" from their forthcoming second LP Waiting For Something To Happen, due Feb 4th via Bella Union, now they've make it a clean hat-trick...

"Buried Alive" is playful and infectious from the off and combines the bands infinite charm, fuzz-pop hooks and ominous sense of immediate death. All wrapped up within three minute of sweetly-sung, quick-paced wondrousness "Buried Alive" is indie pop at its succinct, effortless best.

Ordering the album from Rough Trade is advised, not only do the band play an in-store on February 6th but you also get a bonus CD of covers - the first cover EP was excellent - I expect this one will be too. Details here.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Statues Made Of Matchsticks - New Music "Introducing"


By the sheer volume of it I post, I clearly have a fondness of Scandinavian folk, often rich melodies drenched in melancholia and pure vocals, if you can guess at my musical palette from reading this blog then you'll know it's no wonder it often hits the spot with me. The latest act on my radar combining just those traits is Finnish trio Statues Made Of Matchsticks, who like Greymouth from earlier this month, call Helsinki their home.

Statues Made Of Matchsticks formed last year and don't appear to have any official releases to their name yet but with four tracks to stream on their soundcloud (and download free too) there's enough promise on display for me to post an excitable new music post...

"Rotten Place" is the complete opposite of its title and is adjective defyingly beautiful, the formula is simple throughout, little more than stripped-down guitar-and-voice, but its often the simplest melody that leaves the lasting impression and that's definitely the case here, graceful, soothing and completely irresistible.

"Morning Sun" is another pastoral beauty, a gentle melodic dance between guitar and banjo and the exquisite, dream-like nature of singer Hanna-Riikka's vocals. It may be Winter outside but listen to Statues Made Of Matchsticks with a glass of something nice by your side and I promise your day will suddenly see a glimpse of Summer.

Widowspeak #5 - Locusts


There's no let up from Widowspeak ahead of next weeks release (or yesterday's in the States) of Almanac, their second LP via Captured Tracks. The Chicago duo have already highlighted a meatier, full-blooded approach to their sprawling, dusty soundscapes on the splendid "Ballad of the Golden Hour" and "The Dark Age" and now comes the superb "Locusts", which gets in your brain immediately with one of the deepest, addictive bass lines rhythms of recent memory.

The black & white video that accompanies it fits perfectly within the vintage, psychedelic of the bands sound, with girl group backing dance moves complimenting Molly Hamilton's vocal haze, luxurious and shadowy, it might just be my favourite snippet of Almanac yet. One of 2013's early essential albums for sure.

The band are currently on tour in the US with a show tonight in Philadelphia with the wonderful (in my somewhat biased opinion) Lockets - if you are heading to that one, I am very, very jealous.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The Disraeli Gears #2 - Hieroglyphs


"Hieroglyphs" is the second single by Leeds quartet The Disraeli Gears who featured on this blog last year with their gorgeous debut "Skeleton", released yesterday "Hieroglyphs" is sure to win the act yet more friends...

Set firmly in the ethereal realm "Hieroglyphs" starts with languid drum beats and fuzzily ripped guitar lines before Teia's glacier-melting vocal brings in a beguiling, smooth quality. Then as it progresses the track starts to express itself with a mix of richly melodic instrumentation and soulful vocals transforming to something emotive and beautiful amongst the repetitive cries of "we always wear our hearts on our sleeves, we always aim to please".

Thankfully as we live in the now generation, you don't even have to wait to get your fingers on the track, "Hieroglyphs" is available to download from Bandcamp now...

Sea of Love - New Music "Introducing"

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One of the roles in running a new music blog is being positive about everything all of the time (well in this blog anyway, I don't post music that doesn't interest me as I don't see the point). It means this blog could be seen as an almost endless stream of superlatives about everything, often acts with little more than two bedroom demos to their name sometime get covered in equal glory to distinguished artists on their fifth record, perhaps it's too much, too soon, sometimes anyway. On this occasion I'm 100% behind my praise for an act who upon my discovery a couple of weeks back (I've held back the post until I wrote something I was averagely happy with) provided me with the first genuine (musical) goosebumps moment of 2013.

It was the absolutely heart-stirring live rendition of "My World" (video below) that caused it (I've got no idea about the mask mind), an absolute knock-out of a track by an act completely new to me called Sea of Love with stark soundscapes and spine-tingling vocals it immediately stopped me in my tracks.

Sea of Love is led by Marie-Sophie Kanske from Dresden (I apologise to the man in the fox mask, I couldn't find your name) who released the five track EP So Loud on January 4th (available digitally and on 10" vinyl via KF Records here). It impresses from start to finish, swelling with a similar sense of beauty to the lovelorn moments of Wounded Rhymes era Lykke Li, opener, the sorrowful lament "Your Arrangement" is drenched in slow-motion melancholia with cavernous kettle drum beats and languid, breathy vocals which creates a plaintive atmosphere which stays throughout the EP. "Go" similarly intimate, displaying heart-wrenching fragility of love lost around a haunted wall of sound and delicate guitar nuances.

"So Loud" provides a little murmured piano-led interlude into the recorded version of "My World" which casts its spell with an electronic heart-beat with minimalistic samples adding another layer to the tapestry of sounds before closing track "Like Throwing Pebbles Into The Sea" changes things up a little, leaving the acoustic sorrow behind with the EP's most aggressive moment, building up slowly amongst lovelorn lyrics to a fuzzed-up explosion of guitar riffs and clattering percussion.

Primal and pure, So Loud is an affecting EP that leaves you longing for more.

Sea of Love · Wait A Little While from Sea of Love on Vimeo.

Monday, 21 January 2013

F.U.R.S #2 - Striptease

F.U.R.S caused a mini-stir in the blogging community last year with their debut track the gorgeous "Modern Lovers", introducing a bright, effortlessly charming sound full of 60's psyche-pop nostalgia and perfect pop hooks.

The now expanded trio haven't strayed too far from that formula on their official debut single "Striptease" (released March 25th on Loose Lips Records), a fresh of breath air with infectious jangle rhythms, slinky keys and sugar-sweet vocals, "Striptease" is vibrant, fun and instantly pleasing. F.U.R.S. look set to win yet more admirers (this before a March tour in support of Johnny Marr - dates). Listen below:

Tyrannosaurus Dead - Sadie


My labels are failing me here, I'm positive I've posted about Brighton based fuzz-pop band Tyrannosaurus Dead previously but I can't find anything, so I'll have to only apologise and play catch up. I'll start with the recent though and "Sadie", the lead track from the bands forthcoming 12" EP Pure // Apart due in May via Odd Box, a fast-paced whirlwind of intertwined vocals and noise that takes approximately .02 seconds to grab your attention and doesn't let go one bit until it's over. Cue one big mosh-pit.

The previous EP, the sold-out cassette Lemonade combines the same 90's loving lo-fi noise with a more melodic, introspective side, as seen on the beautiful "Banner" and the seductive haze of "Always Fine". The title track "Lemonade" rattles along with distorted guitars buzz and the gorgeous, shared vocals of Billy & Eleanor (the latter also of The Hundredth Anniversary, who themselves have a new single due soon which I'll be covering shortly) and "Misery Guts", the fastest of the lot, driven along by infectious harmonies, crunching riffs and crashing beats. It's ace, fun and I'm sorry I appear not to have covered it sooner.

Tyrannosaurus Dead play with the wonderful Fever Dream at Ryan's Bar in London on Feb 2nd - I'm just back from Brussels that night and doubtful but you should go - details.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Confessions - New Music "Introducing"

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I've posted about Night Fruit on a few occasions now, a trio from Boston, MA who blend shoegaze and dream pop soundscapes and are led by Amanda Dellevigne's unique vocals, now Amanda has formed another project called Confessions with Alex Garcia-Rivera...

Here for the former's shimmering guitar-led melodies are switched in favour of night-time synth-pop landscapes, vivid and cool "I'll Always Be Your Girl" showcases Amanda's indelible vocals amongst evocative electronic atmospheres and restrained beats.

Their debut EP will be released this Spring on Vanya Records - keep an eye out for that (and the Night Fruit debut LP due this year).

Friday, 18 January 2013

La Luz - New Music "Introducing"

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What better, as I look out to an endless sky of snow fall than a band that belong in sunnier times, La Luz are a four-piece from Seattle led by Shana Cleveland, I discovered them (and a few other bands that will feature here over the next weeks as I slowly write up the posts) during a four hour bandcamp session on Tuesday evening where I spent quite a few pounds and found a great few acts....

La Luz released the EP Damp Face in September last year and it's bloody excellent too, initially a cassette release (that seems to be all gone) you can download the EP via bandcamp now. The quartet combine classic doo-wap backing vocals and surf-rock cool with a dusty Widowspeak-esque dreamlike sound.

Opening "Call Me in the Day" highlights that to delicious effect with slow-motion military drumming and a deep bass throb setting a hazy tempo for Shana's haunting moodiness to coerce your brain to blissful times. In contrast, the title track "Damp Face" is an Americana instrumental with a psychedelic mood and fast-racing rhythms and similarly on "Sure as Spring", a fast paced dose of full blown nostalgia inducing rock & roll fun times where you can almost transport yourselves back to a old school dance - if you did that sort of thing as a youth...

Another Ennio Morricone homage is the hazy "Clear Night Sky" with spidery guitar patterns that jangle and twang around an infectious, creepy melody while the closing track is another stunner, "Easy Baby" slows things down with a languid, lazy day melody and brings those Spector girl groups straight back to the fore with gorgeous backing harmonies, super, super sweet.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Shh - So Over / Burning Love

Here's a track (and EP) I completely missed last year that is well worth a belated post, The Shh are the Malta / Paris duo of Alison Galea and Ian Schranz and the lead track to their Debut EP, Burning Love is the raw and wonderful "So Over", which wrapped up around reams of fuzzed-up guitar licks, dual boy/girl vocals and sunshine lyrics is the perfect bitter-sweet indie-pop track.

The title track similarly impresses with a radiant melody and Alison's truly beautiful vocals, sweet and instantly heart warming, "Burning Love" is a charmingly sophisticated pop gem that will surely make your day just that little bit better.

You can buy the four track Burning Love via bandcamp now.


Fear of Men #7 - Seer

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Before their expected debut full length later in the year the wonderful Fear of Men have officially announced the release of their forthcoming compendium LP Early Fragments (due via Kanine Records on Feb 11/12th), the eight track release is a reverse collection of the bands releases thus far (also including the swoonsome "Doldrums" from their second, self-released, demo tape) with one new  track "Seer" to kick off the LP, it's a beauty too...

Fitting perfectly within the bands current body of work "Seer" resonates exquisitely around the bands trademark guitar shimmers and sweet vocals whilst its military drum beat core threatens to escape, but it's the wistful, tender melody of "Seer" that pulls you in, fluttering somewhere between hopeful and heart-broken, however you want to describe it, we've been treated to another gem from this marvellous band.

Pre-order the LP via Rough Trade or direct and go see Fear of Men when they play London's Sebright Arms on February 11th - tickets.


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Sinclair Sinclair #2 - The Dreamers Of The Dreams /

I gave a glowing 'new music' post to Estonian bedroom act The Sinclair Sinclair last November when their debut track "Feel" hooked me under its wings with a tantalisingly beautifully, dreamlike melody, last week the duo released the follow-up to that release, their debut EP, the four track self-released The Dreamers Of The Dreams (available to download free via bandcamp),.

It proves the superlatives thrown at "Feel" (included as the EP's closing track) were not used in vein, from the moment the opening track, "Dreamers of the Dreams" starts you are immersed fully in an intoxicating blend of rich, blissful vocals and subtle, minimalistic synth / guitar soundscapes.

The gorgeous, ethereal landscapes don't stop there, amongst an ever thumping bass and drifting vocals there is a chilly yet building sound on the marvellous "Pessoa" while the languid daydream of "Everyone Around Me Is Desperate for Love" is spine-tinglingly, a sound full of space and emotion that should soundtrack many a private, intimate moment.

Slow-burning melodies, truly beautiful, haunting vocals and immaculate instrumentation, The Sinclair Sinclair should be Estonia's finest export - download the EP whilst you can.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

G AL P A L S - New Music "Introudycing"

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G AL P A L S (from now on referred to as Gal pals) are a two piece garage pop band from Austin, Texas and comprised of Jillian Talley and Lauren Marie Mikus. On their debut track "For Our Sake" they are the polar opposite of the weather we're being treated to so far this week, so hopefully you're equally in need of some warm, fun-time pop as the cold snap bites.

If so, carry on reading and this little number will definitely answer your prayers. A track so infectious it hurts, "For Our Sake", is a short, sharp burst of fuzzed up wonder, with chiming guitar, sunshine hooks and bubblegum pop choruses so catchy they should come with a prior warning.

Listen or watch the equally fabulous video below, grab some sunglasses and pretend it's summer already ... Pre-order the limited to 250 debut 7" via Howling Owl Records.

G A L P A L S - FOR OUR SAKE from cassandra lee hamilton on Vimeo.

Dog In The Snow - New Music "Introducing"

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Dog In The Snow, there's certainly going to be a few of them today, I'll focus on the music though and this Dog in the Snow are from Brighton, primarily the work of Helen Ganya Brown with support from Marie-Eve de Gaultier (according to their website), their experimental sounds come to life (so far) through three videos that combine striking visuals with haunting soundscapes.

"Concrete Wall" offers a beautiful, icy listen perfect for a day like today, a sparse musical canvas of restrained guitar awash with ethereal grace which makes for a ghostly, intimate listen full of melancholia which slowly opens up around the listener.

Likewise "Brother" is eerie / beautiful, the instrumentation remains stark but is strangely rich too, where repetitive guitar chimes and electronic beats make for a brooding, edgy affair while perhaps the finest of the three is "Africa", which starts off similarly subtle and delicate but blossoms around almost tropical rhythms and intricate melody to something much more expansive, something completely magical.

The tracks aren't currently available to download so enjoy these videos for now, I'm sure this is an act you'll be hearing much more from in the future months.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Waterbaby - New Music "Introducing"

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Martha and Jessica Kilpatrick are the London-based siblings Waterbaby, the newly formed duo whose debut track "Shadows" is an eight minute epic that heads straight to the top spot of 'best tracks I've heard in 2013 so far' (n.b. it came out in late 2012)....

Whilst listening to "Shadows" (like I am right this second for about the sixth time in a row) I can't help but think of fellow bedroom synth-pop / doom art merchants Terror Bird as the tracks dramatic heart and brooding atmosphere channels powerful and emotive dark visions through the mournful dash of stabbing piano chords and heartfelt yet chilling vocals. Managing to sound both celestial and cinematic "Shadows" is a doomed anthem for those of us with an appetite for the dark side.

The only other track to stream so far is "My Heart is a River" which offers no respite from the prevailing gloom but is softer and eerie making its mark through repetitive, haunting keyboards, reverb-laden vocals and minimalistic arrangements, such beautiful desolation, tangibly stirring stuff indeed.

Make sure you download the tracks from Bandcamp.

Bec Sandridge #2 - Wild Heart


Today is day one of my next marathon training and it's snowing, running and snow (well more over the ice that follows the snow, fresh snow is okay) really don't work too well so I'm a little worried right now, so instead of thinking of that I'll turn to a few music posts over my lunch break to improve my mood.

First up is one of my favourite 'new' singer/songwriter's Bec Sandridge who is about to record her new EP. A message on her Facebook page shortly before Christmas hinted that the video posted below is a track under consideration for it. A couple of listens to the track "Wild Heart" later and a couple of things come straight to mind, firstly the song shouldn't be 'under consideration', it should be a penned in guarantee and secondly, the Sydney folkstress is super talented...

"Wild Heart" sees Bec's beautifully accented vocals beguile around circling guitar patterns, a simple acoustic video it may be but it certainly whet's the appetite for that EP. If it's half as good this (and last years Lyons and Bees) we're in for a treat.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Farao - New Music "Introducing"

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I'll start this post off with some bad news, Like Spinning is no more but fear not, hold off from the mourning, from the ashes rises Farao, a new pseudonym for the extremely talented London based singer-songwriter Kari Jahnsen.

Before heading to record her first single in Iceland with a spring release penned Kari has teased us with a free download of a track which you might previous know as a Like Spinning song, "Forces". Drenched in melancholic instrumentation and a subtle finger-plucked acoustic waltz the beautifully produced track is a pure, daydreaming wonder with Kari's ethereal vocals shining with glacial grace and splendour.

I have all my fingers crossed that a previous Like Spinning track called "The Hours" is one of those lined-up for the EP, I'm sure I'll be bringing news of the release in any case.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Esben and the Witch #7 - Despair

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Esben & The Witch have released the latest track to be taken from their soon to be released second LP Wash The Sins Not Only The Face (due 21st Jan via Matador), the perfectly titled "Despair", short and sharp it's sound-tracked by a nightmarish whirlpool of swirling guitars and penetrating drum beats, Esben & The Witch have never been one to hide behinds screens and "Despair" has its heart on its sleeve, dark, stirring, brilliant.

I can't wait to hear this one live, just don't expect me to be doing the video's choreographed dance moves - a chance to do just that will happen soon when Esben & The Witch play an in-store at Rough Trade East on January 22nd with a UK/Euro tour following in February - dates.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Snakadaktal - New Music "Introducing"


Continuing the mix of catch-up tracks from December and the New Year is Snakadaktal (your guess is as good as mine for a meaning on that), an Australian quintet who shared the track "Chimera", as their first UK release (for free download) last month ahead of a single in early February via Young & Lost Club ("Dance Bear", which you can similarly stream below), both tracks introduce a Foals-like chiming pop sound that's sure to find them as many fans in the British Isles.

"Dance Bear" starts cool and laid-back with seductive vocal whispers and a star-bright melody, the slow-motion vibe then transforms around electronic beats and shimmering soundscapes with the tracks explosive chorus, the chilled-out / dance cross over then continues to a storming drum-laden finale.

"Chimera" is more relaxed and smooth but will set your toes tapping despite its restraint with flickering midnight synths, 80's guitar riffs and gentle percussive flickers combining with the soft, luscious vocals of lead-vocalist Phoebe Cockburn to dreamy effect. Delicious.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Daughter #5 - If You Leave / Buzz Session

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So not really any new music as such (although there is a session track of an unreleased song) on this post, I've spoilt you enough recently in any case but I do bring some exciting news (if you've not seen it already)...

One of my top five anticipated releases of 2013 (Caitlin Rose, The Joy Formidable, Editors and The National *hopefully* are the others as you asked - though that was before David Bowie made my week) is the debut LP by Daughter, which earlier today was titled and dated, If you Leave (check out the gorgeous artwork too) will be released March 18th via 4AD and you can pre-order via Rough Trade here if you desire (and you should)...

The track listing combines some tracks already heard; a couple from earlier EP's with last years exquisite "Smother" and some altogether new ones - full details can be found on Daughter's Facebook page to save me copy and pasting.

A treat, though, for those of you who've perhaps been on Mars and have yet to check out this sublime trio (or if you've not seen this before), you couldn't go far wrong starting with the recently released Wild Honey Pie's Buzz Session. A track taken from the album, "Tomorrow" can be streamed below (and audio of the session downloaded) and gives a true indication of the beguiling talent of Daughter, their experimental soundscapes swell with incremental progression, glacial guitars and towering percussion. Then there is Elena's stark, wounded lyrics and whispered, intimate vocals. Melt your soul or heal your wounds, whatever you want from your music, you'll find it with Daughter.

The Big Sun - New Music "Introducing"

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Here's a band I've had sitting waiting to post about for a little while now and as the weather has turned a bit chillier today what better time than some wonderful summery, sunshine tunes to cheer us up (please don't snow - I have a mile walk to work every day and it's no fun in slush and ice!).

The Big Sun are from Oxford and released an EP entitled Sticklebacker digitally via Balloon Twister Records last November. I've found two articles (this and this) about the band and nothing else, no facebook, tumblr etc, so I'll take what the other blogs have said at face value and believe it's a band that contains former members of Ride with the vocals coming from teenager Berry...

The EP's lead track "Time I Bought A Boat" is irresistible and gorgeous, a perfect introduction to The Big Sun's three minute pop gems, both wistfully nostalgic and pretty as a flower. Berry's crystal pure vocal is delivered in such an unfussy, unforced manner and offers infinite charm around the tracks swirling melody. Elsewhere "Tiger" shines with feel-good guitars and star-bright instrumentation and sounds so wonderfully easy throughout, while the fuzzed-up "Folly" is slightly detached from the glistening indie pop but is just as lovely with a simple, languid tune whilst Berry's beautiful vocals warm every inch of you - perfect for a day like today then...

Widowspeak #4 - The Dark Age / Thick as Thieves


Widowspeak continue to spoil us with appetisers for their second album Almanac (due via Captured Tracks on January 22nd with this special edition vinyl looking extremely eye catching), after the wonderful "Ballad of the Golden Hour" came "The Dark Age" just before Christmas, a track drenched in the bands signature dusty, twangy guitar and hollow drum rhythms, this one though races along at a faster tempo than much of the duo's earlier work and really does rock-it-out around Molly Hamilton's gorgeous, wistful vocals, longingly seductive, "The Dark Age" does nothing but further heighten expectation for that album.

Yet, if that wasn't enough, yesterday saw the release of another track from Almanac, "Thick as Thieves" is eerier and stripped bare, amongst it's reverb-drenched haze of a melody is spidery violin, accordion and intricate guitar, sparse and haunting this hushed beauty is another winner from this wonderful band, one of my most anticipated albums of the year so far, I can't wait to hear it in full...

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Greymouth - New Music "Introducing"


The problem with spending much of December either writing about tips for the following year and revisiting your albums of the year (and then taking a blogging break over Christmas), is that it leads to a backlog of normal posts, the bread and butter of what makes up this blog, basically me talking rubbish and giving bands who've caught my eye a few superlatives.

Here's one of those now, Greymouth, a quintet from Helsinki who landed in my inbox at the start of December and got starred for posting soon after (I try and listen to most of what comes in as soon as I can) but it's taken me about a month to make that next step, many others will no doubt take longer...

"Flying Bird" was the song I intended to write about first, a gorgeous instrument-laden (though uncluttered) folky track which floats around the beautiful ethereal vocals of the group's founder and songwriter, Elisa Husu, there's a brilliant flow to the track that pulls the listener over its gorgeous peaks of graceful craft where unobtrusive arrangements nestle alongside emotive flourishes.

Since though, Greymouth have uploaded another track (similarly available for free download via the soundcloud embed below) entitled "Paris, London", so I'll mention that one too, a wonderful meandering melody that's more confident and dynamic with a cascade of warm, atmospheric purity throughout. Equally wonderful is earlier single "Restless Passenger", which traverses haunting trad-folk plains with a rich textured sound and Elias's beguiling vocals at the fore, the repetitive banjo hook soon backed by skilfully subdued backing instrumentation.

Greymouth bring vivid imagery to mind with their music which is all kinds of lusciousness. Immerse yourself below, to repeat, all for free:

Blessa #2 - Unfurl


A band who made an impression with me towards the back end of last year were Sheffield quartet Blessa, who start 2013 with the stream of their second track "Unfurl".

Continuing where the exquisite "Open Fields" left off, "Unfurl" is a wash of dreamy 80's nostalgia with shimmering guitars and popping bass guitar its melody is immediate and although it's lyrics are on the whole reflective and longing the infectious, repeated cries of "Since you went away, I've been in the dark" make the track the sort of song you'll be singing along to in the shower before you know it, that's no bad thing at all...

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Wolf Alice #2 - Fluffy


Another act returning with their second offering after impressing towards the back end of 2012 (though this act has been around in various guises for a while) are Wolf Alice with the decidingly misleading "Fluffy", anything but the light and airy title-name the track bursts out of the gates with pummelling drums and monster guitar hooks then doesn't let up for it's entire three minute duration, though after beating you into submission it's hard not to fall for "Fluffy" and all its raw charms.

A (literally) huge signal of intent by one of London's finest new bands. "Fluffy" is released on limited 7" via Chess Club Records on  February 11th (pre-order via Rough Trade).

Wilsen #3 - Anahita Single Release

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I'm posting about a song I've posted about on a couple of occasions before. Why? Because it's my blog and I make up the rules! In all seriousness that's pretty close to the truth but the catalyst is some exciting developments about the track "Anahita", by the incredible Wilsen.

Taken from Sirens, a record I named my number three album of 2012 a few weeks ago, there's news of a single release (available digitally & on CD from the Wilsen site on 18th February) and a new take of the track...

"Anahita" still runs at seven minutes but this is the most cohesive release its seen thus far, with Tasmin Wilson's beautiful vocal whispers ebbing and flowing around delicate, shimmering instrumentation. The exquisitely arranged track builds from languid and deliberate beginning to a soaring crescendo of harmonies and powerful drums and it's (still) truly, truly stunning.

The single will be backed with album track "Lady Jane" and with any luck if I keep mentioning Wilsen you'll all realise just how gorgeous, intimate, spine-tingling (add your own superlative to suit) their music is.

Fall in love below.

Torres - New Music "Introducing"


One artist that seems to be doing the rounds of primarily state-side blogs is Torres (not Fernando) with her (the 22 year old singer-songwriter Mackenzie Scott from Nashville) debut track "Honey", it's not hard to see why it's had such an impact either because it's an utterly wonderful introduction to potentially a future star.

"Honey" starts with a contrast between the velvet-toned vocal and the amped-up guitar fuzz which gradually builds to become the focus of our attention, upon swathes of feedback and vocals now bathed is sweet reverb "Honey" transforms to a fractured, raw anthem to rival the likes of EMA, honest and intimately intense with shades of darkness all around it's as compelling a track as 2013 has offered so far.

"Honey" is debut track from her debut album (also entitled Torres) due January 22nd.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Sophie Jamieson #3 - Waterloo / The Weight Comes


Since I last featured Sophie Jamieson late last year she's signed up to London's Folkroom Records (who put out her track "Dinah" on their Anthology 2 release) for an EP release due later this year and recorded a session for Ruth Barnes over at Amazing Radio, it's these two tracks that I feature below, I don't know if they are amongst the tracks for consideration on the EP...

What we do have are two (more) truly gorgeous tracks which further highlight Sophie's beguiling voice and beautiful, passionate song-craft, "The Weight Comes" with meandering acoustic plucks and deeper, stark vocalisation portrays the vulnerability in her lyrics perfectly, expressive and haunting in its simplicity, "The Weight Comes [down]" is a heartfelt track to heighten the senses and sooth the soul while around intricate melodies "Waterloo" is equally memorable and effortless. With the recording polish already delivered on Sophie's stand-out track to date "Dinah", you can't help but be excited for what the future may bring...

Embers #4 - Part of the Echoes

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I've been purposely slow on this post, there's not been a week gone by since the end of November when I've not featured Embers so I thought I'd give you a little rest before you thought I was a paid PR for the band, just a little one mind, I don't want you thinking I've gone off the band either!

After the majestic "Hollow Cage" was released to the world six weeks ago now the Internet (belatedly in my opinion) has gone a little bit potty (in perspective) over the Manchester band, the remaining copies of their debut 7" were promptly snapped up and a whole host of blog posts and radio coverage soon followed, the second part of their Gorton Monastery films "Part of the Echoes" was released just before Christmas and follows "Hollow Cage" as a piece of mesmerisingly brilliant work that will blow your mind away...

Leaving no time for you to catch your breath the quartets already signature sounds are instant evidence, "Part of the Echoes" is brimmed with shattered emotions, powerful and euphoric, wave after wave of shimmering soundcapes lead to another intense, rewarding and phenomenal track, cinematic and grandiose, soaring yet immediately beautiful, "Part of the Echoes" is another track to place in a so far impeccable discography.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

NO - New Music "Introducing"

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This post comes via Breaking More Waves and I agree with Robin in pretty much every way. I'd not heard of Echo Park quintet NO (yes, a terrible name and a real search engine friendly one to boot!) previously but you really cannot mention them or the tracks on their soundcloud ("The Long Haul", "Another Life" and "Stay With Me" are linked below to stream) without mentioning The National.

I'm sure it's a bane of the band already so I do apologise for the lazy work but when you listen to their music it fills you with the same feelings (no, it's not derivative either). It's not just the baritone vocals of Bradley Hanan Carter (though less 'bitter' than Matt Berninger's) that draws the comparison, "Another Life" is soaked with the same sense of brooding melancholia, where raw and reflective power sweeps through rich, atmospheric instrumentation and magnificent drums. "There's a Glow" is brighter and stadium bound with bright, sweeping hooks, a real sing-along anthem of a track. "The Long Haul" starts slow and deliberate, sombre and dark and builds with luxurious drama, it's spellbinding stuff, intelligent lyrics and fraught with deep emotional tension throughout, immerse yourself in NO for what they are, their own.

The aforementioned tracks are taken from the bands six track EP Don't Worry, You'll Be Here Forever, released as long ago as November 2011 (now sold out on 12" vinyl) which can be purchased digitally on a pay-what-you-like basis from the groups bandcamp.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Sea Lion #2 - Love Story


Sea Lion (Linn Osterberg) has one of those beguiling, beautiful vocals that I could listen to every night, soothing and bewitching, her voice could heal any wounded heart and sooth tired limbs.

Since my superlative laden review of her album Guns of Alaska Linn has released a couple of covers on her soundcloud, the latest is "Love Story" (a cover of the track originally called "Where Do I Begin" and made famous by Andy Williams on the film of the same name). It runs at only two minutes in length but is mesmerising, a simple pared-down beauty as heartfelt and understated as anything you'll hear. Gorgeous.

I've also included a live version of "Sun Lions Army", a track due for inclusion on Sea Lion's forthcoming 2013 album (details yet unknown) which gives another introduction to her intimate, ethereal wonder.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Plaid Dragon - New Music "Introducing"

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I apologise to my introducer of Plaid Dragon (if any). A link to their EP, which I'm about to talk about, was simply saved in my draft folder over Christmas, my amnesia is sufficient to mean I'm not sure where it came from. Checking back over the folder though led me to discover a four track EP bristling with shimmering melodies, twinkling keys and heart-warming vocals.

Opener "SoND" a perfect example of that, which from its opening uke chords is beautifully endearing, the type of track that lets your mind slip off to somewhere endlessly rewarding. "Bird Years" similarly starts with Ukulele plucks but here is brighter and more energetic on a luminescent, up-lifting melody.

The highlight of the EP though is the title track and closure, which spends three minutes of its duration as a blissful folk-ish tune, with languid instrumentation and mellow vocals before exploding in a cacophony of noise. A wonderful signal of intent with the five piece from Missouri due to release a follow up early this year.

Download Dog Physics via bandcamp on a pay-what-you-like basis.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Big Deal - Teradactol


I saw Big Deal play over a year ago now, they were *ok*, a duo with delicate acoustic instrumentals combining with entwined male/female harmonies, it should perhaps have ticked my boxes a little more than it did but sometimes it just doesn't, for little or no apparent reason.

This though, their latest single, does that and more. If you'd have told me this was the same Big Deal I saw perform live (I think at The Lexington) I'd have laughed at you. The track "Teradactol" is a completely different beast with Big Deal now a four piece, a colossal, fuzzed-up monster with galloping drums and distorted guitars howling around the ethereal harmonies.

"Teradactol" is the first track taken from the bands forthcoming second album and certainly has me salivating for more.